INTERVIEW: Samsung's Guy Kinnell on 3D TV and the future of connected televisions
Samsung TVs are leading the charge when it comes to web connected and 3D features. Our recent test of their UE55D8000 model saw us award the TV a coveted top-marks award. We caught up with Guy Kinnell, Samsung UK’s Marketing Director for TV, to see what the company has in store for the future of their Smart and 3D TVs, and what it takes to keep a platform like Smart TV at the top of its game.
Many people are only just getting used to the concept of apps on a mobile phone. Is it too soon to expect Joe Bloggs to feel comfortable with them on his television too?
Due to the popularity of smartphones and tablets, we know people are comfortable with smart devices. Smart TV is the next step in the evolution of smart devices and Samsung Smart TVs do everything that other smart devices do and more.
The Samsung Smart TV hub is one of the most user friendly interfaces on the market and viewers are quickly mastering how to make the most of their Smart TV. For instance, Apps such as LOVEFiLM, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are all common place in people’s lives and are also all available on Samsung Smart TVs.
Some rural areas of the UK, and many wider areas around the globe, still lack decent broadband connections. Does this affect the sort of content you allow onto the Smart TV platform? And do you also think it has in any way affected the uptake of connected TVs as a whole?
Smart TV is different to a connected TV. The Smart TV experience integrates a multitude of content sources and provides many features designed to make the viewing experience more enjoyable (design, user interface, content discovery and search).
With respect to apps, the Samsung Smart TV operates effectively with a connection of 1.5 mbps or above. However, the more bandwidth an application requires e.g. 3D, the more consumers will need a stronger broadband package.
Traditional connected TVs may find their appeal more limited as they are often designed with an entire focus on specific apps rather than a more holistic Smart experience – this could impact their demand.
What do you feel makes Samsung’s Smart TV platform better than similar offerings from rival manufacturers?
As the UK’s most awarded TV brand1 Samsung is also leading the Smart TV market. Our strong reputation in functionality and design has continued with the Smart TV range and all our 2011 TVs feature our ONE DESIGN ultra-thin bezel which gives a virtually edge-less experience. This enables people to forget they are watching TV and feel like they are really there. Furthermore, the striking design of our TVs is complemented by the unmatchable picture quality, which has long been the benchmark of the market.
From a content point of view, Samsung is dominating the Smart TV sector by increasingly adding more content to the Smart TVs giving viewers a huge choice for their television. Recent announcements have included the development of the Five on Demand App onto the Samsung App Store as well as our 3D Video-on-Demand service, which offers consumers 3D content free and on-demand from Samsung Smart TVs.
While, Samsung’s connectivity to other devices makes it easy for users to enjoy the benefits of the Smart Hub on items such as smartphones, laptops or tablets. We have recently announced the Smart View app for the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone, which allows viewers to watch Smart TV content, and access other Smart TV apps on their mobile phone as well as and Blu-ray content.
But perhaps one of the features which we are most proud of is Your Video, a bespoke Video-on-Demand service, which recommends movie clips and TV shows that reflect the individual tastes and is further proof that Smart TV is not only an entertainment hub within the home but a device that thinks for you.
Technology changes so quickly; how do you assure customers and developers alike that their apps will continue to be supported, even if the TV itself has aged a few years down the line?
Samsung is continually building on the current Samsung Apps store to ensure viewers have the widest range of content to enjoy on their TV such as gaming, 3D videos and social networking and whether they still have a 2011 model in two years or five years time, these Apps will still provide as an important viewer experience as ever before.
In addition, with Samsung Apps recently passing the 5 million download mark worldwide, we know there is a great appetitive for Apps. Whether it is to support an App that is refreshed or a firm favourite, Samsung will also nurture its strong relationship with developers to ensure the uptake for Apps is continued.
Do you have a favourite Smart TV app?
Currently, I’m enjoying Samsung’s ”Explore 3D App” which for the first time in the UK, enables consumers to access 3D content free and on-demand from Samsung Smart TVs.
We’ve already seen that 3D services are headed to the Smart TV platform. Can you divulge any info on what you have planned in the future for this area of Smart TVs?
Until now, 3D content has only been available through paid subscription and Blu-ray, but over the next year Samsung will lead the TV market by providing more options for consumers to watch 3D content. We’ve recently launched the new 3D Video on-demand service, allowing viewers to stream free 3D content through a specially designed App for the Samsung Smart TV platform and by the end of 2011- 70 free 3D videos will be available through the ‘Explore 3D’ App. We anticipate this area will continue to grow with pace and expect to see some big and exciting app announcement in future weeks and months.
If you had to convince my technophobic granddad to do away with his CRT set and purchase a Samsung Smart TV, how would you do so?
For those customers who wish to upgrade or are afraid of the latest technologies, an in-store demo is a great way to familiarise themselves with Smart TV. Here they can see the features and benefits of the flagship 3D 2011 Smart TV range firsthand but also have ‘a play’ with the TVs themselves.
The cutting-edge design and enhanced picture quality of our Smart TVs are just some of the many attractors that are encouraging customers to make the switch.
Samsung Smart TVs are a device that thinks for you. Your grandparent could receive recommended content via Your Video based on their viewing habits or should they be a fan of BBC News or Eurosport they can access the latest news or match just by clicking on the App on their Smart Hub.
Furthermore, our next generation remote, Smart View Touch Control TV remote, which will soon be available as a separate accessory for Samsung’s award winning D8000 and D7000 TVs, offers full control of TV features with only two physical buttons- power and function eliminating the awkward, cluttered button look on conventional TV remotes and one that too matches the usability of its parent Smart TV.
What is the plan for the Smart TV platform in, say, 12 months time? What sort of content can we expect to see?
Intelligent connectivity is going to continue to be the biggest development for the rest of the year and beyond. Connecting your Smart TV to your Blu-ray player, 3D speakers and soundbar and even your Samsung Galaxy Tab is going to continue to increase as people embrace the technology and internet speeds continue to grow too.
Samsung is currently driving the Smart TV market and with now over 5 million Samsung Smart TV apps downloaded worldwide we know there is a great appetite for even more content. Samsung is in discussions with a range of possible partners from across broadcasters, gaming, high street stores, entertainment, travel and App developers to ensure Smart TV is truly the entertainment hub within the home. The opportunities for Samsung Apps are endless and we’re excited at the forthcoming prospects for viewers, developers and potential partners alike.
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When this 3D Explorer app was launched articles said it would be supported on 2010 models too. Well, I have a C8000 and where is it? Now I see there is a 5 On Demand app and that isn’t in there either.
2 grand fo rthe TV and less than 6 months later Samsung aren’t supporting it FFS.
Q “Technology changes so quickly; how do you assure customers and developers alike that their apps will continue to be supported”
REAL ANSWER =
“We don’t give a spit. Buyers of 2010 3D TVs, brand new models that are not even a year old will find them obsolete already. We scrapped the IR glasses, and abandon inte[email protected] for Smart TV. We are no longer supporting these brand new models and do not care about our customers who supported us by being early adopters of 3D”