First it was thin screen TV’s then came HD TV then came 3D now a new TV era is emerging with content set to be delivered by the likes of Telstra, Apple and Google as opposed to the traditional free to air TV stations. The move is set to hit the makers of personal video recorders.
Yesterday Sony revealed four new TV’s and a Blu ray player running Google TV software. This allows consumers to access content from online web sites.
Paul Erickson, senior analyst with IMS Research believes that the emergence of technology similar to what Google TV and Apple is offering will “energise” the TV market. Speculation is also mounting that Apple will shortly launch a full TV range that will include software similar to what is on an iPad or iPod for home entertainment.
“There are so many variables just now and no one clear winner,” he told BBC News.
“Everybody is trying to own the living room experience. Google has definitely got everyone on their toes and all eyes are on Sony to see how it does with its Google TV offering.”
Some in the business believe that in terms of the connected TV, it is a two horse race with Google and Apple pitched against one another. In Australia Telstra is set to be a major player with their T Box offering and their BigPond Movies software which several vendors are adopting for their TV’s. Among vendors currently delivering Telstra’s BigPond Movie service is Samsung and LG with several others set to launch a service next year.
Recently Logitech tried to muscle into this market with their Revue set top box which runs Google TV. The device which has no display screen will also do video conferencing however consumers will be forced to pay extra for a camera.
Also launching an IPT offering is Apple who recently launched their $129 Apple TV box which allows consumers to connect to a wealth of internet-delivered TV shows, movies, pictures, podcasts and music.
Apple previously regarded its TV box as a ‘hobby’ the BBC said.
“Everybody is jockeying for position but all eyes are on Google and Apple in this race,” said Andrew Eisner content director for consumer site Retrevo.com.
“Google and Apple will be slugging it out to win consumers and own the TV operating system and put apps in the living room. I am a big believer that software sells hardware.”
In an interview with the BBC IMS Research’s Mr Erickson disagreed.
“Neither one has proven that they have any strong traction in the TV arena yet. Apple has been on the market for a while with Apple TV and have yet to make it a hit. Despite their strong consumer brand identity and loyalty there is something about the product that is a fundamental miss.
“Google TV is still a new offering and still has to establish a brand in TV but I think if executed well, it could really change things,” said Mr Erickson.
“We recognised that the pace of innovation in the TV space was not keeping up with the improvements in desktop and mobile computing,” said Google spokesman Eitan Bencuya.
“Over the past few years consumers have been asking for a better way to find video content and more ways to find and access web video content, while developers have been looking for an open way to develop applications for TVs.”
Apple boss Steve Jobs has in the past described their Apple TV offering as a “hobby”.
“”We’ve sold a lot of them, but it’s never been a huge hit,” he said.
The new version of the product has been reduced from $299 to $129 but will only allow people to rent content rather than buy it.
“We think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board pretty fast with us,” said Mr Jobs.
Last week Foxtel moved to shore up their position in the market however they are facing a major battle with consumers asked to not only pay for a subscription to their service, which in a lot of cases is up to $100 a month but also pay for TV and movie downloads at up to $5.55 a movie.
The rental period is 48 hours for movies and 10 days for TV episodes. Foxtel said that TV episode rental would increase to a 60-day period from December.
Each TV episode is available for $2.95 and some children’s programming is available for $1.95 per episode. Most TV show episodes on Apple’s iTunes store are $2.99 – and you get to keep them. Library movies are available for $3.95 each, standard-definition, new-release movies are available for $5.50 each.
New-release high-definition movies are available for $5.95 each.
Next year several TV vendors will launch Google TV offerings including Samsung and LG. Currently Google is offering its software platform free to manufacturers, as it does with Android, in the hopes of broadening its advertising base from the Web to TVs.
Another player set to enter the market in Australia is D Link with their Boxee, which is due to ship next month.
IMS Research’s Mr Erickson said he thinks Sony’s Google TV will make an impact at the expense of set top box manufacturers like Beyonwiz, Bush, Topfield and Strong.
“The integrated experience is going to be much more powerful to sell to consumers than a separate box. The less steps you have to take to get this working the better – no extra wires, no extra remotes.