Technicolor Pulls Out Of HEVC Advance Patent Pool, Will License Direct To Hardware Vendors

Technicolor has announced that they have pulled their patents from the HEVC Advance patent licensing pool and will now license their patents directly to device manufacturers. Almost a year ago I heard that Technicolor wasn’t happy with how HEVC Advance came to the market, with licensing terms that didn’t make sense and were simply too expensive, thereby stalling adoption. Someone from Technicolor even confirmed for me off-the-record that months ago, they told HEVC Advance to stop using their name as one of the companies in the pool. So I’m not surprised to see this latest announcement that Technicolor will not longer be a part of HEVC Advance.

Of course this isn’t good for those that need to license HEVC patents as now you potentially have to pay MPEG LA, HEVC Advance and Technicolor. In addition, I am hearing that Sony may also start licensing their HEVC patents directly to hardware manufactures, which means you may need to pay four different companies. After Technicolor’s announcement, HEVC Advance put out a press release to say that Technicolor’s 12 patents have been removed from HEVC’s Patent pool. The only positive here is that Technicolor is only looking to have device companies pay and says they do “not plan to license industry players for content streaming.” So if content owners don’t have to license the patents, that’s at least one positive development.

Of course this isn’t good news for HEVC Advance which already had to change their licensing terms after launching in the market and now loses one of the founding members of the pool. While HEVC Advance and companies that have patents related to HEVC technology have a few years to get some revenue from licensing, the writing is already on the wall. The next generation codec after HEVC is going to be royalty free, thanks to what the Alliance For Open Media and others are working on.

Shifting Video Viewing Behavior Is Forcing Publishers To Revamp Their Cross-Device Programming Strategy

Data from Adobe has shown that tablet and smartphone viewing accounted for nearly 40 minutes of daily viewing in 2015. This growth has not come at the expense of desktop or connected devices as mobile will continue to be a major story in 2016 as it drives overall growth in video consumption. While this is good news overall, it does present a number of new challenges that will face publishers in 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 6.47.41 PMWhat this data shows is that video viewers are increasingly accessing content through multiple entry-points throughout the day. These entry points, by nature of technology and context have unique user experiences. What works on desktop, can be intrusive, clunky, and bandwidth hogging on mobile. Those 37 minutes of desktop and connected device viewing are more continuous than the hop on / hop off viewing habits of mobile.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 6.49.31 PMAnonymous data from a publisher that began with a mobile to desktop split of 81/19 in September 2015 and moved to close to 50/50 by year-end by increasing overall desktop views.

Iris.TV shared with me some data from one of their customers that publishes to both web and mobile environments and saw desktop views increase to a level where by month four, shares of views was split evenly on desktop and mobile. There was an increase in Video Lift and reduction in bounce rate across the board as well. Iris.TV measures the average video engagement in the viewing session as Video Lift, which is the measure of recommended video views divided by the initial clicked views. Bounce rate is the measure of viewers exiting the viewing experience prior to completion of the initial clicked video. Mobile bounce rates began at 84% but over time reduced to 75%. Video Lift increased from 22% to 39%.

By better engaging the user in mobile, publishers can organically drive them to desktop where there is higher video adoption and lower bounce which translates into more videos completed per session and more ads served. The data shows that publishers can grow overall value by programming content across devices to engage viewers. User engagement is a critical driver of adoption and retention across platforms, but especially on mobile. For the most part, programming a consistent user experience across devices has been the domain of the TVE/SVOD/OTT offerings from Netflix, Amazon, and the like. Viewers of films and serialized TV are able to pick up where they left off across devices with authentication via logins. YouTube and a few other mobile apps have been able to offer cross devices experiences, but they are few and far between.

The portion of the market that should be innovating around cross-device programming are publishers of short-form ad-supported video. Upwards of 70% of short-form videos are directed from social media, followed by audience development and organic traffic. Social is a mobile medium with Facebook leading the way. Publishers need to manage the mobile social video experience to drive engagement but not become too dependent on these platforms for video. By not programming better on their O&O mobile web, they are leaving money on the table and missing opportunities to increase user engagement and retention across all entry-points.

So what can publishers do? Budgets are tight and not everyone can invest in video-centric apps. But publishers can and should be utilizing data-driven business intelligence to determine what videos perform well and in what context. The focus should be on video performance with respect to content category, device, content length, social engagement, and time-of-day, which would improve the user experience.

Internet Measurement & Optimization Provider Cedexis Raises $22M In B Round

Cedexis, best known for their internet measurement & optimization platform has raised $22M in a B round, led by Ginko Ventures. Foxconn, Nokia Growth Partners (NGP), Citrix Systems Ventures as well as Cedexis’ Series A investors, Advanced Technology Ventures and Madrona Ventures also contributed to the funding. Cedexis has now raised $33M and has established themselves as the company to watch in this segment of the market. Customers that are adopting interesting and complex cloud technologies are relying on the Cedexis platform, where QoE measurement is vital to their business.

While other vendors provide some of the features Cedexis has, none of them have the measurement data that Cedexis has, from 800+ enterprises and every major cloud and CDN provider in the world. Cedexis is at the forefront of enabling cloud-based application architectures that focus on end-user QoE as a core design consideration, and I’ve yet to come across a single Cedexis customer that doesn’t absolutely love what they do. If I had to make a list of the top five companies doing something truly unique and valuable tied to content delivery, I’d probably have Cedexis at the top of the list.

Cedexis plans to use the money to expand their sales, marketing and engineering headcount, adding about 20 new employees this year. The company also plans to expand their services and reach into Europe and Asia and add more solutions for video, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) services and web application delivery. Cedexis is seeking Big Data, Cloud and Networking Infrastructure Engineering talent, as well as Sales and Marketing professionals with expertise in Enterprise SaaS software. Anyone interested in learning more about the positions Cedexis has open should visit their career page. You can also send me an email with your resume, and I’ll pass it along to the company.

 

Recent CDN Market Sizing Reports Are Flat Out Wrong: Terrible Data, Lots Of Errors

Over the past two months, I’ve seen quite a few market sizing reports released about the content delivery market. Unfortunately, the reports are really bad, with factual errors that are so obvious, it makes you wonder how any of the companies publishing the reports would expect anyone to buy them.

For example, multiple reports list vendors that are covered in the competitive section of the report, that haven’t been in the market in years. Contendo was acquired by Akamai four years ago and should not be on any competitive list. Skytide, which isn’t even a CDN, was acquired over two years ago. Another report lists Telestream, Kaltura, Cisco and Adobe as leading CDNs, which of course they aren’t.

Many reports also spell vendor names wrong. They don’t know if the company name is one word or two and don’t know how to properly capitalize the company name. That might seem trivial, but it shows they really don’t know the market if they don’t even know how to list vendors names properly.

Another problem is that these reports total revenue and market sizing from products and services that don’t have anything to do with CDN. For instance, this report gives out the size of the CDN market, but includes revenue from “data security”, “cloud storage”, “transcoding” and “digital rights management”. Those aren’t CDN services.

And the press releases promoting these reports sound like they were written by someone who doesn’t understand English. You don’t deliver “contents”. And I like this line that says, “The recent improvement in bandwidth cost has vastly increased the consumption of internet.” You don’t “consume” the Internet, you consume content over the Internet.

It’s also a dead giveaway that something is wrong with the report when they don’t list the name of the author who wrote it. If you don’t know the expertise of the analyst who wrote it, why would you buy it? And yet, these firms will gladly accept your money, usually $3K-$5K, and sell it to you anyway. Bottom line, don’t waste your money on any CDN report that doesn’t list who the analyst is, doesn’t list the leading vendors properly and doesn’t describe the methodology used to provide the market sizing numbers. Any good analyst will be happy to describe their methodology to you, before you buy the report.

So what is the size of the CDN market? All depends on which CDN service you are looking at. The size of the market for video delivery, is very different from the size of the market for dynamic content delivery, which is different from the app acceleration market. In 2015 the size of the CDN market for media and software delivery was $4B dollars. Other segments of the market are harder to nail down, but using the right methodology, you can come up with good estimates. If you have questions on the size of any segment of the CDN market, feel free to reach out to me at any time. I’ll share what I have.

Samsung’s SmartThings Home Automation Platform Is So Unreliable, They Should Stop Selling It

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 1.36.05 PMIn addition to being interested in streaming media technology, I also test out and use a lot of home automation platforms and security cameras. I have systems from Canary, Sharx, Logitech, D-Link, Nest, Arlo, Piper, Archos, Wemo, Smart Things, Wink, Wirelesstags.net and others that get well tested in my household. And while I don’t usually blog about home automation technology, my experience with the SmartThings platform has been so horrible, I wanted to make my comments public in the hopes that Smart Things, or someone from Samsung, will actually care enough to fix it.

For over a year now, SmartThings has struggled to do something simple, turn on and off my lights. I have three lights setup to go on at 4pm and scheduled to turn off at 11pm. And yet, twelve months later, SmartThings still isn’t reliable. Sometimes the lights work perfectly, other times they never work for days at a time. Sometimes only one will turn on and off, while the others don’t do anything. Making the problem worse, SmartThings, which is owned by Samsung, doesn’t even have a support number you can call for help. All support is done in a chat window, which makes the support process very cumbersome.

Months ago, after complaning on Twitter to the CEO of SmartThings, he had someone from support call me, and since then, I’ve had three different calls with support. And yet still, the lights don’t turn on and off correctly. On each support call, they have acknowledged that something on their end isn’t working right, and they’ve never fixed it. I’ve been told that the issues I have are due to some “platform issues” as well as  “outages” and that sometimes “devices act up.” After they think they have fixed it, they have emailed me to say that “things should be considerably smoother now than the last week or so,” except they aren’t.

The SmartThings platform simply does not work. And if I can’t rely on it for turning lights on/off, how would I ever trust it to do things involving security in my home? Another thing that doesn’t work right is their iPhone app. Every couple of days, it asks me to login, not keeping any of my info stored. And many times, the light icon will show green, indicating it is on, when in fact, it is off. Even SmartThings support told me that the way their system works, if the action does not trigger, it won’t then see any future scheduling you have set up. So it if breaks once, it won’t let any of the other actions fire that you have scheduled. Of course, this makes no sense at all and Smart Things support agreed that it is something they need to “work on”.

SmartThings advertises their platform as “intelligent living” and yet, it can’t even turn on/off lights reliably. There is nothing smart or intelligent about their platform at all. It is hands-down the most unreliable technology I have in my house, other than the Nest smoke alarms, which I already sent back last year. Samsung should make SmartThings fix their platform, or just stop selling it all together.