As Online Video Enters the Living Room, User Interfaces Begin the Transition to Web Based Technologies

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
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NEW YORK — While the rest of the consumer electronics and pay-TV worlds are still stuck in more traditional native code environments, the push for online video and social communities in the living room has resulted in ever-increasing interest in HTML and other web-based technologies on consumer TVs.

“ABI Research sees a strong push by some in the consumer electronics industry to explore the integration of HTML and browser engines into existing user interface platforms, and the use of the browser as a primary rendering engine for user interfaces,” says research director Michael Wolf. “We also see growth in the living room consumer-usable browser segment, where the primary use-case would be Web surfing in the living room or on a portable consumer electronic device.”

The consumer-usable living room browser market today is led by a few companies such as Opera and ACCESS Co., while other companies such as OpenTV, Oregan Networks and ANT Software are active in selling their browser products as part of a Web-based UI rendering solution. Nokia-owned Trolltech recently integrated Webkit into its “Qt” platform to allow CE developers to create mixed Web and native user interfaces. Lastly, the Consumer Electronics Association has developed the CE-2014 standard that leverages HTML to render user-interfaces in a connected living room, though vendor support for this effort appears limited at this time.

HTML, Adobe’s Flash/AIR, and Java are the three main contenders for the next-generation of user interfaces. While there will be many other advances in consumer user-interfaces such as 3D rendering using hardware acceleration, one of the inevitable trends will be the continued integration of Web content and Web technologies as the more online services connect to the living room.

A new ABI Research study, “Web-Based Living Room User Interface Overview” examines the different standards involved, and explores vendors’ efforts to integrate Web-based technologies into various user interfaces, as well as tracking the increasing adoption of Web browsers for consumer living room Web surfing. It forms part of the firm’s Home Networking Research Service.