Chicago, June 18, 2007 – At NXTcomm, the new industry venue featuring the business and technology of communications and entertainment, Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft Mediaroom, the latest update to its award-winning Internet Protocol television (IPTV) software platform.
To get more details on Microsoft Mediaroom and what it means to service provider customers, consumers and Microsoft, PressPass spoke with Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president, Microsoft TV Business.
Enrique Rodriguez, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft TV Division
PressPass: What is being announced today?
Rodriguez: We are announcing today the availability of Microsoft Mediaroom, an IPTV and multimedia software platform that enables service providers to deliver the best, most personalized TV and entertainment experience. Microsoft Mediaroom is the latest update to Microsoft TV’s award-winning IPTV software platform, featuring advanced TV functionality and a new consumer-facing brand that reflects the capabilities of IPTV to deliver connected entertainment experiences that go beyond the TV.
As the digital TV services market continues to grow, service providers will search for competitive differentiators that set them apart in terms of features and overall consumer experience. Microsoft Mediaroom enables the greatest digital TV experience today, powered by one of the strongest consumer brands in the world, to create a very powerful differentiator for our service provider customers.
PressPass: What are some of the cool features of the platform?
Rodriguez: Microsoft Mediaroom builds on the success of the Microsoft IPTV Edition software platform, which is currently being deployed by nine service providers around the world. It enables digital TV service providers to deliver an entertainment experience that’s easy, connected, personal and social. The platform introduces several new features that unlock the potential of TV, such as personal media sharing, connecting the TV to a PC, accessing and enjoying digital pictures or songs – all on the big screen.
The platform also offers richer support for Web services and applications, enabling service providers to deploy applications, such as dynamic video-on-demand portals, casual games and interactive TV services.
MultiView capabilities allow consumers to watch several channels or camera angles on screen at once.
And for service providers outside of the United States, we now support full Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) capabilities, allowing customers to offer DTT programming combined with IP-delivered services, all through a single set-top box and an integrated consumer experience.
PressPass: Why a new brand?
Rodriguez: There are several reasons why we felt a new brand is instrumental to our success and the success of our customers. With personal media sharing and new Web-based applications, Microsoft brings the consumer television experience to a new level that goes beyond the TV set. With Microsoft Mediaroom, consumers get the best in TV plus all their media in one place, for a truly personalized multimedia experience. With the capability for more connected entertainment experiences, we felt the time was right to introduce a brand that reflected this next generation of television.
By introducing a consumer-friendly ingredient brand we’re able to offer service providers a powerful way to differentiate their service and enhance consumer perceptions in the TV marketplace by leveraging the awareness of Microsoft’s proven software solutions, innovation and connected entertainment pedigree.
PressPass: What is the value to service providers of including a Microsoft brand in their offering?
Rodriguez: As one of the world’s most recognized brands, and a brand known in particular for innovation and proven software, Microsoft brings immediate consumer awareness and credibility to service providers’ TV offerings. Based on Microsoft’s Global Image Measurement study conducted among high-income PC users in 29 countries, 73 percent rank Microsoft as a leader in innovation and 74 percent believe that Microsoft has a vision for future technology. These attributes are highly complementary to the local presence and value delivered by the service provider brand. We’ve also done qualitative research in a number of countries that shows consumer perception of IPTV services improves when the Microsoft brand is included as an ingredient supporting the service provider brand.
PressPass: How did you come up with the new namе?
Rodriguez: The branding process involved the creativity and dedication of several teams within the Microsoft TV business. We had two equally important priorities. The first priority was to come up with a name that could communciate more easily the potential of the platform. We like to use a quote attributed to Henry Ford: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Basically, we were in the same situation – television today is perceived as a commodity and there is confusion about what IPTV stands for and enables. We wanted a brand that more clearly communicated what the technology will let consumers experience. It is not just TV, it is not TV over the Internet, it is entertainment you want, when and where you want it.
The second, and equally important priority, was to come up with a brand that speaks to Microsoft’s heritage in digital entertainment, yet is flexible enough for service provider customers to incorporate into their offerings.
PressPass: When will we see Microsoft Mediaroom on our TV screens?
Rodriguez: The Microsoft Mediaroom platform is designed for service providers, who decide when and how to deploy it to consumers. The platform is already being deployed worldwide by nine leading service providers. In the United States, AT&T’s U-Verse TV service, which is based on our platform, is available in seven states. Consumers in the United States, Germany, the UK and France – to name a few – are already enjoying television powered by the Microsoft Mediaroom platform. We have 17 service provider customers in 16 countries on four continents that are delivering the best TV experience to their subscribers.
PressPass: Now that IPTV deployments are in full swing, what can we expect next from Microsoft TV and the IPTV industry as a whole?
Rodriguez: A few years back, when Microsoft first unveiled its IPTV vision, there was skepticism not only around the potential of the technology, but also service providers’ interest and ability to deliver and market it. Now we are entering a phase where not only are they deploying our platform, but they are using it to differentiate their offerings in markets around the world.
At NXTcomm and other industry events, we are hearing more about the evolution the telecommunications industry is going through. Driven by business necessity, as well as by the industry’s desire to reinvent itself, this evolution is most prominent when you look at the range of services telecommunications providers are beginning to offer. Service providers are morphing more into entertainment companies, not pure infrastructure or service players.
PressPass: Why is IPTV so hot?
Rodriguez: Internet Protocol television is one of the key pillars of the current entertainment foundation service providers are working to build. If you look at just a few of the industry parameters and the analysts’ predictions about IPTV, there is no doubt that this pillar is becoming indispensable for telecommunications companies’ overall business strategy. Just as an example, Gartner predicts the number of IPTV subscribers will skyrocket, rising from 3 million in 2005 to 50 million in 2010. This is a huge opportunity for us, our partners and customers. We already have a good foundation — our plan is to take this a step further and increase the rate of innovation with new services and scenarios. This is a very exciting time to be in this industry.