Samsung DC Logo-SNOV 4, 2013 • Last week Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. held its first developers conference in San Francisco where it released a slew of new software development kits (SDKs) aimed at fostering more smart TV games as well as games for mobile platforms. The completely new Multiscreen SDK leverages a cloud publishing system for one-touch discovery and pairing of devices to support content sharing between smartphones and smart TVs. Samsung partnered with Unity Technologies to create the Multiscreen Gaming SDK, a gaming engine built on top of the Multiscreen SDK that provides game developers the tools to create immersive gaming experiences on any big screen TV using a Samsung smartphone or tablet as a console. The Smart TV SDK delivers tools to developers for creating applications for Samsung televisions. Although Samsung’s smart TVs run on Linux and its mobile devices on Android – both open source operating systems – the electronics firm’s SDKs utilize its own proprietary APIs (application programming interface) for use in programming content for these devices.

Impact: Not only is Samsung the largest manufacturer of Android smartphones, it also sells the most smartphones worldwide. Both distinctions provide the South Korean electronics giant a tremendous amount of leverage to create extra value and demand for its smart TVs. Connected televisions have yet to set the world on fire so far. While each generation improves on the last, far too many of them provide a clunky experience compared to smartphones and tablets. By investing in such a strong set of development tools, Samsung sends the message that it is serious about making its smart TVs a more compelling consumer experience. Furthermore, Samsung is offering greater utility in that consumers can use their mobile devices with smart TVs without the purchase of separate equipment like an Apple TV or Google’s Chromecast. But Samsung is also telegraphing much grander designs by the introduction of these new proprietary APIs. If the argument can be made that Samsung can turn its mobile users into smart TV owners, then developers may buy into programming for these devices. In doing so Samsung is emulating Apple Inc. in a strategy to capture content creators into its own hardware ecosystem at the expense of competitors. These are very bold moves, especially as Samsung has designs on making it easier to tailor-make game content that runs well on smart TVs. All of this makes Samsung something of a threat to both Apple, other firms making Android hardware, and Google, which prefers to keep control of the broad direction of the Android OS to itself. Should Google and Samsung ever come into conflict over Android, the latter is also developing its own HTML 5-based Tizen OS that can be used in everything from smartphones and tablets to smart TVs and automobiles. The whole strategy depends on execution, yet Samsung is well capable of pulling it off.

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