Cisco on Wednesday is expected to announce its plans to enter the thriving Web-enabled TV market with a solution that will take on set-top box makers like Google (News - Alert) and Apple, people familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal.
The telecom giant is expected to make a big splash in the market by introducing a set-top box that will provide both conventional television services – like live TV, on-demand and recorded programming – as well as Web-based services that are offered through competing products.
Cisco will reportedly be able to provide consumers with this unique combination of services by expanding its partnerships with cable operators. This means that users won't be able to purchase the product themselves, but will instead need to lease the set-top box through a cable provider that will charge them predetermined monthly subscription fees for access to online and traditional media content, according to the Journal.
For cable operators, the move makes a great deal of sense. By partnering with Cisco (News - Alert), these service providers will be able to monetize Web-enabled TV and may convince consumers to refrain from cutting their cable cords. The introduction of other set-top boxes has made many cable operators concerned about whether their services will soon become obsolete.
The move should also give Cisco a leg up on competitors like Apple, Roku and Boxee (News - Alert), which are unable to offer conventional cable service through their set-top boxes.
IDC analyst Jonathan Gaw told the Journal that Cisco's hybrid offering should be a hit with consumers, who would prefer to lease one integrated device through a cable operator rather than having to work with multiple vendors.
"People would rather not buy a Google TV or a Roku or an Apple (News - Alert) TV," he said. "They would rather not have to pick up another remote control."
The unnamed sources told the Journal that Cisco will officially announce the offering on Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The sources failed to elaborate on which cable operators have agreed to partner with Cisco and which online services will be available through the device.
Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf