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Scientific-Atlanta Taps Rachis as Set-Top Systems Integrator

Interactive TV software solutions provider Rachis Corp. Wednesday sealed a pact with Scientific-Atlanta Inc. to integrate Microsoft TV with Scientific-Atlanta's Explorer 6000 set-top boxes.

Rachis, the first of two gold-level Microsoft TV system integrators (as named by Microsoft Corp.), will port Windows CE to the new platform and provide testing and project management.

"Scientific-Atlanta has selected Rachis for its expertise in support of our important Explorer 6000 set-tops," said Michael Harney, Scientific-Atlanta's corporate vice president and general manager, Subscriber Networks. "The integration will provide a choice that has been requested by some of Scientific-Atlanta's customers."

Scientific-Atlanta has been making inroads in the set-top box arena. It shipped a million digital set-top boxes last quarter and plans to add advanced features in 2001. That makes Scientific-Atlanta Rachis' second-largest customer, said Susan Zaney, vice president of marketing for Rachis. Zaney was not at liberty to pull back the curtains on Rachis' largest customer because the deal has not yet been announced, though she said the company is hoping to make an announcement before the end of the year.

"This is a very strong validation of the value we can provide to set-top box manufacturers," Zaney said.

Zaney said interactive TV is poised for strong growth, although that will depend on creating what she called "the laid-back experience."

"People expect their TVs to come on immediately. They don't expect them to crash and they tend to look at them from much farther away (than computers)," she said. "Content is going to have to be integrated with the television viewing experience."

That, she noted, means getting around the small type on Web sites which are well-suited to computer users sitting about a foot from their monitors but impossible to read for people looking at a television across a room. It also means that audio will become more important. "Television without sound is just terrible," she said.

Rachis currently focuses only on the Microsoft TV platform, but Zaney said that focus has kept the company centered and strong. The company has grown from 15 to 45 people over the past year. Last year's net revenue was $1 million, which Zaney said puts the company in the profitable column. She added that the company anticipates revenue growth of 700 percent this year.