Mobile Video

Azuki Box Takes DRM Over the Top

Software-as-a-service company Azuki Systems is moving into the world of hardware to extend over-the-top video (OTT) services to mobile phones.

The company today announced the Azuki Wireless Platform (AWP), an appliance that distributes live, on-demand, short- and long-form content, protected with digital rights management (DRM) to any screen, but with a focus on smartphones and tablets.

Azuki is targeting the device -- which would reside in headends and distribute video via any content distribution network (CDN) to end devices -- to content and service providers alike. While Azuki hasn't yet named customers for the new appliance, president of marketing Fred Sammartino says that a number of companies are already using the SaaS-only version. That list includes CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), Fox Mobile, Sony Pictures Digital Inc. and Sony Music, and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S).

So, why throw in more hardware? Sammartino says that's because the well-documented growth in mobile video has been unprecedented and the AWP platform is designed for the infrastructure vendors that are looking for one box to perform all the functions for scalable video deployments. (See Cisco Optimizes Mobile Data Traffic and Video Streams, Carriers Scream.)

The platform also includes content ingestion and preparation, HTTP adaptive bitrate streaming, content time- and place-shifting, dynamic ad insertion, and an SDK for mobile app development. Azuki also has its own white-labeled mobile app with multiple ways to monetize the video content, so it's true to its end-to-end claim.

"Our goal was to have a simple secure mechanism for easy deployment of over-the-top content," Sammartino says. "We started with studios and content owners; we had to understand their needs and pain points, and came up with a nice universal DRM scheme that has studio approval."

Unlike some of its competitors, of which there are many, Azuki isn't a video server itself. It can leverage existing content delivery networks with DRM, he says. (See RGB's TV Everywhere Offer: A Video God Box , Video Gets Squeezed, CTIA 2010: Startup Pitches Mobile Streaming Alternative , and Open Up & Say: 'TV Everywhere' .)

Cable and wireless operators exploring TV Everywhere-style video implementations are Azuki's biggest target market now, but Sammartino says the enterprise is another large market as Webinars, training videos, and end-user content continue to go mobile.

"This is a whole new world of OTT we've just seen the very beginnings of, and we think products like this with simple turnkey solutions will help broaden it out for big-name brands, then second and third tier, and private enterprises, to tap into this huge resource," he says. "It will speed up the adoption of mobile devices in enterprise environments."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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