Widgets- Next Stop…Your Television!

The Appetizer

Widgets are in.  From being the small icons you see on your desktop displaying weather, sports, and news reports, or having fun little games that you can play while working on whatever else is taking place on your computer at the same time. Something that does not take up a lot of space on your computer screen or hard drive, but makes it that much more unique and catered to your interest.  The same can be said for the use of widgets on your mobile phone, popularized primarily by the iPhone.  Widgets are the wave of the future in the markets of computers and mobile platforms in terms of customization– but how about television?  This article speaks on the the Yahoo-Intel developed Widget Engine and its applications that are currently in the wild, using IP- based distribution to further enhance a viewer’s experience in an unobtrusive way, and the impact it could have on broadcasters and viewers.

The Main Course

The Dessert

This is the future when it comes to television– or at least a portion of it.  Platforms such as ATT Uverse and Verizon Fios TV have this ability and are slowly integrating it into their options for consumers.  Imagine watching tv and having a bar at the bottom or top (or even side) of your screen that lets you know when  you have new emails coming in.  Or up to the minute weather reports?  Not only that, but you being able to PICK which widgets you see.  Think of the Samsung phones and their widget bar on the left side of the finger-touch friendly phones and how you can scroll through those.  Now, apply that same concept to a television set using your remote (or a device like Microsoft’s Project Natal- *ahem*) and ask yourself, would that not be a feature you would like to have?  For service providers, it would be another feature that could be offered to their subscribers to justify their fees, or to pull in more consumers.  It could even be a separate revenue stream, much like the thousands of for-pay Apps on the iPhone.  Where it clashes is exactly where the article suggest– broadcasters.  Why would someone feel the need to stay up to watch the 11:00 pm newscast for the latest news updates or weather if they have Apps on the side of their television screen that gives them up-to-the-minute updates on that same information?  Ultimately, it could effect viewing habits, which could in turn, effect revenue streams for broadcasters, particularly local broadcasters.  Especially considering that the provider of that more accurate and available information could be a competing station.  And what if those widgets not only give viewers not just information, but games like I just mentioned– possibly pulling them further away from traditional viewing habits.  On the other hand, it could, again be another potential revenue stream for broadcasters and/or third party companies.  It could, as the article suggest, show themselves to be a source of information that may not be as obtrusive as a physical widget icon– maybe just the information itself (think of a customized scrollbar).  Yahoo and Intel are smart to get involved with this now.  Yahoo is also a partner with ATT in their IPTV-based Uverse service, and have also released their own Yahoo-based set top box in recent years.  It is clear that the digital media transition is not only making way for computer/software providers to integrate themselves into new markets, but also Internet-based companies such as Yahoo!, making companies, such as Yahoo!, ones to watch in the television industry as it continues to evolve.

The Overall Meal

4 Stars!

The Doggybag

Do you see television widgets catching on with viewers or ultimately just being a fad?

Let the debate begin (below)!

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