IP Vision formally lodged a complaint with Ofcom on August 18th.
As several others in the industry, IP Vision, claims to be the leading provider of hybrid DTT/IPTV over-the-top (OTT) TV. They do ad credibility to the claim by stating in the same sentence that it’s a nascent sector, which shows that they know what they're talking about and so must be active in it Q.E.D! Numbers of subscribers are still less important than mindshare. Their core technology, from Netgem is also doing well elsewhere, like for example in the Telstra launch in Australia.
Clearly they are legitimate in asking Ofcom to examine whether the Canvas joint venture will “stifle industry innovation, inhibit competition and ultimately restrict consumer choice”.
But are they founded, or is it just sour grapes for not being part of Canvas?
By calling the Canvas gang “Goliaths, supported in part by BBC licence fee funds”, IP Vision’s CEO Eddie Abrams is casting himself as David.
As an industry observer, my initial response is that he’s right and that it just ain’t fair, but that thought is immediately followed by the one telling me that he’s wrong to be worried.
The background to this story is that the BBC must remain technology agnostic. Last year they prevented IP Vision from releasing their own implementation of iPlayer. Of the two main reasons stated at the time, one was maintaining the BBC brand value. I can buy that, although it could have been managed in a more creative way, maybe by creating an “iPlayer Compatible” brand.
The other reason was about preserving the value of the investment the beeb had already made in iPlayer. That argument doesn’t hold water. Despite having some of UK’s best techies onboard, the beeb will always be a behemoth (suits better than Goliath), and managing libraries of source code, some proprietary, some public domain, accompanying API’s and the likes, is not the core business of a public broadcaster.
However I can see both arguments and understand how the situation would leave IP Vision with some grievances.
Why IP Vision shouldn’t be worried though, is because If Canvas fails, well it’s all benefit to that company; but if they succeed its even better.
A successful Canvas will turn what Abrams calls a nascent industry into something really big. IP-Vision will always be more agile & nimble than a bunch of Goliaths. In the end, OTT is also about giving power back to the end user. If IP Vision and their technology partners focus all their energies on delivering the best product (and I won't write the "instead of" part of this sentence), which they can, then IP Vision can reclaim their first mover advantage. After all David didn't have the strength to confront Goliath head-on, but he was fast and accurate with a slingshot.