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The 2007 Streaming Media Readers' Choice Awards Winners

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All we knew going into this, the inaugural Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Awards, was that we had no idea what we were getting into. Maybe that’s not entirely true, but the two-week nomination period and three-week voting process brought with it more surprises than any of us here could have anticipated. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we’d settled upon 16 categories that we felt covered the breadth of products and services in the industry. But we severely underestimated just how fluid some of these categories would be (Quick: Define "IPTV" in ten words or less, and simply saying "internet protocol television" won’t cut it) or how multipurpose so many of these products are. For almost every argument why a particular product belonged in a particular category, there was a counterargument that it belonged elsewhere, or at least that any single category was insufficient to define everything that product was capable of.

But even if it was under protest, 92 companies submitted almost 120 products or services (or were nominated by customers or others in the industry). Some companies engaged in overt get-out-the-vote campaigns with their customers, or so we heard through the grapevine. That seemed eminently fair to us, and in the end probably helped some smaller companies compete with vendors who have much more name recognition. When all was said and done, more than 3,000 readers of Streaming Media magazine and StreamingMedia.com logged their votes—and that count came after our crack IT department de-duped the list and we removed some of the obvious ballot-box stuffers (you know who you are).

So here are the winners and first and second runners-up in each category. It’s a list full of names both familiar and new, and while we might quibble about what any particular first-place finish means, one thing is beyond debate: This industry is healthier, more dynamic, and more vital than it’s ever been. And with that, everyone wins.
<brFigure 1

Collaboration/Conference Solution
First runner-up: Tandberg
Second runner-up: VectorMAX MeetingAnywhere
Even though the Google/YouTube deal grabbed all the headlines (we don’t even need to write the dollar amount, do we?), Cisco’s $3.9 billion acquisition of WebEx was the biggest M&A news of the last couple years, and WebEx’s #1 showing here is a perfect summation of why. WebEx’s own commitment to video has been minimal; as Streaming Media columnist and industry analyst Steve Vonder Haar wrote in his June/July Eyes on the Enterprise column, "Never did one get the feeling that WebEx was truly committing itself to promoting and openly encouraging the integration of video capabilities," despite the addition of some webcam functionality in recent years. But WebEx is far and away the market leader in business collaboration solutions, to the point where businesspeople will talk about "doing a WebEx meeting" the same way they talk about having a conference call. Now that WebEx has teamed up with Cisco—which in 2005 also acquired Scientific Atlanta—the writing is on the wall for video to become central to WebEx’s mission.

Figure 2

Content Management Platform
VeriSign Intelligent Content Delivery Network
First runner-up: Multicast Media Technologies Vidego
Second runner-up: Accordent Media Management System
VeriSign benefits from the same sort of name recognition as does WebEx; even if you know nothing about their actual content management offerings, you’ve seen the name and the familiar "powered by VeriSign" logo when you’ve made online purchases. But the company’s both changed and expanded its focus from web transaction security, selling off its payment gateway to eBay and acquiring Kontiki and its peer-to-peer Delivery Management System. By pairing Kontiki’s technology with its own backbone and customer base, VeriSign has been able to achieve a level of awareness much higher than either it or Kontiki could have achieved alone. As a result, 2007 saw VeriSign announce several major deployments of its Intelligent Content Delivery Network, such as a deal with the UK’s Channel 4 and the fact that they’re behind the BBC’s iPlayer.

Figure 3

Copy Protection/DRM Solution
BUYDRM KeyOS Pay Media Platform
First runner-up: Entriq MediaSphere
Second runner-up: Widevine Cypher for the PC
Bold and outspoken, BUYDRM founder Christopher Levy is a fixture on the digital media conference circuit and has been a core supporter of the streaming media industry speaking at Streaming Media and writing for StreamingMedia.com. BUYDRM has been at the forefront of digital rights management since its creation in 2001, and its KEYOS Pay Media Platform is one of the most frequently used in the biz. The platform gives customers tremendous flexibility in how they choose to deploy monetized and ad-supported DRM-enabled business models. (But Levy doesn't rule out the promise of other DRM technologies; see his "DRM Demystified," pp. 48-56.) The proof is in Levy’s past and present customer list: Microsoft, NBC, Intel, Network Live, NFL Films, Anheuser-Busch, Interscope Records, . . . stop us when we get to one you've heard of.

Entriq made a strong showing as first runner-up, despite the fact that the company appears to be in a state of transition, while second runner-up Widevine Cypher got a bump from the mid-year announcement that it’s now able to protect Flash Video.

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