Monday, 9 January 2012

News: Ubuntu TV unveiled

Canonical has taken the covers off Ubuntu TV, the latest technical product within the Ubuntu brand. Press coverage is synchronised across the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), selected news titles (PCPro among themand on the Ubuntu website, under the following promise:

"TV for human beings. Everything you want in a TV. In a TV.

Easy integration of broadcast, on-line services and applications.
Modern broadcast TV experience – search , watch, record and play.
Millions of movies and TV shows streamed over the web on demand.
Shared-screen experience with iOS, Android and Ubuntu devices.

Experience beautiful simplicity. One interface, one device and one remote. And, of course, Ubuntu One. Everything from broadcast and web streaming to PVR and personal cloud."

There are various image galleries and a bit of video on YouTube, of course.

You can take a look at the full list of features and specifications at

This is the first public look as Ubuntu TV, which, as Mark Shuttleworth promised, aims to broaden the reach of the Ubuntu open-source operating system beyond the PC - Ubuntu on everything tablets; smart-phones and TVs.

Canonical is showing the first Ubuntu TV at CES in Las Vegas with an expectation of the first Ubuntu-powered television in shops by the end of this year. Tellingly, there are no announcements of partners or deals with any brand-name manufacturers in these announcements and Canonical CEO Jane Silber wouldn't name any in talks.

Movie streaming services will be supported as well as live television broadcasts.

"It's a simple viewing experience for online video, both your own and routed over the Internet," according to Silber.

Consumer electronics giant LG has publicly wobbled over the cash spent on Goggle TV in the last year, despite Google's renewed push on the product, recently adding LG to its' manufacturers' list. This is seen as a direct response to the rumours that just won't go away, of Apple lining up a dramatic next generation of Apple TV. Just how Canonical intends to sit between these two tectonic plates, neither of which has a track record of success - yet - appears to rest on confidence; that device manufacturers want an open, neutral platform from a supplier that doesn't profit its' own brand at their expense. We'll see that put to the test.

This also implies an (initial) giveaway for no licensing fees and some kind of agreement on joint marketing budgets - against two of the marketing giants of technology. Not forgetting Microsoft making noises about the Xbox on-line as a home entertainment centre.

A major issue is going to be deals for content; the market for TV and movie rentals is tough, with cable companies and studios in the US fighting back against on-line, it's difficult to see how a new entrant is going to make an impact when the walls are going up all around.

In the meanwhile, you can glory in the Ubuntu TV interface, which, as we discussed on the podcast, could well be the killer application for which Unity was destined. RC