Smart TV now, dumb TV tomorrow

Andrew Ladbrook/Informa Telecoms and Media
29 Nov 2012

A quick look at Informa Telecoms & Media’s latest smart TV device forecasts would leave no doubt that smart TVs are coming.

Indeed in 2017 221 million smart TVs are expected to be sold an increase of over 400% from 2012. And by the end of 2017 there will be over 800 million smart TV sets will be in homes worldwide. 31% of households worldwide will own a smart TV, with household penetration much higher in North America (63%) and Western Europe (64%).

But the reality behind these numbers is considerably less spectacular. Any smart TV bought in 2012 would have been obsolete for a minimum of 2 years by 2017. And whilst connection rates are rising for smart TVs they will continue to lag connection rates of games consoles and media streaming devices – Apple TV, Roku, etc – even in 2017. So many of the 800 million smart TVs in homes in 2017 will be used in a broadly similar way to how dumb TVs are used today.

Smartphones set a pace TVs can’t match

With their long lifecycles TVs are simply not device to try and make the center of the digital home.
Instead devices that are regularly replaced including smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, media streamers and games consoles that will be key devices in the digital home experience.

Of these, smartphones will continue to define what smart truly is - due to short lifecycles and rapidly increasing processor power, users will rarely own a smart phone for longer than 3 years.

At best a smart TV bought in 2011 or 2012 will be used for streaming OTT video services for a few years. But they lack the processing power and the requisite hardware to perform truly smart TV functions that will be standard in 2015.

It is not just Moore’s law that will hasten smart TVs transition to the status of dumb screens. Manufacturer’s short term vision for their smart TV products will also hinder the device. Examples abound of services launched solely on this year’s smart TV models.

Users who bought last year’s device are left out because of faulty reasoning which believes not having this year’s must have smart TV app – HBO Go, Lovefilm, Netflix, BBC’s Sport – will be enough to drive them to buy a new TV.

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