Monday was Press Day at CES: the day that most companies spend setting up their booths and the big boys corral the press at a hotel miles away from the show floors. Press Day is when companies like Samsung, LG and Sony sum up their successes, bury their mistakes, and set their agendas for the year ahead.
Wearables, for companies like that, are barely rounding error. As sexy as it is to talk about wearables, it’s vastly more important to talk about washing machines and ovens. The true audience, remember, are retailers, who make a lot of money on washing machines and TVs.
TVs are huge, both physically and in importance, and everyone is rushing to “smart TVs” that bypass settop boxes and connect directly to streaming services like Netflix. But while most smart TVs have in past years run some variant of Android, 2015 is the year that Android goes away in your TV. LG’s sets will run WebOS 2.0. Samsung’s will run Tizen, a Linux variant.
(Update: On Tuesday, Sharp, Sony and Philips all announced Android in their own smart TVs. But Sony doesn’t have much of a smart home profile, and Sharp’s isn’t much bigger. Who knows what Philips is up to — probably not even Philips. It still seems as though smart hub players are doing more than looking hard at Android. Or they’re looking hard and not liking what they see.)
And here’s the thing: smart TVs are increasingly part of the growing trend of connected homes. Connected homes rely at least partly on smartphones and wearables. LG and Samsung sell smartphones and wearables; the phones run Android, as do most of the wearables. At least, today they do.
We can’t help but wonder. If a smart TV sits at the hub of the connected home, and those TVs are ditching Android, what’s keeping those leading smartband makers from leveraging the development skills and adopting the same non-Android OS as their hub? Have LG and Samsung just lit the fuse on Android?