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NDS lands second Euro major for Snowflake and cloud recommendations

It’s not been a secret, but NDS can finally say that it has a Snowflake based UI service in operation, having switched from trial to wide availability

By PETER WHITE

Published: 27 January, 2011

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It’s not been a secret, but NDS can finally say that it has a Snowflake based UI service in operation, having switched from trial to wide availability this week on Zon Multimedia’s TV Cabo service in Portugal. The new UI will sit on high end set tops distributed to the 1.5 million TV Cabo customer base and begin distribution as of now, and some existing customers can get it for free. TV Cabo has about 1.1 million cable and 400,000 DTH customers, The NDS design is aimed at just the cable customers, and requires a high speed EuroDOCSIS cable modem.

New services under the brand of “Iris by Zon Fibra” using the new UI will be sold in a variety of bundles, some with broadband, at a variety of speeds, starting in packages at €50 a month and going up. Shortly Zon will introduce the same UI on other platforms such as the PC, Apple and perhaps Android tablets.

The combination of NDS MediaHighway middleware and the Snowflake UI, a kind of easily navigated 3D onscreen grid overlay, is the NDS bid for look and feel leadership, irrespective of the conditional access service that an operator has.

Already NDS has had a Snowflake design win, potentially massive, at Liberty Global, where it will integrate video content, widgets, apps, and an advanced search and recommendation engine, on a Samsung built set top driven by Intel chips. Cloud based recommendation is part and parcel of the Snowflake product. Liberty Global owns UPC, among others, and has cable operations in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland, and took a decision in May last year to adopt Snowflake, but has yet to roll it out.

To us this is NDS putting down a marker in the world of TV Apps and Cloud based recommendation, which were both pioneered by TiVo, without which operators will feel compelled to either put down their own App Stores, or eventually feel the need to reach for the easy decision of adopting Google TV and its associated Android Market apps, and integrate that into their strategy.

Already TV manufacturers are building their own OTT apps to work on their TV sets, regardless of what pay TV service they are attached to. Samsung said just a few days ago that it has now passed the 2 million TV App download mark, taking just 53 days for its second million to be downloaded. People are getting the idea that they can download Apps to televisions. Most of these Samsung Apps were free and the leading downloads included those from YouTube, Hulu Plus, ESPN Next Level, AccuWeather, Google Maps and Texas Holdem.

App are coming to TV whether an operator wants it or not and we are now embroiled in something akin to the Walled Garden wars of the cellular marketplace, where slowly the Walled Gardens are breaking down, and open markets such as Android, or strongly branded proprietary markets such as Apple’s are taking over.

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