As I write this, a plethora of Internet enabled televisions and Internet devices for televisions are flooding the market. From Vizio’s televisions with applications built right in to Google TV enabled televisions and set-top boxes, the TV is quickly becoming more and more connected. As a consumer, it can be tough figuring out which option really is the best.
Truthfully, none of them are. While all of them demonstrate interesting concepts and ideas, the breakthrough Internet TV platform is still yet to be found. Like many ideas, this one is not ripe for the picking just yet.
Possibly the most glaring flaw in these televisions and set-top boxes are that their own features are already done by devices like the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, which also play games and provide high-definition access to local media. In trying to offer a new product or service, being outdone by products that are not direct competitors is pretty shameful.
However, the biggest flaw of these devices is a bit harder to see. Almost all of them are made for streaming services and data collection, with a heavy focus on “cloud-computing,” a buzzword that seems to be all over the place these days. This all sounds great, but in reality can be a major pain.
While we all like to stream media and access the Internet, the speeds and consistency are not reliable enough to be considered a main source of programming just yet. The amount of time it takes to load a simple Youtube video in prime traffic hours alone raises the question of whether or not Internet TV’s are simply a gimmick.
Gimmick may be a strong word, but it’s not too far off. Right now, Internet-enabled TV services are, at best, part of a hobbyist market. Other than fellow techies and nerds, few people are going to invest money into these products until they are perfected. In other words, all bets are off.
Right now, no one can be declared the leader of this ill-defined market. Even the almighty Apple has struggled to get people to buy their Apple TV. Google TV is interesting, but still has very little market penetration. This market is wide-open for any competitor to come in and dominate. This is the glimmer of hope for everyone who wants the Internet TV dream to come to fruition.
The PC market was once a hobbyist market, but has now turned into an enormous industry that generates billions of dollars. People who were imaginative, innovative, and determined pushed the PC market forward. People like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Steve Wozniak helped make Apple and Microsoft into household names, and helped to put Silicon Valley on the map.
The idea of the Internet adding to our television experience is a great one, but it needs the right people developing and nurturing the movement. So far, none of the current guard ha been able to get the job done. Sure, there are a few sleeping giants out there (I’m looking at you Microsoft), but nothing we’ve seen has been the product everyone is searching for.