IPTV's latest threat: HDTV widgets

If any of you are going to be in Vegas for CES, one thing to check out is the marriage of HDTV and Web 2.0 - which could amount to another slap in the face for IPTV players.

 

Samsung Electronics and Yahoo! will be showcasing a select line of 2009 Samsung HDTV sets armed with Yahoo's Widget Engine, which essentially allows developers to create Internet widgets for the TV set.

 

Like so.

 

 

The widget-enabled sets will also support a new service - "[email protected]" - that allows viewers to access Yahoo news and affiliated sites like Flickr, as well as third-party content from the likes of USA Today, YouTube and eBay.

Future additions will essentially be up to developers who come up with new widgets using Yahoo's Widget Development Kit (WDK). Samsung also says it'll continue to develop its TV hardware to make its sets able to support additional services like video streaming.

Samsung rival LG is already on the Net video case, with an HDTV set also on display at CES that comes with an embedded Netflix player, enabling Netflix users to access streamed DVDs without a separate home-theatre PC or set-top box.

Neither TV set will be available in Asia for some time, with the LG/Netflix set for the US only, while the Samsung/Yahoo [email protected] is planned for availability in 13 countries this year in North America and Europe.

 

Theoretically the Samsung/Yahoo set is the more enticing of the two, if only because it's a more direct attempt to convince viewers to access Net content whilst watching TV (and it supports Wi-Fi, so you don't need an extra Ethernet cable for it - LG doesn't mention whether its Netflix set supports wireless or not).

 

 

The LG/Netflix set is basically embedded on-demand video over the Web that doesn't challenge the TV viewing experience all that much. On the other hand, it's an easier user experience to sell than looking at your Flickr account while watching TV.

 

Both, however, might well make IPTV providers slightly nervous. After all, migrating users to IP-based interactive TV was supposed to be their job. Internet-ready TV sets with embedded widgets could arguably make it harder for them to compete against so-called over-the-top (OTT) Internet video.

 

That said, OTT video services are currently money-losers, at least for now, and some analysts speculate that the ones that succeed may be the ones that partner with a service provider. Look for spirited debate about all of this for the rest of 2009.

 

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