Wyplay’s ‘Frog’ initiative aims to offer for the first time solutions and programmes in Open Source format that are likely to lead to a wider range of options for interactive digital television.
Wyplay is a French company which develops software solutions and platforms to enable the development of applications, including multiscreen functionality, that are increasingly being used by TV operators and broadcasters. Cable TV providers and set-top box manufacturers use the company’s products widely and drawing on its experience with some 10 million subscribers at Canal+, Belgacom, SFR, and Vodafone, Wyplay has now bundled into its Frog open source solution all the necessary items for developing interactive products for television. L’Atelier caught up with the Wyplay team at the CES Unveiled Paris event on 3 October.
Open source software and expertise
The initiative, which is scheduled to launch in January, is based on the traditional criteria of the Open Source mindset, offering all the various TV operators full access to the software tools needed, together with their source code, free of charge. Three software packages will be offered – for use with the operator’s servers on the one hand and for the set-top box and users’ mobile devices on the other. The solution has modular components, so Frog users are free to build products tailored to their own customers. The starting point for the Wyplay initiative is the desire to sweep away the limitations and inefficiencies that arise from the proprietary ‘black-box’ development model. One effect of such ‘closed’ solutions is to prevent software re-use, thus causing development resource bottlenecks, hampering independent innovation in the TV market and leading to frustrating delays that prevent set-top box manufacturers from responding quickly to development in pay-TV services. Wyplay founder Dominique Feral explains that the aim of the initiative is to “meet the needs of TV operators and keep pace with the speed of overall deployment of Frog solutions.
A boost for the pay-TV market
Although the range of pay-TV services on offer has been growing with the number of set-top box software platforms available, take-up by TV audiences has so far not indicated much enthusiasm. Obviously a transition period will be required before the traditionally passive TV-audience can be turned on to a more active approach. However, a major problem at the present time is that the products on offer lack mutual consistency and can be tricky to use. Switching to Open Source means that Frog is in a position to set the various players in the TV market free, enabling operators to draw on flexible and efficient platforms, along the lines of Internet video providers. Explains Dominique Feral: “Frog by Wyplay is aiming to become a technology standard for digital TV.” Given the fact that, with very few exceptions, every household in France now has both a TV set and Internet access, it is clear that this market has considerable potential.