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Rovi Roves With Apple & Android

Rovi Corp. is making inroads with its new iPad app in the Great White North, signing up its second Canadian cable operator for the app in the last three months.

Rovi announced Thursday that Eastlink, the largest MSO in Canada's Atlantic provinces, has begun deploying the TV program guide specialist's TotalGuide xD solution. The iPad app gives cable subscribers access to customizable TV listings and program information and allows them to set recordings remotely on their home DVRs from anywhere using their Apple tablets.

Eastlink, which just launched a remote DVR service last month, is offering the new app to cable customers on Apple's iTunes app store for no charge. In a nod to Eastlink's bilingual service area, the app is available in both English and French.

Eastlink thus joins fellow Canadian MSO Cogeco in deploying the TotalGuide xD. In early April, Cogeco launched both the new iPad app and a Web-based application, powered by Rovi TV Listings, that enables subscribers to set DVR recordings using the operator's online TV listings guide. (See Cogeco Adds to Rovi’s Roster.)

Rovi has also signed up a number of larger and mid-sized U.S. cable operators for its TotalGuide xD solution. Its roster of MSO customers includes Charter Communications, Suddenlink Communications, Buckeye CableSystem and BlueRidge Networks Inc., among others.

In another, unrelated initiative, Rovi announced Thursday that Freescale Semiconductor has developed an Android chipset certified for DivX Plus Streaming, an adaptive video streaming protocol that Rovi uses to deliver video to IP-connected devices. The development means that Rovi will be able to bring its program guide products to Android handsets, tablets and other mobile devices for the first time, opening up another potentially big market for the company.

"It's the first certified chip for an Android chipset," said a Rovi spokesman. Now, he said, Rovi executives will try to start hammering out deals with handset manufacturers to incorporate Freescale's DivX chipsets in their Android devices. Rovi already has worked with other chipset makers to gain support for DivX in chipsets for set-top boxes, TV sets and other devices.

Why this matters
These two steps forward are noteworthy because Rovi has been locked in several lengthy legal battles over its technology patents over the last few years. But the company has recently settled two of them, with LG Electronics and Hulu. (See LG, Rovi Scrap Patent Suitand Rovi & Hulu Make Peace.)

The two moves also come as competition continues to heat up for Rovi. After dominating the TV program guide space for years, it now faces challenges from in-house developers at some of the largest MSOs. Rovi also faces fresh challenges from such rivals as TiVo Inc., ActiveVideo Networks, Cisco Systems (with the acquisition of NDS) and Arris Group (with the acquisition of Digeo).

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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