Platforms set to trump devices in the connected home

Thursday, September 9th, 2010 

Google TV and HbbTV are likely winners in bid to control the living room

According to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media, platforms that aggregate services rather than any individual device will play the most important role in the connected home in the next 5 years. Although certain device-centric strategies like Microsoft with its Xbox 360, have already gained some traction in the battle to control the living room, Informa believes that platforms like, Google TV and HbbTV, with expected high penetration, services from numerous third parties, as well as significant resources are the likely winners of the connected home.

Informa Telecoms & Media selected 19 platforms and devices, considered to be the most important in attempting to bring content to the connected home via a connected TV, settop box, console or a managed IPTV service. These were scored against 28 critical success factors which were split into four groups: the current and potential uptake, what kind of content they offer, technical features, and competitive factors. Three platforms that have yet to be launched, HbbTV, Project Canvas and Google TV, were included in the research because of the importance they will play in the future of the connected home.

“The idea that the device manufacturers will be able to control the connected home is just not realistic. Consumers want choice which means being able to watch a wide range of content, the notion the content is confined to one device goes against this,” said Andrew Ladbrook, Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. “Some players have tried to use their devices as Trojan horses to gain a foothold within the living room and become the gateway of the connected home. As part of this strategy, devices were launched that did not support third-party services but rather promoted their own, device-specific, video stores or services. This approach has by and large failed to impress users and usage has been limited.”

“The launch of Google TV in the US in the coming weeks as well as Canvas and HbbTV in Europe next year, means that consumer choice of on-line video in the living room will be vastly greater than ever before,” Ladbrook added.

Informa Telecoms & Media believes that Google TV is likely to be a compelling service, despite some provisos. Asking users to search the TV with a keyboard will require huge changes in user behaviour and could dampen its mass-market appeal. Second, its relationships with content providers need to improve, though this will not be a problem if content providers see Google TV as a way for them to make money from online video.

Although a number of players will flourish in the forthcoming years, however no single device or manufacturer will dominate the connected home.