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Mark Donahue Mark Donahue is an associate editor for Telephony magazine. Previously, he worked in The Associated Press’ Chicago bureau, as well as two trade publications. He graduated from...more

Zodiac Interactive: Q&A with CEO Brandon Brown

Zodiac Interactive is among the foremost experts in interactive television, and truly one of the industry’s pioneers. We had the opportunity to speak with CEO, Brandon Brown, who gave us his insight on how HTML5 will help shape the future of Connected TV.

Q: Tell me about Zodiac Interactive and its suite of iTV software and professional services?

BB: Zodiac Interactive (www.Zodiac.tv) is an Emmy-Award winner that has been at the forefront of the interactive television industry since its inception. For nearly 10 years, Zodiac has provided innovative technology platforms, applications and professional services to video service providers. Currently, Zodiac solutions empower over 20 million users of set-top box, PC, cellular devices and tablets with services and capabilities that define the converged and connected content and video experience.

The efficiency and power of Zodiac’s software and solutions have allowed our clients to provide their respective subscribers with new, refreshed services and advanced user experiences without either wholesale changes in their distribution technology or significant capital expenditures. Zodiac has consistently found opportunities to optimize set-top software, introduce breakthrough user interface technologies, and provide myriad applications, platforms, and services that integrate the ecosystems of set-top clients with those of PC, mobile and tablets.

Q: There has been a lot of buzz around HTML5. Can you please explain the relevance and importance of its success for the future of iTV?

BB: HTML5 is widely regarded as the next generation of today’s – and tomorrow’s – web user experience. It is browser-based, which allows the power of the cloud to be brought to television for a more flexible and robust user experience. The added graphics and animation capabilities enable a more web-like experience that is familiar to almost everyone today.

HTML5 offers the potential of being the single unifying presentation engine for current generation set-top-box clients, PC, cellular, and tablet clients. With a browser and server combination, the opportunities for creativity and flexibility become almost endless.

Zodiac’s expertise and track record with set-tops and servers reinforce its position as a preeminent vendor to provide these new options immediately and cost-effectively

Q: At the last Cable Show, you introduced the PowerUp HTML5 solution. What should cable operators and other service providers take note of with this new product?

BB: First and foremost, Zodiac’s PowerUp HTML5 solution is currently available – this is not a futuristic concept.

As a result of our introduction in June, Zodiac, in partnership with two service providers, will be delivering PowerUp for HTML 5 solutions this year. The first of which is for a tru2way-based infrastructure, and the second for a hybrid infrastructure consisting of both tru2way and PowerTV. PowerUp for HTML 5 will be the common platform that unifies both infrastructures with a singular presentation engine that is an HTML5 browser.

There are numerous potential benefits to be derived from an HTML5-based platform, including: expanded talent pool of designers and developers, rapid integration and deployment of web-based services and applications, common platform to support current and next generation service offerings, singular infrastructure for the development and deployment of all web and video services and applications.

As consumers become more accustomed to a singular, integrated connected experience, fragmented or disjointed offerings will become increasingly less attractive. The consumer will have the ability to choose the client they want for their selected content, services and applications. This freedom will significantly reduce churn while simultaneously increasing the consumption and purchase of additional premium services.

Q: What other trends, news and notes should we, and the industry-at-large, keep an eye out for in the coming 12 months?

BB: Delivering the ultimate user experience is both the opportunity and the expected deliverable that many are counting on. Again, making things both easier to-use and more attractive are the goals.

The concept of socially networked TV with content accessible from any device has taken hold, and public expectations for reliable recommendations and affinity experiences are growing every week. User interfaces, electronic program guides, cross-device/platform interactive features and functionality, as well as better access to a wide palette of content, are on everyone’s radar.

Content recognition and web sources of content are important to many. Service providers may be distinguishing between passive and active user experiences that they have never before had to consider. This is a new concept that makes the past, passive television experience outdated.
In addition, more consumers are open to allowing their personal and affinity networks to influence their viewing. The ability of smart TVs to accept web content is growing and there will be an increasing need for platforms and interfaces to provide those options.

The content is there and the display options are available. Providing the interfaces and platforms to get people what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, is the task for which service providers will rely on Zodiac to help them deliver.

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