IPTV or Not IPTV?
I ventured out to the IPTV World conference in San Francisco recently looking for distinctions between “internet TV” and IPTV. Internet TV is the act of finding videos on the Internet to watch or download. For example, yesterday I watched the “Kidnapped” premiere episode on iVillage. Compared to IPTV that is like a cable set top box on software steroids. It is being brought to you by large telecoms like AT&T and Verizon. It will act much like digital cable or satellite of today, offering typical channels with scheduled programming—like the networks, HBO or Bravo (referred to as “linear channels”)—pay per view and “VOD”(video on demand). And IPTV will add other features, services, and cross-platform capabilities--from TV to Internet to mobile phone and voice.
Here’s where we can start connecting the dots. Apple’s recent announcement of its media device will bring the Internet to the TV, “internet TV”. There’s a growing number of internet TV products like Apple’s “iTV”, Microsoft’s Media Center and the Xbox 360, the media bridge by RCA that make convergence between the PC and your TV possible. Internet TV through this type of network is claimed to be in competition with upcoming IPTV offerings. And we’re not talking about the future. iTV is slated for release in 2007. Verizon’s FiOS launch will top 175,000 homes by the end of this year, according to Joseph Ambeault of Verizon Video. AT&T announced that their U-verse IPTV is targeted to reach 19 million homes in the coming 3 years. Each has its benefit. “Internet TV” is limitless as we can search far and wide for a variety of content. IPTV is as easy to use as your current set top box.
Because IPTV is coming to you through telecoms, there will be a seamless crossover between platforms of TV, Internet and mobile. At IPTV World, AT&T announced that pictures taken on a Cingular telephone would automatically be sent to your home IPTV box for viewing on your TV set. Now that we can watch videos on our cell phones, both Verizon and AT&T will benefit by offering a “one-stop shop” with the IPTV set top boxes.