Dr Amy Pang, Managing Director of StarTimes Research, the R&D wing of StarTimes group speaking with press at a media brunch on 20th August 2015 at the StarTimes Head Office in Lagos Nigeria revealed so much about Startimes research and development enterprise, their drive for innovation, the new technological products like the amazing Projector TV, tenbre play app and tenbre router from StarTimes, development plans, directions and interests in Nigeria and Africa at large. Excerpts:
What has been your experience personally so far in Technology, what has Technology signified for you over the years?
This is a very big question and I think Technology has been very important in recent times. Compared to the past centuries you would find out that why the world has grown so fast is because of technology especially the technology in portable sizes like the Internet, mobile internet and what happens is that with the boom of smart phone, technology breaks all the barriers; you are currently recording this session with your mobile device and can upload it for millions of people around the world to see it at once. This is the amazing magic of technology and with it, the world becomes a small community and people can communicate and connect fast and with much ease.
Tell us about StarTimes, how you started and penetrated into the Nigerian market?
This is my third time of visiting Nigeria and I found out that every time I visit Nigeria keeps developing very fast especially in terms of technology, mobile internet (telephone and tablet) and so what we are thinking is that we should do something new not only on the TV Screen but also on the phone and pad where the young people express themselves and are engaged in productive ventures through technology. So we are working on making people particularly the youth to not only enjoy entertainment only on TV but also on mobile and tablet so what we are doing is to give out the platform and the content on the phone. For instance, we’ve got exclusive copyright in sub Sahara Africa for Bundesliga football games and Serie A not only for TV but also on the internet, the video transmission copyright. So what we are working on is how to provide the very precious content not only on the TV but also on the phone and even the live matches. So now we launched the Tenbre play app in Nigeria, and Nigeria was the first country we chose to launch the new application because Nigeria is very important and the use of the internet has developed very fast. Also, we really got very good feedback from Nigeria and the people spend lots of time on the internet.
Tell us about the Tenbre play and its significance for young Nigerians?
The Tenbre play is new media service platform from StarTimes which includes an app and website (www.tenbre.me) that we use to introduce more and interesting content and products to people; it is an interactive app that allows users to watch live Bundesliga and SERIE A match (exclusive to Startimes) on your phone for FREE.
The users get important information on our various content and programs, they can chat with us and other subscribers, recharge their decoders, get information on new channels, new opportunities etc. for instance, the projector TV and other new offerings. On the app we have people that spend long time, sometimes more than one or two hours daily, make friends, watch videos.
We have a very good plan to introduce our new product called the Tenbre router and if you have it in your home you can connect this to your decoder and then it allows you to watch TV in your home or office, on your phone or pads without any data plan. And you can also control your TV via your phone or pad. The coverage range is about 100 meters radius, so you can watch your favorite show from TV screen to your smartphone as you are walking from family room to the kitchen, or anywhere the Wi-Fi covers.
If your family is asleep you can connect your earpiece to your phone and watch live TV while on your bed; and also if the power goes off, we have a power bank for the decoder and Tenbre router which allows you to still watch TV without power. You can’t use the power bank for TV but you can use it to support the router while you watch with your phone. We have spent lot of time on the design so when you see it it’s really beautiful and the design is classy for the young people and you can place it on the table. Also, it is a router that means you can put your 3G and 4G sim card in it, and there is also a place for your cable to be connected to it.
This device has multifunction. If you have kids, you can also manage and monitor what they are doing when surfing the internet, and lock some inappropriate websites so they can’t access it. If you put it on the children mode, all the children devices are under your control. You can also know how much data plan you have, monitor it and put it off when you need to. You can also save data if you put it on data saving mode. You can also use the router to control your phone, pad, TV, decoder etc. The router is really a smart device with many fantastic features. The router would be coming to Nigeria this year and first we would launch a testing program and select some persons who would test the device and they would give us feedback on how they found the product and then we review, select and then we give out a few for free.
The plan will all go through the tenbre play app, that means through the app we will launch more and more new product and give out some routers so we really would like more and more young people to join the platform. First, we chose Tenbre play as a new brand and a new name for this as it is a new media service platform for StarTimes and is focused on new technology and the new platform and young people would be the main target users for the new platform. Also, what we have provided for the new Tenbre play is that you can do the first self service on the app for Startimes, you can recharge, you can check balance, and you can check what is happening on TV (EPG program).
The special feature is that people can chat on that, as it provides more interactive service with the big screen and the small screen for example when people watch movie, TV series or the novella other people can check you to see those watching same programs like news, gossip behind a pop star, it can be used to know what is going on in a novella or TV series, also to watch a live match together with others. It is very interesting to listen or watch people interact about football, share their passion as they are watching live. Also, we have some chat rooms focused on some pop stars like the famous Nigeria producer Tunde kelani. I met him and we spoke face to face on the new media and he was very interested about the new platform and wants to communicate with his fans and so we have a chat room under his name and he would be coming online to communicate with his fans ‘e-facetoface’ and I also spoke to some other interesting channels like AMC and a lot of people can watch Africa movies on that and they also have their own chat room to communicate with their audience to know the movies they are looking forward to, know their favourite movies so far.
We also have chat rooms for the Bundesliga and we also have studio in Beijin and the host will comment about the first half and the second half of the soccer and if you enter the Bundesliga chat room and send a message, you can see your message on the big screen because of the influence of the host and people can communicate on the live match and it is very interesting.
We also provide watching of live match on the app. If you have the app, you can watch all your live matches for free.
What is the edge that is going to keep Startimes standing out in the mist of competition?
Innovation and new ideas. The fact that we are everything rolled into one- system integrator, technology company, decoder company, content management, TV engineering capacity. We have all. Also, we have great content for the family. now we have our own patent worldwide level of technology and we use the latest video compress technology which is called H.265 which is also called HEVC and it is a very technical thing and before this people used H.264 and H.265 is the next generation of the compression technology and if we use the H.265 we can save half of the bandwidth of the video transmission under the same video quality. And that is why we are not only providing online videos but we can provide online videos in 3G network and even we can also use it to enter the Edge (2G network) technology. All this we can show you.
You can download the Tenbre play app on Google play. For now we have it on just Android and will be available on iOS very soon. You can also visit our web version: www.tenbre.me using PC, tablet, phones.
Two very important things about this app are that you can use half your data plan as it is not data consuming. We do the calculation that 1min is equal to 1MB data so your 90MINS football match will cost 90MB which is worth for 90 naira and so the cost is fair.
So that is why what we say is download Tenbre play app and you can watch live Bundesliga and SERIE A matches for free so that’s why our apps grows very fast.
Also, if you invite one friend to download the app and register successfully, you get 100naira coupon and you get more coins If you use the app everyday and you can get the coins to redeem into coupons, or smart phone or decoder.
Also we have more pioneers and I want to introduce the smart app to you and it is a very interesting product and the more you use you also get more points.
Tell us about your projector TV and also your TV with the inbuilt decoder and how you intend to showcase it to the public?
The Projector TV was designed for entertainment and TV lovers who love extra large sharp screens. The projector TV enables you to have your cinema in your home and it projects about 70 inches screen size with a sharp clear definition image. With it, you do not require a decoder or a TV; the device has everything in built, DTT, DTH, External device options etc.
How much do you think Startimes intends to invest in Nigeria in coming years?
From the new technology and from the research institute Nigeria is a very important market for us and will serve as the first market and for every new technology it would come to Nigeria first. Even if we are to choose 2 or 3 countries Nigeria will always be there because of the kind of passion Nigerians have and are always excited to communicate and eager for new products.
In other words, Nigerians should look forward to more technology from Startimes.
Yes please, Thank you.