New software battle coming to smart TVs

Jan 6 2014, 2:42pm CST | by

New battle comes to smart TVs as Firefox, LG, others promote competing software

NEW YORK (AP) — More choice — and confusion — is coming to the next generation of TVs.

At least three new software systems were announced Monday for Internet-connected television sets, which let viewers watch Internet video and interact with friends online on the big screen. The new smart TV operating systems will compete with software already available from Google and individual TV manufacturers.

The slew of options is in contrast to the smartphone market, where just two operating systems —Apple's iOS and Google's Android— dominate.

But more consumer choice will also mean more difficulties for services such as Hulu and Netflix to write apps. As a result, app selection on any given TV will be limited.

To fully enjoy the range of Internet video on the TV, many consumers will still have to buy a separate device such as Apple TV and Roku for as much as $100 — and then figure out how to install it. Those devices cost about $100, though Google sells a $35 Chromecast device with fewer features.

"I keep hoping we will see convergence," said Colin Dixon, chief analyst at nScreen Media, a research firm in Sunnyvale, Calif. "Unfortunately we keep seeing the number of operating systems . increasing, not decreasing."

Chet Kanojia, whose Aereo online television service has been trying to expand onto more devices, said the tendency for TV set manufacturers to differentiate their systems with unique features turns app development into "a royal pain." That's because Aereo's engineers have to write new apps for each one.

The announcements at the International CES gadget show in Vegas include:

— Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind the Firefox Web browser, said it is putting its Firefox OS software on smart TVs, starting with Panasonic's. The code powering Web browsers had been adapted last year to run smartphones targeted at emerging markets. Now, Firefox will be tweaked further with Panasonic's help to work on bigger screens and incorporate TV-specific features such as electronic program guides. Panasonic expects to start selling TVs with Firefox OS later in the year. Other TV manufacturers will be able to use the same software without charge.

— LG Corp. announced plans to power 70 percent of its smart TVs this year with the webOS mobile system it bought from Hewlett-Packard Co. last March. Although LG hasn't disclosed specifics, the use of webOS paves the way for owners of LG sets to control home appliances from the TV. For starters, LG said the new software will make its TVs easier to set up and use.

— The streaming video device maker Roku Inc. said it is partnering with two large Chinese TV makers, TCL Corp. and Hisense International Co. Ltd., to incorporate its software so Roku apps can run on TVs without a separate device.

Several TV makers already have their own smart TV software. Opera Software is also trying to adapt its Opera Web browser to work on TV sets, similar to what Mozilla is doing with Firefox. Opera said some of its software is already on sets made by Sony, Samsung and Toshiba.

There also has been long-standing speculation that Apple is working on its own smart TV system, but the company hasn't said anything about it and there's no indication such a system is imminent. If Apple does make it, it would likely be limited to TVs under its own brand and would negate the need for a stand-alone Apple TV device.

In 2010, Google Inc. attempted to unify smart TV software by creating its Google TV system. Sony Corp. was among the companies that made TVs using Google TV. But Dixon said adoption of Google TV has been slow, in part because TV manufacturers didn't want to turn their sets into conduits for Google's services, as Android phones have become.

Although there are many versions of Android on phones, there's enough in common that app developers don't have to start from scratch each time. Google is trying to promote a similar approach on Internet-connected cars. On Monday, Google and car makers Audi, General Motors, Honda and Hyundai announced an alliance to bring Android to cars. Chipmaker Nvidia is also part of that.

Andreas Gal, Mozilla's vice president for mobile engineering, acknowledges that fragmentation on TVs is a big problem, but he said Firefox is trying to address that through the use of Web-based standards, known as HTML5. Opera is doing that, too.

With such an approach, an app that works with Firefox OS or Opera TV will need only minimal changes to work on other systems that use the same standards, similar to how the same websites can work on competing browsers.

And because many services already have websites that support HTML5 on the desktop, Gal said, those also should work on smart TVs through a browser.

Merwan Mereby, an executive with Panasonic Corp.'s interactive content business in North America, said that after years of developing its own proprietary technologies, Panasonic decided to embrace Firefox OS so that publishers and Web developers can bring content to the big screens more easily.

Still, there are challenges. Dixon said people tend to keep their TVs for several years. With a phone, upgrades are frequent enough that many users will have speedy enough processors to run the latest features. With TVs, he said, it's likely that older sets won't run all the latest apps, regardless of the system used.

Source: AP Auto

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Associated Press</a>
The Associated Press (AP) is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
It’s January 2026. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gets out of his driverless car and triumphantly marches before the gathered press to introduce his prized new free agent. It’s a record-breaking contract—over...
 
 
Volkswagen AG New Coverage: Trefis Price Estimate at $51
Volkswagen AG is the second largest automaker in the world behind Toyota and slightly ahead of GM, selling 9.72 million vehicles globally in 2013. Established in 1937, Volkswagen AG, along with its 340 subsidiary...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Drogba returns to Chelsea
London, July 26 (IANS) Didier Drogba has signed a one-year contract with Chelsea, the club announced. "It was an easy decision - I couldn't turn down the opportunity to work with Jose again. Everyone knows the special...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Beckhams, Ramsays' dinner date
Los Angeles, July 26 (IANS) Celebrity couple Victoria and David Beckham dined with Gordon Ramsay and his wife at Malibu's Nobu restaurant. The former footballer looked casual as he headed to the restaurant, while...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Toulouse set to sign Brazilian defender
Rio de Janeiro, July 26 (IANS) Brazilian defender William Matheus is set to join France's Toulouse on a permanent deal, media reports said Friday. The 24-year-old has been released by Brazilian club Palmeiras to...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
US sanctions against Russia cause spike in sale of AK-47
Washington, July 26 (IANS) The sanctions imposed on the maker of AK-47 by the US Treasury Department last week has caused a spike in sale of the popular assault rifle in the country, media reports said Friday....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
MJ estate sues movie memorabilia store
Los Angeles, July 26 (IANS) Michael Jackson's estate is suing a movie memorabilia store for auctioning off historic photos from the pop star's early days. The Estate claims Premiere Props, the store put the photos...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
UN chief in talks on possible Middle East truce
United Nations, July 26 (IANS) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been in intense discussions with a number of key interlocutors, including Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry and US Secretary of State John Kerry...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Chris Martin has 'a lot of love' for Gwyneth Paltrow
Chris Martin admits there's ''a lot of love'' between him and Gwyneth Paltrow. The Coldplay frontman, 37, insists he and his estranged wife are still ''very close'' following their split earlier this year but claims...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Megan Fox cut out bread to lose baby weight
Megan Fox cut out bread to lose her baby weight. The 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' star, 28, has bounced back into shape after giving birth to her second child Bodhi five months ago, but she admits getting her pre-...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Courteney Cox and Johnny McDaid to wed in Northern Ireland?
Courteney Cox and Johnny McDaid are reportedly planning to get married in Northern Ireland. The couple - who got engaged last month - flew to the Snow Patrol singer's hometown of Derry on Wednesday (07.23.14) to scout...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Cheryl Cole to have 'Mrs C' tattoo removed
Cheryl Cole is getting her ''Mrs C'' tattoo removed. The 31-year-old singer has had a consultation with US artist Nikko Hurtado about getting rid of the inking on the back of her neck - which pays tribute to her ex-...
Read more on Celebrity Balla