Sun Microsystems has signed a deal with US cable television provider Tele-Communications Inc (TCI), despite rumours that Microsoft is set to invest $1 billion in TCI within a few days.
Sources said the deal with Sun would not affect Microsoft?s widely rumoured interest in TCI, the biggest cable TV company. TCI has signed to use Sun?s Personal Java in all its planned digital cable TV set-top boxes, following the launch of the Personal Java platform yesterday (see VNU Newswire, 8 January). TCI hopes to deploy between 6.5 million and 10 million over the next three years, beginning in early 1999.
Cable TV companies have said they are wary of Microsoft?s involvement and motives when investing in content providers - TCI carries the MSNBC station owned by Microsoft and NBC, for example - so TCI may hope that Sun?s input could show it is not biased in favour of Microsoft. Personal Java competes with Windows CE for devices such as set-top boxes.
Alan Baratz, president of Sun?s Javasoft unit, said: ?The television is a very high volume platform.? He said the deal will lead to opportunities including electronic commerce and interactive TV applications.
Consumers will demand new applications in their homes over the next few years, according to Bruce Ravenel, president and chief executive of TCI.net. ?Those applications will be more quickly developed and run on any box, regardless of the hardware involved,? he said.
Microsoft may supply operating systems for TCI?s devices which will work with Personal Java, Ravenel said, and this deal does not affect other dealings with Microsoft.
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