Skype debuts for Panasonic and Samsung TVs
On Tuesday, CNET reports, Panasonic activated Skype VoIP telephone service for 2010 VieraCast-enabled plasma TVs. That includes sets in Panasonic's VT25, VT20, G25 and G20 series. Phone calls are free to other Skype users, and a few cents each to traditional land lines. However, you do need to buy a Panasonic Skype camera, which costs $170. Samsung had previously rolled out Skype for its UN8000 and UN7000 series LCD TVs. LG is expected to follow suit and offer Skype on certain web-enabled HDTVs sometime this year.
Speaking of apps...
The explosive growth of mobile phone apps is not exactly news, but indications are that apps for TVs are poised for an explosion of their own. According to an article at CEPro, market researcher GigaOm reports that by 2015, 6 of 10 new televisions will have Internet connectivity, and that 70 percent of those will have access to some type of app store. As a result, the 3.7 million TV apps expected to be downloaded this year could mushroom to almost a billion by mid-decade.
Like cell phones, TV apps are expected to be available for almost any conceivable task, though most will be focused on watching online video, playing games, and communications. GigaOm's research goes on to say that the majority of TV apps -- around 75 percent -- are expected to be free.
A number of TV makers are already on the app bandwagon. Many use third-party platforms such Yahoo! Widgets or Vudu, which debuted its Vudu Apps service at last January's Consumer Electronics Show. Some manufacturers, such as Vizio with its Via Apps and Samsung with its Samsung Apps store scheduled to open in July, are developing their own app platforms as well. In announcing its TV app store last January, Samsung said that its goal was to develop apps that would work in the same way across all of the different products it offers, including TVs, Blu-ray players and cell phones.