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Samsung's first European TV Application contest with €500,000 in prizes is underway and the public can now join up and vote for the top TV Apps from some 78 finalists in the competition.
Hat tip to the UK's Register for the tip - Bill Ray covered the contest this morning.
At the time of writing the winning application is a client for Dufus, the online game with 10 million, mostly French players. Internet@TV isn't powerful enough to run the game itself, which is usually Flash based, but players can manage their characters, feed their pets and catch up on what's going on in the World of the Twelve - which is good enough to garner a suspiciously high 255 votes.
We say "suspiciously high" as the next highest, an application for stalking friends and relatives ones from the comfort of your own sofa, only has 85 votes right now, currently topping the UK submissions. It's almost enough to make one think there's not a lot of interest in developing content for TVs.
Quite what else people want on their TV screens is open to debate - emoticons dancing on top of the video stream, or robots racing rather sedately though mazes. The industry, from Google to Apple to Samsung, is convinced we want app stores for our TVs, but Samsung's competition isn't yet showing why we would want to.
Ray is notably skeptical of the TV App contest and the validity of anything other than Video On Demand functionality he seems to think, is rather useless. But that's perhaps because he does not actually own a Smart or Connected TV. Because in our house, yes, Youtube is very popular with the daughters who stream Justin Bieber on demand a bit too much for my taste, but there are also some other very functional TV Apps that work in the living room, leaning back, in a ten foot experience.
Such as Holland's brilliant real estate site Funda, which has an application on the Samsung platform that allows us to search houses in the Netherlands by postcode, watch video, see images and read text on cool places to buy or rent. Then there's the Pathe Cinema TV App, which we use to watch HD video of movies before we head out the door for the theatre. And the real time weather radar app is used often before biking to school with the kids to see whether there are squalls coming or not. And what about a Travel App? I mean, watching HD video, images and reading text of destinations I may want to go to is much better than waiting for it on the Travel Channel. Or huddling around the desktop with the family. And book it on TV too, or have an agent call us. Or how about the Art TV App in the US competiton? Turn your 4 foot screen into a digital picture frame with Picasso rather than a black hole on the wall? Betfair TV already has a Samsung App in the UK. Yes, bet while watching Manchester United playing Chelsea. You bet! Traffic TV and Bus/Train schedules also make sense.
Or what about brands entering the TV App space? If they give something away or allow me to compete for something (cue Redbull) , I would gladly spend time during 30 second commercial breaks and try to win something. Or what about a Groupon TV App? Developers can and will get creative in this space, as they have on the web and on Smart Phones.
This is early days for Samsung. And it will take time to filter into the Zeitgeist. And it will take time for more innovation and ideas to drive forward as more developers, creatives and startups come to the table.
If I am not mistaken, I think Samsung may have erred in allowing a public vote only to decide the winner. This can too easily be hijacked by nefarious methods such as spamming, social media, begging friends and family etc. They should have looked at the Eurovision model (notoriously political) which now splits the vote between the public and a professional jury in order to keep Slovenia, Slovakia, Bosnia, and other dots on the European map from voting each other into glory. There is quite a large amount of money at stake here.
Interesting move into Social TV from a German Crew here:
SocialTV brings your Facebook friends on your TV. SocialTV shows who is watching TV and what. You can also exchange messages with your friends or send them directly as a status update to Facebook. Additionally you can "like" the current program and share it with your friends.
This of course will horrify my peers who, are for the better part, proponents of Social TV being more of a two screen experience with a tablet or smart phone (or even the new touchscreen remotes?) being the social device of choice. Personally, in my household, rarely do we watch the same programmes as a family unit, but rather prefer to choose our own content on our own TV sets - and I often prefer to share those progammes with my social graph. The Western World now has 3 TV sets per household these days.
Bong TV will certainly have the broadcasters, cable companies and content creators rolling around in their sleep. Yes, I can use their cloud services to record something and watch it later on other devices or on the TV itself. I suppose so could my friends.