This shift is identical to how the advent of smartphones disrupted the mobile carrier landscape by shifting loyalty from the carrier to the handset platform vendor, leaving the carriers with minimal room for differentiation and little access to incremental revenues generated by smartphone services such as apps and content.
The consumer electronics devices which dominate the TV home landscape are evolving rapidly. Several major players are dominating the space with connected TV devices such as televisions, blu-ray players, game consoles and media players. In addition, there are a growing number of tablets and smartphones with wireless or HDMI output to enable easy viewing of content on the big screen. As these devices get used for services such as over-the-top streaming services, the platform providers behind these services are feverishly working to increase the total available content. Although their offerings may not yet compare to what’s available from an MSO, consumers are increasingly becoming interested in using these devices as pay-TV endpoints.
The expectation from end users has increased dramatically over the years. Not only do they demand an easy-to-use, trouble-free experience, but they also expect the rich GUI navigation experience that they have come to enjoy on their consumer electronic devices. As a consequence, operators are scrambling for solutions to deploy devices such as Gateways and STBs which offer rich, sleek user interfaces that can be deployed very quickly, as well as produced and evolved cost effectively, leveraging a large dynamic community of developers. History has shown that unfriendly user experiences, service interruptions and lack of compelling services have resulted in pay-TV operators losing customers to the competition. Adaptability of GUIs and services are pivotal in the new world of mobile computing, which goes through a major refresh cycle every 6 months. Not being on this cadence can easily lead to dissatisfied consumers and consumer churn as new functions and features miss target deadlines.
At The Cable Show in Boston, we shared the ARM story on how innovation, choice and a vibrant ecosystem in the mobile space could be leveraged by pay-TV operators to evolve new and vibrant digital home platforms for applications like the set-top box. We demonstrated the Pivos XIOS XS IPTV platform which is based on Amlogic’s ARM® Cortex™-A9 processor- and Mali™-400 GPU-based SoC. The same SoC has been used in tablet platforms as well. We demonstrated that the same hardware platform used to develop an Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) solution could be used to support an XBMC platform as well. We demonstrated this platform running XBMC, which provides users with a rich 10’ experience with all of their content at their finger tips.
We also featured a demo on the FXI Cotton Candy device. This is a set-top box in a USB-stick form factor. This platform uses the SamsungExynos dual-core Cortex-A9 processor and quad-core Mali-400 GPU-based SoC. This same SoC is deployed in millions of Samsung Galaxy S2 and Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones. With a cost-effective and tiny form factor, these USB-stick form factor devices elevate a user’s TV experience to that of the latest smart TVs. This Cotton Candy device ran Android ICS, and we were able to take a game app developed for a mobile phone unmodified and run it on the device to deliver an example of a console quality gaming experience to the audience.
With the convergence of platforms used to drive screens from mobile phone to tablets up to televisions, we are only scratching the surface of the level of innovation that is to come. Pay-TV operators have a unique opportunity to augment their broadcast quality video delivery platforms with rich, innovative UIs and exciting applications by leveraging the same ARM platforms driving the thriving mobile ecosystem.
So watch this space, and check out the presentation HERE.
Karthik Ranjan, Senior Strategic Partner Manager, ARM, has spent the last 13 years in the consumer electronics industry with companies such as Intel, Microsoft, and Amino. Recently Karthik joined the ARM team and is responsible for managing ARMs relationship with Mobile and Pay-TV Operators in N. America. Karthik is an individual who can best be described as an “Early Adopter” of new technology, be it MID, Tablet, or even the Smartpen. Since Karthik has joined ARM he has been a kid in the candy store drooling over all the smart mobile devices which are ARM powered.
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