I was browsing the televisions recently at my local big-box retailer, and I noticed how prevalent connected TV sets have become. I knew manufacturers were pushing them, but it actually seemed difficult to find a TV without some kind of Internet connection.
For many of these TVs, connectivity is limited to a handful of apps, such as Netflix or weather or streaming radio. These apps used to seem like a differentiator in a market crowded with TV choices, but I wonder if they are already becoming just one more item in a long list features people expect their TVs to have.
I don’t get the sense that the average consumer is comparing connected-TV apps or features when making a purchasing decision, instead seeing it as another option that’s nice to have, but basically the same across the board. Not that this is true—some manufacturers undoubtedly offer better connected-TV packages than others—but I’m not sure that point of distinction is cutting through the chatter in the market. I also suspect (though I have no proof) a significant number of people are neglecting to hook up with TVs to their wireless networks to take advantage of the connected features. The difficulties of connecting a device to a network are still a major pain point for many people.
What is certain is the increase in TVs offering connectivity. A report from DisplaySearch says 47% of all flat-panel TVs shipped are expected to have some form of Internet connectivity in 2015. DisplaySearch believes many TVs will go even further than Internet connectivity, but will also communicate with other devices in the home, such as smartphones and tablets.
I look forward to all the capabilities these “smart TVs” will bring. But I don’t look forward to having one more device to struggle to connect to my wireless router. I assume my next TV purchase will be a connected TV, but I hope it will be intelligent enough to make setup painless.