In recent times, Google has begun to make serious, some might say game-changing in-roads, into the middleware market. So much so that Android TV (Operator Tier) is arguably the middleware that is on the fastest track to growth.
Updating set-top box software is something operators do infrequently and only when they need new features or security functions. With Android TV, this practice must change because Google mandates a software update policy. Is keeping Android TV updated going to be a pain for operators?
Crossing the showfloor at IBC 2017 this week will be CTOs of telcos and pay TV providers from Europe and beyond, diligently investigating whether to deploy their service on Android TV. They would be in good company. As of mid-2017, Irdeto reports more than 20 well-known deployments around the world.
Undeniably part of the attraction is the middleware’s support for both broadcast and OTT services.
Android TV is a hot topic in the industry. Many operators appreciate the benefits it offers. Some of these are described in my blog comparing Android TV to middleware. But a major concern remains: “how much control will I give up to Google?” Probably less than you think!
You have full control of the STB, not Google.
Yes, it’s true.
Google’s Android operating system took just a few years to go from upstart newcomer to dominating the global mobile market. Can it do the same for TV?
In my last blog, a primer on Android for STBs, I described the options available to operators: the “plug-and-play” Android TV service, and the more customizable self-build route based on AOSP. Is this combination enough to kill-off the market in proprietary middleware?
Launching a pay TV platform typically requires 2-3 years’ development to create a customized user experience based on proprietary middleware with continuous updates throughout the STB lifetime. It’s slow, expensive and requires specialist developers, but operators get the UX they choose.
Google’s AOSP and Android TV are shaking up this status quo. Android rose from zero to global dominance of mobile markets in under seven years, so it’s little wonder this disruptor is being taken seriously.