The case for rich operating systems supporting a wide range of applications has been proven out among PCs, tablets and smartphones. But the jury is still out for other devices such as televisions. While Samsung pushes ahead on attracting apps to its Smart TVs using its own platform and LG, Sony and Vizio align with Google TV, there are still reasons to believe that the smart TV will fail to have tremendous impact as Switched On discussed last year. Blu-ray players, video game consoles and cheap boxes fromApple, Roku, Netgear and others allow consumers to expand their video options while integrated networking provides gateways to content from smartphones, tablets and PCs.
Perhaps the app model is a poor metaphor for an experience that has been identified so long with channels. Or perhaps television is open to some new functionality, but not as wide a variety of apps as we see for PCs and smartphones. In that instance, television is a microplatform, a device class that would benefit by being opened to third-party development, but for which functionality must be closely tied to the content and the usage of the device as opposed to a broad and generic one like the tablet.
Over the past few months, another legacy device with an even longer history than the television has surfaced as a microplatform: the camera. As with television, we are seeing the development of homegrown app models (such as Sony’s PlayMemories Camera Apps introduced on its NEX-5R) and the use of Android (from both Nikon and Samsung, the latter of which has slapped what is functionally aGalaxy SIII on the back of a camera). Never willing to cede too much ground to dedicated devices, the smartphone world has also gotten into the act, with Windows Phone 8 supporting a special class of camera apps Microsoft has burdened with the confusing name “Lenses” (not to be confused with the City Lens app from its close partner Nokia).