Commenting on my previous blog (see below), the official licensing agency for HDMI certification, HDMI Licensing, LLC, wrote in recently to make clear that my blog was about SimplayHD, not HDMI Licensing. From Les Chard, president of HDMI Licensing:
"HDMI Licensing would like the opportunity to address some of the issues you raise in your article.
We thought it might be useful to point out that your article may be based on misunderstanding the article entitled "Consumer electronics HDMI testing hijacked?" posted on EE Times. Please be aware that the HDMI requirements for compliance testing do not include SimplayHD testing. The testing fees described in your article are all fees related to the SimplayHD testing program, which is again an elective, optional program for HDMI products, and the SimplayHD program is not required by HDMI Licensing LLC.
The HDMI compliance program requires manufacturers to submit the first products of each device category type to an HDMI Authorized Testing Center (ATC). Each of these ATCs is run by various HDMI Founder companies (Matsushita, Philips, Silicon Image and Sony). After their first products have passed at an ATC, manufacturers are then allowed to self-test ensuing products of the same category type. This testing program has been embraced by manufacturers as they have the flexibility to submit products to an ATC, or perform the testing themselves.
Hope this clarifies HDMI's role in the fees for testing."
HDMI Licensing is absolutely correct. The point that the original article made, and that I repeated in perhaps overly hyperbolic and simplistic fashion, was that if SimplayHD certification becomes a required feature for several of the biggest retail chains to carry a product -- if Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Sears all required SimplayHD stickers on products they carry -- in effect, as a practical matter it becomes a requirement. Though it's true that officially, as far as the real HDMI authorities are concerned, SimplayHD is optional.
Apologies to HDMI Licensing for any confusion caused by omitting the name of SimplayHD when I said, "a certification program to assure HDMI interoperability is positioning itself to become the de-facto standard," in my previous blog. There already is an official standard, and that's HDMI Licensing. Comparing SimplayHD's fees to MPEG license fees was also confusing, as one is an independent test facility while the other is a licensing authority.
Let me also emphasize that this scenario may play out as described, but it's not something that's already happened. As mentioned in the original article, Sony has not yet obtained any SimplayHD certification. So far.