You must listen to your home partner – the TV – when it says that it’s shedding its age-old image as an idiot box to become a smart showpiece. During the past eight decades of its existence, TV has largely been considered a dumb device, though its use has been increasing.
While there’s still a dearth of useful content, the TV system of late has been undergoing a sort of metamorphosis, as it has embraced the voguish digital technologies. Now, it’s not a one-sided affair; now it’s interactive.
As digital convergence is picking up steam, you can interact with the new-generation of TVs, which allow you to get digitally social and allow you to demand content, albeit pre-taped programs. But that’s okay to start with.
Although it’s too early to put the dipstick into this tech-led shift, technology and entertainment electronics companies are already quite aggressive with the slew of their offerings.
When Samsung put its high-tech gear at Hollywood’s biggest night recently, it signaled the steady digitization of TVs. Samsung’s LED Smart TVs offered built-in Wi-Fi (short for Wireless Fidelity, a wireless communication technology) and a Twitter app that allowed it to show what’s trending about the awards in real-time on Twitter.
Taking the convergence thing a step further, TV company LG even coined a portmanteau “Techorating.” Although it sounds like a sales gimmick, the company has tried to bring home the point that its TV products come loaded with technology. Techorating refers to the blending of modern technology with the art of decorating to create a functional, yet stylish environment in your home.
Another consumer electronics major Samsung is also running fast in the tech race. Boasting Wi-Fi technology, 720p high-definition video and a range of pre-loaded apps and functionalities, including Skype, YouTube and full Web browsing, the Samsung inTouch brings the internet-connected experience straight to the living rooms of consumers with ordinary HDTVs.
In the connected TV market, a black box allows users to watch movies and TV shows from the Internet, stream videos from the Web, exchange info with friends using social media sites like Facebook, organize and enjoy personal music, photos and videos, and browse the Internet.
The Boxee Box by the networking company D-Link gives consumers a new way to experience free or paid-for content on the Internet. It says that the Intel Atom CE4100, Intel’s system-on-a-chip designed for TV and Internet integration, will power the Boxee Box.
With its eyes on the connected TV space, Sony has introduced Sony Internet TV, powered by Google TV. It is claimed to be the world’s first television with the ability to watch HDTV, enjoy apps, and browse the Internet seamlessly on one device.
Technology is not only happening inside the TV set, but it’s also providing digital connectivity that takes consumers in the oceanic world of social media. As they’re called social TVs, they allow users to communicate about their TV experiences with others in their social groups.
You’ll be surprised to know that a highly unlikely player, which neither comes from the technology industry nor from the entertainment side, is at the forefront of this change. Leading foods and beverages company PepsiCo is aggressively pumping in steam to the social TV business.
Pepsi has introduced two proprietary digital platforms, Pepsi Sound Off and Pepsi Pulse. Both platforms decided to initially focus on Fox’s The X Factor and drive social engagement around other Pepsi entertainment properties in the future.
Moreover, the company has introduced its Social Vending System, a networked unit that features full touch screen interactive vending technology. It enables consumers to better connect with PepsiCo brands right at the point of purchase.
Other tech and entertainment companies are also active in this emerging market. Motorola Mobility wants to place greater control into consumers’ hands to personalize their TV viewing across multiple devices anywhere in the home with the introduction of its Medios Xperience platform.
As part of the Medios multi-screen service management software suite, the cloud-based applications platform allows service providers to merge video content with social networking, games and web-based content and delivers greater interaction capabilities with broadcast television and video-on-demand (VOD) services.
Moreover, ConnecTV, a social platform for TV fans, is among the major developments in the social TV market. It allows viewers to get sports, news, drama and reality programming – live or time-shifted – in a companion viewing experience.
That means, its social platform lets users instantly see what their friends are watching and share their favorite TV moments with a single touch. Its seamless social integration allows “viewsers” to automatically post what they are watching to friends on Facebook and Twitter by simply tuning in to their favorite program.
Most companies want to target social media users because they’re very large in number – estimated to be over one billion. For example, a TV app feature “FreezeFrame” allows users to instantly capture and share images from the shows they’re watching with their friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter.
Smelling the change in the atmosphere, some forward-looking TV content providers have already started adopting the socially designed platforms. Take SOI TV, for example. It’s extending TV’s social media reach with the launch of SOI TV, claimed to be the first and only 100% Social TV for Hispanics.
SOI TV is now broadcasting across the United States to 3.3 million Hispanic households through a platform that enables users to interact in real-time with its on-air programming.
Other unique offerings are also coming in the market. TweetTV’s social TV guide updates every minute to show real-time TV watching trends along with localized channel numbers for the user’s TV provider.
Its real-time search feature enables users to find where the social buzz is among currently airing TV programs based on any combination of genres and networks.
While all these collaborative technologies are making inroads in the TV industry, unfortunately the content creation processes are not evolving to leverage this change. Consumers don’t pay for the backend technologies; they actually pay for frontend content. If business models are not made around content, the tech innovations will go futile. Are TV programmers watching?