Monday, September 7, 2009

Like Apple, TV Explores Must-Have Applications

When it comes to the standard of consumer friendly devices, Apple stands atop the mountain and others simply try to catch up. They created the game changer for cellular phones and the question is, with convergence, can the same be done for cable TV. Its iPhone has enabled Apps that can remotely record a show via Tivo, find information on TV and movie programs, and more. Verizon Fios and Direct TV are trying to create an Apps type store for their respective cable service. And the traditional cable operators are even further behind. "But the companies are still wrestling with how open they want their systems to be to outside developers, what business arrangement to make with developers and what sorts of things people want to do while watching their TV from their couches."

Unfortunately, the cable boxes from SA and Motorolla aren't able to yet; whether that is their fault or the cable operators concerned that opening up the box to the web will affect security and other factors. "'The lowest end set-top box is the equivalent of a Mac II from 1991,' said Mr. Kotay of Comcast. Even recent models are hardly able to handle all the interactive tasks that developers have started to imagine, especially combining text, graphics and video from cable channels and the Internet. And the next generation will go further." But how slow can cable be to get into the game before others find away to simply go around them.

As new HDTVs come onto the market, they are being equipped with internet access. A consumer could begin to bypass their cable company and use broadband only for access to programming. That is what cable has to fear and timing is everything. Upgrade the cable box now, improve the remote control, enable interactivity with web and mobile, and make the product more user-friendly or risk watching us go elsewhere.

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