Hope Yet for Yahoo TV Widget Platform?

In two consecutive years at CES first Dave and then I got  excited about the promise of Yahoo’s TV Widgets. But despite all the potential, we’ve seen little of the platform beyond Las Vegas. Now a new report out by GigaOM Pro suggests it may all be a matter of timing. According to the report on TV Apps, the market for widget TV platforms is on track for significant growth in the next five years. And report author Paul Sweeting points out that Yahoo has first-mover advantage with the widest distribution on TVs today. Currently the Yahoo platform is available on TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizo, and Sony.

However, it remains to be seen whether or not Yahoo can get it’s act together fast enough to be true leader in the TV widget space. Sadly, the company hasn’t done much with the lead it established in 2009, and it’s running out of time to take advantage of first-mover position. Vudu has its own widget platform and is now part of retail giant Wal-Mart. DivX also announced its own platform in January. And then there are of course the Roku and Boxee boxes. Add on competition from cable and telco TV operators, Google, and maybe some day Apple, and you’ve got a crowded marketplace. Yahoo’s got a lot of work to do.

Here are some of the stats Sweeting quotes in the GigaOM report.

  • 3.7 million TV apps will be downloaded in 2010, and that number will grow to 965 million by 2015. Three out of four apps will be free, but some of those will enable paid services like Netflix’s streaming video app.
  • Revenue from paid TV apps will rise from under $10 million in 2010 to nearly $1.9 billion by 2015.
  • The market for web tablet apps will grow from $183 million in 2010 to $8.2 billion in 2015, with many of those apps crossing over to Internet-connected TVs.
  • 50% of HDTV shipped will have an Internet connection by 2014.

7 thoughts on “Hope Yet for Yahoo TV Widget Platform?”

  1. I just don’t want apps bound to the TV itself. Then how if ever would you get your apps updated? Would you have to buy next year’s $2000 TV?

    I’d like to see this pushed into set top boxes, because who uses the TV’s built in menu’s anyway? Probably no one, unless DCAS or Tru2Way 2-way cable card makes an appearance again.

  2. cypher, the widgetized TVs all have network connections for the data. Presumably they can pretty easily update that portion of the firmware/software. (Something we’ve seen on connected Blu-ray players.) And products like Vudu do most of their app stuff in the cloud and it just renders locally.

  3. I have the Yahoo! Widgets on my new Samsung and while in theory they are a nice addition, the reality is a little different. I don’t use the major apps like Amazon VoD because I have a Roku DVP that is already part of that system and my subscription (Netflix) and VoD needs (Amazon) are already met. With that being said, I will say that I did check out a couple of shows through Amazon when I first got the TV and the quality was on par with other streaming platforms that I have used. I could see myself occasionally using the sports, weather and news widgets to get a quick peek at the latest happenings, however, the load times are painful! In order for them to be really useful, they probably need to be nearly instantaneous. It would be nice to quickly pull up the sports widget to check the latest scores while the show I am watching is on a commercial. Right now that is not possible unfortunately. By the time the widgets load, I have nearly lost interest and the show is nearly back on.

  4. Hmm, maybe they need to start putting the cell processor in the TV’s to run these widgets then?

    Or how about cable boxes with multi-core “cell” like processors, that can load up the widget in seconds?

    I wonder how often the widgets can bet updated to add new features, keep the look up to date and fix bugs on the widget integrated TV’s?

  5. A slight edit to my first post –

    While the widgets do take quite a while (20-25 seconds) to load from a “cold” start (i.e. when the TV has been off or it has been a while since the widgets were used), they load considerably faster (4-5 seconds) when recently utilized. Also, from start to finish, it takes a little over a minute (open widget window, choose Amazon, wait for categories to load, scroll and select category/content) to start Amazon content

    Additionally, one thing I do like – at least with the way Samsung has implemented it – is the widget window. It is translucent (filling about 1/3 of the left side of the screen) which allows you to pull up the widgets, scroll through and view the various options while still viewing the show/movie in the background.

  6. I wouldn’t expect tru2way devices to show up at retail for quite some time. I certainly wish it weren’t that way!

    It’s actually really nice to see the innovation around connected sets, and speaking from a company that works with cable operators, I’m hoping all this OTT talk will really help to push the operators to innovate.

    Alticast has been leading the application push in several other TV markets and have seen a lot of innovation as a result. Guides, VOD, gaming, banking, commerce, community services and advertising are all in full use in Korea and we’re working to bring that innovation to the States.

    It’s not been easy, but some of the advances around the TV set itself (like Yahoo! Widgets and Google TV) will certainly renew the interest in an advanced TV platform that’s on par with our mobile phone!

    Jeff Bonin

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