For over two decades, UK-based Amino has been known as a pioneer in the IPTV set-top box business. At IBC this year, however, the company was keen to increase the visibility of its software expertise.
Jamie Mackinlay, the firm’s Global VP Marketing, agrees that “you can’t walk away from a 20-year history of selling set-top boxes and suddenly expect everyone to go, ‘Oh, of course, they’re a software company.’ But one thing I would say is that we were founded as a software company, the origin of the business is a software business, and we’ve always been a software business. It’s just that our primary route to market in recent years, of course, has been through hardware products – the IPTV set-top boxes.”
The vehicles for this re-positioning at IBC were its new AminoTV product, which Mackinlay describes as a “really powerful video platform designed for modern IP user experiences,” and the latest version of AminoOS, which among other things can be used to ‘upcycle’ operators’ legacy CPE.
AminoTV addresses one of the most common scenarios faced by operators today, which is how they deal with increased churn from subscribers who want a ‘skinny’ bundle, or seek a more sophisticated UX or multiscreen offering, without incurring the considerable expense of swapping out boxes. “We can help fix that with our software,” explains Mackinlay. “We have an option where we can help deploy, with the same back-end database, a skinny TV bundle.” This could simply target tablets or online access, without requiring any new set-top boxes (although Amino was – like so many other IBC exhibitors this year – displaying an Android box option on its stand).
Alternatively, AminoTV could be used in a similar way to support the operator’s creation of a new premium tier, to avoid customers churning to a better service, which presumably they would have been prepared to pay more money for, Mackinlay points out.
Meanwhile, AminoOS can also be used to upgrade the user experience without requiring hardware replacement. Mackinlay cites the example of US telco Cincinnati Bell, which used an end-to-end IPTV middleware and box solution from ZTE, but wanted to upgrade the software to run Minerva 10 middleware. “None of the ZTE boxes deployed were powerful enough to run it,” comments Mackinlay. “So what we did is we took over the boxes with AminoOS, which basically increased their performance.”
Amino worked with Minerva on a new version of its middleware platform and was subsequently able to upgrade 150,000 ZTE boxes over-the-air to provide the more modern user experience that Cincinnati Bell wanted to deploy. “That saved them $20 million,” notes Mackinlay.
Cincinnati Bell’s boxes were Linux-based, but Amino is now supplying the telco with a new generation of AminoOS-powered set-top boxes which support both Linux and Android. “They can be shifted from Linux to Android after deployment,” Mackinlay points out, “which is a big win for the operator, because it means that they have a lot less risk as they’re adopting new technologies.” This is evidence, Mackinlay suggests, that despite the company’s software-focused message at IBC this year, its hardware heritage remains very relevant to its business.