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Cable/Video

Here She Is: Miss CableLabs!

A small San Francisco-based startup has won Cable Television Laboratories Inc. (CableLabs) ' first "beauty contest" for cable tech firms, and it didn't even have to strap on a tight bathing suit.

Simple Star Inc. -- a software designer that enables consumers to share photos and video clips on their PCs and TV sets -- took home the crown from CableLabs' Winter Conference Innovation Showcase in Denver last week. The company beat out nine other finalists in the inaugural contest, which included an assortment of home security, wireless, VOIP, and video-on-demand (VOD) vendors.

CableLabs executives say Simple Star earned the most votes from conference attendees at least partly because of the cable industry's growing interest in user-generated content services. Another one of the 10 finalists, Vuvox, is also involved in user-generated content.

"User-generated content is a concept that's being bandied about everywhere," says Dick Green, president and CEO of CableLabs. "It's one of those topics getting a lot of attention."

Simple Star has also gotten off to a promising start in MSO land, with the rollout of its PhotoShow service on Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s Road Runner service last spring and then the debut of its PhotoShow TV service in Time Warner's Honolulu system last August. The latter, featured as a free VOD service, has been drawing more viewers than expected so far.

"It's been a very, very successful first launch of PhotoShow TV," says Simple Star President Chad Richard. "We're really surprised at the level of viewing."

Richard said Time Warner now plans to expand PhotoShow TV to several more cable markets, starting with Staten Island at the end of this month. He's aiming for launches on other Time Warner systems in the New York area, as well as rollouts with a couple of other MSOs later this year.

— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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