Apple eyes opportunity as smart TVs fail to impress

Posted by Shane McGlaun

Each year, one of the biggest and most packed categories of products at CES in Las Vegas is the television space.

Last week was no exception, with a number of new TVs boasting "smart" features of one sort or another. Unsuprisingly, analyst Brian White from Topeka Capital Markets confirmed that most of the smart TVs at CES 2013 weren't actually all "that smart."

I think just about anyone who has researched smart TVs available on the market today would agree with the above-mentioned statement. Smart TVs typically only offer streaming content and easy access tp the Internet. Then again, most people already have already have the ability to access the Internet in front of the TV using their smartphone or tablet, making this particular feature a non-feature for many people.

When it comes to the use of smart TVs, streaming video tends to be the most popular type of content consumed by smart TV owners. However, you don't have to have a smart TV to be able to stream content from services such as Netflix and other platforms.

Indeed, many people already have devices connected to their TVs, such as game consoles, cheap PCs-on-sticks and Blu-ray players that allow streaming of video in the living room. Those who don't have a connected device for streaming can pick up an entry-level set-top box from numerous manufacturers for around $100.

White also noted that Samsung showcased its Evolution Kit at CES 2013, which can best be described as a hardware upgrade that allowa additional functionality for last year's breed of TVs. The kit is expected to launch in Q2 of this year, and Samsung has promised that users who bought a 2012 model smart TV will be able to use new features all the way up through 2015.

Nevertheless, White said: "We were less than impressed with Samsung's smart TV user interface and capabilities at the show."

He believes that Apple has a significant opportunity in the smart TV market to reinvent the television as we know it. White noted that his checks within the industry suggest Sharp will be providing panels to Apple for the long rumored Apple HDTV. In the meantime, Apple CEO Tim Cook recently helped stoke rumor fires by confirming the television market was an area of "intense interest" for Cupertino.