So, Netflix and LG announce yet another set top box. Well, actually they announced that LG would include the Netflix service on “selected devices”. Best guesses are that the service will be added to a dual mode (HD DVD and Blu-ray) player, or even the Television itself.
Here’s the problem with this: it’s Netflix on LG devices and only Netflix. No slight on Netflix, the service is good and the company needs to provide for a non-disc future. However, the industry should be gathering together for a single standard for delivering from the Interent to the lounge room, not proprietary deals with single suppliers. If we want movies from Apple then it’s another set top box (Apple TV). Vudu have their own movie service and their own proprietary box. Tivo is a little more open – it has an API for programmers – but it’s still another box on top of the cable or satellite box you’ll probably still have.
We need a single standard or interoperable standards for delivery of “Internet TV” to Televisions. It has to be simple. TV would not have caught on if we’d needed separate Television sets for CBS, NBC and ABC – but that’s exactly where these companies think we’re heading.
It won’t work. Any device(s) that link the Internet sources with a TV are good, but it needs an open standard – perhaps that’s what google are working on, but even then it won’t help integrate with cable or satellite boxes unless those providers have a significant change of heart.
Apple TV, for all the people who claim it to be a “failure” is the leading device to connect computers and televisions. While its sales are disappointing by Apple’s mega-hit standard, it’s estimated to have about 800,000 units sold in 10 months (took Tivo 4 years to get that far) and it’s way ahead of the competitors, other than Xbox or PS3 which both act at media extenders.
My mantra for 2008 – proprietary bad, open standards (even from one company) good.