TV widgets – small, useful programs and icons that appear along the bottom or side of a television screen – perform similar functions. They might give information about news, weather, sports, or stocks – or link to popular social-networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or the photo-sharing website Flickr.
TV manufacturers seem bullish on the idea. Sony, Samsung, and LG already offer TV sets capable of displaying widgets and linking to the Internet. Vizio, a low-cost HDTV brand, will follow shortly, and set a new standard by offering a small pullout keyboard inside its remote. Vizio will also build in Wi-Fi capability, meaning no wiring will be needed to connect the TV to the Internet.
About 400,000 TVs sold in the US this year will be Web-enabled. But by 2013, about 13.8 million TV sets in US households will be Web-enabled, says a study from Parks Associates.
“We think it’s exciting. We think it’s real,” says Howard Bass, a partner at Ernst & Young’s Global Media & Entertainment Center. Last month, Ernst & Young released a report on TV widgets predicting that they “could be the catalyst to widespread adoption of Web-enabled TV.”