When Steve Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson that he finally “cracked the code” to building an integrated television set that is user-friendly and seamlessly syncs with all of your devices, Samsung Australia’s Director of Audiovisual Philip Newton told the Sydney Morning Herald that Jobs’ was talking about connectivity.

He laughed off the mythical iTV and dissed Jobs’ TV brain wave as “nothing new,” saying the future is now and it is his company’s Smart TVs:

When Steve Jobs talked about he’s ‘cracked it’, he’s talking about connectivity – so we’ve had that in the market already for 12 months, it’s nothing new, it was new for them because they didn’t play in the space. It’s old news as far as the traditional players are concerned and we have broadened that with things like voice control and touch control; the remote control for these TVs has a touch pad.

Samsung is promoting Smart TVs left and right at the CES show that is underway this week in Las Vegas. The company is showing off apps and games such as Angry Birds running smoothly on Smart TVs. Feature-wise, Samsung Smart TVs are beating Google TVs to the punch with capabilities such as voice interaction, facial recognition, integrated camera controls for multi-video conferencing and multitasking.

Sony, Panasonic and LG are also pushing integrated television sets built around the Smart TV platform. While not officially an exhibitor, Apple reportedly dispatched 250 employees to attend the show and monitor what competition is doing; among them is the head of iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak. Apple has been rumored for months to launch 32- and 37-inch television sets in the summer of 2012. Does Samsung see Apple as a threat?

Not at all, though that might be just a posture as Apple and Samsung are embroiled in a complicated web of copyright infringement lawsuits in courts the world over.

Do we see them as a threat, not specifically no … probably we’ll have some competitors that may suffer … but we see it as a great opportunity, the more big name brands that get involved in smart [TV] the better off we are as a brand because we know we can lead it.

Samsung is also drumming up excitement for Smart TVs on its Samsung Tomorrow blog, which today ran interactive info graphic highlighting how users can interact with a Smart TV “on a scale never before imagined.” As of October 2011, the company had surpassed 10 million app downloads and a thousand apps registered and available on the store. Apple, a self-proclaimed consumer electronics company, will have to expand its product portfolio sooner than later and sell products other than computers and mobile devices if it’s to keep growing and remain relevant ¾conventional wisdom has it.


Front-facing view of Samsung’s ES8000 LED TV.

That could be easier said than done—at least in the case of integrated television as cutthroat margins, established incumbents and diverse product portfolios make it all too difficult for newbie’s to effectively compete, especially on a large scale. Over at Tech Crunch, author John Biggs opined that Apple is at a huge disadvantage in terms of living room presence compared to Samsung, concluding that the Korean-based consumer electronics conglomerate is “the next Apple.” 

He summed up:

Samsung makes TVs. They make everything – the screen, the PCBs, and the case. Apple will be outsourcing their manufacture and they won’t be able to compete on price, especially when they’re buying panels from Samsung. Can Apple beat other CE manufacturers at this game? Sure. They’ve done similar things before. But Samsung and Sony and LG have plenty of time to sell TVs and at two a second, Apple will have quite a bit of catching up to do.

In the meantime, Samsung updated its television lineup yesterday with the newly announced Samsung ES8000 LED TV model that is coming “soon.” Pictured below, it sports a dual-core chip, slim bezel, U-shaped stand and screen sizes going all the way up to 75-inches. Samsung America President of Consumer Electronics Division Tim Baxter explained the benefit of multitasking on a big screen during a CES presentation:

Let’s say you are watching a movie on Netflix and want to check in on the hockey highlights, just toggle from Netflix to one of my favorite apps, NHL Game center, and come right back to the movie without having to quit the app and launch another app.

A pair of CES clips showing gesture interaction on a Samsung Smart TV and Angry Birds can be seen below.

This article was cross-posted at 9to5Google.

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