Sony Corp has put in its bid for a slice of the market for real-time operating systems for consumer devices, announcing that it will license its Aperios OS for an unspecified minimal fee. Aperios has already been adopted by Tele-Communications Inc for use in at least 5 million of its digital set-top boxes (CI No […]
Sony Corp has put in its bid for a slice of the market for real-time operating systems for consumer devices, announcing that it will license its Aperios OS for an unspecified minimal fee. Aperios has already been adopted by Tele-Communications Inc for use in at least 5 million of its digital set-top boxes (CI No 3,462). Sony also has dedicated middleware for the OS, such as the Home Networking Module, which is to link devices in a home network through an i.LINK interface, derived from the IEEE 1394 firewire interconnect standard. Sony also boasts a newly developed digital copy protection system for use with Aperios. Non-PC, networked home devices is shaping up as one of the lucrative markets of the next century and getting a slice of the anticipated returns has been a factor behind two large deals in the IT sector. Most immediately, Sony’s move takes it directly into competition with Sun and Matsushita, who said they were linking up to further develop Java for consumer devices last week (CI No 3,560). In the longer term, Sony’s bid to own the consumer devices OS market may cause it to butt heads with the Sun, Netscape and AOL partnership; as one of the suggested outcomes of that tie-up is consumer devices using Java, Netscape browser software and AOL-branded content. However, Sony feels it is in a good position to head off its OS rivals, Sun and Microsoft Corp, because the Aperios system is a true-real time system capable of handling multiple audio and visual data streams – essential for consumer devices. It has been developed with that market in mind and does not require additional refinement, of the kind that Sun and Microsoft are undertaking now. This leads to what may be the biggest plus point for the OS; it is available now so that consumer electronics firms wishing to design products for the nascent home networking market can start immediately, rather than waiting for fine-tuned versions of Java and CE. Possibly the biggest loser from Sony’s move is Microsoft, as it has not yet delivered a real-time version of CE and looks increasingly ghettoized, despite major set-top deals, producing what is basically a cut-down version of its desktop OS for slimmed down versions of desktop PCs. Microsoft appears to be banking on its name in the field of consumer operating systems, and perhaps in that arena, Sony is a more recognized brand.