Saturday, March 24, 2007

Microsoft Subscriber Numbers

I met with some Microsoft folks yesterday at Sigma Design's 25th anniversary party at ATT Park in San Francisco. Sigma has come through a tough period starting with the telecom crash in 2000 and is starting to do pretty well.

Microsoft was there with a canned demonstration of its IPTV Edition software. It was all running off of a server since ATT does not offer its U-verse IPTV service in San Francisco yet.

Microsoft told me that their subscriber numbers are running in the low six figures. They said that there are about 40 thousand at Deutsche Telekom's Club Internet in France. Swisscom said they had 30 thousand orders and I have hear that Deutsche Telecom has 25 thousand subscribers. Assuming 10 thousand for AT&T puts them into six figures, so this number appears consistent.

Microsoft in effect admitted to being late and causing delays, particularly in ATT's IPTV rollout. There were comments like "who ever heard of a large software project that wasn't on time".

Microsoft is clearly making progress. I will not be comfortable that it is over the hump until the ATT numbers really start to grow. Of course, it will help when I can subscribe myself here in San Francisco and give it a road test. They say that will happen soon.

Just one note of caution is that Club Internet, like all of the broadband suppliers in France, includes IPTV as part of a basic broadband subscription. That does not necessarily mean that people actually watch it. The 40 thousand IPTV subscribers at Club Internet probably do not put nearly the load on the system that 40 thousand ATT U-verse subscribers would.

2 comments:

Ohad said...

Thanks for the update, Bob. It seems like SIGM has got even a tighter grip of the IPTV market than MSFT.

Did the Microsoft guys say anything about future developments and trends? Where do they see the highest growth potential in terms of geographies or customers. What about BT or TI? When can we see another a 4th massive MSTV deployment?

TIA
Ohad

Bob Larribeau said...

It is too early to say which company will dominate the MPEG-4 IPTV set-top box market. Sigma is doing well today, but things could change significantly over the next year or so.

Microsoft has been talking about enhancements such as whole home DVR for a long time. I think this work has stalled while it makes its basic software robust enough for a volume deployment.

I did not discuss long term numbers with Microsoft. I am finishing up on my own forecast, which will be published in the first part of April. Europe is the clear leader at least through 2010. It appears that Asia could capture the global lead in 2011, but that is pretty far out to predict with any certainty.

BT and TI are both pretty small as far as I can tell. BT is still in a beta phase. Last I heard TI had only about 20 thousand IPTV subscribers, although that number has probably increase significantly by now.

I am waiting for ATT to really start to gain momentum. China is starting to pick up and IPTV is rolling out in India. China will be significant of the next few years but India will be slow to gather momentum.