Yahoo and Intel previewed their Widget Channel today, a “television application framework optimized for TV and related devices.” Essentially, the two companies are showing how to bring a wide range of new applications to TV via widgets, and they’re advocating for an open standard in order to fill out a “TV Widget ecosystem”. (Analysis up from ABI and NewTeeVee)
I’ve followed Yahoo’s next-gen TV efforts sporadically for a couple of years now, and I’ve heard about Intel’s work in integrating TV and the Internet as well. This announcement didn’t come as a huge surprise, but it’s nonetheless a pretty big milestone in the ongoing evolution of television. Widgets, which are deployed all over the Web, are still fairly rare in the living-room TV experience. While there are exceptions, most TV services do not come with Internet-based applications today, much less choose-your-own widgets.
Since Motorola executive Nick Chakalos was quoted in the Intel/Yahoo release, I thought I’d catch up with him for a few quick questions. Here’s what he had to say.
Can you explain how the Widget Channel works?
It’s very similar to widget services on the Web. The vision is that consumers would go to the Widget Channel to access a menu or gallery of applications designed to personalize the TV experience and make it more interactive. For example, users could pick widgets that would track sports stats or allow interaction among friends around television programming.
Motorola added a quote to the Intel/Yahoo release. What is Motorola’s involvement or interest in the widget initiative from Intel and Yahoo?
For Motorola, the value is in the goal of Intel and Yahoo to create an open standard for bringing interactive applications to the TV. We’ve been part of the evolution of TV technology for decades, so of course we’ve been examining how to integrate the power of the Internet with traditional television broadcasting. In ongoing discussions with both Intel and Yahoo, we’ve seen a lot of promise in the concept of widgetized TV. We also think that Motorola is very well positioned to bring this type of service to an operator environment, whether IPTV or cable, where integration with legacy or next-gen infrastructure such as OCAP/tru2way is a challenge we can address.
How do you see this initiative unfolding?
Operators are experimenting now with different ways to expand the TV experience, but it will definitely start in the retail channel on devices like Blu-ray Disc players, Internet-capable TVs, game consoles and set-tops. We’ll see it introduced in the cable and telco channels after technology, consumer adoption and business models are proven.