Why I don’t use Smart TV web applications

The LA Times posted an article this week about the limited use web applications receive from smart TVs. I have two smart TVs and until my recent trial of the Amazon Prime service, I had only glanced at the TV application menu. I fall right in line with the majority of people that don’t use the applications.SmartTV

Here’s why.

The TV app menu has a limited selection of applications.
My TVs have 7-8 applications available. Both have YouTube. One has Netflix, the other Amazon Prime. One has Twitter. The experience is underwhelming since I’m used to a tablet or smart phone with a wide range of applications. There isn’t an app store on my TV so what I see is what I get unless they force some additional apps via the updates.

The TV app menu is slow to navigate.
It takes some time to navigate the user interface (UI) and load the applications on my TV. While the processor speed is responsible for a part of this lag, most of it is because I have to use the remote control to essentially tab through the choices; No mouse and no touch screen equals slower navigation.

The TV can be used easily as a second screen to portable devices such as tablets or laptops.
It’s not too difficult to use a TV-screen as a second screen for computing equipment these days. This gives users full access to the applications on their computing device. I know this type of hookup is a technical chore that may keep most people from doing it. But I suspect the same people that would use a TV application are the same people that would hookup the TV to a portable device. In that case, why would the limit themselves to the smaller selection of TV apps?

The service years of a TV outlasts the typical computing device.
Many people update their computing every three to four years. But TVs can last much longer than that. It doesn’t appear the TV manufacturer’s are building in a good way to update their web application menus. So they quickly become dated. This hurts usage because consumers will gravitate to their more modern computing device.

So what should TV manufacturer’s do about this? Should they stop making Smart TVs? How can they compete with streaming services like Apple TV, Slingbox, and Google TV? I think part of this answer is to make the experience of the TV closer to the experience on other computing devices. Run the application service on a variation of open source software such as Android. Get access to an app store. Don’t expect the consumers to change their behavior, but find a way to more closely mimic what the consumers already use. That sounds like a smart move.