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Zum Thema iTV fand User Junkstro einen hervorragenden Artikel. Er ist leider sehr lang + zudem in englischer Sprache vefasst. Dennoch stellt er eine Art umfassende iTV – status quo – Essenz dar, die mir selten in dieser Qualität in die Finger kam und daher dem Thread nicht vorenthalten möchte. Nicht nur hardcore – iTV Interessierten zu empfehlen. Zwecks Übersichtlichkeit / Lesbarkeit werden Zwischenüberschriften unumgänglich sein:
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Interactive TV Making Major Stateside Advances

Multichannel News International ( By Ken Freed )


While the United Kingdom and Continental Europe surge ahead with the deployment of interactive-television services over advanced set-top boxes, the U.S. cable industry is pushing to catch up.

Progress in the U.S., even amid accelerating competition from direct-to-home satellite players, awaits the deployment of advanced digital boxes that are able to do what European boxes can do. Finalizing national retail standards for hardware and software this year will help, but certified OpenCable/OCAP boxes are still a year away.

"Until recently, cable has focused on the two issues—the digital box for the TV and the cable modem to the PC," says Hal Krisbergh, chairman and CEO of WorldGate Communications, the U.S.-based Internet-over-TV company, which is active in 25 markets around the world.

Before assessing the status of advanced cable set-tops in the U.S. today, he says, "we first need to accept that cable only reaches 68 percent of the 100 million U.S. TV households, and that 75 percent of all cable households have no set-top box at all."


Without a significant deployment of advanced digital boxes, he says, "the focus is now shifting to leveraging the existing digital set-tops already in millions of U.S. homes, in order to open up new categories of interactive services. I believe cable can and will make the transition, but it`s like turning around an aircraft carrier. A year from now will be quite a contrast."

Says Jan Steenkamp, president and CEO of set-top software developer OpenTV: "There are more than 6 million digital-TV receivers deployed in the world today. While only a fraction of the billion-plus TV ( weltweit ca 1,1 MRD TVs ) households worldwide, the market is growing steadily."

He cites research firm DataMonitor, which forecasts 67 million subscribers worldwide receiving digital TV via cable, satellite or terrestrial distribution by 2003. Steenkamp adds that Forrester Research, another market researcher, predicts that 80 percent of all European households will have interactive TV by 2010.

U.S. cable operators envy the success of interactive TV in the U.K. and Continental Europe, he notes, "but it`s a game of leapfrog. America was the leader in two-way, high speed broadband development, and then Europe jumped ahead by deploying interactive TV technology over satellite."

How ready is America for the next leap ahead? "The good news for cable is that its subscribers with advanced boxes are clustered around neighborhood nodes—something broadcast satellite cannot do," Steenkamp says. "That`s why, over time, U.S. cable will push ahead of rest of the world in terms of total interactive-TV customers."

Falling Prices / Preisgestaltung

According to Gerard Kunkel, a WorldGate senior vice president, "All the past failures of interactive TV came from economics. The proprietary technologies worked, but they were too expensive."

"Because interactive TV was too expensive to be feasible, it could not succeed until now," says Mitchell Kertzman, president and CEO of Liberate Technologies. The U.S.-based middleware vendor has relationships with Rogers Cable and Shaw Cablesystems in Canada, and with NTL and Telewest Communications in the U.K. "There was not a broadband infrastructure in place," Kertzman adds. "There were no common standards. There were not enough applications. There was not enough content. There were no viable business models."

Today this situation is reversed, he says. "A digital infrastructure is coming into place. The digital [set-top box] is now at the right price. Third-party interactive-TV development tools are available. Content creators are finally producing interactive-TV programming. There are open standards emerging," he explains. "And most important, there now are viable business models in the U.K. and Europe for Americans to emulate."

Lower-cost boxes are crucial. ( Grundthese 7 des Threads: Hardwarekosten müssen angesichts des Investionsberges günstig sein, d.h optimales Preis / Leistungs Vhl. von nöten ) Time Warner Cable paid about $5,000 for each Silicon Graphics digital set-top installed on the Full Service Network interactive-TV pilot in Orlando in 1994.

Today, U.S. operators can choose from digital boxes from Motorola Broadband Communications Sector, Scientific-Atlanta, Pace Micro Technology, Pioneer, Zenith and others that average around $300.

At the high end are boxes with the brains and muscle to handle the full suite of interactive services. Such gear, which also features an integrated hard-disc recorder, goes for $400 and up. ( Zur Erinnerung Preisspanne Phoenix 270 – 720 US$ - Das Topmodell aber icl. gr. FP, dh integr. pers Videorec. / DVD / MP3 / SmardcardR / wohl Telefonmodul usw. )

Idiotensicherheit“ des Systems

"We can trust Moore`s law to make set-top boxes cheaper and faster, but the network must be reliable and robust, like with inband Internet protocol," says Steve Necessary, CEO of Scientific-Atlanta-backed middleware provider PowerTV. "The kiss of death for interactive TV would be downtime from system failures." ;) ( Grundthese 5 + 6 des Threads: Bedienbarkeit muss im breiten Jedermannsmarkt (i) Fernsehen “Omasicher”,„kinderleicht” mithin stabil sein )

According to David Zucker, president and CEO of video-on-demand system vendor DIVA Systems, the biggest barrier to universal deployment of digital cable has been the cost of the data stream. He points out that ten years ago, the cost of one data stream was $10,000. Time Warner`s Full Service Network in Orlando brought it down to $4,000 per stream. Today the cost has dropped 95 percent to only about $500 per stream.

"At lower bitstream prices, it won`t take long to pay back the cost of digital deployment," he says. "We`re seeing customers paying $10 to $14 a month for VOD movies on a PPV [pay-per-view] basis. SVOD [subscription VOD] tests out with buy rates at two to four times that of near-VOD with frequent start times. The business case for digital deployment now starts making sense."

Krisbergh believes the most cost-effective solution is a "thin-client" model, with memory and application storage located at the headend, the server, rather than in the set-top, the client. "A fat client is CPU-memory intensive, making the box more expensive. ( Hier bin ich gds anderer Auffassung. Sehe eher den „fat client“. Das Marketing einer neuen Technologie wird m.E. nur zügig gelingen, wenn man dem Verbraucher sofort + einleuchtend vermittelt, was iTV Mehrwert bedeutet. Premiere ist jedenfalls bisher mit "thin-client" dboxen gescheitert. Killerapplications, die jeder will, sind nicht etwa t-commerce. Vielmehr DVD, MP3, günstige Telephonie – gar Bildtelephonie –, eingebauter pers. Videorec u.ä. = >Dies erfordert aber eine anspruchsvollere Home-Hardware. Also kaum ein 100 $ thin-client" model ) To bridge the digital divide, we`re working on a box that costs less than $100, giving cable the ability to ensure all homes are online."

WorldGate also has a deal with Microsoft—owner of WebTV, now renamed UltimateTV—to develop an advanced box with open Internet services on the TV, aiming at the higher-end markets. Microsoft has a reputation for memory-hungry “fat clients” in the PC and set-top box. ( Grundthese 6 des Threads: PC - Manko ) Krisbergh says WorldGate is covering all bets.

Also driving interactive-TV competition in the U.S. is a rivalry among the operating-system and middleware providers such as PowerTV, Liberate, OpenTV, Canal Plus, Microware and MicrosoftTV.

Akteure + Länder

OS, Middleware Ploys

The prize in battle between operating-system and middleware vendors is to become the de facto marketplace standard, just as Microsoft`s DOS and Windows secured a virtual monopoly in the desktop-computer market. Backing a PC-centric approach to interactive TV is the Advanced Television Enhancement Forum (ATVEF), founded by Microsoft, chipmaker Intel and others, to specify an open interactive-TV standard based on Internet protocols.

Liberate and PowerTV rank among ATVEF`s supporters. The initiative has met resistance from those worried about "Wintel" dominating the cable market as it does the PC market. ( Ein erneutes Monopol wird der Markt diesmal nicht zulassen. Zumal er langsam voranschreitet. Auch sind im Hardwaresegment Monopole äußerst selten. Vgl Handymarkt: Nokia, Mot, Eric, Samsung, SIEM, Phil, Sony, Bosh, Alcatel usw. )

Consider OpenTV, the proprietary middleware providing interactive-TV services to more than 1 million subscribers worldwide. Most of them are in the U.K., where the Open walled-garden service on News Corp.`s Sky Digital DTH platform is generating $1.6 million in total revenue every week. In France, OpenTV enables interactivity on the Television par Satellite digital-DTH service. It competes directly with Canal Plus`s MediaHighway, which is deployed on the company`s Canalsatellite digital-DTH platform.

In the U.S., OpenTV this year launched an interactive-weather application on EchoStar Communications`Dish Network DTH service. A more robust service is slated to bow in 2001. For the cable market, OpenTV is being ported onto the Motorola thin-client DCT 2000 and fat-client DCT 5000 set-tops being built for AT & T Broadband, which also is developing an overdue Java box with MicrosoftTV.

Time-Warner Cable is deploying Scientific-Atlanta`s advanced Explorer boxes with PowerTV in Honolulu, Hi.; New York City and Orlando. Cox Communications in Phoenix, Ariz., and Charter Communications in Los Angeles also rank among S-A`s big clients.

The S-A Explorer 2000 and 6000+ boxes use the PowerTV OS and interactive-TV middleware exclusively. The PowerTV system has an HTML engine supporting Java, PersonalJava and Java scripting. PowerTV`s SofaSoft suite of Internet-based, client-server applications offer Web browsing, e-mail and news. PowerTV supports S-A`s Pegasus interactive program guide.

Next year ;) , OS upgrades code-named "Allen, Akroyd, Baldwin and Beatty," will arrive, says PowerTV OS product manager Bob Gager. These will offer ATVEF compliance, a scalable font engine, multiple tuners, removable flash memory, support for USB ports, 1394 "Firewire," MP3, 3-D graphics, hard-disc video recorders, and high-definition TV.

He reports progress developing PowerTV OS 2.6 with a conditional-access manager for compliance with Europe`s DVB-MHP standard. S-A is keen to expand its European sales.

PowerTV, which doesn`t sell to the DTH market, also has been licensed for digital boxes made by Pace, Pioneer and Panasonic. PowerTV claims to be deployed in 4.6 million set-tops installed in homes worldwide.

"A 60-percent-a-year growth rate in the interactive-TV market worldwide is causing the middleware players to look at every way possible to establish a market position," says Andrew Wallace, vice president of global marketing for Pace. "With the market evolving so fast, any chance to change the competitive landscape over each quarter is valuable."

Wallace sees the growth of digital TV in the United States approaching 20 percent, as digital penetration in the U.K. and Western Europe reaches 60 percent. "I see the set-top box evolving worldwide into a home gateway for high-bandwidth video, data and voice services," he says. ( Mit der “home gateway“ Vision lässt er hier, seiner eigenen „thin model“ These widersprechen )

Kollision der iTV Standards: USA / Msoft u.a. & OCAP vs “rest of the world” & MHP

Toward MHP

"Europe is more advanced than America in developing open standards", says Jean Marc Racine, CEO of Canal Plus U.S Technologies, which offers the Media-Guide middleware. "Because European interactive TV increasingly is based on DVB-MHP, [the Digital Video Broadcasting Multimedia Home Platform], European content creators can produce interactive content once and know it plays on any DVB system."

Standardizing U.S. set-top boxes for national retail sales, as required under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, has been the job of Cable Television Laboratories`OpenCable initiative. The U.S. specification for a digital-cable box offering more channels was completed two years ago.

Delaying retail boxes has been the push to develop a removable point-of-distribution (POD) smart PCM card for conditional access. POD cards will be given to new subscribers when a box is sold at the local cable company offices, or with a truck roll.

Last summer, POD cards by Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta were "verified interoperable" by CableLabs, technically meeting the federal deadline for a retail-ready box by summer. But it may be at least one year before certified OpenCable boxes appear in stores, if the one-year cycle for certifying retail DOCSIS cable models applies.

The presence of a removable POD-card slot is the key difference between the OpenCable boxes made for sale in retail channels and the OpenCable boxes being made for rental through traditional cable channels.

A standardized national box is useless for interactive TV, however, unless it can "plug and play" the interactive applications and content selected by diverse cable operators across the country. A move toward standardizing interactive-TV software was taken in September when CableLabs announced that Sun Microsystems, Liberate and Microsoft were selected as primary authors of the new OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP), a middleware software specification. This work is proceeding with support from the Society of Cable Television Engineers.

For OCAP, Sun is licensing its Java and JavaTV as the execution engine in the programmable application program interface environment. Liberate and Microsoft are developing an ATVEF presentation engine, like a Web browser, using standard Web markup and scripting languages such as HTML and ECMAScript. The bridge between the two engines will be a Document Object Model (DOM) that lets the Java EE access all the HTML and JavaScript objects in the PE environment.

Once OCAP is completed, expected by late December ;) , interactive-TV application vendors wanting their interactive content to play on OpenCable boxes (retail or rental) will need to conform to OCAP.

Yet the OpenCable/OCAP boxes support the ATSC version of digital television, so the boxes will not be salable outside America where DVB rules and MHP is gaining ground. ( m.E. ein großer Nachteil für US-Producer, etwa SFA )

MHP products shown at the 2000 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam ( mit m.w. mit aufsehenerregender MBX – Präsentation ), for example, included electronic program guides, interactive sports, interactive games, personalized advertising and home-shopping systems.

A notable IBC announcement came from Finland`s Nokia which said that it has produced more than 1 million set-top boxes supporting DVB-MHP for cable and satellite interactive-TV reception in the German market alone. ( = dboxen für Premiere )

"We are purposefully trying to find where our approach can overlap the DVB-MHP developments in Europe," says Don Dulchinos, vice president of advanced platforms and services at CableLabs. " But MHP will not become a formal part of OCAP."

There may be some Java-based applications that run on both OpenCable and MHP platforms, he said, "but I don`t think there will ever be one global standard for interactive television content." ( Das hatte man bei VHS vs Beta vs Video 2000 auch angenommen )

Content

"I`m really frustrated by the split between the DVB-MHP and OpenCable standards," says one interactive-TV content developer, asking not to be identified. "We want to create our content once and have it playable everywhere in the world. Instead, it seems we`ll have to create two versions of every application: one for America and one for the rest of the world. It`s like having to make separate versions of applications for the PC and the Macintosh. This could drive our production costs through the roof, and I think it stinks."

"Content owners naturally would love to see one universal interactive-TV content standard," says Arthur Orduna, vice president of marketing for Canal Plus U.S. Technologies. "But for that to happen, the content itself must drive the evolution of a global standard. Persuading all elements in the value chain—content creators, network operators, equipment manufacturers—[to believe] that it`s in their own best interest to adopt one global standard is not going to be easy."

Says Kertzman of Liberate: "No matter how much we might pontificate about a particular technology, everything must stand the ultimate test of consumer acceptance. ( Grundthese 5 des Threads: Akzeptanz beim Verbraucher am TV-Massenmarkt wird insbesondere von leichter Bedienbarkeit + Systemsicherheit abhängen ) The reality is that consumers do not care about technology. All they care about is what they see on their TV screens. That`s why the highest priority today must be providing compelling content that gets consumers to use the new interactive technologies."

"Once Hollywood discovers what it can do with interactive-TV content, expect a big explosion in programming," adds Racine.

The Future?

As network operators begin pushing interactive services, says Liberate vice president of marketing Charlie Tritschler, "we will see interactive content begin to pull more digital boxes into the home. It may not be too long before we hear consumers shouting, `I want my iTV´!"

"This is the year of the advanced digital set-top box," opines Neil Gaydon, president of Pace Micro Technology Americas. "Next year will be the race for interactive-TV applications. Once you get past the chicken-and-egg struggle between deployment of boxes and production of interactive content, American interactive TV will take off like a rocket. But at the end of the day, the ones who profit from interactive TV will be the ones who deliver on their promises." ( Grundthesen 1 + 2 des Threads: Ankündikungs politik a la Msoft& co wird kaum genügen )

Jimmy Schaeffer, president of The Carmel Group consultancy, says, "Your competitors will walk all over you unless you learn how to make interactive TV work for your customers."

The slower pace of U.S. cable`s interactive-TV deployment compared to Europe does not worry PowerTV`s Necessary. "The future is very bright, The foundation for interactive TV in America is now being laid at a prodigious rate. We`ve waited a long time for interactive TV here, but this time it`s real. This time the stars are finally aligned."
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"This is the year of the advanced digital set-top box" ( = 2000. Zum Glück hat es noch für die Präsentation 2000 gereicht ;) )

"Next year will be the race for interactive-TV …”

Run David, run ! ;) pd
 
aus der Diskussion: David Mbox: Gut im Rennen gegen die Goliaths Nokia, Panasonic, Microsoft usw. ?
Autor (Datum des Eintrages): Placido-Domingo  (23.01.01 13:05:19)
Beitrag: 91 von 119 (ID:2752647)
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