SAN JOSE, Calif. – Samsung turned up the volume on its effort to establish a Web-connected TV platform in an event for software developers here. The Korean giant vowed to spend about $70 million to establish its Smart TV platform and showed a new app to control the TV using its Galaxy S Android smartphone.
Connected TVs and other networked digital home devices are on a tear, growing from 120 million systems last year to more than 650 million worldwide in 2014, according to market watcher Parks Associates (Dallas).
Samsung is trailing Yahoo which launched an Internet TV platform more than a year ago, but ahead of GoogleTV which has announced plans but has yet to ship a system. Accenture and Accendo Broadband also have connected TV platforms.
"We are about to see the biggest change in TV watching experience since the launch of the digital video recorder," said Boo Keun Yoon, president of Samsung Visual Displays.
Samsung hopes to encourage developers to make more than 200 apps available for its high-end TVs by the end of the year with events and contests here, in Korea and one to come in Europe. "This is only a beginning--we need to build that catalogue," said Eric Anderson, vice president of content and products for Samsung America's CE group.
All of Samsung's Blu-ray players and about 80 percent of Samsung's TV with 40-inch or larger displays shipping in the U.S. this year will be enabled for Web access and applications, said Tim Baxter, president of the consumer electronics division of Samsung Electronics America. The app-enabled TVs have a minimum of a gigabyte of flash memory and an upgraded version of Samsung's proprietary 3-D processor.
"The most entertaining and transformative apps have yet to come and they won't come from us," said Baxter.
Samsung announced its TV app store at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and followed up in August with a contest that will award $500,000 to the most innovative new program. So far about half the users who have the new Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players have activated the applications, Baxter said.
The Korea giant showed three ways to control its new TVs. Besides a standard remote control, it has a premium version that looks like a smartphone and has an on-screen keyboard.
Samsung is also developing apps for its smartphones so they can act as controllers for its TVs. It has already developed apps for Windows Mobile and Apple iPhones and iPod Touch players.
Olivier Manuel, a director of content for Samsung America, shows the Galaxy S Android phone controlling a Samsung connected TV