Gateway? There's an App for That

Now here's an interesting -- possibly even game-changing -- thing. On Friday, IMS Research issued a prediction that Android smartphones could become the new home media gateways. The full press release is available here, but the gist of it is that having o...

Content Dam Btr En Articles 2011 09 Gateway There S An App For That Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File

By Ron Hendrickson

Now here's an interesting -- possibly even game-changing -- thing. On Friday, IMS Research issued a prediction that Android smartphones could become the new home media gateways.

The full press release is available here, but the gist of it is that having open-source DLNA built into Android smartphones could allow said phones to be used as hubs to control and access all the media in a subscriber's home on any DLNA device. (Sounds a lot like a gateway, yes?) IMS thinks Apple's likely to be left out in the cold because it tends to be open-source-averse.

The smartphone-as-gateway isn't as far-fetched as it initially sounds. DLNA and other wireless networking technologies are commonplace nowadays. A number of cable operators, most notably Comcast, already have apps available to turn smartphones into remote controls for TVs, DVRs and so forth. Multiscreen plays already involve some form of controlling and moving content hither and yon wirelessly. And EchoStar recently introduced a set-top for the European market based on the Android OS. In other words, getting from all that to a gateway is no major conceptual leap.

So what might this mean?

For manufacturers and vendors of purpose-built, wired-in gateways, this could be bad news. If a gateway app takes off, demand for traditional gateways can be expected to drop, perhaps precipitously. Entire product lines (including installed base) might be rendered obsolete. Adding DLNA (or other wireless networking) to boxes that don't already have it, or introducing new models that do have it, will take money and time.

But for cable operators, the smartphone-as-gateway could be a very good thing indeed. It could save the cost of scads of boxes, or at least reduce the cost of multi-purpose boxes, and reduce the jumble of wiring in subs' homes. It could also accelerate multiscreen video plays and hook into "smart home" plays that are emerging as a tantalizing vertical. Who knows, it might even reduce truck rolls.

The possibilities are intriguing.

Ron Hendrickson is BTR's managing editor. Reach him at ron@broadbandtechreport.com.

More in Multiscreen
Content Dam Btr Sponsors A H Arris 199x70