Improving the TV experience with HbbTV

I had the chance to attend the HbbTV Symosium in Paris last December. Here are some interesting slides I collected.

HbbTV is now really on the launching ramp.

ProSieben channel in Germany reports 1.4M connections of unique TV set to its HbbTV service per month with a growth of 20%.

HbbTV usage

More intersting is the usage of HbbTV to improve the experience of impaired people.

Sign language assistance is available through HbbT for hearing-impaired

HbbTV hearing impaired

Improved contrast and font size are also available for visually impared people.

HbbTV visualy impaired

So HbbTV is not only introducing interactive advertizing as one often reduces it, but also improving the whole TV experience.

Advertisements

SmartTV Alliance getting momentum

The SmartTV or Connected TV is basically a TV set with added features:

  • Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) receiver
  • Internet connection capabilities
  • A processor, enough memory and OS to run a web browser
  • A SDK to develop compatible applications or services

SmartTV principle

Whereas IPTV covers today the same but the Internet part is provided through a set-top-box usually provided by the ISP.

SmartTV are still not featuring standardized OSes. The OS part is usually based on a Linux distribution customized by the manufacturer or the chipset vendor. Some Chinese manufacturers are starting to base their OS on customized Android.

The SmartTV Alliance led by LG, Toshiba and Philips is clearly a signal that manufacturers don’t want to give the keys of their TV ecosystem to Google, Microsoft or others. The Smart TV Alliance is set to release a common SDK to simplify the work of developers. An application based on this SDK will run without any change on all LG, Philips and Toshiba SmartTVs.

But will it be enough? Will manufacturers have enough time to strengthen their TV stronghold before the barbarians aka Google and Co try to take it by storm?

STB vs. Smart TV

With the arrival of SmartTV, triple-play ISPs are facing a huge challenge. The connectivity and interactivity coming through their Set-Top-Boxes is no longer a unique feature. Smart TV are now rich with interactive services. ISPs don’t like at all Smart TV as they are flooding their network with data and stealing their customer. What VoD service will the end user use? The one from its ISP or the one embedded in the TV set?

There are 2 tracks that ISP can follow:

  1. The first is to offer a 2-tiered service. Over the Top (OTT) services coming with SmartTV have no QoS whereas they guarantee the QoS of the services coming from their STB.
  2. The second track is to push further their STB experience with more features. It is the track followed by Free in France offering a STB featuring an Atom processor, a full browser, a remote control with an accelerometer, a blue ray player, etc. On the other hand TV set makers cannot compete as they cannot subsidize all these features. With these specs the STB is more like a smartphone capable of running games and advanced applications. E.g. the new Freebox revolution can run Asphalt 6 Adreline game (picture from last Aug.).

Free STB apps

By increasing its specs the STB is now eating in the console plate and some console like the Xbox is starting to feature interactive services. Frontiers between these product categories are blurring.
Some small ISPs are currently considering another route. As very soon, TV sets will be able to display multicast streams for the additional TV channels, they want to withdraw back. Their plan is to save some CAPEX in not offering any STB at all. They are just assuming their pipe positioning.

2011 trends

Happy new year ! All the best for 2011 !

Here are the main trends for 2011, I touched in previous posts in this blog:

I hope you enjoyed my 2010 posts. 2011 will be packed with action !

Microsoft TV rumours

Microsoft is said to work on connected TVs to block Google and Apple TV services. Microsoft can build a compelling service by using its Xbox know-how. Microsoft knows what kind of experience consumers are expecting from a TV which isn’t the case of Apple and Google.

Some are expecting Microsoft to offer some premium channels, so I don’t think it will be the case. I think Microsoft will launch an OS and a whole ecosystem for the TV. An ecosystem that will enable TV set manufacturers and cable/DSL operators to have both a piece of the cake, and surely a bigger piece for Microsoft.

In the long run, Set-Top-Boxes will disapear as the TV will get connected. What the industry is missing is a common standard to be able to plug cable operators services and channels directly on the TV set. These services will exist along with the manufacturer’s ones.

Microsoft has been very good at building standard in the past, I believe they are giving the last touch to a new ‘ TV secret weapon’. To be announced at the next CES?