Rapid growth of web-enabled TV sets to make widgets a huge hit

Watching TV on the net will become more popular in future. (GETTY IMAGES)

Spend a lot of time on the web while watching television? Maybe not. But a lot of firms are betting you will.

All of the top television manufacturers at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas are offering internet-enabled TV sets and most of the popular web brands have built the programs known as widgets to run on them.

Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter and YouTube, to name just a few, are among the web titans that offer the miniature windows that pop up on TV screens while shows are on.

"They're really popular," said Jeila Foroozani of US television maker Vizio. "If you want to keep up with your Facebook or your Twitter account you can just call it up anytime while you watch your shows. Right now we have 25 to 30 widgets. By the end of 2010, we should have about 100 and then we'll just go up from there."

Vizio, LG, Samsung and Sony use the Yahoo widget platform for their TV applications and Yahoo used CES as a stage to announce widget partnerships with Hisense, ViewSonic, MIPS Technologies and Sigma Designs.

ViewSonic's VMP80 media player will allow high-definition TV owners to view movies, TV shows, web videos and photos and go shopping and play games with TV widgets.

"Consumers can enjoy the greatest internet content while simultaneously viewing their favourite programming," said ViewSonic Americas vice-president Jeff Volpe.

Jean-Pierre Abello, director of product management for Yahoo's connected TV group, said Yahoo's widget gallery is "very much like the iPhone app store".

"We've done a lot of research to see what usage models work on television and what don't," he said. "On TV, what we've found out is that a simple widget doesn't take too much attention away from the TV."

 

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