Many pundits have declared that Smart TV is the next biggest thing in the tech space. Leading smartphone OS and device manufacturers are now looking at Smart TVs as the next logical step towards a hyper-connected and social landscape. While this may look feasible in theory, the fact is that TVs are not getting any smarter. The so-called Smart TVs that companies are releasing are connected to the Internet but they are not fundamentally changing the TV experience by much.
A report in the Times of India states that many Smart TV users are actually ignoring the smart features of these TVs to just consume online video and nothing else. Online video services like Youtube, Hulu and Netflix are seeing good traction but the corresponding social apps like Facebook and Twitter are not seeing much usage. So in essence, TVs are looking like they will always be ‘idiot boxes’ rather than a device which can expand our mobile and desktop computing horizons.
There is a lot of confusion in the space as efforts by giants like Google have not gotten much traction yet and are said to failing. Secondly, companies that are currently developing smart TV solutions will be in a quandary due to the latest findings about usage. The question will pop up – ‘Why go ahead and make a Smart TV when all people want to do is watch video?’.
So how can TVs be made smarter and thus popular?
1. When we have social media in our hands these days thanks to mobile, is it really necessary to develop standalone social apps for TV? I don’t really think so unless there is some deep integration of social into the smart TV platform. Have your tried tweeting from your TV? It is a pathetic experience.
2. Studies have shown that people are increasingly using their smartphones as a second screen to engage and interact with TV shows in a social way. One way we could get people to use social while using the TV is to have an integration of the smartphone and TV platforms using WiFi. Your smartphone can act like a remote and can also let you give text input to the TV. Thus it will be super easy to use the TV’s social functionality by putting it onto something familiar and easy – the smartphone.
3. Super interactive content is another way of driving up the Smart TV usage. Many TV shows are experimenting with Twitter these days but these are still the early days. Imagine telling your audience to participate in an easter egg spotting contest in the show. You could get a lot of people excited about the show and make them pay close attention to all the details. There are multiple avenues of exploration possible here.
4. Make the whole deal as smooth as possible. Smart TV functionality is broken simply because it takes a lot of time and effort to get anything done on the platform. Remember how the smartphones of the last decade were? They were notoriously difficult to operate and we could only do one task at a time. These problems have been solved today and our smartphone experience is smooth and without hiccups. The same needs to be done for TV. TVs come with pathetic UIs, too many advanced options and a remote which million different buttons besides the ones we use normally. This should go away and be replaced with iPhone like simplicity, where everything gets done easily without driving you mad.
This is what I think a Smart TV needs in 2013. I would love to hear your suggestions.