Android Smart tv box streaming Netflix UK USA & Blinkbox unlimited movies vod films,+ free BBC ITV1 Iplayer on your LCD LED TV
Its a not a media box .... Its a SmartTV-box
This latest android technology and software converts your flat screened TV into a SmartTV.
You can watch on-demand streamed movies from Netflix or BlinkBox (Netflix offer unlimited movies for £5.99 <$7.99> a month). In UK BBC and STV I-players give you BBC and ITV1 programs on-demand. You can also play music online,view digital photos from your camera, Play free Android games(like Angry Bird), surf the web, email & use Facebook or Twitter and of course the latest videos on YouTube.
Plus 100's of free or low-cost Apps and games to download.
Everything you would expect from a smartphone, tablet or Ipad - in a format that plays on your tv.
This new technology is a great experience on your big screen LCD, LED or Plasma TV.(uses HDMI TV connection)
**BUY a SmartTV-Box from £129.40 ($199) +Ins'd P&P £19.50 |
**Netflix FREE Trial 1MONTH MOVIES then £5.99 p.m. when continue
**Blinkbox with 900 FREE movies + 99p movies (UK only)
**Free TV Players with BBC & ITV1 programs (UK only)
**Free Games..Music..Photos..100s of APPS to download
**JUST PLUG and PLAY (easy to use system)
**NO COMPUTER NEEDED, CONNECT INTERNET and
**TV HDMI CABLE INTO BOX
**BUY THE SmartTV-Box for £129.40($199) +Insured P&P _
SmartTV-BOX COMES WITH
*WiFi and Ethernet connection
*HDMI Cable for connection between BOX and TV
*Wireless Couch Mouse(for easy use of box and applications)
*2GB SD Card = program storage(preloaded with Flash Player, games & other apps)
*OPTIONAL - Wireless mini keyboard and touchpad.
The Android SmartTV box was recently launched to the industry at CeBIT Hannover, IPTV London and NEC Birmingham.
The SmartTV-box converts your TV into a Smart TV with TV I-Players, Movies, Games, Music, Internet Browsing, MSN, Facebook, Photos and 100's of downloadable apps.
SmartTV is the future now with Google TV and Android TV on the horizon. Our SmartTV box uses Googles Android platform to allow for these and other future developments.
You dont need to watch your movies on your game box or pc anymore - have the movies on demand direct to your LCD, LED or PLASMA TV with hdmi connection.
No need to buy an expensive SmartTV when your existing TV can become Smarter
You can even connect a usb keyboard and a usb mouse to have a computer experience as it comes with a full internet browser.
Technology your TV has been waiting for.
LOOKING FOR AN INTERNATIONAL VERSION - ==========================================================
What the press is saying....
Movie and TV streaming service Netflix has launched in the UK and Ireland.
Last summer research suggested that Netflix was the single biggest driver of internet traffic in the US.
The US-based service launched in 2007 and has more than 20 million online subscribers in 47 countries. Films will be available on a variety of platforms, including games consoles, smartphones tablets, Smart TVs and Smart TV boxes. Netflix is betting on a breadth of locally produced content including full seasons of UK favourites such as Top Gear, The Only Way is Essex, The Inbetweeners and Torchwood. But chief executive Reed Hastings was guarded when it came to setting specific UK goals for the new service. "We think about it as trying to get to millions of members over the next few years. We very much think of it as a long-term investment," he told the BBC. Strong rivals Competition in the UK market is expected to be fierce. Lovefilm recently announced that it was experiencing its fastest customer growth rate since 2009. Mr Hastings is aware of the challenge facing Netflix as it expands. Reed Hastings: "We have more content than Lovefilm" "The big competitor in the UK for us is Sky Movies and Sky Atlantic," he said. "Lovefilm is mostly DVD by post... and we're both really competing with Sky." However, Mr Hastings was confident Netflix would be able to attract UK consumers: "Relative to each of our competitors we have different differentiators, but Netflix is a very focused on streaming and we do it really well." Lovefilm's growth comes at a difficult time for Netflix. The firm lost market value in 2011. However, Mr Hastings remained positive saying that the US loss was due to a change in DVD rental but added "our streaming in the US has been wildly successful
How to buy the best Smart TV What is Smart TV? A Netflix app lets you stream rental movies directly to your TV via the internet Fancy streaming rental films directly to your TV without the hassle of visiting the rental store or posting DVD returns? How about surfing Google maps, sharing web photo albums or making a Skype video conference via your living room’s big screen? With the latest generation of internet-connected, or Smart TVs, you can. Smart TV is the new catch-all term for internet TVs. For many new TVs this means access to a collection of apps, an app store for adding more, web browser and access to home network files all rolled into one interface. To do all this, the TV has to be able to connect to the internet. This is done by plugging into your broadband connection via an ethernet connection. Most internet TVs plug into a router using an ethernet cable. However, if your router is too far away (and is wireless ready) you can also connect to it using wi-fi. This comes built into some newer TVs but if your TV doesn’t have it, you can usually buy a wi-fi dongle. Some wireless routers performed poorly in Which? independent lab tests. Check the Which? review of wireless routers to find out more. What do I get when I connect? This depends on the brand of TV you buy. Whatever the brand all internet TVs launched in the last couple of years can access a series of apps, such as YouTube, and virtually any TV with an ethernet connection lets you stream content, such as video clips, from your PCs home network. Most brands have now added an app store to their latest models (only older Samsung TVs could do this) and some have included the option to surf the worldwide web. What are apps? Some allow you to view shared web photo albums on the big screen Smart TVs, like smartphones, have their own micro-sites, such as the popular iPlayer and YouTube apps. These are two of the most common pre-loaded apps and are among the best quality apps available. YouTube on your TV looks slightly different to the web version and the exact layout and design depends on your brand of TV. Lower quality videos suffer badly on the big screen, but there are plenty of high-definition clips to choose from. The BBC’s iPlayer app lets you access seven days’ worth of BBC radio and TV programmes, including HD (high-definition) channels, but you can’t record any of this to a DVD or hard disk. On-demand video through film rental services, let you stream films directly to your TV for a fee. It’s a virtually hassle-free way to watch films. Picture quality, though, is not quite on a par with that produced by the DVD-through-the-post method. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter both produce Smart TV apps and photo-sharing apps by Picasa and Flickr are fairly commonplace, too. Most brands come with a very similar line-up of pre-loaded apps, usually including some or all of the above but the quality of the apps on offer can vary by brand. For instance, the 'YouTube' app on Samsung’s 2010 'C' series of TVs is slicker and more user-friendly than its competitors and even its newer 2011 'D' series TVs. To add more apps most brands now include an online app store. Samsung was the first to provide access to an app store (in 2010), but Panasonic and LG have added the facility to their latest generation of Smart TVs.Where Android is the system used then there are a number of app stores with 1000's of downloadable apps. Find out more about watching iPlayer on your TV with our helpful guide. What about surfing the web on a Smart TV? This latest generation of Smart TVs (and most Philips internet-connected TVs) offers you a full web browsing experience via your TV. This means instead of being restricted to just apps you can visit any website, just like you would on a normal internet-enabled computer. However, we really wouldn't recommend buying a Smart TV based on wanting to surf the web. The experience tends to be fiddly . It's difficult to enter text and navigate web pages with just a TV remote control. Virtual on-screen keyboards sought to offer a remedy but still lack the straightforward functionality of a keyboard . Panasonic and Samsung came up with the best interim solution we’ve seen so far - a plug-in USB keyboard for its range of internet TVs. The long-term solution may well lie in a new generation of remote controls, but the touchscreen efforts we’ve seen to date have suffered from being too complex. Google looks to have the most promising solution with its Google TV full keypad remote control, due later this year; our first impressions are that it works a dream. If you want to get the best out the web using an internet-enabled Smart TV, it may just be wise to wait and see how the technology matures. Connecting to your home network Most Smart TVs connect to the internet via an Ethernet port round the back of the TV Whether the TV features apps, web browsing or not, if it has an ethernet port chances are it will be compliant. What's the difference between a Smart TV and Internet TV? They're really the same thing. Both connect to the internet and let you access web based and home network content. Smart TVs are just the latest incarnation. The name reflects the increase in content available (web pages, app stores) and evolution of one catch-all interface to help navigate everything. Smart TV boxes are an inexpensive alternative to an integrated Smart TV. You can connect via your hdmi lead and broadband and your existing LED,LCD or Plasma flat screen becomes a Smart TV.
We could soon see Android-based set-top boxes and video streaming devices, if news coming out of CeBIT is any indication of future releases. A number of OEMs are showing off video playback devices based on Google’s Android OS at the expo in Hannover, Germany recently. Some of the gear being showcased is still in the prototype stage, but one manufacturer is ready to deliver units in the next month. SmartTv box player comes with Android 2.2/3, an interesting Wii-like remote control, a full browser, and a number of apps, which at this point mostly seem to be for video sites and services. The company representative interviewed says the device could be available for sale as early as next month. Other manufacturers have similar offerings in store, but it’s worth pointing out that the customization options offered are ahead of the competition. Watching the boxes being demonstrated, the company was keen on pointing out that these ARM processor-powered devices could eventually run Google TV. That may theoretically be true. Google is reportedly working on an ARM-based implementation of its Google TV platform. Google has some pretty stiff hardware requirements for its TV platform, including the mandate to have one GB of RAM and four GB of flash memory on board, which aren’t likely to be changed even if Google adopts ARM. Official Google TV devices also have to be delivered with a full keyboard, which could bring the price point of these devices up further. Still, that Android is gaining traction in the set-top box market is significant. First of all, it offers OEM companies a platform that’s far more extendable than their current media player offerings, and it could help them to sell devices that go far beyond what Apple TV & Co. currently offer. More importantly, these OEM offerings tend to signal where the overall market is moving. In 2010, we saw Android tablets pop up at trade shows like CeBIT and CES. Fast forward 18 months, and the major manufacturers are working on their own potential iPad killer. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the same major CE makers release set-top box and connected devices running some flavor of Android next year. And yes, some of these devices might run Google TV, but others could also simply utilize Android to power their own platforms.
ZDnet - Smart TV
By now you are probably aware of the “Smart TV”, a term used, generally, to describe televisions that are able to connect to the Internet. The idea itself isn’t entirely new, but at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the devices saw a resurgence. Samsung, LG, Sony, Lenovo and especially Google are all pushing the concept in a major way, which is probably a clear indication that there is going to be some major movement in the area over the next year. But, as with most other device designations, the definition of a Smart TV is a bit amorphous. Features vary, with some devices, for example, touting voice controls while others more prominently featuring the ability to sync with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. There’s simply a lot going on, which is why it’s helpful to take a look at the key features that are likely to separate the Smart TV winners from their less fortunate counterparts. A smart interface One of the biggest problems with televisions and the cable boxes attached to them are their interfaces. Much of it is ugly, and the rest clunky and outdated. It needs a big change. A lot of the Smart TV platforms haven’t fared much better. Google TV was shunned in 2010 for having an awful and unintuitive interface. Google eventually took the criticism to heart, updating and improving Google TV’s interface with its upgrade to 2.0. It was a welcome change. A robust recommendation engine The term “Smart TV” is a bit misleading. Many televisions given the branding aren’t particularly “smart”– at least not in the sense that they exude any intelligence via features like recommendation engines. They can, of course, connect to the Internet and run apps, but a true “smart” platform would be one that would take your watching habits and use them to find you new things to watch. Google TV and Samsung’s Smart TV currently feature a less sophisticated version of this, but there is clearly a lot of room for development. Over-the-top content Sadly, the most important feature desired in Smart TVs is the most difficult to obtain: Internet-based television programming. The grip networks and cable companies have on television content is a strong one. As much as cable customers want to see changes in the way cable packages are structured, the balance of power is shifted unequivocally against them. Cable companies and networks have a good thing going on and see no real reason to change their business models. Microsoft knows this first hand. The company was recently forced to scrap plans for an Xbox TV subscription service after realizing, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the networks wanted a bit more money than Microsoft was willing to pay. So things are more or less stuck, at least for the time being. But there’s some hope. MySpace is planning a web-based subscription service that it says will offer the same content cable and satellite companies provide. It’s a bit of a pipe dream, obviously, but there’s a lot of money in it if Myspace and its parent company Specific Media can make it work. Vizio, too, has hinted at similar service. In an interview with The Verge, Vizio CTO Matt McRae said that a full Internet television provider would arrive within the next 12-18 months. McRae didn’t reveal too much, but he did say that the service would offer a much more robust search and discovery experience than what is currently offered. Cloud-based gaming The rise of cloud computing has had a profound affect on gaming. Services like OnLive and Gakai shift the processer burden from the console to the cloud, allowing otherwise underpowered devices to run console-quality games with few hitches. This extends to televisions as well. Google recently inked a deal with OnLive to offer the cloud gaming service on the Google TV platform. Offered via the OnLive Viewer app, the service will eventually be a default part of Vizio displays. LG is planning something similar with its implementation of Gakai in its own Smart TV line. The ecosystem Like the smartphone, apps play a big role in the feature set of the Smart TV. Manufacturers of Smart TV platforms are going to make a big deal over how their own app ecosystems measure up compared to competitors’ own. That may be a bit of a problem for consumers, who may find time and time again that their favorite app isn’t available on a particular platform. That’s the strength in Google’s approach, which is marked by the goal to be standard for a variety of television models. But until a clear frontrunner emerges, the battle of ecosystems won’t get any easier to navigate. Second screen compatibility Tablets and smartphones have given rise to a new classification dubbed “the second screen.” The term describes any device that a user interacts with while watching television, and includes tablets, smartphones, and laptops. Leveraging the second screen is going to be a increasingly significant component of Smart TV ecosystems. From acting as a remote control to providing supplementary programming information, the smartphone and tablet are greatly expanding the TV-viewing experience.
Web browsing, apps and more on a Smart TV
Watch BBC iPlayer and rent films with a Smart TV James Temperton at IFA, Berlin Entertainment 03/Sept/2011 Along with a wall of 3D TVs bigger than most people's houses, LG was also showing its impressive new Smart TVs. The main model on show, the LG LW6595 is a 3D TV that is 1080p HD and also has a USB 2.0 port. The Smart TV, like the ones on show from Panasonic and Samsung, has a web browser and games as well as a number of other 'apps'. These apps include YouTube and BBC iPlayer along with film services like LoveFilm and NetFlix. A number of the apps and games available also work in 3D. There was a somewhat basic sports news application that displayed newspaper content alongside very small, low-resolution images. Navigating around the Smart TV was done in a similar way to using a Nintendo Wii. The TV comes with a remote control that doubles up as a 'pointer'. When directed at the screen and moved around it can be used like a mouse-cursor to select options and navigate around the Smart TV interface. It certainly felt smooth and everything was clearly labelled. We've seen quite a few smart TVs here at IFA, with all the main manufacturers showing off their own versions. While the offerings seems quite good, it will inevitably come down to how much content they can get on their respective services. For smart TVs to work all the major broadcasters should ideally be available, offering a full catch-up TV service alongside film, web browsing and casual games. We're yet to see a company that has been able to do this. UK details on Smart TVs and other similar products from companies like Samsung and Panasonic are currently thin on the ground. We hope to bring you all the details, including price, available apps and a release date soon. Our feature will include details of a new Smart tv box that promises the ability to turn a normal living room television into a Smart tv.
Netflix versus LoveFilm
Summary: As Netflix and LoveFilm continue to battle it out, the level-playing field is tipping away from Netflix’s UK and Ireland launch, as Amazon continues to bolster its market share position. As the UK becomes a battleground for television streaming services, Amazon has won the latest round as it snaps up two key British broadcasters as part of its portfolio. LoveFilm, operated and run by Amazon, will allow users to access BBC Worldwide and ITV content from the service through existing avenues. Some content already exists, which the broadcasters provide on DVDs, but to stream it directly into your telly-box will be new to the service. Netflix may have reached agreements with the two broadcasters first, which have nearly a dozen terrestrial and digital channels between them, but LoveFilm still has the majority of the market share. Sure, you can access mediocre ITV quality streams — (not just the shows, that is) — on its on-demand player, and access BBC streams through the iPlayer. But this deal will allow users to watch Spooks on the Xbox, Doctor Who on your PlayStation 3, and Torchwood on your iPad. Listen carefully as you hear distant thumping of Netflix executives slamming their fists against their boardroom table. U.S.- based Netflix has arrived in the UK market as a starting point for Europe. Amazon acquired LoveFilm last year to bolster its streaming portfolio, and to reach out to more customers. Besides LoveFilm, which is already a well established market in Europe, there are no other services that offer streaming content into your living room, mobile devices, and across your game consoles plugged into your telly. Netflix will have to work hard to break into Amazon’s vast majority of streaming market share. Sister site CNET reports that Netflix will have to acknowledge that things must change. Considering the amount of flak it is getting from shareholders and customers alike, the company is feeling the heat. But with its move to Europe, it hopes it can reverse its fortunes. Analysts believe the move could leave the company with a $100 million deficit in its profits — or worse if Netflix cannot fix the issues with its current U.S. market. I argued towards the end of last year that Netflix’s move to Europe would be fraught with difficulties. While the UK and Ireland, with a population of around 70 million would be an ideal testing ground for the rest of Europe, the regions of choice may not be worth it. Already established localised — and free services — are available to the wider population. From BBC iPlayer to the similarly named ITV Player and Sky Player on-demand services, even Apple’s iTunes Store has been difficult contender for LoveFilm to make a name for itself. Netflix will have all these plus LoveFilm to battle with. With the state of its current problems, the move across the pond could be ‘make or break’ for the television streaming company.
Netflix has arrived in UK and Ireland
Smart tv box at CES
There are thousands of apps already available, with more to come, on the various smart TV formats The transatlantic flight heading towards Las Vegas' Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was screening the episode of 30 Rock in which Alec Baldwin's character tries to impress his new boss with a voice-controlled television. His demo is less than smooth. "What we have is some mute kids," says one of the on-screen characters - and the sound turns off. "Crap!" responds Mr Baldwin, and the set switches to "Keeping up with the Kardashians". Fast-forward to CES, and the newly unveiled smart TVs may have avoided this pitfall, but other limitations were apparent. Voice instructions were often misunderstood, or ignored altogether, if operators added an unapproved word to their commands. Gesture controls proved a fiddly way to select links on built-in web browsers, and could be accidentally triggered by a third-party in the room. In extreme cases error messages popped up and TVs had to be rebooted. But even if some of the bells and whistles still needed more tweaking, there was a sense that this year's trade show marked a turning point - TVs sets with the ability to stream online content and run apps appeared on their way to becoming the norm. Unleash the apps At the end of 2011 there were 82 million connected TVs in homes worldwide according to research group Informa. By 2016 it forecasts that number will have ballooned to 892 million. "There had been some early efforts - Samsung and other vendors putting apps on televisions," says Brian Blau from the tech analysis firm Gartner. "But this year we are seeing a real coming out party at CES where we can now sort of see the future of smart TVs, and I would even go so far as to call it version 1.0." For years much of the tech industry has pursued a vision of the computer as the home's digital hub. Owners used their PCs to copy photos off digital cameras, download music and movies and then transfer the material to other compatible devices. Samsung's built-in camera allows its TV to recognise gestures and identify users Advanced users might have connected their laptop to their TVs or streamed content to the sets wirelessly, but the televisions were at most at the end of a spur coming off the hub, rather than its heart. The roll-out of cloud services allied to faster internet speeds now offers televisions the chance to usurp the PC's place, and offers users further freedom from the confines of broadcasters' schedules. No 'idiot box' Samsung - the world's best-selling TV-maker - has been at the forefront of efforts to deliver this vision. One of the promotional videos it showed at this year's event claimed watching television by appointment would become a foreign concept in the future, and its executives talk of the TV being the centre of the home. "We call it more than a TV, and I think that's exactly the experience we're looking for, where you have a whole democratisation of content coming through," explains Andy Griffiths, managing director of Samsung UK and Ireland. There is heavy use of streaming services into people's homes today, and that's only going to increase” Google TV "[It is] influencing the way people choose their content, manipulate their own content and personalise their own content. "If you put that under the banner of smart TV and what smart TV can deliver to you, it increasingly interfaces with some of the PC functionalities - but in fact it's about being a connected product. We see TV as being at the centre of that connected world."
Users are offered thousands of apps allowing them to use social networks, play video games, run educational software and follow exercise routines. But smart TV makers recognise that people still want a sit-back rather than lean-forward experience most of the time. Furthermore they acknowledge that increasing numbers of homes own other connected devices. So users may still find it preferable to tweet about a show via their tablet or smartphone rather than shrink the TV picture to pull up an app alongside. However, manufacturers insist there are instances where it makes more sense to have everything on one screen. "Probably the best example is that you are watching live sport and a family member phones on Skype and you want to take the call but you still want to be watching the football," says Andrew Denham, Panasonic UK's marketing director. Panasonic and others hope the Olympic Games will drive sales of smart TVs "You just mute the game, and you can have the interface with the loved one, and nobody's any the wiser that you are still watching the football - unless there is a goal score of course. "It's actually trying to make that multiscreen-in-one-environment work in a very effective way that's going to be a key to tiering it down, so that it is not just catch-up services that are popular but other applications." Google TV 2.0
While Samsung and Panasonic are developing their own system software, Google is taking a second crack at offering its own smart TV service. At the show, LG and Vizio unveiled new sets with the search firm's Android-based software built in. Sony also added the facility to two devices - a set-top box and a Blu-ray player. The first version of Google TV launched in October 2010 to much fanfare, but proved a flop - enabled devices were criticised for being too expensive, and several TV networks blocked the US-only service from accessing their web content. This time round a focus on apps may tempt content providers to co-operate, but for now it remains reliant on its own YouTube service as well as streams from Netflix, Amazon and several niche operations. "I think it is more difficult for the web to come to TV than it was to smartphones for example," says Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management for Google TV. "TV content is of very high quality, high resolution and performance. "But what is happening is with the silicon and hardware technologies that we're seeing, the bandwidth coming into people's homes and with the advanced operating system that is Android, this is becoming a possibility. "There is heavy use of streaming services into people's homes today, and that's only going to increase." Sony has released a remote control with a touchpad for its Google TV devices Alternative systems Google TV is due to expand to Europe this summer, but it will face competition from another third-party system. A Smart TV settop box - It says it offers a solution to clients who do not want to develop their own software and content deals, but feel comfortable linking up with Android. "[Manufacturers] want to make money after the device goes out, and often with a device running on Google, Google has so much power," said Peter Goodall, who manages product strategy at the firm. "We are a more flexible partner in that sense. We can help them integrate their own services so that they are still making money after the sale." Whichever operating system proves most popular, the internet poses a threat to the rest of the pay-TV market. Yet cable TV box-maker Tivo argues that it also presents an opportunity. The firm, which makes devices for Virgin Media in the UK, boasts that it is better positioned to offer an "elegant" service offering live, catch-up and pay-per-view shows, as well as programmes its devices select and record on their owner's behalf. Furthermore, it says that recent developments have spurred pay-TV providers on to furnish its boxes with more material. "It tends to light a fire under the operator world, who are quite concerned about the thrust of where companies [like Google] may want to go, which they consider highly disruptive to their relationship with their subscribers in the television space," says Tivo's chief executive Tom Rogers. There are almost as many smart TV operating systems as there are manufacturers "So the Google emphasis in the industry is actually something we have found helpful to galvanising more operators around our solution." Further evidence of Tivo's efforts to exploit, rather than be undermined by, Google came with its sole CES announcement - a remote control and content-finding app for Android devices.
Lenovo, Toshiba, Sharp, Hisense and Haier were among several others launching new smart TV models at the Las Vegas event. However, despite all the innovation on show, many analysts appeared preoccupied by the one company without a booth - Apple. The firm's strength in the online music industry, its Siri natural speech recognition facility and a hint of having "cracked it" in the recent Steve Jobs biography, have all combined to create an as yet unjustified sense that the iPhone giant is about to disrupt the television market. However, it may be Microsoft that deserves closer scrutiny. In an otherwise news-light presentation, chief executive Steve Ballmer revealed that its XBox Live online service now had more than 40 million subscribers. He added that increasing numbers of these owners were using their consoles to watch live TV, on-demand programming, news and movies. The firm already offers UK users access to content from Sky, Amazon's Lovefilm, YouTube and 4 on Demand among others, and US users were promised additional content from News Corp's Fox TV channels. "People don't know them as a TV interface, but if you are a gamer you clearly understand the value of that, especially if you have the Kinect accessory," said Gartner's Brian Blau. Analysts have praised the Kinect's integration with the Xbox 360's TV services "Its voice and gesture controls in combination with its handheld controller and new Metro user interface are starting to gel with the XBox 360." According to Reuters, Microsoft had planned to go further and unveil its own TV and movie subscription service, but baulked at the fees media companies demanded. However, analysts expect the firm to offer an even smoother TV browsing interface when it releases its next generation games console - possibly as early as the E3 games conference in June. For now, the smart TV market looks fragmented from the point of view of content, and immature in terms of some of the technologies involved. But as smart TVs become ever smarter, previous generations of unconnected sets may soon appear only slightly less antiquated than the black-and-white models of yesteryear.
(Reuters) - Google Inc will launch its TV service in Europe early 2012, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said on Friday, despite teething problems that had led some observers to question how committed the company would remain to the project. Google TV, which allows viewers to mix Web and television content on a TV screen via a browser, was launched in the United States in October but received mixed reviews and was swiftly blocked by three of the top U.S. broadcast networks. Large parts of the television industry, like the news and telecoms industries, view Google with suspicion and accuse it of stealing their advertising revenues without contributing to the costs of making programs. Schmidt sought to allay the fears of Britain's broadcasting elite in a speech to the Edinburgh television festival, the first time a non-TV executive had been invited to give the keynote MacTaggart lecture at Britain's premier industry event. "Some in the US feared we aimed to compete with broadcasters or content creators. Actually our intent is the opposite," he told an audience who quickly warmed to his friendly style and liberal compliments to the quality of British television. "We seek to support the content industry by providing an open platform for the next generation of TV to evolve, the same way Android is an open platform for the next generation of mobile," he said. "We expect Google TV to launch in Europe soon, and of course the UK will be among the top priorities." Google TV has gained little traction so far in the United States, and its set top box provider Logitech International SA slashed prices in July from an initial price of $299. Schmidt also included a warning to British television regulators, who he said were far more stringent than their U.S. counterparts and threatened to throttle the development of British television companies in an increasingly global market. "Stifling the Internet -- whether by filtering or blocking or just plain turning the 'off' switch -- appeals to policy makers the world over," he said. "Instead, policy makers should work with the grain of the Internet rather than against it."
Google has long held ambitions in the television arena, hoping to extend its online advertising business, which made $28 billion for the company last year, to the big screens that still command the lion's share of global advertising budgets. "If his ambition was to go there and convince the TV people he wasn't a big threat, I don't think he achieved it," said Keith McMahon, an analyst at research firm Telco 2.0/STL Partners. "The message I got was that TV is such a big market that Google can't ignore it. They're never going to give it up." So far, Google has had little success breaking into the TV market, despite its ownership of the world's most popular online video site, YouTube. Google has bought Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc for $12.5 billion, handing it the world's leading set top box business which delivers content for many of the top cable TV companies in the United States. The headline attraction of the deal was Motorola's huge portfolio of wireless patents but the set top box business could help Google transform its TV project by giving it insights into pay-TV. Google has not spelled out its plans for the set top box business, and many analysts expect it to divest the unit at the first opportunity, having no experience or previous interest in running a hardware business. Others believe Google could change tack under CEO Larry Page, Google's co-founder who took back the reins from Schmidt in April and has already started a social network to compete with Facebook while ditching other projects. "Google describes itself as an opportunistic company. So while it may not have wanted to buy Motorola's operations, it may now assess whether retaining these assets can compensate for the risk of owning them," New York-based Nomura analyst Stuart Jeffrey wrote in a note this week. Schmidt made no mention of the Motorola acquisition or its implications on Friday, but will hold a question and answer session in Edinburgh on Saturday.
Google TV: how soon will it be on your set?Google chairman Eric Schmidt's claim that half of TV sets in stores next year will have Google TV capability sounds impressive – but how quickly does that mean it will reach everybody? Google chairman Eric Schmidt told LeWeb Paris 2011 that half of TV sets in stores in 2012 will have Google TV capability. Eric Schmidt, previously Google's chief executive and now chairman, forecast at the Le Web conference in Paris on Wednesday that "by the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded on it". That's because he sees the "smart TV" sector exploding – with companies that make TVs wanting to build in internet connectivity and processing capacity. He didn't specify which companies will be selling sets with that capacity, but Samsung and Sony have already been offering "smart TV" sets for more than a year. The conclusion that you're meant to draw is that Google TV is therefore inevitably going to be successful. The company has admitted that its first attempt at Google TV wasn't a great hit (Logitech can confirm that: it lost tens of millions of pounds on its Google TV Revue box, of which it sold perhaps a million. Set Schmidt's words alongside the persistent rumours that Apple is going to produce a TV, perhaps to be introduced in 2012, and you can see that there's some momentum trying to drive people towards smart TV. Now, it's generally unwise for someone less smart than Eric Schmidt (me) to take a counter-position to him. And actually, I'm not going to. Let's accept, for the same of argument, that he's right and that the majority of TVs in stores (in the US and UK, since they get similar sourcings) will indeed have Google TV embedded. OK – how quickly will Google TV break through in that case? Well, Google is a data-driven company – decisions come on what can be found about the subject in hand. So what data can we find about TV sales? According to various sources around the web, there are about 300m TV sets installed in the US (285m in 2009; assume a few more have been sold). For the UK, the figure is 60m, of which 24m are HD-capable. (Limiting the discussion to the US and UK is, of course, artificial; Google TV will aim to make inroads in every country, but we may as well begin with two countries where Google dominates already.) Now, how many TV sets are sold in each country? For the US, the number is about 30m. iSuppli said a year ago that the figure for 2010 for LCD TV sales would decline for the first time since volume shipments began in 2006 (since when about 100m would have been sold). But it forecast that for 2011, sales would pick up again. Nope. In August, iSuppli was saying that 83% of people in the US weren't going to buy a new TV in the forthcoming year; only 13% did plan to. (The other 4% were expecting one as a gift.) That was worse than earlier in the year, when 66% were saying they wouldn't buy. Even so, that's about a 10% replacement rate for TVs. What's not visible from those figures is how quickly the installed base is really turning over: are people buying a TV and then buying a new one a couple of years later? Or do people really stick with them? Meanwhile in the UK, the TV sales figures are: 7.5m sold in 2007 (of which, amazingly, 4.4m were analogue); in 2009, it rose to a record 10m (with 32m flat-screen TVs having been sold in the previous five years – which suggests that half the installed base had a refresh). Since then – not so good. GfK is saying that there has been a 21% fall in the value of the TV market since last October: Looking deeper into this figure we see that the Jumbo segment (43in+), which has been steadily growing in recent months fell by more than 7%, and the Superlarge segment (33in-42in), which has the largest share of the overall television market value, dropped by nearly 30% since last October. The reason of course is the economy, which is looking woeful on both sides of the Atlantic. And it could also be that the market has hit a plateau – that people who wanted an HDTV bought one while the credit was cheap, and don't need a replacement any time soon. (Sony's TV division is also struggling, and keeps losing money.) So on that basis, Google TV is going to face an uphill battle: it may well be installed in lots of TV sets sitting on the shelves, but people may well be keeping their hands in their pockets; few people need to buy a new television. The market is saturated. TV sales look set for a dramatic slowdown in 2012. Note though that GfK is seeing strong growth in the Smart TV box market – up 34% year-on-year, apparently as people realise that that's the cheaper way to upgrade their LCD or LED TV as the various modela become available. However, assume for a moment that they keep up. On the figures above, you might see Google TV arriving in 5% of installations. That of course that includes both homes and businesses; lots of businesses use TV sets. So the next question we need to ask is: how many TV sets that have internet connectivity (such as Google TV) then see that internet connectivity actually used? Over to Quora, where we find an answer saying that 20% of all TVs shipped in 2011 had connected TV capabilities. Now the harder news: only 45% of owners actually accessed internet-specific content; of those, only 57% found the experience satisfying. So in all, that's 25% of those who have an internet-enabled TV actually accessing and enjoying the experience. And of those who did use the features, 57% were using it to access Netflix; 47% to view videos on YouTube. Remember the cable companies have their own systems installed, and in the UK, Sky has its very effective Sky boxes and the Sky+ PVR (personal video recorder) which do not need keyboards; they've succeeded in producing something that lets you browse what's on – across hundreds of channels – using just a numeric keypad and the four arrow keys. Yes, there are plenty more buttons on a Sky+ remote, but most don't get used. Sky, you can bet, won't be welcoming Google seeking to take its business, no matter if Schmidt did say in his speech at the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television festival that Google is a friend to independent TV producers; they didn't seem to take that on board. And the networks in the US have shown too that they don't welcome the idea of Google getting between them and the viewer in the way it has done with so much advertising on the internet. All of which means that Google TV will have a mountain to climb. It's nothing to do with the quality of the software. It's to do with the economic situation, the slow rate of replacement, the entrenched interests, and perhaps even slightly the rivals. For don't forget that Microsoft has been trying to get hold of online TV for about two decades longer than Google, and in October announced deals to bring on-demand services from the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Lovefilm in the UK – through the Xbox. Netflix, meanwhile, is going to be coming to UK games consoles and in the future settop boxes. And those are installed in a lot of homes too. That's before you consider the possibility that Apple might have a smart TV in the works too – though one could expect that that is going to be a premium product, which won't work anything like Google TV. But the more splintered this market gets, and the more determined the incumbents, the more one would expect that the "connected TV" revolution will look more like the TV market itself, where many rivals have roughly equal shares, than the smartphone or PC market where Android and Windows dominate. So yes, Eric Schmidt may be completely correct about half of TVs on sale by the middle of next year having Google's smart TV capability. But there's a long way from that to people buying them, and taking them home, and engaging the internet capability, and enjoying the experience more than they do through some other channel such as their laptop, tablet, or games console. The connectivity to Google TV may end up taking the form of a Smart TV box. Let's check back in a year.