2012 was by many accounts the year of the smart phone, but last year also saw predictably high sales of SMART TVs. In 2012 54 million SMART TVs were sold world-wide, with that figure set to increase to 220 million by 2016.
But so far consumers have not adapted to the online capabilities of their new SMART TVs. Even at purchase stage, USPs do not focus on ‘smart’ functionality, but rather around ‘future proofing’ (ensuring that new tech can be connected as it is released) and around standard TV USPs, such as picture quality and screen size.
Consumers generally don’t understand what to do with their Smart TVs with typical reviews that go a little something like this: “I use very little of the SMART functionality, and given the lamentably slow pace of software updates, I'm pretty sure that will remain the case.”
SMART TV internet connection rates have been much lower than expected. In the US only 35% of SMART TVs connect to the internet more than once a week and in Europe that figure is much lower at only 10%. About 28% of SMART TVs have never been connected to the internet. Usage of online services such as Facebook, YouTube, Skype, etc are also far below expectations.
Many have blamed manufacturers for making SMART TVs too difficult to use. This may well be the case, but there is also still a belief that the primary use of a TV is to watch TV, and to connect with other devices for gaming, movies, etc. This, it seems, will take a while to change.
However, online gaming is one avenue that manufacturers could use to encourage consumers to use their SMART TVs and LG is making an attempt to do this by embedding ‘games for all the family’, as standard. From Q1 2013 LG SMART TVs will come loaded with Disney’s ‘Swampy: Where’s My Water’ (No. 1 downloaded app in 90 countries), EA Games’ ‘Sims Freeplay’ (150 million copies sold around the World) and from June 2013, Minary Mills’ ‘Mini Motor Racing’ (everyone loves a racing game), using their 3D dual play glasses.
No doubt other manufacturers will soon adopt similar service offerings which will increase SMART TV online engagement, but for now smart phones and tablets will remain the predominant online hub for social, news and entertainment. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that in 2012 84% of US smart phone consumers accessed the internet at least once a day with their device.
With SMART TV internet connectivity so low at the moment, there is an incentive for manufacturers to understand consumer behavior more deeply, address areas for development of SMART TV services, address ‘white-space’ (essentially opportunities that consumers are not aware of) and grab market share.