IT Big Guns Set to Take the Connected TV Prize

Despite the pioneering work that has been done by start up companies in the IPTV and OTT online video space, the sector will soon be dominated by the three IT giants—Microsoft, Apple and Google—who have recently come to market win the sector.

The latest report by new media research firm GigaOm suggests that the rapid growth of Internet-enabled HDTVs and other living room devices is laying a new technological foundation, one that will enable digital video and other media content to exist alongside the current technologies of cable and satellite TV service.

The analyst says that software developers and technology providers are rushing to put in place the necessary embedded software and distribution infrastructure that will enable content owners, aggregators, advertisers and consumers to reap the benefits of network connectivity in consumer electronics devices.

GigaOm predicts that the connected platform providers will take a significant slice of the $60 billion annual pay-TV business for themselves. Ominously for those smaller firms who took the first leap into connected TV, right at the head of those likely to take advantage will be Microsoft, Google and Apple.

However, GigaOm believes that the upstarts, in particular Roku, Boxee and Vudu, will not let the giants have everything their own way. For example, it highlights the fact that Roku, who it says pioneered the use of embedded apps in a STB, will face off with Apple. For bringing streamed video content to the TV, Boxee is the current leader among browser-based platforms and is going to run head first into Google. For its part, Vudu’s embeddable apps platform and VOD service for connected CE devices could still be a formidable competitor to both Google and Apple, especially after its acquisition by Wal-Mart.

Other potential key players identified by GigaOm include Samsung with a wide variety of video-enabled platforms and a vertically integrated apps platform, and also Sony whose online network based around the PlayStation 3 game console offers a solid foundation from which to launch what the analyst believes could be an excursion into the digital living room.

By Joseph O'Halloran, Rapid TV News