Smart TV App Market: Fragmentation Rules
Monday, January 13, 2014
This is the time of year where TV manufacturers, console manufacturers and others with a vested interest in the consumer TV industry launch and announce new products and services. This is the result of the domination of CES, where anything and everything in consumer technology is rolled out for the year.
And you might have noticed a recent flurry of news relating to the event, specifically announcements on the future of Smart TV. So what have we learned as it relates to app development?
How Does Smart TV App Development Compare to Mobile?
When compared to mobile phone and tablet app development, the Smart TV operating system conundrum offers a number of similarities and differences.
Some differences? There is no mystic leader, i.e. Apple, with the name recognition and dominance in hardware, app store and OS. There is no generic OS/app store, i.e. Android, which appears on a majority of devices sold. There is little consumer demand, expectation and understanding of Smart TV apps especially when compared to the current ubiquitous nature of mobile apps.
Maybe the biggest challenge is that Smart TVs are not mobile and while people spend a lot of time in front of their TVs, they can only access the medium in one place, making so much of what makes mobile app platforms great (location services, etc) immaterial.
Some similarities? Multiple screen sizes, diverse operating systems, a plethora of SDKs, uncertainty as to discoverability and monetiztion, basically all of the challenges developers currently face in the phone and tablet landscape. Its easy to predict that, as games dominate mobile, they will dominate Smart TVs as well - at least for the short term.
It's Not About Today
Its hard to look past today and into the future. In 2004, as you stared at the keyboard of your BlackBerry, did you really have any idea that 10 years later you would be holding instead a smart phone, one of the most powerful and versatile devices ever conceived?
And today, you are used to getting the vast majority of your TV content spoon fed to you by a satellite or cable network. These companies have held the key to what content shows on your screen, what premium content is available, and how much you were going to pay for it all of it.
That’s going to change. The future TV screen is going to look nothing like it does today. Will it look like Windows 8? Maybe. Will it look like something else? Maybe. Will it offer a myriad of apps and a myriad of opportunities for developers? Maybe. Does anyone really have a definitive answer on the future of Smart TV? Probably not.
If you get where I’m going, we really don’t know what the future for Smart TV is holds. It’s a strange market where consumers really aren’t clamoring for Smart TVs and don’t know what a Smart TV can do for them, but like the idea of owning one. So soon most TVs sold will be smart TVs. Does that offer a real opportunity for developers? We’ll have to have more information than we do today to answer that question
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