“People want to connect their TV to the internet…they want Hulu and Netflix.” – CE Retail Sales AssistantWhere did you buy your TV? If you’re like most people you bought it at a large consumer electronics store and if you didn’t buy it there you probably went there to look at the different models and then bought your lovely new TV online. If you want to know what people are really interested in when it comes to the future of TV and computing, you’ve got to go to where they buy it. You have to spend time on the retail floor. Early in 2010 a team of anthropologists and researchers from the User Experience Group at the Intel Corporation did just that and what they discovered can tell us a lot about the intersection of television and the Internet. One of the most interesting findings from the US retail study was that for each employee, on average of four times a day, a customer would come into the store and ask how they could get Hulu or Netflix onto their TV. Not only has TV come to the internet and the internet made its way to the TV both of them have made it to the retail floor and that’s serious business. The implications from the teams work are fascinating. The very nature of how average consumers define TV has changed again. This is not a new phenomenon. TV has been in a constant state of change for over half a century. The switch from black and white to color, the introduction of cable and satellite, and the addition of additional boxes like games consoles, VCRs, DVDs, VCDs, and PVRs have all allowed television to adapt itself to meet the changing interests of people all over the world. The combination of the Internet and television just makes sense. The press, pundits and prognosticators have been saying this for some time now but in 2010 this new kind of TV is going mainstream. But this leaves us asking: What will watching TV be like in the future? How smart does my TV need to be? The meaningful combination of the Internet and TV will be tricky, with technical, economic and regulatory implications that are just now beginning to show themselves. Undoubtedly these intricacies will get worked out because people, average people walking into retail stores are actually asking for it. Now that our TVs are getting smarter what do we want them to do? It’s a wonderful question for us all to ask. Certainly a smarter TV doesn’t mean that it’s less fun. Ultimately what we can say is that the very definition of TV is changing – it’s getting smarter and more personal and I couldn’t be more excited.
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