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Is your TV stupid? Google and Apple think so

by Andrew Scott

Since apple released the iPod in the late 90’s there has been a revolution in consumer electronics. Previously people went to the shop and simply asked ‘what’s the sound quality like’ when purchasing a portable music player. Now they ask what else can it do.

We now have that expectation of every technology product we buy, especially now that we are all connected through the Internet. We want to know how the new devices we buy are connected and how they will converge and contribute to our wider digital lives.

Apple have been at the fore of this revolution. Steve Jobs is famous for his prediction in the 70’s that in the future personal computers were going to be more than necessary practical tools in the work place, but also desirable consumer products.

Not only did his prediction come true, but he and his company have applied this philosophy to a whole host of electrical goods. The PC, the laptop, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. What’s next the iIron, the iVacuum?

Well it’s most definitely going to be the the television that receives the ‘i’ prefix next. It is the most obvious step for a company that seems hell bent on being the maker of choice for all entertainment portals.

For an idea of what a ‘Smart’ TV of the future might look like have a look at this video:

When you ask the question ‘What else does it do?’ in reference to a TV, the answer is surprisingly, nothing. The whole concept of television seems unbelievably outdated. It’s basically a monitor that displays live streaming video, thats it, nothing else.

Some companies notably, Virgin, BT and Sky – in the UK – have attempted to bring new features to our televisions, but they are hardly ground breaking and they have limited connectivity to the internet. There are also some add on devices like consoles that can bring the internet to the television, but again they are often clumsy and gimmicky.

The TV is screaming out for a grand redesign and Apple are salivating at the prospect of it.

They are not alone however, Google are also forging ahead with their own interpretation of the television future. They have already released a first attempt of their Google TV. The company admits it’s first attempt was not exactly a hit and Logitech can confirm they lost tens of millions of pounds on the project, but this is hardly going to stop them.

Eric Schmidt, Google chairman, has said that “by the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded on it”.

Bold statement?

Well I’m not sure about the google aspect, but I’m quite certain that by next summer the majority of TV’s on the market will be doing a lot more than just displaying television.

The real question is will people want them?

Looking at the figures today about 20% of televisions currently being used have ‘smart’ Internet capabilities, of those only 45% of users ever use the Internet capabilities of their TV’s and of them only 57% found the experience satisfying.

There is obviously a lot of hard work to be done in designing these products, but it is inevitable that someone will considering the pot of gold waiting for the companies that does.

I think in time someone is going to get it right and turn the TV into something completely new, whether that will be Google, Apple or anybody else for that matter, remains to be seen.

What do you think? Do we really need our TV’s to be given the smart overhaul? and if so who do you think is most likely to overcome the current barriers and make it first? Leave your ideas in the comments below.

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