Philips is not the only party in The Netherlands that is pioneering connected television. On the contrary, there are a number of players that have been around for some time trying to connect the web to the television set. A couple of them presented their solutions at a special Connected TV session at the Immovator Cross Media Cafe.
There seems to be gold in them there hills, trouble is – but which is the right way to get there? The prospect of web TV has been around for many years, with promises of “millions of niche TV channels from all over the world”, “targeted personalised advertising thanks to viewer profiling”, “full interactivity” and ”all media in one single box.”
A company called Daily Media TV has been around for six years, we were told by the company’s Gert Stur. The box is a ‘traditional’ media centre, and also offers access to streaming video sites and online radio stations using a logo mosaic. Then there is the MovieMax premium VOD service, various adult entertainment sites and access to email.
A similar claim is made by the Yuixx box, which is built around an advanced Intel chip, the famous Atom. “We hope to have the sets in the shops before Christmas,” said Yuixx’ John Goedgebuure, “but we have been waiting for a year for the right chip.” Yuixx claims their media centre will change the way we ill watch television. It will do most of the things Intel showed us at its 2010 IBC exhibit. A prototype indeed shows all the wizardry we saw during the Amsterdam show, which would make the Yuixx a more up-to-date version of what the Daily Media box does.
The third box from the Low Countries is the iPhion box, developed by a team of the Technical University of Eindhoven (yes, also the birthplace of Philips). Originally envisaged as an over-the-top web TV box, the set has – at least for the moment – turned into an alternative set-top box that will be introduced on the local FTTH network in Eindhoven. For the time being, people will be able to access all the regular channels, thanks to the traditional distribution deals closed with the (linear) channels.
Now, will any of these boxes succeed where so far the big boys such as Philips and Sony – and even Apple TV – have failed? Although we should never underestimate the power of out-of-left fielders (yes, look at Apple’s iTunes), one just has to look at shock-horror reactions from established broadcasters to newcomers such as Google TV.