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Smart TV Apps business 'very different' to smartphone and tablet

by David Mercer

Many people, often with a mobile or PC background admittedly, seem to assume that the smartphone environment, relating to the exploding apps market in particular, is somehow a template for the evolution of advanced television. So, DAVID MERCER, Principal Analysts at Strategy Analytics, was relieved 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 the Westminster eForum conference in London last week, 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.


Column Comments

By Teruyuki on June 20, 2012, 3:10 am

The iPad 2 is 33 percent thiennr than its predecessor, at a mind-melting 8.8mm, and a little lighter at just over 600g, while paintjob options have been expanded: you'll get a choice between white and black. It'll be available on both AT T and Verizon, and all variants start shipping on March 11th. Apple Retail Stores will start sales at the unusual hour of 5PM, which will probably make online pre-orders the fastest way to get yours.In terms of new software, Apple's launching iOS 4.3 alongside the new iPad and bringing with it much improved Safari performance as well as FaceTime, Photo Booth, iMovie and GarageBand (the latter two costing $ 4.99 a piece) apps specifically for the newly camera-enriched iPad. Personal Hotspot capabilities are also arriving in the latest version of the OS, but they'll be exclusive to the iPhone 4, so you won't be able to share your 3G iPad's connection. The minimum compatible version of iTunes for the new iPad 2 will be the freshly released 10.2.

Prospects for 3D in the home

There has been a lot of hype about 3D TV. But the industry getting behind a broad realm of technologies is a far cry from a monetisable mass market. Fundamentally, 3D is complex, more so than HD as technology and ecosystem. Screen Digest' TOM MORROD examines the issue.

This complexity will be reflected in uptake of 3D. It is often said that 3D is easier for consumers to 'see' than HD, thus driving true demand. But it can be countered that a market is not just about demand. It is about supply, price and information - all in questionable quantities.

Supply is a big piece of the puzzle and crucially, like HD, 3D is an ecosystem. It is certainly about the TV receiver, polarised or active switching; the glasses (easily forgotten but not necessarily 'in the box'). But it also takes in the decoding device - set-top box, games console or BD player; the distribution medium (broadcast/unicast), games console or 3D BD; the content and the process of capture, editing and contribution, including broadcasting infrastructure when not printed to disc.

Only about 20 per cent of broadcaster equipment is HD, 30 per cent of TV screens and less than that of set-top boxes. We are still in a very early stage of actual upgrade across the HD ecosystem. And while the HD infrastructure across broadcasters and operators can be used to transmit lower resolution 3D to some existing HD PVRs, all those TV screens will need replacing.

Price is a murky issue spanning both consumer and professional equipment. Many of the early announced prices for 3D TV sets are considerable inflations on similar non-3D TVs. This is especially true for passive polarised, where more technology is built into the display. However, active switching, offering screens at similar prices to non-3D displays, have a hidden cost: the glasses may cost up to $150 a pair, a major consumer cost.... Read More...