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Zodiac introduces new mobile search engine

Mon, 01/28/2008 - 7:15am
Mike Robuck

Zodiac has tossed its hat into the mobile search ring with a new mobile search and discovery engine for TVs and browsers, called Zodigo.

Similar to cable’s on-demand service, Zodigo helps customers search and download the specific content they want to their mobile phones.

Zodiac has been working on Zodigo for more than a year, and now that it’s ready, the company has spun it off into the new Zodigo operating company.

Zodigo is based on an API software that works with a multitude of platforms – such as tru2way, PowerTV, Linux, Blu-ray and OpenTV – and a host of operators, including cable, satellite and telcos, as well as mobile operators.

While Zodiac isn’t releasing any customer names at this point, Zodigo is currently being looked at by one of the Top 2 satellite providers in the U.S., as well as by several smaller cable operators and larger MSOs, many of which are already deploying Zodiac’s gaming platform. The Zodigo widget also works with gaming platforms such as Wii and Xbox 360.

Content can be provided via a walled garden by a cable operator, Zodiac’s own Web portal, or through other Web portals and content agreements.

“What we’re probably most proud of is the personalization and recommendation engine and the technology that goes into it,” said Matt Johnston, Zodiac’s SVP of strategy and the CEO of Zodigo.

“It recommends content based on the patterns of purchasing and exploration and then makes suggestions.”

With the search engine, every customer has a genome for his or her profile, while the various forms of content each have their own genome.

“As users interact, their genomes and the content genomes change,” Johnston said. “In real time, the system has a relatively simple algorithm to find the content that is the most closely related to my genome.”

Johnston used the example of a customer watching the James Bond movie “Casino Royale” on a Blu-ray DVD.

“The Zodigo widget would allow me to download other James Bond movie trailers or Bond ringtones,” he said.

The search engine is also able to determine what content is available for each user’s phone.

Lower-end mobile phones may be able to just download ringtones, simple games and wallpaper, while higher-end, GPS-enabled 3G handsets can download items such as MP3s, movies, and sports tickets and coupons.

The mobile provider is in charge of the billing and back office system, according to Johnston. The platform is based upon a revenue-sharing model that would give the cable or satellite provider 15 percent of the transaction, while the majority would go to the mobile operator. The average price to the consumer of a mobile transaction is $4 to $7, while the range is 99 cents to $40.

“It allows cable operators to build a mobile relationship with customers,” Johnston said.

More Broadband Direct:

• Bright House, Concurrent part of largest Start Over deployment to date 

• Time Warner Cable launches navigation Web site 

• Wireless, data divisions pump up Verizon’s revenues 

• AT&T completes largest U-verse rollout to date 

• TVN rolls out interactive VOD tool 

• Zodiac introduces new mobile search engine 

• Wireless auction bidding exceeds $4B 

• Broadband Briefs for 1/28/08

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