EchoStar Preps IPTV App Store
EchoStar is developing the store, will provide the software development kit (SDK), and will be Dish's liaison to developers, EchoStar officials said at this week's TelcoTV conference in Orlando, Fla.
"We're the ones to make sure the apps past muster, that they don't use too much of the resources in the box, for example," says Jeffrey Hale, an EchoStar national account manager.
The app store will be another feature of Dish's upcoming ViP 922 set-top box, also being developed by EchoStar. Dish is expected to deploy the box, which also includes place-shifting powers à la Slingbox, early next year. (See EchoStar: No Cable Sale Guarantees and EchoStar Slings Its First Tru2way Set-Top.)
EchoStar officials at the booth weren't sure when Dish intends to launch the app store, but they said APIs are available and developers are working on the apps already.
It's a move that IPTV providers are likely to be watching. Many telcos have gotten beyond the construction stage with IPTV and are now looking for ways to generate more revenues -- and as keynoter Brook Longdon of Nokia Networks noted at TelcoTV, the real margins for IPTV lie in applications, not content. (See TelcoTV: IPTV Is Stagnating and IPTV Seeks Killer App.)
There's some debate over whether a TV app store would be as popular or as practical as the store Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has for the iPhone.
"I would caution that you don't want to have an app store on your TV," says Ric Brovedani, a senior director of multimedia integration services at Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). "TV is something you don't want to get all cluttered up with too much stuff."
"I think TV should be more selective than an app store," says Sefy Ariely, vice president of sales and marketing for Orca Interactive Ltd. , now owned by a division of Orange (NYSE: FTE). "App stores tend to get full of a lot of garbage. People don't know how to use that. You're catering to a very select audience."
Ariely suggests that an alternative model might be for the system to recommendation apps, much in the way that some IPTV systems (including Orca's) can recommend TV shows or movies based on viewing habits.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading