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The Underestimated Over-The-Top Device: The PC

Attention Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) TV, Boxee, Tivo, XBox, Bravia: It’s no use. Make way for an old-fashioned solution to internet-connected TV that may be more prevalent than you might assume: the PC.

A new study from TDG Research found some surprising persistence to consumers who link their laptops or desktops to their TV screens as a means of viewing internet video. It’s a counterintuitive notion to say the least given all the aforementioned players that are attempting more sophisticated, seamless solutions. And when you look at the numbers a little closer, there may not be much to this.

One-third of adult broadband users surveyed used some form of PC-to-TV connection at least once a year, TDG found. What that infrequency may suggest more than anything is that every once in a while there’s a video experience that makes the most sense to take in on a bigger screen, like a high-definition film.

The research further breaks down the PC-to-TV market into four segments, with just 16.8 percent of them using that solution on a daily basis. Again, this is not exactly a surging movement here.

Why this may be most negligible: TDG found this market is no more or less likely to be cord-cutters.

It’s likely that all that TDG is picking up on here is a last gasp from a pre-Boxee era, a behavior that is going out of style but hasn’t completely dropped out of sight yet. It would be wise for TDG to follow up a year from now to see if the PC-TV market has shrunken.

Is it possible that the stubborn existence of PC-TV tells us something about the consumer reception to Google/Apple/Boxee/et al: For all the hype, the abundance of different over-the-top devices is sowing confusion more than anything. Perhaps something as simple as a single wire that runs from PC to TV is still viable because it’s the cheapest alternative to committing to any of the boxes out there.

3 Responses to “The Underestimated Over-The-Top Device: The PC”

  1. This is a hangover from the degree of variance in technologies for online video and the rank silliness of blocking devices such as we have seen with Boxee and Google. No one (apart from Rupert Murdoch with The Daily!) blocks PCs. Also if someone did, they offer the greatest flexibility to work around the issue for the consumer, just as the PC offers flexibility for dealing with the content container/codec stew that is the Internet today. Give it H.264 with Fairplay – PC can play it, Andoid Tablet cannot. Give it WMV – PC can play it, iPhone/iPad cannot.

    There is also the simple truth that ALMOST EVERYONE has a PC, and it only seems like everyone has an iPad :-)

  2. Oliver

    The other factor is that pc-to-tv is still the most comprehensive way to get all the services. Certainly services such as 4OD here in the UK only show a fraction of the content on available via the web on their various apps such as PS3.