’Boob tube’ becoming smart
By Yoon Ja-young
TVs, which have long been dubbed with negative nicknames such as the boob tube, are becoming smart. Industry analysts expect that the introduction of smart TVs could change our life as greatly as that of smartphones.
Connectivity to the Internet is the most notable feature of any smart device that fundamentally differentiates them from their conventional rivals such as feature phones or set top boxes, which have limitations in terms of both operations of programs and access to networks.
“If we group feature phones with traditional TV sets, then smartphones should go with smart TVs,” according to a report issued by KT Economic & Business Institute.
While feature phones provide a basic means of communications such as voice calls and text messages, smartphones focus on data communications and operate mobile applications providing diverse functions.
Smart TVs support Internet communications on top of receiving broadcasting signals. Users can install or delete applications for smart TVs to enjoy diverse functions.
They provide Web content such as browsing, video on demand, streaming, social networking services as well as banking and commerce. These TVs also have application stores and offer a convenient interface and experience, such as sensing motion or voices of the users.
Song Min-zeong, a researcher at the KT Economic & Business Institute, said diverse smart device industries, including smart TV, are being integrated to Internet and computing businesses. They have to compete and coexist.
“The business model for smartphones, based on operating systems and app stores, is transferring to the TV market,” she added.
Internet changing the industry landscape
Song said that the Internet is demolishing the wall in distribution for TV content. “A new supply channel has emerged that may directly threaten the subscriber base of conventional broadcasters,” she said, citing Netflix, a DVD rental and online streaming service, as an example.
As viewership has moved from broadcasting outlets to the Internet, the conventional TV media fear they may lose power as a platform. When that happens, online video services are likely to take over global content distribution.
The Internet is also eating into the time people devote to traditional TV. In the United States, visitors to online video services are spending around four hours and 40 minutes a day on those sites on average.
Song said that not only operating system developers like Google and Apple but also TV manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, as well as online video services and content providers are eyeing the market. “After LED and 3D TV, they see smart TV as the next theme in the industry,” she added.
Meanwhile, Google is trying to expand the Web advertisement business model to TV, and Apple wants to strengthen the ecosystem of its i-products and AppStore, according to Song. Content providers and online video services focus on expanding profit sources by diversifying distribution channels.
Song expects the wall between diverse players to be demolished. “In the end, it will be a war between video platforms,” she said.