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Hardware Companies Mull Second-Screen Apps

22 Feb, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

Panelists at the 2nd Screen Summit Feb. 22 in Santa Monica, Calif., discuss applications.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Thomas Engdahl, principal of venture capital company The Engdahl Group, asked a panel of hardware companies Feb. 22 at the 2nd Screen Summit what the killer application could possibly be for the second screen, meaning any screen but the TV.

Louisa Shipnuck, director of marketing and strategy for Verizon Digital Services, had an idea: “The killer app is here: it’s content.” Applications for the second screen that revolve around the availability of content are what developers, content owners and hardware companies need to focus on, she said, and they need “to get better and more individualized” and not be “the blunt instrument” they are today.

Panelists at the 2nd Screen Summit pointed to problems with second-screen content applications today: the difficulty of having them work across all devices, the ability for them to work in conjunction with the first screen in the living room and universal specifications for how those applications are developed.

“We fear having to do another [digital rights management] or stream-adaptive service,” said Kevin Morrow, director of business development for Samsung Electronics America’s Digital Solution Center. “On the TV side, there’s no common platform. That’s what Google [TV] is trying to do, what a lot of us would like to do. We all have our own ecosystems; we all have our own [software developer kits]. How does an app on my [second-screen] device communicate with my TV?”

“I think the killer application isn’t here yet today; TV is not the PC,” said Kemal Altintas, senior manager of smart TV partnerships and innovations for LG Electronics.

He said second-screen applications should focus more on content discovery, and working with first-screen content.

Whatever the “killer app” for the second screen might be, developers would do well to find it fast, according to Keith Nissen, research director for The NPD Group. Currently 38% of adults own smartphones, 65% of connected devices in the home are laptops, 83% of tablet owners are using their device primarily at home, and by 2016 there will be 840 million connected devices, or 10 per broadband household, he shared.

That’s a lot of opportunities for the right second-screen applications, Nissen said.

“More and more content is being consumed on-demand and individualized for the consumer,” he said, adding that 47% of purchased video content is viewed alone by consumers.

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