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Survey: Most smart TVs will end up as dumb screens

Support problems, fragmented platforms hindering market
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So-called smart TVs that can connect to the Internet are being bought by the truckloads--more than 50 million of them will be sold this year, according to Informa Telecoms & Media's latest device forecast. But that doesn't mean they'll actually do anything smart, since "they will continue to lag the connection rates of games consoles and media streaming devices," the research firm said in a news release today.

Sales figures for the devices will be robust, with 31 percent of worldwide households owning at least one smart TV in five years, but that doesn't mean the sets will do what they're hyped to do.

Part of the problem, Informa Senior Analyst Andrew Ladbrook said, is that today's smart TVs are underpowered for what they'll need to do in just three years, even if consumers hook them up to the Internet.

"Informa estimates that in 2017 more than half of the 800 million smart TV sets will only be used as dumb screens," Ladbrook said. "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."

In short, he said, "any smart TV purchased in 2012 will be effectively obsolete by 2015."

Smart TVs have multiple other problems to overcome, including the fact that new services are launched solely for the latest models so that last year's devices can't get the latest apps, and "fragmentation of platform and standards continues to plague" the market, said the release.

Informa tagged LG and Samsung as current market leaders and said Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) TV or Android "will come to be the default Smart TV OS for smart TVs" but that this situation 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… they must add advanced functionality including voice control, motion control, advanced advertising, attractive user interfaces and two-way communications with other smart devices," Ladbrook concluded.

He advised manufacturers to "focus less on adding more content and more on improving how users can interact with that content."

For more:
- Informa Telecoms & Media issued this press release

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