Not working apps on smart TVs is a problem of app-makers

The Consumers’ Association steps to TV makers to draw attention to a common problem, namely that there are a number of apps that are no longer working on smart TVs from three to five years old. This mainly concerns Samsung TVs, simply because they have the largest market share Europe, but owners of Philips, Sony and LG TVs have also complained. In total, since the establishment of the hotline ” apps on smart TVs have had to continue working ‘about 300 reports have been received about no longer functioning apps.

It is easy to approach the television makers, but it is striking that the Consumers’ Association has indicated that the lion’s share of the complaints is about the NPO app. That is not surprising: the NPO decided last year not to support all TVs from before 2014, so it is true that a TV of five years old (2013) the app can not run anymore. Then it is not very surprising that those TVs can not run the app anymore, but how exactly is that the fault of Samsung and the rest of the TV manufacturers? The NPO made that decision, no one else. At the NPO, no one was available for comment on this issue.

A smart TV is just a computer

It is easy to point to the television makers, but then your finger is in the wrong direction. Television makers can not help but equip their smart TVs with an acceptable chip in them, which is in any case capable of running the apps of that moment . After that, it is up to the software makers to ensure that those legacy ‘legacy’ devices are also supported in new versions of the app, or in any case to ensure that a version remains available for older TVs that do not have any new features support.

Smart TVs are nothing more than stupid screens with a mini computer running software. The providers of that software have a hefty task to support all those different versions of TVs and can therefore choose to exclude certain models – because they do not meet certain standards – from new versions of that software.

However, it should not be an excuse to write bad software and to shift the problems that this brings with older, slower TV’s to its makers. They can hardly do anything about that. The hardware is fixed when a TV is sold. The software can also make an older device better, as Apple has proven with iOS 12 .

Enforcement of guarantees is impossible

The Consumentenbond wants the television makers to take measures by requiring that apps on smart TVs continue to work for at least six years. That, however, ignores the market. In six years there is a huge change in the app market, especially when it comes to video. In doing so, Samsung would then have to conclude a contract with the NPO (to keep that example), in which both parties commit to having the app work. Then the TV makers must subsidize the updates of the app while the (often paid) apps withdraw money for the provider.

There is a reason that Netflix works on almost every device, even if it is older: Netflix, as a provider of a commercial app, tries to keep it on as many TV’s as possible. work, because the more possibilities, the more they can earn. That the providers of free apps cut much faster in what they support and what is not pure market operation. If there is really a structural problem in the underlying software of smart TVs that makes it impossible to deal with any updates of apps, it is of course a different story, but that does not seem to be the case now. Smart TVs are running at the back on various shared platforms which they make as a target group comparable to platforms like Android and iOS. Then it is up to app developers to keep up.

The Consumers’ Association does a good job of protecting us against practices that are not in order, but in this case the organization does not seem to have understood what to ask for. If the smart TV world is helped with something, it is a general app ecosystem where every manufacturer must always move within. That would already remove a lot of red tape on both sides and therefore be good for consumers. If we really want to solve the problems, manufacturers have to make the ultimate sacrifice and make the smart part of their TV modular, so that an even working screen with new smart hardware can get an update.