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Foxxum puts RDK into the smart TV game

The Reference Design Kit (RDK), a software stack managed by a joint venture of Comcast, Liberty Global and Charter Communications, is about to branch off into the world of connected televisions.

Foxxum, a Germany-based developer of smart TV platforms, announced this week that its upcoming "OS 4" for connected TVs is built on the RDK, an open source platform used today in various set-top boxes, broadband gateways and a select number of IoT devices.

Foxxum OS 4, the company said, "will seamlessly integrate streaming services and applications across all devices within a single OS, which aims to extend RDK's success in the set-top box and operator sectors into the CTV space."

It's a clear signal that connected TVs are the next stop for the RDK. In addition to potential retail ramifications, any success Foxxum has with adoption could also be a boon for the more than 30 cable operators and telcos that use RDK today.

Operators in the RDK club include Comcast; Liberty Global; Deutsche Telekom; Cox Communications; J:COM (Japan); Megacable (Mexico); Melita (Malta); MEO, NOWO and NOS (Portugal); PYUR (Germany); Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications and Vidéotron, (Canada); SFR (part of Altice Europe); Vodafone; VTR (Chile); and Ziggo (the Netherlands), among others.

Charter has not widely adopted RDK, but that could change with a national streaming deal that Charter and Comcast announced in April. Meanwhile, Comcast is already ensconced in the smart TV game in the US with a family of XClass TV models (initially made by Hisense and being sold at Walmart), and in Europe with Sky's Sky Glass product line.

Last May, RDK Management, which administers the RDK software, announced that the platform had eclipsed 80 million device deployments worldwide. Those devices include consumer premises equipment for video set-tops (with RDK-V) and broadband devices and a small mix of IoT products (with RDK-B).

Foxxum noted that every year more than 100 million connected TVs across more than 600 TV brands license operating systems from third-party providers such as Foxxum. The company, which claims that its OS reaches more than 25 million connected TVs worldwide, has posted a list of customer and brand partners that includes Sharp, Hisense, Vestel, Metz, Blaupunkt, Orion, MediaTek, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony and Philips.

'Independent' OS for smart TVs

Foxxum is billing OS 4 as an "independent" OS for connected TVs, providing smaller original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and brands a "partner who does not compete directly with them for selling devices to consumers."

That claim appears to take aim at other smart TV platforms in the market, including those from Roku, Amazon (Fire TV) and Google (Android TV/Google TV), and from TV makers such as Samsung (Tizen), LG Electronics (webOS) and Vizio.

Foxxum appears to be hitting on an independence trend taking hold elsewhere. Xperi, the company behind TiVo, is taking the same tack with its plan to launch a smart TV powered by the TiVo OS by mid-2023, with an initial focus outside North America.

The new Foxxum OS 4, built on RDK, "is designed to provide even more robust service to TV manufacturing partners globally," the company said. The new OS also aims to boost the standardization of Linux-based connected TVs for premium streaming services that have previously been integrated with the RDK.

Foxxum CEO Ronny Lutzi noted in the press release that the OS 4 connected TV user interfaces features include customizable recommendations.

Elsewhere in the RDK world, Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) last month introduced two new voice remotes for the Reference Design Kit, holding that the pre-integrated approach will eliminate "tedious integration" efforts and quicken time to market. UEI said it has shipped more than 75 million RDK remote controls so far.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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