Samsung hopes it can entice developers to create apps that can connect televisions, phones, tablets and laptops. For the second year in a row, Samsung is hosting what it calls the Free the TV Challenge.
The challenge tasks app developers to create applications and solutions using the Samsung TV App SDK. Last year, the focus was on getting third-party app content for the company’s line of Smart TV and Blu-ray players. This year, the company wants developers to focus on creating “converged apps”: Ones that will offer interaction between a Samsung Smart TV and at least one other screen, like a phone or tablet.
Samsung is asking developers to look into three categories:
- Controller Apps – Ones that let a phone, tablet or PC control an app running on a TV.
- Companion Apps – Think second screen apps, with a focus on synchronized, supplemented content.
- Interactive Apps — Apps that let the user use a device as a secondary display. That means you could start using an app on one device and pick up where you left off on another gadget.
The winning developer will get $100,000, plus a 65″ LED TV and a Galaxy Tab 10.1. The winning app will also be featured in the “Recommended” section of the Samsung Apps store for two months. Second and third place winners will receive $75,000 and $50,000 respectively, plus a 55″ TV and a Galaxy Tab 10.1. The contest is open until November 29, 2011 at 5:00pm EST. Judging will take place between December 2 and December 16, 2011. The winners will be announced on January 13, 2012, and Samsung’s website has a complete list of rules and eligibility requirements.
MOVL, the startup that won first place in the 2010 Free the TV Challenge, is making its MOVL Connect Platform available to developers free of charge during the contest period.
It makes sense that Samsung is asking developers to innovate and build cross-device applications. Connected devices are more common than not, and we access content in increasingly fluid ways. That said, we do wonder how much utility developers will be able to provide within the context of the Samsung TV SDK. And we hope devs will be able to incorporate technologies such as DLNA, which are supported by devices other than just Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players, when building their apps.
The only real problem we see in the burgeoning connected app space is the high level of fragmentation. Almost every TV vendor has its own platform, and those platforms are often incompatible with one another. So developers have to build apps for multiple TV makers, not to mention set-top boxes like the Boxee Box, Roku and Google TV. We would really like to see TV makers align on some sort of base platform for connected applications.
What do you think of companies sponsoring developer contests to enhance their product ecosystems? Let us know in the comments.