NPD: consumers find current ‘smart’ TVs a little too smart

apple tv

The year is now 2013, and according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, Apple is going to release a new television product in the next 6 months. Of course, you can’t always believe what analysts say. But you can’t always ignore them either.

The 20+ year senior researcher believes that Apple’s TV device will feature a completely rebuilt remote control and a UI that makes finding content a lot easier than current solutions. And judging by data from a new NPD survey, it would be a hit…

The Daily Mail (via MacRumors) points to a new report from the NPD, or National Purchase Diary, regarding consumer opinions of the latest “smart” TVs. And what they’ve found is that, well, these smart TVs may be too smart for their own good.

The biggest issue, according to the firm, is confusion among users. In their research, they found that very few “smart” TV owners are using their sets to do more than watch OTT (over the top) video. The extra apps just create a complex user experience.

The report is a major blow for manufacturers who have invested billions of dollars in making internet-connected TVs. And many of them are set to unveil new models at CES next week — including Samsung, who continues to tease its new set.

So what can they do? Well the NPD says that to counter this, OEMs need to focus less on new innovation — i.e. adding more apps and features — and more on the simplification of the user experience if they want to drive new behaviors to the TV.

That, I believe, is where Apple comes in. Think about the iPod. It wasn’t the first mp3 player on the market, but it was by far the most user-friendly. Then there was the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010. I think it could do the same thing for TVs.

And there’s a lot of evidence that it’s at least working on it. In 2011, Steve Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson that he had ‘cracked’ the code for television. And last month, Tim Cook said in an interview that TV was an “intense area of interest” for Apple.

I have to admit, as a connected TV owner, current smart TV offerings don’t interest me. But if Apple could come up with a way to blend Netflix, and other video streaming services, with iTunes and other apps in an elegant package, I’d definitely pay attention.

What are your thoughts on current smart TVs? Could Apple do it better?