If there’s one thing that’s constant about the web today, then it’s change. Not so long ago it was all about Internet Explorer versus Netscape, then IE versus Firefox, but just when you think things are settling down – and browser wars are a thing of the past – along comes mobile browsing and things are up in the air once more. But there’s also something else that’s been bubbling about in the background for a lot longer – getting the web on your TV. And perhaps that’s something that’s not so far in the future anymore.
Project Canvas is one project that’s been slowly gathering steam, and the BBC Trust have now approved it so it might pick up more pace now. This is a joint project between most of the big names in TV in the UK to try and get on-demand TV and things like YouTube more prevalent. Of course that’s just video, but plenty of other people have been getting in on the act too. The Nintendo Wii has allowed web browsing for some time with its downloadable version of the Opera web browser, and Microsoft have had a media version of their operating system availabel for a few years too. But the important news is that big names like Sony have started to release TV’s with their own widgets for web browsing. That’s a bit of step change when companies who have traditionally just been interested in broadcast media start to include web browsing capability in their everyday consumer television products.
And if that wasn’t enough, guess who else wants to get in on the act – Google. They’re planning on introducing Google TV later this year in the US, and are working with big names (again Sony are included) to make it happen. It won’t be long before we see a lot more web browsing going on via our TVs here in the UK as well, and this may be just the push that’s needed to get a large percentage of those who are not yet online in the UK the access that they would like (for whatever reason, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK don’t yet access the Internet).
- Watch an overview of Google TV here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diTpeYoqAhc
So what does this mean for Exeter? At the moment the mobile market is more important than the (practically not existent) web TV market, as it is seeing large growth, but web TV may well not be far behind. Some pundits argue that the desktop is dying, and the future is all mobile, but I think that’s far too narrow a viewpoint. Personally I think where we’re headed is the ubiquitous web, and that provides new challenges for web designers and developers. Combining these developments with others, such as the increase in app markets of various shapes and sizes, and we can perhaps see a future with less large scale websites, and much more ‘widgetisation’ and syndication of content into third party spaces.
One thing is certain either way … more change.