The Brazilian government’s controversial commitment to the sponsorhip of open source software and standards for government use has not been as unwavering as advocates — painted as Communist plotters by the opposing lobby — had hoped.
In 2009, President da Silva claimed savings of some $250 million from such projects.
I have tracked a couple such projects myself, and found dedicated but hungry programmers on the other end of the line, promoting PostGreSQL and Plone. The program’s Web site recounts few success stories. Friends of mine from the Social Forum milieu blame the usuals villains — you know who.
One key piece of technology is the Ginga set-top box for cable television, introduced as a project to reclaim the role of value-adder for Brazilian firms in the tax-free manufacturing zone in Manaus.
Today, February 26, the federal government announced Inter-Ministry Order 140, signed by the M of Development and Science & Technology. The order sets a standardized procedure for the incorporation of the Ginga set-top box into television sets.
As this news service reported last week, the government dropped the demand that manufacturers adopt the Ginga box in 2012. Adoption will not mandatory until 2013, when the market share of domestically produced televisions with Ginga will rise to 75% of TVs produced and 100% connected. In 2014, the target will rise to 90% of all TVs.
The federal order also now requires that manufacturers open the IP communication port of Ginga-connected TVs in order to enable real interactivity. There has been concern that manufacturers might not offer this capability, restricting IP access to the native middleware of the TV set and its proprietary applications.
I recently tried to open a Word for Windows XP document in Windows 7, only to be told that Windows 7 could not open the outdated format. It then offered to sell me the software I needed to complete the job.
If manufacturers decide to start production of Ginga-enabled TVs this year, they could lower the number of sets to be produced in 2013, so long as they respect the minimum of 60%.
The government is betting that, along with this order, another boost to the Ginga program will come from e-government initiatives and applications subsidized by public investments. These programs are expected to intensify, starting now.
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