The SCTE Cable-Tec Expos is an engineer’s show, but there are always a few hidden gems with broader appeal. One of them this year was the NDS HTML5 Snowflake guide. You can’t find it anywhere in the U.S. yet, but UPC has deployed it in the Netherlands with the new Horizon service. And now that NDS is part of Cisco, there may be a better chance that some version of Snowflake will end up with a cable, telco or satellite provider near you.
There are a few key things to know about Snowflake. First, even though it’s HTML5, it doesn’t have to run on an IP box. NDS creates an abstraction layer on top of existing set-top software to support the guide, which is actually hosted in the network. (A handful of other companies are doing this too now, by the way.) Second, while your set-top doesn’t have to be an IP box a la the AT&T U-verse model, the fact that the guide is IP-based means it runs on tablets and smartphones too. Third, in addition to the pretty UI, web-based guides like Snowflake can add in a whole lot of new information – think personalization, content recommendations, and eventually targeted advertising.
NDS also showed off a proof-of-concept Olympics app for tablets that was designed to run during the games this past summer. (See pic below) Get ready to see a lot more of these companion apps that tie into whatever you’re watching on TV- with add-on stats, social integration, related archived content and more.
The program guide space is heating up, and I’ve got more content from the SCTE show to post in the coming days. Also, shameless plug alert! I have a new report coming out for GigaOM Pro next week. It’s on the future of the electronic program guide, and even though the full report will be behind a pay wall, it looks like I’ll be able to post an excerpt here. Stay tuned.