Do You Want Widgets on Your TV?

Intel and Yahoo announced today they are teaming up to try and make television interactive. Yahoo will manage a widget library for Intel’s OEM partners that will include social, informational and personalized add-ons for TV. Columnist Michael Wolf has the story on NewTeeVee.

The announcement is a bit like deja vu, since Yahoo and Intel for the last two years have offered a neat little integration for keeping track of your fantasy football league and watching the game on your big screen. But it’s been a lot longer than two years that people have been trying and failing to make TV interactive. There are some companies, like ActiveVideo Networks, that have been trucking along trying to make it happen for 10 years now.

Even online, content and interaction often seem like oil and water. At one time we thought Internet TV service Joost would be able to stand out because it opened up its API to widget developers. No such luck — turns out having the best content and making it easy to get to are way more important. I like where live-chat efforts from companies like Lycos and Paltalk are going, but they’re not there yet (see NewTeeVee coverage). On a more basic level, even YouTube is adding Pop-Up Video-like annotation features.

It’s possible we’ve evolved past the need for interaction in one place; we all have our laptops and phones out when we watch TV anyways. But I think there’s still some opportunity to do this right. Yahoo and Intel may have pretty good timing with this announcement given that only now are people starting to use their PCs and TVs for consuming content more interchangeably. An iPhone App Store-like product for TVs? Now that wouldn’t be so bad. Extending Google’s Android open platform to set-top boxes? That seems like it will actually happen too. What do you think?