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.