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Q&A with Smart TV Alliance Leaders on the Role of Smart TV Operating Systems in the Alliance

Alliance board members discuss how browser-based technologies in Alliance specifications support a variety of Smart TV operating systems

What is the purpose of the Smart TV Alliance?

Eugene Yoo: The goal of the Smart TV Alliance is to bring together the fragmented universe of TV manufacturers, content providers, app developers and technology partners to simplify development and delivery of content across various devices and platforms. In order to achieve this, the Alliance chose to work with open HTML5-based standards, ensuring flexibility and interoperability with various devices and technologies. This choice also means that the Smart TV Alliance is agnostic to any underlying operating system (e.g., webOS, Firefox OS, Android, etc.) since solutions provided by the Alliance run on top of the Smart TV Alliance compliant browser. 

Alliance members announced different operating system choices at CES 2014. Does that dilute or weaken the Alliance and/or its appeal to app developers?

Mr. Yoo: Smart TV manufacturers’ various OS choices reinforce the value in open standards, demonstrating that they increase consumer choices. The Alliance is standardizing the application layer for smart TVs based on a common set of existing open standards supported on all compliant platforms regardless of OS to drive more and better smart TV applications for consumers. Manufacturers will continue to compete and increase consumer choice via the differentiation of interfaces and other features made possible by these new and powerful operating systems. Meanwhile, app developers can use the common Smart TV Alliance defined set of open HTML5-based standards to efficiently reach wider audiences at once – building once to run everywhere. This promise is validated by the STA Common Developers’ Portal, which is the only initiative on the market allowing publication of apps on multiple brands in one go. Moreover, the Alliance is continuously working to reduce any remaining or newly emerging diversity of common features between platforms by implementing standardized solutions as part of the Smart TV Alliance’s future specifications.

Does the Alliance present an end-to-end, or OS, option for Smart TV makers or is it focused on standardizing the app layer withHTML5? At launch, it sounded like STA plans included an OS-like platform.

Mr. Yoo: The Alliance was created to drive more and better content and services for consumers. Its mission is to provide a platform for manufacturers and developers to create and deliver interactive content and has, therefore, focused on standardizing the application layer to accelerate time to market and reduce development costs. 

In creating a platform for developers, the Alliance determined that HTML5-based standards create the greatest accessibility for a range of smart TVs and devices. Additionally, to help achieve Alliance goals, we are working on various tools and programs:

  • For application developers, we publish the Smart TV Alliance SDK tooling, which includes a validation tool assuring developers their apps are compliant with the Alliance specification. 
  • For manufacturers of devices, an Alliance defined compliancy program will help ensure a compliant Application Layer across platforms. 
  • Finally, the Developer Support Program and Common Developer Portal ensure the STA platform is the easiest and fastest way to publish apps globally.

How does this fit with your company’s plans and approach to smart TV?

Mr. Yoo: LG is a firm believer in browser-based technologies, as evidenced by our new webOS Smart TV’s we announced at CES.  Since its inception, Smart TV Alliance has also been focused on leveraging HTML5 technology to standardize and simplify the app development and publishing process across a diverse set of Smart TV platforms.  We continue to have a strong belief in both the value that STA and browser-based technologies bring to the Smart TV ecosystem.

How does Panasonic approach its smart TV operating system within the context of the Smart TV Alliance?

Mr. Hiroyuki Ikeda: Panasonic is continuously working on promoting open ecosystems through its participation in the Smart TV Alliance as well as through its partnership with the Mozilla Foundation, announced at CES.  Being a strong supporter of HTML5 and web-based technologies we share a belief in the common development platform for Smart TV manufactures that allows meaningful collaboration and responds to the needs of developers with efficient solutions that streamline the process of creating and publishing Smart TV applications.

How does Toshiba use open standards in its smart TV approach?

Mr. Yasuhiro Ishibasi: Thanks to open standard HTML5, Smart TV Alliance can make one standardized Interface for Smart TV apps, even if many types of OS will be supported on each TV manufacturer. Toshiba has already released five types of STA applications just authenticated by Joint QA program for our TVs and continually supports the Smart TV Alliance specification for our TV platforms. TOSHIBA believes HTML-based application will be mailed at next stage of Smart TV. ”

How does TP Vision see the role of the operating system alongside the Alliance specifications? 

Mr. Albert Mombarg: Smart TV Alliance specifications are agnostic to the underlying operating system because our key technology choice is based on HTML5-related technologies running in a browser. To use a car analogy, the web browser serves as the engine of the STA ecosystem, and it works using the same STA specification across all vendors. The operating system is the chassis and differs per vendor. Plus, some vendors may have extended the chassis/OS with their own items that are not STA related or are optional for STA, just like a spoiler makes a car go faster. The apps are the gasoline that makes the STA engine run. As all engines are using the same specification, it runs the exact same fuel, or app.

Submitted On: 4/1/2014

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