Internet TV? Finally in our living rooms?
I was recently reading two separate articles: one on General Electric’s new Internet-connected LCD TV and another on improvements over at Hulu.com. The two stories seemed to fit together like hand in glove: Hulu.com is the TV platform of the near future; GE’s LCD iTV is the distribution device.
It seems sort of obvious, but the idea of the Internet-connected TV caught my attention. My own living-room HDTV is actually a high-end LCD monitor. We watch TV on it via Comcast cable and TiVo and we watch the Internet on it via a laptop. But we don’t have TV that is seamlessly connected to the Internet. In fact, that TV is so jury-rigged I’m not even sure I can run it without supervision. That’s why I think the development of a simple-to-use, reasonably-priced Internet-TV takes the integration of TV and the Internet to the necessary next step in the digital revolution that TV is experiencing right now.
There already are plenty of ways to connect the TV to the Internet. There’s Apple TV, Sony LocationFree and Microsoft Media Center. Sony Playstation, Microsoft Xbox and TiVo also offer some Internet connectivity. These services connect viewers to specific places on the Internet – for example, I can download programs via Amazon Unbox via my Tivo – but it’s not like I can go anywhere I want on the Internet – YouTube, Hulu, ABC.com, FunnyorDie.com, for example — and watch what’s streaming there via my TiVo or Comcast. I need to hook up the laptop for that.
It’s not going to be long before it just doesn’t make sense to keep the Internet and the TV stream separated, but it’s going to take the arrival of a device – perhaps the one GE is devising – to finally bring that into the home in a broad way.
I have to note, though, that Internet TV seems incredibly minor to me in the face of the situation on Wall Street. I’m still living my life, eating three meals a day, driving my car, going out to dinner — but I really wonder just how and when this is going to end up on all our doorsteps. I can’t imagine that this happens to our major banks — to the financial infrastructure in general — and that all of us don’t feel it eventually.
And I think media ends up right in the middle of the problem. I remember after 9/11, life went back to normal pretty quickly. We didn’t really see the financial fall-out of that time for about a year, but then it was severe and long-lasting. In fact, I feel like many sectors of the media never recovered. This time around, many media sectors — newspapers and TV stations in particular - weren’t strong to begin with. So I’m watching the news with bated breath and trying to find an upside. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.