Posted on October 20, 2010 by Mari Silbey
Motorola’s been showing off a reference UI for the TV since The Cable Show back in May. The demo got a few updates at IBC last month, and now at SCTE it’s gone through another upgrade. The goal here is to show what’s possible when you shift to HTML to design a program guide. Suddenly there are a lot more options, both visually and functionally. Note the widget-like boxes you can use to drill down through different features: a recommendation engine, new content highlights, and content categories, to name a few. It’s also a lot easier to port the whole experience to multiple screens when the guide is HTML-based. Here’s a mobile version.
Finally, it’s worth noting that in this demo Motorola is using its SecureMedia technology to protect the TV content being accessed on different devices. We’re talking software-based security. A little different from the CableCARD approach.
Filed under: Cable, DRM, HDTV, IP, Mobile device, TV, Video | 2 Comments »
Posted on September 27, 2007 by Mari Silbey
The recent acquisition of Sling by Echostar certainly suggests that the big guys in the biz value a little technology called place-shifting, and that the little guys still need big pockets to move their technology forward. So with the place-shifting market starting to mature, here’s a look at what has and hasn’t already been accomplished.
On the rights management side of things, content producers and distribution networks have worked out a series of tentative solutions. Television networks are starting to embrace online delivery (TV wherever you can get an Internet connection), but they vary widely in what shows they make available, as well as where you can access them, and whether they’re free or for purchase. Meanwhile, Motorola’s work with Verizon has satisfied the guardians of copyright in terms of in-home video networking with the Home Media DVR service. Analysts have called the service a breakthrough and a change agent, a feature that will spark other providers to offer similar functionality. (Sorry for the horn tooting)
The bandwidth required by place-shifting and TV viewing over the Internet has yet to create the storm of debate that is sure to come. As Google itself has said, the Internet is not ready for TV. And yet TV is coming to the Internet – streamed, syndicated and slung – so operators are trying to figure out how to support it. Will adoption move slowly enough to keep a bandwidth crunch at bay?
Finally, there’s the format war. No, I’m not talking about HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray, I’m talking about making video available in HD vs. SD, formatting for large displays vs. mobile screens, delivering analog vs. digital. In how many formats should operators reasonably store and deliver their shows? Will there be a master receiver/transcoder at some point so that any format will work no matter how or where you’re watching TV?
Now that place-shifting has gone past its infancy, it will be interesting to watch the move into late childhood and adolescence. The evolution will likely be less about shiny new toys, and more about making place-shifting work as a sustainable, revenue-generating business.
Filed under: Bandwidth, DRM, DVR, HDTV, Internet, TV, Verizon, Video | 2 Comments »
Posted on September 4, 2007 by Mari Silbey
Video streaming is great for YouTube, but fairly lousy for traditional TV and movie entertainment. (Buffering, re-buffering…) So why are the major TV networks determined to stream everything on their websites? Deborah McAdams over at FierceIPTV makes a good point by saying that interference with over-the-air TV is exactly what led to the birth of cable television. In other words, it’s not something consumers will tolerate when there’s another option available. (Let’s not get into how the network operators feel mass video streaming…)
Back to the question: why not switch to downloads? For the most part the answer is content protection. Gazillions of video download services have entered the market, but none of them have taken off precisely because of the content protection issue. Even when you purchase a video download (versus rent) you’re limited in where and how you can watch it. It would be one thing if you could burn the content to DVD, but that’s nearly impossible without some hacking know-how.
A better question: will the industry figure out content protection first or will networks improve to support better Internet streaming (and large volumes) of high-quality video? I’d bet on the former, but given the music industry’s track record, maybe I’m being overly optimistic. In the meantime, the market won’t falter for lack of companies trying to hit on the best solution. And when the content is compelling enough, at least a few consumers will flock to whatever distribution method is available.
*Note: Last100 has a great roundup of eleven video download services, though I think the post should have given a nod to cable/satellite/telco VOD.
Filed under: Cable, DRM, TV, Video | 4 Comments »
Posted on August 27, 2007 by Mari Silbey
Ages ago I drafted a paper on DRM transcoding with the help of some of Motorola’s top experts on the subject. The basic premise of the paper is that transcoding is critical to breaking down the barriers that prevent consumers from moving content across devices and networks. Voila: seamless mobility.
Of course, DRM barriers have been erected for a reason, namely profit protection. But Motorola’s Dragan Boscovic listed a great counterexample to the trend of increasing content lock-down: text messaging. While wireless carriers initially confined text messaging to their own networks, they finally decided it was better to advance the user experience than to try to hold on to customers with an increasingly undifferentiated application.
Today, Om Malik and Andy Abramson (and Paul Ruppert and to some extent Mark Evans) are also discussing text messaging, and specifically the joy of SMS interoperability. My hope is that operators (broadband and wireless alike) will take the SMS example and apply it elsewhere. As video telephony grows, will operators concede to let us access the service on any capable device and any network? What about video purchased and stored in the home? Will operators (and hardware manufacturers and content providers in this case) allow us to move it around on something other than an iPod?
Filed under: DRM, Mobile device, Networks, Video | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 18, 2007 by Mari Silbey
Earnings are definitely a touchy subject for a corporate blog (anything financial is), so I decided just to cut and paste the relevant info from the official earnings release. The Connected Home Solutions group hit some impressive milestones this quarter including nearly 5 million digital devices shipped and over a million DVRs.
Connected Home Solutions segment sales were $1.0 billion, up 42 percent compared with the year-ago quarter. Excluding highlighted items, operating earnings were $113 million, compared with operating earnings of $47 million in the year-ago quarter. Operating margin, excluding highlighted items, was 10.9 percent compared to 6.4 percent in the year-ago quarter.
During the quarter, Connected Home Solutions:
- Achieved double-digit growth in sales and operating margin
- Set a quarterly record with 4.9 million digital entertainment device shipments, including shipments of 1.1 million digital video recorders
- Shipped the company’s one millionth IPTV set top
- Reached the 500,000 video stream milestone, shipping to service providers worldwide
- Completed the acquisitions of Netopia and Tut Systems
- Following the close of the quarter, began shipping digital cable set-tops that support FCC-mandated separable security
Filed under: DRM, IPTV, Motorola News | 3 Comments »