Forrester Research has projected that WebTV and similar devices will not be in a million U.S. households until 2000.
But by 2002, the firm said, 14.7 million households will have connected their televisions to the Internet, and 9.2 million will have Internet- connected screen phones.
Despite the early publicity surrounding WebTV, distributed to retail outlets beginning last fall by Sony Corp. and Philips Magnavox, "Web browsing is simply not compelling enough to attract today's TV viewers," said Josh Bernoff, a Forrester senior analyst and author of a report, "WebTV and Beyond."
"It will take three years for the industry to create hardware and content that can deliver what consumers really want-interactivity that enhances their television experience," Mr. Bernoff added.
Internet screen phones-another technology actively marketed by Philips, among others-are seen as closer to widespread acceptance because they can deliver quick access to directories, weather, and integrated voice, Internet, and E-mail services.
Forrester predicted more than a million screen phone adoptions by 1999.
The firm said it surveyed 51 developers of consumer-focused Web sites and 42 vendors with a stake in television- and phone-based Internet access. Only two sites reported significant traffic from WebTV.