Over 35 new IPTV services commenced trials or commercial operation worldwide in the past six months, according to a new report from US-based Multimedia Research Group (MRG), although the closing of Tiscali TV in Italy and the reorganisation of Nortel has left "ripples of change" throughout the industry, according to the company.

The new report, entitled 'Global IPTV Market Leaders Report - March 2009', adds that a continuing growth in subscribers worldwide is reflected by increased deployments of IPTV products in Europe, Rest of World, and especially in North America. For the first time, Microsoft is reported to have moved upwards to second position globally in the Middleware and Content Protection category, and first in the VOD category, as its competitors "brace for further rolling swells from the software giant". Verimatrix is named as again being top of the Content Protection category globally, far ahead of Microsoft, while each of the six top vendors of middleware have well over 1mn subscribers using their products, according to MRG.

A similar situation is described as existing in the Set-top Box category, with the top eight suppliers each having well over 1mn subscribers using their products globally, with Motorola and Amino (including its recent acquisition of Tilgin) beginning to pull ahead, according to the report. “Because of widely dispersed engineering, sales and manufacturing, the IPTV STB sector supports more competitive suppliers on a sub-regional basis than earlier multi-channel industries like cable or satellite,” said Gary Schultz, CEO of MRG. “In many ways IPTV as an industry looks more like a triple-play version of the mobile phone industry than older models of the multichannel video industry.”

Asia is named as being an example of a volatile market, with UTStarcom moving to first position in the categories Access, VOD, Set-top Boxes, Middleware and Content Protection, due to its "strong gains" in China. “This kind of a regional category-takeover is unprecedented,” stated Jose Alvear, IPTV Analyst at MRG. “Larger regional vendors (and service providers) are starting to ‘pull out all the stops’ on their regional strategies, on the belief that the economic contraction is offering unique opportunities to move aggressively into unserved markets.

“Some IPTV market segments are more volatile than others and will certainly see some changes in the future,” adds Mr Alvear. “However, one thing is certain: the IPTV market is still going strong. Not only are subscriber numbers rising, but new operators are also in the midst of deploying IPTV systems all around the world.”