ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel and it's time now for All Tech Considered.
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SIEGEL: Today, we check in on the evolution of television in the online era. Video is a highly fragmented business these days. Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Hulu, there are plenty of Internet venues where you can find TV show and movies to watch. And every company in the business wants to be your one source. Well, for consumers, the question is how to get those sources of content onto your big screen in the living room as easily as you do your cable or broadcast TV. That is a bit more complicated and a bit more frustrating.
Farhad Manjoo is a technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He joins us now. Welcome to the program, Farhad.
FARHAD MANJOO: Hi, good to be here.
SIEGEL: And there are a lot different devices on the market to bring Internet video onto your television. You find this market still very frustrating?
MANJOO: Yeah, I mean, there's sort of a best of both worlds. It's never been easier to get stuff on your TV but it's ever been more complicated to figure out which is the best way for a certain show you want to watch. So there's lots of different devices but, depending on which one you buy, you'll be able to get some kind of content and not other kinds of content.
SIEGEL: Well, what's your rule of thumb for picking a device, if you have one?
MANJOO: You're running Apple content, stuff from the iTunes store, then you most likely want an Apple TV device to sync with your iPad other Apple stuff - that's $100 device. Google is very cheap, $35 Chromecast is pretty good 'cause it gets you Netflix and YouTube, and then it kind of goes out from there. You know, Microsoft's new gaming system, the Xbox One, does a whole lot of things but it's, you know, in the $500 price range, so it's very expensive.
And there's very many other kinds of smaller devices that help in this market, too.
SIEGEL: I gather this doesn't seem like a radical idea that the higher end flat screen TVs actually have this function built into them these days.
MANJOO: Yeah, I mean, depending on what television you have - I mean I have one that's, you know, four years old and he gets Netflix on it. So you don't even have to have a very new TV and you might not need any of these devices.
SIEGEL: Farhad, what's the point of this whole business? Is it to get a cheap device in your hands so that you can then rack up a bill purchasing content? Or is it to make money off the devices? How does this work?
MANJOO: Yeah, I mean, the different companies have different sort of strategies here. So Microsoft, for example, has this new Xbox that's a gaming device and it's also a home entertainment device. And they really kind of want to be the control of your living room. And they see this as the, you know, the next major part of their business.
Other companies have smaller aims. You know, Google has this Chromecast device. And I think what they really want you to do is kind of plug into the Google universe. They get more info on you. They might at some point serve advertising to you on this device. Apple's Apple TV, they don't make very much money from it, but it really is a good way to get you to kind of plug into the Apple universe. And then, you know, you might buy more iPhones and iPads. And that's really where they make their money from.
SIEGEL: Well, you've described a variety of choices. And you're right, it is frustrating. This hasn't simplified matters very much.
MANJOO: Yeah, I mean, I think we're going to be in this space where it's going to be complicated for a few years. You know, what would really be great in the living room is to have one device get you access to all the services. But no company has incentive to do that. They all want to be the one in control. So I think that's going to kind of be the point of pain for consumers for while.
SIEGEL: That's Farhad Manjoo, technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal. Thanks for talking with us.
MANJOO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.