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I had the wonderful chance to meet Jean-Noël Gadreau, CTO and co-founder of Wiztivi at IBC 2010 in Amsterdam and got some real insight in the early development of the French IPTV market. With some half of the world's IPTV's in action - the history of packaging an IPTV box with the triple play telecom deals (Phone, IPTV STB, and Internet) IPTV's were pretty much shoved into eight million homes over the past five years.
These guys have been building TV apps for years. In many ways, they have more a firm grasp on where the industry is going.... for instance, Gadreau was part of the initial team that developed the specs for HbbTV - a standard currently being rolled out in Germany this year and France next year. And then likely the rest of continental Europe and perhaps even Asia as the Koreans are looking closely at the standard. Not to mention they build Apps for almost all platforms, HbbTV, CEhtml, Samsung, and probably most interestingly, Toshiba Places.
Demo of Toshiba Places at IBC 2010
Toshiba Places is a service platform that facilitates the access to and sharing of information anytime, anywhere, on all screen types and this means that Multi-screen, content-sharing portal could make true convergence a reality
Toshiba and WizTiVi HAVE announced the French-market launch of Toshiba Places, a multi-screen (TV, PC, Tablet), cloud-computing-based service platform featuring an ultras-smooth user interface that facilitates information sharing on all of the screened devices used in the home and beyond. Whether it’s a television connected via Toshiba’s multi-function adapter, a tablet or any other type of computer, users can now enjoy a one-glance view of their multi-media services and content, and can share them with friends and family in a matter of seconds.
The guiding objectives during the development of Toshiba Places were to make digital life more immediately accessible and easy-to-navigate, with hassle-free ergonomics and universal applicability. An industry-first designed from the outset to address the multi-screen, multi-‘place’ challenge, Toshiba Places makes a clear and important contribution to a new era in cross-generation digital living, open to the world and open to users of all types, kids and adults, beginners and experts.
WizTiVi: an innovative expert in the field of digital conversion
WizTiVi, a leader in the development of interactive platforms, joined forces with Toshiba to create interactive television applications and to design a multi-screen exchange portal, Toshiba Places. Toshiba Places is optimized for use on Toshiba devices but can also be used on equipment manufactured and marketed by other brands.
WizTiVi president Daniel Scolan commented,
“WizTiVi is truly enthusiastic about this major partnership of global dimension with Toshiba. We are delighted to be contributing to a new era in television, featuring interactive access to multimedia content on all types of screens in the home.”
With its industry-leading expertise, WizTiVi is rapidly becoming a global reference in the field of convergence between screens. The company is moving into new interactive TV markets with significant growth potential in the multimedia, IT, television and interactive advertising sectors.
Philippe Delahaye, president of Toshiba Systems France, added,
“We are pleased to have worked with innovative partners such as WizTiVi throughout this project. Toshiba Places is the result of rich and effective collaboration between diverse partners in our business environment.”
Toshiba Places: a step forward in innovative technology to serve all members of the digital family.
Toshiba Places effectively combines several features for a maximum benefit:
Coupling the Internet with new possibilities enabled by cloud computing, Toshiba offers considerably enriched multi-screen connectivity, in particular with regard to the television set.
It was also announced at IFA 2010 in Berlin:
in Berlin, Toshiba announced another big step in making its Multi Screen vision a reality. So far, the emphasis has been on connecting devices locally – for example with the Toshiba Media Controller, which makes it easy to access and stream content from device to device within a home network. Now,'Toshiba Places' extends the Multi Screen vision by allowing customers to easily purchase and share Web-based content – across their own devices and with friends and family wherever they are. Pioneered by Toshiba France in the last year, Toshiba Places is now ready to be rolled out gradually to a range of Toshiba devices in an increasing number of markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Evolutionary step of Multi Screen vision towards cloud based services
"With Toshiba Places our Multi Screen vision takes another evolutionary step forward by embracing web based services", says Alan Thompson, President of Toshiba Europe GmbH. "This user-friendly portal reflects users' rising interest in sharing content not only between locally connected devices but also with friends and family all over the world. In addition, Toshiba Places also signals our determination to create offerings that go way beyond hardware, embracing compelling services, software and content too."
Dedicated graphical user interfaces adapted to the device's characteristics
People are increasingly using different devices to access the internet. As well as PCs, tablets and smartphones, consumers are now interested in viewing internet content on their TV: close to 60% of surveyed consumers in France, Germany and UK said this would be important to them  . Toshiba Places is an online content and services portal that allows consumers to access web-based content and services from different kinds of devices. While the interface retains the same 'look and feel' across devices, it's tailored to the individual characteristics of each kind of device. For example, the interface for TVs (currently accessible via a new Toshiba set-top box) makes it easy to access and use online content using a remote control. It also includes options to view a program guide, recently viewed programs and other TV related functions which are not appropriate for the PC version.
Share, store and access content easily on the device that most suits the moment
Once logged in to Toshiba Places, users can send their own content directly to the cloud, via popular Web-based services – for example, Flickr and DailyMotion in France – with the convenience of a single login. They can then access this content from their own different devices, such as a TV, laptop or tablet. They can also send a notification to people selected from a personal contacts list, who can then access the content. With Toshiba Places, customers can organise a truly private social network.
Toshiba Market Place: accessing new content and services
Within Toshiba Places, the Market Place area, or "Toshiba Market Place", allows users to buy music, films and other services that are immediately delivered digitally. Depending on the device and the location of the customer, a choice of content and applications from Toshiba and third parties will be offered, including music, videos, eBooks, games, news, messaging, productivity software, online stores, warranty services and many more. In France Toshiba is partnering for example with VideoFutur (Video on demand), L'Equipe.fr (sports news), and PagesJaunes (business directory). The services offered through Toshiba Places will be expanded on a regular basis, with a mix of local and region-wide partners.
A new episode in making the Multi Screen Vision a reality
Toshiba Places breaks barriers between devices, locations and generations. It is Toshiba's vision to connect the several screens people use for accessing and sharing content, whenever and wherever they are. With Toshiba Places we enter a new episode in making this vision a reality.