DigiSoft moves to capitalise on HD market opportunity

28 Apr 2008

A “Blu-ray experience without a Blu-ray player” is the promise of enterprising Cork digital TV company DigiSoft, which has signed a deal to deploy internet protocol TV (IPTV) to an Asia-Pacific video retailer with over 1,200 stores and eight million customers.

Tom Higgins, chairman of DigiSoft, said the company has demonstrated the ability to provide high-definition movies to video retailers and other stores without the need to own high-definition movie players.

At the NAB digital TV trade show in Last Vegas in recent weeks, DigiSoft revealed one of the biggest video retailers in the South Pacific, the Video Ezy/Blockbuster chain in Australia and New Zealand, will deploy its new method for delivering the latest movies to consumers.

The deal includes the provision of an in-store kiosk with movie library, branded USB or iPod-type storage system and in-home Java set-top box. The consumer simply plugs the USB or iPod into the kiosk to select movies to rent for later playback on the Java set-top box.

The set-top box software developed by DigiSoft enables new revenue streams, and removes the dependency on traditional middleware, creating a lower cost of ownership and faster return on investment for service providers.

“Video Ezy’s primary objective has always been to give our customers a service that is dynamic and innovative with a focus on quality and value for money for excellence in home entertainment,” Paul Uniacke, managing director of Video Ezy explained.

“The electronic video rental service provides our customers with a new compelling and dynamic content delivery platform that offers them a truly flexible rental model.

“The set-top box solution from DigiSoft provides our customers with a range of feature rich applications combined with support for the latest high definition technology TV viewing and gives us the flexibility to adopt new advanced online delivery models in the future,” Uniacke said

DigiSoft executive chairman, Tom Higgins, told siliconrepublic.com that the company decided 18 months ago to strike up key partnerships with some of the world’s biggest technology companies, including EDS, Sun Microsystems, Tech Mahindra and Harris.

“In 2006, the company was more focused on delivering its IPTV platform to broadcasters but now the strategy is about enabling telecoms operators and next generation entertainment companies to achieve profitable new revenue streams.”

He continued: “The world is moving to high-definition television. What’s pushing that is demand from consumers for higher quality television viewing. You will see that a lot of the Olympics will be broadcast in high definition.”

Higgins said the deal with Video Ezy/Blockbuster is to enable people to get videos that can be played on a full 1080p display in HD by going into a story, plugging in a USB and downloading the video, which they can then play at home.

“The world is talking about downloading over the internet for the future of television but the reality is getting the studios to sign off on the quality to deliver that content. If you’re not approved by the studios, you’re not going to get anywhere in the market.

“If a telco was to adopt this solution, they wouldn’t even need to be offering full broadband. All they need is the wireless return to ask the studios’ digital rights management (DRM) server if the content can be played. Many telcos are coming to us and saying this could be an immediate revenue stream that could enable them to compete-head-on with the cable guys,” Higgins told silconrepublic.com.

Cork-headquartered DigiSoft employs 45 people and has sales offices in Sydney, Denver, Singapore, Christchurch in New Zealand and Manchester in the UK. In 2005, Riverdeep founder Pat McDonagh invested €2.5m in the company along with 4th Level Ventures, the venture capital arm of investment firm Dolmen Securities.

In addition to the new high-definition strategy, DigiSoft also revealed that so far it has achieved over 1.5 million licence sales of its Sun Java-based IPTV middleware.

By John Kennedy