Posted on

French Public Broadcaster goes IQ

I'd don't usually comment on press releases about vendors making another sale, but this one is significant.

IPTV operators represent a red sea of cut-throat monitoring competition. Most of of the operators I know already use Ineoquest or will do so soon.

TV stations, who are relatively new to IP networks, represent a more enticing blue ocean where everyone should have a chance. But if that market also gets Ineoquested, then we’re getting closer to having a true leader in the IPTV monitoring field.

The downside is that monitoring may become like the IT market of the 1970's where decision makers always chose big blue (IBM) because that way if something went wrong they wouldn't be blamed ...

But leadership need not become dominance and the upside is that we might now get some momentum on relevant standards which will hopefully be open like TR135, so good luck IQ, as long as you remain humble and nimble, show us the way.

Ineoquest have a press release here.

Posted on

Alphabetical list of IPTV monitoring solution providers

To keep this list down to manageable size, I'm only including companies that provide a complete solution for monitoring an live IPTV service.

There are start-ups mixed with decades-old companies. Later-on I'll share some info on classifying these companies.

  • Absilion (Netrounds)
  • Agama
  • Agilent
  • BridgeTech (Sencore)
  • Cisco (VQE)
  • ExFo (Brix)
  • First Media (m-View)
  • Ineoquest
  • Infovista
  • IP Label Newtest
  • Ixia
  • JDSU (Volicon)
  • Mariner Partners (xVu)
  • Miranda
  • Mirifice
  • Mixed Signals
  • Opticom
  • Pixelmetrix
  • Psytechnics
  • Radcom (more of a VoIP specialist)
  • Shenick
  • Spirent
  • Symmetricom
  • Tektronix
  • Telchemy
  • Video Clarity
  • Witbe

Please comment to add to this list.

Ben

Posted on

Looking for a Public Relations Intern

Who we are and we can offer

  • We are a brand new 4 person European media communications startup looking for our intern.
  • We do PR in the TMT market with a twist: our people are actively engaged in other projects as well (technology, marketing, strategy, writing).
  • We therefore bring a real world approach to communications and networking.
  • We believe that there is no one way to do good PR and are always looking to improve.
  • We have 2 signed up clients that provide TV and Telecoms solutions and several more in the pipeline.
  • We have a physical presence in Paris, London and Leiden near Amsterdam.
  • We operate virtually, with partners and events in the Middle East, the USA (San Diego) and elsewhere.

Who you are

  • You have a valid passport, preferably a driver's license too and speak and write English. Other European Languages would be useful.
  • You are inquisitive, energetic and capable of taking initiatives.
  • You are very comfortable with social networking and love mining the web for information, we don't even mind if some people call you a a social media junky.
  • You can be based in Paris or Leiden near Amsterdam, but are flexible and mobile, and don't mind crashing out on someones sofa if need be.
  • You are happy to attend trade-shows in other cities helping man booths or hunt for information.

What you will do with us

  • Help manage social media accounts.
  • Research new topics for our clients.
  • Work on our  future website and those of our clients.
  • Proofread blog entries, write some as appropriate.
  • Attend trade shows.
  • Help benchmark our clients' PR against their competitors' and partners'.
  • Be part of the team!

Our deal

  • We will mentor and train you in the field.
  • If needed, we can also provide formal internship supervision & participate in your final exams.
  • We will mutually commit to at least 6 months together with a standard notice period.
  • This will be a payed internship with a competitive package.
  • Start date: ASAP.

Contact

Our Website isn't up yet (which is one reason why we need you), but here's who we are:

Ben Schwarz - http://www.linkedin.com/in/schwarz see also https://www.ctoic.net

Vanessa Vigar - http://nl.linkedin.com/in/vigar

Marta Twardowska - http://nl.linkedin.com/in/mtwardowska

Philip Hunter - http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/philip-hunter/13/625/ba0

And some others ...

Posted on

Why IPTV will change the world … well at least the world of TV

In the decade after the Second World War, the art & science of modern Marketing were invented and brought the world economy into a new age. Services delivered over an IP network, like IPTV, are bringing something as momentous forward.

In an article I wrote in 2006 for the Technology Review’s inaugural French edition (it actually got published in the second), I drew a parallel between IPTV and the printing press.

IPTV has to first be TV before it can be anything else. Indeed even in today’s Web 2.0 world, users will never try all the great new IPTV services including niche - long tail & interactive content, personalisation or community services, if you don’t first give them some real TV. If THE content people want isn’t available IPTV – or any other TV – providers will have a problem. To start with IPTV doesn’t necessarily innovate. It is bringing us something we’ve had for half a century. Sure we’ve gone from Black & White to colour TV, image resolution has improved along with sound quality and even 3D is on its way, but the basic live TV service is the same.

Electronic Program Guides (EPG) are becoming the norm, offering instant access to at least the program title, schedule and a short description. But these are linked to digital TV, not necessarily IPTV. Other services not necessarily requiring IP include Personal Video Recorders (PVR) which have advantageously replaced VHS video recorders to make recording programs easier and even let you record straight off the program guide or via a web site or mobile phone interface. But common man’s life will be more radically changed by the IP part of IPTV than the TV part.

So if the TV in IPTV is still TV, it must be the IP that’s the printing press.

TV preceded IPTV by decades just like manuscripts preceded Guttenberg’s printing press by dozens of generations.

By innovating in the way written works were duplicated and disseminated throughout communities and beyond, Gutenberg changed society forever.

But it took generations of writers to realise the potential of books over manuscripts. Political pamphlets and newspapers are examples of world-changing output from the printing press but these only had a measurable impact a few generations after Guttenberg.

It’s taking IPTV a lot less time to realise the potential of IP. The first real deployments are a decade old and the first large scale deployments are half that age.

When TV is delivered though an IP network, be it the Internet or a private network, a unique one-to-one bi-directional relationship is created between the service provider and the end user. This will open up a world of new services targeting much smaller audiences that can be scattered around the globe like Diasporas. A VoD session can even be seen as a service being sold to an individual household.

In 2000 the Internet infrastructure couldn’t cope with video streams. YouTube alone has shown that that it now can. As long as some form of net-neutrality can be maintained, new “narrow cast” services like many of the long gone Web-TVs of the Internet bubble are at last viable. Digital catalogues have reached critical size so that however unusual, there will always be some content to cater for your interests. So if content remains king in the IPTV world, he’s growing a “long tail”.

Let’s just stop for minute; think what that implies going back to the world economy as it emerged from the Second World War. After the Marshall plan put European economies into forward gear, a relatively long period of prosperity ensued.

The basic operational model for most businesses was this: to optimise production, create a stock of goods (or services) then get a sales force to sell as much as possible. In the relationship between a company and its customers, it was always about pushing as much stock as possible from the stockpile to the customer and optimising that flow as seen from the companies side. It took a particularly astute and creative sales person to ask a few simple questions:

  • How do our customers perceive our products?
  • Why would they choose one brand over another?
  • What features would make my product more valuable?
  • How might they “feel” if our product or service was unavailable?
  • Once my product has been bought, how is it used in my customer’s home?

This was a radical change and we are looking at the relationship from the customer’s perspective for the first time and talking about the invention of “Marketing” itself.

My premise is that with IPTV as well as other IP based services we are very much in the position of a salesman of the late fifties. Indeed we can design, build and deliver a leading edge IPTV service, but once it has left our “factory floor” and reaches people homes, just like the goods of the fifties, its gets used and perceived in a ways we don’t really understand.

We have all experienced frustrating times talking to customer support about issues we are having with our ISP, VoIP or IPTV service. The customer representative invariably makes us do stupid things like check the mains power socket, but if they do listen to our specific issues they rarely understand - let alone have a solution. Why is it so hard to manage the Quality of Experience in the IP world?

One reason is that contrary to the tangible goods of the fifties and sixties, IP services don’t actually exist until they are consumed. Indeed it is difficult to improve the experience of a Video on Demand session in advance. This is one of the reasons the whole science of marketing has to be adapted to the world of IP.

One last point shows how fundamental the changes we are talking about are. The heavy investment big names like Google or Yahoo! are making in the TV space is telling. I don’t believe Yahoo!’s current set of TV widgets providing news, weather & stock market information in their current form as an overlay will change the world, but they are showing the way. For such initiatives to succeed, at least three breakthroughs are necessary.

The first is in the TV ecosystem, which has to enable the free flow of new services and content so that whoever has a good idea for a widget or new service can somehow provide it. This is like Apple’s AppStore on the iPhone.

The second major shift required is in the TV service interface. Indeed, with a Standard Definition (i.e. non HD) screen and a regular remote control it is hard to behave differently than a “couch potato”.

Thirdly widgets to make an impact on the living room experience, they will have to become truly interactive with the content itself, a bit like with the demos NDS gave at the 2009 IBC.

So in the end IPTV isn’t just another bit of technology but a new paradigm. We are so close to TV that we probably won’t realise the world is changing until someone tells us it already has.

Posted on

The future of TV advertising Conference

A few months ago I helped Justin Lebbon to sketch out the initial outline for the Future of TV advertising conference in London on December 11th 2009. Have a look at the incredible speaker line-up that Zero Point Media and he have put together here.

This is the intro I wrote for the brochure.
From a techie background I always love it when I can work on things that ordinary people can understand, i.e. when you don’t feel such a nerd at dinner parties. Well TV advertising is something people really do care about.
Here is a conversation I had a few weeks ago when my neighbours came over for dinner.

She’s a print journalist and he puts up solar roofs so neither are at all connected to TV advertising. I told them I was planning to chair this event and this is what how I remember the conversation going:

Her: “Hey Ben that sounds cool. You know I might loose my job within the year because our daily just can’t re-invent itself on the web. I mean we get loads of visitors on the website, but it just doesn’t add up financially [I’m translating from the French so no pun was intended - and yes there are two d’s]. Aren’t you going to be talking about the same kind of thing with advertising: I mean at home we just fast-forward through most ads using the PVR. Like with my whole newspaper, the web is kind of slowly killing ads on the TV?”

Me: “Well err, I think …”

Him “OK yes maybe but if adverts could at least be interesting, then maybe we wouldn’t want to zap them all the time!”

Me: “well …”

Her: “Oh yes and I remember as a kid, always being cross with my dad if we were late for the ads at the cinema, they were an integral part of the experience.”

Me: “Yes indeed personalisation…”

Him: “But wait Ben, back to the first point, I mean doesn’t more and more TV come from the web anyway so couldn’t advertisers actually know who is behind each TV set?”

I then gave up trying to participate.

Her: “But darling, we get our TV from Orange so doesn’t it come from the Web anyway?”

Him: “Well I err think it’s what Ben called IPTV, and …”

That’s a much as I can remember. There’s enough food for thought there for a book’s worth let alone a blog post, and that’s from a layman’s perspective alone. Some of these issues were covered in detail at the conference http://www.futuretvads.com.

Posted on

Telco’s : if you can’t beat DTT, at least get on the bandwagon

[lang_en]After launching IP-only boxes in France in 2003, Orange started to included DTT tuners in all its boxes from 2006. So at the launch of DTT in France some Orange customers already had an IP/DTT hybrid box before DTT coverage had actually reached their home.

But in France, when excited neighbours came to say they had a DTT box ready, an IPTV subscriber could answer back with their digital TV line-up that was already available with VoD also. Orange’s head start over DTT meant that most IPTV subscribers still today watch mainly IP channels despite the back that the box can receive and decode DTT. Orange, like its French competitors Free, SFR, Darty and the new entrant Bouygues now offer some exclusive channels which are not part of the national DTT line-up for free.

DTT rolls out in built up areas first and so it wasn’t until 2007 that a significant amount of subscribers were inside the DTT footprint without being eligible to IPTV. By then Orange had its hybrid IP/satellite offering ready and has been quite successful with it as they can also reach they still grey areas of DTT coverage.up

For the more mature operators DTT has been both an opportunity and a threat. The threat was of course of loosing customers to more reliable and cheap non-connected DTT zappers. The opportunity was of having a piece of a very much larger cake.

In a market where analogue TV is still predominant, the promise of IPTV is harder to sell. But once the whole market is moving towards digital anyway, customers can be easier to hoax towards the charms of interactivity that will always be IPTV’s strong suit like with an enhanced interactive EPG or community and communication widgets.

Despite being a positive influence overall, DTT brings a thorn into customers support centres. Bad DTT Reception can cost hybrid IPTV operators a lots of customer support money.

But what now of those operators who have not been able to launch in time?

If the local DTT market is already ripe or DTT will be launched in a similar time frame to the IPTV offering, a different strategy must be adopted.

DTT poses the threat of keeping fledgling IPTV service out of the market. So if you can’t beat the DTT bandwagon then join it. Using a Trojan horse will let an operator sneak back in to the TV space as soon as they’re ready.up

BT kind of did this, but instead of a supped-up “glass half full”, zapper they brought an IPTV service to market which without IP channels which turned out to be a half-empty glass for subscribers. From my viewpoint across the channel, BT has not been very successful. They came out of the woods too late for a head to head contest with Sky and Virgin, and too early for the lower profile approach suggested here.

For operators still to finalize plans, mainly T2 and T3’s, a possible tactic could be to subsidize a DTT zapper with Telco branding that has a return channel and some extra power. For the example of a DVB-T market, that’ll represent 50-80$ for an entry-level box instead of say 30$. It is important to spend an extra $ or two on the form-factor so the “box” is a desirable object (i.e. preferably not in the shape of a ordinary box).

Depending on market conditions, this super-zapper might even be sold with the promise of future interactive services even if they’re not ready yet. So the operator would only need to CAPEX the subsidy, not the whole cost.

In the worst case customers use the zapper unconnected, but still have the Telco Logo sitting next to the TV. There will always be scenarios to win-back the subscriber to an IPTV offering later on. These could for example start simply with a much better EPG or maybe a targeted catch-up TV service for one kind of popular program.

In the end IPTV holds the promise of much better interactive services than DTT, but for time to market issues, turn DTT into an opportunity not a threat.up[/lang_en]

[lang_fr]After launching IP-only boxes in France in 2003, Orange started to included DTT tuners in all its boxes from 2006. So at the launch of DTT in France some Orange customers already had an IP/DTT hybrid box before DTT coverage had actually reached their home.

But in France, when excited neighbours came to say they had a DTT box ready, an IPTV subscriber could answer back with their digital TV line-up that was already available with VoD also. Orange’s head start over DTT meant that most IPTV subscribers still today watch mainly IP channels despite the back that the box can receive and decode DTT. Orange, like its French competitors Free, SFR, Darty and the new entrant Bouygues now offer some exclusive channels which are not part of the national DTT line-up for free.

DTT rolls out in built up areas first and so it wasn’t until 2007 that a significant amount of subscribers were inside the DTT footprint without being eligible to IPTV. By then Orange had its hybrid IP/satellite offering ready and has been quite successful with it as they can also reach they still grey areas of DTT coverage.haut

For the more mature operators DTT has been both an opportunity and a threat. The threat was of course of loosing customers to more reliable and cheap non-connected DTT zappers. The opportunity was of having a piece of a very much larger cake.

In a market where analogue TV is still predominant, the promise of IPTV is harder to sell. But once the whole market is moving towards digital anyway, customers can be easier to hoax towards the charms of interactivity that will always be IPTV’s strong suit like with an enhanced interactive EPG or community and communication widgets.

Despite being a positive influence overall, DTT brings a thorn into customers support centres. Bad DTT Reception can cost hybrid IPTV operators a lots of customer support money.

But what now of those operators who have not been able to launch in time?

If the local DTT market is already ripe or DTT will be launched in a similar time frame to the IPTV offering, a different strategy must be adopted.

DTT poses the threat of keeping fledgling IPTV service out of the market. So if you can’t beat the DTT bandwagon then join it. Using a Trojan horse will let an operator sneak back in to the TV space as soon as they’re ready.haut

BT kind of did this, but instead of a supped-up “glass half full”, zapper they brought an IPTV service to market which without IP channels which turned out to be a half-empty glass for subscribers. From my viewpoint across the channel, BT has not been very successful. They came out of the woods too late for a head to head contest with Sky and Virgin, and too early for the lower profile approach suggested here.

For operators still to finalize plans, mainly T2 and T3’s, a possible tactic could be to subsidize a DTT zapper with Telco branding that has a return channel and some extra power. For the example of a DVB-T market, that’ll represent 50-80$ for an entry-level box instead of say 30$. It is important to spend an extra $ or two on the form-factor so the “box” is a desirable object (i.e. preferably not in the shape of a ordinary box).

Depending on market conditions, this super-zapper might even be sold with the promise of future interactive services even if they’re not ready yet. So the operator would only need to CAPEX the subsidy, not the whole cost.

In the worst case customers use the zapper unconnected, but still have the Telco Logo sitting next to the TV. There will always be scenarios to win-back the subscriber to an IPTV offering later on. These could for example start simply with a much better EPG or maybe a targeted catch-up TV service for one kind of popular program.

In the end IPTV holds the promise of much better interactive services than DTT, but for time to market issues, turn DTT into an opportunity not a threat.haut[/lang_fr]