Tech Trends for 2012
by Leslie Ellis // December 19 2011
And here we are again. Last issue of the year. This week, we’ll go more “things in motion stay in motion” than “history is a great teacher,” with a forecast of five big tech trends for ’12. Here goes:
- HTML5. This one skips into the shoptalk scene on a daily basis, it seems. Remember the big fight between Apple and Adobe, about which was better, HTML5 or Flash? Jobs won. What it means for cable: A way to render subscription video on all those IP-connected screens, without the need for customers to do anything (like download a player.) It’ll season the 2012 scene around efforts like remote user interfaces (RUIs), companion screen viewing, and putting clickable,” MSO-branded icons on IP-connected screens.
- ACR. Automatic Content Recognition, Audio Content Recognition, po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe. If the hype about this one gets any more breathless than at the recent TV of Tomorrow conference, we’re in for a doozy of a year. Why: ACR, in essence, is an out-of-band bypass technique. An app on a handheld (or built into the TV) listens to the stream, as it plays out, and correlates interactive stuff with it. That portends a dance of angst between program networks and service providers, in the familiar tune of “We Don’t Need You To Do This.”
- IPv6. Short version: Everything connected to the Internet needs an address; the pool of addresses (IPv4) is running out. As in right now. There’s a remedy – IPv6 – but issues will abound, likely in a “death by a thousand cuts” pattern. No huge calamities; lots of little aggravations. IPv6 isn’t backwards compatible with IPv4, for starters. This one impacts all of us: Consumers, retailers, manufacturers, service providers.
- CDNs and “federated” CDNs. Content delivery networks, or CDNs, exist to hierarchically store and process video, for delivery to all of those IP-connected, video-capable screens we keep buying. They’re a mixture of national and fiber backbones, storage servers, and ways to slice and dice video files into right-sized chunks for the end screens that want them. Bigger operators, like Comcast, started years ago on their CDNs; smaller operators are talking about “federated” CDNs, useful to rent capabilities rather than having to buy glass and servers.
- Clouds and gateways. Gateways are mambo, in-home devices that work as both set-top boxes and cable modems. Lots of tuners, for bonded IP channels (read: shelf space for IP traffic). Lots of ways to transcode incoming video into other formats. Bigger processors, more memory, more ways to interconnect all the stuff in your house.
But wait: Isn’t the cloud to handle trans-coding and processing? Sit tight. Transitions, like the one we’re living in right now, usually can’t accommodate a flash-cut (to cloud, or to gateway). Both will exist, here in the fervor of the transition.
That’s the short list. Next time, what to expect at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Until then, merry merry and Happy New Year to you!
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.