Cisco Says Set-Tops are Becoming Software

Cisco’s Dr. Ken Morse announced this morning at a Light Reading Cable event that set-tops are headed toward a next life as software, or as virtualized elements in the cloud. The statement is not terribly surprising on the face of it, except for the fact that it comes from Cisco. I’ve written plenty of “the set-top is not dead” posts in the past, and Dr. Morse agrees that it will be some time before legacy hardware disappears. However, even the fact that the company is publicly suggesting that hardware set-tops are on the road to extinction is pretty remarkable.

If you’re not familiar, Cisco is one of the largest set-top manufacturers on the planet, along with my former employer, Motorola, and Technicolor (formerly Thomson). However, consumer hardware is certainly not highest on the company’s priority list. In its most recent (disastrous) earnings report, Cisco made it clear that it plans to focus on its core network strengths going forward. That stated strategy refers primarily to ditching unsuccessful retail products, but maybe Cisco now sees set-tops in the same category. Certainly shifting everything to the network or the cloud puts Cisco in a place where it’s much more comfortable. And it seems the company is starting to align its public position with that reality.

3 thoughts on “Cisco Says Set-Tops are Becoming Software”

  1. I guess I don’t really understand how you can eliminate STBs. Last time I looked you couldn’t access “the cloud” without hardware. Even if your cable service was being ran by software that was in the cloud you still need hardware (and some software) to access it. Either you have a STB or the hardware is built into everyones TV.

    So how many decades would it take to replace everyones TV and build something into everyones new TV when they haven’t started yet?


  2. Yeah, I think he just went off script a little there. Certainly DVRs rented by the cable company are going away, replaced by software in the cloud, but that doesn’t mean the STB itself is going away. Given what a colossal failure retail cable card has been (as intended by the Cable MSO’s in the US), I can’t imagine a new attempt to eliminate the STB will go anywhere fast.

    Certainly they are going to be sitting idly by as the OTT revolution overwhelms them, and in the long run are nearly guaranteed obsolescence, but whether Cisco/SA will have any say in this process is certainly debatable.

  3. As a guy who works for a STB-company I can say, this entire article is purely and utterly CRAP. On-line STBz… gimme a break. All these high-rolling executive morons think that ‘tha cloud’ is the solution to everything. Guess again morons.

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