“In developed regions 30% of homes will own a smart TV by the end of 2014, rising to 70% by 2018,” says Jack Wetherill, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting.
“And people aren’t just buying the feature, they’re using it too. At present, around 80% of the smart TVs in people’s homes are connected to the internet, with the pervasion of embedded Wi-Fi and auto-boot on track to lift this figure to over 90% by 2016.
“Our recent round of international consumer research, surveying more than 4,000 people, shows that over half of owners are using a service on their smart TV at least once a week, with 40% of US owners saying they use a service every single day.”
However, despite all this consumer activity, Futuresource studies indicate that the industry may be re-assessing smart TV strategies, due to limited direct return on investment and a shift of focus to UHD.
“There is little opportunity for TV brands to monetize apps or content, with consumer interest concentrated on free or subscription video, and far lower interest in other genres or general web use – a radically different profile to the mobile market,” says Wetherill. “Differentiating the offering by providing exclusive content is also challenging, and there are still very few compelling examples. In addition, the ongoing cost of platform development and support for apps developers is proving costly and is not yielding fruit.
“We could be advancing beyond the point of no return. Consumers increasingly expect smart features and apps, and there is no way for a manufacturer to run a feature delete on its products and remain competitive, so the market will continue to develop.”
This smart TV juggernaut may mean more TV brands gravitate towards Android TV, as Google would share the load of future development and support. Sony has already confirmed that it will launch Android sets in 2015, as have two Chinese brands, TCL and TPVision. Samsung has a sufficiently high share in smart TV to maintain its own platform and apps program, as well as seeking exclusive content, but is also promoting Tizen as an open OS alternative to Google.
“Although the industry spotlight is firmly focused upon UHD and curved screens, smart TV continues to pervade the market as a value added feature, and UI refinements like voice and gesture recognition, tile-driven navigation and device mirroring appeal to consumers at the point of sale as part of a premium set proposition,” says Wetherill.
“Although there is a myriad of ways to access online video, smart TV integrates broadcast and broadband services within a single user and control interface, setting it apart from digital media adaptors and the like, as well as opening the door to interactive long term concepts like targeted ad insertion and web/broadcast overlay.”