There was a lot of excitement and speculation surrounding the Motorola au Box recently, and as a result, I made an appointment to sit down with one of the product marketing managers, Matthias Trygg, for an update. Matthias handles set-tops based on the Motorola KreaTV platform, which are deployed primarily in Europe and Asia. In other words, these aren’t the set-tops you see out of AT&T or Verizon. (Many analysts count Verizon in the IPTV category.) Top customers for the KreaTV set-tops include Telia Sonera, Telefonica, Deutsche Telecom, KPN, and KDDI.
Applications for the KreaTV set-tops, including the au Box, come from a long list of Motorola partners. Motorola provides the development platform, and operator customers either direct their own application development or turn to Motorola to lead the process. There is tremendous software flexibility (Motorola regularly demos Web applications like Flickr and Pandora on the KreaTV set-tops), which works well for operators with very distinct ideas of the services they’d like to offer. For example, Motorola created a specialized solution with the au Box for KDDI, which includes the ability to transfer video from the set-top to a mobile phone. At the same time, just because a solution is developed for a specific customer doesn’t mean that Motorola can’t use it as the basis for future deployments with other operators. The au Box could very well show up elsewhere in other incarnations down the road.
One other thing that’s interesting to note about the Motorola KreaTV set-tops: they’re built using open-source technology.
In addition to talking with Matthias, I also reviewed a recent analyst report on the global IPTV market for context on Motorola’s role in the industry. According to the MRG IPTV Market Leader Report put out in March, Motorola leads the North American market in IPTV set-tops, is number two in Europe (where market share is primarily dispersed among five top vendors as compared to the two dominant players in the US), and has made strong gains in Asia since this time last year. Overall, Motorola owns 23% of IPTV set-top market share, up from 21% last fall. Aside from the set-top category, Motorola also leads in video headends, and is among the top ten providers worldwide for IPTV access technology.