Smart TV: The next digital revolution

Sometimes, a good strategy for tech start-ups to gain a strong foothold in the market is by leaping into the area that has strong growth potential but not yet dominated by anyone. This means less competition, and more opportunities to be the first in the customers’ minds. In my opinion, TV is one of the areas that fit the bill perfectly.

30192805-01_bigIn a modern living room, TV is connected to many devices – DVD players, set-top boxes, game consoles, media boxes, even a PC or a tablet. These devices feed all kinds of content, games and interactive applications to the TV screen, with increasingly more content coming from the Internet.

All the big players, Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, and others, see the large potential and are trying to tackle this market. But no one seems to have got the right formula yet. The market for the digital living room is still fragmented among numerous players. TV, therefore, represents a great opportunity for innovation by tech start-ups from all around the world.

Examples of emerging opportunities in TV space include the following areas:

1 Smart TV box: I believe the TV environment will be modular like the PC, with a screen providing the display and a box providing the intelligence. There are opportunities for companies that provide “smart TV box” that turns a normal TV into a smart TV. The key challenge lies in designing the right user experience for viewing Internet content and doing other activities on TV.

2 Content and game: Unlike the traditional one-way broadcasting model, future TV content will be more interactive, with viewers interacting with the content producer in real-time. Games will be played on TV, with smart phones and tablets replacing the joysticks, but with a lot more features. We are already starting to see the innovation around multi-screen applications on many platforms.

3 Advertisement and e-commerce: With more intelligence on TV, advertising can be more interactive and better tailored to the viewers and the situations. Advertisement can also be linked more directly to e-commerce. For example, a TV viewer, seeing a TV character wearing a dress that she likes, should be able to buy it right away on TV while watching the show.

4 Communication: With a webcam and a microphone, TV can also be turned into a video chat device. One can talk with relatives, friends, or co-workers via the TV screen with ease. At the same time, one can also text chat, see the same pictures, listen to the same music, watch the same family videos with the loved ones while on video chat.

I believe that the key to capturing the opportunities mentioned above and beyond lies in creating the best user experience for TV environment. Like in smart phone and tablet, new use environment needs new user experience. Apple and Google did not copy user experience wholesale from PC to smart phone or tablet. They create a new user experience that fits these new use cases. That’s why they succeed.

Those who want to succeed in the TV market, likewise, should think deeply about how users should use their TV instead of copying user experience from tablet or PC to TV.

Article on The Nation