SAN JOSE, Calif. – Engineers will get an eyeful of the future of Internet-ready TV at the ARM Technology Conference next week. The chief architect of the Yahoo Connected TV group will talk about the Internet giant's pioneering effort to get eyeballs and revenue streams for its service that merges broadcast television and the Web.
"We are in the early days of marrying the Internet to the TV," said Ron Jacoby, the man behind the Yahoo service that shipped in an estimated 3.5 million TVs in 2009.
Samsung announced Tuesday (Nov.2) it will bundle the service with TVs sold in an additional 39 countries this year. That brings to 135 the total number of countries where it will be available from TV makers also including LG Electronics, Sony, Toshiba and Vizio.
Yahoo won't say how many users have activated the service so far. However, Jacoby did say activation varies widely depending on how TV makers market the feature.
Most users tap into the service to get Web video, Jacoby said. The second favorite use is getting a sip of Internet data on anything from news to sports scores and Facebook postings, followed by online games in third place.
As soon as a TV maker gets enough usage on its platform, based on a handful of confidential measurements, Yahoo will enable paid services. TV makers split those revenues with Yahoo.
"I'd say we are getting pretty close," to enabling paid services, Jacoby said.
Yahoo got a major competitor in June when Google, Intel, Sony and Logitech announced they were developing their own Internet TV service. Logitech announced a set-top based on Google TV to mixed reviews in September.
"Google is replacing TV with the Internet, but the approach we took is about enhancing TV, not replacing it," said Jacoby.
So far Google TV runs only on an Intel x86-based SoC. Yahoo's service was initially launched with Intel on the x86, but now is also available on sets using ARM and Mips processors.
A growing variety of so-called over-the-top set-top boxes—including Apple TV and boxes from Roku and Boxee--are also emerging to link TVs to the Web. "Everyone else is jumping in now and looking at where this space can go," said Jacoby who will demo his service at the ARM event.