Meanwhile, networking TVs with today's routers, PCs, and software is a crapshoot. So electronics makers are taking baby steps for now. They are assembling their own information and video services that can connect directly to TVs, bypassing some of the networking issues. Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp will sell TVs that can download news stories and maybe some videos.
But it's Hollywood movies and shows that will motivate a mass market for Internet-connected TVs, says Alex Thatcher, a Hewlett-Packard executive. The market will blossom when studios no longer present a bottleneck. "It's just like music," Thatcher says. "It exploded in the ways that people use it when they could get away from shiny disks."
There is something wrong with driving a 4,000-pound car to pick up a half-ounce movie disk. Digital downloads offer an alternative that Hollywood finds appealing. "There is something elegant about the idea," says Danny Kaye, head of technology strategy for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. "But the elegance isn't there yet."