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Cable Technology Feature Article

September 06, 2011

Electronics Manufacturers Teaming up on Unified App Platform for Smart TVs

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

The application ecosystem becomes more fragmented each day, forcing developers to create dozens of different versions of their apps to run across various operating systems and devices. This predicament often compels developers to bet on certain platforms, while ignoring others.

Until now, the Web-enabled TV market has been placed in the "ignore" category for many third-party software developers, who are focusing more of their attention on the thriving mobile space. Three of the biggest names in electronics are working together to try and change this inequity and give developers an incentive to get cranking on Web TV apps.

LG, Philips and Sharp (News - Alert) have formed an alliance to create a unified app development platform that will enable software teams to create a singular application that can run on every Smart TV built by any of the three companies. Even better, the consortium is inviting other competitors to jump on board and remove the speed bumps associated with app development.

Other television manufacturers that want to succeed in the Web-enabled TV market will most likely need to pair up with the cooperative, as it's expected that the majority of developers will leap at the chance to code once and be done with it.

However, set-top box makers Google (News - Alert) and Apple will probably be harder to convince. Distinctive operating systems are working out just fine for these two behemoths in the mobile world.

The group said that the common technical requirements for Smart TVs will be based upon open standards, such as HTML5, CE-HTML and HbbTV. LG said that the companies will introduce an initial beta version of a common Software Development Kit (SDK) in October.

"This cooperation is nothing less than a watershed in the brief history of Smart TVs," Havis Kwon, CEO of LG Electronics (News - Alert) Home Entertainment Company, noted in a statement. "By working in partnership with two innovators in TVs, we’ve taken a major step towards creating an app market every bit as inventive and dynamic as the one that exists for smartphones."

Electronics manufacturers are banking on the Web-enabled TV market to be a major moneymaker in the coming years.

In 2010, just 21 percent of all TVs sold came with an Internet connection. Three years from now, more than 50 percent of televisions will include Web services, according to a recent report from research firm Display Search.

A streamlined application ecosystem will be a welcome surprise for app developers and consumers alike.

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Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Juliana Kenny