Downturn is blessing in disguise?

Not for the first time in the past two weeks we have heard that the current economic downturn may prove to be a “blessing in disguise” for broadcasters and the TV software industry generally.

On Jan 22 we reported the sentiments of Roger Stanwell, CEO at the IABM, who suggested that while not minimising the “carnage” of bad news within the sector, he hoped that the downturn would boost creativity and innovation. It is the same story from Frankfurt-based Alticast.

“The crisis and downturn that so grips the media is in effect a blessing in disguise for the STB, iDTV and television software industry,” says Alticast. “Technology dominates our lives and the television screen is a portal to the world for information as well as entertainment -- and that is where the media industry has used Alticast’s software and services to offer multi faceted, value added digital entertainment since 1999 to present day.”

Alticast says that for the past 10 years it has been a strong advocate of the “Open Standards” world of digital television software, basing its modus operandi around the decisions of the wider industry bodies such as DVB, Cablelabs, ATSC, Korean Cable Labs et al to define groundbreaking open standard implementations of the specifications that have been set. Alticast’s core technology, the Java based DVB-MHP, Cablelabs’ Tru2Way technology and BD-J (Blu-ray), has had its fair share of doubters; “however these technologies have proven, time and time again, to have been well crafted by the world’s engineers and despite a plethora of new technological advancements and a multitude of ‘new’ interactive flavours there has been nothing that outperforms MHP/Tru2Way/BD-J in a true interactive television based environment.”

“Naturally HTML services and Flash have tried hard and in many instances even entered markets; then revealed their limitations and have shown that presentation engines cannot live in a world of full multimedia without adding heavily to the physical attributes of the receiver devices. To this aim Java has proven its worth as the cornerstone of billions of embedded products. Stability, interoperability, lower CPU and memory requirements are a small part of a long list that makes sense to have chosen this Java route.”

“Over the 10 years Alticast’s expertise and ability to prove the doubters wrong has borne fruit,” the company insists. “The digital TV industry, so hampered by proprietary middleware has seen huge growth of MHP in Europe and the MHP Based Tru2Way technology in the USA. Blu-ray is now a mainstream product. As an independent licensor Alticast-powered implementations have been supplied to major CE and STB Brands as well as major broadcasters/Pay-TV operators, and now permeate into IPTV operators around the globe. They have themselves worked diligently and faithfully for the industry to supply truly first-class solutions in an ever changing technical race to win hearts and minds of today’s digital consumers.”

Alticast says it doesn’t stop there either! “2009 will see the DVB-GEM Specification (Globally Executable MHP), which is an all encompassing ‘Applications Framework’ taking into account the differences at the infrastructure layer throughout the different regions of the world and thus set about harmonizing the core application elements of interactive TV. Giving us the tantalizing reality of the ‘Write Once Read Anywhere Applications’ that a global standard offers. GEM already deployed in IPTV, has added Blu-ray to its armoury and has proven that the DVB has finally arrived at a true ‘Convergence Specification’ that crosses satellite, cable, terrestrial and IPTV and fixed media.”

Alticast says it believes that in 2009 the stage is already set for positive growth. “The fact is that the search for what everyone calls ‘Next Generation Network Software Architecture’ (NGNSA) is already over,” stated Anthony Smith-Chaigneau – Managing Director of Alticast Europe. “If the industry would just embrace the DVB-GEM and Open Standard Middleware of MHP/Tru2Way instead of believing that there will always be something better around the corner we would be moving ahead in far greater leaps and bounds! Embedded execution engine based iTV middleware is undeniably the key for advanced services, enabling operators to build once and easily deploy MHP/Tru2Way technology, applications and services across multiple platforms and devices.”