Google chairman Eric Schmidt's claim that half of TV sets in stores next year will have Google TV capability sounds impressive – but how quickly does that mean it will reach everybody? Eric Schmidt, previously Google's chief executive and now chairman, forecast at the Le Web conference in Paris on Wednesday that "by the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded on it". That's because he sees the "smart TV" sector exploding – with companies that make TVs wanting to build in internet connectivity and processing capacity. He didn't specify which companies will be selling sets with that capacity, but Samsung and Sony have already been offering "smart TV" sets for more than a year.
The technology industry is absolutely bent on reinventing television. But nobody seems to be able to answer the big question: what exactly is so broken about TV anyway? It's true that the TV guide in most cable systems is pretty awful -- it looks like Yahoo circa 1994. It's a pain fiddling with a bunch of different remotes. It might be kind of nice to watch YouTube videos on a big screen in the living room. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most TV viewers simply won't care enough about any of this stuff to shell out $1,500 for a new Apple TV, or spend a few hundred bucks and countless hours fiddling around adding a new box to their TV set and figuring out how it works. All of these are destined to be niche products at best -- just like every other attempt to improve TV over the last 20 years.
Retail outlets looking for new, innovative ways to get hands-on with their customers will soon have a new tool – the Samsung SUR40. Companies are already using Microsoft Surface to give potential customers virtual tours of plane interiors, help them plan flights, provide them with the ability to create immersive photo books, and entice bank customers into brick and mortar branches. Those experiences only hint at how the new Surface device will be able to help businesses engage with customers, said Somanna Palacanda, director of Microsoft Surface. Samsung and Microsoft announced today that a new, more versatile Microsoft Surface device is now available for pre-order, the near final stop on its journey from lab to marketplace. Now, businesses in 23 countries can visit the Samsung website to find a local reseller and place an order for the Samsung SUR40. Shipments are expected to start early next year.
Earlier store openings, a bargain-hungry consumer and the lure of deeply discounted TVs and laptops contributed to the largest Black Friday sales haul in history this past weekend. Americans spent a record $52 billion from Thanksgiving through Sunday, or $398.62 per shopper, a 9.1 percent increase from last year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported, while traffic to stores and websites rose 6.6 percent to hit an historic high of 226 million visits.
Broken out by channel, 62.2 percent of the total weekend spend took place in brick-and-mortar stores and 37.8 percent was transacted online, the trade group said. Black Friday proper was also one for the record books. According to market research firm ShopperTrak, sales at brick-and-mortar stores rose 6.6 percent the day after Thanksgiving to $11.4 billion, while foot traffic increased a 5.1 percent from last year.
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