Stats Hint Smart TVs Twice As Popular As Streaming Boxes

Smart TV ownership appears to be growing very quickly, according to new research found in the Diffusion Group's report on "Defining the In-Home CE and Network Ecosystem." Smart connected set-top boxes aren't selling as well, but there are a few wrinkles in the data.

In 2012, 25% of households with broadband Internet owned at least one smart TV, versus just 12% in 2011. But dedicated streaming set-top boxes, like Roku's popular units, grew much more slowly—from 12% of homes in 2011 to 14% in 2012. That means roughly twice as many homes have smart TVs now than they did about a year ago, which may be a huge thumbs-up for industry players like Samsung.

But the survey notes that just 69% of smart TVs are actually hooked up to the Net (disclaimer: Mine isn't, because its user interface is awful and the app benefits are slim), whereas we can probably assume every set-top box is—because it's their raison d'etre. Furthermore, with so many TV makers hawking smart TVs, we can argue that the uptake by consumers isn't necessarily because of enthusiasm, but is the result of typical product churn.

Another interesting stat from the survey is that the most popular way of viewing Net-based video is over a games console—with 62% of homes owning one like a PS3 or Xbox 360, and owners spend more than a quarter of the time watching video while using the machines.

These statistics will interest makers like Samsung and LG, but they may also play into long-standing rumors that Apple may make a play for the connected TV business. Recent murmurs have argued Apple wouldn't enter the "full TV" market, but this report indicates there may a space for them, after all.

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