Don’t tell me your TV supports Twitter

Last night I caught a Best Buy ad on AMC about Samsung’s smart/social/internet TV.  It reminded me of the Telus/Rogers/Bell BlackBerry ads a couple of years ago marketing Twitter and Facebook as features of their smartphones. They’re still doing it with terms like “social phone” or “smarter smart phone” which I don’t really understand.  I was still really excited about this ad, especially because it got the gears in the crazy place between my ears turning again…

Samsung seems confused about what to do with Google entering a market in which Samsung is one of the largest players. Add to that, Apple’s arrival later this year with iTV. The same two companies that pretty much destroyed Samsung’s chances in the phone industry. Samsung has its own OS for its phones, which also powers their smart tv – Bada. This is a bad idea:

  • PopularityRecent market results show iOS and Android capturing about 80% of the mobile web consumption. (Not including iPad). Since these numbers were gathered in June, the iPad has probably gained some more ground for iOS. Let’s keep it at 80%. Samsung Bada’s share is a fraction of that 10% for “Other”, with probably an equal if not greater chunk of that “Other” going to SymbianOS.
  • Apps. As of today, Bada’s App hotdog stand Market has < 1000 applications. Yes I know, its not about quantity, but if the quality of apps suck, then you need quantity. Its okay that the iTunes App Store has a load of “fart” apps, thousands of other useless crap, but the quality is clearly visible. Its obvious that soon enough remote controls will become optional, and the expectation will be that you control your TV from your mobile device. iPhone? iPad? iPod Touch? Android? Whichever. Why would you buy a Samsung then? I wouldn’t want to manage a different set of Apps through a different market place than the one I am using now.
  • Ad support. Apple has iAds, Google has AdWords. What does Samsung have? Nada. Developers flock to the platforms with greatest potential for revenue. Clearly that is iOS and Android, not Bada.
Regardless of the above, Samsung is stuck. Either risk promoting their own platform against the other better established ones in hopes of gaining entrance into the lucrative app market place and the ad market at the same time. Or bet on iOS or Android. I think the second option seems the most reasonable. Clearly software is not Samsung’s strength, they’re the lead or at least one of the leads manufacturers of TVs. They should keep focusing their innovations there. Many have already failed at setting up a rivaling app store to iTunes.

Google’s TV push poses dilemma for Samsung

Yoon Boo-keun, president of Samsung’s TV division, reaffirmed this month that the company was looking at the business feasibility of Google TVs, but he said that he was not fully optimistic about its prospects.

“Android is for mobile and searches,” he told reporters on May 14, adding that the company was examining whether the platform suits televisions, which are viewed by many people, such as family members, not by a single person.

By supporting either iOS or Android, your TV’s input device becomes personalized for the user, and hence so does the TV. The TV can tell which user is accessing the TV and present different views, favorites, apps, schedules, etc. Another use is for parental control. Unlike my childhood, a lot of kids today have smart phones. Parents can set schedules for when TV can be watched by their children, the TV will know because the smart phone identifies the user. Maybe I could even get a log of how much TV was watched? maybe setup “TV hour credits”? the list is endless.

What is important is that these features ought to be left to the developer community to create. The TV manufacturer would support some iOS or Android interface and let the developers go nuts. The iTunes App Store is proof of how creative people can get to fill a demand, even if it is a niche. Don’t tell me your TV supports Twitter or Facebook, tell me its on iOS or Android.

I wanted to write about how this affects broadcasters, and TV stations, but I’ll leave that for part 2. The “smart tv” will change the rules of the game for them if they don’t jump on board. (Update: Jump to part 2)

Where does BlackBerry fit in this picture? it doesn’t unless they go Android.

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