Connected TV was the big story of 2010 and the market shows no sign of slowing down, according to new market data by DisplaySearch.

In its DisplaySearch Q2’11 Quarterly TV Design and Features Report, the analyst believes that shipments of web-enabled flat panel TVs will leap from its current 25% to 47% by 2015, the equivalent of 138 million shipments in that year. This would mean that the total connected TV market would comprise over 500 million units.

The report identifies s a number of key drivers for the upsurge but what will be key among these, and at the heart of the growing concept of TV everywhere, is uptake of Wi-Fi Direct which will enable connected TV sets to more readily communicate with handheld devices in the home, in particular the iPhone and iPad and other smart phones and tablets.

DisplaySearch forecasts that more than 98 million TV sets with 802.11 wireless networking built-in will ship in 2015.

“Wi-Fi technologies are the foundation of smart TVs,” commented Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research. “We expect that in 2015, 35% of 46” or larger TVs in North America will be smart TVs, defined as having the following capabilities: able to retrieve content from the internet without the restrictions of a portal; intelligent search and recommendations; upgradeable by its owner; and able to network seamlessly with other devices in the home.”

DisplaySearch is keen to point out that the adoption of connected TV is not just taking place in developed regions. For example, it cites the recent decision by the Indian government to switch off analogue terrestrial signals and move to DVB-T2 digital broadcast in 2015 as a potential engine for a major new market for connected TVs.

“Emerging markets often have good broadband services, and there is a thirst from consumers to get the best content available,” Gray added.