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Showing posts from June, 2006

AT&T U-verse IPTV as the Low-Price Leader

CNET reports that AT&T finally made its U-verse IPTV service commercially available to 5,000 homes in San Antonio, following many months of numerous delays. Until this week, AT&T's TV service was available to only a handful of consumers in that city, the first of many on the list of U-verse prospects. AT&T expects to offer the service to a total of 15 to 20 markets by the end of the year. The company has said it plans to spend $4.6 billion through 2008 to bring television and high-speed Internet services to almost 19 million homes. Initially AT&T's service will be very similar to what is already offered by cable companies. The starting price for packages is $69 a month and goes up to $124, depending on Internet speeds and whether the customer opts for premium-channel packages. Industry pundits and Time Warner Cable (the incumbent MSO) are already predicting that the lower-price differential wont be enough to attract many consumers away form their current pay-T

Demographics of the U.S. Electronic Gamer

Women represent 59 percent of all U.S. consumers who play games on a mobile phone, according to "Electronic Gaming in the Digital Home," a new study from Parks Associates. Furthermore, women comprise 61 percent of all those playing mobile phone games 1-4 hours per month and 58 percent of all those playing for more than four hours per month. These findings concur with the overall demographic makeup of Internet gamers, where women are the majority due to their penchant for online trivia and card games. Men, on the other hand, hold the majority among gamers who play intense action and role-playing games, and there is not a comparable group of male users in the mobile gaming space. These results reaffirm the importance both of women in the gaming market and of the industry's efforts to promote casual games for the mobile phone, according to John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates. "Women are the foundation of the gaming market, and as an industry, we ne

How Big Media Miscalculated DVRs Impact

According to Kagan Research, the digital video recorder is now something of a runaway train, after big media fumbled opportunities to curb the more corrosive aspects of the popular hard-disc video storage device. Big media's worries: the commercial skipping capability of DVRs threatens to drain ad revenue and unauthorized peer-to-peer sharing of recorded video threatens video-on-demand. Already in the upfront ad selling market now under way, the broadcast TV networks were unable negotiate inclusion of delayed DVR viewing as part of their audience delivery. A few years ago, cable operators and the networks could have collaborated to create networked DVRs that curb or eliminate ad skipping and unauthorized duplication of recorded programs. But they didn't move quickly enough. At end-2005, Kagan Research counted 1.9 million standalone DVRs in use � with TiVo the dominant brand � that are beyond the direct reach of platform operators. Cable and satellite platforms equipped anoth

Google Checkout: the Online Retailer Nexus

Creating, essentially, an 'online retailer nexus' that places the consumer in control, today retailers will be introduced to a new model where just one company is the mediator of all consumer online retail transactions -- Google Inc. announced the launch of 'Google Checkout,' a checkout process that they say makes online shopping faster, more convenient and more secure for Google users. Google Checkout offers an easy and trusted checkout option that enables shoppers to purchase from participating stores with a single Google login. It also works with Google's search advertising program, AdWords, to help merchants acquire new customers and process all or a portion of their Checkout sales for free. Here's how it works: shoppers can find stores that accept Google Checkout by looking for the Google Checkout icon on AdWords advertisements or whenever they come across the Google Checkout option on a merchant's site. If shoppers want to use Google Checkout, they c

IMS Infrastructure Debate Ignores Handsets

A research study from Disruptive Analysis has examined the evolution of IMS- and SIP-capable mobile handsets. While much attention has focused on deployments of IMS network infrastructure and applications, the need for a new class of phones has been largely forgotten. In theory, the much-hyped deployment of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) networks extends carriers� abilities to deliver new services like push-to-talk, instant messaging and future innovative �combinational services�. Many service providers are investing in the IMS blueprint for building out new IP core networks, and a flexible �application layer� which, they hope, will simultaneously enable them to lower operating costs and drive revenues from myriad new services. But while infrastructure standards are quite well-established, only the most basic technological enablers of the phones have been agreed. There is no consensus on how to create the �user experience� for IMS phones, nor the ways in which applications interact ea

Keeping Pace with Digital Music Consumers

A new study by global market research firm Ipsos indicates that interest in viewing music videos, photos, TV shows and even full-length movies from these MP3 players is especially strong among younger consumers who have experience downloading music. New findings released from the company�s quarterly study of digital music behaviors, show that 20 percent of Americans aged 12 and older now own a portable MP3 player. This marks a significant increase over ownership levels found one year ago (15 percent), and nearly double the proportion of owners found in April 2003 (11 percent). And in a sign that not only new buyers are driving this trend, 6 percent of Americans own more than one portable MP3 player. Total headphone-MP3 sales reached $4.23 billion in 2005, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. These popular devices accounted for 85 percent of all factory-level portable audio sales last year, CEA statistics showed. Recent research also revealed some interesting demographic

BART/CCJPA to Trial Broadband on Trains

BART/Capitol Corridor Joint PowersAuthority (CCJPA), the manager of the Capitol Corridor intercity passenger train, have selected four proposers to help them take the next big step toward providing fast mobile broadband services on trains. Bandwidth intensive applications that will be tested via the limited trial networks include Internet, email, Virtual Private Network (VPN) access, video downloads and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to their riders�laptops, PDAs and cell phones, all available while the Capitol Corridor train is moving at full speed between Auburn and San Jose. Results of the initial technical trials will lead toward a fast-track procurement of a system-wide network, a process that is being watched by passenger rail providers around the world. A Request for Information (RFI) was released by CCJPA on March 23, 2006 tha tasked the wireless industry to offer their best ideas and concepts. Eleven proposals were received and four were selected to participate in the t

High-Definition Multimedia Interface Enhanced

The seven HDMI founder companies -- Hitachi, Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (Panasonic), Royal Philips Electronics, Silicon Image, Inc., Sony Corp., Thomson, Inc. and Toshiba Corp. -- released a major enhancement of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) specification, the de facto standard digital interface for high definition consumer electronics. HDMI 1.3 will enable the next generation of HDTVs, PCs and DVD players to transmit and display content in billions of colors with unprecedented vividness and accuracy. The HDMI 1.3 specification more than doubles HDMI�s bandwidth and adds support for Deep Color technology, a broader color space, new digital audio formats, automatic audio/video synching capability (�lip sync�), and an optional smaller connector for use with personal photo and video devices. The update reflects the determination of the HDMI founders to ensure HDMI continues evolving ahead of future consumer demands. This update arrives at a time of

Quest for Mobile Broadband Service Growth

After several years of false starts, wireless network operators around the world are beginning to succeed in their efforts to attract customers to mobile broadband services, and anticipated improvements in data throughput will accelerate mass-market uptake of mobile broadband, according to a report from Heavy Reading. "With networks converging and revenue bases at risk of eroding, fixed and mobile operators of all types increasingly think of mobility as basic table stakes in evolving new services," notes Patrick Donegan, Senior Analyst at Heavy Reading and author of the report. "In light of the shift to IP in wireline networks, as well as the potential that mobile broadband traffic has to overwhelm radio access network capacity, operators are also united in wanting mobile networks to evolve to much lower-cost architectures." Key findings of the report include: W-CDMA and CDMA 1X EV-DO technology have a strong grip on the broadband mobile market and will continue

Worldwide Broadband Statistics for Q1 2006

According to Point Topic, the Asia-Pacific region still claims -- by far -- the largest share of all broadband lines, accounting for 40 percent of the world�s 229 million broadband lines in Q1 2006. But despite impressive growth rates in China, India and Vietnam, its majority share is under constant threat from buoyant broadband markets in the countries of Eastern and Central European as well as Northern Africa. China once again pulled ahead of the USA. In Q4 2005, both countries acquired 2.5 million new subscribers, but Q1 2006 saw the gap re-established, with China adding 3.7 million and the USA 3.3 million. India has not yet reached these heights, nonetheless its growth rate is striking. In Q1 2006, broadband subscribers grew by 56.8 percent to pass the one million threshold, whereas DSL growth carried mainly by (Bharti and BSNL) contributed the lion share of net additions - 0.5 million. In Western Europe, 2006 began as it had ended - well almost. Owing to the success of local lo

U.S. Supreme Court Ponders Telco Collusion

TelecomTV reports that in its upcoming term the U.S. Supreme Court will weigh a carrier collusion case as America�s premier telcos petition for the dismissal of an anti-trust class action suit. AT&T, BellSouth, Verizon Communications and Qwest Communications International previously lost an appeals court bid to throw out a collective suit accusing the quartet of carriers of blocking market access to new entrant players and conspiring together to keep broadband and local call prices artificially high by covertly agreeing not directly to compete within specific geographic areas. Lawyers for the four operators argue that the plaintiffs have yet to produce evidence of collusion and that therefore the case should be thrown out. The case was dismissed from a New York federal court on the same grounds, but an appeals court later re-instated the class action law suit. Meanwhile, unlike the competitive markets in Europe, the U.S. alternative access provider sector is in pitiful decline.

When in Rome, Visit the TV Evolution Summit

This rapid evolution of the TV market has created the imperative for decision makers across all sectors of the developing television business to come together, to debate and resolve the common challenges, and develop their content and technology strategies. To cater to this need, Informa Telecoms and Media has brought together three of its established international events, addressing different sectors of the rapidly evolving broadband delivery value chain, to provide a forum that will allow senior executives to meet, learn and partner for mutual benefit. The latest insights on content strategy, network strategy and device strategy will be shared via three concurrent events at the TV Evolution Summit during 4 - 5 July 2006, at the Cavalieri Hilton hotel, in Rome, Italy.

Market Share for CE Digital Device Standards

The 1394 interface standard is being strongly challenged by USB in PC and peripherals markets, but there are signs of life in consumer electronics (CE), reports In-Stat. Digital televisions, cable set top boxes, and DVD recorders are all driving 1394a growth in the CE segment. In addition, the High-Definition Audio Video Networking Alliance (HANA) has endorsed 1394 as a transmission medium for high-definition content, a development that may spur adoption of 1394 in home video networks. In the PC world, 1394 has had success in notebook PCs, but has struggled in corporate desktops, which account for a significant share of PCs sold annually. However, Microsoft has announced that it will support 1394b in its next-generation Vista operating system, which may breathe additional life into 1394 in this segment. In-Stat's study found the following: - The overall worldwide market for 1394-enabled devices will grow from 115.8 million units in 2005 to 219.9 million in 2010. - If HANA is s

Nationwide Free Mobile Ad Coupon Service

Cellfire announced that its free mobile coupon service is now available to cell phone users across the country. Household-name retailers such as T.G.I. Friday's and Hollywood Video are among the partners deploying the money-saving solution to consumers. "Cellfire is the first-ever mobile application that allows consumers to save money at their favorite stores, restaurants and entertainment venues," said Brent Dusing, CEO of Cellfire. "Since our regional launch in December, we are seeing remarkable growth in both the number of users and retailers who are excited about embracing this easy-to-use solution." "There's been talk for years about integrating location with mobile commerce - allowing cell phone subscribers to directly benefit from discounts and promotions at the stores they most often visit," said J. Gerry Purdy, principal analyst with MobileTrax. "Now, Cellfire offers cell phone subscribers the ability to opt-in to promotional progra

WCDMA is Fastest Growing 3G Technology

High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) deployments will garner over 60 percent of infrastructure revenue in 2012, according to Research and Markets. Their report, "The Market for Next-Generation Mobile Networks," says the infrastructure market will generate over $100 billion in revenue in 2012. WCDMA is the fastest growing technology, giving WCDMA networks unprecedented economies of scale and helping lower equipment costs, said Naqi Jaffery, President and Chief Analyst. HSPA, an enhancement to WCDMA, will increase both data rates and network capacity and by 2012, HSPA will become the de facto global standard, he said. The report says EDGE networks will become more spectrally efficient with the transition to "EDGE Evolution" beginning in 2007. EDGE Evolution will add voice and data capacity, increasing data rates up to three times as compared to today's EDGE networks. EDGE Evolution will garner over 20 percent of infrastructure revenue by 2012, the report says. A

Planning a Short Video Advert? - Think Again

Mediaweek reports that the typical ad agency conventional wisdom regarding video advertising length in new media is all wrong. Why? Longer is actually better. It's therefore proof positive for a change -- new media requires new thinking. That's according to a new whitepaper presented at the Advertising Research Foundation's Audience Measurement Symposium in New York by The Atlas Institute, a division of aQuantive. The new report, Introduction to Brand Exposure Duration, finds that viewers of both video on demand (VOD) content delivered via cable boxes and video delivered on the Web actually gravitate to longer ad spots, and that advertisers have more to gain by producing longer form creative executions. That flies in the face of most of the industry's thinking, which has generally been summed up as "shorter is better" when it comes to new video distribution outlets. In fact, while many brands have been repurposing their existing 30-second TV spots for these

Disney to Embrace 'Safe' MySpace Promos

WSJ reports that as part of the marketing effort for its big summer movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," Walt Disney Co. last month held a contest on the popular MySpace.com social networking website. To publicize the contest, Disney built its own "page" on MySpace and bought an ad on MySpace's front page. But it steered clear of the profile pages created by MySpace's nearly 85 million users -- the popular but controversial part of the site where users post links to friends' pages, list their likes and dislikes and display photos, sometimes including scenes of underage drinking and sexually suggestive material. "We would never be on a personal profile," says Jack Pan, vice president of marketing at Disney's Buena Vista Pictures. "We want to be in the official areas." Disney is one of an increasing number of advertisers that are cautiously starting to embrace MySpace. Acquired by News Corp. last year, MySpace

DVD Entertainment Sales to Rebound in 2009

The home video software industry � currently stagnating � will rebound in 2009 when next-generation high-definition DVDs finally catch stride, forecasts Kagan Research. Introduction of a new video format would ordinarily be a catalyst for a more immediate boom, but consumers are frozen by two dueling and incompatible next-generation hi-definition DVD platforms, notes Kagan analyst Wade Holden. A software revenue boom results from purchases and rentals of old movies in the new format. "We forecast that it won't be until 2008 until one format wins out or manufacturers begin to make dual format players," he adds. "That timeline means video software gains significant momentum from 2009-12." Toshiba-led HD DVD format players have just launched and Sony-driven Blu-Ray will be introduced later this year. The U.S. home video software business contracted 0.9 percent in 2005 at the consumer spend level, which represents the sector's first down year since the standa

Broadband Video & Distributed Entertainment

Several converging trends are turbocharging the growth of broadband video and distributed entertainment in the home. The explosion of long tail content and the willingness of large content owners to distribute their premium catalog over IP networks, together with the ability of mobile, PC, CE, and set-top devices to act as networked media playback devices, are generating a significant broadband video momentum that will gather strength over the next three years. "A number of factors have come together in 2006 to begin the widespread adoption of video over broadband connections into and around the home," says ABI Research principal analyst Michael Wolf. "As content providers and their distribution partners develop business models for network-based content delivery, the ecosystem for distributing entertainment throughout the home is coming of age. In just a couple of years, the device market has moved from a strict focus on physical layer technologies to enabling inter-dev

PwC Global Entertainment and Media Study

Led by surging growth in the online sector, global entertainment and media will expand into a $1.83 trillion industry in 2010, up from an estimated $1.33 trillion last year, making for a compound annual growth rate of 6.6 percent, according to an annual study from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Consumer/end-user spending gains will outpace advertising growth as PwC estimates compound annual increases of 6.8 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, during the next five years. The biggest global industry engines during that time frame will be Internet advertising and access spending, for which PwC projects a compound annual growth rate of 12.9 percent, and video games, with an estimated 11.4 percent compound gain. Filmed entertainment will expand at a rate of 5.3 percent, according to PwC. The projected 6.6 percent compound annual growth rate for the latest five-year frame compares with 7.3 percent in last year's report, with PwC having brought down its 2009 entertainment market revenue est

Ad Recall Better on Web than on Network TV

Reuters reports that prime-time ABC television shows were viewed more than 11 million times on the Web in the first month of a test performed by the Walt Disney Co. to determine whether consumers will watch ads online, if the TV shows are free. An online exit survey posted the first week of the two-month trial showed that 87 percent of respondents could recall the advertisers that sponsored the episodes they watched. That compares with typical ad recall of about 40 percent for commercials viewed on television, industry sources said. A retooled version of the free site, which incorporates data gathered during the test, will be launched in the Fall, Disney Media Network Co-Chair Anne Sweeney said. The look of the ABC.com interface will remain similar to the test page, but the shows offered will change over time, Sweeney said. Sweeney described the preliminary results of the test as "very heartening" and said it appeared that Disney would have no trouble attracting advertiser

Ultramobile PC: Device in Search of a Market

PCMAG reports that despite having been on the market only a few months, UMPCs (ultramobile PCs), the keyboard-less handheld computers capable of running Windows XP, have already been criticized by analysts and many reviewers. Now they're being targeted by the likes of Sony and startup OQO, who are offering their own diminutive computers for businesses. But Microsoft and partners � the UMPC has been backed by Intel and VIA Technologies � expect to see more diversity in the UMPC space in the near term. New manufactures will bring forth additional usage models and design improvements such as integrated, drop down keyboards and built-in wireless wide area networking, while also driving down prices. "You'll see an additional wave of UMPCs available in the holiday timeframe," said Mika Kramer, head of the new Windows Client Mobility Marketing Team, a group within its Windows Client Product Marketing Group in Redmond, Washington. "We are seeing a lot more tier-one pl

Big Ticket Purchase Advice Growing on Web

NYTimes reports that the great eyeball chase is back in full swing. And it does not matter that the eyeballs may not be buying anything. With online advertising revenues growing quickly, new information-rich sites of all kinds are mushrooming across the Web. Sites devoted to big-ticket purchases � particularly cars, real estate and travel � are feverishly refining features and marketing strategies in an effort to attract the growing number of consumers searching the Web for buying advice. Unlike sites like Amazon.com, they do not actually sell any products, but they make a good living selling ads to deep-pocketed companies that do. And a growing lineup of deep-pocketed advertisers are looking for those consumers. "It's a good time to be a publisher online," said Carrie A. Johnson, an analyst with Forrester Research. "There's a ridiculous thirst for advertising" on the Internet, she said. Online merchants paid 33 percent more for advertising last year than

Mobile Phone Handset with Wi-Fi Forecast

Converged Wi-Fi/Cellular mobile handsets are expected to make a big splash, reports In-Stat. By 2010, shipments of cellular handsets containing Wi-Fi will exceed 132 million devices. Carriers have been reluctant to offer Wi-Fi capable handsets for several reasons, but Wi-Fi has spread so fast that carriers will not be able to resist much longer. "In the end, most U.S. cellular carriers will embrace Wi-Fi in their handsets, as carriers know that if they don't, other carriers will, and these carriers will likely steal away some of their customers," says Allen Nogee, In-Stat analyst. Combo mobile handsets also offer carriers opportunities to provide services such as VoIP over Wi-Fi, lessening impact on their cellular data system. In-Stat found the following: - More than 20 cellular handset models now have, or will soon be, released with embedded Wi-Fi access. - A few cellular carriers are planning to offer services that support voice calls over both cellular and Wi-Fi,

UK Channel 4 Offers Live TV Over Broadband

Informitv reports that Channel 4 will become the first major UK broadcaster to provide its programming live on the Internet. Programmes originally commissioned by the channel will be made available to registered users through the Channel 4 web site, allowing them to be seen online at the same time as their television transmission. The service will not initially include acquired programmes and films. A loop of Channel 4 promotions will be broadcast where online rights are not available. The same commercials will be carried as on the television channel, but there are plans to sell specific advertising spots for broadband viewers in the future. Individual programmes, notably 'Big Brother,' have offered live streams online for many years in the UK, but this is the first time that a major channel has made the majority of its programmes available on the web. Channel 4 is planning to make its programmes available for viewing on demand, following an agreement struck with independen

FON Affiliate Wireless Broadband Access

Reuters reports that FON, a Spanish start-up on an ambitious crusade to turn home Wi-Fi connections into wireless "hotspots" for nearby users, is set to unveil a plan to hand out 1 million wireless AP/routers for just $5 apiece. FON, which aims to create a network of home users and small businesses to resell their own wireless access to passersby, said it will subsidize $60 Cisco Linksys or Buffalo routers for $5 in the United States or 5 euros in Europe. Juergen Urbanski, North American general manager, said FON, which in February raised $21.7 million from backers including the founders of Google and Skype, is looking to turn the brand-name equipment into what it calls "social routers." The goal of the Madrid-based company is to build block-by-block networks of shared affiliate wireless connections around the globe, turning local Wi-Fi users into an army of "foneros" -- its term for people who share their wireless access. As the company's name impl

Growth of Linux-Based Consumer Electronics

CRN reports that over the past six months, nearly every major consumer electronics (CE) vendor has developed plans to create home products running Linux to ensure product innovation and prevent another Microsoft market monopoly. At the same time, digital integrators are developing their own Linux-based home solutions, which often lead to higher margins and significant savings for their customers. "Other operating systems are many hundreds of dollars more expensive, plus you have the incremental costs when new versions come out, and you have maintenance fees," says Ken Fuhrman, president of Westminster, Colorado-based Interact-TV, which makes the Linux-based Telly line of home entertainment servers. "Linux will have a much lower cost in the long term." Linux also frees vendors and integrators from the reign of any single software vendor. "Fundamentally, having choice is a very attractive business proposition," says Scott Smyers, vice president of the Netw

Understanding Consumers is Craigslist Forte

WSJ reports that by almost any measure, Craigslist is a phenomenal success. It is the seventh-most-popular Web site in the world, according to the people who measure these things. The free online-classifieds site has become the nightmare of newspaper executives everywhere it launches a list. While it does not release financial statements, no one doubts -- and its chief executive does not dispute -- that it is comfortably profitable and has been so since 1999, about the time most other children of the dot-com boom started running out of cash. All the same, no one really questions that Craigslist could be bigger -- much, much bigger. The company took in $25 million or so in revenue last year, while its peers among the Internet's top 10 raked in billions. Since its founding, Craigslist has been aggressively passive (newspapermen might say passively aggressive) about monetizing its huge audience and user base. There are no banner ads on Craigslist, just the postings of its users, mo

My Appreciation for Search Engine Marketing

E-Commerce Times reports that as the utilization of search marketing grows, the perspective from which you view its impact on your organization must also grow. Search engine marketing can no longer be viewed in a silo where its only measure of success is direct response metrics. Whether you like it or not, you must realize that search engine marketing is a very important component to your branding strategy . Where you are in the natural selection of the search engine results and what the results say about your brand are powerful influences on how the public sees your company and brand. We are in an era of online reputation management . A treacherous sea of corporate and consumer generated media where the dynamics of how well your brand fares in the search engine environment can change in a moment's notice. A single post to a blog can launch an online reputation management tsunami, and if you are not prepared to deal with such events, then your brand can quickly drown. In the pro

Leveraging Cable Company Carriage Deals

Multichannel News reports that cable operators already face an increasing array of wireless and wireline competitors offering TV services, but now they may face a new challenge � ironically, from within their own ranks. In at least two recent cases, companies vying for a stake in the broadband-TV market have made moves to buy up small cable operators. Using those cable companies� carriage deals as a stepping stone, they are trying to put together Internet-delivered TV services that reach well beyond the footprint of their own systems � and compete with other cable operators across the country. Companies, in at least two cases, have purchased cable operators as a means of getting into TV services delivered over the Web. In May, Titan Global Entertainment Inc. announced plans to acquire a small cable operator in Orme, Tenn. The Los Angeles-based company plans to use that system to launch a new service sending live TV to handheld players, it said. Separately, eWAN 1 Inc., a Santa Ana,

Netflix Will Launch Online Service with STB

Netflix VP of original programming Eric Besner revealed some of the online rental service's thinking on the movie download business, saying Netflix is planning to introduce a proprietary set-top box (STB) with an Internet connection that can download movies overnight. Speaking at an Independent Film & Television Alliance production conference in Beverly Hills, Besner said the business model is still being worked out, but the download service likely would be offered in return for the subscription fee members pay for conventional DVD rentals. Service could launch as early as this year. Users would add movies they want to watch to their rental queue online as they do now, and those movies would then be downloaded to the boxes overnight rather than shipped through the mail. He said the set-top box is just one of the Internet plans Netflix is working on. This is exactly the type of over-the-top (walled garden bypass) that cable MSOs and telcos fear the most, since the service is

Marketers are No Longer in Control of Ads

Reuters reports that consumers are hijacking top global brands using blogs and online communities but some advertising companies are trying to find ways to embrace the revolution rather than fight against it. The Internet has turned the traditional world of advertising "control freaks" on its head with a growing shift of spending to online from print and TV. The Web is giving millions of consumers an outlet for their views on products and brands, bypassing traditional media. The Web is posing a fresh challenge to top firms eager to promote their products and enhance their image, against a tide of spoof advertising made by amateurs on the web. "The power of the consumer being in control is scary if you come from a traditional marketing world," said Chris Dobson, vice president of international ad sales for Microsoft Corp.'s online business group. "There is a risk for brands," he added. "There is nowhere to hide online now." The issue has be

How to Improve Your CE Device Brand Score

According to Forrester Research, a higher brand "score" can translate into longer-lasting power for your consumer electronics device brand in the marketplace and increased sales. To boost your brand's score: Connect with technology pessimists where they shop . Tech pessimists are less likely to research and purchase products online and are more likely to prefer to deal with in-person or over-the-phone sales and customer service representatives. To reach these consumers, increase your brand's offline presence in big-box retailers where you are more likely to connect with tech pessimists, as Sony has done with its Sony Store @ Target. Enlist users in the brand experience . As socially minded consumers lean increasingly on peers and less on institutions for media, information, and advice, brand loyalty loses rank to price loyalty. Involve consumers in the brand experience and direction with spaces for social and brand interaction, such as a branded blog. These techniqu

Consumer Choice of Toyota Interactive Ads

ClickZ News reports that Toyota's Scion brand is running the same creative to promote all three of its vehicle models in a new campaign, allowing its audience to customize the rich media units themselves by interacting with the ads. The HTML-based ads, which use technology from Interpolls, automatically update when a user chooses one of several options presented. For example, one ad asks users to choose a personality type that best fits them. Depending on the answer selected, the ad reloads with content from the appropriate Scion model that reflects that type. Once a user submits an answer, a results panel appears with more content related to the user's choice, such as additional images or video. Using this technology, Scion can let its target audience interact with all three of its models in a single ad execution. And because users share information within the ad unit, Interpolls is able to serve a more relevant ad to users based on their interest and interactions, according

Billions of TV Channels Are Coming to You

According to the Hollywood Reporter, entertainment executives agreed that it is the independent producers and creators with emerging technologies at their disposal who now have distribution advantages over the traditional studios and networks. That was the underlying sentiment behind this year's Independent Film & Television Alliance production conference held at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The confab addressed topics ranging from advertising, mobile and video-on-demand to the blurring of the technological platforms in a new-media world. "Our investment now is the highest it's every been -- it's now totally about how much can we produce," keynote speaker and chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios Byron Allen said. "If it ends up being a billion channels, there will be a billion channels." If we end up with a billion channels of content, then I vote for a re-design of the pitiful cable TV electronic program guide (EPG). There's no way that I ca

Is the CDMA Standard Destined for Obscurity?

TelecomTV reports that Nokia has annnounced it is to exit the CDMA market. Kai Oistamo, the head of Nokia Mobile Phones says the high cost of making CDMA handsets � partially the result of the tight grip the U.S. patent holder Qualcomm has on the technology � makes the standard too expensive for emerging markets. And this despite the fact that analysts point out that emerging economies will be the source of most wireless growth in coming years as years as wealthier markets reach maturation. The CDMA standard is primarily used in North America, while essentially absent or retreating in other markets. The emerging markets are projected to be the source of the bulk of the extra 2 billion new mobile subscribers expected to sign up for service over the next five years. "In this fragmented market, making money with low-end CDMA handsets is very difficult," Mr. Oistamo says. Nokia says Qualcomm's CDMA royalty scheme played a big part in its decision to abandon the technology,

Verizon to Champion Differentiated Pay-TV

A recent Forbes column asks the question, would you rather search cooking shows by recipe than by host? How about tracking your fantasy football team's score while the game is in the background? Or watching a movie in bed that you digitally recorded in your living room? Here, in a lab about ten miles outside Boston, Verizon Communications is trying to get there -- before its competitors do. Inside a few large buildings surrounded by woods, some 100 engineers and researchers are trying to add data-driven and interactive elements to television content that would make today's digital cable look like TV with rabbit ears. While wild turkeys have taken a liking to the grassy courtyard between buildings, inside it's business: buzzing meeting rooms and long hallways of offices. Inside one room, a worker has notes about one of Fermat's mathematical theorems scrawled on a whiteboard. "Everybody's looking for the next revenue model," says Shawn Strickland, vice pre

Multi-Play Strategy: When to Discount, or Not

According to Pyramid Research, Belgium�s Telenet does not follow the traditional triple play model of offering bundles with a discount. Rather, the operator is betting on the price value and service differentiation of each individual product (telephony, broadband access and television) to simply sell itself. Telenet is successful; both revenues and revenue-generating units (RGUs) have grown by 8 percent in 2005. Conversely, the largest cable provider in the U.S., Comcast, is offering as much as $50 in discounts per month for triple play adopters over the total price for these services if they are purchased individually. Are triple play discounts necessary, or could Belgium�s altnet be onto something? Pyramid found two main reasons why Telenet has deviated from the bundling path. First, until mid-2005, bundling services in Belgium was illegal. More importantly, however, the company simply does not see a current need for moving to pre-set bundles given the success it is experiencing in

Big Media Companies Search for Synergies

The word "synergy" fell into disrepute with big Hollywood media conglomerates, because grandiose cross selling ambitions fizzled. Yet little noticed, a synergy trend between film studios and their separate consumer products division siblings is a growing success story of collaboration. The prime example is Walt Disney hitting the jackpot with the Princess Disney product line � a creation of its consumer product division using characters adapted from the studio division. After shipping the first products in 2001, Princess Disney is forecast to generate $3.4 billion this fiscal year in store-level revenue. That's for clothing, tiaras, bedding fabrics and the like. The company doesn't say what its take is from retail revenue, but it's likely well above the 5.6 percent industrywide average. "Disney Consumer Products is now able to independently create new intellectual property, in addition to those created by Disney Studios and The Disney Channel," noted D

Consumer Home Network Ongoing Challenge

As the digital home creates new technical challenges, more consumers will turn to professional on-site or remote support services for help with their home technology problems, according to Parks Associates. This survey of more than 6,000 U.S. and Canadian home Internet users found that in the past 12 months, over 41 million U.S. users had problems associated with Internet security, over 21 million had home computer hardware and software issues, and nearly 11 million had problems with a home network. While most consumers are personally solving the issue or relying on a friend or family member, more than 60 percent express interest in software that automates basic home computer maintenance functions, and one-third are interested in subscription-based technical support and troubleshooting services. "Digital technologies such as broadband, home networks, consumer electronics, and PCs provide great benefits to users and significant challenges to the companies supporting their distrib

Mobile Broadband Service Balancing Act

As this week's launch by Vodafone shows, operators are racing to deploy and launch mobile broadband services, which will lead 3.5G subscribers worldwide to boom from 2.5 million at the end of 2006 to more than 200 million in 2010, according to Informa Telecoms & Media. HSDPA will account for the majority of 3.5G mobile broadband subscribers worldwide in 2011, followed by HSUPA, EV-DO Revision A (EV-DOrA) and EV-DO Revision B (EV-DOrB). The top two regions for HSDPA subscribers through 2011 will be Western Europe followed by Asia-Pacific, with North America a distant third. Asia-Pacific will account for the majority of EV-DOrA/B subscribers through 2011, followed by North America. "Vodafone has just launched HSDPA services in the UK but it is far from alone," says Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media and co-author of the report. "There are already 34 live HSDPA networks worldwide and another 43 in deployment, just six months after the

France Telecom Core Business Under Siege

According to Analysys Research, while a number of mobile operators have successfully focused their strategy on fixed�mobile substitution and taken revenues from fixed operators, highly innovative quadruple-play offerings are becoming increasingly common in OECD countries. These offerings could present a real growth opportunity and may allow fixed operators to recover. Historically, broadband operators have progressively added video and fixed voice to their Internet offerings, and are now starting to include mobile telephony services. In a recent analysis of multi-play offerings, the OECD reported that in 10 of the 30 OECD countries, fixed operators have extended their multi-play services with mobile telephony. This trend is illustrated by recent developments in France, where a number of major players have announced innovative offers. One such player is the alternative ISP Neuf Cegetel (Neuf), which has launched an MVNO. It provides WiFi telephony services via any WiFi-enabled device

More Predictions Point to Mobile TV Windfall

Defining the market potential of a new service offering, particularly in the absence of a compelling consumer value proposition, is sometimes like the child's game -- pin the tail on the donkey. Regardless, if you are a mobile service provider that needs to rationalize a significant investment in 3G infrastruture, then it's encouraging when you can point to 'research' as validation. In 2011, mobile TV services will have some 514 million subscribers worldwide, up from only 6.4 million at the end of 2005, a new ABI Research study has found. The fledgling market for mobile television is beginning to build significant momentum, according to the report, "Broadcast and Unicast Mobile TV Services," and advertising-supported broadcast services are expected to propel additional growth over the next few years. "Broadcast will be the preferred method of access to mobile video for most people," says principal analyst Ken Hyers. "Unicast will remain part

Best Buy In-Store Experience Development

Business 2.0 reports that Best Buy may seem to be in an enviable position. The Minneapolis-based company's 800 stores account for 17 percent of the retail electronics business in the United States, and its share price rose 10-fold during the past decade. But keeping up that kind of growth is tough - especially when many younger, savvier customers are spurning the limited selection, bland decor, and sales tax of big-box retailers for cheaper, hipper online outlets. Now Best Buy is opening experimental stores focused on desirable niches. Soccer moms, for example, get 'Studio D' in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, with personal shoppers and classes in how to use a digital camera. The young gadget geeks at the top of Best Buy's must-have customer list get 'Escape,' in Chicago's swanky Lincoln Park neighborhood. Designed to look like a nightclub, Escape offers brand-new products that other Best Buys don't carry, as well as a snack bar and videogame-testin

U.S. Market Broadband Growth is a Deja Vu

We're now seeing the proof -- once U.S. broadband access pricing declined to be in line with leading European and Asian countries, greater adoption by mainstream consumers followed. However, as new consumer six- and twelve-month promotional pricing expires it will be interesting to see the effect on account churn. Savvy consumers will call their provider at the end of the promotional period and ask for the "retention" department and have their discounted rate extended -- for the same period, or sometimes even longer. Nielsen//NetRatings announced that nearly three-quarters of U.S. active Web users connected at home via broadband in May, growing 15 percentage points over a year ago, when just 57 percent of active Web users relied on broadband connections at home. Research also indicates that broadband users are more likely to make better use of the Internet's full capabilities. �Although we are not seeing the explosive month-over-month growth we once were, the market

U.S. Measured Media Spending Forecast

Online Media Daily reports that online's share of U.S. measured media spending is poised to grow to 12 percent in 2006 -- up from just 10 percent a year ago, projects Madison Avenue's leading source for ad tracking data. TNS Media Intelligence released a mid-year update of its annual advertising outlook, and revised spending estimates for most media downward, but nudged the Internet's ad outlook up considerably from earlier in the year. TNS, which officially tracks only online display advertising, said such ad spending now is expected to rise 13 percent for full-year 2006 -- up nearly four percentage points from its January forecast of 9.1 percent -- marking the greatest upward revision of any medium over the six-month period. Steven Fredericks, president-CEO of TNS MI, said the company's initial estimates were far too conservative for online ad spending, and that much of the revision comes from an acceleration in the migration of traditional media ad budgets online.

The Modern Movie Experience Study

According to the Hollywood Reporter, cinephiles that still enjoy watching the latest release in a dark movie theater amid the crunching of popcorn and the rustling of candy wrappers also are more likely to view their favorite flick at home on DVD or via video-on-demand, evidence that collapsing release windows could damage the entertainment industry. That was one of the main findings from a study titled "The Modern Movie Experience," conducted by Nielsen Analytics and the Movie Advisory Board, that examined how changing consumer attitudes and digital technologies are affecting boxoffice returns. It is the first of a series of reports spotlighting the most avid of media users of media platforms and the influence of their behavior on the entertainment industry.

The Socially Engineered Mobile Device

TelecomTV reports that it is no longer enough for manufacturers to produce mobile devices that they 'think' users want, based on the expensive innovative technology that they have developed. The lifestyle of the user must also be considered � as the phone has become an essential part of all of our lives. You can view the online video of the 26-minute panel discussion here , and I recommend it highly to anyone involved in managing the design of consumer electronics devices. That said, on a positive note, I believe that it's a good thing that we're finally having these kind of discussions about the complex mobile phone consumer experience -- because it demonstrates that we've collectively moved beyond the denial, and now we finally recognize that we have a problem that must be addressed. However, I also believe that we still have much work to do, since it's very apparent (i.e. based upon the comments from these panelists) that few people in the telecom space r

Evolution of Mobile TV Broadcasting Models

By the end of 2010, mobile TV broadcast subscribers worldwide will reach 102 million, a giant leap from 3.4 million in 2006, reports In-Stat. Recognizing that using cellular networks to deliver content that millions want to watch simultaneously requires much greater bandwidth than is currently available, carriers are turning to mobile TV broadcast networks, which have a much lower cost per bit for video delivery, the high-tech market research firm says. "The greatest challenge for mobile TV broadcast operators is to acquire the spectrum necessary to offer services," says Michelle Abraham, In-Stat analyst. "Spectrum availability may determine which of four standards is chosen, and also impacts the business case for the deployment of a network." The In-Stat market study found the following: - There are positives and negatives to each standard, but each has a vendor eco-system behind it to enable deployment today. - 2005 was the year of the first deployments, with

Ultimately, Consumers Want Gadget Simplicity

According to Human Factors International, ironies emerge when we try to explain customers' attraction to products with unlimited features. A recent series of experiments (Rust, Thomson, and Hamilton, 2006), explore how added features, ability to personalize, and ultimately hands-on experience affected consumers' satisfaction with a product. In the first experiment, consumers were asked to rate perceived capability, usability and utility across digital audio/video consumer electronics (CE) products with varied feature sets. Then participants were asked to select the product that they would want to own. Consumer-participants stated that adding features to a product increased perceived capability. They also predicted that adding features would decrease the perceived usability. Then they overwhelmingly indicated that they wanted to own the product with the most features. It is especially interesting to note that this holds even for novices, who anticipate a larger usability chall

MySpace to Launch International Websites

Reuters reports that News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Group said it plans to expand its online music and teen social networking site, MySpace.com, to 11 countries and seek programming deals with traditional media companies. MySpace, one of the fastest-growing Web properties, which News Corp. bought for $580 million last year, plans to offer MySpace in France and Germany and also is looking into China and India over the long term, the company said. News Corp did not identify the other countries. The company launched its first web site outside the United States in Britain in April. MySpace said it has appointed David Fischer to be its managing director for the United Kingdom and Europe. Before joining MySpace Fischer was the founder and the chief executive of Xlantic Group, an entertainment company that developed new business models in music marketing and production.

Pakistan Becomes a WiMAX Market Leader

According to Government Technology, Pakistan has leapt ahead of the United States and Europe in launching WiMax, a wireless technology targeted at both cell-phone and Wi-Fi users. Motorola announced it would be providing Pakistan's Wateen Telecom with the new technology, as 1 million subscribers are expected at the initial stage of deployment, with many more to follow when the technology gets rolled out across the country. Motorola is also planning to invest $100 million to team up with the Indian government to build a factory in Chennai to manufacture WiMax products. The events in Pakistan now come as vindication for the supporters of WiMax, who feel that the technology's time has come, not least in the mobile version. In reports from CNET, industry analysts noted that the big players -- including Motorola and Siemens -- had focused on mobile WiMax in a way that they hadn't for the fixed version. The technology looks to provide a double-whammy for Pakistani consumers, si

Many Factors Create Slow Path to IMS Growth

Still in the early stages of development, IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) will take at least another year to get going, but has enormous potential, reports In-Stat. In the most optimistic of three forecast scenarios, wireless carrier revenues from IMS applications in the U.S. market could be as high as $14 billion by 2011. IMS will allow users to seamlessly communicate across multiple networks � wireless, WiFi, broadband, cable � using several different end-user interface devices. The report and forecasts focus specifically on cellular carriers and applications that are most appropriate for the customers of wireless networks. "IMS was originally developed for 3G carriers," says David Chamberlain, In-Stat analyst. "This report quantifies the possible effects of IMS deployment by cellular companies." Each of the three five-year forecast scenarios in the report includes detailed methodology and assumptions to use as milestones to chart the progress of IMS deployments i

South Korea to Showcase WiBro Progress

With industry eyes on Korea�s historic launch of WiBro service, the country�s progress on the nationwide mobile broadband deployment will be the focus of a June 29 panel at WCA 2006. The wireless broadband industry�s convention organized by the Wireless Communications Association (WCA) International will convene from June 27-30. �What works for Korea works for the world,� commented Republic of Korea Ambassador to the U.S. Tae-sik Lee, speaking of the WCA 2006 session. �Come and learn about WiBro, the recently introduced mobile Internet.� The panel is entitled, �Korea Launches WiBro: The Here-and-Now Global Model for Mobile WiMAX.� Leading experts from Korea will discuss the historic launch of WiBro service, a variant of emerging WiMAX mobility technology. It complements Korea�s CDMA EV-DO networks, numerous Wi-Fi hotspots and extensive wired networks set to help build a comprehensive broadband infrastructure. KT Corp. Vice President for Service Development Department in the Mobi