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Samsung: Smart TV Apps Business “Very Different” To Smartphones and Tablets

by User Not Found | Jul 22, 2011

Many people, often with a mobile or PC background admittedly, seem to assume that the smartphone environment, relating to the exloding apps market in particular, is somehow a template for the evolution of advanced television. So it was relief to hear Dan Saunders, the Head of Content Services at Samsung, one of the pioneers across all the latest “smart” platforms, admit that the apps business in the television space is likely to look very different to what’s been happening in smartphones and tablets.

Speaking at yesterday’s Westminster eForum conference in London’s Whitehall, Saunders noted that the television set is fundamentally a social device, compared to phones and tablets, which are personal. For this reason, he described his company’s strategy as focusing on using “apps-based technologies” to bring a “handful” of services via applications to the TV screen.

Phew! For a minute there I was thinking we’d have to spend the next few years refuting the idea that the TV screen was somehow going to morph into a playground for hundreds of thousands of apps developers, which seems to be the assumption of some industry players. In fact, the model described by Saunders doesn’t sound a whole lot different from the various interactive TV initiatives we have seen over the past couple of decades. Sure, nobody was quite so obsessed with the focus “apps” in the old days, but the fact is that’s what they were: the infamous “Open....” service portfolio launched along with Sky’s new digital TV platform in 1998 was basically an application platform for a whole range of services, including shopping, banking, games and, yes, even “social networking” – ok, that last bit was really just email.

Time and again our research has shown that the “application” most people want on their TV screen is, guess what, TV. And that clearly includes the whole emerging panoply of online or OTT video services (Netflix, Lovefilm, iPlayer) which are indeed delivered to users of smart TVs and connected devices through applications. But on the TV screen the “application” serves as little more than a gateway to video or other content. Our research with early adopters of smart TV suggests that very few want to use applications on these devices in the way they use them on smartphones or tablets.

TV apps will have a role to play if they are TV- and video-related; but their development, delivery and deployment will likely evolve in very different directions from the open-development platform, storefront models currently prevalent in the personal device space.

David Mercer

Client Reading: Is Catch-Up TV Really All That Viewers Want to Watch Online?

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