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Microsoft TV offers an end-to-end IPTV software solution for major telecommunications companies in Europe and North America. Watch an interview with Elena Branet, Senior Marketing Manager for Microsoft TV:
Here is IPTV Sports' summary of (and a dash of commentary on) the above interview:
When asked why IPTV is so important to Microsoft TV, the company's Senior Marketing Manager, Elena Branet, tells us that Microsoft TV has already partnered up with some of the most important telecommunications and broadband Internet service providers in the world. In Europe, these include BT, Swisscom, Telecom Italia and T-Online France. In the United States and North America, Microsoft TV is in IPTV agreements with ATT, Verizon, Bell South, Bell Canada and in India they are partnered with Reliance Infocom. All these companies represent one fourth of the entire world's fixed residential access lines.
But what does Microsoft TV plan to do with these partnerships? According to Branet, her company sees 1.6 billion TV sets throughout the world that have yet to be connected to other devices, that have yet to take full advantage of what IPTV has to offer.
IPTV is different, and better, because it allows customers to consume the same programming that they know and love (like sports, for example), and provide a better interface, giving viewers more control over the way they watch TV. Options include VOD (video on demand), personal video recording, interactive program guides and PIP (picture in picture) capabilities - for instance, the ability to see different camera angles within the same screen. All these advantages are bundled up into what Branet calls the "ensemble of better TV experiences" provided by Microsoft TV.
But Branet makes it clear that Microsoft TV is not the company providing the IPTV signal or connection. "We don't own IPTV," Branet explains. That is the job of the broadband service provider. Rather, Microsoft TV is providing an end-to-end software solution, leaving many decisions up to the ISPs such as whether or not they want to support HDTV, or how restrictive they want to be with regard to the "walled garden" approach to content management that AOL and Microsoft were noted for during the dot com boom of the late 1990's. Branet then turns her focus to the consumer, emphasizing the benefits of her company's IPTV software solution that enable a "diverse community" of users to view television through various devices ranging from PC's to set top boxes to mobile phones.
MS doesn't own IPTV, we provide software to ISPs, who then choose whether or not walled garden happens. We enable it, but don't control that. We're interested in giving them what they want, says Branet.
As such, Microsoft is positioned to smugly and easily answer the question: "is there enough bandwidth for IPTV?" The answer: that's up to the service providers. Whether or not they want to support HDTV; that's there decision. We provide solutions for both types of ISPs.
But neither is Microsoft TV a content provider. Thus they remain blissfully blameless when Branet, after a series of qualifications, predicts that yes, one could guess that we'll be seeing more product placement considering that users will no longer be obligated to watch traditional advertising spots due to the interactive, user-controlled environment of internet television. But, of course, that's up to the content providers.
Logically, the question is then asked, so what does Microsoft TV get out of it?
Branet answers that her company simply offers software to broadband internet service providers. Microsoft TV's solution is to capture content, protect it, manage the services, manage the subscribers and provide distribution of the services all the way through to the television set top box. Indeed, far from hands-off.
Interestingly, Branet's prediction that IPTV will win out in the living room, rather than on personal computers or mobile devices, reveals that her company is targeting traditional television viewers by offering them more control of their experience. But with all the ability to interconnect TVs with cell phones with set top boxes with personal computers in the home office, Branet adds, "Who knows?"