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Moto Opens IPTV 'Storefront'

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
1/6/2009
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Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) has unleashed an upgrade for its Communications Convergence Engine (CCE) software that enables IPTV service providers to bundle, sell, and personalize a range of content, and even some physical goods, such as DVDs, via TV and PC screens, and mobile devices.

Motorola's initial version of that enhancement, dubbed Storefront 1.0, has been developed for the Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Mediaroom environment, and aims to give IPTV providers an opportunity to differentiate their service offerings and develop some new revenue streams. (See Moto Opens IPTV 'Storefront' .)

Using the film Iron Man as an example, the system theoretically could allow the service operator to market a bundle that includes the video-on-demand version of the film (streamed to the customer's TV), the physical DVD and an Iron Man figurine (both delivered to the customer's home), and a ringtone (delivered directly to the customer's cellphone).

Because Storefront is linked into the service provider's OSS and billing systems, the entire multimedia bundle could be purchased together, says Rob Malnati, the Motorola senior manager responsible for the company's broadband gateway products.

The initial version of Storefront essentially replaces the existing VoD screen, he adds. That replacement aims to create a "Web-like" experience, featuring folders, rich graphics, and flexibility that "allows service providers to define that user experience any way they want," Malnati says, noting that the system can also make recommendations using demographic data or a customer's movie-purchasing history.

Motorola will demonstrate its Storefront in Las Vegas at this week's Consumer Electronics Show. The company has also posted a few conceptual screenshots online.

Motorola inherited the CCE product line about 18 months ago when it acquired software developer Leapstone Systems Inc. The Content Manager element of the CCE line is already being deployed by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) for its U-verse service. To add the Storefront component, AT&T would need to install a new network server and a new set-top-based software client.

Malnati says a large, unidentified "Tier 1 wireless" service provider has also deployed Motorola's Content Manager. However, when Motorola announced the Leapstone deal in July 2007, Verizon Wireless was referenced as one of Leapstone's key customers. (See Motorola Jumps on Leapstone.)

Motorola expects to make Storefront commercially available next month. However, it has already started some "proof of concept" demos with one "large" IPTV service provider in North America and another in Western Europe. Some preliminary deployment work is already underway. Motorola hasn't named any of those partners, but AT&T is among the most likely candidates.

Mediaroom customers in Europe include BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), and Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM).

A cable Storefront? Not yet
Although the initial version of Storefront is centered on Microsoft's Mediaroom and IPTV environments, Motorola is not ruling out other types of implementations.

"Our primary go-to market platform is with Microsoft Mediaroom, but that doesn't mean we can't [offer Storefront] with other IPTV platforms," Malnati says, noting that the system uses "open" Web service interfaces.

Motorola, he adds, may also develop versions for the cable market as MSOs introduce more interactivity and start to deploy Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) applications and the more powerful tru2way platform. (See Comcast, TWC Plan for EBIF, Revealed: The Tru2way MOU, and Cable Makes Big 'tru2way' Play .)

"These are the kinds of platforms that will allow for this kind of technology," Malnati says. "Absolutely, we want to make this work for cable."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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