Do you remember Yahoo Connected TV? It was a rather feeble try on Yahoo’s side to create their own connected TV platform and allow web content access directly from your big screen. While they were rather successful in having major manufacturers (Sony, Samsung, LG, Vizio) launch TV models embedding Yahoo Widgets, the platform was marred by initial hardware fragmentation, slow execution, lack of updates and, the worst of all, the platform update (and widgets availability) was left in the hands of the manufacturers, and most of them had completely different priorities. As a result, a $2000 TV (LG 60PS80) I bought last year specifically because it was described as “connected TV” has received absolutely no software updates and not even one new Yahoo TV Widget during the whole period.
I am fairly sure than Yahoo understands this situation as well and this is why they are creating a Yahoo Connected store, to be launched sometime in the Spring of next year (2011). This time, it seems that Yahoo got some deals in place for the manufacturers to include the store in their TVs (Sony, Samsung, VIZIO, LG and Toshiba for now) and the developers will also get the chance to create Paid TV Widgets, to be sold anywhere between $0.99 and $99.
The payment will be handled by Yahoo and the pricing / payment structure seems to be similar with that of other stores (70% developers, 30% Yahoo). After all, why mess with something that works?
The only problem is that, Yahoo service could be too little and too late. Google TV also plan to have a store around the same time, it is based on Android and a Google TV box is not only significantly more powerful than what you can expect to be embedded in a TV, but it also supports set top boxes. Boxee Box has already over a hundred applications, supports Adobe Flash 10.1 and it is build around a powerful hardware.I strongly believe investing additional money in a connected TV is a bad decision. The update cycle is longer than a set top box because of the price and they will never have the same support and updates as a dedicated media streamer box (Google TV, Boxee Box) and when you’ll figure that out, it will be too late. Learn from my experience!