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The TV Is Where Failed Mobile Operating Systems Go to Thrive

The TV is a software black hole.


To look at the tech industry from afar, you’d think it’s an unforgiving, bruising competition where only the consistently successful companies and products survive. That’s broadly true, but there’s one safety net, one little gift from the smirking tech gods, that keeps giving solace to failed software projects: The TV.

When a mobile operating system fails, it doesn’t disappear, it’s just converted into a TV operating system. Palm’s webOS didn’t make it in the mobile realm, but it lives on today through LG’s flagship TV series. Samsung’s current OS for televisions is Tizen, which is the culmination of a long line of mobile failures, starting with Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin, which merged into MeeGo, only to merge again with Samsung’s unsuccessful Bada. And this week at CES, Panasonic announced a new range of Firefox OS-powered UHD TVs. This comes a month after Mozilla killed off the Firefox phone.

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