December 12, 2007

Internet video on the TV

The debate on how to bring the vast & rich collection of Internet videos to your living room TV continues. Over the years, several companies have tried, and failed, to sell consumers the third box for their living room (in addition to the cable/satellite set top box and the DVD/music player). The value proposition has simply not been compelling enough (on most fronts: user experience, complexity, cost, etc.).

We thought Apple, the most likely company to succeed, will crack this nut through Apple TV, which was marketed as the 21st century DVD player. In other words, a replacement for one of your current two living room boxes, not an additional third box. Until Steve Jobs called Apple TV a "hobby" - a rather open admittance of defeat.

Can the video game console be the Trojan horse to bring Internet videos to the living room? Microsoft and Sony are definitely betting on it with their IP enabled game consoles.

Can the STB evolve to include the Internet TV functionality?

The intelligence can also move to the TV itself (e.g., new Sony Bravia IP enabled TVs).

The Wall Street Journal this week ran a comprehensive story on this topic. Interviewing several industry analysts and executives, they presented five reasons on why the convergence has failed and proposed solutions for each reason:

1) Too many boxes. Proposed solution: Blend boxes

2) Too complicated (for users to set up the functionality). Proposed solution: Keep it simple

3) Sticker shock. Proposed solution: Set video free (free, ad-supported model)

4) Limited selection (of currently available walled-garden video libraries). Proposed solution: Open up the boxes

5) Slow downloads. Proposed solution: Faster, smarter (thru new technologies)

I'd suggest reading the full WSJ article (subscription required).

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