When It Comes to Apps on TV, Keep it Simple

Televisions have been in American homes for decades but only in the last three years has Samsung rolled out broadband connected televisions. Olivier Manuel, director of content at Samsung Electronics America says his company has to straddle the line between early adopters and the wider audience that doesn’t think about accessing the web on their televisions. Speaking today at GigaOM’s NewTeeVee Live event in San Francisco, Manuel stressed that about half of the buyers of Samsung’s connected televisions or Blu-Ray players use the broadband capability, and the numbers increase when the connectivity is via Wi-Fi instead of a cable.

That’s just one example where simplicity helps. Another is the remote. He said that all apps can be accessed via the regular TV remote, which is familiar to consumers. For more advanced users, Samsung released an app for Android (s goog) handsets and iPhones (s aapl) that allows for more granular control of apps on the television screen. What began as a simple ticker in 2008 streaming news and weather content via an RSS feed from USA Today, has now become a full-fledged app market with games, Facebook and web video apps that users love.

Manuel says that so far the killer apps on the television have been video like Netflix (s nflx) or Hulu Plus and sports content, but also Pandora. As for attracting developers to create the next killer app, the strategy is supporting web languages like Java and HTML5 so developers don’t have to spend much time adapting their apps for the television. Samsung also recently launched an app contest to prime the pump with winners showing off their apps at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. However Manuel acknowledged that today the same big players on the web and in pay TV are the same big players when it comes to apps on televisions, while noting that there are opportunities to create ticker-style apps for sharing a person’s social feeds without taking over the entire screen and other social TV applications. Just remember, keep it simple.

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