It’s been a little over a year since Cisco decided to exit the IPTV middleware business. That middleware platform powered Cisco’s IPTV Service Delivery Platform (ISDP). I suspect another IPTV middleware offer is about to meet the same fate, with news that Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) is refocusing their company entirely on mobile broadband. Read between the lines and you might come to the same conclusion that I have – goodbye to their IPTV middleware platform, Home Entertainment 3.0, at least as a part of NSN.
NSN has not formally announced anything regarding their middleware offer. But their recent announcement of a reorganization of the company, which includes layoffs of 17K employees seems to suggest IPTV middleware is on the outs. A NSN spokesperson replied to an inquiry from Telecompetitor regarding the future of their middleware efforts with this response, “It’s not appropriate at this time to talk about individual targets or breakdowns. We are very clear, however, that Mobile Broadband and Services is at the center of our new strategy and business areas not consistent with the new strategy are planned to be divested or managed for value.”
The NSN middleware platform is by no means a market leader, at least not anymore. But their middleware platform has historical significance in the world of IPTV. The heritage of that middleware platform helped shape the IPTV industry we now witness today.
The first IPTV middleware platform I was exposed to was back in 1998, and it came from a Reno, Nevada based ISP called SourceNet. Truth be told, switched digital video platform is probably a better descriptor than IPTV, since those early deployments used ATM, not IP. SourceNet had this crazy idea of selling video services over their ISP network and developed the software that allowed them to do so. They then began marketing that software platform to telcos and the IPTV movement was off and running.
SourceNet soon realized they were on to something and decided to take it to the next level. They got some funding and renamed their middleware platform Myrio and moved their operation to Seattle, Washington. Myrio middleware became the market leader, particularly among smaller tier 2 and 3 telcos.
It wasn’t too long before Siemens came calling and bought Myrio. Soon after, Seimens became Nokia Siemens Networks and the Myrio middleware platform was absorbed into their product portfolio (and some would argue, killed its promise in the process), ultimately becoming Home Entertainment 3.0. Maybe NSN will continue supporting the platform, but from my vantage point it doesn’t pass the “Mobile Broadband and Services is at the center of our new strategy” test.
NSN would not reveal to us the total number of companies who use the platform. Even though their numbers are significantly down from the Myrio heyday, they do still have some significant customers including HickoryTech, KPU, and most recently Daktel Communications. If my prediction is right, these IPTV players will soon be looking for a new middleware partner. NSN tells Telecompetitor they are currently communicating their “transformation strategy” to their customers.
With the potential exit of NSN middleware, by my estimation, we’ll have a three horse race for IPTV middleware share in the U.S. market. That race includes; 1) Microsoft Mediaroom, who is clearly making some headway with smaller carriers (thanks in some part to the exit of Cisco), 2) Minerva, who leads the U.S. market in terms of number of deployments (but not number of subscribers), and 3) Innovative Systems, who is carving out a niche among smaller tier 3 IPTV providers.
Stay tuned …