“I finally cracked it.” These were some of the last words of the late, great Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

He was speaking to his biographer, and referring to connected TV - the convergence of TV and internet in a single easy-to-use device. Although the concept has been in the works for more than 10 years now, TV sets that remove the distinction between watching your favourite show and browsing your favourite site remain elusive - as anyone who has tried typing with a remote control will attest!

Turning the 28 hours a week we still spend in front of the TV into a direct buying opportunity is an attractive prospect for brands and retailers.

Consumers, in their wisdom, have found their own technical fix: watching TV with their laptop, iPad or mobile device to hand. So-called ‘media-stacking’ has now become commonplace. We recently commissioned research into social TV trends, via YouGov, and found that 60% of adult TV viewers surf the web while watching TV, with 36% specifically visiting Facebook. Social media has really reinvigorated the collective nature of the TV viewing experience Facebook and Twitter enable viewers to discuss what they’re watching with friends in real time.

Start-ups like Zeebox are trying to exploit this new way of consuming TV, by making the process of buying what you are seeing on live TV as simple as possible.

Zeebox is a free application for your laptop or iPad that automatically syncs to the TV programme you are watching. As well as connecting you to other people watching what you’re watching, the app now also allows you to ‘click to buy’. Within seconds of a TV ad appearing on the screen, a click-to-buy button appears on the Zeebox display viewers can click on this to reach the product page of a web retailer, or a brand’s own website. BSkyB has already acquired a 10% stake in the company and licensed its technology to use in its own apps, which should bring this technology into the mainstream.

For food and drink brands and retailers, there are real opportunities to use this technology to exploit the growth in product placement in TV programming, and thereby really make advertising part of the viewing experience. Given the hours we spend watching cookery programmes, the ability to add all the recipe ingredients from the Jamie Oliver show I’m watching, kindly collated for me by a supermarket, to my weekly online grocery delivery, seems like a no-brainer.

While we may have to wait a while to see if Steve Jobs’ prediction was right, we need to start thinking now about the changes that t-commerce could bring.