Wyplay appeared to launch two contradictive TV platform products last week in a peculiar week for the French middleware developer – one built around Android TV Operator Tier and another in partnership with local video technology vendor Viaccess-Orca.
The former, first of all, was a major statement from Wyplay, lauding the tagline “most exhaustive Android TV offering on the market.” Wyplay took its time responding to Faultline Online Reporter’s calls for clarity on this audacious statement and we’re glad that was the case – because the result involved Wyplay throwing a handful of competitors under the bus.
With this new Android TV offering, Wyplay is essentially providing its technology and services across a variety of verticals where it sees chief rivals. In its core middleware market, Wyplay references iWedia, TVStorm and WeTek, while the likes of 3SS, Massive Interactive, iFeelSmart and Wiztivi all provide Custom Launchers. Wyplay also cited system integrators like TataElxsi and application managers which are often handled by operators in-house. Individually, these are great products but none – Wyplay claims – offer them all together in one “exhaustive” package.
This is the type of aggression we have long wanted to see from Wyplay since Android TV operator tier began picking up momentum.
It seems then that what the company has done is fine-tune virtually every technical component of its technology portfolio to cater specifically for Android TV Operator Tier. And for a vendor whose core business has been threatened by the arrival of Operator Tier, Wyplay has surely had to make plenty of sacrifices.
Dismissing such a claim of being the most comprehensive product on the market is easier than accepting it. Yet given the wealth of components listed by Wyplay in its new Android TV offering, unveiled at an Android Bootcamp in San Francisco last week, we can see why the vendor reckons it has a claim to the throne. Bear with us and let’s take a closer look.
Taking advantage of its open source flagship Frog middleware, which is already deployed in millions of homes, Wyplay has tailored the hybrid TV technology to become an Android Application Package (APK), simplifying the process of updating and customizing the middleware. Given that Frog supports all OTT, IPTV, satellite, cable and terrestrial broadcast delivery methods, its reach is diverse and malleable. Of course, key to the exhaustive offering is the Wyplay Premium Operator Tier Custom Launcher, built on the ReactNative framework, which is also available on mobile devices to deliver a consistent UX.
With its roots in Linux, Wyplay has worked with Android in the past and has tried to do what a number of other middleware firms have done by mixing its own product with Android TV – despite the fact that they do much the same thing.
Together, Frog and Premium form the foundations but account for just 2 of the 5 total components comprising the new Android TV Video Solution, which itself makes up one half of the total offering. The remaining components are the Wyplay Apps Manager, a cloud-based system for managing apps independently of the Google Play Store, along with UX Manager, a revenue generating tool described as animating the subscriber’s journey across content and advertising. Last up is the Analytics Manager, monitoring the UX and devices to gather data geared towards improving QoS.
But while these technologies are nothing new, it’s only when combined with the next element of the launch, the dull-sounding Professional Services, that Wyplay’s claim to cater for the most demanding operators becomes apparent.
Operators getting cold feet about Android TV has been widely discussed, making the Professional Services element essential to adding that personal touch to address specific operator needs. For this, Wyplay provides Consulting, Program Management, Software Customization, Qualification & Acceptance, and System Integration.
When Wyplay first embraced Android TV in June last year, we declared the move as an abandonment of its Frog middleware. This was not an oversight, as the company admitted this was true at least in part. The difference one year later is that Wyplay has expanded its portfolio around Android TV to promising effect. A year ago, Wyplay’s Android TV was centered around the Premium reference UI with zero mention of Frog. Now, Frog appears to have been given a new lease of life – but in doing so giving up a slice of deployments. How many vendors would be willing to make such sizable yet vital sacrifices to adapt?
Essentially Wyplay has yielded its Frog middleware and most other components to Android TV, offering operators its Premium reference UI designed by the Wyplay design studio, or as a custom UI developed to match an operator’s requirements, but this must still comply with all Google’s UI requirements for Android TV Operator Tier.
But with such emphasis on Android TV, what could Wyplay possibly be set to gain from launching a separate end-to-end TV platform with French-Israeli firm Viaccess-Orca?
Our first thought was that this launch is contradictive to Android TV, although the closer we looked, the more it began to manifest as a Plan B option for the most tentative of operators, particularly with Viaccess-Orca’s security expertise. Wyplay half agreed, telling us that the joint offering with VO is completely complementary to the Android TV platform. “VO is providing a complete back-end (e.g. CMS), while Wyplay is providing the client side (custom launcher and middleware) with some back-end add-ons for a services platform,” a Wyplay representative informed us.
The collaborative platform is described as a pre-integrated end-to-end TV platform aimed at minimizing complexity for operators. It says the main features include cross-device applications, again relying on the ReactNative framework, a UX management tool, a rich TV platform available on-premise or in the cloud, personalization capabilities, analytics and ongoing support for Android TV. As with most partnerships, the deal is really about offering upgrades to each customer base, with the Orange subsidiary boasting tens of millions of subscribers being addressed by its TV platforms. But crucially, the two firms have failed to highlight any distinctive product differentiation.
Wyplay CEO Jacques Bourgnignaud said, “Most of our TV operators and prospects are considering Android TV. We have heavily invested in Android TV to tailor our solutions and are pleased to bring the same level of professionalism, innovation and expertise for Android TV deployments.”
Dominique Feral, EVP Sales & Marketing at Wyplay added, “We have been convinced to collaborate with Viaccess-Orca thanks to the large features set of the VO TV platform, and also because it has been quite fast to get a nice joint stable, reliable and ready-to-use trial – the ideal recipe for a great collaboration addressing our customer challenges.”