Analyst firm NPD recently estimated that 231 million devices will be connected to the Internet by the end of 2018, an 82 percent increase from 2014.
“The two largest drivers of growth will be the increased acceptance of connected televisions in the homes of U.S. consumers, as well as the continued adoption of streaming media players such as those offered by Google, Apple, Roku, and Amazon,” NPD’s John Buffone said in a statement.
That’s an impressive projection, but it might be conservative. Many people have two, three, and even four TVs in the house. But Stephen Baker of NPD told me recently that he thinks in the future, demand for TVs will decline somewhat and people will use tablets to watch TV throughout the house. Indeed, with pretty much all of the major networks creating online versions of their content or producing original content for Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services, using a tablet for TV viewing makes sense.
One of the companies that is hedging its bet on this is Samsung, which recently introduced the Galaxy View, an 18-inch tablet. That might seem gigantic, but Samsung sees it more as a mobile TV. It’s not positioning it as such, but Samsung is hoping that consumers use it for that purpose.
I believe Samsung is really on to something with the Galaxy View. When Dell debuted its 18-inch all-in-one, I used it as a mobile TV, even though that wasn’t its intended purpose. Last year, I spent some time with Intel’s chairman Andy Bryant, and he told me that his kids discovered that the Dell AIO was great for streaming media and games. Once he saw that, he was hooked on the idea of larger tablets and smaller AIOs being used for these purposes.
But with Samsung as a major TV vendor and partially positioning this new 18-inch tablet as a mobile TV, it could give larger tablets a whole new life, even if it’s only mildly successful. In the past, a mobile TV needed a TV tuner inside to even be classified as a portable television. But with video streaming, all one needs is a good Wi-Fi connection to turn any tablet into a TV and a movie playback device.
The only drawback at the moment is the lack of access to live local content, but that sacred cow will soon fall as more and more people cut the cord, forcing local stations to stream their shows, or consumers to pick up a Slingbox.
This is an idea that’s time has come. Sure, people can watch on smartphones, but once devices get to 13 or 18 inches in size, their potential to deliver an actual TV-like experience will become much more desirable and the concept of a mobile TV could really take off.