Market watchers have been touting the convergence of internet and TV services for many years, but it seems that the technology is finally getting the push that it needs.
And there are no surprises for guessing which company is at the heart of it.
Google’s Eric Schmidt and Nikesh Arora are putting the full force of their PR machine behind Google TV, Arora quoting at this week’s San Francisco Web 2.0 Summit that “in 5 to 8 years, everyone will have an IPTV”.
While 3DTV strains to shake off its past (blue and red cardboard glasses, cheap 1950’s horror films) and consumers struggle to justify paying thousands for a new box, Google are racing ahead with development of their IPTV service.
The possibilities of the combined format are endless. On-Demand viewing has been with us for a while, but finally TV will become a two-way conversation with true user engagement. See a presenter on screen wearing a shirt you like? Click to be taken to a price comparison site, then buy it and have it delivered to you the next day. You’ll use your Android phone as a remote control; in fact, apps from your phone will also work on your TV.
Websites have already started optimising for the service, although this seems to be primarily a US phenomenon at present. Names include Turner Broadcasting, HBO, NBA, Amazon, Netflix, USA Today, Pandora, Napster and Net-A-Porter.
In a further smart move, Google are shipping 10,000 free IPTV devices to coders to encourage the development of applications.
Manufacturers will ship 40 million IPTVs this year, and 90 million by 2013 (according to DisplaySearch). UK content providers and e-commerce companies would do well to get on board.