Panasonic joins Smart TV Alliance; new SDK to launch this week

The group hopes to establish a common platform for building smart TV applications, but it faces some competition

Panasonic has joined the Smart TV Alliance, a project started by LG last year to create a common platform for developing connected TV applications.

The idea is to create some standards that will allow developers write on-screen applications that can work across a variety of TVs, instead of needing to write separately for each manufacturer.

LG began the effort last summer with TP Vision, which makes Philips-branded TVs in Europe. It later added Toshiba, Qualcomm and MStar, among others. Panasonic becomes perhaps the biggest name in TVs on its roster. IBM also joined this week.

The Alliance says its goal is to create a "non-proprietary ecosystem for application developers to create attractive, platform-independent services." It's also due to release a new version of its software development kit at a press event Wednesday at the International CES in Las Vegas, it said in a statement.

The new SDK will include updated digital rights management technologies, allowing apps to access a wider variety of content, and MPEG-DASH support, which should give smoother audio and video playback. It also supports updated HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript specifications.

The smart TV market is still an emerging one, with plenty of actors and a cross-cross of alliances. Samsung offers its own development kit, which is also due for a refresh at CES this week, and Yahoo, Google and Intel have also pursued connected TV efforts.

Intel reportedly has plans to introduce its own TV service and set-top box, but the company is struggling to build content partnerships, according to a Wall Street Journal report last week. It's now expected to launch the offering mid-year, a source told the paper.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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