Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Monday, January 10, 2011

Smart TV 2011

Not exactly Smart TV the way it's been promoted.
Gaming in 2011 is facing the onslaught of a new segment, courtesy of the Internet-connected TV. We've seen several types of them, including some with Yahoo! Widgets built in; Apple TV to connect to any HDTV; and Google TV (as a separate unit from Logitech and built into some models of Sony TVs). The market is getting even more crowded in 2011, with both Microsoft and Cisco joining the party. Yes, we'll see Windows TV by and by, and Cisco's got a series of cable boxes that connect to the Internet. Even LG is joining the fun with a separate box to upgrade earlier LG TVs. Some observers believe this is just a continuing failure of the tech business trying to enter the TV business, and it will continue to fail.

It's true that so far no smart TV device has really been a hit with customers, and certainly none of this has any relevance to gaming, does it? Well, it does, and here's why. Someday, one of these companies will actually figure out that an App Store for smart TVs could make a boatload of money, and they'll actually fire one up. (Google, at least, has announced their intent to do so... sometime this year, hopefully.) It won't take a whole lot of expensive power inside a Smart TV to make playing thousands of games possible... just look at what smartphones can do. Current app developers will cheerfully port their apps over to this new market, and it won't take them long to do so (weeks, probably). Then we'll see a whole new market emerge, and the console makers will be the first ones affected. Imagine the kind of apps you can get on your smartphone suddenly available on your TV... in high resolution, at a low price or free to play.

I suspect Apple will pull this out of their hat at some point this year, though I can't say when. Perhaps when nothing else major is going on... and with iPad 2 expected as early as a February announcement, and an iPhone 5 probable for this summer, I'd expect something in the fall. Google will likely try to hit earlier than that, probably springtime. Will Microsoft get into the act? If they're smart, they'll hook this into their Xbox Live/Windows Phone 7 plan, and make apps available for all of their platforms... but internal battles will probably keep this from happening.

Still, this will be a major new market for small developers, once it gets going. But it will be a body blow to traditional console gaming...

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