The creeping mobilization of TV threatens to turn even the smartest TVs into dumb screen by consigning them to be mere displays for content and apps running on smartphones and tablets. At its first-ever developers conference in San Francisco this week, Samsung sought to embrace that trend without succumbing to it.
It’s new smart TVs will support DIAL, the protocol co-developed by YouTube and Netflix to enable content to be launched from a mobile device for playback on a TV, like those from LG, Sony, Vizio and Panasonic (as well as TiVo and Roku). DIAL is also the technology behind Google’s Chromecast dongle. But as Janko details over at GigaOM, Samsung is also releasing a new Multiscreen SDK that will allow developers to create a wide variety of TV apps that can be launched from mobile devices, including games, by leveraging Samsung’s cloud-based publishing platform. It even allows apps to overlay content on live TV.
As my colleague Colin Gibbs noted yesterday, Samsung is trying to build its own ecosystem of connected devices and apps on top of Android, much as Amazon has done around the Kindle Fire. Unlike Amazon, however, Samsung is very much trying to keep the smart TV at the center of that ecosystem.
TV makers, of which Samsung is the world’s largest, have not had an easy few years. After HDTV got commoditized, 3-D was supposed to restore profit margins for set makers but consumers balked at the goofy glasses and the content was never there. Now, smart TVs are in danger of becoming irrelevant as TV in general is being drawn inexorably into mobile ecosystems. Samsung has a huge advantage over other TV makers in that it is also a leading seller of smartphones and tablets, giving it a foot in both camps. From the developers conference, it seems Samsung plans to press that advantage for all it’s worth.