In keeping with its strategy of using innovation in broadcasting to maintain its market position, Sky has integrated zeebox second-screen functionality into tablet and smartphone app family. The second-screen consumer service is designed to bring together broadcast TV and the Internet and will be integrated within Sky as a companion app experience. Currently available on iPhone, iPad and the Web, it serves up social media feeds and conversations via Twitter and Facebook, as well as additional information on the topics, people and products featured within specific programmes. The result, says Sky, is that users will have the opportunity to have a ‘unique’ augmented TV viewing features such as connecting with friends around TV shows, finding more information about what's on TV, and, perhaps most intriguingly a monetisation platform enabling product purchases. Literally putting its money where its mouth is, Sky has become an investor in zeebox with a 10% equity stake, providing funding to support the company’s future product roadmap and global rollout plans. As part of the deal Sky Media will become the exclusive advertising sales agent for zeebox’s synchronised advertising inventory though zeebox will remains an independent company continuing to operate its own branded social TV platform in the UK and elsewhere. The zeebox functionality is slated to launch in the first half of 2012 on Sky platforms such as Sky+ and Sky Go. At launch, Sky believes that it will become the only TV platform in the UK to integrate zeebox’s technology into its own applications. Going forward further in to 2012, Sky customers will also be able to use a zeebox powered Sky app to access their Sky+ box on the move, so they can manage their Sky+ recording remotely, as well as using their iPhone or iPad as a remote control for their Sky box, creating a comprehensive and fully integrated companion TV experience. Commenting on the launch, Emma Lloyd, Sky’s Director of Emerging Products, said: “Sky took an early position of leadership with companion devices, having recognised the demand from our customers to use second screens to discover, enjoy and interact with their favourite content. The integration of zeebox’s innovative technology will enable us to make the companion device experience even richer and more engaging. We know that millions of our customers have smartphones and tablets and regularly use them to engage with Sky on mobile devices, so it’s a natural next step for us.” Added zeebox co-founder and CEO Ernesto Schmitt: “We are delighted to partner with [Sky] them to deliver zeebox's social TV vision…we now also have the resources and expertise to set our sights firmly on international expansion alongside further innovation here in the UK and Ireland."