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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 31, 2012

Smart TVs Proving Mostly Used for TV

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

It might seem counter-intuitive to wonder why a Smart TV is being used primarily to watch television – it is, after all, a television most like any other – but the Smart TV concept offers a whole lot more than just what the cable or satellite providers can put up.

In fact, there's a lot more to Smart TV than just TV, but based on some recent research from the NPD Group (News - Alert), Smart TV owners are a lot less focused on the smart than they are on the TV.

There's no denying that sales of Smart TV devices have been reasonably brisk. It's not the game-changer that many were expecting, but neither is it a particular slouch. What's got the NPD Group taking notice, however, is that the other features of a Smart TV system – accessing Facebook (News - Alert), accessing Twitter, or even just playing a game of Angry Birds – aren't showing up on the radar of Smart TV owners.

Interestingly, even a service like YouTube, Netflix or Hulu (News - Alert) Plus, which would seem to be the natural outgrowth of a Smart TV, is only being used about six times out of 10. The remaining four individuals are using it as a display mechanism for their satellite or cable provider.

There is, however, one clear winner in terms of Smart TV use, and that's Pandora (News - Alert). The streaming music service has gained 15 percent via Smart TV.

There are surprisingly many explanations for this. One is the issue of overlap; many Smart TV apps can be found on other devices, like the Xbox 360, so it's a fair bet that Xbox 360 users aren't using their Smart TV systems. There's also a matter of bandwidth to consider; why use the over the top streaming services when the connection can't handle it? Smart TV systems are bought everywhere, including in places that don't have the best in bandwidth.

Additionally, many Smart TV devices are also large televisions with terrific refresh rates and the sharpest picture, so for Blu-Ray and gaming devices, they're a welcome boost, desired more for their intrinsic properties than their connectivity.

There's also the issue of the growing mobile device revolution; more smartphones and tablets allow them to take the place of Smart TV applications-driven systems. Why bother using the television to connect to Facebook when the smartphone, tablet, or even laptop near to hand will do the job even more effectively than a television could dream of doing?

Some believe there's room for further refinement in the Smart TV concept. The upcoming TV Hackfest suggests there's plenty of room indeed as Silicon Valley's best and brightest will get together to create the next generation of Smart TV apps.

With the cable cutting movement starting to gain ground and a host of mobile devices vying for attention, Smart TV has its work cut out for it. But with some big possibilities afoot, and the steady march of advancement found in most technologies, 2013 could be a huge year for Smart TV systems. 

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker

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