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Internet and TV: a marriage that never works

Column: Intel and Yahoo are the latest to try to merge the two media. Why past efforts have failed.

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Cory Pforzheimer with Yahoo demonstrates TV Widgets at CES in Las Vegas.

Jae C. Hong/AP

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Every year, tech geeks look forward to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas the way many children anticipate Christmas morning.

But reports from this year’s show, which ended Sunday, indicated there was little under the tree to get excited about. As one report I heard said, no one is talking about 150-inch plasma TVs. The focus was much more on what people can realistically afford in today’s bad economy.

One idea that generated a lot of buzz was Web-enabled TV. Last August, Intel and Yahoo announced “The Widget Channel.” The feature will let you use “widgets” to access Internet services, such as stock quotes and news feeds, on your home television.

To do this, however, you must own an Internet-enabled TV. So at CES, Yahoo announced that it would work with TV manufacturers, such as Toshiba and Samsung, to build sets that can access the Widget Channel. The idea was also pushed by one of the Widget Channel’s partners, MySpace, which wants to move aggressively into the TV “space.”

Well, I’m sorry, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The idea of watching the Internet on TV is like cold fusion. People will tell you that it’s a great idea and will revolutionize society as we know it. But no one has been able to do it, regardless of how many times they’ve tried.

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