At the end of the day, the marketing is shifting towards promoting an entire ecosystem that has the whole array of devices and electronics to enhance the consumerís experience of content ingestion. There is no doubt that Apple has paved the way, and it is now up to the other companies to come up with their strategies for the long run.
Kevin - http://www.webmarketingfunnel.com
Junko: To me the goal is not to connect the individual devices to each other in a closed environment, such as a living room. The goal is to share the "cloud-based" system with each device, and allow each unit to synchronize with the other on a regular basis. From my perspective, this would seem to simplify the "connected home" concept. The goal would then be to a cloud-based central system easily accessible to all networked products.
For example, I use Google Mail for my email provider, and set it to synchronize at a regular basis so I have a mirror image of the emails and status between by laptop and smartphone.
In the case of content that is downloaded to an individual piece of equipment, the goal would be to allow all devices to access the same deliver system and have the same rights to view or download an already paid-for product.
Like Bert, I incorporated a PC into my main entertainment system, but even with a smart remote, it's cumbersome to jump from watching live or DVR'd cable TV to watching something on Windows Media Center, and making wireless sharing work from the media center PC to other devices in the house is just not something I want to try to tackle. It's just not worth the effort, considering most of the content I want to watch is sitting on a hard drive attached to the cable company's DVR box, and is robustly encrypted and not accessible by any other device.
In any case, engineers and tech-minded consumers might go for the PC-in-the-entertainment-center idea, but the masses never will. Those other boxes (Apple TV, etc.) are smaller, easier to use, etc., but they just don't do what consumers want them to do -- like wirelessly stream that episode of my favorite TV show that's sitting on that rented cable DVR box, because I want to watch it on my iPad in another room. I can run the iPad app and see if maybe that episode of that show is one of the shows that my cable company is allowed to stream to my iPad. It's not? Oh well, I guess I'll sit on the couch and watch it on the big screen...
There are quite a few dilemmas facing CE makers in how to approach this seamless content-sharing among devices.
For one, owners of high-value content still have a mostly unfavorable view of such sharing, which means either restrictions on usage or else extra baggage like encryption/decryption is required. My local cable company, for example, has an iPad app that allows streaming of TV shows directly from the internet to the iPad -- but only a limited number of shows from certain content owners, and only if my iPad is on my home WiFi network :(
Also, the notion that consumers will go for another set-top fox is a non-starter. Consumers do tolerate set-top boxes from their cable or satellite company, because that's the only way to connect to the 500 channel universe, which is still the majority of the content that people consume. For cable, the set-top box is something you rent and are at the mercy of the Big Two set-top box makers and whatever features they decide to include. It's not that much better for satellite set-top boxes, although at least in that case you own the box. But really, how many people are excited about going out and buying another set-top box to sit next to the one they already have to have?
After a lackluster launch and a reset, the future success of Google TV remains uncertain. Even Apple TV, which has a few million unit sales over several years, is by any measure a dismal failure -- certainly by Apple's usual standards -- 3 million new iPads in the first 72 hours! That's probably close to the lifetime sales of Apple TV boxes. How about Roku, Boxee and similar devices? Not exactly breaking any sales records either.
Junko, what I meant by "handicapping" is, the connected TV and connected BluRay players are set up to only access a small handful of web sites. Why?
Any PC can access the sites those "connected TVs" can see, and a whole world of other TV and radio sites too. Literally. As well as the social networking sites, and e-mail, and anything else people seem unable to live without. For that matter, stick a TV receiver card in the same PC, and it can also get all of the digital broadcast stations in your market area in glorious HD, and can be set up with PVR software to boot.
Okay, so maybe the PVR function involves too much hardware and software to economically build into TV sets. But what is so difficult about building an unhandicapped "thin client" directly into TV sets? De minimis, as lawyers like to say, all you need is enough flash memory to hold a web browser and the user's favorites. Why limit the sites a user can go to?
I'm typing this to you on my TV set, with the keyboard on my lap and the mouse on the couch next to me. And I just finished watching an episode of A Gifted Man on the same TV. And if I felt like it, I could also have ordered pizza. It's really not that complicated. Surely, the TV vendors can figure it out! So, why can't you do all of this on those "connected TVs"?
Excuse me now, while I play some music I wrote in QB64, to run on the same stereo/TV/PC setup.
i read through this interesting article waiting to see if the fact Samsung et al are obviously copying Apple's iOS Airplay/Screen Mirroring (via Apple TV). which already offer the wireless "multiple screen" experience, since last Fall. (Try the Bloomberg TV app, or the Real Racing HD app.)
but no ...
Samsung/Google et al will no doubt "emulate" Apple. including Voice UI too, btw. but at least give credit where due.
I don't think any CE vendors are deliberately handicapping their "connected TVs."
They want to have their TVs seamlessly connected.
But unless you can convince consumers to buy yet another box -- whether a set-top or IP router, mediating smoother and simpler communications between a TV and a plethora of mobile devices, it's hard to build a truly "connected" home.
Hi, Bert22306. Maybe something got lost in the translation... I never meant to imply in this story that the future only consists of trendy, short-lived handheld gadgets. But think about that. Most young adults today will not live a day without checking their mobile phones; they are becoming the center of the universe -- at least in their lives. So, if you are designing any new systems that do not take advantage of the mobile devices (with which consumers sleep, eat, work and play with 24 hours), you are in trouble. Your system needs to be effectively communicating with that mobile universe!
Bert22306: I agree. We are too enamored about gadgets and forget that "gadgets" are just that. And the commercial companies pushing this on us drains the intellect. Just as the financial community is looking for ROI on anything that makes money in the next three months, so do companies who need to keep pace. And the CE industry is notorious about finding extensions to many useless products. I can count on my fingers the number of companies that have a real impact in our lives; the rest are rehash specialists.