Thursday, February 19, 2009

Does WebTV 2.0 Mean Convergence We Can Believe In?

Just when you’ve run out of room on your power strip, there’s another new Web-to-TV box coming to market. The New York Times reports that a new adapter coming to market later this quarter will enable consumers to make televisions fully Internet-enabled.

Over the past dozen years, there’s been no shortage of consumer devices for bringing all or part of the Web to television. But they’ve always been hobbled by a variety of factors: the conflicting nature of PC vs. TV displays; the frequency of PC software upgrades; the cost and perceived technical difficulty of integrating yet another box into the home entertainment system; and the inevitable cost pressures on consumer electronics manufacturers which often lead to devices with inadequate memory and processing power.

What consumers really want is not the Web on TV, but a Web-driven experience, complete with access to the vast catalog of video available on the Web and the personalization and rapid browsing the Web brings. They want an experience which fits seamlessly into the 10-foot viewing experience of television. They want immediacy and remote-control navigability. They want the same consumer-friendly approach that TV offers, including ease of set-up and an avoidance of PC plug-ins like Flash, Silverlight and others that need to be upgraded periodically to accommodate requirements of driven by personal computer users.

Ultimately, what consumers need is a Web-infused television experience that combines the choice and control of broadband with the quality, reliability, immediacy and remote control navigation of television not just the PC Web projected onto a larger screen. The Web-to-TV issue finally will be settled for good when we have mass deployments of services that are being deployed today in the United States and abroad. These services intelligently stream video from servers in the network to any set-top box or CE device in the home, giving consumers the optimal combination of Web and TV functionality.

It is hard to imagine why WebTV will enjoy greater success than its predecessor in its 2.0 encore tour through a store near you, later this quarter.

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