Jim Barthold at Fierce Cable recently ran a two-part story on what cable executives think about the set-top today and its role in the future. I’ve included select excerpts here, including a quote from David Grubb, CTO of the Motorola Home business. Link through to the full article if you have time to hear more cable execs weigh in. And if you want more context, check out the interview I conducted with Motorola SVP John Burke earlier this year on The Set-Top – Past, Present, & Future.
“The most exciting products we’re working on that allow you to have tremendous functionality right on the TV do have set-top boxes involved with them,” said Brian Roberts, chairman-CEO of Comcast. “Some customers will not want that and will want a different model so we’re working all across that landscape.”
“It’s not clear that consumers want to buy set-top boxes,” said David Grubb, CTO of the Motorola Home business unit. “There are a lot of advantages to getting the set-top box from whoever your service provider is.”
Among those advantages is the so-called evergreen effect. When things change, cable is supposed to be there with new equipment to meet the change and move subscribers to the next level. If that means replacing in-home equipment, purportedly that’s what the cable operator does-whether or not that equipment has outlived its natural life.
“The focus in the near term for us and the cable industry is looking at a set-top device that improves the user interface (and) that allows the significant amount of opportunity we have today,” said Mike Lovett, president-CEO of Charter Communications.
What’s not often noticed about the set-top–except by manufacturers who spend all their time trying to differentiate what are essentially similar products–is that the boxes have morphed from channel changers to security devices to integral parts of the overall home entertainment experience…
…set-tops are being asked to do more than ever before: store and regurgitate content on-demand from either the network cloud or built-in hard drives; display interactive user guides; switch channels quickly (and that’s no small feat); and, of course, keep the signal safe from any number of devices that could be used to steal it.