AT&T recently hosted its 2012 Consumer Industry Analyst Conference in Atlanta, the company’s first such event. Attendees received updates on the latest AT&T services and devices, including its U-verse TV IPTV service. AT&T also briefed us about several recently-announced “beyond TV” service initiatives – some of which are poised to launch during 2013 – as well as a peek into the near future. Read the entire article on Telecompetitor….
Here is the second of two articles about IBC 2012. At IBC this year, I was on the lookout at the intersection of TV software – which has always been my focus – and multi-screen delivery. Two product categories enable multi-screen services: service delivery platforms and video gateways. Some suppliers have entries in both. This article looks at offerings from Viaccess-Orca, Cisco (with NDS), Nagra, and Motorola.
This is the first of two posts about the 2012 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam. As an analyst, I’m just as interested in the macro-level trends as I am the individual vendors and products. So let’s look at a couple of those trends. If OTT and 3D television were the big news a couple of years ago, then this year it was multi-screen TV…
NBC Universal made a huge effort not only to cover and distribute more Olympic Games coverage than ever before, but also, by undertaking a major research effort into the results of its coverage. The actual results will give observers the best picture yet of multiscreen video consumers and what makes them tick…
Read the rest of this article on the Telecompetitor site! (original post was August 1)
AT&T announced additional second-screen and social features for its U-verse IPTV service a couple of weeks ago. Judge for yourself whether its U-verse App is an increasingly handy virtual Swiss Army Knife of sorts or whether it might instead be bordering on bloatware…
Everything seemed so tidy and settled six months ago. A growing new conventional wisdom acknowledged that pay TV is, in fact, not only moving to Internet protocol, but also, that the titans of pay TV had all but won the day over ‘Web video.’ This sense of complacency was disrupted when Google made a trio of noteworthy announcements at its annual Google I/O developer conference last week…
If you’re reading this blog, chances are that electronic games are not your focus – and they aren’t mine either. So you may have missed what could turn out to be the latest iteration of Microsoft TV unless you happened to be paying attention to Microsoft’s SmartGlass announcement at the E3 game conference last week…
Note: I now have the privilege to blog for Telecompetitor, an active telecommunications industry news and information resource. This is my first entry. I’ll be making entries twice every month, and linking to them from here. – Steve Hawley
Alcatel-Lucent’s annual industry analyst meeting took place against a challenging backdrop. Since the company’s creation in 2006, Alcatel-Lucent has had just one profitable year (2011), and the current economic slump – particularly in Europe – won’t help in 2012….
For us “industry folks,” the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas marks the final jolt back to reality after the holiday season. As everything has become connected, as telecommunications carriers and pay TV service providers have become mainstream exhibitors – and especially because the multi-screen world of anything anytime to any device is now a reality – CES has become a must-attend event. Both to see what’s new, and to meet with associates, clients and friends.
I was fortunate to receive an invitation to today’s AT&T 2012 Developer Summit, where AT&T made a number of significant announcements:
- Cloud Architect, a cloud-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering for developers to host the operation of their apps.
- An AT&T API Platform that opens up AT&T’s service platform to HTML5 mobile apps and provides tools to develop multi-screen apps
- AT&T AppCenter, which provides a consumer-facing go-to-market merchandizing resource for HTML5 and Android apps.
- AT&T Application Resource Optimizer (ARO), a diagnostic tool that helps developers reduce device battery drain from inefficient use of device memory and processing resources, and to bundle requests from apps to the AT&T network.
The event was keynoted by an all-star cast, including Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets; Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (who ended with his trademark cry of ‘Developers Developers Developers!’); and Nokia president Stephen Elop (who is positioning Nokia’s upcoming Windows Phone-based Lumia as Nokia’s re-entry into the U.S. market). My personal favorite moment was toward the end of HTC CEO Peter Chou’s presentation, when he trailed off into “This is my personal device. It’s really really good!” while showing off HTC’s new Titan II LTE model. Senior executives of Sony, Samsung, and Pantech each introduced a variety of new smartphones and tablets that run in AT&T’s LTE mobile network; some of which established new form-factors.
Toward the end of each presenter’s pitch, it was mentioned that “oh yes, we have an SDK.” It left me wondering what the “Uber-SDK” might be for all of this, given that each vendor’s environment has proprietary elements, and surely no developer wants to enter into ten or more separate parallel developer streams (which is really the situation today). AT&T’s announcements represent one step in the evolution toward “One Ring to rule them all,” where, in this case, the AT&T network is the common denominator.
Although the event was predominantly oriented toward mobile, lo and behold, there is also an AT&T U-verse Enabled SDK! This was what convinced me to stay beyond the keynote session for the breakout sessions, and I can report that the SDK is a good first step. Like the rest of the solutions at this event, the U-verse Enabled SDK was oriented toward mobile application developers, so functionality was somewhat limited. Developers can create mobile second-screen apps that associate devices and apps with individual U-verse receivers (set-top boxes), issue commands (such as channel-change), detect state-changes (such as acknowledgements that the command was executed).
The ability to develop or modify the TV UI itself was out of scope, as that is the domain of Microsoft Mediaroom. Left unsaid was the notion that separating the U-verse Enabled SDK from Mediaroom provides AT&T with the flexibility to use it for other TV middleware platforms. (Apple was also absent from this event; AT&T directs Mediaroom and iOS developers to their respective vendors’ own programs).
Having been around IPTV since its infancy, I still have to pinch myself when I see all the advances. In October of 2011, AT&T introduced four new social TV apps for its U-verse IPTV service:
- Miso, which enables U-verse TV users to follow what one another are watching, and leveraging U-verse TV metadata so the user doesn’t have to type in the name of a show with the remote control
- Buddy TV, a U-verse remote control replicated on a second-screen device
- Splat Interactive’s TV Foundry, an app that uses program metadata of the show you’re watching to retrieve related content from the Web, such as trailers, previews and reviews; and share them with friends via Twitter and Facebook
- Wayin, which presents polls, games, and trivia that is associated with a program that you’re watching, so you can opt-in and play
These apps were built by independent developers in collaboration with the AT&T Foundry, a network of development centers in the US and Israel that’s currently hosting more than 100 active projects with third-party developers. After today’s event, more developers are likely to join in. It will be interesting to see what these projects produce as they come to market, especially as it further enriches the IPTV and multiscreen experience.
Microsoft today made the long-expected announcement that it is ‘transforming TV’ by bringing the TV experience to the Xbox 360 (or, said another way, adding a ‘TV portal’ to the Xbox). My first reaction was that it was the ‘inverse’ of DISH Network’s Blockbuster Movie Pass announcement of September 23. But then, the term ‘inverse’ doesn’t really apply if there are three terms to the online video equation.
Here’s what I mean:
- Microsoft’s Xbox 360 TV initiative is ‘device-centric,’ independent of service or content provider,
- DISH’s Blockbuster Movie Pass is ‘service-centric,’ independent of content provider or device,
- Then, there’s ‘content centric,’ as in HBO GO or Max GO or WatchESPN; where the content can be just as easily delivered to an app – independent of service provider or device – as it can be to a TV set.
On the surface, ‘Xbox 360 TV’ doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but it is. On one hand, Xbox users can already get on-demand online video content through the Zune on Xbox Live marketplace, which, according to IHS Screen Digest has 16.4% market share for online movies – not to mention Hulu and Netflix.
But on the other hand, it’s live TV. This is of strategic importance for Microsoft: its ability to provide live multichannel TV instantly differentiates the Xbox 360 from other online video devices like Apple TV, Google TV, Boxee, Roku and seemingly dozens of other little boxes that have come and gone over the past couple of years.
Which brings us to DISH. Interestingly, DISH seems to have looked at their Blockbuster announcement more as a way to counter the threat of online video from Netflix, Comcast and DirecTV, when in reality, the chart that DISH published at announcement underscores – did they mean not to mention this? – what’s missing from Netflix
and Qwikster: multichannel TV itself as the differentiator.
[ Note: 5 days after this blog posting, Netflix decided to cancel Qwikster, which would have separated Netflix’ DVD rental business from its streaming business – but the point I make still remains. Just combine the two rightmost columns of this table. ]
Add in DISH’s Sling technology, Move Networks’ online video codec, the fact that DISH bought three satellite companies this year, and now owns a Telco? Hmmm…something is brewing at DISH, and I bet it will have more impact than ‘Xbox TV’
It just goes to show how much navel-gazing there is about online TV. Consider how much our industry has ruminated over OTT and cable TV cord-cutting, when in fact, the percentages (and the revenues) are still very low. The other standout stat on the chart is the fact that it underscores how many titles are not available online, compared with what’s on DVD.
The Xbox 360 gives content providers another channel to market, putting their content in front of people via a device that’s new to many of the content providers. [ Notice, by the way, that several TV programmers are going to the Xbox directly, including HBO, ESPN and SyFy. We'll see how much leverage this gives them when it comes time for pay TV providers to renew carriage agreements with them. ]
As a set-top box substitute, the Xbox 360 stands to reduce CapEx for service providers (although AT&T, BT, Telus and other service providers have deployed using the Xbox as a set-top, and none of them are are saying how widely adopted it has been). We’ll see about that too.