Cisco’s charismatic Chairman and CEO John Chambers chanted the “everything, everyone will be connected” mantra as he unveiled his company’s Videoscape TV platform at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week.

The five-product family, which will be launched via a five-phase blueprint, includes cloud, network and client devices to deliver video over the Internet and, according to Chambers, it will christen video as “the new voice.”

“By 2014, 90 percent of all consumer Internet traffic will be video, and video will increase seven-fold. The network is the platform,” Chambers said. “We think the TV experience can be completely changed and made simple.”

Videoscape, according to Cisco’s Murali Nemani who, as director of video solutions service provider marketing, is up close and personal with the five-element suite of Videoscape products, learned a lesson from Google TV and Apple about the platform landscape.

“They didn’t offer good access to content, whereas cable has great access to the content and great customer relations. So we took online content and brought it together to deliver it over all networks,” Nemani explained. “Cable can keep its core subscriber base, and subscribers can do unified searches. It creates tremendous value back to the core, taking the cord-cutting issue and saying ‘in your face.’”

For rival set-top producer Motorola, however, Videoscape isn’t exactly in anyone’s face. “The fact is: we launched Medios last year when we needed to shift to IP and provide lots of access to content, service management and monetization. Videoscape just took the new IP video gateway and box and gave it structure,” said Buddy Snow Sr. director/product marketing for Motorola Mobility. “Cisco is a great competitor and this is a hotly contested space, but it really won’t impact us at all.”

Maybe not, but most analysts agree Videoscape is a pretty good idea, albeit not a new one.

“Cisco, Motorola and Technicolor had been working on a unified architecture and pitching ideas for years to service providers, but it wasn’t a big business model requirement,” maintained Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst for research firm In-Stat. “But when Google TV launched, it got attention, and it wasn’t as easy as Google thought it would be.”

While Google TV was experiencing the growing pains, Cisco was assembling its Videoscape, which will include a media gateway; an IP set-top box; software clients; a media suite; and a conductor to orchestrate the various functions across the cloud, network and client devices.

Added Chambers, “It’s about getting any content in cross-managed environments. It allows you to be consistent and immersive.”

It’s also about a developing business model that In-Stat’s Kaufhold says is real and finally rounding into form: “Cisco knows what they’re doing with Videoscape and in this space. Now, pay-TV providers finally see a business requirement to hold on to customers with a unified brand message. It all makes sense.”

And unity at the network level along with tighter relations with service providers makes the most sense. Concluded Chambers, “The market requires intelligence throughout the network, and integrating 50 billion devices will be a huge issue. But new revenue streams, screen experiences and the ability to bring it down to any device is what we think is the future.”

– Craig Kuhl

The Daily

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