Agency.com, Sun Team to Show Off iTV, Wireless Apps

New York-based interactive shop Agency.com and Sun Microsystems are teaming up to show off wireless and iTV applications, through a partnership in Europe.

The two partners are developing a proof-of-concept demonstration centered around emerging media. Located at Agency.com’s development office in Copenhagen, Denmark, the so-called “Convergence Center” will aim to promote wireless and iTV to potential clients in the media (particularly broadcasting) industry and to data network owners.

For Palo Alto-based Sun, it’s an opportunity to show off its hardware. The Center’s machines will use Sun’s Solaris and UltraSPARC and Netra servers in a configuration that the companies described as a “light, scalable infrastructure.”

For Agency.com, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate ways the firm can develop wireless and iTV content distribution, marketing and advertising applications.

Additionally, Agency.com spokespeople said the company sees the Center as developing eventually into something of a service bureau — a place for clients to test out new campaigns or technology in Europe, and as a central hub to actually deploy those efforts.

“The Agency.com Convergence Center … helps customers leverage Sun’s platform and networking expertise together with Agency.com’s experience in global iTV services deployments and well-respected system integration skills, to turn their ideas into deployable solutions that help drive competitive advantage,” said Cheryl Kelly, who is global director of Sun’s iForce developer community.

Basically, it’s designed to help content providers, such as advertisers and marketers, author content once and publish it many times across various digital channels, reducing development and distribution costs. Meanwhile, network operators will be able to try out new technologies for sale to advertisers and broadcasters, who also will be trying out new ways to interact with audiences.

For companies like Sun and Agency.com — both of which, in a sense, “power” the delivery of content over the Web, by hosting network architecture and designing that content, respectively — promoting emerging media is an effort to capitalize on what some experts are predicting will be a big-budget (and highly lucrative) extension of today’s Web content.

Though, admittedly, iTV content distribution is currently limited to a few enhanced ads, the companies ultimately say they have high hopes for the Center.

“The Center gives the opportunity to try out the services in a lab environment before distributing it to a real network,” said Jørgen Lembke, who is president of Agency.com’s iTV practice in Copenhagen. “We are enormously pleased to be able to deliver a facility which we feel has been eagerly awaited by the emerging iTV industry.”

The effort is the latest in Agency.com’s efforts to expand beyond Web development and marketing. In 1999, the company acquired Visionik, a Danish player in the interactive TV space. Since that merger, the company has been experimenting with iTV in Europe and Latin America, rolling out campaigns for British Airways, Viasat, and others. In February, it rolled out an iTV practice in the U.S.

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