Hulu Desktop just came out: it’s a client-app (Mac and Windows) that provides a “lean back” UI for Hulu video content. It integrates remote control inputs, so it works well for folks plugging computers into the living room TV.
I’ve written before about the evolution of Internet TV: Hulu Desktop and Boxee, as client apps, are just temporary, intermediate points. There are few reasons (soon, no reasons) why these UIs can’t be provided through existing browser technologies, with no client install.
We saw this movie with Web browsers in the mid-90s. As the Web took off, many groups talked themselves into a need to “control the client” by having their own Web browser. In some cases, there were good technical reasons: browsers were pretty limited, and adding small capabilities could enable big things. In many cases, it was just flawed strategic thinking.
The Web became part of the operating system (or even has become the OS iteslf) and with increased capabilities, subsumed a lot of apps that would otherwise be client-deployed. These client-side TV apps feel like the last vestige of stuff to get absorbed into the browser.