LONDON – About 45 million units and some 21 percent of all TVs shipped in 2010 are forecast to have internet connectivity, according to market research company DisplaySearch.
The market is predicted to rise to 63 million units in 2011, an increase of 40 percent, and on to 87 million units in 2012, an annual increase of 38 percent. The market will be 104 million units in 2013 and 122 million units in 2014, DisplaySearch (Santa Clara, Calif.) said.
Growth of connected TVs was fueled by the Japanese market in 2010 with strong market growth driven by the Eco Points system. Emerging markets will play a key role in the future growth of this segment, with Eastern Europe forecast to grow from 2.5 million connected TVs shipped in 2010 to over 10 million in 2014. DisplaySearch findings also suggest that 12% of flat panel TVs sold in China in 2010 will have internet capability.
It is expected that the connected TV market will bifurcate, with basic sets carrying enhanced broadcast services such as Hbb.TV and YouView, while the Smart TV segment will enjoy configurable applications, sophisticated search and navigation engines, and advanced user interfaces.
Just as smart phones represent the upper end of the phone market, smart TVs are generally thought to be capable of upgrades and changes to functionality by the consumer, typically by loading applications; able to receive content from the open internet, not just from within a "walled garden" defined by a portal; possess a content discovery engine, to permit rapid discovery and selection of content to watch and be able to communicate with other networked devices in the home via open standards.
Smart TVs are not limited to a specific operating system, and Linux (MeeGo) and Android (Google TV) platforms will be joined by others.
"The looming risk now is what happens if every connected TV gets used," said Paul Gray, director of European TV research with DisplaySearch. "With Netflix accounting for 20 percent of peak internet traffic in the U.S., it's reasonable to ask if the infrastructure can cope. Set makers need to understand that broadband access does not scale endlessly like broadcast reception."
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