First, a quick programming note: FierceIPTV will not publish on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, or (Black) Friday, Nov. 27. Look for fresh content to return on Monday, Nov. 30.
Second, Thanksgiving, that U.S holiday which celebrates our national tendency toward rampant consumption (at least in better economic years) and our un-European habit of mashing food together and covering it with gravy makes me think about consumption and mashings of the corporate kind. Mergers and acquisitions have occurred with fair regularity in the IPTV and telco TV sectors thus far. There has never been a mad rush to consolidate, but there certainly hasn't been a dearth of deals.
Just recently, Kudelski acquired OpenTV and Motorola bought BitBand, and on the service provider side, Carphone Warehouse acquired Tiscali U.K. earlier this year. Yet, I wonder if an acquisition binge of epic proportions might soon visit these sectors. The thought occurred to me as I walked around the TelcoTV 2009 event in Orlando earlier this month. It struck me how many specialists there still are in the TV services world, despite the existence of giants like Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson who do a little bit of everything. There are vendors focused on middleware, conditional access systems, gateways, set-top boxes, programming interfaces and more.
Meanwhile, there may be a broader trend by service providers to work with fewer vendors, and that would seem to have implications for any telecom technology ecosystem, this one included. I won't guess who might lead the buying binge or what portions of the TV services ecosystem could consolidate first, nor do I know if the time is necessarily right economically for those deals to occur. However, it seems like the potential is there at least strategically and competitively for something to happen, for the intensely competitive segments to be thinned out a bit and for some of the specialists to come together or be consumed by larger vendors.
And as with any big meal, the consumers must be careful to avoid unplanned cases of indigestion.
Finally, Thanksgiving, of course, was created with a different kind of spirit in mind. Wherever you are in the world, try to find a moment to give thanks this week for all of the opportunities life affords us, including the chance to participate in such a vibrant and growing sector of the global telecom industry.-Dan