Back in the early 2000s, Cubiware’s co-founders and managers, Jakub Gorski (CEO) and Maciej Grzonkowski (CTO), worked together on one of the world’s first over-the-top (OTT) video-on-demand (VOD) set-top box (STB) and IPTV projects, which was for the Japanese market. In 2008, we decided to take our personal IP-video expertise into a wider international market by founding Cubiware. Initially, we developed IPTV middleware, which we successfully brought to market.
Over time, we noticed that traditional pay-TV operators were suffering from a lack of technical alternatives for interactive TV rollouts. They were not ready to go directly to IPTV and at the same time they wanted to offer more innovative/interactive functionalities. We decided to address these issues by building a hybrid DVB/IP middleware product that allows operators a smooth rollout of advanced functionalities and controlled migration to IP. Our CubiTV hybrid middleware was rolled out in 2010 on the Toya cable network in Poland, and it has since been deployed by dozens of pay-TV operators worldwide.
In addition to IPTV and DVB/IP hybrid middleware, Cubiware now also offers OTT/multiscreen middleware and software development kits (SDKs).
Who are Cubiware’s clients and where are they based?
We serve a range of traditional pay-TV operators, telcos, and pure OTT players. The largest single group is cable operators running DVB-C/IP hybrid and IPTV networks. But we have recently also been getting a lot of traction with direct-to-home (DTH) operators as well as service providers that operate a mix of IP, satellite, and cable networks.
We now have more than 50 deployments around the globe. The majority of our customers are currently based in Europe, such as DNA in Finland and the Telekom Austria Group companies, or in Latin America, including Columbus Communications in the Caribbean and Cablemas in Mexico.
At the same time, we are recently seeing a lot of new business opportunities coming from emerging markets in Asia — Indonesia, India, and Vietnam — and in Africa. These markets are becoming ready to introduce more interactivity into TV. We are currently finalizing the first significant rollouts of hybrid middleware in these markets.
What, in you view, are Cubiware’s biggest achievements to date?
We have brought a lot of innovation and agility — originating in our IPTV background — to the traditional pay-TV world in a relatively short time period of time. We propagated the concept of hybrid “broadcast + broadband” middleware, introducing an operator-friendly, future-proof platform that unifies the user experience and enables new services. We are truly very proud of this achievement.
Who do you regard as your main competitors?
The middleware market is quite fragmented. Apart from well-recognized traditional players, there are number of vendors focusing on a particular market segment such as IPTV or OTT. Our solution covers a whole range of market segments — cable, satellite, DTT, IPTV, and OTT — and it is difficult to identify major competitors that cover a similarly broad range.
How is the middleware market developing and what role do you see Cubiware playing in it?
Cubiware’s role is to enable subscriber-friendly innovation and business-friendly operation across a very diverse range of content-delivery platforms. To do that, we look at the market from multiple angles: operators, devices, features, and partners.
Operators are experiencing progressive consolidation, meaning that it is becoming more common for a single company to operate heterogeneous delivery networks. So the market increasingly needs versatile middleware solutions that can unify services across cable, satellite, and IP, and that allow for a timely rollout of new services over multiple pathways to multiple types of devices. That is already one of the core strengths of Cubiware. Our products are built from the ground up to work equally well in traditional broadcast scenarios, such as satellite, and in emergent settings such as OTT or hybrid.
In addition to the diversification of networks and devices we also expect continued proliferation of new innovative features. Advanced content discovery interfaces, for example, are becoming increasingly important as access to content continues to expand. Cubiware works closely with third parties, including TiVo, to bring seamless content discovery to subscribers. Cubiware is also actively involved in enabling future deployment of Ultra HD video, and will be showcasing a new 4K-capable middleware product, which features a 4K user interface and Ultra HD/HEVC decoding capabilities, at IBC2014 this coming September.
We also see a lot of potential for middleware in the media gateway segment as lower pricing puts the hardware within reach of a wider group of operators. Cubiware is already well positioned to help operators to deploy cost-effective gateway solutions with short time-to-market.
As platforms, devices, and features continue to diversify, middleware will play the crucial role of harmonizing the user experience while allowing quick rollout of new services. Video consumption will rise on second-screen devices such as tablets and smartphones, but STBs will remain critically important to pay-TV operators. Increased competition between STB vendors will push market consolidation and force stronger alliances amongst providers in the digital TV eco-system. This means that middleware vendors will need to work closer with SoC vendors, and to assume increasing responsibility for the complete software stack on STBs.
Cubiware is well positioned for these trends. We already provide a complete software stack for STBs in addition to handling hardware as well as CAS/DRM integration. Furthermore, we are already working closely with multiple SoC vendors to develop and deploy the best-available solutions for various market segments.
What are Cubiware’s main goals and objectives and how would you like to see the company in a few years time?
Our business goal is to continuously and dynamically increase Cubiware’s market presence. With ongoing development of existing and new products, we continue to expand our footprint in our well-established regions of Europe and Latin America. We are approaching new market territories and seeing significant interest from growing markets in Asia and Africa. And we are partnering with high-value technology providers to bring exciting, innovative solutions to advanced markets.
Cubiware embodies a unique combination of agility and technology that brings significant value to our customers and technology partners. Given those qualities, we believe that within a few years we will be a dominant player in the worldwide market for pay-TV middleware.