Will HDTV Manufacturers March to Irrelevance at CES 2012?
This year’s CES should bring out the latest HDTV sets from all the big names including Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba and more. We expect to see more connected TVs with more iPads and other tablets controlling them. A challenge they will all be facing is how to make their TVs stand out from the pack. With little differentiation between one, high refresh rate, LED backlit big screen HDTV set, and another, TV manufacturers are going to have to differentiate in order to make their TVs more appealing than others. One differentiation we may see is added TV “smarts” either built into the TV itself or provided in a companion device like a tablet. TVs with more smarts will help but with rumors of an Apple TV coming in 2012, we wonder if any of the major TV brands will be able to compete with Apple in the battle for the living room.

TV Brands Used to Be
Enough of a Differentiator

Unfortunately, throwing pixels on a screen is not enough to sustain a TV manufacturer’s market share. HDTVs like laptop computers are becoming something of a commodity; there is little to differentiate one brand from another. Even Sony who has been able to command a price premium in the past now has TVs that are priced similarly to Vizio TVs. Of course there will always be new technology advances like Ultra High Definition (UHDTV), quantum dots, and big screen AMOLED TVs but these won’t come for some time and once one vendor gets one of these features, they all will.

More Evidence That Differentiation is Lacking Among TVs

Retrevo’s product analysis engines looks at millions of data points every day including user ratings. When we looked at more than 20,000 User Reviews for the approximate 250 currently selling TVs from major brands like Sony, Vizio, Panasonic, LG and others, we found average ratings were within 6 percentage points of each other. With “sentiment” becoming more uniform across brands it’s going to be harder for one vendor to convince consumers their TVs are the ones to buy.
Key Enabling Technologies for a Truly Intelligent TV
For a peek at what could likely be in the next generation of smart TVs, take a look at this article that looks at how to use current technology to make a truly smart TV.
Connected TVs Need to Become
Part of the Home Tech Ecosystem

Connecting TVs to the Internet which is becoming a standard feature on new TVs as we found nearly 50% of all 37-inch and larger TVs introduced this year came with Internet connectivity is only a piece of the puzzle. Apple, with its Airplay media sharing technology and Samsung with its AllShare, DLNA-based version have both established an environment where consumers can move photos, videos, music and other media and documents from one of their devices to another. This sort of connectivity along with apps like remote controllers, games and all kinds of apps consumers currently use on tablets and smartphones could all be part of a vendor’s ecosystem. In addition to integrating the TV in the home tech ecosystem, it will be the software or “smarts” along with the content offerings that will differentiate TVs and move one of them to the top of the living room technology stack.
Apple, Microsoft and Google
Could be Next Big Brands in HDTV

If TV hardware becomes the commoditized “platform” and software, content, apps and the tech ecosystem become the differentiators then it’s possible that the consumer software giants of today have a chance at becoming players in the TV industry. We’ve already heard rumors of a Microsoft TV that incorporates Xbox features and Kinect gesture UI. Similar rumors are circulating about an Apple iTV coming in 2012 (see sidebar below). Google had a rough start with Google TV but we don’t think they will give up control of the living room that readily.
There’s an Apple iTV Waiting in the Wings
In preparation for a rumored “iTV,” Apple would most likely put together a lot of content deals so they can offer a rich selection of programming through an Apple iTV store similar to the launch of the iPod and iTunes music store. They already sell programming to run on the Apple TV set-top box but a branded TV will require bumping that up a notch. Apple will also show the industry how to make a TV friendlier with new UI features for the 10-foot interface or they might use the iPad as a controller or to add “smarts.” As we move into the year of the tech ecosystem, Apple is in a perfect position to integrate a TV into its own tech ecosystem where data can move between devices using Airplay. An Apple TV would be one of many Apple devices that can take advantage of smart agents like Siri, ready and able to help you with all your media and entertainment needs.
Sony Has the Right Components to Compete With An Apple TV?
Will we see Apple swoop in and take over the TV market like they have with smartphones and tablets? If Samsung (and others’) “smart” TV patents don’t get in Apple’s way and Apple does, in fact, jump into the TV business will Samsung, LG, Sony and the rest be able to follow Apple’s lead? Believe it or not Microsoft might have a chance with Xbox and a Kinect-based gesture 10-foot user interface. Samsung is trying the hardest with new devices and features and may be having the most success but Sony is probably in the best position. They could leverage Sony Pictures for content, Sony PlayStation for gaming, Blu-ray, and entertainment, Sony cameras for image sharing, not to mention their TVs and audio gear. Having struggled in the past year to recapture the strength of the Sony brand, it remains to be seen whether or not they can muster the force to take on Apple. We’ll be watching Sony, Samsung and other TV giants at CES as we wait for Apple, Microsoft, or Google to make their move.
About Retrevo and The Pulse Report
The Retrevo Pulse is an ongoing study of people and electronics from the consumer electronics shopping and review site Retrevo.com one of the largest consumer electronics review and shopping sites in the world, helping people decide what to buy, when to buy, and where to buy. Retrevo uses artificial intelligence to analyze and graphically summarize more than 100 million real-time data points from across the web to give shoppers the most comprehensive, unbiased, up-to-date product information they need to make smart, confident purchasing decisions for electronics.
To contact Retrevo’s press department about this study, please email: press “at” retrevo “dot” com.

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I like TV Brands.

I like TV Brands.


Where I can appreciate what the technical writer is saying-- to most of us "laypeople" ( as a college grad habitually guilty of Run On Sentences and dare I say 56 years old- where if I used the word "funner"- my dad would have ripped me a new one..) the article is fine-- what does "get me" and causes me to reach for my glasses is this light grey type.... again, I can appreciate it aesthetically- but it is harder to read....

And I guess reading too many Yahoo posts and other Blogs I have seen too many gross spelling, grammer & syntax errors- that this article "reads well" . To truly note the decay of American society and our education system- read any comments to posts on Yahoo.

"and to all a good night"...

Nice material, but it is

Nice material, but it is difficult to read, because of run-on sentences, and grammar errors. I would suggest that you hire an editor to make sure your grammar and sentence construction are correct. Sorry to be critical. It's an occupational hazard, because I'm a technical writer for a living, writing computer books. My belief is that if you are going to post material on the Web for all the world to see, you really should do your best to make sure it is well written. If you don't, people won't come back to your site. Engineers are typically poor writers, unfortunately, but that is why I have been able to make a living writing computer books. The manuals that come with products are notoriously poorly written.


Robin is right on. I say

Robin is right on. I say this even though I'm an engineer. It's like she was reading my mind.

All you grammer police

All you grammer police forget that the world has changed and online publishers do not have the luxury of multiple reviews and red pens. That costs companies money. The news cycle is down to less than 24 hours -- more like 1 hour. If you are writing a book, yeah, you need to make the investment, but if it's throw-a-way electrons, it's the way things are now - get used to it. (I got my degree in Mass Comm and wrote for newspapers and radio).

I like brands too!

I like brands too!