With Ikea’s new Uppleva TV system launching in Italy, France, Germany, Poland and Sweden sometime this week, we decided to wrap our heads around what they’re offering. Their offering looks well designed, and you can tell Ikea has worked hard to make the TV and furniture concept into a complete system. While smart TV’s are not unique, this will likely open TV web browsing and apps to a new market.
This integration seems a long time coming; I mean it’s 2012 and we’re just now starting to seriously mix technology with furniture. After this initial launch, the Swedish retailer will target additional stores and territories in Europe in the fall, eventually reaching the U.S. market in 2013.
Upplevea comes set up with a Blu-Ray player and a 2.1 sound system, including a wireless subwoofer that you can put anywhere in your room. Gaming counsels remain hidden behind panels (with textile coverings, so wireless remotes and controllers still get a good connection). The TV’s remote is also designed to be minimalistic and designed to be useful for most day-to-day tasks, but the remote also flips out “matrix phone style” for when you need higher level functions.
The TV set will have more to offer than the average TV. According to an Ikea spokesperson, about 20 apps will be available per country at launch. This is reported to include the video platforms that would be handy on a TV, like Youtube, Dailymotion, and Vimeo. Others include QTom and TuneIn Radio. GigaOm also reports that the internet browser will likely be Opera for TV.
Another interesting functionality is the system’s rumored purchasing and payments solution for advertisements, provided by Connept out of Germany. GigaOm couldn’t get any more details out of the company or Ikea, but the Connept’s website demos a solution that allows users to press a button on their remote during select ad spots. This then launches a browser window where users can confirm their password and confirm their order.
Uppleva will be available in 24 – 46 inch screens, and will run around 6 500 SEK (€725) I hate to think what percentage of Europeans are sleeping on Ikea beds and already watching TV on their Ikea couches, so it seems likely Uppleva will be able to grab a decent market share at that price point. Will this get the app connected furniture revolution rolling? Depending on the success of Uppleva, it seems likely Ikea will begging to think of leveraging technology in locations other than the obvious TV set.
At the end of the day, I don’t know what to think of Uppleva. The solution is nicely designed, and it’s great that someone has put some thought into unifying systems in our houses. At the same time, I don’t want to like it. Uppleva seems almost too convenient, too cookie-cutter, and too set-up for the masses to sit in on cute Ikea couches and consume through the TV. It’s a logical system, it looks great, but it will probably start a fight club or two.