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The Australian press has been widely seen quoting Foxtel boss Kim Williams about his plans to turn Foxtel into an unmanaged IP video delivery platform

By PETER WHITE

Published: 31 March, 2011

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The Australian press has been widely seen quoting Foxtel boss Kim Williams about his plans to turn Foxtel into an unmanaged IP video delivery platform and transition out of its existing mass broadcast model. Now it has started to be picked up by technical publications as an example of one of the most radical changes of direction in the broadcasting world. Williams has been giving the same speech at a variety of conferences and he has pre-announced a new set top which sounds similar to the hybrid set tops emerging in Europe and says instead of being broadcast centric with strong IP function, it will be IP-centric with strong broadcast function. Sounds to us a little like the BBC’s YouView plans and the European Broadcasters HbbTV operations. Williams he says it will come to market within two years under the existing brand of iQHD hybrid set top brought. Foxtel already offers internet delivered material via its On Demand service.

US pay TV research company IMS says that while VoD is now growing strongly for pay-TV, games on demand is not set to go the same way. IMS says that 13.2% of all digital pay-TV subscriber homes currently use VoD and this is forecast to triple over the next five years, from 53.9 million to 157.3 million by 2015. VoD was responsible for $4.3 billion or revenues in 2010, and by contrast games on-demand will only generate $569 million by 2016. IMS says “Games on-demand via the set-top box is still a very nascent market.”

At the beginning of March French satellite service Globecast announced it had landed Starmax in Spain as a new customer and it is only now that people are starting to realize this is a brand new Spanish pay TV operator. It has GlobeCast offering content aggregation, encryption and the virtual head end and subscriptions will be sold on a pay as you go basis. If you buy a year in advance it comes for €10 a month. The compression is H.264 and encryption technology comes from Conax.

Spain has one of the lowest penetrations of pay TV in Europe at around 25% (4.5 million) of its 17.5 million TV homes. The Prisa owned Sogecable’s Digital Plus service is the main satellite contender with 1.8 million subs, owning 40% of the pay TV market, so given that about 32% of Spanish homes are not reached by Broadband, there seems to be plenty of room for another DTH player there.

IDC has released a report this week suggesting that Microsoft Windows Phone 7 will overtake Apple iOS by 2015 in smartphones. Is this based on taking Nokia’s current market share and simply allocating it to Microsoft? Give or take a bit of dwindling? Or does this prediction stem from a serious belief that WP7 is simply better? Or that Apple has somehow lost the plot and its way in a post Jobs era? Perhaps a little of each. Final figures for the report show Android ending this period with a 45% market share, WP7 on 21%; Blackberry on 13.7% from 14.9% now – quite generous; and Apple’s iOS on 15.3% from 15.7% now. Symbian will fall from 21% to 0.2%. So that suggests that first strategy, taking the existing market shares and swapping Symbian for WP7. We would venture to suggest that technology transitions are somewhat more complex than that.

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