HDMI Forum: More Better? or Just More Money?
HDMI Licensing is the organization that, well... licenses HDMI. It's a conglomerate of founders/members that determine the spec and issue licenses and disseminate the design spec for manufacturing members to know how to properly implement the technology into their products. This week, HDMI Licensing created a whole new organization, HDMI Forum, Inc. The new organization is supposedly intended to bring more people into the process of developing the HDMI specification. Presumably, these additional members would be manufacturers, and presumably, they would be comprised of existing HDMI Licensees as well as other concerned parties.
HDMI Licensing claims that the HDMI Forum is literally going to be highly involved in the development of future versions of HDMI - shaping the very specification itself. In fact, they say that all future standardization activities, including actual development of the Specifications, will be transitioned to the new organization. Here's where it gets interesting (and slightly compelling): You can be a member in the HDMI Forum simply by breathing and paying them $15,000.
Of course, that doesn't mean they have to listen to you. Still, it will be interesting to see how the manufacturers who are not founding members will now gain a voice. In particular, it will be fascinating to see if smaller or more varied companies with resources will bring additional functionality and creative thinking to the already dated specification.
Already dated? Well, in our opinion, HDMI is a great digital media transfer solution. But it's not really a "standard" in the way that 802.11b is a standard for transmitting networked data. It's not a "standard" in how it allows multiple devices to communicate, network and share media. It's actually fairly "dumb" as a technology - simply ferrying audio, video, and data from one source device to a sink (display) or through a repeater like an A/V receiver.
HDMI current has over 1,100 adopters and Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing believes that the HDMI Forum will allow HDMI to benefit from the input of the very companies who have caused the success of the format in the first place. That may be true, and certainly it may result in manufacturers having a greater say in the specification. The cynical side of us also sees the potential $16.5 million dollars in annual revenues (not including the additional $55,000 in total dues from the 11 elected board members).
Editor's Note: Audioholics is setting up a new "Reviewer's Forum" whereby anyone can become a member if they pay us $15,000 in annual dues to help us develop what products and technologies our magazine should focus on each year as well as which way we take the site technology. We'll also allow members to vote on and elect a panel of 11 directors who will have to pay an additional $5,000 in annual dues to serve.
The new HDMI Forum would seem to impact the existing arrangement between HDMI licensees, but Licensing says that since the current HDMI licensing model provides access to critical intellectual property at a minimal cost for those who adopt and implement the HDMI Specification, there shouldn't be any impactful change in the way existing licensees do business.
So is this good or bad? Does it even have to be so dynamically one or the other? We're not sure. On the surface, we love the idea of manufacturers getting involved in the development of new standards. In fact, some of the greatest advancements in HDMI seem to have come in SPITE of HDMI - like RedMere's active EQ technology that's built into the cables. And how about all of the HDMI balun technology to allow HDMI to actually travel more than 50 feet without losing signal? And of course, there's wireless HDMI.
At the same time, widely-involved manufacturer input could be a concern, since it may cause the format to go through some pretty dramatic (read: not very backwards-compatible) changes over the next few years. Some of those changes could be very welcome - like those designed to make HDMI more than just a 'dumb' digital A/V medium. Imagine HDMI revisited as a real format - something that simply worked when you plugged it in, networking devices together and fostering true 2-way communication, networking, and configuration? That would be something indeed. Maybe this is a big leap forward in how we get there. We'll see.
From the HDMI Forum Website:
- What is the HDMI Forum?
HDMI Forum, Inc, is a nonprofit, mutual benefit corporation established by the HDMI Founders whose purpose is to foster broader industry participation in the development of future versions of the HDMI Specification.
- Why create an open organization now?
In a word: success. With over 2B HDMI-enabled devices having shipped since 2003, the rapid market growth of HDMI technology has extended into an increasingly wide array of devices, applications, and industries, including cell phones, automobiles and commercial applications such digital signage and airport installations. Thus, the HDMI Founders felt strongly that the next leap in growth in the development of the specification would arise with broader industry participation. Thus, the HDMI Founders decided to create an open organization where interested companies are an integral part of the development process.
- Are there any tiers or levels of Membership in the HDMI Forum?
No. All Members have equal standing, including equal voting rights. If duly elected, any Member may sit on the Forum’s Board of Directors. All Members are also eligible to participate in the Forum’s Technical Working Group and other Working Groups.
- What are the qualifications to become a Member of the HDMI Forum?
The Forum is open for participation by any entity. Interested entities must sign a Participation Agreement and pay an annual Membership Fee. There is no limit to the number of Members the Forum may admit.
- What is the cost to become a Member of the HDMI Forum?
Members pay an annual fee of USD $15,000.
- Who will oversee the HDMI Forum?
An 11-member Board of Directors will oversee the administration and operation of the HDMI Forum.
- What are the qualifications to become a Director?
The Board of Directors will be elected every two years by a general vote of the Forum Members. Candidates must be employees of a Member organization and deemed suitable by that Member to perform the duties of a Director. Only Members may nominate candidates to serve as Directors, with nominations limited to one nominee per Member. There is an annual fee of USD $5,000 for Members who are elected and serve on the Board of Directors.
For more information, check out www.hdmiforum.org