Electronics manufacturers are betting the farm on the
so-called Smart TV concept that brings apps, games and other
smartphone features to 50-inch flat screens. It might sound like
a natural extension of the smartphone and tablet experience. But
is this really the next evolution in TV entertainment? The
general assumption is that Apple (NASDAQ:
) will develop a magical, all-inclusive TV that combines the best
features of its most popular iDevices. Without knowing exactly
how that may turn out, it is difficult to predict the success of
Based on what is currently available, however, TV
manufacturers have a long way to go before they build something
truly revolutionary. In their current state, Smart TVs are
Internet-connected devices that can surf the Web, stream Hulu and
) or play Angry Birds. This might be cool if these were
newfangled apps that consumers have yet to experience. But TVs
have had this content for years via game consoles and other
Samsung has attempted to enhance the experience by adding a
motion component. But instead of making TV more intuitive, the
South Korean manufacturer has disguised its shortcomings with a
featuring an attractive supermodel who demonstrates the TV's
ability to pick up a simple wave. This is an interesting step
forward, but it wasn't necessary -- or even practical. Consumers
do not automatically think about waving at a screen to adjust the
volume. They do, however, instinctively search for the volume
button on a remote control.
In order to ensure that Samsung TVs feature the latest "smart"
content, the company has signed deals with Rovio, Yahoo (NASDAQ:
) and other corporations.
However, the challenge that TV manufacturers face -- whether
it's Sony (NYSE:
), Panasonic (NYSE:
), LG, Samsung or anyone else -- is that apps might not make TVs
any cooler or more appealing to consumers.
Before smartphones arrived (namely the iPhone), cellular
devices were very limited in what they could do. Research In
) pioneered the concept with the first BlackBerry, which brought
e-mail and other computer functions to a portable device. They
were revolutionary. The iPhone took things even further by
allowing users to surf the Web -- the real Web, not some
scaled-down version designed for mobile phones -- from anywhere
in the world.
Prior to these innovations, consumers could not get e-mail or
visit their favorite websites with a phone. Once consumers had
these abilities, they quickly learned that they could no longer
live without them.
Thus far, Smart TVs have yet to get any features of this
magnitude. While smartphones entirely changed the cellular
industry, Smart TVs merely provide another way to acquire content
that exists elsewhere -- and in a very similar form. Until that
changes, TV manufacturers will be unable to create a new era in
Even so, they still might be able to turn a profit. During the
painful year of 2011 (in which TV manufacturers failed to sell a
significant number of 3D TVs), Samsung sold two million
Internet-connected sets in
just three months
(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
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