For Android fans, Panasonic didn’t have the most exciting press conference. In fact, this year’s CES is shaping to be big for the television industry with mobile stepping a bit out of the limelight. Panasonic announced a full range of products – from beauty and hair care appliances to televisions and cameras – but the most interesting announcements came on the software side.
Take this video demo, for example, where Panasonic demonstrates their new TV Touchpen feature:
(Best video moment: 20-second mark where a “let’s shake hands” gets confused for a “ehrmagerd gimme muh iPad”)
While not Android-specific and not ground breaking, I found it cool enough to share. And I think the non-story here is a pretty big story itself. Google TV has failed to gain traction. Android-based gaming devices are currently the hot thing, with the announcement of NVIDIA Shield and the imminent release of OUYA. But television manufacturers are largely reluctant to hop onboard the Android bandwagon.
Instead, TV manufacturers are banding together to continue development of their own ecosystems and services. Whereas Android was able to consolidate and unify an incredibly broad mobile ecosystem that previously refused to adapt, the television industry may be looking on, unwilling to give up control to Android. I can’t say I blame them… once that happens, Android is pretty much in the TV driver’s seat.
Above is Panasonic’s new MyScreen feature that allows each member of the family to have their own start screen. This is a feature recently offered by other home entertainment solutions, most recently the Nintendo Wii U. It almost seems like the battle for mobile os over, won by Apple and Google with Microsoft clinging on; the next tech war frontier is the television, and before the big guys go from a gaze to stare, the TV makers are putting a stake in their ground.
If all the TV makers were able to band together and make it happen, I’d be enthused. But the ecosystem is still fractured, preventing developers from producing far reaching solutions, which in the end limits the speed of innovation and value to consumers. Take for example this “innovative” app for the Home Shopping Network (HSN) available on Panasonic’s new Smart TVs:
This is disappointing for a few reasons:
- They chose this app of all the options to showcase their product
- It’s basically an on-demand “spam-yourself-with-shopping” catalog and strays from the reasons HSN and QVC are successful in the first place (the concept of “live TV” and limited quantities/deals)
- The UI is horribly disgusting and outdated… and that’s being generous
So will HSN make this half-willed attempt at an app on a bunch of different provider’s television systems? Wouldn’t HSN, Panasonic’s customers, and consumers all be better off if HSN could focus on one platform (say… Android?) and focus on creating one app to work across many TVs that was actually… good?
Panasonic has some incredibly compelling products at CES 2013 and I’m eager to see them on the show floor, but I can’t help but see the comparisons and parallels of the mobile industries former challenges and television’s current challenges. The next several CES events could very well be focused on the tech battle for the television and seamless home entertainment for the entire family.
Based on the way my words project, I assume you’ve understood my opinion. Now I’d like to hear yours.