There’s often someone saying that a given 12-month cycle is the “Year of” a particular product or service.

Marketers may be behind it, but editors also borrow the expression. Applications built to the tru2way specification are poised to “explode,” for instance, wrote one email correspondent recently. Could the “Year of tru2way” (aka OCAP) at last be upon us?

Maybe so, but that song sounds familiar. “This is the year of OCAP for us,” said the CTO of a large MSO, back in 2006.

There were reasons for saying that three years ago. Large MSOs had volunteered to make most headends OCAP-compatible by July 1, 2009. (A date that is, indeed, upon us.) And any major upgrade takes time.

It also made sense to say it the following year, with OCAP helping MSOs meet the July 2007 ban on set-tops with integrated security. Then you could have repeated it in 2008, when the five largest MSOs signed an agreement with several consumer electronics (CE) companies formalizing the July 1, 2009, target.

As for tru2way applications, last month CableLabs did release source code via java.net aimed as guidance for manufacturers and application developers building to this platform—much as our contributor George Lawton reported they would. (See page 35.)

As for what comes next, the popularity of these tools could be a leading indicator. Experience in the CE world is instructive. From March 2008 to March 2009, Apple reports that the iPhone software developer kit (SDK) alone was downloaded 800,000 times.

Each one of those SDK downloads roughly correlates with more than 1,000 (for a total of 800 million) downloads of actual applications.

Comparisons with the unparalleled popularity of the iTunes App Store may be unfair. Strong trend lines reinforce a tendency to view history in linear terms, but reality is often cyclical. Many a successful technology is first discovered, introduced, worked into a spec, socialized, forgotten, re-rediscovered, etc.

The Chinese calendar sheds some light here. According to the 12-year rotating lineup of animals, 2009 is the Year of the Ox, as it was in 1997, the year that CableLabs launched the OpenCable initiative.

Jonathan Tombes

The Daily

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