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Smart TVs purchased this year “effectively obsolete” by 2015

Global sales of Smart TVs will rocket over the next five years from 54mn in 2012 to a staggering 220mn in 2017, according to new figures from Informa Telecoms & Media (publisher of IP&TV News).

31% of households worldwide will own at least one Smart TV in five years time, according to Informa, with household penetration much higher in North America (63%) and Western Europe (64%).

However, while Smart TV connection rates are rising, they will continue to lag behind the connection rates of games consoles and media streaming devices (such as Apple TV and Roku).

With their long lifecycles, TVs are “simply not the right device” to be the hub of the digital home, says Informa.

Instead devices that are regularly replaced, including smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, media streamers and games consoles, will be the key devices in the digital home experience.

Smartphones in particular, with their short lifecycles and rapidly increasing processor power, will continue to define what ‘Smart’ means.

Andrew Ladbrook, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media

Andrew Ladbrook, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media

“Informa estimates that in 2017 more than half of the 800mn Smart TV sets will only be used as dumb screens,” comments Andrew Ladbrook, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

“Moreover, while any ‘smart’ TV bought in 2011 or 2012 can be used for streaming online video services for a few years, they lack the processing power and the necessary hardware to perform those smart TV functions that will be standard in 2015.  Simply put, any smart TV purchased in 2012 will be effectively obsolete by 2015.”

Manufacturer’s short term support for their Smart TV products will also hinder the device. New services continue to only be launched solely on the latest Smart TV models – HBO Go, Skype, Onlive, BBC’s Sport app – which means that users who bought last year’s device are excluded.

The fragmentation of platforms and standards continues to plague the Smart TV market. Apps cannot be easily released across multiple devices, since each Smart TV platform demands bespoke development.

This situation benefits the current market leaders Samsung and LG who can attract top services first due to their strong positions. And while Informa believes that Google TV or Android will come to be the default Smart TV OS for Smart TVs, that is still some years away.

“If TVs are going to be truly smart they must do more than offer a wide variety of online video services,” Ladbrook argues.

“Instead they must add advanced functionality including voice control, motion control, advanced advertising, attractive user interfaces and two-way communications with other smart devices – so-called ‘second screens’ – allowing these devices both to send video to the TV and know what is being watched.

“Manufacturers should focus less on adding more content and more on improving how users can interact with that content.”

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