Despite name, “phablets” to be big sellers: 208M in 2015

If you haven’t yet head of “phablets,” you might want get familiar with them because ABI Research expects 208 million of them to sell in 2015. Thanks to more media consumption and web browsing consumers may shift from one- to two-handed use for these larger devices.

Get Ready for Social TV and 3 Screen Video Packages

Between over-the-top video delivery, widgets and remote-less TV controls, what a television does will go through dramatic changes in 2009. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to two new research reports, people are looking for their TVs to get social, and the way we purchase TV service could be in for big changes.

As Liz found out during the inauguration, integrating Facebook with a video feed is a way to enhance the viewing experience. Turns out she’s not alone in wanting to socialize while watching TV. A new study from ABI Research found that 36 percent of those people who use social media on a regular basis would like to access their networks on the TV screen.

From the ABI press release:

When asked which types of application they would be most interested in for social TV, the answers were somewhat dependent on age. Younger consumers were more interested in engaging with their friends through chat and messaging, while middle-aged respondents were more likely to be interested in more passive social networking behavior such as checking status updates. The most popular potential application for those over 50 who expressed interest in TV social networking was being able to see what their friends were watching on TV.

This is the part of the post where I eat a little crow. I used to think that anything less than having people physically in the room with you was pointless and hollow. But since the inauguration, I’m starting to come around. Sharing a running commentary with friends or like-minded fans could actually make watching shows like Lost a lot more fun. (One trick will be getting the font size on the screen big enough to read from far away without it looking ridiculous.)

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TVs to Help Boost Online Vid Viewers

ABI Research released its Broadband Video and Internet TV report today, in which it predicts that, thanks to more Net-connected TV devices, the number of people watching online video will grow globally to 941 million in 2013 from 563 million at the end of 2008.

Online video in this particular case has a pretty wide definition in that it includes any video that’s delivered via an Internet connection (excluding IPTV services). So Netflix (s NFLX) streaming, Apple (s AAPL) video, Hulu (s nbcu), etc.

This coming online video viewer boom will be a result of the growth in all forms of content (premium and UGC) and devices that plug into your TV and as such, becoming capable of delivering all this content, a trend we’ve seen pick up steam over the past year (have you seen how sweet YouTube’s HD streams look on an HD TV?). Netflix embodies both elements of this report’s finding, offering streaming movies on a wide range of boxes — from the standalone Roku, to the TiVo (s TIVO), to Blu-ray DVD players, to the Xbox game console.

I spoke with Michael Wolf, who covers the digital home space for ABI, and he had some further predictions. “I feel strongly that these new boxes are not going to be the big winners,” he said. “There will be smaller hits — Apple TV, Roku — but consumers are going to want to use existing boxes.”

“There’s a traffic jam in the living room,” Wolf went on to say, and he believes consumers won’t want more than three devices under their TV. He thinks they’ll keep their cable or satellite box, some kind of DVD player and a game console. “Beyond that, ” said Wolf, “it’s hard to get a consumer to say ‘I’m going to invest in a new box.'”

Vid-Biz: Move, iTunes, Unhappiness

Move Networks Partners with Permission TV; adaptive streaming company hooks up with online video platform provider to resell integrated services to smaller media companies. (Broadcasting & Cable)
ITunes Numbers Still Tiny for NBC; TV by the Numbers says at most, iTunes downloads are less than one percent of viewing if you add them to the TV viewing numbers. (TV by the Numbers)
Unhappy People Watch More TV; new study says that people who are “not happy” watch 30 percent more TV hours per day than their “very happy” counterparts. (Reuters)
Neuros Reveals Next-Gen Box; unlike other PC-based media extenders, Neuros gets web video to your TV via the cloud. (Zatz Not Funny)
Heroes Launches Friend or Foe Online; extends the ongoing NBC saga onto the web to let fans interact more deeply with the show. (emailed release)
Global Market for Set-Top Boxes to Peak in 2012; market will grow for the next few years, topping out at 110 million shipments, decline after that due in part to transition to all-digital broadcasting. (ABI Research)
Pixsy Adds 5 Video Syndication Partners; private-label video search service to be used by eZanga, GenieKnows.com, IceRocket, EgoTVOnline and GossipGirls. (emailed release)

Broadband Video Watchers Double; IPTV to Grow 64%

Two new bits of video research out today: One from ABI Research saying 63 percent of U.S. online households watch video in their browsers, up from 32 percent a year ago. The other a projection from Gartner, which says IPTV services will grow to 19.6 million subscribers in 2008, or 1.1 percent of households worldwide.

Gartner’s estimate would amount to a 64 percent increase over 2007, and $4.5 billion in worldwide IPTV revenue in 2008, a 94 percent increase from 2007. And that’s withstanding, Gartner notes, increasing competition from YouTube, Joost, MySpace, Facebook, NeuLion, Apple TV, iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Video on Demand, Vudu, Netflix, and Blockbuster.

Back to ABI, where analyst Michael Wolf, who sometimes writes for us, says increasing broadband speeds, Hollywood participation, and democratized production tools are all to blame for the rise of broadband video. Nearly half of respondents under 25, and 53 percent of respondents 25-29 said they watch long-form TV shows or movies online at least once a month. Somewhat predictably, three quarters of respondents over 65 have never watched TV or movies online.

ABI’s numbers are actually quite low compared to what we’ve heard. comScore said this month that 75 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video in July.

Intel and Yahoo Look to Widgetize the Living Room Web

This morning at the Intel Developer Forum, Intel and Yahoo announced a joint initiative to bring Internet widgets to TV. The two companies are teaming up in an effort they believe may help jump-start the nascent living-room-web market, which up to this point has seen a lot of products, but very little consumer adoption.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the announcement is the insistence by both companies that OEMs who sign up to put the widget channel (Intel’s name for the product) on their box must offer the consumer access to all of the widgets in the gallery. The gallery, which will be managed by Yahoo, will offer services by any company that uses the widget platform. Conceptually, it’s hard to get one’s mind around the concept of having a service provider set-top box that offers a whole host of widgets to stream third-party web services, but conceivably that’s a scenario that could be realized.

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