Heavyweights Form AllVid Alliance
Say hello to the AllVid Tech Company Alliance, which intends to promote a next-generation interface that would seamlessly combine distribution of traditional and internet video. This puts the members of the alliance on a collision course with Big Cable.
The Alliance's founding members are Best Buy, Google, Mitsubishi, Sony, TiVo, Nagravision, and SageTV.
If you haven't heard of the last two, Nagravision is "the leading provider of advanced security and multi-screen user experience solutions for the monetization of digital media," while SageTV is "working to change the TV experience by combining TV/PVR, music, photos and personal and online media with anytime, anywhere networking for a complete, easy-to-use entertainment experience for the home, office, hotel or anywhere."
Allvid was proposed (PDF) last spring by the new management of the Federal Communications Commission as a replacement for the ill-fated CableCARD. Though approved nearly a decade ago by major cable operators and TV makers, the CableCARD never gained the traction it deserved, partly because it was unidirectional and therefore didn't support video on demand. Cable operators supported it spottily and, seeing this, TV makers eventually gave up on it. The bidirectional successor to the CableCARD, Tru2Way, attracted fewer John Hancocks and even less concrete support.
AllVid would be a universal gateway for both traditional video distribution (cable, satellite, etc.) and internet video that would operate with TVs, computers, game consoles, and mobile devices. As the Alliance wrote to the FCC, it would advance the idea by developing "chips, technologies, and interfaces that can be organic to tens of millions of products, services, and consumer uses, not just those presently conceived, but those that innovative minds, and users who can select and adapt their own devices, can conceive."
The cable operators, via the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (PDF), say they support the concept but are resisting any gubbamint attempt to implement it: "Imposing technology mandates in this dynamic marketplace risks stifling such innovation and denying consumers the benefits of new products and services." And hey, if there's anyone who knows all about stifling and denying, it's the cable industry.