There may be some consumer electronics markets more crowded than interactive TV. It is just hard to identify what they are since the crossroads of the Web and the big home screen have become extremely competitive. Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Samsung will not let the traffic jam deter them. The two have announced a strategic alliance that they hope will make them a presence in the emerging but potentially huge sector.
The portal and electronics companies announced:
[A]n expanded multi-year partnership to integrate Yahoo!’s Broadcast Interactivity platform into Samsung 2012 Smart TVs. Yahoo! Broadcast Interactivity, powered by its automatic content recognition (ACR) technology, SoundPrintTM, will be deployed in Samsung’s SyncPlus platform, enabling new opportunities for intelligent content discovery, advertising and engagement, bringing an unprecedented level of interactivity in the living room.
With this agreement, Samsung Smart TV owners will receive real-time, actionable content that runs alongside and complements TV shows and commercials. TV viewers will see subtle, on-screen prompts informing them that additional content can be accessed. With the touch of a remote, connected tablet or phone, Samsung Smart TV viewers can easily surface content or offers related to the TV shows and commercials they are watching.
The model is not exactly like some fielded or about to be fielded efforts by industry giants such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), all the large cable TV companies, telecom fiber divisions and dozens of consumer electronic companies both large and small. But it is close.
As a matter of fact, the avalanche of Internet companies, content and electronic operations that have decided that interactive TV is the next revenue promised land is so large that it has begun to look like the smartphone sector. The count of competing companies is large. The number of winners is tiny. In the case of smartphones, only Apple and Samsung do really well. But at least a dozen other operations of substantial size believe they can do well enough in smartphones to make their efforts a large success. The history of the industry, and its present configuration, prove that their chances are zero.
Many highly competitive markets are won by companies that are in them early. And brand extensions are important. Apple is in most homes with its Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod. Amazon is at the center of consumer electronics marketing and sales. Cable companies have set-top boxes in tens of millions of home. Samsung and Yahoo! have almost none of those advantages.
Douglas A. McIntyre