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NAB 2008: MobiTV Moves Into Server Technology's Heavyweight Division

MobiTV, Inc., "arguably, operates the largest mobile TV service in the world," according to Paul Scanlan, who is the company’s President and Co-founder. Sure, every company likes to boast about being a market leader, but in this class of service providers MobiTV is probably the champion of its division. After all, the company delivers video content to more 3 million mobile phone subscribers, including customers of Sprint/NexTel and AT&T. But this week at NAB it moved up into the heavyweight division of streaming server technology providers (a division that also includes the likes of Microsoft and Adobe), when it announced its Optimized Delivery Server at NAB this week.

According to MobiTV’s press release, its Optimized Delivery Server is scalable, secure and optimized server software for the distribution of enhanced live and downloadable media over broadband and wireless networks. The company plans to license this technology to others.

In the world of professional boxing, when a boxer moves from one weight division to another and begins to challenge larger opponents, they usually do so at their own peril. A century of boxing is littered with examples of such failures. There have been only a few fighters who have moved up that bucked this historical trend. So the question is, "Does MobiTV’s Optimized Delivery Server have what it takes to go the distance with other big software companies already in the space or will it just get punched out in the early rounds?" Scanlan things the company can go toe-to-toe with its competitors.

"I think Real, unfortunately, isn’t focused on this space so their products get kind of stale, as far as I’m concerned, and Windows is kind of the same way; it’s a great server for delivering Window Media content but it doesn’t help with H.264 and it has limitations where we need to support a broad range of handsets, a broad range of device size resolutions and broad feature functionality," says Scanlan.

Scanlan also notes that, "We think it is absolutely critical for any manage service operator, like ourselves, that continues to do the type of systems we manage and operate, that they are not just a content aggregator and hosting provider but have deep technical credentials."

Necessity is the Mother of Invention
The company didn’t plan to enter this market, says Scanlan. "To be honest with you, one of the reasons we developed the solution was we couldn’t find anything off the shelf that was scalable for what we needed." He added that, "if we could have licensed products to create what we would consider the best experience we would have. What we developed was, by a wide margin, more innovative than anything we could find in the market place. We wanted fast channel change, we needed a scalable RTSP server—we couldn’t find [these features] in Darwin [Apple’s streaming server] or other products. We wanted the flexibility of doing H.264 and MPEG 4 and the versatility of codecs. We wanted the ability to make ad insertions on a targeted basis. We wanted the ability to do multicasting and unicasting. When we stacked up all our requirements that we needed for our network there wasn’t anything else out there. And we had to develop it. In the process of developing it, and obviously talking to others about it, the feedback we got was ‘Holy cow, what you guys have here is a real incredible asset.’ We’ve seen a lot of demand from other companies, even competitors, [asking], ‘Can we license that from you?’ "

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