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Friday, January 07, 2011, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

CES: Samsung eyes Smart TV as center of 'digital hub' as it takes on Apple


Apps without a place

Ten years later, if Jobs could update his 2001 presentation, he might define a fourth golden age of computing oriented around mobile devices now able to run complex apps and store as much content as desktop computers could a decade ago, while also connecting to fast wireless networks.

The Mac has also evolved, with this year's release of Mac OS X Lion expected to adopt major facets of its interface and behaviors from iOS (including downloadable apps that save documents automatically, quit instantly, and keep themselves updated).

While Samsung delivers products that are modeled after Apple's past successes, ranging from its iPhone-like Galaxy S to its new iPod touch doppelgänger Galaxy Player and the iPad nod of the Galaxy Tab, Samsung lacks Apple's operating system and development platform technology and focus.

The company builds smartphones using a wide range of platforms, from Windows Phone 7 to Android to its own Bada. Its Smart TVs and Blu-ray players run web apps that run on the Maple Browser using web standards, and also support Flash 8.0 and Flash Lite 3.1 content. Future Smart TVs will run AIR 2.5 and support Flash 10.1.

Samsung CES 2011 Apple iOS


In theory, Adobe AIR should enable developers to build an app they can port across multiple devices, from Android devices to RIM's new PlayBook to Samsung's new Smart TVs and Blu-ray players. However, according to a report by ZD Net, RIM developers eying the PlayBook have said that "AIR apps can be tough to port," and that "BlackBerry’s biggest developers are unlikely to use AIR," preferring instead to wait for RIM to deliver a Java development kit.

Android developers have historically been attracted to that platform because of the familiarity of working with its familiar, Java-like virtual machine. Meanwhile, neither AIR nor Java nor Android has delivered a sustainable business model like the one Apple has built around its own custom App Stores for the iOS and, as of this week, the Mac.

Apple has not, notably, extended its iOS App Store to deliver software for the new iOS-based Apple TV. This has left room for Samsung and other Smart TV vendors, including LG and the Google TV platform embraced by Sony, to take a shot at beating Apple into that market with a first mover advantage.