Fidler Fills Digeo CEO Void

Digeo Inc. named Sony TV executive Mike Fidler CEO last week, filling the void left by the departure of Jim Billmaier.

Fidler had been senior vice president of Sony Electronics’ Home Products Division, overseeing TV marketing as well as Sony’s HDTV, digital video recorder and set-top box initiatives. In his career at Sony, he was involved in the launch of Sony’s DVD product, its partnership with TiVo and the Blu-ray disc format project.

Part of the job’s appeal, Fidler said, is Digeo’s progress with high-end boxes. “We kept up with DVR developments, recognizing right away that the DVR was one of the most important significant new technologies introduced in the U.S. market,” he said. “We have the opportunity to create a paradigm shift.”

It didn’t hurt that Fidler has been using Moxi for the past 10 months in his Carlsbad, Calif., home. “I fell in love with it.”

Fidler said Moxi enjoys a retention rate 40% higher than conventional DVRs. Moxi DVRs also generate higher levels of video-on-demand usage than other boxes. There also will be voice-over-Internet protocol and broadband PC linking opportunities going forward, not to mention Moxi’s multiroom DVR product, he said.

Digeo, which has a number cable deals, including pacts with Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc., Adelphia Communications Corp., Bend Broadband, Sunflower Broadband and New Wave Broadband, also has plenty of growth ahead of it, according to Fidler, relative to high-definition, as HDTV set penetration could hit 40 million homes by the end of 2006. In addition, the company has signed a Cable Host Interface Licensing Agreement accord with Cable Television Laboratories Inc. “and we’re moving forward on [OpenCable Applications Platform] devices.”

Fidler also expects to bring his Sony retail experience to bear. “It’s in the best interest of the MSO to move into the retail space,” he said. “The big key is getting that national footprint. Cable is pushing hard to move that forward.”

Although Digeo has largely been associated with advanced boxes, Fidler said he’ll look at lower-end set-tops. The company is developing its own silicon and has a partner in Samsung Electronics for Moxi 2, which will help on the cost side. “We have plans in place to drive costs down,” Fidler said.

Fidler’s hiring received the thumbs up from Digeo founder Paul Allen.

“Mike will accelerate Digeo’s efforts to capitalize on the growing market for media centers and continue the development of Digeo’s market-leading technology,” Allen said in a statement.