CES 2013: Opera shows off new smart TV tools, discusses future plans

As our televisions become smarter and more connected, Norwegian browser company Opera has its sights set on being at the forefront of TV web integration. Opera has already managed to land its smart TV platform on such high-profile sets as Sony’s Bravia and similar offerings from Humax and TCL. But as it eyes expansion, the company hopes to capitalise on its position in the browser world, Tatsuki Tomita, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Opera, told ITProPortal at CES last week.

The Oslo-based firm, whose significant position in the smart television world has largely gone unnoticed, announced that it is updating its Opera Devices SDK and TV App Store to include more TV-optimised web options. The new TV store is home to more than 100 HTML 5 web apps, with some 200 more on the way, all built with TV compatibility in mind. That means a smoother, faster video experience, as well as support for YouTube Leanback.

It also offers a new Side-by-Side function that allows apps to be used alongside TV viewing; the second screen-premised feature encourages users to keep their focus on the program they’re watching, rather than having to split their attention between their television and their smartphone or tablet, Tomita said.

Tomita was also keen to show off the potential advertising uses of Side-by-Side, which he predicts could bring in more advertising revenue both for manufacturers and for broadcasters. “Opera has a fairly large advertising business,” he said, demonstrating the feature’s potential via an Adidas ad that brought up functions in the side panel as soon as the advert began playing.

“We are committed to bringing a connected TV experience,” he said, highlighting Opera’s willingness to offer integration for any technology or device capability that improves the user experience. The company is exploring development of integration of such technology trends as NFC, 4K, and 3D, all of which will be integrated as the market demands, Tomita said.

Opera is also planning to make a big mobile-related announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month. ITProPortal will be bringing you direct coverage of the event, so stay tuned for more details.