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Samsung working on a joint TV, phone platform

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Samsung is developing a unified operating system that will power both its cellphones and HDTVs. The move is intended to broaden the company’s appeal to developers. As most things are these days, it’s all about the apps.

“We have a plan to have a single platform for Samsung TV and phones,” Kyungsik Kevin Lee, vice president at Samsung’s Visual Display Division, told Reuters. Lee is not sure when the platform will launch.

Samsung’s rivals LG and Sony are the only other hardware manufacturers in both the smartphone and television markets, but neither have announced similar plans. Sony recently unveiled a new line of televisions running Google TV, which is based on the Android smartphone platform. LG has also shown a willingness to work with Google. It has released Android handsets and is working on an Android tablet as well.

Closed platform

Samsung has not announced plans to open its platform to other hardware manufacturers. Instead, like Apple, it is choosing to tightly couple its proprietary software and hardware together. Such a move could work to its advantage, but could also backfire as it’s more difficult to woo developers to a platform that only serves a small fragment of the market.

“There is a small number of companies positioned to do this, of course, and all have holes in their stories, whether geographically, in product terms, or in terms of engaging developer communities,” said analyst John Jackson, CCS Insight. “The strategic premise is that by doing this you can position yourself to participate in the revenue streams generated by the services that run on your platform.”

Lee expects smart television sales to exceed 5 million units this year and double in 2011.