Our Internet-connected devices now outnumber us.
That’s the conclusion of The NPD Group, which estimates some 425 million devices connected to the Internet in U.S. homes. Dividing that by 315 million U.S. residents results in an average of 1.3 Internet-enabled devices for every man, woman and child in the country—pretty reasonable, when one thinks about the ubiquity of PCs and mobile devices.
In addition, millions of Blu-ray disc players, HDTVs, video game consoles, and streaming media set-top boxes also rely on the Internet to deliver content. Many of these connected devices offer a collection of cloud-based apps, including Web browsers and Twitter. The NPD Group found, however, that consumers tend to ignore these features in favor of the equivalents on PCs and mobile devices.
“On the positive side, the TV itself remains the fundamental screen for TV viewing within the home and is seeing an expanded array of programming through OTT services that supplement Pay TV subscriptions,” read a corporate blog posting by John Buffone, director of devices for The NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence. “The less than great news is that the TV manufacturers are failing to make the TV more than, well, a TV.”
Of the connected TV owners surveyed by The NPD Group, less than 10 percent used the Web-via-their-television to connect to social networking sites, make video calls, post or upload videos, shop, or view files—tasks that people perform constantly on tablets and PCs. (The research firm interviewed some 4,000 U.S. consumers for the study, extrapolating its ultimate results from that pool.)
“The challenge may be that too much choice is creating a complex user experience,” Buffone added. Placing the typical television ecosystem of channels alongside several portals to various Web apps is simply too much for many consumers to handle. “To counter this, OEMs and retailers need to focus less on new innovation in this space and more on simplification of the user experience and messaging if they want to drive additional, and new, behaviors on the TV.”
A number of IT vendors have (rumored) plans for the living room. At the end of December, TechCrunch and SlashGear suggested that Intel is prepping to unveil a first-generation television of some sort at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas; the device, if the scuttlebutt proves correct, will feature a digital video recorder (DVR) capable of bringing up programming from any subscription channel. Meanwhile, Apple and Google continue to push their own visions of the Internet-connected television.