New TV apps will drive broadband adoption, FCC says

"If you look at broadband, it's produced millions of applications--150,000 mobile applications alone," Genachowski said. "If you look at the living room and the TV, that's much lower. There's clearly a tremendous desire--you see it here on the floor--to make sure the TV and and the set-top boxes attached to it are really open to innovation."

When taking a tour of the floor, Genachowski was impressed that he could access Skype for video chats and phone calls directly from an LG flat-screen TV.

Sharp was showing off multiple online video options on their newest plasma and LCD screens. Vudu, for example, has an application that lets consumers stream high-definition movies over the Internet.
TV-watchers can also access Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and online music site Pandora via their Web-connected TVs. Many of the TVs on display connect to the Web wirelessly.

"In a year or so, every TV will be wireless," said Megan Pollock of the Consumer Electronics Association.

 Genachowski did see something he wasn't pleased with. Some companies are making "walled-garden" systems that don't accept applications from third-parties. He said he was "pretty concerned" about the "closed systems" as he toured the floor.

He asked exhibitors detailed questions about how set-top boxes can easily connect to consumers' own content as well as the Internet.

"Yes, this is the type of thing we're exploring," he said when I asked him about the Web-enabled TVs. "I'm asking questions because they have to be easy to use for everyone."