With 3D a Bust, TV Gets Smart

CES approacheth, and so do video dreams. Last year the industry bet on 3D, with Sony going all in. As I reported after the 2010 show, it was not ready for prime time. It flopped.

This year hope changes to “smart TV” – the boob tube turned into a smartphone, with apps galore. Clever, certainly, but smart? Wait ’til you see the remote! Will immediately fail the Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF).

Smart is not well-thought-through yet, but starts with an Internet-connected TV that accesses television online. The onslaught of Netflix (NFLX) continues unabated. Stories fly through the blogosphere about cord-cutting away from cable and into online TV. Cable is indeed losing customers, and about at the pace we saw a decade ago from landline to mobile telephony.

I bought two networked blu-ray players that were simple enough to pass the WAF and yet provide Netflix, Vudu and YouTUbe on the telly. Both came from LG and were powered by Widevine, one of my investments that recently got bought by Google (GOOG). I believe in online TV and have placed bets.

Stepping beyond “online TV” to “Smart TV” and into the land of apps, and the future gets murky. TV remains a lean-back experience. For TV makers, the cost and complexity to enable an apps layer (typically powered by Google’s Android) may be quickly wrung out of the profits in the hyper-competitive TV market. The advantage will inure to Google, Netflix and the new intermediaries who provide the content & apps services.

Let’s see what they cook up at CES. More when I return.

About Duncan Davidson 228 Articles

Affiliation: NetService Ventures

Duncan is an advisor to NetService Ventures, where he focuses on digital media and the mobile Internet.

Previously he was at four start-ups: Xumii, a mobile social service based on a Social Addressbook; SkyPilot Networks, the performance leader of wireless mesh systems for last-mile access, where he was the founding CEO; Covad Communications (Amex: DVW, $9B market cap at the peak), the leading independent DSL access provider, where he was the founding Chairman; InterTrust Technologies ($9B market cap at the peak), the pioneer in digital rights management technologies, now owned by Sony and Philips, where he was SVP Business Development and the pitchman for the IPO.

Before these ventures, Duncan was a partner at Cambridge Venture Partners, an early-stage venture firm, and managing partner of Gemini McKenna, a joint venture between Regis McKenna's marketing firm and Gemini Consulting, the global management consulting arm of Cap Gemini.

He serves on the board or is an adviser to Aggregate Knowledge (content discovery), Livescribe (digital pen), AllVoices (citizen journalism), Xumii (mobile social addressbook), Verismo (Internet settop box), and Widevine (DRM for IPTV).

Visit: Duncan Davidson's Blogs

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*