Coming soon to a mobile device near you: CloudTV

If you have patience to navigate multiple nested menus, you can take a peek at the dawning world of interactive, media-boundary-blurring TV at ActiveVideo Networks' Web site simply by selecting "explore," "entertainment," and any of the TV show samples.

The Web site is oh-so-cool and new media-y, but not — shall we say — intuitive. So, I have a certain reservation about the company's recently announced plans to deploy its CloudTV platform on consumer electronics devices. (Although in all fairness, iPhone users seem to be perfectly happy navigating menus. But some people prefer a pre-Web paradigm for entertainment: the on/off switch).

The point here is that the CloudTV software platform makes things simpler and cheaper for operators, according to ActiveVideo, by storing and processing video content in the network “cloud.”

CloudTV delivers content as a single, adaptable MPEG stream to the CE device, which passes keyclicks from standard remote controls to the cloud. The service easily integrates with any device, ActiveVideo says, enabling manufacturers to support something they call "Web-infused" programming, navigation and advertising, "delivered with the quality and immediacy viewers expect from TV." In other words, it’s TV enhanced with Web and social media content that looks and feels like television, unlike Web TV.

The company is actively promoting this thin client approach as an opportunity to open the doors for players to become overnight content providers.

“With ActiveVideo, CE manufacturers and retailers can simply and cost-effectively increase the value of their products by enabling differentiated content and interactivity and opening up the possibility of new revenue streams," said Jeff Miller, president and CEO of ActiveVideo Networks. "By making their devices ActiveVideo-ready, CE manufacturers and retailers can leverage infrastructure, expertise and relationships to become content providers virtually overnight.”