Consumers to Download Almost 1B TV Apps by 2015

How many ways can apps be delivered to the television? GigaOM Pro discusses embedded, browser-based, network-based and cloud-based app platforms.

Consumers will download and pay for more than 250 million TV apps by 2015. Source: GigaOM Pro
Julie Jacobson · May 17, 2010

By 2015, 6 in 10 TVs shipped worldwide will have a network connection and 70 percent of those units will ship with an embedded app platform and app store, according to a new report from Gigaom Pro called, “TV Apps: Evolution from Novelty to Mainstream” (subscription required).

In all, some 3.7 million apps will be downloaded in 2010 and that number will grow to 965 million by 2015, according to GigaOM analyst Michael Wolf.

Consumers will pay for one in four of the apps, including those that enable paid services such as Netflix Watch Instantly.

Not surprising, the majority of the apps will be entertainment-related, including online video, gaming and communication apps.

Although 75% of apps will be downloaded for free, the remainder will fetch about $1.9 billion by 2015, according to Wolf’s analysis. That compares to just under $10 million in 2010, but is still paltry compared to paid downloads from the original App Store.

The GigaOM paper discusses the gamut of embedded TV app platforms, including front-runner Yahoo Widgets and more recently Vudu, which announced a full array of apps during CES 2010 —but not many good ones. It helps that Zoran delivered Vudu-on-a-chip in February of this year, making it easier for CE manufacturers to embed the technology in their products.

The research also covers a handful of serious contenders including the cable industry’s Tru2Way, which has never really had legs since Panasonic and Comcast presented the first public demo of the interactive platform in Sept. 2008.

The dialog, however, is active again. Now seeking a Tru2Way successor, the FCC is proposing an external adapter— dubbed AllVid —that would link a “smart video” device to a standard digital television.

Also in contention are IPTV platforms such as AT&T’s U-Verse; browser-based platforms such as Boxee and Hulu Desktop; and cloud-based solutions from the likes of ActiveVideo Networks, “whose lightweight interface client does little more than transmit TV remote inputs (left, right, up, down, OK) to service providers over the Internet who then stream the requested content back to the device,” according to the GigaOM report.


The Disrupters

Potentially more game-changing than any of the app platforms listed above may come from Apple. GigaOM notes, “The iPad, if linked wirelessly to an Apple TV set, could serve as the input and navigation device for an entirely apps-driven TV experience.

Google, too, is looking to own the TV. In April of this year, one Swedish firm announced plants to introduce the first Android-powered HDTV sets, featuring an Android store with apps from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google … for starters.

Finally, don’t count Microsoft out (yet). The company’s Mediaroom IPTV platform powers AT&T’s U-Verse, but the platform has yet to ink deals with any other service providers. (CORRECTION: AT&T Is the only significant Mediaroom customer, currently boasting 2.3 million subscribers and 20 apps; Twenty-four other services from India to Macedonia to North Dakota in total deliver about 2.7 million Mediaroom households.)

Microsoft may have more luck with the just-shipping Windows Embedded Standard 7 for connected TVs and set-top boxes.

Proprietary App Platforms

The trouble with shared platforms such as Yahoo Widgets is that new apps must be vetted by Yahoo itself, and then by manufacturers of televisions that offer the platform.

CE manufacturers are starting to cash in on the app craze by building their own virtual stores, accessible via their own displays.

Panasonic has never strayed from its position of owning app environment for its own TVs.

In 2008, Panasonic senior VP Bob Perry told CE Pro:

Our VieraCast products have been shipping, and they are very well received.

Many TVs can go to specific Internet sites (such as Netflix) and display content. Ours goes to a Panasonic server.

When you connect to the server, it displays all of the applications and services being hosted through the portal.

Unlike other manufacturers’ products, our portal can be updated with additional services and content whenever we choose. In essence, VieraCast is infinitely upgradeable.

During CES 2010 in January, Samsung demo’d its own platform, complete with a multiplayer app for Texas Hold ‘em (video).

In addition, home-control vendors (not mentioned in the GigaOM report) are catching on to the app business.

Of all the players, Control4 has the biggest head start with a store that is set to launch later this year as part of Control4 2.0. But others following suit, like the low-cost Z-Wave-enabled Mi Casa Verde system with an app store powered by MiOS.

It is clear—from the GigaOM report and otherwise—that embedded apps and their money-making stores are here to stay.

The GigaOM report can be found here (subscription required).


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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

News · Apple · Control4 · Gigaom · MiOS · Viera Cast · All Topics
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