Dr Abe Peled, former president and CEO at NDS, insists he is now an ordinary member of Cisco Systems’ 72,000 employees and as such he needed to go through the new staff ‘onboard’ induction system. Now, six weeks into his new job as Cisco’s SVP/Strategy Video & Collaboration Group, was in good humour at his annual NDS press briefing. His first joke was that being ‘onboarded’ was marginally less painful than a military-style water-boarding!
His upbeat mood was helped by positive news from Liberty Global’s CTO, Balan Nair, who told the group that its new Horizon set-top box had been an instant sell-out, such was the demand from Dutch subscribers. To be fair, there was less chat about the box being unveiled exactly a year ago at the same IBC, and thus a tad late. But the delays in the three-year project were reasonable, he explained, given the complexity of the tasks. “Three years ago, the iPad didn’t even exist. But we wanted to deliver a superb experience of what TV could be like.”
Nair was joined by Jesper Andersen, SVP/GM at Cisco’s Service Provider Video Technology group, who said that Cisco clients’ – and new business – interest in the relationship with NDS was at “overwhelming” levels.
Dr Peled, making his 17th visit to IBC, joked that ‘collaboration’ was his new middle name, but that the years ahead were even more exciting for his expanded team. “It isn’t so very long ago that people, especially in Germany, asked us why they needed HDTV. Then they asked us, again including the Germans, why we needed PVRs when they had perfectly good VCRs. We showed them what HDTV would mean, and with digital technology, and how PVRs would change the way we consume TV. Now, even Germans are buying HD sets, and PVRs, and signing up for pay-TV.”
NDS was showcasing its Fusion middleware, and Fresco ‘video-wall’ concept and Metadata processing solutions for combining video and data. Fresco was unveiled a year ago as ‘Surfaces’ but a legal letter from Microsoft pointed out that they had already registered the name for a new technology application.
Liberty’s Nair said his new NDS-engineered box with its ground-breaking and “beautiful” user interface would also start shipping to Swiss subscribers in the next 60 days, to Ireland in Q1 next year and Germany shortly afterwards. “Everyone wants this box,” he said. “We’ve made a great, great start.”
He explained that this first stage would be followed by further software improvements, whereby a consumer’s home system could be automatically and remotely configured or fine-tuned, even down to connected devices. “This was a tough project for everyone involved. In hindsight, had we known how tough it was to be, we might not have started out. But now that it is shipping, and customers love the result, I am totally happy.”