Samsung introduced its newest Smart TVs, which interact seamlessly with tablets and smartphones. Apple was the unspoken elephant in the room.
NEW YORK—Samsung was back in the city March 20 to introduce its sixth generation of smart TVs, just a week after its high-production rollout of its highly anticipated Galaxy S 4 smartphone.
If it felt natural at the first event to make comparisons to Apple and the iPhone 5, Apple was no less front-of-mind at the second. Samsung's best-matched competitor is expected to introduce a television later this year, though for the time being, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said little more than that televisions are "an area of intense interest."
Cook added, during a December interview with NBC News' Brian Williams, that when he turns on his television he feels as though he has "gone backward in time by 20 to 30 years."
Cook may have felt differently on Wall Street March 20.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who talked football, supermodel Kate Upton, who insisted she was a big football fan, and hip-hop artist Flo Rida helped Samsung executives show off a redesigned Smart Hub with five dynamic menu panels and a Smart Interaction feature that enables users to control Samsung's newest TVs with their voices or simple hand gestures.
Joe Stinziano, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics America, said that the television industry was undergoing major changes, in both content and technology.
After reminding attendees that Samsung first launched its apps store for TVs in January 2010, he added that Samsung wasn't taking its "leadership position for granted" but was pushing "technology to the edge and giving people what they really what."
What they want, he said, is simplicity, and so Samsung had redesigned its interface, and also developed S-Recommendation, a service with video-on-demand (VOD) capabilities that helps prevent users from aimlessly channel surfing. It can recommend programs it thinks a user will like, based on viewing habits, or a user can tell it something like, "Show me all the comedies on at 8:00."
Stinziano also said that more than 70 percent of smart TV owners user their tablets while watching TV, so Samsung has made it "easier than ever to use convergence solutions." Users can now share more content "seamlessly" across devices, whether a tablet, a laptop or a smartphone.