We have had a number of discussions with ActiveVideo Networks
recently, before and during IBC. ActiveVideo offers network-based processing to bring rich media, ie interactive TV, to consumer devices over MPEG streams using the internet. The only requirement in the end user device is a software module, and a high speed internet connection.
Naturally enough the IBC discussions focused on issues relating to managed service providers and operators, which is a key customer base at IBC. On its IBC stand ActiveVideo was demonstrating a proof of concept for delivering IP video streams to a CI+ module connected to a Sony flat panel TV. Neotion, one of the firms behind CI+, and Ziggo, the Dutch cable operator, were partners in the demonstration. ActiveVideo’s current customers include PCCW in Hong Kong and Time Warner’s Oceanic cable network in Hawaii. Other customers are expected to be announced in the coming months.
But ActiveVideo’s recently announced partnership with Videon Central
to target connected CE devices confirms that the company is also positioning itself for online video services which bypass managed service providers. The Videon deal plans for availability of connected TVs and Blu-ray players by the end of 2010.
ActiveVideo’s IBC demonstrations were certainly impressive, and unlike many were running off a live internet connection. President and CEO Jeff Miller told us that ActiveVideo technology allowed cable and IPTV operators “to move at the speed of the internet, not the speed of TV”. A TV-like service over IP could be upgraded and added to very quickly, and once the RSS feeds were established the service could run with minimal intervention.
ActiveVideo is certainly planning for a world where higher broadband speeds are the norm. The company claims that movies need between 3 and 5Mbps, while a multi-window video mosaic could require 10Mbps. These speeds are slowly becoming more widely available but are by no means universal in the US and Europe.
I can’t help thinking ActiveVideo’s cloud video model sounds like something Cisco should be doing in order to fill some of the gaps in its consumer video portfolio. In fact, ActiveVideo’s vision statement – “we put the application and video processing load in the network” – could come straight from a Cisco strategy piece. I’ll just add in the observations that: Cisco is intending to make acquisitions; has the budget available; is targeting consumer and video as strategic priorities; is only a 10 minute drive away from the ActiveVideo offices; and that ActiveVideo has around 100 people – John Chambers’ ideal acquisition profile; and leave it at that.
Client Reading: Digital Media Devices Global Market Report