“TV As An App:” Cutting through the Clutter of Cloud UI Claims

Sachin Sathaye — VP Strategy & Product Marketing

With increased interest in cloud UIs these days, understanding the distinction between the two leading technology approaches—cloud-based browsers and device-based browsers—is like comparing the fashions of Kate Middleton and Lady Gaga:  Both are turning heads, but in vastly different ways.

At the heart of the discussion is the fact that not all cloud UIs are created equal.  UIs that are rendered in the device and rely on metadata from the cloud are distinctly disadvantaged—they cost more to develop, they take longer to deploy and they lack ubiquitous reach—when compared with “true” cloud UIs that are written in HTML5, rendered on a browser in the cloud and streamed fully-formed to the device.

Here’s the fundamental problem: In device-based solutions, metadata streamed from the cloud is still subject to the resource limitations of the STB or connected CE equipment.  Each time a UI is created or modified, it needs to be written for each version of the device, and the richness of the UI is constrained by the processing power of the device itself.

At the TV Xperience World event this week in New York, I’ll be talking about a different approach: solutions that are based entirely in the network cloud and can accelerate the delivery of “TV as an App” across multiple devices within the home.  We’ll discuss how the same CloudTV™ technology that was “the clear star” of The Cable Show last month can unleash the application development environment from device dependencies for online video providers and the CE industry.

Let’s face it:  the difficulty and value of bringing consistent, branded UIs to viewers are common threads that connect all corners of the video ecosystem.  Whether you’re a cable MSO, an online video provider or a CE manufacturer, writing UIs to specific rendering engines and device operating systems is a recipe for increased costs, slower adoption and fragmented user experiences.  nScreenMedia says “fragmentation in the app market is the number one problem” when it comes to multi-screen support.

Using a cloud-based “write once, deploy everywhere” development environment, online providers can dramatically reduce development expenses and time to market for web-like UIs that can extend their brands and drive monetization across multiple devices.  For the CE industry, moving the application development framework into the cloud transforms established paradigms: device-independent applications can run on the lowest-cost CE equipment—expanding the pool of available apps and improving user experiences.

The advantages of CloudTV—an order of magnitude increase in scalability and an 83% reduction in total cost of ownership—have been well documented for pay-TV operators by ACG Research.  At TV Xperience World, I’ll be doing what CloudTV does best—replacing complexity with simplicity—and showing how similar benefits can be realized by the online video and CE industries.  I hope to see you there.