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Panasonic, the last major CE manufacturer to hold out with a proprietary application platform has decided to open the gates and is coming out with a software development kit sometime this year, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.The bad news is they are rolling out their own code base, creating yet another platform for developers to deal with. Sony, LG, Philips, Toshiba, and Samsung all have their own TV application platforms.
Panasonic was an early proponent of connected TVs, rolling out the first models in 2008. But it has been more cautious than its rivals, keeping a tight lid on the apps available for its sets. This year it plans to take a less restrictive approach, offering a software development kit to the public for use by would-be app writers. Yet like several of its competitors, it's sticking with a custom platform that developers have to tailor their software to, further fracturing the market and delaying the introduction of new apps.
On another note, it seems that the company is also moving towards a full on two screen experience in the living room by releasing a Viera Tablet sometime later this year in Japan.
Rather than browse the Net, the chunky Viera Tablet browses applications on a Viera Connect set. Content streams from the set to the tablet wirelessly, so it appears the tablet won't be of much use once it's out of the TV's Wi-Fi range.
The thinking behind the device, Panasonic's Peter Fannon said, is that it will serve as a second screen in the living room, enabling users to explore content related to what they're watching on the big screen. For example, they could check scores and statistics on the tablet while watching a ballgame on the TV, or read the tweets about an awards show while it's playing on their set. It also doubles as a touch-screen remote control. And for a gee-whiz effect, users can swipe the surface of the tablet toward their Viera Connect TV to move to the TV screen whatever they've been watching on the tablet.