A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs.
Ben Drawbaugh over on EngadgetHD reports that Time Warner Cable will be deploying switched digital video (SDV) to 50% of its markets before the end of 2007. That’s great news in the sense that SDV should free up significant bandwidth. Like analog reclamation, SDV will make it possible to offer more HD content as well as new apps like Time Warner’s Start Over service.
Unfortunately, as Ben points out, SDV is not great news for TiVo Series3 (and potentially stand-alone Moxi) owners. Today’s CableCARDs only permit one-way communication (technically that’s not exactly true, but for all practical purposes it is), which means TiVo customers won’t be able to access switched content, including any new HD channels.
Two-way CableCARDs are coming, but not quickly enough. Despite the fact that cable operators may be getting two-way cards in time for the 7/07 deadline (they need them for VOD services as well as SDV), those cards haven’t been certified for retail devices. Sorry TiVo customers — you’ll have to wait for CableCARD 2.0 and refresh that hardware.
Given the title of this post, you might (correctly) assume that I don’t believe CableCARD PCs matter. Sure there will be a small niche that embraces the technology as a home media center hub, but the average consumer won’t bother overcoming the learning curve and paying the associated premium. It’s nice to hear that CableCARD equipped PCs can be had for as low as $1500, but that number still doesn’t compete with the set-top box market… Not to mention most folks don’t want a PC (that looks like a PC) in their entertainment center and don’t realize they may be able to extend this content to an Xbox 360. And the possibility of bidirectional, M-Card PC functionality doesn’t change the mindset or marketplace.
For several years, my “set-top” box was a HTPC and my living room “TV” was a projector. Maintaining it was a constant source of frustration (and I managed PCs for a living). CableCARDs may add additional channels but with it comes additional complexity. The Average Joe doesn’t have the skills or the budget and won’t be interested. Not to mention, it doesn’t appear that CC support can be added to existing systems or later migrated to new machines.
On Monday, Digeo announced that in Q4 they’ll offer MSOs a new Moxi HD set-top box with CableCARD support allowing them to comply with the FCC’s separable security mandate. They hope to sell these to cable-cos (i.e. Charter) at 1/3 the price of their current boxes. Some features:
Additionally, an OCAP software port of Moxi will also be made available at this time which could obviously be tweaked to run on a variety of hardware platforms.
Not to be forgotten in this announcement, Digeo still intends to release two DVRs into retail later this year… which may be related to a current interface usability study. Speaking of which, I quizzed my Digeo PR contact on the request for help and he responded:
As any company with a strong customer focus does, Digeo is very interested in listening to its customers in order to improve future versions of its products. The company plans to integrate the feedback it receives into future product planning and development efforts. Digeo continues to be on track to deliver both the retail and cable- industry versions of Moxi that it has announced in recent months,
during the latter part of 2007.