Smart TVs say goodbye Skype, hello content
Skype has been a regular feature on Smart TVs since 2010 – so why is it being ditched? We investigate…
11 May 2016
Credit: Associated Press
If you buy one of our new large screen TVs this year the likelihood is it will be ‘smart’.
Smart TVs connect to your Wi-Fi to stream Netflix, iPlayer and stacks more content and in some cases play PlayStation games.
Around 3 in 10 people now have access to a Smart TV at home, according to YouGov, and this year’s models are simpler and easier to use than ever before.
Why? Because they’re fully focused on content – and loads of it – and they’re really easy to find your way around.
But what does Skype have to do with it?
Why Smart TV needed simplifying
Every product or new technology needs a unique selling point – a compelling reason to make you want to buy it. 4K TV offers 4 times the resolution of Full HD; multi-room audio lets you stream music throughout your home, for example.
Smart TV’s compelling reason is content – but when the televisions first launched a few years ago it wasn’t clear.
The question ‘why would I want a TV that connects to the internet?’ had many varied answers.
You could use them to speak to family and friends on video chats, to browse the web, hang out on Facebook and stream online content.
There was a lot going on there – and not all suited a TV screen and remote, and it left some people confused.
Who wants Skype on a TV anyway?
One of these features was video-calling app Skype.
It was initially thought people would really take to using Skype on their TV to chat with family and friends.
On paper it made sense – the TV is in front of the sofa, making it perfect for catching up with absent loved ones on, say, birthdays or Christmas.
A Panasonic exec, speaking at CES 2012, said it would be perfect for taking calls while still watching the football.
But it never really caught on – so the news that Skype is ditching support for its Smart TV software isn’t really too much of a surprise.
Skype will disappear from Smart TVs in June. They said people were increasingly Skyping on smartphones and tablets instead – even when in the same room as the TV.
What about social media?
Facebook and Twitter have also proven to be not the best use of your Smart TV.
Why load up Facebook on your huge TV screen, using the remote to scroll and browse, when you can do it much easier using your palm-sized phone?
20% fewer people are now using their Smart TV for social networking compared to 2012 – says analyst uWand
Shifting the focus to content – the best bit of Smart TV
The main benefit of Smart TV is and always has been content – the fact that you can watch what you want when you want.
4 in 10 industry pros said video on demand (i.e. Netflix) holds the most potential for Smart TV.
Content has always been important. Smart TV was labelled the ‘democratisation of content’ by Samsung’s UK boss as early as 2012.
But now – on the back of the unbelievable rise of video streaming – content is getting the attention it deserves. The big TV brands of Samsung, Sony and LG market their Smart TVs based on what you can watch and how easy they are to use.
Does it have Google Play Store? Can I get All4? Is there a way of watching Sky Sports? Does it have built-in PlayStation Now?
These are the type of questions people are now asking.
Super-simple to use
You find your way around your Smart TV using its ‘interface’ – probably more familiar to you as the home screen.
This is where all your apps and channels live. On early Smart TVs these were clunky to use and not particularly easy to understand.
75% of people surveyed by LG thought their smart TVs ‘too smart for their own good’ for example.
Now it’s much more user-friendly. Both LG and Samsung use toolbars along the bottom of the screen for fast access to favourite streaming, gaming and catch-up apps – all while you’re watching something already.
Smart TV comes of age
When any new technology launches it’s not fully formed. It evolves over time with subtle tweaks and changes.
And this year it feels Smart TV has really come of age.