Providing applications on TV screens is a very, very old idea, but rarely successful.
Providing apps on the iPhone, meanwhile, is wildly successful, and interactive TV advocates are appropriating the iPhone apps metaphor and rushing to take advantage of the hype surrounding the business of downloading apps that Apple established.
Cable has been moving toward the downloadable apps model in fits and starts with tru2way. The notion of delivering widgets – apps by another name – on TV has been percolating for at least two years in the consumer electronics arena, pushed by everyone from Intel to several TV makers to Yahoo.
The latest advances in the area are being exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show, from companies such as Vudu, Boxee, Roku, DivX, Yahoo, Adobe, Vizio, Microsoft and others.
The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. TV maker Vizio was among the first to use the term apps for TV software, using Yahoo widgets.
What is still missing, the Journal says, is the equivalent of Microsoft Windows for the living room, a widely accepted way to write programs that appear and act the same on most TVs. But many companies are trying.