Harmonic Phasing Out VOD Servers

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Harmonic has stopped selling StreamLiner video-on-demand servers and will start to phase out support for the VOD family by the end of 2012, according to a memo to customers obtained by Multichannel News.

According to the Sept. 30 memo, the company will not develop new features for the StreamLiner 2000 and 3000 hardware, software and licenses after September 2011. Harmonic also said it will not offer alternative VOD server platforms.

"Harmonic fully understands the nature of the VOD business and the time required for transition to alternative platforms," the company said in the memo. "To alleviate the impact to customer existing expansion plan, Harmonic has reserved sufficient inventories available for customer purchase at heavy discount to cope with the expansion needs in the near to medium term."

In an interview, Tom Lattie, vice president of product management for Harmonic's production, playout and streaming products, said the company was moving its focus to other forms of video delivery.

"While there's still a huge focus on on-demand content, we're seeing a huge shift in how that content is being delivered to consumers," he said. "What you're seeing from us is, instead of investing in the traditional VOD pump business, we're taking that technology and know-how and increasing our investment in the new ways content is being delivered."

Specifically, Lattie pointed to Harmonic's recent introduction of the ProMedia suite of software solutions and appliances, which supersedes the vendor's MediaPrism family. ProMedia products include HTTP and RTMP streaming-video software that encapsulates and delivers video to a variety of target devices, as well as a video-ingest engine that provides one-step encoding for multiplatform distribution.

In the memo to customers, Harmonic said it will continue to support StreamLiner 2000 and 3000 products through Dec. 31, 2012. Lattie noted that some customers have contracts that provide for support beyond that date.

In April 2010, Arris Group sued Harmonic in federal district court, alleging that the StreamLiner 3000 product infringed four patents held by Arris related to trick-play mode. The parties reached a tentative agreement on a settlement in the fourth quarter of last year and in April 2011 Harmonic paid Arris $1.3 million to have the claim dismissed, according to Harmonic's most recent quarterly filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Harmonic in 2006 acquired Entone Technologies' VOD software business, which formed the basis for the StreamLiner family, for about $45 million in cash and stock.

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