We’ve been following the ongoing battle between middleware providers to capture market share among the growing IPTV service provider segment for a while now. Recent news includes Cisco exiting the market and Microsoft spreading its wings beyond their tier 1 carrier focus to smaller tier 2 and 3 IPTV providers.

These middleware battles among Microsoft, Minerva, Nokia Siemens, Conklin-Intracom and others are interesting to watch. Most of them are looking to grow market share among all sectors – tier 1, 2, and 3, as well as internationally.

Among the crowd, Innovative Systems has a somewhat different focus – tier 3 carriers, and tier 3 alone. “Other vendors leave the tier 3 market because it’s too small for large vendors selling just silo IPTV solutions. There’s just not enough money to go around.  In our case, IPTV is just one of many services provided by the APMAX, which is focused on tier 3 ILECs,” Innovative Systems CEO Roger Musick tells Telecompetitor.

They just recently announced their latest win — Clarence Telephone Company of Clarence, Iowa, a small IOC with less than 1,000 access lines – right up Innovative System’s alley.

Innovative launched a middleware offer several years ago, and it was initially built on the Open TV platform. They’ve since launched a second generation version, which was developed in-house by Innovative’s own development team. They’ve deployed their second generation middleware with over 20 tier 3 service providers.

Innovative has somewhat of an advantage in the tier 3 segment over their middleware competitors. Their application server APMAX, for which their IPTV middleware is tightly integrated with, has over 400 deployments in the tier 3 sector. “Our goal was to make IPTV middleware just another enhanced service instead of another complete silo. Tier 3 ILECs need a complete platform that will allow them to provide not only a me too TV system, but also enhanced services all from one vendor,” says Musick.

It won’t be a cake walk for Innovative. Microsoft is reaching down market through channel partners and Minerva, the North American middleware market leader in terms of total deployments, isn’t exactly a tier 3 carrier slouch. And if you ask Nokia Siemens, rumors of their middleware demise are quite premature. It all adds up to an interesting battle for tier 3 IPTV customers, no matter how small the market is.

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