Samsung Unveils App Store For TVs, Blu-Ray Players


Mobile application marketplaces have revolutionized the smartphone business, and now Samsung is trying to do the same for televisions, Blu-Ray players, and other connected home entertainment devices.

In a Wednesday press conference at CES 2010 in Las Vegas, Samsung executives unveiled Samsung Apps, an application marketplace that's intended to extend the functionality of televisions, Blu-Ray players, and mobile devices in a way that will "transform the entertainment experience," said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung America.

The goal is to build on the momentum of the Internet@TV service Samsung launched last year, which includes downloadable widgets from content partners, to deliver applications that give users a "completely personal experience," according to Baxter. Samsung Apps will use an open architecture and developers will be able to build applications using a software development kit provided by Samsung.

"There will soon be dozens of apps that you'll access through a push button on your remote," said Baxter. "Developers, if you thought it was fun building apps for three-inch phone screens, I have a 55-inch LED television I'd like to show you."

The first Samsung Apps for televisions will arrive in the spring and premium apps will launch this summer. Over time, Samsung Apps will evolve to support more devices, Baxter said.

Samsung's content partners include Twitter, Blockbuster, Picasa, Travel Channel, USA Today and Youtube, among others. In a videotaped segment shown at the event, Kevin Thau, head of mobile at Twitter, lauded Samsung's growing focus on the television platform.

"It's extremely exciting to see a service that has thought about not just mobile platform but the television platform, and including Twitter as part of this is incredibly exciting," said Thau. "Twitter was founded on the open exchange of information and not tying people to one platform will have incredible benefits to customers."

Samsung also showed off an array of stunningly well designed flat panel televisions that will run Samsung Apps, many of which also support 3D. Samsung launched its first 3D television in 2007, and the company's new line of LED televisions includes the LED 9000, a flat panel that comes in 46 inch and 55 inch models and has a thickness of just one third on an inch -- about the same as a pencil.

The LED 9000 includes sensors that eject the operating panel from the television when the user approaches, and users can also watch live television on the remote control while they're watching a Blu-Ray movie, Baxter said. "This is everything our consumers will want from a television," he said.

Samsung is building a complete 3D home solution that includes 3D televisions, Blu-Ray players, and home theater systems, complemented by lightweight, comfortable 3D glasses so that consumers can get the most out of 3D content. The company also unveiled 3D content partnerships with Dreamworks and Technicolor.

"People love watching 3D films in theaters. Consumers are now expecting the same 3D experience in their homes," Baxter said.

In addition to developing applications for connected home entertainment devices, Samsung in 2010 will continue to concentrate on connectivity in terms of making various devices connect more easily with each other. Based on what was shown at CES 2010, the company has some pretty solid momentum.

"You can expect to see a steady stream of connected products from us," Baxter said.