Roku enters smart home territory, Samsung opens up its TV OS – TVREV

1. Roku is entering smart home territory

So Dave Zatz, a tech blogger whose blog ZatzNotFunny is well worth your time, discovered patents which showed Roku teaming up with Wyze to create a line of smart home products.

What’s interesting though is that the products, which include smart bulbs and security cameras, are only tangentially related to watching TV.

Yes, you can technically use the bulbs to set the mood for your home theater and play the output of your security cameras on your TV, but it’s unclear why you want that (to me anyway ).

Most of the time, it seems like Roku is dipping its toes in the water to find ways to expand its brand beyond TVs. Which would perhaps indicate that they are looking for alternative sources of income of the type that would make them more attractive to a suitor.

why is it important

For years, “who should buy Roku?” has been a favorite board game among industry watchers. The guesses range from TV makers (Sony) to programmers (almost all, but Netflix and Disney in particular) to tech companies (again, pretty much all) to retailers like Walmart.

The truth is, there are arguments to be made for almost everyone who buys Roku, with buyers who can help them break into overseas markets having a slight edge. (Although Roku launched in Europe, growth there has been slow and they don’t enjoy the kind of name recognition they have in the US)

As of today, Friday, October 14, 2022, I think Microsoft would make the most sense, given that they seem to be re-engaging with the TV industry (that Netflix/Xandr deal) but don’t have a system of TV exploitation, which, as we’ll see in the next story, is key to everything on TV right now.

Merger rumors aside, smart TV OEMs have been figuring out how to make the TV the center of the smart home for some time. The idea is that the TV will be able to do everything from Zoom calls and exercise videos to ordering food for the smart fridge and adjusting the smart blinds to create the most optimal lighting.

That’s the idea anyway. Consumers don’t seem too keen on it yet, largely because the peripherals needed to turn smart TV into a hub haven’t yet lived up to their hype. (Replacing your current fridge with a smart fridge is also quite expensive.)

Which isn’t to say it’ll never happen, just that it’s not there yet.

As for Roku, the decision is curious in that it seems, from a mainstream POV anyway, that the ability to interface with Alexa is key to any smart home device, with Alexa being the most popular of the top -smart home speakers. Also, since there are already plenty of fully functional smart bulbs and cameras on the market, it’s unclear what Roku’s bulbs and cameras will do differently.

Or to put it in real terms, will the ability to turn on the hall light from your TV be a major factor in anyone’s purchasing decisions? It wouldn’t be one of mine, but maybe others think differently. (I also wouldn’t overlook that Roku may be trying to make itself more attractive to Walmart, which would certainly like to compete with Amazon.)

Either way, the key takeaway here seems to be that Roku is always innovating and trying to get ahead of the game, probably in hopes of becoming an even more attractive takeover target.

So there is this

What you need to do about it

If you’re Roku, you probably didn’t expect Dave Zatz to be such a good reporter and so now your best bet would seem to be to make an announcement about what you’re doing.

Or not – I guess if you skip the scoop because the actual product is still months away, everyone will have forgotten about it by next week.

If you’re one of the other TV OEMs, one of those who own their own hardware, there’s probably nothing to do here. Most of you have global businesses selling a wide range of electronics and appliances and have no doubt considered what you could do in terms of smart home devices and how deploying them would impact your bottom line.

If you’re a consumer and love gadgets, that’s good news in that the more competition there is, the more likely prices are to stay reasonable.

2. Samsung opens its TV operating system

In the latest salvo to Streaming Wars, Samsung announced that it will be opening up its Tizen TV operating system to third parties.

As TVREV readers know, the battle over the operating system is the biggest skirmish to watch, as whoever controls the majority of TV operating systems will be in the catbird seat and more.

This is because OEMs are going to be the new gatekeepers. Their FAST services will form the core of their interfaces and they will be able to recommend shows and services, using data to try to create a superior experience for consumers and advertisers.

why is it important

At present, the opportunity here is mainly international, both in Europe where Google and Amazon have armed themselves, and in emerging economies where the field is still wide open because a large part of the market, as it is, is controlled by smaller local manufacturers.

Samsung’s play parallels recent moves by LG, which rolled out its webOS operating system to around 200 gadget makers after making its TVOS available to other manufacturers. (According to Omdia, LG controls about 20% of the global TVOS market.)

Xperi, the company that owns TiVo, has also taken action, offering the TiVo operating system to the aforementioned small international OEMs as an affordable alternative.

That said, the game here, at least outside the US, really comes down to the tech giants – Google and Amazon versus the consumer electronics giants – Samsung and LG. There are many factors at play, but the most important will be the ability to provide an interface that consumers really like to the point where it becomes a major factor in their buying decision.

That’s why I think the CE guys have the edge…and why it makes sense for Microsoft to buy Roku.

But I digress…

What you need to do about it

If you’re one of those consumer electronics guys (or if, like VIZIO and Roku, making TVs is your jam), you need to keep proving myself here and keep staying on top of the user experience , allowing viewers to find what they want to watch and switch to a new device without much hassle. Invest in your FASTs, especially in customization. Look to Spotify as a guide to how personalization works to create loyalty.

If you’re on the tech side, remember that TV is different from the internet, people have a much more emotional connection to TV shows, and using data to improve the customer experience is a good thing. , but too much. can start to feel scary.

If you’re an OEM in an emerging economy, you have plenty of suitors. Don’t try to create your own operating system. Just do what you’re probably already doing: figure out what consumers in your market want, then figure out which of the TVOS is the best fit.

If you’re a programmer – an SVOD, FAST or TV network – keep an eye on what TVOS players are doing and who’s winning and who’s losing. TVOS is going to have a lot to do with whether or not you succeed, so it’s best to understand where this industry is heading.

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