For most of the ten years I’ve been coming to CES, every presentation, every booth, has had one goal: to create an ecosystem in order to encourage consumer to lock in. Year after year, presentation after presentation, someone has come out to show how the phone will connect to the fridge which, in turn, will connect to the TV. And year after year, they failed.
Samsung, and to some extent the other vendors, have finally cracked it. For most of the past few years they’ve watched as Apple ran circles around them in terms of media sharing and remote control. Obviously Apple’s systems have been limited to iPod/iTunes/iPad/Mac but Samsung, a major player in both the white goods and the mobile markets, can now have it all.
First, some numbers.
Samsung is number one in TVs for the sixth year in a row, selling approximately two TVs a second in November. While a minority of those TVs have been what Samsung is calling Smart TVs, all new TVs in 2012 will include boxless interactive television, which means a few things. First, it means Google and Apple are in trouble. Two TVs per second definitely beats any performance metrics for Google’s platform and, more important, Samsung has headed off Apple at the living room media pass.
Then consider Samsung’s lead in cellphone sales. While many would argue that Samsung specializes in meh and me-too, 60 million cellphones sold in 2011 can’t be a fluke. This isn’t about Android or iOS or Windows Phone – it’s about Samsung making and selling millions of phones to millions of people. Samsung is mercenary. They’re happy to use anyone’s OS as long as it puts phones into boxes and boxes into shopping bags.
So you have two superlatives: biggest phone manufacturer and biggest TV manufacturer. Add in some tablets, some washing machines, and some acceptable software and you have a real and vibrant ecosystem. The next year will bring plenty of efforts to bring streaming media into the home, but the guy who is already there will win.