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Thursday, January 20, 2011

YouView Risks Being Obsolete Before it Launches

YouViewAn article in today’s Telegraph suggests that YouView has been further delayed and a launch of the service is unlikely before 2012.  For anyone who doesn’t know, YouView (formerly known as Project Canvas), is a group owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva that aims to bring an internet connected set-top TV box to peoples homes, without subscription.  Seems straight forward enough, but judging from the Telegraph article it would appear to be anything but.

Virgin Media and Sky have already complained to regulators about the service on anti-competitive grounds last year, though there efforts were unsuccessful.  This latest hiccup for YouView is likely to please both companies, particularly with Sky having recently launched its own on demand service for customers who have both its TV and internet services, while Virgin Media plans to launch its internet connected TIVO box in the next few months.  Add to the mix services such as Google TV and Boxee and this delay to YouView could see it die before it starts.

Apple already seem to have missed the opportunity to steal a march on rivals in this field.  Their Apple TV device locks users in to their own eco-system and provides no tuner for viewing traditional TV, while its latest iteration provides no user storage for programs while HD is limited to 720p.  Devices such as the Nintendo Wii and Sony’s PS3 already allow users some of what YouView aims to do.  If the likes of Google can get content agreements in place and get their technology on to digital PVRs, YouView will likely be left dead in the water.

Still, the whole idea of such services will be pointless to many given current internet speeds.  My own internet connection has achieved download speeds of around 8Mbps at best, and at peak times this drops considerably to a point where streaming on iPlayer is subject to repeated buffering.  Until ISPs can consistently provide speeds for to their subscribers suitable for streaming online content, IPTV is never likely to become the mainstream service its capable of.

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