NEW YORK -- Cable Next-Gen Video Strategies -- Set-top boxes as we know them today could almost disappear as cable migrates to IP video and services are increasingly driven by new cloud-based infrastructures that support new screens such as Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPad, a top Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) executive said here Tuesday:
"Set-tops are clearly moving to the point where they are either a piece of software that lives in another device, or they're virtualized totally in the cloud," Ken Morse, CTO of Cisco's Service Provider Technology Group said, during his keynote address.
As consumers connect more and more devices to their networks, there will be opportunities for service providers to manage those devices, Morse said. "When it [the device] doesn't work, who are they going to call?"
But Morse, whose company is one of the largest U.S. set-top vendors, emphasized that legacy set-tops are still relevant, and can continue to deliver programming from servers on a cloud-based network. He cited the example of how a subscriber with an iPad could use the device to order video-on-demand (VoD) programming delivered through a 10-year-old set-top. (See Can Videoscape Save Cisco's Set-Top Business?)
Also worth noting from Morse's address:
Within seven to 10 years, all cable operators will rely on using IP technology to deliver video to a home, Morse predicted. And in the next two to three years, all service providers will rely on IP technology to deliver content to subscribers within a home, he added.
Service providers could also profit from helping subscribers manage cross-platform content, citing the example of a colleague who had spent $4.99 to order a movie from Apple TV, and later realized that he had the same movie available as part of his Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) subscription. "The opportunity is for the service provider to aggregate all of that [content]," Morse said. "How do they step forward and make themselves more relevant in this world of multiple devices?"
The biggest asset service providers have is their existing subscriber base, Morse said. "It's really about protecting that investment," he added, noting that there are opportunities to retain subscribers both through legacy set-tops and new cloud-based technology and gateway devices.