Alexander Leidinger

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Why are game console/TV com­pa­nies not imple­ment­ing this?

At the week­end a friend vis­ited me. We have not seen since each other since a long time. As we stud­ied both com­puter sci­ence, parts of our dis­cus­sion where off course tech­nol­ogy related. Parts of the dis­cus­sion where about cur­rent TV’s and game con­soles (he par­tic­i­pated in the design of the PS3 CPU, so he is well aware about the tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions of the hard­ware the cur­rent game con­soles use).

Dur­ing our dis­cus­sion we talked about the soft­ware lim­i­ta­tions of such hardware.

Cur­rent TV’s come for exam­ple with some pre­de­fined inter­net chan­nels, but not with a real web browser. We think that peo­ple which keep a TV for 10 years or longer (like for exam­ple our par­ents and prob­a­bly both of us too) this will result in a loss of fea­tures after some years, because those chan­nels will get less atten­tion of case to exist at all. There is also no way to switch to alter­na­tives then, except by buy­ing a new TV (we expect that there will be no firmware update in such a case). With a real web browser this would not be an issue (it may be more easy to enter URL’s with a real key­board than with a remote con­trol, but let us do small steps here). Game con­soles are a bit bet­ter in this regard, but there we have the prob­lem that some web­sites are too much mem­ory hun­gry (they do not include the user agent of the game con­sole browsers in the same class as smart phones or tablet PCs… from the size aspect they are not, but from the mem­ory and com­put­ing power aspect they are more similar).

I would expect that the TV sta­tions do not want to have TVs with really good browsers, because then you may not need a TV sta­tion any­more. But this is what users would use if it would be there.

Another deficit is that there is not a mail pro­gram in game con­soles and TV’s. For writ­ing mails you need a real key­board, but for a quick check if there is mail (e.g. X unread mails, or maybe even dis­play­ing the sub­ject line of the emails) or maybe to just read with­out answer­ing a solu­tion with­out a key­board con­nected would already be enough.

I expect that con­sole man­u­fac­tur­ers do not want to spend money for some­thing peo­ple are not will­ing to give much money for, respec­tively for some­thing where they can not make money with (an email ser­vice from the con­sole com­pany would be another mail ser­vice addi­tional to the one for the PC and maybe addi­tional to the one of the smart phone… peo­ple do not need 10 email accounts, one is enough).

Another over­looked fea­ture is some kind of VoIP+Video fea­ture (at least for the game con­soles which have option­ally a cam­era, but IMO this is also pos­si­ble for the next gen­er­a­tion of TV’s with build-in web­cams). At least the offer­ings from Sony and Microsoft are pow­er­ful enough to come with some kind of video con­fer­enc­ing soft­ware. It does not mat­ter much if this is Skype or the Google ver­sion of this, or some other wide­spread one (MS surely wants to use their own stuff), it just has to be one which is in wide­spread use to be adopted by the people.This does not need to be in HD, even a small video would already be much more than what is avail­able ATM.

Basi­cally I gave the answer to my ques­tion (the title of this post­ing) myself (except for the video con­fer­enc­ing stuff)… but on the other hand this would be some­thing which could set a prod­uct apart from oth­ers. For the PS3 this may be now one of the things which could show up in the Home­brew scene, now that the secu­rity of the PS3 is com­pro­mised. For the Wii at least the email part could be eas­ily done. The rest… would have to catch up in case some­thing like this shows up for the PS3 and is used extensively.

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