One of the biggest things at CES this year was televisions. You couldn’t hardly walk five feet without hearing about the latest innovations in TV technology, and buzzwords like “4K” and “OLED” were being thrown around like beads at a Mardi Gras parade. It’s obvious that while there are increasing numbers of people “cutting the cord” or dropping physical media, they still want nice displays to view whatever it is they are watching on.
The questions is, however, do the perks beyond the screen matter?
Just before the end of last year, the NPD Group released a study that showed that people with Internet connected televisions were using them to watch television, but not a whole lot of anything else. While this does include Over-the-Top (OTT) video services – better known as streaming video services – it is beyond that where things just aren’t quite as useful. Streaming music services such a sPandora secured second place with about 15 percent of smart TV users saying they have used the technology, but this is compared with nearly 60 percent saying they have used an OTT. After music the numbers just fall off the cliff in to not even mattering.
And someone really needs to explain to us how LinkedIn is more popular than Twitter on televisions. You would think the latter would be a natural fit for TVs.
With all of this in mind, and certainly with manufacturers having access to similar usage numbers, one has to wonder why they are still putting so much emphasis on the various smart features. Samsung completely redesigned the Smart Hub this year, and LG is going the route of not only including Google TV, but placing its own custom skin over it, something that can’t be cheap to implement.
Perhaps companies such as Samsung and LG know something that the rest of us don’t, and they have a higher hope for this performing well down the road. However, what I would say to them is if you look at the list of what does well, and what doesn’t, the key issue is the lack of QWERTY keyboards. Yes, most companies are now selling you keyboard friendly remotes as a premium add-on, but how many people are actually purchasing those? If they were to be included from the outset, or there were apps available that allowed you use your phone or tablet as a substitute, you cold pretty much guarantee that these usage numbers would swell.
Until the companies make these apps easier to use, don’t expect to see a whole lot of change happening here. But should they finally relent and change some of this up, then it could be an entirely different ball game and we could start to see the TV as one of the leading Twitter interfaces.