Industry phrases come and go, but some of them seem to get applied to anything that moves, writes Julian Clover
One of the greatest headaches in IPTV, other than the constant debate over the amount of time it takes to change channels, is the definition of the term itself. On these pages IPTV is usually taken to mean the type of service delivered by the likes of BT, Belgacom and TeliaSonera. The set-top box sits under the television, we assume that trying to place the device on top of the latest plasma screen is just asking for trouble, and the selection of content is piped in.
But many other sources prefer to include TV delivered over a computer, we surely can’t say PC because the Broadband TV News team all use Macs, but this might be better classed as web-TV or broadband TV. They are two very different delivery mechanisms with separate business models. The problem is that these terms become commonplace and are used and misused to the extent that their actual meaning effectively changes.
A more interesting one is personal video recorder against digital video recorder. We started out using PVR, which had become more of a European phrase, I’ve never been able to establish as to whether or not there was actually a difference. But recently research from Philips Consumer Electronics has pointed out that the term personal video recorders has an old fashioned feel about it. Personal TV has also been applied to mobile TV, which is some distance away from the living room.
Free-to-air is often called free-to-view and the term in the clear, indicating that a free-to-air service does not need a smart card, is rarely used. Should we be starting a campaign to reinstate these phrases?
Perhaps it is broadcasters that are forcing these changes. Interactive TV should surely be used to describe something that is, errr, interactive as opposed to an enhanced TV service where the consumer is in reality doing little more than changing channels.
Another term given blanket coverage is middleware, but the engine behind it all used to be known as the Application Programming Interface, now that’s a mouthful.