Yes, there is a gist to get, in fact several, from what Google, Intel, Sony and Logitech have up their sleeves, coming out of a New York Times Business Day piece published March 18.
First, there's a movement afoot to circulate television sets and set-top terminals with an open-source format among the masses. That is, lay down the structure to provide anyone with an interactive service worth viewing – from the latest Web site to the more than 100,000 iPhone and 30,000 Android phone applications, or someone unattached to anyone's radar screen – unhampered access to millions of TV households in one shot.
Verizon's FiOS TV is working on an open-source modification of its set-tops to realize this scenario. So is AT&T's U-verse, and a couple of independent companies demonstrating their prototype open models at the Consumer Electronics Show this past January.
Now we've got the Google/Intel/Sony/Logitech combo allegedly in this open source hunt. Must use that word, because the Times story contained no confirmations from the companies noted, and those companies haven't uttered a confirmation since. Still, I'll go with the Times story, because they would not have moved forward with a story this possibly huge if they didn't dig up quite credible information.
The basic story: this combo will bring forward TV sets and set-top boxes on the market, using Intel-supplied processors, as early as this summer. Both would showcase a wide variety of interactive applications, powered by Google's Android operating system and Chrome browser.
Again, the first gist to get here is that somebody, and soon, will ignite this open-source TV set/set-top playing field. The second is this: don't dismiss multi-channel distributors, cable or satellite, being shut out of this field. Here's why – Google has a relationship going with Dish Network for national ad sales, and reportedly has another with them to test other services. Also, Sony once made advanced set-top boxes for Cablevision Systems, one of the more progressive cable operators around, and Cablevision is preparing its PC-to-TV "media relay" trial this summer. Get a picture, as in bringing these two ventures together under the same roof?
Third gist: besides giving those 30,000-plus Android phone applications more media to play in, Google would distribute a software kit to other developers, and invite them to use their TV imaginations and fuel even more services. Maybe they would bring virtual worlds, global positioning and augmented reality services to our sets if no one else does.
And not least: Logitech may supply remotes with BlackBerry-like keyboards, the kind of remotes Vizio introduced last summer and TiVo will supply with its new Premiere DVR model this month. When millions of these remotes get distributed, it won't be long before someone tries to usher in an age of interactive shopping, banking and commerce on the nation.
What you can conclude from all this: there's no doubt that when this year is up, every TV set maker, and every cable/satellite/overbuild operator, will offer their customers an interactive service assortment, size and scope flexible from place to place. The Google/Intel/Sony/Logitech plan may accelerate that environment, and maybe, can be the platform which encourages the public to embrace it.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!
Simon Applebaum is host/producer of Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the Internet radio program covering the TV scene. The program runs live Mondays and Fridays at 3 p.m. Eastern time/noon, Pacific time on BlogTalk Radio (www.blogtalkradio.com). Recent Tomorrow episodes can be heard at www.blogtalkradio.com/simonapple04, and on podcast (details at www.sonibyte.com). Have a question or reaction? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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