If you’re irritated by all the snipes popping up on your TV screen, you better chill because more are coming. According to The Diffusion Group, 76 percent of consumers think that having a widget toolbar on their TV set would be valuable. Only 11 percent think that would be a bad idea.
I’m trying to imagine how having the Internet on my TV would benefit my program experience. The single instance I can imagine is with news. If there were additional resources displayed as options during a newscast, I might take advantage of them. On the other hand, I find today’s snipes, which are especially prevalent on the HGTV channel, totally unacceptable. They irritate me and reduce my enjoyment of the program. I’d like to see some evidence that those dancing dummies in the corner of my TV screen enhance viewers’ experiences or reduce channel surfing. If anything, snipes cause me to surf away!
Even so, Yahoo and Intel believe in the widget experience as they are now building a TV platform that will allow viewers to access weather, stocks and news information from their TV sets. The first market presence will be on Verizon’s new FiOS service. Of course, this means OTA broadcasters won’t be participating any time soon.
The first Verizon widget will add Twitter and Facebook to the TV screen. Woo hoo! Now I can watch themed Twitter feeds along with "Lost" or "American Idol!" The feature apparently will allow the viewer to customize the auxiliary feeds to match their own interests. Verizon hasn’t yet said exactly what types of filters and user options might be offered, but this is clearly a “tween” focused feature. That age of viewer is quite comfortable with simultaneous multiple streams of content, so perhaps they would find the service valuable.
Despite that, feedback on several stories about the new FiOS feature indicates a lack of clear direction. Said one commenter, “Widgets will do for iTV what the iPhone did for the mobile Internet.” Yet another writer chimed, “Why would I want to screw with my viewing experience when I can do whatever I want on my PC.”
Oh sure, I’m going to sit in the recliner with a TV remote in one hand and a computer in the other. Not!
Nevertheless, consumer electronics will increasingly support viewer interactive applications. Whether the ubiquitous iTV experience is really just around the corner is far from certain.
What do you think?