Project Canvas becomes YouView
And gets a CEO
Project Canvas has a CEO and a name now - it’s YouView™. BBC insider Richard Halton, a veteran of the corporation’s Strategy Boutique, will lead the venture, reporting to chairman Kip Meek.
Canvas is an attempt to create a reference specification for IP-connected TVs. The joint venture is supported by the established public service broadcasters, BT, mast monopoly Aquiva, and
Carphone Warehouse TalkTalk. Halton, as director of PC, was the BBC’s point man on FreeView and has been its most prominent supporter of Canvas, so it’s really a formal promotion.
A fortnight ago the BBC's Mark Thompson admitted that Project
Cartel Canvas was about control - but argued that the PSBs controlling a technical platform was much better for us than a Google or Microsoft.
Halton himself has previously touted Canvas in interviews as “an open source model”, but it’s anything but, and this week the UK’s Open Source Consortium lodged a formal complaint with OFCOM, describing it as “another walled garden” that diminishes consumer choice. Canvas mandates a particular DRM, for example.
Canvas insiders say the project grew legs because industry-wide TV standards develop too slowly, and are technically inadequate. It’s hard to criticise it for failing to innovate, or adding some variety to the marketplace.
Quite apart from the regulatory aspects, and the giant political battles they entail, the biggest problem YouView faces is a commercial one. Canvas is a content plus technology bundle – but the fact is we already enjoy that content for free via FreeView. So what make somebody rush out and buy a Canvas box, which will be priced at between £150 and £300? HD we can already get, much cheaper. Series-stacking and replay? Web widgets and the app store?
It’s going to be fascinating to watch. ®
The ability to watch iPlayer/ITVPlayer/4oD on TV without having to setup more crufty bits of software, and take the wife through a Masters in Software Engineering...
Missing the point ?
Many commenters miss the point ... that manufacturers are already including some of these functions in their products. For example, some TVs now support iPlayer.
But, iPLayer uses one set of protocols, ITV Player uses a different set, 4OD uses another set, and so on. The result is that to support all services, the equipment manufacturer must include multiple different collections of software - and these will generally all have different user interfaces.
What this does is allow a manufacturer to support ONE standard and it'll play any content that someone wants to make available - including ones that come along later (ie after the equipment has been sold to end users). Is that such a bad thing ?
After all - I don't see so many complaints that the commercial stations are forced to use the same DVD-T standard that the BBC transmits with
Perhaps the same people that think this idea is bad would prefer that every manufacturer had their own (incompatible) standards for an equivalent to Compact Disk, DVD, etc ?
And if it annoys Sky (who object to anything that doesn't enhance their proprietary lockin) then that's just a bonus :-)
On the other hand
A UK consortium attempts to set a standard which could result in some business and revenue opportunities in the UK (eg an ARM reference design for the hardware). This could be a good thing