Samsung may join Sony (s SNE) in building out televisions based on Google’s (s GOOG) Android operating system, according to a report in the Korea Herald. An executive at the company, which is the largest manufacturer of TVs worldwide, said that Samsung is “examining the business feasibility of Google TVs” in the latest sign that Android might catch on as the OS of choice for connected consumer electronics (CE) devices.
It was revealed last month that Google is partnering with Sony and Intel (s INTC) on Android-based CE products that might include a dedicated set-top box or come in the form of software that would run on Internet-connected TV sets. The Google TV products would be based on the Intel Atom processor, which is used for smartphones and other mobile Internet devices, and could enable media companies to build dedicated applications that run directly on users’ TV sets.
TV apps are expected to become big business for media companies and CE manufacturers alike; according to recent research from In-Stat, TV-based applications could generate more than $1.7 billion in annual revenue by 2013, driven by an increasing number of broadband-connected devices in the living room. Already, Vudu (s WMT), Roku and Boxee are looking to enable paid downloads of apps through their connected TV devices. Samsung, too, has already created its own framework for building apps that run on its connected TVs, called Samsung Apps.
The only problem is that developing for each of those different platforms can be a cumbersome enterprise for those that want to roll out video apps and other services directly on the TV. But standardizing on a single OS — like Google Android, for instance — would enable CE manufacturers to create a single development platform for connected devices, while also making it easy for developers to create apps that could potentially run on millions of devices.
While there are certainly advantages for CE makers that might want to use Adroid for future devices, there are also hurdles — for one thing, the cost of manufacturing devices that can run Google’s OS might be prohibitively expensive. Panasonic, for instance, reportedly decided against using Android on its connected TV sets because of costs associated with doing so. That’s because, according to Panasonic EVP Bob Perry, Android would require too much processing power to make it a viable solution. Panasonic also has its own widget/app solution, called VieraCast — but like Boxee, Roku, Vudu and Samsung, that just means one more platform for media companies to develop for.
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