Zappware Names Patrick Vos CEO

--Appointment Signals Company's Intent to Target International Market
--Launches ITV Apps for Music Choice, Socialistische Mutualiteiten, VT4

Belgian interactive TV technology provider, Zappware, has generated a fair amount of news over the past few weeks:
--The company has promoted Patrick Vos, who leads its international sales efforts, to CEO. He succeeds Zappware co-founder, Jan Stinissen, who will become a member of the company's executive board. According to Zappware, Vos's appointment "confirms a change in strategy that has been going on for two years now" and that sees the company focusing more on the international market. The international market is a rapidly growing part of Zappware's turnover," Vos said in a prepared statement. "It shows that we are on the right track with Zappware's current proposition on the market as an interactive service provider for iDTV on multiple TV platforms. By combining our international activities with our pioneering role on the local market, we are in the best position to offer our clients--locally as well as internationally--best-of-breed solutions that fully exploit the commercial potential of interactive digital television."
--The company has been tapped by Music Choice to create an ITV application to enhance the 42 music channels the latter offers on the digital TV platform of Belgian cable operator, Telenet. The new application displays promotional graphics, information on the currently selected channel, and information on the current, next and next-plus-one track playing on the channel. In addition, when viewers press the red button on their remotes, they pull up a guide that shows the tracks that are playing now, as well as the tracks that are coming, up across all 42 channels: they can then use the guide to switch to another channel. And when viewers press the "Exit" button, the app presents them with what Zappware describes as "a minimized skin design to set the perfect mood for a dinner party." "We were very happy to have won this pitch, as, from a technical point of view, we knew adding this interactive layer to Music Choice's service would be quite a challenge," Zappware ITV producer, Marc Vervoort, said in a prepared statement. "Indeed, when the 'next' track starts to play, the information on the screen has to switch automatically and simultaneously. Thanks to 10 years of solid iDTV experience we proved up to the challenge by successfully synchronizing the tracks from 42 channels with the information displayed on the screen." Added Music Choice CEO, Margot Daly: "The application is both groundbreaking in terms of functionality for Music Choice worldwide with its now, next and next plus one feature, but also achieves the Holy Grail in UI--making a technically very complex application both easy to use and fast to operate for consumers. Zappware have helped Music Choice set a new standard of excellence for UI development."
--The company has developed an interactive TV service for its existing client, Belgian healthcare institution Socialistische Mutualiteiten (SM). The service, which is available on the Telenet pay-TV service, is based on a new, "off-the-shelf" Zappware iFormat called iCover (note: Zappware's iFormats--which are basically customizable templates for interactive TV services--are billed by the company as being "built in a modular way for easy rebranding, customization, and deployment on various TV platforms"). According to Zappware, iCover allows clients to "highlight news on a regular basis, just like the cover of a magazine, but then an interactive one and including interactive video-on-demand": it features a minimum of five highlighted items, represented by images, the company says; when an image is selected, a short description appears that is designed to encourage the viewer to press "OK." The viewer is then taken to on-demand videos, to other Zappware iFormats (e.g. an interactive quiz, a brochure, a sample request form, digital teletext or a product or VOD catalog), or to an operator's VOD platform. iCover also provides room for an optional promotional banner, which Zappware says can also serve as a gateway to further interactive services. According to Zappware, SM is using iCover in an attempt to communicate to viewers in a more visual manner: its iCover implementation--whose highlighted content is being refreshed on a weekly basis--links viewers to various health-related videos, including videos on nutrition, exercise and breast feeding. It also links viewers to a range of localized text-based information. It is accessed via Telenet's interactive TV portal or through the red button (note: the new service is part of an advertising campaign that includes a 45-second linear-TV spot and a series of seven-minute infomercials). According to Zappware, like all its other iFormats, iCover's content can be refreshed by clients themselves via the company's iView Portal, which features a scheduling tool for managing updates.
--The company has developed an interactive TV service for its existing client, ProsiebenSat1/SBS broadcaster VT4, based on its voting iFormat. The service enhances VT4's "The Block," a reality show in which couples compete to renovate a building into a set of fashionable lofts, on a limited budget. For the first time, the show is allowing viewers to vote to help determine the winner: viewers can vote via SMS or the Internet; or, if they are Telenet digital subscribers, via the red button. In addition to enabling red-button voting, Zappware is enabling VT4 to aggregate red-button, SMS and Internet votes via its iView platform, which also allows VT4 to update its voting service in-house. "Involving the viewer in the choice of the winner increases his engagement with the TV show and the associated broadcaster's brand is perceived to be a dynamic one," Zappware's Vervoort said in a prepared statement. "Offering on top the possibility to simply press red on the remote control will definitely contribute to the perception of VT4 as a dynamic brand."