Smart TV manufacturers need more intelligent marketing, according to a survey by Analysys Mason.
Fewer than half of people who own a television set that comes with applications to stream content from the web have connected their TV directly to the Internet. That doesn't bode well for manufacturers looking to monetize television sets beyond the initial sale.
Analysys Mason said the manufacturers, such as Samsung, LG and Sony, must improve their education of consumers, build simpler user interfaces and strike deals to bring more relevant applications into the TVs.
Some cable providers also have said they would build applications for smart TVs. That could make the experience of watching television more seamless for users. Right now, digging through applications for different services or channels to see what's available to watch takes more effort for most users than browsing through a traditional channel guide.
The survey queried 6,600 consumers in France, Germany, Poland, Spain, the UK and the U.S. Falling in line with other surveys this year, about one in five owned a TV with Internet capabilities. Of that group, actual connection rates ranged from 50% of people aged 18 to 34 to 32% of those aged 55 and older.
Of the four in five people who did not own a smart TV, 36% expressed interest in buying one. The numbers could get a lift this year if Apple releases its own smart TV line. Apple's closest link to television sets is its Apple TV box, which serves as an intermediary to reach the web. But the survey found only one in 20 respondents owned Apple TV or a competitor such as Roku.
At the All Things D conference Tuesday night, Apple CEO Tim Cook said television remains of "great interest" to the company.
"Popularity has been larger than we thought, and we aren't marketing it," he said, refusing to divulge any specific plans.
Earlier this year, research firm IHS said smart TVs would account for 55% of television sales by 2015.