Three reasons Ikea’s Uppleva TV is more than particle board and plastic

the uppleva at milanEarlier this year, Ikea announced its foray into the world of consumer electronics. The Uppleva is a television set connected to a home entertainment furniture center, eliminating the mess of cords and cables that often accompany the system setup. While there’s been plenty of skepticism, Ikea showed off the new TV in all its glory last week at the Milan Furniture Fair, to encouraging feedback.

Just to refresh your memory, the Uppleva is a connected, full 1080p HD TV that sports USB and HDMI ports. And of courses it houses itself inside a furniture home entertainment center that includes a built-in Blu-ray, DVD, and CD players and storage for consoles. The unit hides its own wires and cables within itself, and holds your DVD, Blu-ray and game collections.

You might be quick to dismiss this as little more than novelty mixed with Ikea charm, but aside to its unique build, there are a few reasons manufacturers want might to be on their guard against the Uppleva.

The death of the spec

The idea that hardware specifications are meaningless is a point of much debate and contention, but there are no doubt plenty of consumers on whom the never-ending, one-upmanship of the specs has taken a toll. To those people, the Uppleva looks might intriguing.

Plenty of consumers are bored to tears by these lists of what is and isn’t packaged into their electronics, and spec lists are losing their luster with them. So while the Uppleva doesn’t boast any award-winning, ground-breaking, or exceptionally competitive technology, it does offer plenty of tangible features that will translate more easily for users. No one needs to read a tech blog to know that he or she likes the idea of a self-storing, all-in-one TV – they can just see it, and know. No explanation necessary. Ikea’s operating on the expectation that users will instinctively be attracted to their product and have grown weary of the specs. It might not be the most popular method, but it’s certainly a valid one.

Advertising industry built right in

uppleva remoteSo, okay, the Uppleva doesn’t have any hardware that’s going to blow competitors out of the water. But it does have one piece of insanely innovative, next-gen, futurist technology to offer: a built-in shopping system. According to GigaOm, the Uppleva remote will allow users to select and purchase items from ads directly. During the advertisement, there will be a “buy” option of some sort, which will launch a browser window to finish the transaction. The system is built by German payment solution company Connept, which describes its technology as “safe shopping in two clicks from the living room.”

Everyone’s busy trying to figure out how to effectively socialize TV, because the end-game there is monetizing users’ social activity for ads. This type of feature would easily fit into the idea, and brands will be incredibly interested in partnering with Ikea and Connept to be a part it. Details are scarce thus far, but it’s safe to assume that Ikea commercials would likely be among the first sporting this capability.

[UPDATE] Ikea commented on the payment system, saying the following: 

“There is no specific payment system in the Uppleva solution, however you can access Internet via UPPLEVA and use the services that is available there and some of them, like renting a film, will ask for payment that is then performed in the same manner as via your computer.”

Style on a “budget”

I’ll keep this last point brief. The Uppleva is moderately priced, apparently selling for around $960 (this will probably depend on the design you choose — it’s worth noting that in the video below, it’s said to cost €1,400, but that might have indicated the entire setup). This means it’s going to look really inexpensive alongside a veteran electronics heavyweight that’s soon to step in the TV ring: Apple. Without saying the iTV is a sure thing, it’s a sure thing. And the first thought that might pop in to your head is that this means the Uppleva is doomed – Ikea certainly cannot compete with the power behind Apple. Luckily it probably won’t have to. These two devices are going to hit incredibly different price brackets, and the Uppleva might actually be able to benefit from all the consumers who want to buy the Apple iTV but can’t get themselves to commit to what’s surely going to be a very pricy product.

All criticisms about the Uppleva are welcome, and necessary. But you can’t help but think that Ikea may have positioned itself extremely carefully here, and just might be on to something here. 

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