Yahoo Internet on TV in Japan

I’ve been long fascinated by what may happen once the Internet is widely accessed over TV screens. It’s definitely coming. And in the local context, we’ve seen the beginning of that with a couple of YP-related efforts from Hearst and AT&T.

Now Yahoo is apparently coming to select TV screens in Japan:

Yahoo Japan is about to launch a version of its Web portal formatted for display at 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels, which is the resolution of high-def TV screens. The service will initially be available through Internet-capable televisions from Sharp and was demonstrated earlier this week at a Tokyo news conference.

The “Yahoo Japan for Aquos” service is more than just a reformatted version of the main Internet site. The front page shown at the demonstration looks a lot like Yahoo did in its early days. Under the Yahoo logo, there are 12 subjects to choose from and no advertising.

The initial menu selections offer access to Yahoo’s news, weather, maps, cooking, photos, movie information, travel, games, picture books and search services, plus versions of the Yahoo Shopping and Auctions sites. The site has been designed so that it is easy to navigate using a TV remote control.

In the US, you can get YouTube on TV and Apple TV and related set-top boxes should bring the Internet into the living room. Microsoft’s Xbox should as well (I keep suggesting Virtual Earth on the Xbox would make a more compelling experience). The same would be true for Google Earth.

As the article on Yahoo, reformatted for TV, suggests you just can’t take the Internet as is and pump it onto a big screen. But TV is a much richer visual environment than the desktop and should be treated accordingly. (Conventional search, though becoming more visual is also not well suited to TV.)

It’s in this type of environment that 3D mapping interfaces may really shine. All kinds of social applications and communication (mutual, simultaneous browsing) will also be possible.

The Internet will the be the ultimate “on-demand” environment on TV.

Here are a few related stories:

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In terms of local think of this scenario, long prophesied: Viewer sees hotel featured in program, stops the video and explores the hotel and then later makes a reservation directly through TV. Same with a local restaurant upon seeing a clip of a review, discovered through a local search. Then there’s the pair of shoes that Sarah Jessica Parker was wearing, and so on. There’s an intriguing range of possibilities that I could spin out for a long time.

All the ad-targeting possibilities are there too. But in my fantasy of the future, the Internet basically “colonizes” TV; TV effectively becomes a subset of the Internet where all programming is on-demand and up against all the available Internet content. The current economic model of TV is almost totally destroyed but the consumer experience and overall TV experience is much richer.

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