DigiTimes: After more than a dozen years of failing to live up to its promise, web access on the TV is finally ready for prime time, with retail sales of Internet-enabled TVs (IETVs) set to rise by a factor of six by 2013, according to iSuppli.
Worldwide sales of IETVs will rise to 87.6 million units by 2013, up from 14.7 million in 2009. iSuppli defines an IETV as a set that has the capability to connect to the Internet either with a wired link or wirelessly, and provides sufficient system resources to support thin-client applications such as Yahoo Connected TV widgets or the Adobe Flash Platform for the digital home.
“With the flat-panel TV market being driven by declining prices, brands are looking at ways to differentiate their TV lines from the competition,” said Randy Lawson, senior analyst for DTV and display electronics for iSuppli.
“Adding new features helps not only with differentiation but also increases the possibility of charging a premium for a step-up model. While TV brands in recent years have focused on features like faster refresh rates, LED backlighting, improved dark levels and power savings, Internet connectivity now is emerging as new key feature.”
Beyond the differentiation factor, the addition of Internet capabilities to TV sets by leading TV OEMs represents a unique opportunity for these companies to finally have direct access, and thus additional potential revenue channels, to their end customers. On the consumer side, iSuppli believes that IETV will emerge as one of the key features that consumers will demand in the coming years.
With strong interest among both TV buyers and sellers, IETVs are entering the market in droves. Already in 2009, iSuppli counts more than 85 IETV models being offered at retail in the US alone. The start of the IETV boom comes 12 years after Microsoft rocked the technology world with its purchase of WebTV Networks. WebTV, now called MSN TV, promised to bring Internet access to the massive installed base of TVs.
“WebTV has been a product and service that never quite lived up to its hype,” Lawson said. “Because of this some might be wondering if IETV is simply a case of déjà vu all over again. However, there are significant differences between the technology landscape of the mid-90s and the state-of-the-art Digital TVs (DTV), modems and broadband services of 2009.”