Consumer electronics hardware makers, predictably, began the connect-TV era by trying to do it themselves, standing up their own apps platforms and trying to add as much functionality as possible to their own devices. Just as predictably, the result was fragmentation, consumer confusion, and limited development. Most of all, it meant that while lots of connected TVs got sold, but not a lot of use was made of their capabilities.
At CES this week, CE companies seem to have reached the stage of accepting they have a problem and have begun to embrace third-party partnerships to add functionality to their devices.
Chinese set-makers TCL and Hisense are each introducing new lines of connected TVs co-branded with Roku. The sets will have full access to the Roku Channel Store and will hit U.S. stores in the fall. For TV makers, the Roku “reference design and software stack,” as the company is describing its contribution, the partnership allows them to incorporate access to the full range of content available through a Roku device without having to persuade developers and content owners to create custom apps for their connected devices.
Also at CES, Dish Network is touting an embeddable software version of its DVR functionality called Virtual Joey. LG has signed up as the first TV maker to add the software stack to its connected sets. Sony will add Virtual Joey to the PlayStation 3 and 4 via firmware update.