Motorola is preparing to enter the digital television business, with a set-top box capable of handling bit-by-bit transmissions over the air, from satellite and through cable, according to parties close to the company.
The company is expected to announce Sept. 14 a new consumer set-top box that uses Spyglass' Device Mosaic browser and MicroServer. The announcement will build on an agreement reached this week for Motorola to use Spyglass technology in a variety of electronic devices.
The Motorola box also could prove to be challenger to Web devices attached to TV sets, such as devices sold by Sony and Philips. The box will have a built-in browser for retrieving information, ordering goods and exchanging e-mail on the Internet, the sources said. Motorola declined to provide specifics, but a spokesman confirmed the company is working with Spyglass on a "a revolutionary new consumer product". Paul Chappel, Spyglass' business development manager, also confirmed the company is working with Motorola, but would not comment specifically on the project.
Although he had not been briefed on the Motorola product, Sean Kaldor, vice president of consumer device research at IDC said the move was consistent with the direction in which the digital TV industry is moving. "This [set-top] market has the possibility of being a major one. [Scientific-Atlanta] and [General Instrument Corp.] have never sold product into the retail market. Motorola already has shelf space and relationships with retailers. Why not take their modems and extend them into new markets?" he said.
Although the Motorola box will be compatible with Personal Java and Microsoft's Windows CE, it will use an unnamed operating system, the parties said. In addition, the box is expected to feature a cable modem. This is the second set-top product that will use Spyglass software. The company in April announced a similar deal with Nokia.