Yeah, it's a weird bit of news but it seems that fear of Apple and Google taking a big slice of their TV viewer's time and business, was motivation enough for some of the largest TV manufacturers to get together and build exact what I said we needed, a single common system for connected TVs.
In my recent connected TV article series I spoke about how the fragmentation might be the single worst thing to happen. It makes building apps difficult because each manufacturer has something different which means you can't just plug and play, you have to tweak it to get it just right.
One OS to Rule Them All
But now, Toshiba has joined LG and Philips in talks to create one system for all of their connected TV platforms. They're hoping that will keep their connected TV products relevant in a world where OTT boxes are becoming more and more acceptable. Google TV, Apple's product, Roku, Boxee, and a host of others are making their way into homes as are connected Blu-Ray players, game consoles and putting the squeeze on the TV makers.
Personally, I think they should have been working on it last year. While at CES this year everyone had their connected TVs on display and everyone had their own system which resulted in everyone having their own SDK.
LG and Philips were already working on this with the Smart TV Alliance, now with the addition of Toshiba it seems like it's finally gaining some ground.
Outside Looking In
Samsung thumbed its nose at the alliance apparently. Since they've got the largest chunk of the TV market currently they seem to feel that they don't need to worry. But if it actually pulls developers away, it could start to dip into that market share. Sony also has its own system with the Sony Entertainment Network that also ties into its Playstation devices. They've always gone their own way in tech and pricing, so I don't see them joining in anytime soon either.
At least one Sharp TV is set to use the system. If Panasonic and Vizio were to sign on to the Smart TV Alliance and utilize the standardized system it would mean that pretty much Samsung and Sony are the only ones on the outside. Samsung ships about 19% of all LCD TVs sold and LG is at around 13% worldwide (Q1 2012 numbers) so this might be a way for LG to add value by making it easier for apps and services to be made meaning more content. Wouldn't you rather program it one for multiple TV platforms instead of coding for each separately?