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French firm snatches Italian set-top contract from Blighty's Amino

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French digital video specialist Technicolor has snatched away a central set top contract from UK's Amino, the set top company that has so far blazed a trail in the hybrid Intel-based set top market. Technicolor has announced that it will supply the next generation set top for Telecom Italia‘s Cubovision.

The MediaPlay range of Technicolor set tops will take over from the Amino Freedom after what must have been a two-horse race request for proposal that was not widely publicised. Technicolor will also provide content workflow and asset management systems to Cubovision‘s video infrastructure.

So far Amino has delivered about three orders for Telecom Italia, each of them we understand to have been 50,000 devices, and famously making the point in its accounts that it never made any profit on the first batch, despite using the contract to create a modern, powerful Intel based hybrid device which can run apps as well as offer both broadcast and OTT content. It is unclear if Amino will get further orders to fulfill before the Technicolor deal cuts in. The new order will also include MediaAccess residential gateways from Technicolor.

Telecom Italia was happily offering IPTV services under the Alice brand in and around Italy until 2010. Outside of Italy it sold Alice-branded ISP services – though within Italy its experiment with TV was seen to be foundering, with its IPTV service losing 108,000 customers last year. Meanwhile, Mediaset – with its paid DTT services – and the DTH Sky Italia service were carving up the Italian market between them, each gaining dramatically over the past 12 months.

In the process Italian telco Fastweb‘s linear TV service has faltered and been withdrawn. Cubovision has gone from a standing start and acquired about 5,000 new customers a month to sit at around 120,000. This has meant that Telecom Italia has actually grown its overall pay TV homes in Italy, although it is still at a low number and the entire operation is very cost sensitive.

We‘re unsure of the incumbent for the Telecom Italia IPTV set tops, but this seems likely to have been Technicolor. When Amino first won the Cubovision contract, it had to compete with 19 set top providers who answered the tender and there was a hope that the orders would be in millions... which has not turned out to be the case.

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Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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