Editorial: The looming battle for the TV OS
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Editorial: The looming battle for the TV OS

By Andrew Eisner
Retrevo.com's director of Community and Content

Everyone loves apps! A library of 225,000 iPhone/iPad apps and five billion downloads are impressive numbers for such a young platform and confirm the fast growing interest in apps-based computing.

Not only can apps run on smartphones, tablets and laptops but we predict the next platform for apps will be connected TVs. We see a living room where TV viewers click on a weather app or sports app instead of watching the local news. A home where families play a board game together on the TV using the Monopoly app, or stay in touch with their friends with a FaceBook app, all from the comfort of the living room couch.

Microsoft unlikely to win this battle

Unlike the battle for the desktop OS it doesn't look like Microsoft has much of a chance of winning this battle for the TV OS. Competition over who will provide a TV OS is heating up with Google TV getting set to take on all comers for control of the living room. Meanwhile Apple may soon lob a salvo with an updated version of their Apple TV that will plant Apple iPhone/iPad apps firmly in the living room TV.

TV manufacturers need to adopt a standard TV OS

A TV OS vacuum exists at the moment and unfortunately for consumers, TV manufacturers appear to be filling it with their own proprietary offerings. At this year's CES, we saw all the big players showing off "connected" TVs with proprietary environments offering apps and services from providers like Netflix, Blockbuster, Pandora, and Skype. LG calls their platform NetCast, Samsung calls theirs Samsung Apps and Vizio has a platform called Vizio Internet Apps or VIA. It's unclear how all these proprietary platforms will work with different apps and services but we feel a better solution is one standard TV OS that would run a whole range of apps including smartphone and tablet apps. Apps would be able to run on a TV, receiver, Blu-ray player, game console or any other device that has a screen or connects to a device with a screen.

For now, the TV OS is up for grabs

A TV OS would be part of a platform that would run apps on all the screens in your home including your phone, your computer and the TV screen in your living room. Will the TV OS come from Google/Android, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, or someone else? Google needs to push Google TV hard to become the standard TV OS partly to compensate for losing search traffic as users migrate from browser-based search to apps. Apple needs to gain control of the third screen or TV screen, after smartphone screens and computer screens, and the TV industry needs to move away from closed environments and let their connected TVs work with all the apps and streaming content that consumers are finding so appealing.

Andrew Eisner is a computer journalist and the director of content for the consumer electronics shopping and review site Retrevo.com. Retrevo.com is one of the largest consumer electronics review and shopping sites in the world, helping people decide what to buy, when to buy, and where to buy. Retrevo uses artificial intelligence to analyze and graphically summarize more than 50 million real-time data points from across the web to give shoppers the most comprehensive, unbiased, up-to-date product information they need to make smart, confident purchasing decisions for electronics.

 
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