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Cisco Joins Race to Combine TV, Web Video

Discussion in 'Google TV General Discussion' started by sparkyscott21, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. sparkyscott21

    sparkyscott21 Moderator Staff Member

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    Networking Giant Will Unveil Initiative That Includes a Hybrid Set-Top Box

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    Cisco Systems Inc. is entering the race to combine Internet video and conventional television, people familiar with the matter said, aiming to help cable operators fend off emerging rivals like Apple Inc. and Google Inc.

    The networking giant is expected to unveil an effort Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that includes a set-top box combining elements of online video services with live, on-demand and recorded television programming, these people said.

    Consumers won't be able to buy the Cisco boxes directly, as they do other devices already available from companies like Roku Inc. and Apple, which allow users to access the Web from their TVs but don't offer a cable connection. Rather, Cisco will sell its hybrid boxes to cable operators who, in turn, will lease them to subscribers, the people said. Cable operators will be able to customize the software interface and decide on pricing for the boxes.

    A Cisco spokeswoman suggested the company's announcement Wednesday would go beyond new set-top boxes. "Our announcement is not [about] one thing," she said, but declined to elaborate.

    Cisco's hybrid box is designed to help cable operators, who are major customers, maintain their dominance in the living room against the growing field of competitors seeking to deliver premium video online and through Internet-connected TVs and other hardware.

    Cisco already produces set-top boxes that run on traditional cable technology as well as units that incorporate so-called Internet Protocol, or IP, technology. But while the IP set-top boxes Cisco currently sells to cable operators allow users to access some Web-based applications, they don't offer consumers broad access to online video.

    Last month The Wall Street Journal reported that cable giant Comcast Corp. was testing a set-top box in Augusta, Ga., that combined Internet video and cable TV. It couldn't be determined whether that device was made by Cisco or another manufacturer, such as Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., heir to Motorola Inc.'s set-top box business.

    "We are testing many technological approaches to understand how best to meet consumer interests, and this small trial is one of those experiments," a Comcast spokeswoman said in a statement in December.

    Cisco's foray comes as the San Jose, Calif., company—best known for selling the routers and switches that connect computers to the Internet and each other—tries to raise its profile among consumers, especially in the living room. In October Cisco announced a consumer version of its high-end video-conferencing system, dubbed umi, which plugs into high-definition TVs and broadband Internet connections.

    As in-home networks of Internet-enabled devices grow in number and complexity, competition to create the "master box" that controls those connections will be fierce, said Jordan Selburn, an analyst with research firm iSuppli Corp. "As you go forward, the stakes are huge" for companies like Cisco, Mr. Selburn added.

    It couldn't be learned which, if any, cable providers have agreed to distribute Cisco's new set-top box. Nor could it be learned which online-video services will be available through it or whether customers will be able to browse the Web freely with the device.

    Cisco's system will compete with existing devices from providers such as Roku, Boxee Inc., Apple and Logitech International SA that deliver online video to TVs but don't offer programming via cable technology. The Logitech Revue device, for instance, features a Web-TV service from Google called Google TV. But that service has faced challenges, including some negative reviews, and because major TV networks, including Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, CBS Corp.'s CBS, News Corp.'s Fox and General Electric Co.'s NBC, have blocked online episodes of their programs from playing on the service. Google executives have said the company has updated its Google TV software to address some of its early shortcomings and that special-purpose apps will be available for download later this year.

    IDC analyst Jonathan Gaw said Cisco has an advantage over such competitors because consumers would rather lease one device from their cable operator for Web video and cable programming than buy or lease devices from multiple vendors.

    "People would rather not buy a Google TV or a Roku or an Apple TV," Mr. Gaw said. "They would rather not have to pick up another remote control."

    Cisco's devices also will compete with a smaller number of set-top boxes that combine cable programming with some online video, such as systems from TiVo Inc. and Arris Group Inc., said Envisioneering Group analyst Richard Doherty, though he added that those companies have smaller distribution channels than Cisco. Cisco, Mr. Doherty said, is "making a play here for the early majority, not just the early adopters."

    By CARI TUNA
    JANUARY 5, 2011
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  2. aspaceace

    aspaceace New Member

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    Comcast owns a technology called "The Platform" which is a video Content Management system and is used for DRM and to publish video content. Cable companies like Rogers and TV stations like CBC use this system to encrypt/encode/publish TV shows on their sites for streaming and downloading.

    Cisco recently bought Extend Media which has a (better) competing technology called OpenCASE which does similar tasks for cable companies and TV stations

    I can only assume Comcast will be using their own technology for boxes they are testing...Which probably means there is another box coming out to compete with CISCO...One can only guess though...
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011

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