It looks like some mobile success stories can’t be repeated on different platforms: Samsung has quietly stopped the distribution of paid apps for its smart TVs and connected Blu-ray players.
The consumer electronics manufacturer made the change at the end of March, notifying affected consumers about the possibility to get refunds for some apps, while also assuring everyone that paid services like Netflix and Hulu Plus will continue to remain available on the company’s connected devices.
Samsung first introduced the ability for smart TV developers to charge for their apps in early 2012, mirroring similar efforts by Roku and others to offer developers additional ways to monetize their apps.
However, with a few exceptions, smart TV apps haven’t really been huge sellers, and publishers generally prefer subscription models that allow them to monetize their content across different platforms. Think of it as the Netflix model: Consumers pay Netflix directly, which allows the company to make its service available on mobile as well as connected devices without having to share its revenue with any platform operator.
A service that charges customers through Samsung’s smart TV platform on the other hand was only available on Samsung’s devices, and the publisher had to share its revenue with Samsung. That model may work for mobile apps that consumers only use on one device, but it breaks when consumers want to access content on multiple screens.