Smart TV: Where it’s heading in 2011

This post is on behalf of Lance Koenders, Director of Marketing for Intel’s Digital Home Group.

There has been a lot of chatter over the past several months around smart TV and the future of your television. If you aren’t familiar, smart TV is a category of products that combine traditional television content with Internet and personal content. They add TV-optimized browsing, interactive search, and personalized applications to your TV experience.

Intel has been involved since the beginning to get this exciting phenomenon off the ground. Our line of system-on-chip Atom processors, which combine PC capabilities with dedicated hardware, video and audio processing purpose-built for the CE industry, is the foundation for a significant number of smart TV products. For example, in October, Sony and Logitech debuted the first smart TV devices featuring Google TV with Sony’s integrated DTV’s and Blu-Ray players and Logitech’s Revue  set-top box all powered by the Intel Atom Processor CE4100 family. Then, in November, D-Link launched their new Boxee Box, also powered by the CE4100 series. Since then we’ve seen a range of reviews and opinions as well as a lot of questions on how this thing called “smart TV” works and where it’s headed.

One of the biggest questions around smart TV has been the availability of content. Any new and innovative technology will have impacts on how the industry works; smart TV and the TV industry are no exception. For example, when DVD players were introduced into the marketplace, there was a frenzy in the industry and then a settling as a new business model, selling DVD’s, came into play. As the industry learns more about smart TV and its unique capabilities, we expect positive and healthy changes will be made to the business model of TV industry, including new ways to access the content from networks. But it is important to remember that smart TV products like Google TV and Boxee are designed to integrate with your existing cable or satellite services.

We should also point out that smart TV is about more than just getting traditional TV content. We’re seeing the rise of some really innovative and cool smart TV-optimized content from innovators like Revision 3, the Laugh Factory, the Onion News Network, and lots of others. These innovators are leading the charge in exploring new business models for monetizing great video content. They are finding that Smart TVs provide the ideal platform for catering to diverse audience interests on the screen they love to go to for entertainment.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week in Vegas we saw a lot of the pieces to the smart TV puzzle start come together with a number of exciting announcements from across the smart TV market.

Boxee announced a deal with CBS that will give Boxee users the ability to purchase full episodes from CBS starting later this year. We are also seeing many networks license their content to Internet video subscription services, like Netflix, that are available on Google TV.

We also saw new smart TV products from players like ViewSonic and Iomega. Like the existing Google TV and Boxee products, these new devices support rich media, Adobe Flash video and animation, on-demand gaming, and interactive TV applications that complement broadcast TV with Internet-based content and services.

Another piece to the smart TV puzzle came in the news from industry service providers like Free and Telecom Italia. Companies like Free are providing really great examples of how service providers are bringing their own smart TV experience to the market, showing that smart TV is not just a retail phenomenon, but a real tangible category of products we’ll be seeing for a long time to come. These service providers’ devices are bringing innovative services like gaming and video conferencing to your TV screen.

Smart TV will enhance the TV experience and industry partners are starting to work together to bring amazing new content and experiences for consumers. There will be a range of devices for consumers to choose from in order to make it right for them and have a much more personalized television experience; they can get what they want, when they want, and how they want it. There is a lot of innovation to come for this category and Intel is excited to see where it all ends up.

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