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Digeo Revs Up for Retail

Fidler admits that finding success at retail with a CableCARD device won't come without challenges.

"This is a 'prime the pump' business," he says, noting that Digeo will need retailers to help consumers understand the appeal of the system. "It has to be a selling job."

That need for "assisted selling" will in part determine which stores will get the Moxi boxes first, although Digeo will also sell directly from its Website.

Retailers that are also members of CEDIA (Custom Electronic Deisng & Installation Association are among "logical distribution points" for Digeo. Best Buy Co. Inc. , meanwhile, is a coveted potential partner not just because of its extensive reach (more than 1,200 stores in the U.S. alone), but because of its connection to Magnolia Home Theater, "a store within a store" offering home theater design consultation, custom set-ups and installation services, and premium CE products.

Because of the IP port, Digeo's retail box could also go "over-the-top" of the cable operator to deliver video-on-demand or movie downloads. But Fidler thinks MSOs should consider the larger stakes.

"Retail can be a real asset to the cable operator. This product should be viewed as an ally" to cable operators, Fidler says. "In reality, they have no [retail] face."

A retail device such as Digeo's, he suggests, gives MSOs "alternatives that we believe will have more impact in the market and… more value."

MSO direct, too
Retail, though, is just one of Digeo's 2008 marketing strategies. The company is also devising a new standalone DVR for distribution directly through MSOs.

Although the guide and user interface will be standard-definition, they will keep prices down to a point of being "more competitive than ever" for Digeo, according to Fidler.

Digeo's original direct-MSO, single-room/single-tuner box carried a 20 percent premium over similar models from other suppliers. "We know [the new box] is very competitive," Fidler says, declining to be more specific.

Entry of that all-digital set-top looks to build on Digeo's distribution of about 400,000 cable customers, most of whom are with Charter Communications Inc. .

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) in Los Angeles and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) in Colorado Springs also have some in the field, but that situation was inherited from their combined acquisition of Adelphia Communications. Fidler is hopeful that trials of the new box by both TWC and Comcast will turn into more deployments. BendBroadband and Sunflower Broadband are among Digeo's other MSO deployment partners.

A cable video engineer familiar with Digeo told Cable Digital News that the new "cost-reduced" MSO-direct host boxes are expected to include the CableCARD, but are considered "non-portable" because they won't support tru2way off the bat. But the hardware will have plenty of horsepower for later upgrades.

In addition to preserving the Digeo user interface and overall experience, the new box will allow the vendor to re-enter the market since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's ban on integrated security set-tops went into effect last year. (See Boxing Up 'Seven-Oh-Seven' .)

"Digeo has been without a cable platform since July 2007," the engineer said, adding that another big difference with the new entry is that it uses more off-the-shelf parts, is based in part on Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) silicon, a cable set-top standby, so Digeo's box should be free of proprietary chipsets.

Digeo, Fidler says, expects to announce a tru2way/OpenCable middleware supplier later this year, likely by The Cable Show 2008, which is set for May 18-20 in New Orleans.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:49:54 PM
re: Digeo Revs Up for Retail OrGǪmaybe revving down, now that word spreads that there are BIG changes over at Digeo. So, I'm sitting here at the SCTE ET show and a buddy tells me that Digeo has laid off 80 employees (half of the staff) and whacked two product lines . Oh, and CEO Mike Fidler has stepped down. other than that, it's business as usual ;)

Not exactly the song they were singing at CES. Gee, ya think Paul Allen would've brought the hammer down before the big showGǪ

Anyway, we'll have much more on this laterGǪ
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