The television, as a home appliance and as an entertainment medium, has had a long history with both consumers and businesses. For the former, it has been a source of hours of entertainment and of a vast amount of information, from news stories to the latest products or promotions; for the latter, it has been an invaluable tool for marketing and product placement. Before and during the early stages of the Internet age, TV’s were used primarily for “watching”; there was no opportunity for interactivity or content control—we watched what was on. The only choice left to us was choosing channels. For a time, we were content with that choice, until the Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) or Smart TV came along.
In the era of the always-connected individual, the TV as we know it is facing an evolution—if not a revolution—with the gradual integration of Internet services. The Internet is a famous medium because of its information networks, but more importantly because it gives us the power to choose what information we want to view at a certain time. Add wireless technology into the mix and you have a recipe for constant connectivity and interactivity. Internet connectivity is not anymore limited to computers and laptops; other mobile wireless devices can now harness the Internet’s information networks and use them to provide a range of services. The TV’s of today are smart enough to be used for services that once were limited to computers. Aside from live broadcasts, Smart TV’s can provide video on demand (VOD), music on demand, digital radio, news, local events information, games, and other interactive services.
Shopping is one area where the Internet has had most effect; online shopping has changed the shopping landscape with many brick and mortar stores offering online counterparts, with some completely abandoning the former for the latter. From grocery shopping on your computer, you can now shop from the comfort of your living room sofa or bedroom using an Internet-connected Smart TV, with your groceries conveniently delivered at your front door afterwards. You don’t even have to boot your computer; all you have to do is turn on your TV, choose the grocery items you want, and wait for your delivery.
In Croatia, Hotel Dubrovnik has also joined the move to Smart TV’s through its interactive IPTV system that enables features like a hotel information page, welcome message upon check-in, hotel bill viewing, “TV room service”, and quick room status change for housekeeping. The guest can even use the IPTV system for sending and receiving messages to and from reception without leaving the room or picking up the phone. The hotel management is currently checking the feasibility of adding more features to the current system. This is an example of how far technology can take IPTV’s. The possibilities are limitless, and innovative entrepreneurs and developers have the power to push IPTV’s forward with innovative and practical solutions. The rise of the Internet has overshadowed TV as a medium, but the current turn of events has shown that the Internet may now be giving breath to a once-dying medium. From ecommerce, we are now entering the era of “t-commerce”—an era where the line between computer and TV is blurred.
The formula for t-commerce, however, is not a completely new one. How many times have you watched a TV show and wanted then and there to have the exact same outfit as your favorite celebrity? It’s been done before by leading TV show fans to a website where they can purchase show-related merchandise. Even TV show props are often auctioned off as unique collectibles. T-commerce is not a revolution, but available technology has helped it go through a much needed evolution. Now you can get your favorite celebrity’s outfit while watching the show through a link pushed to your smart TV. Through targeted ads, you can even find special promotions on organic food while watching your favorite cooking show—all in the comfort of your living room or den. Although the ideal business model for t-commerce is still in the works, the immediacy and interactivity in being able to buy what you want when you want it is a tempting proposition for many consumers—and couch potatoes.