In a nutshell, the history of smart TV shows that it has been a moving target for every key player in the technology field -- ranging from Microsoft, Intel, Apple, and Google to Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung, and LG. And the industry isn’t seeing any clear winner yet.
Contributing to the uncertainty is consumers’ viewing habits. Smartphones and tablets, often considered the third screen, are now turning these, in many cases, into the “first screen” (TV).
As Japanese CE companies started to retreat from the TV market, the only leading CE technology giants left to pursue the smart TV dream seem to be Samsung and LG.
We all know that by the time HP got around taking advantage of webOS to become a new player in the smartphone and tablets, the mobile market was already saturated.
webOS beyond TV?
In a still-emerging smart TV market, with no clear winner in sight, can webOS be the catalyst? Certainly, there’s still room for webOS. But can it actually help LG beat Samsung, let alone re-animate a smart TV market that has been largely dormant for two decades?
One thing is clear: LG, which hasn’t expressed any plan to use webOS for anything else beyond smart TV, is a big fan of webOS, and is a firm believer in the potential for web-based technologies to tie many devices and appliances in the future.
Samuel Chang, vice president and head of LG’s Silicon Valley Lab, told EE Times in a brief interview Monday, “We have been always interested in webOS. We’ve been working on it as soon as it became an open source in mid 2012,” several months before LG finally acquired it from HP.
When asked “Why webOS?”, Chang, who originally comes from LG, said, “First, we like the team very much.” Second, he said that webOS, designed from the ground up to leverage web technology, will be “good for our long-term web strategy.” Chang pointed out that webOS’ Node.js, for example, is particularly helpful. Third, LG has found webOS “easy for User Interface innovations.”
The Open webOS website, originally created by HP, describes Node.js as follows:
The website noted that this event-based model “makes Node.js very fast, and makes scaling real-time applications very easy.”
Details of why it is fast are explained as follows:
Node.js uses an event loop instead of threads, allowing it to scale to potentially millions of concurrent connections. It exploits the fact that servers spend most of their time waiting for I/O operations, which are much slower than in-memory operations. Every I/O operation in Node.js is asynchronous, which allows the server to continue processing incoming requests while I/O takes place in the background.
Will LG use webOS for more than smart TV? While the Korean company hadn’t said much, it’s clear that they have a perfect opportunity to use webOS for more than just TV. That might be where the real value of LG’s webOS acquisition lies.
— Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, EE Times