Widespread use of apps, Netflix and other functions on smart TVs may be a while away, but the sets are making their way into homes at an increasingly higher rate.
Data from the Screen Digest arm of HIS shows that 25%-plus of TV sets shipped globally last year were smart TVs.
The research indicates that the figure will climb to 50% in 2015. Still, while the sets offer all kinds of user opportunities with Internet connectivity, buying a set and taking advantage are two issues. Many buying 3D-capable sets, for example, don’t appear to hook them up to take advantage of 3D programming.
Still, content providers such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and others believe ultimately smart TVs will offer an opportunity for people to watch their Internet-distributed content on a bigger screen. IHS suggests as the user interfaces -- or home screens -- become more user-friendly, interest might increase.
In 2012, HIS research shows there were 66 million smart TVs shipped across the globe, marking a 27% jump over 2011. The figure should rise to 141 million units shipped in 2015, which HIS says would mark the first time the majority of sets shipped are smart TVs. In 2016, the number is projected to bump by more than 25 million units to 173 million.
TV manufacturers, which have been struggling, believe smart TVs can help resuscitate their business.
“Despite a decline in global television shipments in 2012, consumer demand for Internet-connected televisions soared during the year -- and the surge in sales shows no signs of abating,” stated Veronica Thayer, an HIS analyst. “Smart TVs are rapidly joining the mainstream as manufacturers refine their products to add new features and to make them easier to use.”
As for improving the user interface, IHS says LG, Samsung and Sony are looking to one-up each other, partly through improved search functionality and recommendation engines. They hope to develop their own TV platforms as a way to differentiate themselves, including features such as content discovery, advanced gesture, voice controls and multiscreen capabilities.
Still, apps offer a promising opportunity for smart TV use -- and HIS suggests “proprietary” platforms has “caused fragmentation and created problems” for developers looking for widespread adoption. It indicates that a group of manufacturers that have formed an alliance backing “open standard systems” could help drive innovation.