TV service providers have had a monopoly on the consumer television experience for years, but the CE guys finally have a chance to get in on the game. From LG’s launch of WebOS TVs to the incorporation of the Roku platform in TCL and Hisense sets, CES is full of news about how the TV companies are banking on delivering better software to differentiate themselves.
As Dave alluded to, however, it’s hard to imagine that consumers are going to pay too much attention to software when they buy a TV. Worse, the messy ecosystem means it will take longer for any useful new applications and features to gain traction. How are content companies and developers going to deal with creating TV apps for a thousand different connected TVs, set-tops, and streaming sticks?
The one interesting solution out there right now is ActiveVideo’s CloudTV distribution platform. I saw a demo last night of the company’s new AdCast advertising solution, and the technology renders any HTML5 app as a video stream that can be delivered to any connected device. It’s the same concept the company has already shown with UI virtualization. Dave in fact first saw a TiVo UI rendered on a Roku back in June.
By extending to ads and apps, however, ActiveVideo opens new doors for content companies who want to develop new channels and “experiences” that can be seen on any TV. Sure, the first stuff coming out is going to be ads and branded content (as seen above), but the model means companies could put virtually anything on your TV, just the same way they do on the web.
As a consumer, I say forget the TV OS. If this whole virtualization thing works out, we won’t have to worry about what platform our TVs run. Instead, we can continue to pick whatever TV has the best display. And then sit back and enjoy the show.