There are a whole lot of reasons why set-tops haven’t shared an operating platform with other computing devices before now: content security, differences in delivery architectures, feature/function priorities, etc. However, both computing hardware and delivery networks are converging. A set-top has more in common with a PC today, and there is a gradual shift toward IP – or at least hybrid IP delivery – taking place across the TV industry.
Which brings us to software. Is it time for set-tops and other devices to start speaking in the same language? There was a lot of buzz today about Google collaborating with Dish Networks, and the possibility of bringing Android to set-tops. It’s not the first time we’ve heard Android excitement in the TV sphere. Last year there was a hubbub when people believed Motorola had an Android-based set-top in the works. It wasn’t true, but CEO Sanjay Jha acknowledged just recently that that could be a reality in the future. Or there could be a different common OS. Regardless, convergence in software seems as inevitable as convergence elsewhere – at least convergence in the underlying layer upon which software is built. It’s called middleware in the TV industry today. Perhaps operating system really is a more appropriate term now.