Video software

CES 2011: Alticast's Android Angle

LAS VEGAS -- 2011 International CES -- Alticast Corp. is gauging US cable interest in a set-top software platform that matches tru2way middleware with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android operating system.

The idea behind it, says Jeff Bonin, SVP of business development and marketing for Alticast USA, is to allow operators to preserve their investments in the tru2way platform and the apps that run on it (interactive program guides, video-on-demand clients, and perhaps games and widgets) while migrating to Android and eventually taking full advantage of its much larger developer community.

The result, he adds, could give cable a way to create and expand on a TV-based app store that far exceeds what they can get from tru2way today.

Such a strategy could come into play as it's become crystal clear that tru2way likely will never become a force at retail, while, by comparison, the Android ecosystem continues to expand rapidly on a wide range of devices. (See IP Will Trump Tru2way and Tru2way: Epic Fail at Retail.)

Here at the show, Alticast showed this dual-stack combination running on a set-top powered by an Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) processor and GEM-based middleware that is, in essence, a derivative of tru2way (both use Java).

Alticast developed this proof-of-concept for Korea Telecom (KT), an Alticast customer that has already deployed dozens of GEM apps, including several developed by Alticast. However, KT hasn't made any decisions on when or if it would deploy such a combination. Alticast, Bonin says, has rights to repurpose that work outside of South Korea.

At this week's show, Alticast is showing off what it's accomplished so far and gauging whether the idea would be of interest to US MSOs that have already made a significant investment in tru2way, a group that happens to include Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. , Bright House Networks , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and Charter Communications Inc.

If any of those operators become interested, they could conceivably start to build out TV app stores of their own made of legacy tru2way apps and a larger base of Android apps made by third parties or developed specifically for an MSO.

Other tru2way tidbits
Surprisingly, there is some other tru2way-related news brewing this week. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) plans to use Alticast's stack in its boxes, replacing it with a derivative of a stack created by OCAP Development LLC (ODL), a joint venture of Comcast and TW Cable.

When that work's completed (by mid-2011, Bonin expects), it should eliminate some tru2way software fragmentation for Cablevision, Bright House and TW Cable, which are all deploying Samsung Corp. boxes outfitted with Alticast's tru2way stack, but have also deployed millions of Cisco set-tops.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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