Sunnyvale, California -- Yahoo is doing what it can to continue to promote its brand in solutions that present strong opportunities in the overall market. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based internet portal is expanding its Connected TV program so that developers can build fee-based widgets for television sets that use the Yahoo application platform.
Yahoo has announced that, starting in March 2011, it would authorize software developers to sell applications for Internet-connected TVs using its Yahoo Connected TV platform, the company announced Thursday.
"We are adding a very tangible monetization feature to the Connected TV platform that did not exist before by giving developers and publishers the opportunity to create paid widgets," said Yahoo! marketing executive Russ Schafer, in a statement.
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Yahoo said it will demonstrate the Yahoo Connected TV Store at CES in January 2011 and hopes to have it up and running by March. The applications available for Connected TV sets are already given away for free. The programs themselves generate money from users through transactions such as subscriptions or charging for video downloads.
Yahoo began inviting developers to submit applications for the Connected TV store. Yahoo will be operating the Connected TV Store much like other applications stores for Internet-enabled devices, and Yahoo will pocket 30 percent of the money from each sale. Yahoo will support widget pricing from as low as $0.99 all the way up to $99. Widgets will be able to produce revenue for developers through direct sales, paid subscriptions, and by charging for downloads.
Applications that will be lined-up for sale via a new Yahoo Connected TV Store, will be accessible from Internet-enabled televisions from a variety of makers, including Sony, LG, Samsung, Toshiba, and Vizio.
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"I think it will open up the world for a lot of other applications," Schafer said. "Categories that make sense include games; they are easy to use and take advantage of those big, beautiful screens."
Sure enough, casual games would seem to be a natural fit for Yahoo's Connected TV platform, but the company says it is already testing a number of paid applications in other areas, including online video tutorials for subjects like algebra and physics, high-end screensavers, enhanced weather information, and home movie sharing.
There is a continuous demand within the industry that television viewers want to easily link to websites such as Facebook without having the entire Web rammed into TV sets. Yahoo and Samsung both believe this to be true and are grabbing up subsequent opportunities. The two will work together to sell Yahoo! Connected TV sets in more than 26 countries in Europe.
With this launch, the total number of countries catered by Samsung with television sets embedded with Yahoo software widgets will reach 39. All brand names hope to capitalize on the promised opportunities in this space.
For now, the paid TV widget program is available to developers and publisher in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, Spain, Sweden, France, and Australia, although Yahoo said it plans to expand the opportunity to other countries. Participating developers include game companies Accedo Broadband and PlayJam, weather information provider MyCast Weather and MediaFly, with its video upload and sharing widget Kadoo.
At this week's Web 2.0 Summit, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz professed that while her company is satisfied with what it has in place with its Connected TV platform, it is paying attention to the market developments and may adjust its technology approach.
"I love what that [Connected TV] widget team did and I also loved that business development was hand in hand with them and went to the Sonys, and Panasonics and Toshibas and so on and so forth," she said.
But with major companies like Apple and Google jumping in on the field, change is in the air, she said. "One of the things we are looking at is whether just having an API layer is good enough or whether we should think of a different way to work than the widget way," she said.
Nevertheless, Yahoo is aggressively busy to build on its strategy and at the same time, Google is bringing its own offerings with Logitech and Sony televisions. These devices will merge broadcast, cable, and online content. Apple will soon be on the scene with second-generation Apple TV.
"So we are continuing to push that. We have got a great, small, young, aggressive team on this, but it could change -- I do not know -- because the landscape is changing," she said.