Christian Koch


Dumb Apps and Smart TVs

Sun January 19, 2014

Justin Sherrill, on his blog, points to an article by Jean-Louis Gassée about he calls the “basket of remotes problem”.

Gassée is referring to how the internet of things (IoT) concept has a really long way to go to be useful in the consumer product space. He highlights how much easier it is to have one remote for every device in the house (the “basket”), which goes completely against the vision of a household of interoperable devices.

The most salient idea I took away from his post is the notion of dumb apps inside “smart” TVs:

Why don't Consumer Electronics manufacturers provide machine
self-description and two-way communication? One possible answer is that
they're engaged in a cost-cutting race to the bottom and thus have no
incentive to build more intelligence into their devices. If so, why
build unbearably dumb apps in their Smart TVs? (Korean LG Electronics
even dug up WebOS for integration into its latest TVs.)

This is so true. I want a device which displays analog and/or digital video signals, period. I don’t want any bells or whistles whatsoever. Why is this so difficult to come by? The television has become a software platform, but it shouldn’t! It should be the dumbest device in the house. I can’t stand how featureful television sets are. These apps are most certainly dumb. I have never encountered a software feature in a modern television set that I actually wanted, let alone liked. It’s all bloat and feature creep to me.

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