In this reemergence of the Internet-enabled TV (remember Web TV of the 90's?), there is a land battle over screen real estate. Web browsers are free to watch recent episodes of nearly any TV show on their computer, simply by going to a network's website. Can they go to these same websites using Internet TV devices like Google or Apple TV, though? Surely not.
One startup, called Snapstick, is introducing a solution that is device and screen agnostic, meaning whatever content you wish, from whatever device, brought straight to the big screen in your living room.
Snapstick is launching its software solution in private beta today, declaring that it can turn "any mobile device or laptop computer into a visual remote control."
The idea is that Snapstick exists as a software that can power not only these devices, but any device that is Wi-Fi capable and connected to your TV via an HDMI connection - this means Google TV, Apple TV, Blu-ray players, gaming consoles and more.
Let's look at a simple use case: You're sitting around the living room with a couple of friends and you want to show them a YouTube video. You have your phone in your pocket, so you pull up the video on your phone, but now, instead of trying to all huddle around a tiny phone screen, you "snap" the video to your TV. The video plays on the TV and, in the meantime, if you get a phone call, want to keep browsing on your phone, or just put your phone away, the video continues on the TV.
What makes Snapstick especially interesting is that it can do this same exact thing for the entire Internet. You can move your Skype video chat over to the TV or you can use the TV as a screencasting tool for a presentation, showing exactly what you're seeing on your laptop's monitor. Given the proper authorization, you can even "snap" content over to a friend's TV remotely, meaning you can share from afar. And if you'd like, you can even authorize multiple sources to control the same TV.
In speaking with Snapstick's founders, they noted how their product brings the interface we're used to - our phone, laptop, desktop or tablet - to the TV. Most Internet TV systems make use of a 10-foot user interface, which employs various display, design and navigational elements. With Snapstick, you don't have to learn anything new.
For now, Snapstick is launching in private beta and is in talks with various hardware makers, from TV to networking devices to gaming consoles. They hope to have something consumer ready by the second quarter of 2011 and I can tell you that I, for one, will be one of those interested consumers. If you are interested in seeing more, Snapstick will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month.