As demand for Internet-connected devices expands, the connected TV forms a category poised for growth. According to the latest market study by ABI Research, the estimated 19 percent of flat panel TVs shipping with Ethernet in 2010 will grow to 46 percent in 2013.
What will viewers see and interact with on these connected TV sets? According to ABI's industry analyst Michael Inouye, "New features will include media guides, Web browsing, and more tightly integrated social and information-based datasets."
New opportunities for advertising and cross-marketing will flow from these developments too -- as well as new roles for the digital television manufacturers.
TV makers no longer want to build dumb screens. Rather than simply selling boxes, TV makers themselves could try to secure part of the advertising revenue their devices present to consumers.
TV makers won't be providing all that content themselves, of course. Netflix, for instance, has a video streaming service available for use with connected TVs.
The tight integration of software and hardware raises difficulties, however, because each manufacturer's combination of hardware and operating system works in different ways, so applications must be customized for each brand of television. That has discouraged some app developers, but others are pushing ahead.
Wi-Fi has made some early headway, but wired formats are more robust -- especially for HD video content. Diverse wired standards such as G.hn, HomePNA, MoCA, and Powerline are all contenders in the long term, perhaps displacing the currently most robust solution, Ethernet.
ABI's Inouye concludes, "This market is very fluid and uncertain, and with so many parties vying for a piece of the action, that fluidity may persist for years."