Is Interest in Social TV Apps Age and Platform Relevant?


lg netcast demo at ifa 2010

Our friends at App Market TV have posted an op/ed about the generational disconnect around Social TV — noting that the main push currently by TV manufactures at IBC 2010 is 3D TV. However, they point to the fact that 76% of 18 to 24-year-olds like to surf the ‘net and check in on their social networks while watching TV (we covered this before). As such, the opportunity for TV and set-top box makers to integrate Social TV functionality has largely been left untapped.

Intel’s Chief Exec. Paul Otelline has been recently quoted as saying:

“My son is probably going to go buy a Google TV, simply because it’s cool. He wants to be able to do his Facebook chat and talk to his friends saying, ‘Hey, are you watching the game?’ in real time. You cannot do that on Apple TV.”

He has a point. But this brings up a few questions….

1. Is interest in Social TV dependent on age or is it relevant to anyone who enjoys sharing their lives and activities on social networks? My quick take: It has to do more with if you’re the type of person who wants to share or comment on the things you’re watching LIVE on TV. Remember you’re sitting on a couch not doing much else. Posting non-TV related status updates via your TV, while watching TV, will probably be infrequent at best.

google tv 1 search interface

2. Is having a TV overlay for apps, widgets, etc. the best way to interact with your TV — especially given the fact that other people will be viewing what’s on at the same time? My quick take: Yes and No. I really like the idea of the TV overlay that Google TV is putting forward for searching and other functions. However, when you’re not watching TV alone, I can see updating your status (or surfing the web randomly) through a TV app as being distracting or annoying to anyone else in the room. Hence, the reason why people will most likely gravitate to using their own personal device (i.e. laptop, mobile handset, tablet) for this kind of social activity.

For me, TV apps that bring local and online content to the TV will be HUGE. TV apps that enable social networking through your TV are a wildcard at this point. I have to admit that broadcasting to your friends what your watching with one click of your remote, like Opera showed recently, isn’t bad. I just have to wonder how any of these Twitter and Facebook TV apps plan to handle different profiles and activity streams?




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Filed in: Industry Buzz, Streaming Media Devices


  • Anonymous

    The 10 foot interface is key. Just like the iPhone interface is key and the iPad interface is key. Interacting with the interface is the problem on a TV.

    OT Rant:

    The problem with the current crop of TV manufactures, as well as home audio / video receivers, is that they cater to the year over year product cycle of creating new and improved devices. One of the core issues for me is that these devices have not previously been connected to the Internet and left prior year owners totally in the dark with any type of support or upgrade path. How many TVs with “widgets” circa 2007-2009 are there out there with no real support! In an era where we see even hard core providers of these devices roll out firmware after firmware to continually improve the product and fix bugs, TV manufactures just don’t have the expertise to legitimately play in this market. I actually think Samsung should buy the popcorn hour folks; or WD / Roku should start integrating their platform into the TV along with .n or wired connectivity to provide the real experience.

    Sort of getting excited for Boxee Box. Waiting for reviews this time.

  • andrewmclaughlin

    The 10 foot interface is key. Just like the iPhone interface is key and the iPad interface is key. Interacting with the interface is the problem on a TV.

    OT Rant:

    The problem with the current crop of TV manufactures, as well as home audio / video receivers, is that they cater to the year over year product cycle of creating new and improved devices. One of the core issues for me is that these devices have not previously been connected to the Internet and left prior year owners totally in the dark with any type of support or upgrade path. How many TVs with “widgets” circa 2007-2009 are there out there with no real support! In an era where we see even hard core providers of these devices roll out firmware after firmware to continually improve the product and fix bugs, TV manufactures just don't have the expertise to legitimately play in this market. I actually think Samsung should buy the popcorn hour folks; or WD / Roku should start integrating their platform into the TV along with .n or wired connectivity to provide the real experience.

    Sort of getting excited for Boxee Box. Waiting for reviews this time.

  • http://twitter.com/agrundner Alexander Grundner

    I disagree with the TV interface being the problem. TV apps are just as good now as what we're seeing from Boxee and Roku. The post was about interacting with Social TV apps like Twitter, Facebook, etc. on the TV while watching TV.

    As for the OT Rant, I agree it would be nice to see TVs integrate platforms many of us like as a primary interface. Like a Roku or Boxee powered connected TV. However, the possibility to see platforms integrated into a TV app database appeals to me even more. I keep bring up PLEX as an example. Have you seen the demo in our earlier post? That kind of model would support Roku as a TV app and then allow users to access Roku's Channels from within it. Boxee could become a TV app as well. So end the end, users have all platforms available to them use at will — not just one.

  • andrewmclaughlin

    I realized I missed the point after I made my rant :) But the issue with social TV is that without a keyboard or highly specialized input device it is hard to have any real interaction like you would on a computer interface. I think Boxee and Tivo are figuring this out with their integrated remote / keyboards. So it's not the interface per se, but interacting with the content on the screen. Tivo tried to simplify this with their thumbs up / down concept and it actually worked as an AI model for determine what content users would like; but not much else.

    I'll have to check out the Plex video.