The Personal Computer is in for some tough competition and that too from a genie. Yes, you have read it right. 'Home Genie' (HG) is Broadband Pacenet
India's latest offering in the field of convergence. HG is a digital set top box
capable of receiving cable TV, DTH and Broadband-delivered TV services,
apart from internet access on TV. The set top box will be one, which can
integrate voice, video and data applications.
S Ravindran, Chief Executive Officer, Broadband Pacenet, said: "Set top boxes will outnumber the personal computer (PC) population by a huge margin.
Currently, the PC penetration in India is 2.5 million. Even the best of
government sops are not expected to raise the penetration level beyond 10
million homes by 2010. Low computer penetration is haunted by cost factors
and the technology fear, which includes the obstacle of learning a new
HG has many advantages over the PC, which include the low cost factor and ease of use. A PC is worth around Rs 25000 to 40000 whereas the initial
price for a HG varies between Rs 5000 to Rs 8000, which will further reduce
to Rs 3000 to 5000 as volumes increase, company officials claim.
Says Jagjit Singh Kohli, chairman of Broadband Pacenet, "The unique feature of Home Genie is that it can connect to the internet with whichever
available infrastructure as it has a serial as well as an ether net
interface, making it a TV-plus and not a PC-minus device.
Commenting on the future of Web TV in India, Kohli said, "Web TV was
introduced in the US at least five years ago and failed as it was much ahead of
its times. The capacity of Set Top Boxes was limited. The Home Genie is the
broadest of broadband set top boxes in terms of digital capacity .It has a
stripped-down IBM processor and is equipped with an Oregon browser, which is
also used in a Sony Playstation.
This multi-function, multi-application, consumer premise equipment is being targeted at 98 per cent of the Indian population who don't have PCs. With the
installation of these boxes, the consumers can pay up electricity or phone
bills, do home banking, surf internet, and enjoy gaming. These boxes also have an inbuilt peoplemeter functionality, which can track for a consumer the time he or she spends on a particular channel and how many times the channel or a programme has been watched and the likes. This is also capable of providing loyalty programme promotion schemes.
So, what does the industry experts have to say about Genie? "Currently it's a solution in search of a problem. There is no market for it at the moment as CAS has been stalled for sometime. The set top box is good but irrelevant in the current scenario," says Dinyar Contractor, Media analyst and Editor of Satellite Cable TV.
Pacenet, however, is determined to kick start a revolution with HG that will be the future of TV in India. The goal is to transform over 61 million subscribers by 2007.