IP&TV News very much enjoyed this recent chat with IMAQLIQ’s Dmitry Bazhenov, with whom we were able to discuss future of OTT in Russia, IMAQLIQ TV, Sergei Eisenstein (yes, Sergei Eisenstein), and more…
IP&TV News: What kind of demand is there in Russia at present for next generation TV services – how promising is the market, to your mind?
Dmitry Bazhenov: The Russian broadband market has been growing intensively for years and by the end of 2013 there were about 25 million broadband internet users in Russia. It is expected that the figure will double within the next 5 years. In 2013 Russian telecom authorities launched a national program of fiber optical broadband access for small and very small (about 500 inhabitants) towns and villages. It is well known that video accounts for more than 80% of all internet traffic, so this vast expansion of broadband access means a dramatic increase of opportunities for connected TV.
Another important aspect to be considered is a rather delayed migration of Russia from analogue to digital TV. Officially the complete migration from analogue to digital should be done by the end of 2015. Most European countries, including the UK, migrated to digital TV much earlier, when broadband internet was not so well spread. In Russia it came in a different way – wire broadband came up earlier than DVB-T. And it naturally means IPTV or OTT services over cable grab a substantial share from DVB-T, which is slowly coming…
Tell us about IMAQLIQ TV?
IMAQLIQ TV is our media player; it has a powerful movie metadata processing engine on board. We at IMAQLIQ were inspired and even shocked by the recent, increasing control of end-users over networks. For instance, Skype and other Skype-like users nowadays account for about 50% of international telephone traffic. It created a lot of problems for incumbent carriers like BT or Rostelecom, forcing them to change. So we decided to create a similar tool for movie watchers. The idea of IMAQLIQ TV is based on two principles (or expectations):
- there will be more and more movie content in the Public Domain online (i.e. movies which are free from IP ownership of anybody)
- users will want their home TV to be smarter and perform many of the services normally launched on computers only
From the home screen of IMAQLIQ TV on a TV you can play any media content from your HDD or home network, go on the internet, etc. This is standard for any smart TV. But in addition to that you may search on your smartphone for any phrase or word related to a movie you are looking for and the search engine will look for availability of the movie on the Internet. If the movie is available and is in the Public Domain you will get a movie description, rating, trailer and movie artwork and may start watching the movie immediately. If not – you will get everything the same but may watch trailer only. Also, every time you search for a particular movie the system will offer similar movies as an alternative.
What technical innovations has it introduced to the Russian marketplace?
We believe we are the first to offer this type of service to the market. Not only in Russia – we think we are the first in the world with this concept. With IMAQLIQ TV we tried to provide more opportunities for an end-user, making them more independent than their provider
The true innovation is a unique algorithm for the movie search process. We had to consider a lot of factors – a TV watcher’s behaviour, existing hardware limitations, IP rights law, etc.
And what new service does it offer the consumer?
As I said before – the system has got a very good search engine on board, and may play any content. Also it has to be mentioned that we support a lot of plugins to various services – Youtube, Vkontakte (Russian version of Facebook), etc. The box will store all your personal credentials necessary to log in to your accounts (YouTube for instance).
And what potential do you think it could have in other markets?
IMAQLIQ TV has an excellent potential on all markets worldwide. The only factor one should consider is the difference of a Public Domain definition from country to country. A movie which for sure sits in Public Domain in one country could be bound by IP rights in another.
Interestingly, we are receiving a lot of requests from TV set manufacturers – they want IMAQLIQ TV on their TVs.
And we have to ask – what’s with the Eisenstein imagery on your website? You’re obviously big fans, what does he represent to you and your business?
Ha, you noticed Sergei Eisenstein image on our site and try to find the link between us and him? Of course Eisenstein was an outstanding film director in Russia. He was an artistic genius, walking on dusty Moscow pavements in the twenties, wearing very wide trousers and putting his hair back on his head to make his big forehead even bigger… he personally painted the flag red on the mast of his black and white Battleship Potemkin!
But the real reason why Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin is on the IMAQLIQ TV site is different. Battleship Potemkin for us, the developers of IMAQLIQ TV, is an example of a great movie which is located in the Public Domain in most countries in the world. The movie may be copied, played and distributed on a non-commercial basis without any limitations. Which, in fact, makes Mr. Eisenstein an even greater movie director…
IMAQLIQ is appearing at this year’s TV Connect. Could you tell us something of what you’ll be doing there, and what you’re looking forward to about attending?
Regardless of IMAQLIQ TV, which is a solution addressed to a retail market, network operators are our major customers. We supply a lot of equipment to carriers and broadband providers. Naturally we have to tailor our products to meet the specific demands of each customer.
Because of the increased competition in video services between network providers, we noticed an increased demand for cheap but powerful set-top-boxes which could be supplied in relatively short time in big quantities. At TV Connect 2014 we will introduce such a model, called the G-device (or IMAQLIQ G-box).
This is Linux based IPTV STB based on the recently released STi206/207 SoC. We believe that our new box is one of the cheapest possible solutions available, and it can be tailored by IMAQLIQ to meet the demands of any customer.
Dmitry Bazhenov will be appearing at TV Connect 2014, 18-20th March. For booking and more info go here.