Two leading analysts agree that the biggest story from CES 2021 was the announcement that Apple is making iTunes Movies and television Shows and Apple AirPlay 2 available on Samsung's smart TVs, starting with the new 2021 models and, using a firmware update, 2021 models. This industry-first means those who own the appropriate Samsung TVs can access their existing iTunes library of content, and browse the iTunes Store to buy or rent from a huge catalogue of movies and TV episodes (including 4K HDR movies). AirPlay 2, which currently lets you stream content from Apple devices for an Apple TV and smart speakers, may also be made available to be used with LG, Vizio and LG televisions, Apple has revealed.

Why is it such a problem? \”It may be the very first time Apple makes iTunes available on CE products from major rivals also it implies that a business renowned for its vertically-driven approach is opening the Apple ecosystem,\” explained David Mercer, VP and Principal Analyst at the research firm Strategy Analytics during Videonet's 'Post-CES 2021 Roundup: The great, the Bad and also the Ugly' webcast this week.

Referring to rumours that Apple will launch its very own OTT service, Mercer added: \”You can imagine that Apple is preparing the floor to ensure more people can stream their video happy to the large screen, that is where consumers prefer to watch.\”

As Samsung pointed out at CES, the iTunes Movies and television Shows works seamlessly with the manufacturer's Smart TV services, for example Universal Guide, which mixes streaming and television services in one location, and its New Bixby conversational digital assistant (their response to Alexa and Google Assistant), plus search. \”Bringing more content, value and open platform functionality to Samsung TV owners and Apple customers through iTunes and AirPlay is fantastic for everyone,\” is how Won-Jin Lee, Executive Vice President, Service Business of Visual Display at Samsung Electronics, explained the move.

Also speaking around the webcast, Paul Gagnon, Executive Director of Analysis & Research at IHS Markit, the study and analyst company, confirmed the Samsung/Apple announcement was the biggest take-away from CES 2021, in the opinion. But also, he desired to highlight another important TV set development: the appearance of far-field microphone technology (as found in smart speakers) on tv sets, to aid digital assistant voice conversations.

The Chinese manufacturer TCL is leading the way with the use of such technology in the TV set itself, Gagnon noted. \”TV makers, in particular, happen to be concerned about privacy issues around always-on listening capabilities, but everyone recognises the popularity for its adoption in smart speakers. This will open television like a more conversational product.\”

Another from the so-called FAANG disruptors provided the biggest take-away for Nigel Walley, Md at the media consulting firm Decipher, who also guested on the webcast. This time around it had been Amazon, using its new (announced last autumn) set-top box, which mixes an HD-compatible terrestrial receiver to get over-the-air channels within the U.S. (all available free) along with a DVR recorder. This product (the Fire TV Recast) may also stream the over-the-air programming with other compatible devices like Fire TV, Echo Show plus some Fire tablets, plus iOS and Android devices. It records up to four shows at the same time and streams up to two programmes simultaneously to other devices.

At the time of launch, Marc Whitten, Vice President of Amazon Fire TV, declared: \”We are centered on making Fire TV an easy way to watch all the entertainment you like, whether it's through streaming video services, cable and satellite providers, or even local broadcast stations.\” This can be a device that matches the cord-cutting narrative, too, providing a means for individuals to make use of SVOD with free broadcast content.

\”I was completely bowled over on the Amazon stand and spent ages looking at their PVR,\” Walley revealed. \”This is really a company at the heart of the VOD revolution launching what's effectively a piece of memory that sits within your house within an old-style set-top box. I believe that is a fundamental statement about their impending shift to mainstream TV.

\”They are now being realistic, because broadband is not brilliant beyond Asia. And in most sophisticated TV markets, people are still watching broadcast TV. Amazon recognizes that if they are seeking to launch devices that dominate in TV, they have to reflect the way most people watch at the moment. This can be a broadcast-friendly STB.\”

Amazon also featured in Walley's CES 2021 highlights among the OS (operating system) providers to watch in the smart TV space. The organization already has handles TV makers: Fire TV Edition smart TVs made by Toshiba and sold by the retailer Best Buy started shipping in June 2021, to give an example. Developers can publish an app for that Amazon Appstore and Fire TV to have their apps and games onto these televisions (plus they can harness Alexa). Walley was impressed by the Toshiba smart TVs he saw running the Amazon OS, including their programme guides.

Roku can also be busily porting its operating-system beyond its very own devices and into tv sets. \”A few of the big Chinese manufacturers go with Roku as their OS,\” Walley observed. Indeed, Roku used CES 2021 to announce new models with Roku TV onboard from TCL and Hisense, among others.

Nigel Walley thinks the smart TV OS market will settle around several big players. Samsung and LG will continue with their proprietary solutions. \”Their operating systems used to be pretty poor, but they took a leaf out of the Netflix book [of UI development] and today they're pretty good the very first time.\” Almost no other Television set makers will build or maintain their very own OS, he reckons.

Amazon will succeed, \”as they need every screen in your home running on their own OS\”. The rest of the TV manufacturer market will use Android TV (that will sweep in the mid-level and smaller TV manufacturer brands), Walley predicts. \”Android is just about the default OS for many smart TVs that don't fall under among the other camps.”

The Videonet webcast, 'Post-CES 2021 Roundup: The Good, the Bad and also the Ugly' also covered how Smart TV makers could make money from advertising, new screen technology and notably 8k, television home furnishing (particularly, the roll-up television screen from LG) and voice technology generally. The webcast is free of charge to hear, and available on-demand now.