Tru2way, on the retail front, has been virtually dead on arrival.
Cable’s idea with tru2way (a.k.a. OCAP) was that it would unleash a wave of devices that could access cable’s two-way video services, such as program guides and interactive TV apps, without the need for an operator-leased set-top — and without government mandates like the FCC’s AllVid proposal.
Under the June 2008 tru2way “memorandum of understanding” and subsequent agreements — signed with CE makers including Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, LG Electronics and others — Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision Systems and Bright House committed to supporting tru2way across their footprints by mid-2009, while Charter was given until July 2010 (see Tracking Tru2Way Believers and Operators Release Tru2Way Agreement Details).
But Panasonic was the only CE company that showed up to the tru2way party. And now it’s no longer selling its tru2way-enabled Viera HDTVs in the three Comcast markets (Denver, Atlanta and Chicago) where it was offering them (see Panasonic Rolls Out Tru2way Television Sets).
“We currently have no tru2way products at retail and there are no announced release dates for Panasonic tru2way retail products at this time,” Panasonic said in a statement.
However, Panasonic hasn’t abandoned tru2way altogether. Jeff Cove, Panasonic’s vice president of technology and alliances, said the company has products in the works, including a standalone “set-back” tru2way adapter for TVs, though he declined to provide pricing or availability info.
“We decided that the most scalable way to approach tru2way was on the set-back box,” he said.
So why has tru2way been a bust at retail? Cost, for one thing: For Panasonic, tru2way added around $300 per TV, according to Cove. The set-back, he added, would certainly cost less than that.
Meanwhile, tru2way is alive and kicking at the MSOs even without CE retail products.
Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Cox are using tru2way to give themselves a level of hardware independence and, theoretically, speed up the introduction of interactive TV services (see Comcast Wants Box Options and Cox Rigs ‘Trio’ Big-Screen Guide).
Read more on tru2way in Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.