‘Manufacturers must guarantee that apps on smart TVs continue to work’

The Consumers’ Association wants manufacturers to “take responsibility for apps they install on their smart TVs.” Manufacturers shift the responsibility for ‘third-party apps’ to the creators of these apps.

The Consumers’ Association survey shows that apps have become an important part of smart TV. The applications are used by many of the eight thousand respondents in the survey. More than half of the respondents own a smart TV. Of the people under the age of 35, 30 percent use an app on the TV every day, and among people over the age of 55, a quarter use an app at least once a week.

According to the association, the importance of apps on a TV is increasing. Consumers are increasingly paying attention to the presence of apps when purchasing a new smart TV. The survey shows that 60 percent of respondents want a Netflix app on their TV. After Netflix, the top five apps people pay attention to consists of: Spotify with 47 percent, NOS and YouTube both with 42 percent, and NPO with 41 percent.

Because the importance of apps has become so great, consumers increasingly value that they continue to work. Three quarters of the respondents therefore believe that apps should continue to work as long as the TV itself.

The research also shows that for nine percent of the respondents, apps suddenly no longer work or have disappeared from the TV. At the beginning of 2015, for example, RTL XL disappeared from all Philips TVs that still use the old NetTV platform.

The union believes that a consumer should be able to expect that apps cannot ‘just disappear any moment’, especially because apps are such an important reason to purchase certain TVs. The Consumers’ Association received mainly evasive answers in a response from the five major television producers. LG says never to remove pre-installed apps, but then they shouldn’t be from third parties, such as the YouTube and Netflix apps. If LG’s own apps are nevertheless removed, LG will compensate users who have suffered any damage.

Panasonic holds app makers responsible for the operation of apps and updates. The company therefore blames no longer functioning apps. Philips has to deal with the switch from platform, which means that TVs with their own NetTV have less well-functioning apps. Philips now uses Android TV and has not responded to questions from the union about Philips’ policy on older TVs.

Samsung only gives a general comment without going into specific apps. According to the association, Sony is the ‘most clear’. The Japanese electronics giant itself says on its website that software and network services can be changed, interrupted or terminated at any time. Despite the fact that Sony would prefer to see apps never removed, this company also places the responsibility with app makers.

It is obvious that TV manufacturers hold developers accountable. It would be difficult for TV manufacturers to continue to support apps, as the Consumers’ Association wants, if, for example, YouTube or Netflix no longer do so, because the service no longer supports a certain video format.