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January 26, 2012
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Smaller CE brands focused on Connected TV

It was clear from CES 2012 that Connected TV functionality is going to start appearing on more CE brands and that the market for what you might call Tier-2 Connected TV is starting to develop. A spokesman for Chinese set maker Haier said the company will arrive in the UK this April with the BBC iPlayer catch-up TV app onboard. The company has developed its own app platform for this and other markets although it uses Yahoo! Connected TV as the ‘middleware’ in the United States. The existing Haier View Net Connect platform, demonstrated in Las Vegas this month, supports YouTube, Netflix, Twitter and Facebook, among other apps. Hulu Plus is coming soon for the U.S. market.

U.S. based Coby, which is a relative newcomer to the television market, having diversified out of audio, was showing a selection of Connected TV models from 32 to 55 inch screen sizes, and has developed its own software platform with the aim of making online entertainment simple for its customers. Coby is considered a value brand. The limited selection of apps includes the near-ubiquitous YouTube, plus Netflix.

RCA was showing a sub-$60 connected TV solution in the form of its RCA Wi-Fi Streaming Media Player. This provides a small selection of apps, notably Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Pandora. The company is now building this Internet TV functionality into a $200 Wi-Fi Home Theater Sound Bar (with wireless surround sound speakers) to provide an affordable and no-wires solution for consumers who are happy with a limited app selection. The product ships to retailers this spring and the company claims it is the industry’s first ‘Streaming Sound Bar’.

And as we reported last week, ‘Tier-2’ CE products featuring the Inview Technology platform, including television sets and set-top boxes, will start appearing in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Poland in the first half of this year. Inview claims its low processing and memory footprint means there is no addition to the bill of materials to add connected TV capabilities, while the software is provided royalty free. AMTC was demonstrating this ‘middleware’ on its televisions at CES.

Content sharing (around the home and even beyond) was a major theme for the big CE brands like Samsung and Panasonic and the importance of this has not been lost among the vendors who would like to emulate their success. The Chinese company Hisense, which provides a Smart TV platform and markets products in 80 countries, released a tablet in October and was demonstrating how you can transfer content to the television or from the TV to the tablet for viewing. Haier also showed how you can share content between one device and another.

Connected TV Summit

If you are interested in Connected TV and CE vendor, Pay TV and content owner strategies for this new market, check out Connected TV Summit – the leading event anywhere dedicated to this subject. More details here.