Connecting to Content
Other TV makers, including Sony, Panasonic and Sharp, also showed Web content features on new flat screen TVs. Sony, as expected, showed models with Internet connectivity built in, rather than requiring the additional module that prior lines needed for Internet access. Sony had some new partner news for its connected TVs, including the Internet music service Slacker and Amazon’s Video-on-Demand service, plus Yahoo Widgets. Panasonic, which in 2008 offered models with YouTube, Picassa, and Bloomberg news and local weather, enhanced that offering to include Amazon’s Video on Demand. LG showed TVs with Netflix movie streaming built directly into the TV, as did Vizio.
Interactive TV applications show up every year at CES. Ten years ago, Microsoft was trying to get people to access dial-up Internet through Web TV. In 2001, RCA launched some DirecTV receivers with widget-like applications, called Wink, for basic news, sports info and on-TV shopping. Web browsers have popped up on televisions and set-top boxes for years (in 1999 the Sega Dreamcast game console included dial-up Web browsing).
What seems different now is that manufacturers have finally realized that Web on TV isn’t about the Web, it’s about the content, so rather than just offer Internet connections and Web browsers, they offer content that people want, which just happens to come from an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi signal instead of cable TV. Could this be the beginning of the end for packaged content sales such as DVD and CD? That depends on the pundit you ask.