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Like I wrote last year, the Project Canvas connected-TV front-end may have been approved by the BBC Trust – but its biggest challenge may be…

Like I wrote last year, the Project Canvas connected-TV front-end may have been approved by the BBC Trust – but its biggest challenge may be winning over the TV makers who are already launching their own standards and services for TV internet content…

Exactly that is coming to pass at this week’s annual Consumer Electronics Show, where connected-TV services are some of the hottest announcements and some products are already available

Intel (NSDQ: INTC) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) already showed off Yahoo TV Widgets on their new Connected TV platform in August 2008; now it’s got signatures to include the system on TVs from Sony (NYSE: SNE), LG (SEO: 066570), Samsung and Vizio. At CES, Yahoo announced carriage on more TVs and gadgets from Vizio, Hisense and Viewsonic, plus chips from MIPS and Sigma. And LG announced it would add to its French TVs a portal for Orange’s TV and internet services.

These – and plenty more manufacturers besides – are the people BBC IPTV director Richard Halton needs to have add the Canvas UI to their TVs and boxes, if it is to make it from a drawing-board plan to the exciting reality it could become for both free and paid providers.

But, though conceived in mid-2008, Canvas didn’t get BBC approval until December 2009, and has only existed publicly as a mock-up throughout. The big global hardware makers will need to be convinced that accommodating a new suite for just a single national market will be worth their while – they’ve had the last year to develop their own, very real connected offerings regardless.

Halton has previously committed to layering internet “apps” or “widgets” over Canvas’ basic VOD features, and to offer a Software Developers Kit (WDK) that could unleash a new wave of indie TV developer creativity. But Yahoo already claims “thousands” of developers are writing widgets for it system. New ones announced at CEO include apps from Sky News, MuZu and Betfair, while Yahoo also unveiled its TV Widget Developers Kit.

This is not just about rudimentary weather apps or Flickr widgets – folks like Napster, Dailymotion and Brightcove also plan to offer music and VOD, while others exist for Twitter, eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) and Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) – meaning TVs from some of the big hitters will already come with online on-demand video and widgetised content by the time Canvas comes to market.

It’s not just Yahoo that’s already becoming an internet-TV gatekeeper. More than 20 percent of flat-screen TVs shipped in Europe this year will have internet connectivity, Futuresource estimates – that

  1. “…20 percent of flat-screen TVs shipped in Europe this year will have internet connectivity… nearly a tenth of all flat-screens forecast to be sold…”

    20% is one tenth?

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  2. Don’t be silly. It’s all about content. Do you really think a million music video and gambling widgets are going to be more popular than access to Corrie and Eastenders?

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  3. There’s a difference between shipped and sold. 100 flat screens are shipped to Europe this year. 20 of them have internet connectivity. That is 10% of the 200 flat screens that are sold in Europe this year.

    The unaccounted for other 100 flat screens are already warming shelves or warehouses.

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  4. Canvas isn’t meant to be competing with the big boys who are developing their own bespoke stuff. It’s meant to be competing with all the cheapy Alba style £20 freeview boxes that people plug into their budget TVs. There are alot more people who own a £200 flat screen that was the cheapest available at the time from Argos than there are who own 48″ beasts with all the latest tech in them.

    Having a single platform / EPG / interface etc instead of all of the rubbish mass market set top boxes knocking about at the moment will make everything much easier for both content producers and users.

    You can already see the same thing happening with mobile phones, things are slowly coming together into a few main camps rather than every single phone having its own interface and technology.

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