LG has announced that it will license its webOS TV software for use by other TV manufacturers. That will put webOS in direct competition with other platforms used by TV brands, such as alternatives from Roku, Amazon and Google.
LG says “more than 20 TV manufacturers have committed themselves to the webOS partnership,” citing RCA, Ayonz and Konka as examples, sending the operating system to their TVs, giving them access to voice control features, LG’s AI algorithms, and a fairly robust library of already built streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube or Disney+.
For smaller manufacturers, this is more cost-effective than developing these features in-house or lobbying companies like Netflix or Disney to support new platforms.
At the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January, LG announced webOS 6, a major interface overhaul that uses a design language more similar to what’s found in most other TV operating systems. However, licensees of webOS will be limited to an earlier version of webOS, which has the old interface for now.
In addition to any licensing costs, LG will be able to use this larger install base to take advantage of a more robust ad network and greater collection of user data. The company will also put LG Channels content on more TVs. Furthermore, LG has bigger ambitions for webOS than just TVs, so this move supports the company’s efforts to make webOS more ubiquitous as the software expands to cars, home appliances and other products.
Users may forgo the ads and data collection, but there’s one benefit to them: a larger webOS install base will likely lead to more frequently updated, higher-quality apps from content companies.
As is customary, this announcement came with a published statement from a prominent company president – in this case LG Home Entertainment President Park Hyoung-sei, who said:
The webOS platform is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to access millions of hours of movies and TV shows… By welcoming other manufacturers to join the webOS TV ecosystem, we’re hitting a new way in allowing many new TV owners to experience the same great UX and features available on LG TVs. We look forward to bringing these new customers into the incredible world of webOS TV.
webOS for TVs as we know it today dates back to 2014, and reviewers and users have admittedly reacted well to it for being one of the more enjoyable TV operating systems to use. Part of the ease of use comes from the Wii Remote-esque magic remote that comes with LG TVs; LG’s press release states that partners who have a webOS license will provide TVs with similar remotes.
LG released an open source version of webOS earlier in 2018, and Samsung announced plans to make its Tizen TV operating system available for licensing by other TV manufacturers in 2019. But a year and a half later, we haven’t heard anything more concrete about the latter.
List image by LG