The traditional cable set-top may be headed for extinction — or at the very least, a dramatic evolution.
I recently spoke with Motorola Mobility president Dan Moloney and asked him whether the cable industry’s focus on delivering IP video to broadband-enabled TVs, tablets and other devices pointed to the eventual decline of the set-top.
“The traditional model of set-tops is going to change and evolve, there’s no doubt about it,” Moloney said. “A number of markets outside the U.S. are a number of years behind in the evolution, so I think there’s a robust set-top business there, but I think there’s no doubt that over time a lot of the capabilities evolve into the cloud.”
Note that Motorola’s Home business faltered in 2009 and 2010, even before the full IP revolution has taken hold, as have Cisco’s set-top sales (see Motorola Mobility’s Home Segment Q4 Sales Inch Up 1% and Cisco: ‘We Are Not Exclusively in the Set-Top Box Business’).
According to Moloney, today Motorola Mobility’s business is about 75% home devices and about 25% infrastructure. “I think as time goes on that mix is going to change between those two,” he said.
Moloney joined Motorola in 2000 with the takeover of General Instrument, then left in February 2010 to become CEO of electronic-components manufacturer Technitrol (see Moloney Stays At Home Unit After Motorola Reorganization and Motorola’s Moloney Joins Technitrol As CEO). He was lured back last September by Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility — which officially split from Motorola Solutions on Jan. 4 — to run the Home set-top and video segment (see Moloney Returns To Motorola).
I asked Moloney why he left, and why he then came back. “Some people say I went brain-dead for a period of time,” Moloney responded drolly.
He continued, “There were a lot of questions as we were going through 2009 about where we were going to take the company. I got an opportunity to run Technitrol and thought it would be very interesting to take a small company and do something with it. When the Home business consolidated with mobile and it was clear that it would be a well-funded entity — and I was a strong believer in that direction — Sanjay called me a wanted to talk about it.”
Moloney said it was a “tough decision” to leave Technitrol, “but it wasn’t a tough decision to come back to a company that is in the midst of one of the greatest technology evolutions I’ve seen in my lifetime. And the opportunity to play a very senior role in this company was too compelling.”
More of my interview with Moloney will appear in the March 7 issue of Multichannel News.
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