[opendtv] Re: Chromecast - Teardown and philosophy

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2013 13:56:14 -0400

On Jul 31, 2013, at 6:26 PM, "Manfredi, Albert E" 
<albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> The newer of the two sets, also LG, even has a synopsis of the show that's 
> airing. Very nice, actually. I think broadcasters did themselves a disservice 
> by NOT populating this information better, early on in DTV days. Nothing 
> makes a feature disappear faster than when it's ignored during its 
> introduction.

You got that right!

And there is the minor issue that 80-85% of homes view DTV via an MVPD that 
does provide a well populated program guide.

It is certainly no surprise that broadcasters dropped the ball on this.

> In the past, I have answered that more than once. Since the solution seems 
> rather simple, I have to conclude that they are on the take. They are being 
> paid off by the MVPDs to NOT design sets that would facilitate cord cutting. 
> I can't conceive of any other reason.

I would be very surprised if either the MVPDs or the content owners have paid a 
dime to the CE companies to influence their designs.

Do you remember who paid the vast majority of the cost to develop the U.S. DTV 


The CE industry was the driving force behind the standard; broadcasters were 
happy to let them foot the bill, believing that they would never be forced to 
implement it. You will find most of the same companies were the major financial 
and engineering force behind the MPEG-2 standard. 

Why was the CE industry willing to spend so much to push a new TV standard?

Could it be that the margins on CRT TV displays had dropped to near zero? 

The fact that we are sitting here less than 20 years later and margins on flat 
panel HDTV displays have dropped to near zero should tell you something about 
the traditional CE vendors.

It is also important to keep in mind that the traditional CE companies are 
focused on the Global market for TVs. As I noted recently, the rest of the 
world is lagging a few bytes behind the U.S.; even Europe is just now upgrading 
to HDTV, although they have had good quality wide screen SDTV for many more 
years than we have had widespread adoption of HDTV.

> Honestly, when even a Best Buy salesman feels compelled to apologize for 
> these crippled devices, you have to wonder, no?

innovation has rarely been the major strength of the traditional CE vendors; 
they are very good at taking a technology and comoditizing it for mass markets. 
And - the Japanese vendors in particular - have worked with one another to 
develop core technologies such as HDTV and optical disc formats. When it comes 
to software and human interface…

Not so much.

> The "traditional CE vendors" wouldn't need to send Microsoft or Apple a fat 
> check, although those would certainly be good choices. These days, they could 
> implement Android or other solutions too. Use Raspberry Pi, for instance. Get 
> creative. Anything that can run an IP stack, codecs, and web browser. They 
> could hire their own enthusiastic geeks and create their own solutions. With 
> all the talk of unemployment among young techie grads, I just can't 
> understand this mental block.

You are correct. There are good alternatives to the major commercial operating 
systems. Clearly Chromecast is not running a big OS stack. Things get a bit 
more complicated once we move into the human interface, but this is to be 
expected, when we are all still arguing about what kind of human interface is 
going to prevail.

> As to using the TV "for traditional computing tasks," although for the life 
> of me I can't understand why a CE vendor would not be happy for that to 
> happen, it's not necessarily the easiest thing to do. For some things, like 
> WebEx sessions, TVs are great. For other things, like writing documents or 
> software, not so convenient.

Clearly the traditional CE vendors have been happy with the reality that they 
still control most of the global display markets. When the market for CRT-based 
TVs became a near profitless commodity they were able to make some nice profits 
on CRT-based computer displays. And they did quite well developing new flat 
panel display technologies for the computer industry, enjoying higher margins 
on smaller panels until the technology matured enough to make flat panel HDTVs 
economically viable.

We also agree about the role that the traditional PC continues to play in our 
lives. When I need to do I/O intensive computing tasks - like  this email 
message - I prefer the lean forward computing paradigm. Laptops offer more 
mobility, and the opportunity to do real work without a desk, but I no longer 
own a laptop. I now find that a tablet is more than adequate for general 
consumption of content, and some limited productivity tasks. 

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