Dataquest Predicts: Net eyeballs focus on TV, not PC

Digital TV is set to overtake PC's as a method of accessing the Internet, according to analysts at Dataquest.

The research group predicts digital set top boxes will be on par with PCs in the race for Internet eyeballs by 2005, with Net access becoming more common via TV in following years.

The figures were unveiled at Dataquest's annual Predicts '99 conference in Paris on Monday and prompts the question: will this sound the death knell for the PC?

Dataquest analyst Paul O'Donovan predicts digital TV's in the next three to four years will provide Web access for those consumers who will not buy a PC. And, O'Donovan said, after 2005 digital TV's will "overtake PCs as the mass medium access to the Internet".

But the PC era is not over yet. O'Donovan believes the PCs and TVs will co-exist for the foreseeable future. The PC will be forced to adopt a new role in the household Dataquest analyst Paulo Puppoli predicts. "As the Internet moves onto mobiles and digital set top boxes PC companies will search for other benefits," he said.

In the future, the PC could become an hybrid 'home server' controlling the heating, lighting and security of the home Puppoli suggests.

Analysts agree that the model of Internet on the Telly will be advertising-driven. "Advertisers will want interactive ads," said Inteco analyst Graham Taylor. However, this is prone to the problem of viewers straying on to other parts of the Internet and being taken away from the TV. One solution would be a 'walled garden' of content.

Winners in the interactive world of digital TV will be the cable operators, according to analysts. Some cable operators are already incorporating cable modems on to set top boxes and O'Donovan predicts a future when the TV becomes like the stack Hi-Fi's of old. "It will be a place where you can plug in your games console and your DVD drive, etc," he said.