Julian Clover sees Motorola playing up its strengths in infrastructure to rebuild its European cable presence.
Ask most people what they think the current trends are in multiplatform TV and the answer will come back along the lines of high definition, PVR and of course on demand. Some people may mutter mobile TV under their breath, but the enthusiasm that remains is largely hope rather than business model.
In Lisbon at Motorola’s Video Leadership Forum there were some examples of what we were likely to see over the next few years. It’s striking that the leading tech companies have a thought process that is more or less focussed, even if the means for getting there is not always the same.
When Motorola reorganised its divisions it neatly created Home & Networks Mobility, bringing together modems and set-tops, but also emerging technologies that would not look out of place at either Tandberg or NDS. Joe Cozzolino, senior vice president and general manager, Motorola Home & Networks Mobility EMEA and Asia Pacific, perhaps identified the beginnings, pointing to how General Instrument had failed to recognise that operators in Europe might want to use systems other than those provided by the company acquired by Motorola ten years ago.
Platform operators such as Sky, Canal Plus and UPC have also stamped their authority on the look and feel of their inventory and the technology inside. Arguably this could be seen as having spurred Motorola on further still. The majority of its European set-top deployments are with the new wave of IPTV platforms, 150,000 receivers clocked up this week by Meo, but now new technologies, so far infrastructure-based are driving a resurgence in Motorola’s international markets. Doors have been opened at UPC, Virgin and Com Hem as Motorola capitalises on VOD and DOCSIS technologies.
As a provider of networking technologies, Motorola is in the right place for what is now happening. The Universal Gateway sends content around the house, giving convenience to the subscriber, and saving the costs of deploying high-end boxes in multiple rooms for an ever-decreasing return. As has been shown by Microsoft Mediaroom – a Motorola partner – it’s also possible to display TV content through an X-Box.
It was a curiosity to be able to watch Finnish television on a bring spring day in Lisbon, but the point was a demonstration of Maxivision, the Finnish IPTV operator that sells its services through external ISPs. The over-the-top implementation allows the viewer to vary the bandwidth taken up by the video.
Then there was the Media Store, which provides operators with the ability to offer a consistent look and feel across multiple platforms, though its prime use would presumably be through a dual TV-online offering. It comes with a recommendation engine and, rights deals permitting, would allow content providers to offer DVD-style bundling.
This fusion of online and TV-based services is further evidence of the blurring of two screens into one along the road on which we travel.