"Smart TV" gaining traction: More than half of sets sold will connect to the Internet within two years

The next big thing in television set technology is not 3-D or Ultra HDTV. It is “smart TV” sets that are connected to the Internet.

More than a quarter of all televisions shipped last year had Internet connectivity capabilities, according to IHS Screen Digest, and such sets will account for more than half of all shipments by 2015.

Sixty-six million Smart TVs shipped in 2012 (up 27 percent from the 52 million that shipped the year before), MediaPost News reported. By 2015, that number will reach 141 million units, and account for 55 percent of the market. Only a year after that, smart TVs will account for two-thirds of the total units shipped globally. 

“Consumers are now increasingly buying big-screen TVs that include the Internet capabilities, even if they’re specifically looking for [those capabilities] or not,” Veronica Thayer, TV systems analyst at IHS, told MediaPost News.

While many television manufacturers are working on developing their own user interfaces for their smart TV products, big growth could come from manufacturers striking partnerships with cable and satellite television providers, Thayer said.

Currently, the report said, many cable and satellite media companies provide smart TV capability only via custom applications. Such partnerships with television set manufacturers would boost the presence of these company’s brands in the home.

Such partnerships are beginning to emerge in European markets, and it’s only a matter of time before they come to the U.S., Thayer told MediaPost News. For the television makers, these partnerships, she said, will help them differentiate their products from the competition, while they offer a way for cable and satellite providers to reduce costs and have greater presence among home entertainment options.

“The inclusion of pay TV services in smart TVs is going to increase [adoption] even further,” Thayer said. “Services that use an app within the smart TV are going to help the sales of smart TVs. But there is also a movement toward having the device’s user interface recognize your pay TV subscription.”