Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94), LG Electronics, and Toshiba Corp (PINK:TOSBF) (TYO:6502), in anticipation of the long awaited Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV set, have responded to the potential competition with their own smartphone-esque TV sets.
The TV’s, with a number of similarities to smartphones, will be able to respond to voice commands, connect to the internet for video streaming, and quickly flick between Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and ESPN.
The latest models from LG and Panasonic Corporation (NYSE:PC) (TYO:6752) will sport onscreen displays with layouts similar to those of smartphones and tablets. Think floating tiles with pictures of TV shows, both from cable and the web, all ranked by past viewing. Four of the Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) models will respond to voice commands or hand gestures – a lot like Apple iPhone’s Siri or Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect already do.
“One of the key things is really to bring the ‘wow’ experience back to the TV,” said Joe Stinziano, a senior vice president for South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930).
“There’s a lot of technology in the background that makes the experience much more enjoyable.”
The sudden focus of electronics companies on developing a market-leading TV product is due to the heat applied by the rumours of a potential Apple TV. Steve Jobs was developing such a device before his death, although not much is yet known about it. In typical Apple fashion, the TV is still shrouded in mystery.
However, given Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s previous success in the Mp3, tablet, and smartphone markets – the TV companies don’t want to be beaten to the post.
“The mythical Apple TV that’s been widely talked about but never seems to appear is still on the back of everybody’s minds,” said Tim Alessi, director of new product development for LG Electronics.
“They’re probably the undisputed experts in simple user interfaces.”
There’s a lot at stake for the companies involved. The global television market is projected to reach $200bn by 2018, according to marketresearch.com. As consumers expect more interaction and choice with their media, we can expect increased convergence between electronic products in the home. Samsung TVs, for instance, will offer technology will allow users to stream content from their TVs to their Galaxy tablets and smartphones.
LG will offer inbuilt microphones in their TVs, which will allow users to search for show names, directors, and actors, among cable and satellite programming.
Jeff Barney, Vice President and General Manager of Toshiba America, says that as manufacturers are re-envisioning how consumers will interact with their TV sets, the makers who create the most memorable experiences will be the ones who benefit most.
“As consumers find more useful things about the TV, there are more opportunities for us to make money,” Barney said.
“The first thing we’ve got to do, though, is create a great experience.”