Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why widgets on TV dont make sense

Coffee is great, beer is great, and both have their place in our life.
A place that serves coffee, might, with some luck (and with incredible planning) also end up serving great beer - or the other way round. But what about a place that takes this idea to an extreme and offers a combi of coffee and beer, in one glass ? Wierd. Very. Almost like widgets on a TV!

Widgets are productivity apps - just like coffee. You use them during the day to stay alert - to keep a tab on stock (in the post-recession world), to follow a news story, to see's who's winning the game. We also drink coffee for daytime socialising with colleagues, associates, friends. Similarly with widgets, you might want to follow tweets of colleagues and friends, you might want to watch that hilarious vid on youtube (or poor you, yahoo video) following a tweet.

As the sun sets, you get home. You want to lean back on the couch, down a beer, munch some junk, and watch a movie or a soap. And even if you prefer/insist on being "online 24*7" spare a thought for the people who share your roof. The TV is not a piece of furniture in your living room. It is the lively center piece around which the family gathers every evening. That's where you have a snack, cuddle up with the loved ones, watch happy kids enjoying an re-run episode of Mr Bean. The evening is when I wouldn't want to be bothered with productivity apps, and there would be several families that actually consider productivity apps as a pollution of the entertainment experience.

Now that doesn't mean that there's no bridge between the internet and the TV. There is. But clearly, it is not widgets. Widgets are the point-of-sale gimmick that can help push products. What the TV consumer wants every evening is not widgets - it is her choice of rich content experience, that plays with good picture quality on the large flat screen. Preferably with not having to go to a PC to setup that experience or pay for it.

The internet is the largest store of information in the world. It is becoming the single largest store of all entertainment content too. The TV is the tap which you turn on for entertainment experience. Piping entertainment to that tap makes a lot of sense (and fills a need-gap). Piping information (or infotainment) is polluting it. The sooner the yahoos and chumbys of the world understand this, the sooner they are in profits. But wisdom (or even sanity) are not obligatory.

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