For the smart TV to remain relevant in the growing strength of second screen devices, it must engender an applications development community that will provide as rich a selection of apps as is available on smartphones and tablets.
Advertisers and content providers leverage the "social graph" to acquire valuable data on viewing habits and to promote themselves far more effectively with their audience than anytime in the past. This finding seems to reinforce Technavio's contention of advertisers adopting smart TV.
Proprietary smart TV software platform
Though most of the major TV manufacturers initially used the common software platform of Yahoo! Connected TV, many of these TV manufacturers later launched their own smart TV software platforms and software development kits (SDKs).
To make things even more difficult, smart TV manufacturers often changed their software platforms so much that apps written for sets released one year would not function on sets a year older.
Many third-party apps developers had to create unique versions of their apps for each TV manufacturer and for each model year, creating a maintenance nightmare. Technavio says this presence of multiple smart TV software platforms could pose a challenge to market growth.
For apps developers, Abello's panel concluded the best solution to the problem was the adoption of HTML5. On most mobile devices, apps developers write for Apple iOS and Google Android and reach the majority of mobile users, thus HTML5 sites have not been as broadly adopted here.
However, on the smart TV, there is some hope that HTML5 will provide the common environment developers want. YouTube Leanback was an early supporter of HTML5 launching a simple demo of an HTML5-based video player in 2010.
Most of the premium content aggregators -- such as Neflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video -- however still depend on custom media players that may not be compatible with a standard HTML5 implementation. For these premium services, TV manufacturers may have to continue supporting partially native implementations specific to their own hardware rather than pure HTML5.
Disparity between mobile and smart TV
The bulk of the processing performed by smart TV hardware is HD video and audio decoding, while the remainder deals with apps and user interface. Of the two functions, TV manufacturers are far ahead of mobile device manufacturers in video and audio processing but still lag them in apps and user interface.
Since many of these TV makers also have operations that make portable devices, why the disparity? The answer is simply that the mobile and smart TV divisions are often siloed within the same manufacturers. These barriers however are starting to come down and Abello expects the two sides will begin working and integrating more with each other. As cited above this collaboration is being driven by impact the second screen is having on TV viewing.
For the smart TV to remain relevant in the face of the growing strength of second screen devices, it must engender an applications development community that will provide as rich a selection of apps as is available on smartphones and tablets.
With the success of Apple iOS and Google Android among apps developers as a guide, the smart TV needs a common platform that will enable apps developers to create an app and expect it to run on the majority if not all smart TVs.
Today, the platform that seems to make the most sense going forward is HTML5, which is being embraced by more and more vendor such as LG Electronics, Inc with its Web OS environment purchased from Hewlett Packard. Web OS provides the power and flexibility of a modern mobile OS on a smart TV that can execute apps developed in HTML5. It remains to be seen if HTML5 can win the hearts and minds of TV app developers and if all the other major TV manufacturers will jump on the same HTML5 bandwagon.
ó Jonah McLeod is director of Corporate Marketing at Kilopass Technology.