Year of evolution, decade of revolution

This week features our final FierceIPTV newsletter for 2009, and though you will see news published on our site for the next couple of days, it's a good time to take a look back at the top stories of 2009.

There are always many candidates, but in picking our top stories this year, I looked for broader trends that seemed to generate industry activity, rather than single, isolated events. What I ended up with may sound familiar:

-IPTV struggles and success could be a top story on FierceIPTV any year, but in particular, this year showed that market maturity is a reality, but that challenges remain.

-Hybridization was a hot topic for the second year in a row, and so much more about this trend still needs to be sorted out.

-Telco-satellite TV partnerships are not new stories either, but they continue to make news and remain relevant. There has been some observation that they have delivered their best returns, yet the prospect of a major telco-satellite merger still looms.

-Small telcos seem to have been dealt a setback at the end of 2008 with news that IP-Prime would shutter, but other companies and a new merger managed to fill the need for small telcos who want to be in the TV business, but aren't about to make big fiber investments and send liaisons to Hollywood.

-Content control was in the news in a variety of ways, as TV Everywhere and similar initiatives look to harness the online TV revolution, and telco TV players continue to challenge cable TV firms over access to cable-owned content. But, the biggest news in this segment is still playing out, as the union of Comcast and NBC Universal is set to create a content powerhouse that will have many wondering how much content control is too much.

Otherwise, we also have come to the end of IPTV's first decade as an industry phenomenon. I recently asked readers about some of their memories of the past decade, and the most significant IPTV events. Not a lot of you responded, so feel free to post those memories at the end of this column. Some of best of this decade included:

- The DVR revolution: It started as a single device that changed how we view and think of TV. It became a service, a gateway to Internet content, a way of managing and organizing content within the entire home. Now, the decade ends with the notion that network-based storage will again change how we think of this game-changing technology.

-The biggest IPTV moment of the decade: It may have been AT&T's commercial expansion of its U-verse IPTV service on June 26, 2006. Many IPTV launches came before that, and AT&T wasn't even the first--and still isn't the largest--telco TV carrier in North America. Also, Europe was the most successful IPTV region during the decade. However, AT&T raised the bar in the U.S. market and for IPTV as a specific technology approach to TV apps. Now, even cable TV operators are planning IPTV efforts.

-Top acquisition of the decade: A case could be made for many deals, but Cisco Systems' acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta was mentioned by a handful of readers as arguably the most influential deal of the decade. Some felt that it validated the emerging IPTV market opportunity at a time before many major operators have launched their services.

This will be the final FierceIPTV Editor's Corner for 2009 and the aughts. We'll return the first week of the new year with predictions for 2010's major developments. Until then, Happy Holidays! -Dan