There is many a debate (especially on the TV Forums of LinkedIn) surrounding the Interactive TV Specification of HbbTV. Many people are already hailing its success due to the fact that it has been selected in a handful of countries and interest is growing. Even the DTG in UK has added an HbbTV profile to its D-Book Spec making all the MHEG5 supporters shudder I would imagine ; albeit MHEG5 is not growing but declining.
Like Docsis versus DVB-Return Channel the industry driven HbbTV spec has beaten a DVB consortium developed product with the same Companies in both camps – hedging their bets? I have, in the past complained of the fragmentation of the work of the SDO's, especially as the world of TV and Broadband collide! No organization i.e EU/EC has made initiatives to 'merge’ those groups in order to harmonise and avoid huge corporate resource wastage. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent in duplicated tracks of work. The DVB and OIPF/HbbTV divergence possibly causes more fragmentation than necessary despite Liaison between the groups. The DVB needs to address this issue for it to help the market rollout of Interactive in DVB networks – or perhaps it is too late for that? Docsis managed to be successful without the DVB.
I was an evangelist for MHP in those heady days, which now bear a striking resemblance to the HbbTV rollout. I am still a firm believer in Interactive Value Added Services and therefore it is good that HbbTV appears to be growing in stature. I said it is moving ahead in the same way as MHP did 10+ years ago i.e. a disparitive smattering of Countries, Channels, Broadcasters, Operators - Many, Many Tech suppliers - a further smattering of Content Developers and several all encompassing HbbTV experts such as HTTV in France.
However like the MHP initiative there is no cohesive nation-wide plan in any country; or any EU mandate (nor will they ever mandate anything again now the market has reached such massive digital fragmentation) - the digital TV horse has truly bolted! This may cause it some headaches for HbbTV to be a true nationwide or global standard.
As I have also previously highlighted the very nature of TV software evolution (HTML5, Companion Screen SaaS technology etc.) and the margin fueled business of high volume selling at retail i.e. Zappers and alternative solutions (Hulu, Netflix, AppleTV and all the varieties of Connected TV, WebTV and the Toys-R-Us channel type offerings) it may take longer for it to be fully mainstream in Retail...
However for the first time it has a larger 'Broadcaster' following than any other previous standard. The EBU is firmly behind it. The markets are the problem. Where there is an incumbent like the lonely MHP in Italy change will take longer, but there will be change; it is inevitable. The unification at a higher level is required. Someone needs to drive it but not as a technology! One of the biggest problems of HbbTV is that we have tens of years of experience and know full well that selling Technology Acronyms for the Interactive TV to Consumers - DOES NOT WORK. Even MHEG5 and OpenTV in Sky were converted to "Red Button" to make it consumer palatable. HbbTV needs to do the same for it to go truly mainstream before it becomes outmoded especially ‘vis-à-vis’ the general public used to ‘new technologies’ each 6 months. If HbbTV wants to win as a mainstream universal technology it has to up its game.