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Showing posts from August, 2005

ISMA Forms New IPTV Workgroup

To further promote standards-based solutions within the IPTV market, the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA) has formed an IPTV workgroup. The goals of the workgroup are to monitor developing standards or specifications for deploying an IPTV system, to create an interoperability conformance program for IPTV and to promote solutions that pass conformance testing. With the world-wide deployment of consumer broadband connectivity, the broadcasting community has faced the emergence of a new medium for video delivery to the home: the Internet Protocol. Whether referred to as IPTV, TV over IP, TV over DSL, or Broadband TV, it consists of the same set of techniques that allow the delivery of live video streams, as well as content on demand, to a subscriber through a broadband connection supporting Internet Protocol (IP). "IPTV deployments relying on proprietary solutions for one carrier network may not be applicable to another network. This creates additional development and integ

Portable Media Player Market Potential

In order for the Portable Media Player (PMP) market to reach beyond early adopters, several issues must be addressed, reports In-Stat. These factors include high price points, digital rights management (DRM) issues, and perhaps most importantly, the increased availability of video content from download video service providers. "The good news for PMP vendors is that in the past six months, there has been increased activity among manufacturers and content providers to promote the availability of video content for PMPs," says Stephanie Guza, In-Stat analyst. "In addition, new product features such as wireless capability and larger screens will be available on next year�s crop of PMPs; and In-Stat believes that the increased capabilities, coupled with the promise of more video content, are factors that could kick-start the market." A recent report by In-Stat found the following: - Early adopters will remain the primary market for PMPs this year - The mass market is

Internet Growth Forecast at 49% in 2005

A new report by consultancy firm Telegeography Research shows that the Internet is growing at a much slower pace than it has in recent years. The report estimated that the amount of Internet traffic on backbone cables between countries would grow by about 49 percent this year, compared to 104 percent growth last year. Telegeography attributed the slowing pace mostly to a global slowdown in the numbers of people signing up for high-speed Internet services. The consultancy firm also said that the Internet was maturing, in the sense that the number of people going online for the first time is slowing, while those already online are using the Internet as much as they are likely to. A stabilization in prices for Internet backbone access has also contributed to the drop-off, Telegeography said.

Telecom Services Market Tops $1 Trillion

The combined telecom services market of the 31 OECD countries has likely topped $1 trillion in the past year, with OECD figures showing it reached $946 billion in value by the start of 2004. The organisation's Communications Outlook 2005 also found that the sector was growing around 10 percent annually, implying that the $1 trillion milestone was passed some time in the past 12 months. Unsurprisingly, the US dominates the rankings accounting for $357 billion of that total - an enormous 38 percent share for a group that includes 31 countries. Rankings don't always conform to GDP size - Japan is next with a $139 billion market, followed by the UK with $83 billion, Germany with $77 billion and then France with $39 billion. The report also found that levels of competition are still erratic across countries: the UK shines on this count with 102 carriers, and new entrants taking 16.9 percent of access lines (number one in the OECD) and as much as 64 percent of international minute

U.S. Broadband Subscribers in Q2 2005

U.S. cable operators and telephone companies gained approximately 1.7 million new high-speed Internet customers during the second quarter of 2005, bringing the total number of broadband households to 39.7 million, according to new research by Pike & Fischer. The total subscriber count is up 12.5 million over the 27.2 million recorded in the second quarter of 2004, and represents an estimated 34 percent of American households. Cable companies added about 858,600 new customers, only slightly ahead of the 856,400 added by the telecommunications firms. However, Q2 2005 subsriber adds are down by 32.7 percent, compared to Q1 2005. According to UBS, in contrast here is their broadband breakdown, by service provider, in thousands. Adds in Q2, compared to total subscriber count. DSL Modem SBC +360 to 5,968 Verizon +278 to 4,142 BellSouth +124 to 2,473 Qwest +68 to 1,190 Covad +7 to 554 Sprint +39 to 590 ALLTEL +20 to 303 Citizens +24 to 267 Cincinnati Bell +4 to 145 CenturyTel +21 to 19

Google's Next Move: Telecom Services?

According to Forbes, Google released a new instant messaging and voice chat program, ending months of speculation over whether the search giant would enter the heated IM market. The company hasn't said how it might generate revenue from these services, which have been offered for years by competitors. But Google�s new services hint at a much larger company strategy to launch headlong into telecommunications . In the future, Google's new IM service, called Google Talk, could go a step further than competing services, allowing users to make and receive calls to the public telephone network; it would not only set the program apart from rivals but provide new revenue streams for the company. Google could sell calling-minutes to customers, who would pay for the ability to make cheap calls over the Internet. Many of the company's recent moves support a major push by Google into telephony, including rumors that the company has already purchased unused fiber optic cables across the

Intel's Viiv Powered Home Media PCs

Intel will begin marketing digital home entertainment systems next year under a new "Viiv" (rhymes with "five") consumer brand. PCs based on Intel Viiv technology will be powered by a suite of Intel technologies, including a dual-core processor, chipset, platform software and wired networking capabilities. Some of the specific characteristics of Intel Viiv PCs will also include: * a remote control, the Microsoft Windows Media Center Edition operating system and media software that lets consumers interact with their PC in the same way they operate a TV. * Intel Quick Resume Technology that enables the PC to be quickly turned on and off (after initial boot-up) with the touch of a button. * 5.1 surround sound (with optional support for up to 7.1 surround sound) for home theater-quality sound. * DVR capabilities when equipped with an optional TV tuner card * ability to access on-demand content * a network configuration wizard that can be navigat

Price-Cutting in the Broadband Market

After falling rapidly for two or three years, broadband prices levelled off in the first half of 2005, according to Point Topic�s latest Tariff Benchmarks analysis. This could be a sign of maturity in the broadband market, or it could be just a pause before another round of price cutting. Most operators would prefer to keep prices stable, but they may yet be forced to reduce them by intensifying competition. Most of the 34 broadband operators surveyed, supplying both DSL and cable modem services, held the prices of their 'entry-level' services static in the first half of 2005. A total of 17 out of the 18 operators surveyed for DSL, kept monthly rental prices the same for Q2 2005 as they were in Q4 2004. The cable operators were slightly more inclined to cut prices. Out of the 16 cable modem surveyed, ten kept monthly rentals the same as in Q4 2004 five lowered them and one even put through an increase. The results show growing stability in DSL and cable prices in the last

Verizon's iobi Debuts in Mid-Atlantic States

Verizon launched its iobi service in the mid-Atlantic states. Customers can use the service to manage their communications via the Web, including handling of incoming calls in real time; managing call records, voice messages and calendars; synchronizing multiple electronic address books; and receiving a text message notice of an incoming call or new voice message. Iobi is driven by a Verizon-proprietary data platform that integrates the Verizon wireline network with other networks and with the Internet. It's also coupled with the unique Verizon One device and associated service bundle -- cordless phone, dsl modem and wireless router.

The More Mobile, The Merrier

According to In-Stat, "The state of the current telecom market can be described by one word, disrupted . Alternative technologies are causing hyper-competition. Free voice calls are definitely being disruptive. Pundits predict that wireline voice revenues will drop to zero someday. The power of the Internet will prevail. Traditional wireline carriers are toast. If only it were true. One way that the industry will save itself from anorexia is to have the mobile carriers set VoIP pricing policy. Every aspect of cellular pricing goes counter to consumer preferences. We don�t like contracts or metered rates. We hate being charged exorbitant rates when we go over our allotted minutes or waiting until the weekend to make calls. And yet we tolerate poor service, and gladly pay outrageously high- priced bills each month, all for the convenience of calling the wife from the grocery store to find out if we need a gallon of milk. To add insult to injury, mobile carriers want us to be elated

European Telcos as Entertainment Providers

Telecom operators across Western Europe are launching IPTV services in an effort to increase revenues and improve customer satisfaction for their broadband services. In a new study on IPTV services in Western Europe, IDC has found that the potential for success with IPTV services varies widely from country to country, depending on the penetration of existing pay TV services, the level of broadband competition, and the commitment of incumbent and leading competitive operators to investing in the network upgrades and content necessary for high-quality IPTV services. IDC estimates that the market for IPTV services in Western Europe was worth $62 million in 2004, with less than 1 percent of households subscribing to IPTV services. The market will boom over the next five years, growing from $262 million in 2005 to $2.5 billion in 2009. By that year, 6 percent of Western European households will subscribe to IPTV services. By 2009, IDC expects that all European incumbents and a large portio

Cox's Robbins Leads Wireless Agenda

Jim Robbins is shaking up the status quo once more before he retires from the helm of Atlanta-based Cox Communications at year's end. He is pursuing an industrywide wireless alliance to transport cable's bundled services outside the home and placing retransmission reform back on the Washington agenda. "The one thing I want to accomplish before I retire, if I can, is a wireless deal for the industry," Robbins said in an interview. Even without an industry consensus, Cox will partner with at least one larger cable operator, most likely Time Warner, to give a wireless provider the largest cable footprint possible to make cable's service triple-play portable. Although Cox has chipped away at wireless for nearly a decade, beginning with an early Sprint PCS deal, the cable industry has been caught off guard recently by the rapid prominence and power of wireless adoption. Telephone companies have moved swiftly to offer a voice and data bundle to which they are now adding

Intel Focus on Digital Home Convergence

At the opening of the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Paul S. Otellini unveiled Intel's next-generation, power-optimized micro-architecture for future digital home, enterprise, mobile and emerging market platforms -- and low-power products that will enable a new category of converged consumer devices. Intel will introduce a micro-architecture in the second half of 2006, that combines the company's current Intel NetBurst and Pentium M micro-architectures and adds new features. "We will deliver factor of 10 breakthroughs to a variety of platforms that can reduce energy consumption tenfold or bring 10 times the performance of today's products. At the same time, Intel innovation will continue to deliver unique digital enterprise, home, office and mobile features, such as greater manageability, security and virtualization, along with an increasing capability to manage and view digital content," Otellini said. Intel currently has more than 10 processor projects

WMG Thinks Beyond the CD Model

The CEO of Warner Music Group said on Monday the major label plans to create an "e-label," which instead of CD albums will release batches of three songs from artists every few months as digital downloads, CNET News.com reported. The e-label will provide artists with a "supportive, lower-risk environment," commented Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr., and not focus on the million-selling hit records sought after by major record labels. In addition, artists on Warner's e-label will retain ownership of the master recordings of their songs and copyrights. "We're trying to experiment with a new business model," said Bronfman. "We're going to try to see where this goes."

Voice over WLAN Forecast

Voice over wireless LANs (VoWLAN) is fast emerging as one of the most potentially significant converged technologies of the future, seamlessly combining WLANs with VoIP. Although it faces several challenges in its path to wide-scale adoption, consulting company Frost & Sullivan says developments such as the introduction of dual-mode handsets and the ratification of various 802.11 standards indicate a positive market outlook for the rest of this year. The company estimates that revenues for the European VoWLAN market will grow from �6.6 million in 2004 to �1.99 billion in 2010. The 14 mobile phone manufacturers and telcos that comprise the Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) group have taken the initiative to allow 802.11-equipped handsets to make calls through their Wi-Fi hotspots. This, says Frost & Sullivan, is a major driver for the VoWLAN market. "It is no surprise, therefore, that the momentum behind UMA is upbeat within the mobile domain, especially from the carriers that

High-Definition Television Supply

High-definition television has been available for some time now, but sales have not been growing at astronomical rates compared to other emerging digital technologies. Why haven't consumers jumped on the HDTV bandwagon with more enthusiasm? According to a new study from ABI Research, the HDTV market is, and will remain for some time, an exercise in supply driving demand. "Does an upgrade from standard television to HDTV provide the same kind of enhanced experience as going from black-and-white to color?" asks Vamsi Sistla, the company's director of residential entertainment technologies. "Or is it more like going from real-time viewing to the time-shifted experience of personal video recorders?" The former, he points out, is a purely aesthetic experience, while the latter changes consumers' viewing habits. Upgrading to HDTV, Sistla believes, is like moving to color, but not even as dramatic. "Most consumers, having lived happily with standard TV, ar

Digital Images Captured Increases Rapidly

According to IDC, the number of aggregate digital images captured per month continued to grow another 18 points in 2005, largely driven through cheaper flash memory card prices and increased capacities, IDC found in a new study of U.S. digital camera owners' usage habits. As a result, the total number of average monthly prints is expected to increase by 29 percent in 2005. However, printing behavior is changing with home printing continuing to decline in favor of retail locations. "Variability in printing behavior is obvious," said Chris Chute, senior analyst, Worldwide Digital Imaging Solutions and Services. "While one-third of digital camera owners never print, over 10 percent print every image they keep. There are therefore distinct clusters of users who can be identified by their printing behavior." Other key findings from IDC's Consumer Digital Imaging Survey include: The mean number of digital images captured per month is 75. 14 percent of total digit

Interest in Networked Media Devices

New Research from The Diffusion Group Finds a Sizeable Percentage of Broadband Networked Households are Ready to Connect Media Devices to Their Network -- Although the hype surrounding networked multimedia has been deafening, new research suggests that the appeal of using a home network to distribute digital video and audio is becoming more immediate. For example, approximately five million US broadband networked households are legitimate candidates for purchasing networked DVRs during the Christmas 2005 buying season. "We've heard for the last several years of consumer interest in networking multimedia devices, but the nature of this interest was more latent than manifest," said Michael Greeson, president and principal analyst for The Diffusion Group. "While the concept of networking media devices has appealed to consumers, they were by-and-large unwilling to act on this interest. However, TDG's latest research suggests that a sizeable segment of broadband netw

Sun Launches Open Media Commons

Sun Microsystems unveiled the Open Media Commons initiative, an open-source community project developing a royalty-free digital rights management standard. Sun promised to immediately share the entirety of its internal Sun Labs program Project DReaM (DRM/everywhere available) with the Open Media Commons community under the OSI-approved Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). Sun Labs Project DReaM consists of: DRM-OPERA: An interoperable DRM architecture implementing standardized interfaces and processes for the interoperability of DRM systems. The DRM-OPERA architecture is independent of specific hardware and operating systems, and is not restricted to specific media formats. It enables user-based license provision as opposed to today's situation where licenses are assigned to devices. Java Stream Assembly: Launch pad for Video Delivery Servers using the Java Stream Assembly (JSR-158) API which reduces the complexity in building and managing video streams to be deliv

U.S. Internet Telephony Revenue Forecast

The number of U.S. subscribers to Internet telephony (VoIP) services leapt to 2.7 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2005, up from 444,000 a year ago, according to a report from market research firm TeleGeography. While revenue from U.S. VoIP for the quarter was $220 million, the firm expects that nascent offerings from cable TV providers will cause that figure to soar to $3 billion by 2007. Currently, the largest U.S. provider is Vonage, with an estimated 750,000 subscribers, followed by the Internet telephone service offered by Time Warner Cable.

HomePlug Alliance Specification Approved

HomePlug AV, a global powerline technology distributing HD and SD video, VoIP and Internet services in home networks using existing electrical wiring, has been finalized and approved unanimously by the Board of Directors of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. The HomePlug Alliance anticipates that HomePlug AV capability will be designed into consumer products (such as TVs, audio equipment, computers, and networking gear). HomePlug AV technology was built with contributions from companies that worked as part of the alliance's specification working group (SWG). The SWG further developed a baseline technology that was based on contributions submitted by Arkados, Conexant, Intellon and Sharp. The release of the specification comes nearly three years after the effort was initiated. HomePlug AV uses a high-efficiency MAC layer, which incorporates both scheduled access (TDMA) with QoS guarantees, and contention access (CSMA) capabilities. This enable multimedia content distribution using a g

Mobile Games: a Market Poised to Grow

The number of U.S. wireless subscribers with compatible handsets who played games on their cell phones increased from 20 percent last year to 27 percent in 2005, according to a survey of 8,500 subscribers conducted by market research firm NPD Group. However, only one-third of these mobile gamers actually purchased game downloads; the rest played free games or titles that came pre-loaded on their phones. The most common motivation cited among respondents for playing mobile games was "to kill time or alleviate boredom," with the average gaming session lasting 11 minutes. The survey found more kids between the ages of 13 and 17 (60 percent) said they played mobile games than did adults (23 percent), while mobile gamers were twice as likely to be African-American, Hispanic or Asian. "The world of mobile gaming is like the Wild West," said NPD Group vice president Clint Wheelock. "In this time of rapid growth, and with the industry in such a formative stage, it'

Record Label Hopes to Sell Phone Service

According to the New York Times -- "A major record label, the Universal Music Group, said on Friday that it had entered into a strategic alliance to sell a music-oriented cellphone service. The phones will include features that make it easier to download snippets of songs, and, eventually entire songs, according to the Universal Music Group's strategic partner, Single Touch Interactive, which works with companies to develop and package branded phone service. Universal Music, a unit of Vivendi Universal, becomes the latest to get into the affinity phone business, joining the likes of ESPN and Walt Disney in trying to carve out a niche of customers by selling phones that focus on providing specific content. The companies buy mobile minutes wholesale from a major national carrier, like Sprint or Cingular, and then resell that as prepaid time to their own customers. In the case of Universal Music, the company will not be operating the service, but plans to provide content to Singl

Intel Champions Digital Communities

Intel Corp., the undisputed king of computer chip making, has tapped the broad shoulders of a few heavyweights in its bid to take its wireless broadband dreams to various cities around the globe. According to one report, Intel has started a Digital Communities initiative that involves rolling out wireless broadband technology in thirteen communities in a way to make high-speed Internet access more accessible to more people. The effort, said Intel, includes help from companies such as IBM Corp., SAP AG and Dell Inc. And the plan also involves equipping governments with tools to enable mobile workers such as meter readers to more efficiently do their jobs. Philadelphia, one of the participating communities, has already announced plans to deploy Wi-Fi technology across a 135-sq-mile area, an effort to increase accessibility to high-speed Internet access. San Francisco has also committed to deploying Wi-Fi technology. A Yankee Group analyst quoted in one report noted that municipalities ar

Metro Wi-Fi for the Masses

People looking to relocate or planning a sight-seeing trip to a metro area may be adding another item to their checklists: Does the city offer wireless access? -- Increasingly, the answer will be yes. This month, San Francisco and New Haven, CT became the two latest major U.S. urban areas to take another step toward providing Wi-Fi connections. They've submitted requests for proposals from technology companies and hired consultants. And Philadelphia -- the first major urban area to initiate a city government-led wireless program -- just announced that it has narrowed its search for an Internet provider to two finalists: Earthlink and Hewlett-Packard. The service will be rolled out in "mid-October," according to Dianah Neff, CIO of the city of Philadelphia. Indeed, approximately 300 U.S. cities and municipalities are now in various stages of wireless rollouts -- up from barely any just a year and a half ago. Greg Richardson, founder of Civitium, an Atlanta-based organizati

George Lucas Predicts Digital Future

A �media center� could be an integral part of every home by 2015. But movies on demand need a willing Hollywood and a super-PVR -- In a recent interview with Japanese web site TechOn, Star Wars director George Lucas discussed the impact of digital movie-making on cinema and touched on the rise of home entertainment servers in the digital home. Lucas is an unabashed devotee of digital film and digital projection � the second Star Wars prequel, Attack of the Clones, was the first movie to be shot entirely using a high-definition 24fps digital camera, Sony�s HDW-F900. The creator of that galaxy far, far away sees a digital future where more Hollywood movies will be shot in this way, more filmmakers will get their work shown and movies will be distributed over the Internet. �I'm not sure how it will actually play out,� Lucas is quoted as saying, �but it seems to be something like the same day and date of a movie being released in a movie theatre, you can also get it over the Internet.�

PCCW Proves Content is King for IPTV

According to Pyramid research, PCCW�s NOW TV saw ARPUs increase 84 percent from US$7.34 in 4Q2003 to US$13.50 in 4Q2004. Additionally, PCCW has experienced strong uptake of its NOW TV service, reporting about 361,000 subscribers by YE2004, representing 24 percent of Hong Kong�s overall broadband lines. This is quite impressive considering the cable operator, i-Cable, was able to attract less than half of NOW TV�s total subscriber level over its first year of commercial deployment and in more than 10 years of operation it has gained only 700,000 subscribers in a 2.1m-household market. Key factors contributing to the rapid subscriber and revenue growth include NOW TV�s exclusivity arrangements and a flexible pricing scheme. Since its inception, NOW TV has rapidly evolved from offering only 23 channels to incorporating premium content and growing to 74 television and radio channels. Additionally, PCCW has been able to strike a number of key exclusivity contracts for premium content wi

Value of Location-Based Services

One of the important things about location-based services is that they enable a host of other applications, delivering value greater than the sum of their parts. According to Kenneth Hyers, ABI Research's principal analyst of global wireless operator research, "It's not just a technology in your mobile phone that says 'you are here.' It can also pass that information to many other applications." Do you want a route home? A friend's location, relative to where you are? A location-stamp on that picture you took with your camera phone? LBS enable all these functions. A real-estate appraiser might photograph a house with a GPS-equipped phone, then combine the picture, its subject's GPS coordinates and, if linked to a navigation program, its actual address, and send that information to the office's billing system to identify the party to be invoiced for the service. "Mobile operators don't want to sell 'location technologies' -- that

VoIP Surges in Home Telephone Market

According to Red Herring and ChangeWave Research, "Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) appears to be a popular alternative to traditional home telephone services. But just how quickly are consumers adopting this technology? And which companies are winning and losing share in the VoIP market? During the week of June 28 � July 5, 2005, we surveyed 1,901 ChangeWave Alliance members on their personal experience with VoIP technology and service providers. We note that the ChangeWave Alliance is primarily composed of early technology adopters. Bottom Line: The survey results show home VoIP use surging in both the local and long distance telephone markets. A total of 14 percent of respondents now report they use VoIP at home � double the amount in our September 2004 survey, while another 22 percent say they plan on using it at home within the next year. Importantly, VoIP is no longer considered a supplementary home phone service � half of current VoIP users now report they use it as thei

Exploring Mobile Music Best Practices

Will mobile music significantly increase operator mobile data ARPS? In the hopes of replicating the success of online music download services, the mobile industry sees Full Track Downloads (FTDs) as a promising strategy to grow revenues by increasing mobile data usage and reducing churn. Ultimately, the success of mobile music will rest heavily on the value it presents to all its stakeholders. Pyramid Research's new report "Get on Track With Mobile Music: Exploring Mobile Music Best Practices" analyzes two successful mobile music business models - SK Telecom's 'MelOn' and KDDI's 'Chaku-Uta Full' - and provides strategic advice for operators to maximize the opportunity. By analyzing KDDI's and SK Telecom's success, this report charts the evolutionary path of mobile music services through an examination of business models, enabling technologies, stakeholders, and global developments. Full Track Downloads will be popular and - if managed cor

Wireless IP Phones the Key for VoIP Markets

In both business and consumer markets, widespread adoption of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) depends on the availability of wireless VoIP handsets, reports In-Stat. Dual-mode cellular/WiFi handsets will be the key driver to mass consumer adoption of VoIP. By 2009, In-Stat forecasts that over 66 million cellular/WiFi handsets will be in operation. �Wireless high-speed broadband access, unified messaging, video, and dual-network cellular/WiFi services are making the mobile triple play a consumer market reality,� says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst. �The key to successfully capturing the market for these next-generation personalized services is control of the end-point device.� Worldwide, consumer VoIP subscribers using wireless IP phones will grow from 2 percent currently to 73 percent in 2009. Based on competition from mobile carriers without wireline operations, Europe will be the largest initial market for dual-mode smartphones. While mass production of dual-mode sets is not sched

More Education Needed For WLAN

The results of a new In-Stat U.S. consumer survey demonstrate that while respondents' existing home networks are fairly evenly split between Ethernet and Wi-Fi, future home network deployments are largely planned as Wi-Fi networks. The 640 tech-savvy consumers who participated in the survey still chose data-networking applications over consumer electronics applications as the applications for which they were most interested in using Wi-Fi connectivity. "Consumer electronics vendors have a challenge to educate consumers about Wi-Fi and to overcome the perception that Wi-Fi is simply a data networking technology," says Norm Bogen, In-Stat analyst. "Nevertheless, Wi-Fi silicon vendors have fully committed to this market segment, and In-Stat believes the benefits to consumers of Wi-Fi connectivity in consumer electronics devices are significant enough to build a major market segment over the next five years." The challenges that Wi-Fi faces, in terms of range, bandw

Link Between Mobile Phones and TV

According to McKinsey, viewers who use their mobile phones to interact with TV shows are more likely to tune in again and to tell friends about the shows�interest that generates higher ratings and ad revenues. Broadcasters and advertisers should sit up and take notice -- McKinsey research suggests that viewers who use their mobile phones to send text messages to TV shows, either to vote in a competition or take part in a dialogue, are highly engaged and more likely to tune in again, to tell friends about the shows, and even to buy related merchandise. This added interest can increase ratings by as much as 20 percent for mainstream shows and 100 percent for niche ones � a message that many advertisers would be glad to receive. We asked 124 ad executives from 39 companies across Western Europe whether they would be willing to spend more money in channels offering this type of growth � for example, through new technologies such as SMS. More than half said that they would, and almost a thi

TiVo and IFC Launch Broadband Trial

TiVo launched a trial of a video download service, which will enable movies and other video transmitted over a broadband connection directly onto TiVo owners' hard drives. The company partnered with the Independent Film Channel (IFC) on the project; IFC will offer downloads of episodes of its first scripted TV series -- "Hopeless Pictures," "Greg the Bunny" and "The Festival" -- in advance of their network TV premieres. In addition to the episodes themselves, the TiVo downloads will include outtakes and other unaired footage from the IFC series. "The key element of this trial for us is that it will enable consumers who do not typically have access to IFC to download our three new original series over broadband," said IFC executive vice president Evan Shapiro. TiVo said that Limelight Networks will provide content delivery network services for the trial, which it plans to expand to a series of broadband features beginning in the fall.

Fifty Million Americans Visited Blogs

comScore Networks released a report detailing the scale, composition and activities of audiences of Weblogs, commonly known as �blogs.� The report, which was sponsored in part by Six Apart and Gawker Media, found that nearly 50 million Americans, or about 30 percent of the total U.S. Internet population, visited blogs in Q1 2005. This represents an increase of 45 percent compared to Q1 2004. Other key findings of the Behaviors of the Blogosphere report include: Five hosting services for blogs each had more than 5 million unique visitors in Q1 2005, and four individual blogs had more than 1 million visitors each Of 400 of the largest blogs observed, segmented by eight (non-exclusive) categories, political blogs were the most popular, followed by "hipster" lifestyle blogs, tech blogs and blogs authored by women Compared to the average Internet user, blog readers are significantly more likely to live in wealthier households, be younger and connect to the Web on high-speed c

VCs are Investing in Podcasting

Two podcasting startups have won venture capital funding, a sign that both the promise and the hype is building for a grassroots broadcasting phenomenon that started just about a year ago. Podshow, led by former MTV host Adam Curry, who helped invent podcasting in July 2004, received $8.85 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital, Private Equity Week reported Wednesday. In another sign of podcasting�s growing stature, eminent Kleiner VCs John Doerr and Ray Lane are joining the company�s board, the publication said. Miami-based Podshow is a project of Mr. Curry and Ron Bloom�s Boku Communications. The second company to announce funding Wednesday was San Francisco-based Odeo, led by repeat entrepreneur Evan Williams, who created the Blogger service which is now owned by Google. Charles River Ventures led the round; the sum was not disclosed. The round also included Amicus Ventures, and individuals including Mitch Kapor, Joe Kraus, Tim O�Reilly, Ron Conway, and HotorNot

Machine-to-Machine M2M Market Forecast

A recent ABI Research study of the cellular machine-to-machine communications market compared the current breakdown of usage with projected utilization patterns for 2010. Today, telematics accounts for nearly a third of all M2M equipment shipments, with manufacturing automation, monitoring and control accounting for less than a fifth. One of the most significant changes the research showed over the next five years, is the comparative increase in fixed M2M relative to telematics. "Telematics isn't going to disappear -- it will continue to expand and to play a significant role, especially with the growth of trailer tracking and other fleet management applications," says Erik Michielsen, the company's director. "But the fundamentals of commercial telematics can also be applied to cellular M2M in the area of fixed monitoring and control." How does this kind of M2M work? Consider utility meters that communicate their measurements to the power or gas company via

Is Google Becoming an Ad-Driven Telco?

"There�s renewed speculation that Google is planning to enter the telco arena as more revelations come to light about the company�s (very) low-profile U.S. fibre purchases together with news of an interesting alliance with a Wi-Fi enterprise that owns a customer location search technology. The September edition of the magazine Business 2.0 says that Google is quietly assembling a collection of alliances and assets that could enable it to offer Wi-Fi services funded by location-based advertising. And it also reveals that Google may be already test-driving the business model in San Francisco. The magazine confirms previous rumours that Google has been buying up cheap fibre across the U.S. from providers such as AboveNet, Cogent and WilTel. The immediate rationale for this is obvious: Google gets to keep more of its burgeoning traffic on-net and avoid high IP transit fees to connect to the access networks used by its customers. In doing so, Google effectively becomes an ISP itself, u

Online Advertising Market Forecast

JupiterResearch released its 2005 Online Advertising Forecast which reveals that online advertising will continue steady growth over the next five years, eventually reaching $18.9 billion in 2010, compared to $9.3 billion at the end of 2004. This growth reflects not only advertiser confidence in the medium, but also the strength of advertising on search engines in 2010. Search engine advertising will generate more revenue than standard display advertising by 2010. Compound annual growth rates tell the story: display will grow at 7 percent and search will grow at over 12 percent over the next five years. The rise of search engine marketing, however, is only one element of an overall growing online advertising market. Other areas will also experience sustained growth over the next several years. Classified advertising will grow at nearly 10 percent, reaching $4.1 billion in 2010. Advertisers will also take great advantage of the growing number of broadband connected households to field r

Growing Interest in Sharing Content

According to In-Stat, "Based on the changes recently seen in TiVo's customer privacy policy statement, it looks like the company is planning new functionality that will allow TiVo subscribers (with a series 2 Digital Video Recorder) to also download content from the Internet. For some households, this type of TiVo would then start to function as a media server. By connecting this recorder-storage to home networks, users should be able to transfer digital music from their PC to their entertainment systems, and take advantage of future features from TiVo's website. TiVo has confirmed that it has a deal with the Independent Film Channel to offer a number of programmes to customers before they air on the cable channel. IFC is a producer and theatrical distributor of independent films and provides the Independent Film Channel on cable television. The company is owned by Cablevision. Our research shows that there is growing interest among US consumers to use home networks to co

PC-TV Tuner Market Forecast

Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) and Free-to-Air Satellite TV services will give the PC TV tuner market a huge boost over the next several years, reports In-Stat. By 2009, the worldwide retail value of the PC-TV Tuner market is expected to reach US$ 3.7 billion, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 42.6 percent. "Personal computers with a TV Tuner provide a wide range of features and functions that enable the emerging market for connected digital homes," says Gerry Kaufhold, In-Stat analyst. "A race among Pay-TV services, Consumer Electronics manufacturers, and the PC industry eventually favors the PC industry. The PC industry moves more quickly, and can ride Moore's Law and Microsoft's software into more market segments more quickly than the other competitors." Microsoft's Media Center Edition (MCE) Multimedia PCs are now gaining market traction in over 30 countries around the world. Microsoft's next-generation Longhorn Operating System is likely to ha

Inmarsat Provides BGAN Update

Inmarsat CEO Andy Sukawaty confirmed to Satellite News that everything is on track for the operator's launch of BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) services later this year. Based on Internet Protocol technology, BGAN will deliver data rates of up to half a megabit and the service will be accessed through a small, lightweight satellite terminal. The launch of BGAN services is an integral part of the mobile satelliteW services operator's growth strategy going forward. Sukawaty told Satellite News, "We have launched the first satellite as you know. The second is scheduled to be launched later this year or early next. The service itself is on track for launch in November. We have got terminals from three of the four manufacturers that we are testing. We have announced nine distribution partners. We have trained people in three regions now. So our channels are being trained on the service."

iPSTAR Offers Satellite Broadband Service

Eight years in the making and two years overdue, there was celebration in French Guiana, Thailand and Australia this week as Shin Satellite's iPSTAR satellite was launched from French Guiana. The launch heralds the emergence of a new era of satellite broadband across regional and remote China and India, south East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. There were some anxious moments for Arianespace and Shin Satellite officials when a "premature ground segment measurement" forced a delay in the countdown to less than 18 minutes before the end of a two-hour launch window. But the countdown was revived at 5.14 and the launch went ahead. The 6,500kg iPSTAR promises 45Gbits of throughput targeted at most of east Asia and Australia from a geostationary position. The bird isn't the first promising broadband service - Inmarsat, for example, offers a broadband service via its BGAN service to almost all of the iPSTAR service area. But iPSTAR is the first to provide connectivity at p

Ownership will Drive VOD Spending

Downloading movies to own rather than paying for a short-term rental period will drive video-on-demand spending over the next decade, according to a study released Tuesday by Screen Digest in the U.K. and U.S.-based Adams Media Research. The study suggested that the Apple iTunes model, where consumers purchase content outright rather than a temporary download, would drive movie VOD. "Video-on-demand technology is spreading rapidly, and will become pervasive in the decade ahead," said Adams Media Research's president and senior analyst Tom Adams. "But turning that technology into a substantial movie market is going to require a complete reassessment of the industry's 10 year-old assumptions about VOD."

U.S. Video Gamers Number 76.2 Million

The number of U.S. video game players has increased 11.4 percent to 76.2 million, up from 67.5 million a year ago, according to a random survey of 1,500 households conducted by Ziff Davis Media. "We're seeing a broadening of the gamer base as gaming goes more mainstream, and simultaneously a heightening of intensity among core gamers," said John Davison, vice president and editorial director of Ziff Davis Media Game Group. The study also found that 24 percent of gamers reduced their TV watching over the last year, watching on average 16 hours per week compared with 18 hours per week in 2004. Console games are increasing their gains over PC games, after topping PC games in popularity for the first time in 2004. Currently, 62.6 million households play console games and 56.6 million play PC games, versus 54.5 million and 52.3 million, respectively, in 2004. In the mobile gaming sector, the survey found that 86 percent of gamers own a cell phone, up from 70 percent a year ago

iPod Still Leading Mobile Music Player

Strategy Analytics released its latest mobile application benchmark report, "Apple iPod Blows Away Mobile Music Challengers." Strategy Analytics' advanced wireless buyer panel benchmark evaluation concluded that first generation mobile music devices receive a failing grade on both sound quality and feature usability. In this analysis, the Strategy Analytics advanced buyer panel performed head to head benchmarks of the iPod against 4 leading mobile music enabled devices: Samsung E720, O2 XM, SEMC V800 and the SPV500. "The 02 XM leads for music feature usability, while the Samsung E720 was rated best overall among a relatively weak set of music phone contenders," noted David Kerr, Vice President of the Global Wireless Practice at Strategy Analytics. Chris Ambrosio, Vice President of device research, added, "With a 20-plus point performance gap in perceived music quality, handset vendors and operators must do better to realize their visions of mobile music rev

Satellite TV Operators Add Subscribers

Both satellite companies grew their subscriber base by around 13 percent over the last year, but there are signs that the rate of growth may be slowing. EchoStar, the second-largest satellite broadcaster in the United States, added 225,000 subscribers to its Dish Network in the last quarter, bringing the total number of subscribers to 11.46 million. Rival DirecTV added the same number of new customers in the United States over the same period, taking its total subscriber base to 14.67 million. The company signed 964,000 subscribers in the quarter, but the number of net additions was down on the same period the previous year, due to slightly higher churn. EchoStar reported total revenue of $2.1 billion for the three months to the end of June, up 18 percent on the corresponding period the previous year, with a net income of $856 million, ten times more than for the same period the preceding year. DirecTV revenues for the same period were $3.18 billion, with a net income of $162 million,

Global Cellular Revenues $570B in 2005

Strategy Analytics released its report, "Worldwide Cellular User Forecast 2005-2010," forecasting that the worldwide cellular user base will increase from 1.7 billion at the end of 2005 to 2.5 billion by the end of 2010, a 38 percent penetration rate. With average revenues falling 7 percent to $30 per user per month in 2005, Strategy Analytics expects further weakness in global ARPUs as increasingly prepaid-centric and low-ARPU China, India and other emerging markets remain the engine for user growth. Phil Kendall, report author and director of wireless operator research at Strategy Analytics, commented, "Voice usage will increase from 5.6 trillion minutes in 2005 to 12.6 trillion in 2010. GSM-based systems will continue to dominate the cellular landscape, accounting for 81 percent of subscribers and 76 percent of service revenues in 2010, though CDMA's more rapid evolution to 3G will see it dominate 3G subscriber volumes in the medium term." David Kerr, Vice Pr

Global Broadband Subs to Surpass 430 Million

The global Broadband market is forecast to pass 190 million subscribers this year and will be approaching 440 million by the end of 2010, according to Informa Telecoms & Media. DSL technology is set to strengthen its lead over cable based subscriptions with an anticipated 77 percent of the worldwide broadband market in 2010, representing 332 million subscriptions versus 76 million for cable. The report anticipates that, along with Japan and South Korea, Sweden and Finland countries will top the broadband penetration tables at over 30 percent penetration by population. By the end of the forecast period direct fibre and other access methods will still account for well under 10 percent of global broadband subscribers, though after that date the report predicts that the nature of the broadband market may change fundamentally with the advent of WiMAX and other wireless broadband technologies. The worldwide broadband market will change significantly over the next five years. While the la

Worldwide P2P Network Traffic Analysis

CacheLogic, Ltd. � a world leader in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) traffic management and network intelligence solutions � published a market study of file formats traversing the Peer-to-Peer Networks that identifies the formats of choice for audio and video files among file traders. This first-ever, truly definitive study is based not on estimates, but on actual packet data and traffic levels analyzed at Tier-One ISPs worldwide. Using the advanced Layer-7 technology found in both its Peer-to-Peer Management Solution and Deep Packet Inspection products, CacheLogic analyzed terabytes of data to discover a number of surprising new facts regarding Peer-to-Peer audio and video trading across the entirety of the Internet. Overall Mix of Peer-to-Peer traffic by volume, across the 4 major Peer-to-Peer networks: Audio: 11.34 percent; Video: 61.44 percent; Other: 27.22 percent. Microsoft video formats represent 46 percent of aggregate worldwide Peer-to-Peer traffic. 65 percent of all audio files by volu

VoIP Adds Value to Broadband

The subscriber base of Voice over IP (VoIP) services worldwide will remain small compared to the numbers of conventional fixed and mobile phone customers, even by 2010. But in terms of relative growth, VoIP is -- and will remain -- a dynamic market. And the most successful business model for VoIP services uses its strengths to add value to existing broadband subscriptions. These are the key conclusions drawn by ABI Research's latest study of the residential VoIP market, "Global Residential VoIP Assessment." Consumers can get their VoIP services from a variety of sources: telcos and broadband providers using DSL, cable companies, or hosted providers that own no networks, such as the well-known Vonage. "For the consumer, VoIP's greatest benefit is that you can consolidate many things. For example you could have your email working with your voicemail, working with your telephone, working with your Outlook calendar. Such enhanced value services are a key drawcard.&qu

Wireless Home Networks Forecast

Spiralling consumer demand for network services will lead to wireless home bandwidth requirements jumping by a whopping 1,800 per cent to 57Mbps by 2009. According to a newly released study from JupiterResearch, wireless bandwidth requirements for the typical broadband home with a wireless network will grow from less than 3Mbps in 2004 to a likely 57Mbps in 2009. JupiterResearch estimates that tech-savvy households of three individuals will require wireless bandwidth of up to 84Mbps, driven primarily by changes in the home use of consumer electronics and changing consumption patterns for digital media at home. Overall, in 2004 some 7.5 million US households indicated that they have a home network that is at least partly wireless. JupiterResearch forecasts that the number of wireless home network households in the US will rise to 34.3 million by 2009. "Consumers are beginning to shift their paradigms for internet access, home networking and digital content management." "T

U.S. Broadband Deployment Concerns

About 71 million Americans will have broadband access by 2010, enabling 62 percent of U.S. residents to access high-speed Internet in five years, according to a Forrester Research study. That�s a pretty big leap from the 29 percent of Americans that had access to broadband last year. But the percentage expected for 2010 is well below this year�s rate for a variety of other countries, particularly South Korea, where 75 percent of households already have high-speed access. While South Korea is a much smaller country with an ideal infrastructure for widespread broadband, a delay of widespread broadband access in the United States means missed opportunities for economic growth, innovation, and investment. But some analysts are alarmed by the U.S. lagging in broadband deployment. They note broadband access brings a variety of economic and cultural benefits. For example, the Forrester survey said households with broadband spend 31 percent more money online than dial-up households and spend

HDNet Utilizes P2P Distribution for Video

Mark Cuban is using peer-to-peer technology to distribute free downloads of high-definition video from his HDNet network. The initiative will begin by offering a special 20-minute program of highlights from the network's exclusive live coverage of the launch of the Discovery space shuttle. HDNet partnered with peer-to-peer delivery specialists Red Swoosh and online storage and technology company Box.net on the promotional project, which is designed to expose the widest possible audience to HDNet programming and high-definition content in general. "The combination of RSS delivery from Box.net and Red Swoosh P2P technology, particularly their backend services, has created a new opportunity to test the delivery of promotional high-definition HDNet content to those who might not otherwise get HDNet," Cuban said. "As unique opportunities come up to highlight our content, we will use this great delivery platform." The content is delivered in 1080i resolution and Windo

Home Networking Hardware Forecast

Revenue derived from annual networking hardware shipments and from equipment that incorporates a home networking connection will jump from almost $9 billion in 2004 to over $21 billion in 2009, reports In-Stat. A push for higher speeds, lower prices, and increasing network areas in the home is driving the market. However, one highly touted use, the storage and streaming of multimedia files, may take years to catch on with the mass consumer. �Our research shows that there is growing interest among US consumers to use home networks to connect their increasing library of digital entertainment audio and video files with their traditional entertainment equipment (i.e. stereo, TV),� says Joyce Putscher, In-Stat analyst. �As consumers become more comfortable and familiar with the idea of bridging their PCs with their traditional analog equipment, interest will pick up.� WLAN has now usurped Ethernet as the desired home network of choice, and is now dominated by multi-band 54 Mbps 802.11g. The

PMP Market Waiting for Content

The portable media player (PMP) market did not perform as expected this year, due, in part, to questions surrounding video content availability. In-Stat believes that easy access to compelling and copyrighted video content will be vital to PMP market growth. Video content availability has been an issue because providers clearly have copyright and piracy concerns, especially in light of the legal battles fought in the digital audio market. In addition, Hollywood studios have been resistant to license full-length movies because they do not want to eclipse DVD sales in the event that video download services flourish. However, there are concerns throughout online media service communities that without access to legitimate online services, movie and video companies will face piracy issues like we saw in the digital audio industry. Despite concerns such as content availability, Digital Rights Management (DRM) standards, and support for portability, service providers and PMP manufacturers ali

Wi-Fi Hotspot Service Usage Rising

According to In-Stat, hotspot usage is on the rise. One of the key concerns with the hotspot market over the past several years was whether there was a large enough audience of potential users for this service. While the market has increased over the past several years, there seems to be a more marked jump in usage this year. Many players report double digit usage growth month to month, and providers that have been very guarded on usage rates, such as T-Mobile, are now releasing information, which signals a positive shift in usage. This sudden trend in increased usage is largely a North American phenomena, as Asia Pacific usage has always been fairly robust, and Europe continues to have lower usage rates (often associated with the higher cost of access in that region). According to the Q2 2005 In-Stat Hotspot End-User Survey, nearly half of the 579 respondents use or have used hotspot services. Furthermore, 20 percent of respondents use these services frequently. While still slightly o

TV Viewing Losing Appeal Among Tweens

As they get older, American kids ages 8-14 become increasingly disinterested in watching television, and more and more distracted when they do watch it, according to a new report from Packaged Facts. While nearly 80 percent of younger "tweens" say that they "love" watching television, according to research conducted by Simmons Market Research Bureau, that number drops to 60 percent when kids reach their early teen years. And many tweens and young teens often do something else while watching TV, such as read, listen to music or use a computer. "Tweens and young teens are mastering the adult art of multi-tasking," said Don Montuori, the acquisitions editor of Packaged Facts. "The Internet, in particular, offers a compelling alternative to TV programming, and this is a significant development for marketers in their efforts to target these consumers."

Global Mobile Market Subs Forecast

According to Informa, the global mobile market is forecast to pass 2 billion subs this year and be approaching 3 billion by the end of 2010. Overall market growth was boosted in 2004, with 91 million more new customers during the year than there were in 2003. Although the annual growth rate is forecast to fall into single figures within a couple of years, over one billion new subs are due to be added between now and the end of 2010. Almost half of these new subs will be in Asia Pacific. Two huge Asian markets -- India and China -- will account for over 30 percent (371.6 million) of the region's total. Amongst the regions, it is the Middle East and Africa markets that will show the greatest growth. Their combined markets will more than double in size, with over 200 million new customers signing up for mobile services by 2010. As a result of the continued growth, several countries are already reporting penetration rates of over 100 percent and Western Europe's regional penetratio

Sky Announces Broadband Innovations

Satellite television broadcaster BSkyB has announced a number of new innovations as it aims to maintain its competitive position in the UK -- Further details have emerged of the broadband service due to be launched in the autumn. It will be delivered in the form of an application that is downloaded to a broadband connected personal computer. The launch will pre-empt the introduction of a similar peer-to-peer service planned by the BBC, which is due to enter a limited public trial in the autumn. It also comes as cable operators are rolling out video-on-demand services in the UK. The Sky Movies broadband service will offer hundreds of films licensed to Sky, which will be available to download and even transfer to a portable device. The Sky Sports service will offer over a thousand video clips, available to over five million subscribers to Sky Sports packages.�It�s just fantastic,� said BSkyB chief executive, saying that the service would offer �high levels of personalisation and recommen

Business BVAS Revenues Up 60 Percent

According to Point Topic, broadband value-added services for business users showed revenue growth of just over 60 percent during 2004. At the start of 2004, revenue was running at a yearly rate of around $2.3 billion. This figure grew to $3.7 billion by year-end. This is the first time that it has been possible to estimate the growth of the new market. Value-added services are extremely important for service providers, who need to find ways of increasing revenues from broadband services. As broadband connection tariffs become more competitive in price, value-added services are the most important way of increasing margins for service providers. This makes these 2004 results important for ISPs serving the business market. Growth in BVAS revenues was lower than the rate of growth in the number of business broadband lines. These grew from 10.6 million to 19 million during 2004, an increase of 79 percent. Most businesses continue to obtain and use their broadband connections just for Intern

Telco Bidding High for IPTV Content

According to Pyramid Research -- "Last month, Belgian courts confirmed the award of the country�s football �- also known as soccer -- TV rights to fixed carrier Belgacom. The court decision was the outcome of a suit brought by the country�s cable providers, who had contested the award of the rights to Belgacom on procedural grounds. Last May, Belgacom outbid cable and TV companies for the rights to broadcast Belgian football, paying about 36m euros a year for the next three years. The Belgacom win is a momentous one, arguably the first time a telco trumps traditional broadcasters for the exclusive rights to a major sports championship. Still, the question remains; is the Belgacom win truly a glimpse of a topsy-turvy future where telcos will compete with broadcasters for the exclusive rights to premium content, or is it a mere Belgian aberration? The truth, we suggest, is somewhere in the middle. Telco participation in the bidding for content rights is accelerating the inflation in

Video Game Sales Up 21 Percent

Titles for new handheld game systems from Sony and Nintendo helped drive video game industry sales up 21 percent to $4.1 billion in the first half of 2005, compared with $3.4 billion during the same period last year, according to a report from market research firm NPD Group. Losing ground were game consoles, which saw a 6 percent sales decline, from $631.6 million last year to $594 million in the first half of this year, and PC games, whose sales revenues were down 10.5 percent, to $405.4 million. Overall, however, video game sales for consoles, handhelds and the PC were up 9.2 percent to $2.8 billion; the top-selling title for the period was Sony's "Gran Turismo 4." Driving game sales were titles for Sony's PSP and Nintendo's DS and Game Boy handhelds, which were up 81 percent in the first half of 2005; handheld hardware sales also grew 74 percent. "The robust performance of the portable market certainly contributed to the considerable sales growth of the in

Canada: No MP3 Player Tax

Canada�s top court has put to rest a special tax on digital music players that had been intended to compensate musicians for illegal use of their content, cheering levy opponents who argued it unfairly punished people who use MP3 devices for photos and non-music data files. A Federal Court had struck down the policy last year but the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), which collects tariffs on behalf of musicians and record companies, later appealed the case. The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear further arguments on the case Thursday, all but killing the tax and ensuring MP3 devices will remain cheaper for Canadian consumers. The CPCC started taking taxes on MP3 players in December 2003 after arguing that MP3 players like iPods were a way to make illegal copies of songs. The levy, the CPCC argued, was a way to pay music creators for unfair use of their work. Originally created for blank audio cassette tapes, the tax is also applied to blank CDs and was extended to MP3

Evolution of Digital Photography Model

There's no question that digital technology has revolutionized photography. The statistics speak for themselves: not only have the past several years seen a boom in digital camera sales, but online photo sharing and printing services are proliferating everywhere. But Vamsi Sistla, director of broadband and residential entertainment research at ABI Research, says that we're looking at the new medium through an "old lens." What did most amateur snapshooters do with their analog pictures? They mounted them in albums. Family and friends could hold albums in their laps and share the viewing experience. What must most digital snapshooters do? View their pictures on a computer; upload them to a Web site (more computing); email them to each other (still more computing!) -- or have them printed for mounting in an old-fashioned album. While sharing via email is a step in the right direction, printing them and putting in old-fashioned albums is a step backwards. "What's

IFPI Predicts More Music to Mobiles

How things are changing. The 12th annual report of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) says mobile handsets are poised to take over from personal computers as the primary mechanism driving the music download industry. Apparently the increasing popularity and availability of 3G means that handset downloads will overtake PC downloads before the end of this year. The report chimes with the stance taken by most mobile operators. They have been claiming that this Christmas will at last be the time of the 3G boom. However, many of them also predicted that for last year and the year before and look what happened -- zilch. Last year the global music download market was worth about $500 million to the record industry and the that was split 50:50 between tracks taken from the Internet via PCs and those downloaded to 2.5G and 3G handsets. This year though, the balance will swing to mobiles. The arithmetic is simple. More people in more countries around the world own m

Telcos Prep Internet TV

When it comes to video services, the children of Ma Bell have taken their hard knocks. A flood of ventures by telephone companies designed to compete against entrenched cable TV operators received much fanfare in the early 1990s, only to fizzle out as failures before the new millennium passed. But don't count them out just yet. As cable operators increasingly target their data and voice customers, the telephone companies are crawling back from defeat, reinvigorated by a perfect storm of network convergence, broadband technology and the good ol' IP infrastructure. Coming soon to a screen near you: IPTV. "It's one of the hot topics in telecommunications," said Steve West, director of product marketing for fixed solutions at Alcatel, a network infrastructure provider. "We've been actively pushing the space since 1999 or 2000. It is absolutely ready for market. "While traditional cable systems devote a slice of bandwidth for each channel and then cableca

DVD Sales Dip: Cause for Concern?

Despite intensifying concerns about declining DVD sales, boxoffice receipts and advertiser spending, traditional media executives attending Herbert Allen's exclusive Sun Valley summit this month didn't exactly flock to the so-called new media moguls, whose emerging venues could be critical in offsetting the industry's mounting economic risks. That uniform observation from elite executive conference attendees begs the question: "Why not?" When presented with the opportunity to aggressively explore viable new alternatives to their challenged business models, why didn't traditional media players respond as if their existence depends on it, as suggested by a recent flood of troubling statistics? "There was almost no interaction between traditional media companies and new media companies," one high-level Sun Valley conference attendee says. "Google was talking about video search and Intel talked about WiMax, and all the new media companies were talki

China's IPTV Market to Boom

With domestic Chinese telecom operators facing decreasing ARPU and slowing broadband subscriber growth, IPTV is beginning to look like a promising new business, according to ABI Research. A new study from the technology market analyst suggests that the delivery of television over IP networks has the potential to create revolutionary growth in the broadband customer base, as TV viewers, as well as PC owners, find a reason to subscribe. "But for that to happen," says analyst Junmei He, "a number of questions need to be resolved. First, IPTV licensing is currently tightly controlled. This hinders domestic telecom operators, who don't want to risk high CAPEX on a business whose shape is still unclear." The report breaks down IPTV markets into IPTV-to-PC and IPTV-to-TV, and discusses their status and outlooks respectively. It also analyzes the performance of Huawei, the main player in the Chinese IPTV chain. Another problem He sees is the immaturity of the business

Worldwide WiMAX Equipment Forecast

While the first officially certified equipment is not expected to see the light of day for at least another four months, operators are rushing to embrace WiMAX technology as a broadband alternative and backhaul solution. According to new statistics from Infonetics Research, worldwide WiMAX equipment revenue will grow to US$124.5 million this year, up from an almost negligible $16.4 million in 2004, and is likely to hit $1 billion within the next three years. Having just launched its certification program in Spain, the WiMAX Forum has been desperate to cement the credibility of its efforts in general and 802.16 technology in particular. In the recent past the Forum has battled revelations from major WiMAX developer, Alvarion, that the industry is not ready for the certification programme and recently held a major product showcase event in Canada to "prove that WiMAX is real." According to Infonetics, while revenues still pale in comparison of those for other fixed and wireles

Sony Ericsson to Launch Walkman Phone

The W800i, the first mobile phone device from Sony Ericsson to bear the Walkman logo will make its international debut throughout retail outlets in August. The Walkman Phone will combine music and a two-megapixel camera in one package. The company has also announced that in the fourth quarter it will make available in the US market the triple band, EDGE/GPRS class 10 W600 Walkman Phone, which, it says, offers easy-to-use software to copy music to the device. Other features of the new phone will include: ample music storage capacity and long battery life; headphones and built-in stereo speakers; easy connection to other devices via Bluetooth; 1.3 MegaPixel camera; video recording and full screen playback; SMS, MMS and instant messaging; and 3D Java games.

China Telecommunications Industry Growth

China Communication Industry Revs Up 10.7% YoY -- According to China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII), China's communication industry recorded revenues of 309.68 billion Yuan in the first half of 2005, up 10.7 percent year on year. Fixed line users increased by 25.68 million subscribers in the first half of the 2005, while mobile users increased by 28.34 million users. Little Smart users increased by 14.88 million to hit 79.75 million total users. Broadband subscribers increased by 6.78 million in the first six months of 2005 to 31.65 million subscribers. Short messaging (SMS) volume hit 139.25 billion messages, up 39.8 percent year on year.

Current TV for a Web Generation

Associated Press report -- Much of the talk around Al Gore's new Current TV network has been broadly philosophical, like the former vice president's statement that "we want to be the television home page for the Internet generation." With its debut, Current TV will be judged by the same mundane standards as other networks -- on whether its programming can hold a viewer's interest. Gore and his fellow investors envision Current as a sounding board for young people, a step beyond traditional notions of interactivity. They want viewers to contribute much of the network's content now that quality video equipment is widely available. Based on material previewed on its Web site, Current at first glance seems like a hipper, more irreverent version of traditional television newsmagazines. Most of its programming will be in "pods," roughly two to seven minutes long, covering topics like jobs, technology, spirituality and current events. An Internet-like on-sc

Managed Home Network Services

New research from TDG suggests that tying home networking to value-added services could help home networks "cross the chasm" between early adopters and mainstream consumers. TDG's report on home networking and managed home network services, identifies numerous specific value-added services that could help service providers extend their revenue and profit reach "beyond the modem." "Broadband service providers (BSPs) are in an ideal position to push home networking into broadband households," said Rachel Avery, analyst and author of the report. "By emphasizing the value of network-enabled services instead of selling hardware, BSPs can leverage their unique position in the broadband value chain to push networking solutions and services into consumer homes." TDG's research continues to suggest that demand among US consumers for home networks is declining. In fact, less than 15 percent of non-networked broadband households are interested in

Emerging Markets Mobile Phone Shipments

According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global mobile phone shipments grew a striking 18 percent year-over-year, to 188 million units during Q2 2005 (April - June). Mega-vendors Nokia and Motorola outperformed in emerging markets, to grab an impressive, combined 50 percent share of total sales. Chris Ambrosio, Director of Strategy Analytics' Wireless Device Strategies service, noted, "Strong growth in emerging mobile phone markets, such as South America and Africa, is driving demand for increasing numbers of entry-level devices, precisely the mass-market segments where Nokia and Motorola are among the strongest." "The worldwide handset market is once again becoming concentrated in the hands of just a few major brands," said Neil Mawston, Associate Director of the Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service at Strategy Analytics. "For example, Nokia and Motorola accounted for exactly half the global market in Q2 2005, leaving more than 60 othe

Western European Broadband Forecast

According to a new IDC study, broadband penetration in Western Europe will continue to surge in coming years. By 2009, 46 percent of Western European households will have broadband access, compared to 20 percent at the end of 2004. Wide availability, broad choice, growing competition, affordable pricing, and increasing end-user awareness have been fundamental in the development of the high-speed Internet market into a mass market. However, �broadband is no longer just about high-speed Internet access, as it has evolved into an enabler of a wide bouquet of IP-based services,� said Jan Hein Bakkers, senior analyst. �Although Internet access will remain the most important application for the short to medium term, services like voice over broadband and IPTV are also destined to become cornerstones of successful broadband strategies." Operators are betting heavily on these services to present new business opportunities, to make up for the fall in prices of basic broadband Internet acce