Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Decoupling Technology

In most TV companies technology has been an ingrained part of what they do.

This has resulted in wide incompatibilities and lots and lots of replicated development work across various cable, satellite and terrestrial providers.

It also makes it very difficult for non-mainstream companies to break into the marketplace since they have to deal with a huge range of integration and compatibility issues.

But the world of TV2.0 demands that technology becomes cheaper, more nimble and more interchangeable.

But even now there is a reluctance to 'open up'. Project canvas has been widely criticised for its secrecy and the arguments over the H.264 codec have severely hampered its adoption.

Even something as simple as programme and EPG information is difficult to procure.

But consumer frustration usually leads to standardisation, and television will, inevitably, be dragged in this direction.

There are thousands of wanabee companies out there who want a piece of the broadcast market. Some, like Cisco, have bought and invested their way into the market; others, like Boxee, are trying to disrupt the market.

The reality is that you can now happily run a broadcast TV station out of a browser, selecting and scheduling content and controlling playout and advertising. But I suspect that the real battleground will be in integrating DVB and IP services seamlessly in domestic devices.

Companies like Sky and the BBC have gained market advantage through clever use of technology (Sky + and the iPlayer), so the decoupling of technology and broadcasting might be premature at the moment, but I still think that it's on the horizon.