Ready for the Tidal Wave?


Mobile (especially location-based services) is obviously here to stay and will be the critical component to any integrated marketing campaign. Also, marketers seem to understand that augmented reality can be a useful and utility-based technology.

But the area about to explode? Internet-connected TVs with application stores. That is, TVs with the ability to both connect to the Internet and have interactive apps downloaded directly onto them by consumers.

There's been lots of talk about the Battle for the Digital Living Room. Sony, Microsoft, Apple, Roku, Boxee and a host of other players are trying to rush out Internet-enabled boxes or gaming systems that will provide digital content and Internet connectivity on standard television sets. Cable providers are also trying to get into the game with partnerships with companies such as ActiveVideo that can stream content "from the cloud" to most standard consumer cable boxes. Even Google is trying to get into the game by modifying its Android OS for this new, connected digital living room market. 

(There's a great three-minute video that shows just how disruptive Google's entry into the connected-TV environment can and most likely will be.)

Not to be left out, many electronics manufacturers that create TV sets don't want to be without a chair once the music stops playing. So now you have companies like LG, Panasonic, Samsung  and others also trying to bring Internet-enabled television sets to the digital living room as fast as possible.

Regardless, whether it's the TV itself, a gaming system, set-top box or other connected peripheral, the Internet-enabled digital living room is upon us.

So with all this connectivity, what's the end game for the consumer? Think of the still-exploding smartphone app market and apply that to your living room and TV set. It's no secret that consumer electronic manufacturers are hoping to replicate the success of the iPhone app market by offering the same type of direct-to-consumer app ecosystem.

Consider these recent projections from In-Stat:

• U.S. shipments of Web-enabled consumer electronic (CE) devices that support TV applications will grow from 14.6 million in 2010 to 83.4 million by 2014.
• By 2014, over 59 million U.S. broadband households will own at least one CE device that supports TV applications.
• By 2014, the U.S. installed base of CE devices that support TV applications will be 136 million units.
As you can see, there's a pretty high trajectory for this market.

But what of the potential pitfalls?

Well, similar to the entire mobile ecosystem, there might be app compatibility issues and, unlike "mobile Web optimization" that can act as a common bridge, the interactive television app market doesn't appear to yet have a Plan B.

Continue to next page →