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Showing posts from July, 2006

Wireless USB and UWB Bluetooth to Coexist

Certified Wireless USB and UWB Bluetooth offer differing opportunities for vendors aiming at mass markets for devices using short-range connectivity. Will they have to choose one or the other? A recent ABI Research study has concluded that there will be room for both. "The application protocols that will run over WiMedia solutions are one of the most interesting and hotly contested areas in the short range connectivity market place today," says principal analyst Stuart Carlaw. "Startups in this market are moving to all-CMOS implementations in order to drive down the cost of devices and stimulate volume growth. Unfortunately the result is that they need to realize volume shipments within a small window of time, since the margins per chip are extremely low. In essence, UWB vendors need to secure a vehicle to mass market and both Bluetooth and USB hold the key to that door in the form of cellular handsets and the PC peripheral markets, respectively." So is it really a

Movie Execs Get Wake-up from Indie Pioneer

Informitv reports that Todd Wagner, an unassuming billionaire trustee of the American Film Institute, delivered the keynote at the AFI Digital Content Festival with a wake-up call to the movie industry. Ten years ago, together with Mark Cuban, he started broadcasting over the internet. In 1998 they took their company '' public and saw their stock value rise 250 percent on the first day of trading -- the largest one day gain in the history of Wall Street. It was then sold in 1999 to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion, making 300 employees millionaires and Dan Wagner and Mark Cuban instant billionaires. The ambition then was to create a 21st century media company, a next-generation cable network. Even then they spoke of not fifty or five hundred channels, but an unlimited number. They described the 'analogue approach' to distribution as focusing on the tip of the iceberg of which they had just scratched the surface. However, Yahoo! failed to capitalise on their investme

Smartphones Gaining Acceptance by Users

According to a consumer survey, more users of SmartPhones reported that these devices are essential to their business than the users of PDAs or laptops, reports In-Stat. But this does not mean that there will be automatic acceptance of SmartPhones and widespread replacement of PDAs and laptops. "Wireless manufacturers have more work to do before converged phones start taking market share from other devices instead of just complementing their sales," says Bill Hughes, In-Stat analyst. "Users want a number of feature improvements including better keyboards, automatic synching with other devices, applications that have the same look and feel as on other devices, and expandable screens." In-Stat's study found the following: - SmartPhones represent about 10 percent of the wireless phone market today. This will grow to 25 percent of the overall global market over the next five years. - In many cases, users carry devices that have redundant applications. This behavior

How to Accelerate Your IPTV Deployments

Most broadband service providers see regulatory consideration and franchise approval processes as one of the major roadblocks to successful deployment of their strategic IPTV services. Government entities, both local and national, say that they support the intent of pay-TV competition within their domain. However, sometimes their policies can be an unwelcome obstruction to progress. The primary reason; they often apply the legacy terms and conditions of the incumbent cable TV model as a benchmark for approving new service provider applications. This approach essentially uses obsolete policies that really no longer apply to managing and regulating today�s changing competitive communications and entertainment marketplace. Why do they take this course of action? Because they see no �compelling� reason to change. I know first hand, because in 1999 I was a member of the Choice TV & OnLine product launch team at US West Communications Inc. (now Qwest) in Phoenix, Arizona. This project wa

Being Cause-Centric is More than Branding

USA Today reports that three years ago, Sony launched the Qualia line of luxury gadgets that included a tiny $3,300 digital camera and a $13,000 audio console that automatically centered a compact disc regardless of how carelessly it was tossed into the player. Problem was, Sony engineers seemed more enamored with the extravagantly priced technology than consumers were, and the products meant to highlight Sony's fine-tuned prowess received little interest beyond the initial gee-whiz factor. The gadgets were a sign of a growing gap between Sony creations and consumer sensibilities at the company that brought the world the Walkman portable music player. The company, which turned 60 this year, appeared to be losing touch with its customers. "Sony used to be a company that had superior technology and cool design and created products that other companies didn't have," said Akihiko Jojima, author of "Sony's Sickness." "Sony has become merely a brand for b

Why Most CEOs Don't, and Never Will, Blog

The New York Times reports that cheif executives are inclined to avoid activities generally deemed to be high-risk: Sky diving. Cliff jumping. Motorcycle racing. And, of course, blogging. Two years ago, when Jonathan Schwartz, then the president and chief operating officer at Sun Microsystems, inaugurated a blog that made him the most senior executive at his company to venture onto such a publicly visible platform, he embraced the risks. �Hey, life is short,� he wrote on the first day, as if he were about to leap from a plane. The title of that first post was �Head First.� Mr. Schwartz not only survived the plunge, he turned out to be a natural. In a voice that is refreshing in its unprocessed directness, he discusses big-picture trends in the computer industry, promotes Sun�s wares and tweaks competitors, and reports on the odd epiphany experienced while on the road or engaged in intellectual combat with industry friends and adversaries. The regularity of his posts, which blend seriou

DVD Revenue Downturn Troubles Hollywood

The plateauing of the home video market is making a measurable dent in major studio finances. In 2005, the nearly $5.8 billion in cash flow from domestic home video studio rentals and $4.8 billion in domestic theatrical rentals covered 84 percent of studio film production and domestic marketing costs, according to Kagan Research. That's a cost coverage ratio (CCR) of 0.84 � and it's falling. Cash flow is simple profit realized by subtracting direct expenses from the $10+ billion in distributor-level revenue generated by domestic home video VHS tapes and DVDs. Still, the domestic video revenue figure (also referred to as rentals) is more than twice as much as the revenues the majors generate from cinema-release rentals. Domestic home video revenue at the consumer spend level fell 1 percent in 2005, ending a spectacular run since the 1997 U.S. introduction of the DVD. That's a key reason the film industry's torrid growth rate is decelerating, although it remains above ave

Alternative Advertising and Marketing Outlook

According to PQ Media, spending on alternative media strategies surged 16.4 percent in the first half of 2006 to an estimated $53.37 billion compared with the same period of 2005. PQ estimates that spending on alternative media will accelerate in the second half of 2006, to a full year forecast of growth at 18.5 percent to $115.77 billion. Alternative marketing is expected to increase 17.6 percent for the year, fueled mainly by mobile and interactive marketing, according to PQ. All four broad segments of Alternative Media - entertainment and out-of-home advertising, online advertising, branded entertainment marketing, and mobile and interactive marketing - posted double-digit growth for the year. Branded entertainment, including product placement, event marketing, event sponsorships, webisodes and advergaming, is the largest segment of alternative media, and is expected to grow 15.5 percent to $51.62 billion in 2006. The value of product placements will reach $5.71 billion at year'

Why FTTH Makes More Sense Than xDSL

More than just showing the very best of today�s HD content and technology, the IBC2006 show will be offering a glimpse of the future. Super-duper eye-poping TV resolution; OK those are my words, not theirs. 'Ultra High Definition' has been developed by Japanese broadcaster NHK in conjunction with the Victor Company of Japan (JVC), Keisoku Giken, Astrodesign, Ikegame Tsuchinki, Fujinon and Micron Technology. It offers simply astounding resolution -- 7680 x 4320 pixels at 60 progressive frames a second, plus 22.2 channel audio which offers genuinely 3D immersive sound. No matter how much the semiconductor manufacturers tweak their DSL chip sets, it now appears that this latest development means that we've probably reached the limit of what we can compress through a pair of twisted copper wires. A special theatre will be built in the show's Park Foyer with a 300 inch screen, showing a nature documentary, sports, the arts and entertainment. They also hope to have a live dig

Apple iPod & iTunes, Part of a Bigger Strategy

According to ABI Research, the Apple iTunes service has the potential to outstrip its formidable iPod business and may allow it to enter the home audio and video markets ahead of its competitors. Apple released its latest earnings statements last week, and surprised the markets with the continuing depth of its iPod penetration, which exceeded most analysts' expectations. Sales of iPod accessories, both from Apple and from third parties such as Bose and JVC, are booming as well, including high-quality home "docking station" systems. Research director Vamsi Sistla says, "The battle for portable devices has already been won by iPod (unless Microsoft's strategy for its Zune platform succeeds) but in the home and mobile markets, the prize is still up for grabs. iTunes could be a �Trojan Horse' through which Apple can enter the home market sooner than the competition." The key to this opportunity is consumers' growing interest in digital media connectivity

How PCCW Became the IPTV Benchmark

Following several months of investigative research, and diligently reading numerous IPTV-related market studies, I wrote several columns for the summer issue of Broadband 2.0 magazine. Not all columns are posted online, therefore the print version is the most complete. In the Global Watch section of the publication, I wrote a sidebar detailing the ascent of the world's undisputed IPTV service deployment leader, PCCW. Anyway, here it is, for your consideration. When Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW), the parent company of Hong Kong Telecom (HKT), entered the pay-TV market in September 2003, the provider faced competition from broadband service rivals such as Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) and Hutchinson Global Communications (HGC), as well as iCable, the incumbent pay-TV provider. To clearly differentiate its offering, PCCW introduced its IPTV service, branded "now TV", with a flexible pricing structure. Customers pay only for the channels they choose, a model often r

IPTV Innovation and Next Generation Thinking

Business Week magazine has a commentary by Mark Gimein entitled " The Phone Companies Still Don't Get It " that describes his impressions, as the result of being invited by AT&T to observe a demonstration of their U-verse IPTV service in San Antonio, Texas. The theme is unfortunately a recurring one, as telecom service providers around the world attempt to transform their legacy business model, and thereby launch new entertainment services, they're building next generation networks -- but they're applying previous generation organizational thinking. I've already contributed my own perspective to this evolving storyline, and the analysis always seems to bring us back to the same place -- the incumbent telcos seem to be fighting the enemy within; their internal legacy 'command and control' business culture. The challenge ahead is daunting because the traditional compliance doctrine of the 'telco collective' inhibits creativity and strategic

UK Low Price TV, Broadband, Phone Bundles

TelecomTV reports that in the UK, Freeview, a system that allows viewers to watch free-to-air digital television channels forever at the one-time cost of about �50 for a set-top box, is increasingly popular. So much so that cable and satellite Pay-TV operators who earlier derided the system as a 'cheap substitute' for the real thing now acknowledge that Freeview is a genuine competitive threat and is causing more and more customers to churn away from the likes of BSkyB and NTL/Virgin. Thus, NTL, the UK�s biggest cable operator has announced that it is also to offer 36 digital TV channels and 34 radio stations for �free�. However, unlike BSkyB, Carphone Warehouse and Orange, it is rejecting the notion of �free� broadband and will provide the telly connection gratis to those that sign-up for a �16.50 a month phone service package. The company also announced its �quad play� offer of �Four for �40�. For this sum NTL customers will get TV, broadband, a fixed-line home phone service

New Devices to Apply Wi-Fi Home Networks

The increasing use of broadband wireless home networks will lead to the adoption of a multitude of new wireless home devices over the next 5 years, according to the latest research from the Strategy Analytics. This report predicts that consumers worldwide will buy nearly 950 million wireless home devices, such as games consoles, wireless MP3 players and connected TVs, over the next five years. "Leading edge broadband users are keen to make the most of their service by connecting multiple devices to their home network," notes Peter King, Connected Home Devices Service Director. "Wireless is used on the PC first, but we fully expect many other digital devices to follow the same path to wireless connectivity." "Strategy Analytics' vision of the digital home is one where a variety of digital devices use wireless home networking technologies to seamlessly interact with each other and with the available broadband and digital services," says David Mercer, VP,

Global VoIP Service Revenue Has Doubled

VoIP service revenue roughly doubled in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific from 2004 to 2005, and is expected to continue booming at least over the next 5 years, according to Infonetics Research. A combined $120 billion will be spent on VoIP services between 2005 and 2009 in the 3 regions. "Businesses around the world are migrating to IP for increased functionality, greater flexibility, improved productivity, and the potential of growing revenue through better customer service," said St�phane T�ral, principal analyst at Infonetics Research. "VoIP services continue to pick up fast in North America and in many parts of Europe, particularly in central and Eastern Europe, where small businesses have a strong appetite for business trunking, IP Centrex, and VoIP VPN services," T�ral continued. "In Asia Pacific, VoIP service revenue about doubled that of North America and Europe in 2004, and continues at a blazing pace. China will likely emerge as a major VoIP bu

Cable TV Operators Utilizing FTTH Strategy

Inspired by the rate at which telecom operators in many global markets are deploying fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks, an increasing number of cable operators are doing the same, according to a recent study from ABI Research. Selected operators in specific markets are starting to build fiber extensions to their core networks, allowing them to offer more interactive services and get around the limits of coaxial networks. "On-demand environments for cable TV networks are not particularly robust compared to what the telecom operators could roll out," says Michael Arden, principal broadband analyst at ABI Research. "Looking to the future, some cable companies see fiber as a means to offer advanced video services that they are hard-pressed to provide today." Cable operators in the U.S. and parts of Canada, Western Europe, Japan and a few other regions have core networks that are fiber-rich already. Extending the fiber network to the home is a logical progression, adds A

Global Mobile Data Service Revenue Growth

Global revenues from mobile data services surpassed $100 billion for the first time last year according to Informa Telecoms & Media. The figure of $102.1 billion is equal to $52.9 per every mobile subscription throughout the year or $4.4 per month. Strong data revenue growth has continued into 2006, with the 1Q figure of $28.4 billion up 17 percent year-on-year. "The industry is comfortably on track to exceed last year's record total," commented Kester Mann, Senior Research Analyst with Informa. "Data revenues continue to be driven by the ongoing deployment of advanced technologies, improvements in handsets and global subscription growth." Putting the 2005 figure into perspective, it is on a par with the combined fees paid so far by European operators for 3G licences ($102.3 billion according to Informa Telecom & Media's World Cellular Information Service). NTT DoCoMo continues to generate the highest non-voice revenues, based on data for 114 operato

TV Networks Unknown to Young Generation

When Bolt Media recently conducted an unscientific poll of its users, it found some statistics that might trouble television network executives engaged in building on the power of their brand. Bolt, whose members form communities based on creating and sharing their own content, reported that a third of those ages 16-34 could not name a single one of the major U.S. television networks. About 25 percent of them could name NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox. The poll by its very definition skews toward active Internet users, so it is no surprise that 85 percent of respondents listed going online as a favorite leisure activity, with 69 percent citing television viewing and slightly more (71 percent) naming movie watching. "Viewers are shifting away from TV faster than the advertisers, but we certainly expect that trend to change as companies like Bolt, MySpace and YouTube become the place to create, collect and consume content," Bolt Media CEO Aaron Cohen said. "People who grew up in the

Global Market Smart Mobile Device Growth

The latest research from Canalys highlights the continuing shift from handhelds to converged devices. Overall year-on-year market growth of all smart mobile devices was largely unchanged from the previous two quarters at 55 percent, but converged device shipments (smart phones and wireless handhelds) rose 73 percent, while handhelds continued to slide, down 33 percent compared to the same period one year ago. Sharp posted the highest growth among the top five vendors, with shipments of more than a million Symbian FOMA smart phones in Japan during the quarter. �Symbian has performed well in what many find a difficult market to crack,� said Canalys analyst Nick Spencer, �Q2 saw it break the 10 million cumulative shipment barrier there, thanks to significant volumes from not only Sharp, but also vendors such as Fujitsu, Mitsubishi and Sony Ericsson.� Another vendor reaching a significant milestone in Q2 was second-placed, and second-fastest growing, Motorola, its position achieved primari

CE Manufacturers Using Retail Bypass Model

Distribution channel bypass, already a key strategy of digital media producers, has now picked up momentum with digital device makers. The major manufacturers of consumer electronics (CE) equipment are embarking on a strategy that will disrupt traditional CE retail networks, and may expose them to new risks, according to ABI Research. Companies such as Sony, Dell, Bang & Olufsen, Philips, and Pioneer are establishing chains of own-brand retail stores and kiosks. Apple went down this road years ago: today it has about 125 Apple stores worldwide, which account for about 20 percent of the company's revenue. Dell has over 160 kiosks in malls. Sony is partnering with Zoom Systems to deploy vendor kiosks, targeting virtually all the leading malls in the U.S. "OEM storefronts and kiosks represent a major change that will disrupt the current retail ecosystem," says research director Vamsi Sistla. "Bypassing their existing distributors and retailers could prove successful

VoIP Apps Targeting Home-Based Business

Home office households have historically been early adopters of advanced technology, and this pattern continues with VoIP communications. The number of U.S. households with income-generating or corporate home offices are more than twice as likely to implement VoIP in the next 12 months compared with households in general, a new IDC study reveals. Currently, 39.1 percent of corporate home offices and 23.7 percent of home-based businesses are interested in or using VoIP. In contrast, only 10.8 percent of households without home offices are VoIP aware. "Home offices will adopt VoIP communications at a faster rate than U.S. households overall," said Chris Hazelton, senior analyst, SMB research at IDC. "Although cost savings are important, features such as convergence with mobile phones will be increasingly important to home offices in the long run." Among other key findings of the study: - Although VoIP has moved beyond the very earliest adoption stage, many home office

Search + Personalization + Recommendation

A new market research study rightfully places emphasis on the significance of connecting consumer services with known 'interests and lifestyles'. The study was focused on mobile phone service providers, but I'd argue that these key observations are relevant to all marketers who have not yet discovered the consumer targeting benefits of 'scenario design', and 'consumer persona' profiling. Personalized search will enable mobile service operators and content providers to most effectively generate value and monetize the long tail of hit-and-miss content, according to the latest report from Informa Telecoms & Media. "While search is clearly critical to monetizing content, operators and content providers shouldn't short change themselves - or their users - by merely retrofitting Web search solutions for the mobile Internet," notes Peggy Anne Salz, author of the report. "Search paired with personalization, which involves matching the right co

Rapid Growth of Pre-Roll Advertising Streams

The number of video streams preceded by advertisements (pre-rolls) has grown an average of 105 percent annually over the past five years, compared with 72 percent annual average growth for free or ad-supported content streams, according to a report from AccuStream Research. The analysis includes videos from major media entities, but does not take into account community-generated video content. During the first four months of 2006, major media brands streamed an average of 1.2 billion videos each month, with 94 percent of these containing pre-roll ads. Yahoo led the market with 24 percent of pre-roll ad streams, followed by Time Warner (13.7 percent), Microsoft (11.4 percent) and Viacom (8.5 percent). "The high double-digit growth rates seen in pre-roll ad units reflects just how much broadband publishing has caught the attention of rights holders," said AccuStream research director Paul A. Palumbo. "Five years after broadband streams surpassed narrowband, 2006 is quite n

Puzzled by Digital Content Distribution Deals

Why won't the U.S. Cable MSOs offer 'a la carte' channel selections? Moreover, why aren't the U.S. telcos negotiating 'a la carte' content deals with the major movie studios and television networks? Enquiring minds want to know the answer to these puzzling questions. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group became the latest division of a major Hollywood studio to offer television shows, including the hit sitcom "Friends," for sale on Apple Computer Inc's iTunes Web site. Warner Bros put up a total of 113 episodes of "Friends," sci-fi series "Babylon 5," the animated classics "The Jetsons" and "The Flintstones," as well as skits from "MADtv" and an unaired pilot called "Aquaman" by the writers of "Smallville." Downloads cost $1.99 per episode, and can be viewed on a computer or video iPod. Warner Bros, owned by Time Warner Inc, said the move to iTunes

Newspaper & Yellow Page Pubs Must Adapt

Search engines have changed consumer expectations for shopping and finding local businesses. Newspaper publishers have been forced to adapt their traditional media offerings for readers and advertisers. This reality, and its implications for traditional and online media, is examined in a new report by The Kelsey Group entitled, �Newspapers 2.0, Part 3: Changing Directions in Newspaper Advertising.� This third and final installment of The Kelsey Group�s White Paper series about the future of newspapers highlights the opportunities and imperatives for online convergence with other locally serving media, such as Yellow Pages. Among the report�s key findings: - Search engines have trained users to adopt a holistic perspective that involves an expectation for comprehensive data that blurs traditional boundaries between categories of local media advertising. - New technology providers will attempt to reach a larger segment of local advertisers that don�t traditionally buy space in newspapers

Challenge to Gain Consumer Support of DRM

I believe that most DRM solutions tend to get in the way of the consumer enjoyment of digital content, especially as the desire to shift content freely between a plethora of player devices becomes the norm. Regardless, some analysts still believe that DRM will survive in the marketplace. In the long run, digital rights management and conditional access for digital content distribution will enlarge and enable the market for digital content, not suppress it, according to ABI Research. "Consider the automotive metaphor," advises research director Vamsi Sistla. "At present, consumers of digital media are where the first motorists were at the beginning of the twentieth century, as the first generation of cars hit the streets. There were no driver's licenses, license plates, traffic signals, stop signs, one-way roads, or speeding tickets. As these 'restrictions' were progressively introduced, motorists objected strenuously to each new limitation on their 'freed

Study Predicts Mobile Media Uptake in U.S.

IDC expects about 24 million U.S. cellular subscribers and customers will be paying for some form of TV/video content and services on their mobile devices by 2010, up from about 7 million this year. This growth presents new revenue opportunities for carriers, handset developers, and content providers. IDC expects mobile commercial video and television content and services to emerge as a key component of U.S. carrier data services if delivered and priced appropriately. "Although our research found penetration of these services isn't likely to exceed 10 percent of all subscribers by 2010, video/TV services are poised to become a significant contributor to carrier data ARPU while emerging as a hotbed for community-oriented interaction and interesting advertising experiments," says Lewis Ward, research manager in IDC's Wireless and Mobile Communications program. "Broadband adoption of video/TV services is emerging as the cornerstone of growth in this market." Ov

UPnP Forum Releases Enhanced AV Specs

The UPnP Forum announced the release of version 2 of the UPnP Audio Video specifications (UPnP AV v2), which enable the next progression of the multimedia oriented home network. The UPnP AV specifications use the UPnP Device Architecture specifications � the core interoperability technology for all UPnP enabled devices � allowing different companies to build home network products that automatically locate and identify each other without any end-user configuration. The new UPnP AV v2 specifications help extend the home owner�s entertainment experiences by letting them identify and record programs and other digital content for later viewing. These new specifications also simplify playback of premium digital content without interfering with the underlying DRM (digital rights management) technology used to protect the premium content. The UPnP AV v2 specifications are fully backward compatible with the UPnP AV v1 specifications. These new entertainment experiences are created by adding cap

ATIS Prepares OSS/BSS Standards for IPTV

The ATIS Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council has developed requirements that address the specific impacts to operations and business support systems(OSS/BSS) as service providers introduce IPTV services. The IPTV requirements released by the Council have three main components: the need for an OSS/BSS high level architecture standard; a standard for the ordering framework and Application Program Interfaces (APIs) necessary to support end-user orders for IPTV; and a directive to study the various aspects of Content Partner Management transactional activities and their interactions with OSS/BSS. The requirements have been distributed to the ATIS Telecom Management and Operations Committee (TMOC), Ordering and Billing Forum (OBF), and IPTV Interoperability Forum (IIF), with standards and supporting technical deliverables targeted for completion in early 2007. �The ATIS CIO Council identified OSS and BSS issues for new IPTV services as one of the key challenges facing the IT departments

Asia-Pacific Region WiMAX Solution Forecast

The WiMAX industry is accelerating in the Asia Pacific region, but technology and business uncertainties remain, reports In-Stat. The total APAC market, including WiMAX CPEs, WiMAX Base stations and WiMAX commercial services, but excluding the non-radio-access part of total WiMAX solutions, is valued at $106.4 million in 2006, and that figure will grow to $4.3 billion in 2011. "No APAC service provider can ignore WiMAX," says Victor Liu, In-Stat analyst. "Providers need either to evaluate the possibility of adding WiMAX to their existing services portfolio, or to assess the competitive pressure from other WiMAX service providers." In-Stat study found the following: - Equipment vendors, including chip set makers, CPE makers and system solution providers, have to act very quickly to adopt the latest technical specifications and optimize their equipment performance in real environments. - Trial network deployments are in progress in at least 13 APAC countries. - Many s

Legacy Hollywood Resists the Digital Camera

The New York Times reports that on movie sets a handful of companies are angling to have their 'digital movie cameras' used to capture the action, supplanting the traditional 35-millimeter film camera. Many of this summer�s most prominent releases have relied on digital movie cameras, including �Superman Returns� from Warner Brothers, �Click� from Sony Pictures and �Miami Vice,� a Universal Pictures offering. But while the changeover to digital filmmaking has long been predicted, these companies are encountering an unusual degree of resistance from producers, directors and cinematographers. A majority of feature films are still shot with film cameras and some well-known directors, including Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan, have been vocal about their intention to continue shooting on film. Unlike the market for consumer digital photography, the market for professional digital movie cameras is relatively small: the major American studios released only 194 films in 2005,

BSkyB Launched Sky Broadband in the UK

Informitv reports that BSkyB has launched its new broadband internet access service, Sky Broadband, which will be free to Sky subscribers. The UK satellite broadcaster aims to build a broadband customer base, targeting revenues from online advertising, search, content and increasing penetration of additional products. Sky will offer its customers �free� basic broadband at up to 2Mbps, with premium services available at up to 8Mbps or 16Mbps at �5 and �10 per month respectively. The 16Mbps �Max� product is unlimited, subject to a fair usage policy, but the basic service has a 2GB transfer cap. There will be a connection fee of �40 for the basic service and Sky will offer professional home installation for �50, with a free wireless router supplied by Netgear. There is no connection or installation fee for the 16Mbps Max product. James Murdoch, the chief executive of the BSkyB, described it as a transformational new initiative for Sky that would deliver compelling value to customers. He s

Old Media Shudder at Knight Ridder's Demise

Associated Press writer Michael Liedtke reports that it should have been an idyllic setting when a clique of media and technology tycoons convened for an annual retreat amid the summer splendor of Idaho's mountains. But the facade of tranquility did little to conceal the friction bristling beneath the surface of the five-day summit. The host, investment banker Herb Allen, had compiled a guest list that consists mostly of executives trying to protect their own turf while they invade new markets to reach increasingly fragmented and fickle audiences. This high-stakes battle pits long-entrenched media like newspapers, broadcasters, movie studios and recording labels against high-tech trailblazers using the Internet to redirect the flow of information, entertainment and, ultimately, money. Even losing early rounds in the fight can be fatal, as the recent demise of Knight Ridder Inc. demonstrated. The nation's second-largest newspaper publisher was sold to McClatchy Co. after the com

IPTV: the Missed Opportunity to Re-Invent TV

I firmly believe that content tagging and video sharing features are key ingredients to transforming the legacy TV viewing experience. Better content meta-data will help improve the programming search and discover process, and the addition of personal viewer recommendations will create new consumer value. As more and more eclectic indie-produced content makes its way to the Internet for distribution, consumers will need a more effective way to find content that fits their individual interests and lifestyle. A proven method to enable new content to find its intended audience, and thereby gain loyal viewers, is the harmonization process of applying 'consumer persona' mapping. Picture-in-picture and camera-angle selection features (considered leading-edge for IPTV) clearly don't address the fundamental consumer experience shortcomings of the TV 1.0 model. Ironically, this is the key area of greatest market opportunity, and will lead to significant service differentiation. As I

Microsoft Confirms MP3 Player & New Service

According to the NYTimes, the Microsoft Corporation confirmed that it was developing a portable music player to compete with the iPod from Apple Computer for a share of the $4 billion market for portable entertainment devices. The first products are to go on sale this year and are being developed under the code name Zune, the general manager, Chris Stephenson, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Part of the project is a service that will compete with Apple�s iTunes. Microsoft is abandoning a strategy of relying on partners to produce devices with its Windows software to compete with iPod. They so far have failed to dent Apple�s 77 percent share of the market in the United States for digital music players, according to the market researcher NPD Group Inc. Even with its own product, Microsoft has an uphill climb. �It will take an awful lot for Microsoft to dislodge an entrenched competitor like Apple,� an analyst with Jupiter Research, Michael Gartenberg, said. �Given Apple�s histor

YouTube and Viral Video Gains Momentum

Nielsen//NetRatings reported that weekly U.S. Web traffic to video sharing site YouTube grew 75 percent in the week ending July 16th, from 7.3 million to 12.8 million unique visitors. Visitors to the site can choose among the most recent, most viewed and most discussed videos, among other categories. YouTube's audience has grown significantly over the past several months. Among the top 25 Web brands ranked by unique audience, YouTube was the fastest growing from January to June 2006, increasing 297 percent, from a monthly unique audience of 4.9 million to 19.6 million. The number of Web pages viewed has grown even faster, increasing 515 percent, from 11.8 million in January to 72.4 million in June. The average time spent at the site has increased 64 percent during the same period, from just over 17 minutes to nearly 28 minutes. Key Demographics: Men are 20 percent more likely to visit YouTube than women, with unique audience composition indexes of 113 and 88, respectively. Visitors

South Korean Key Regulatory Policy Update

According to Pyramid Research, the IT 389 Strategy enshrines the South Korean government's objective of creating an IT-based society, a plan that includes an outline of technologies to be developed in order to meet the goal. The country�s telecoms regulator, the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC), focuses heavily on policies to advance the IT389 strategy. As technologies develop, the regulator has begun to face a conundrum as the media and telecommunications spaces merge: broadcasting regulation is separate from telecommunications regulations and is regulated by the Korean Broadcasting Commission (KBC). However, the regulator has recognized that carriers� BcN is beginning to accelerate the convergence of the traditional telecom network and broadcasting spaces, and in answer to this trend has begun to study reforms to resolve issues that result from this trend. In March 2006, a year after heavily fining mobile operators for illegal handset subsidies, the regulator has l

Cable MSOs Invest in Digital Set-Top Boxes

Cable system operators are reaping benefits from their past investments in infrastructure upgrades, but they haven't yet finished paying the full bill. Kagan Research finds capital expenditures by the six largest publicly-reporting U.S. cable operators rose in double digits in Q1 2006 � a 14 percent increase. That CapEx is divided into six component categories, of which the most closely-watched is consumer premises equipment (CPE), the largest category, encompassing set-top boxes, cable modems and multimedia terminal adaptors (MTAs) that enable IP voice services. Total CPE spending rose 19 percent for the six cable system operators in the January to March period, compared to the same quarter a year earlier, according to Kagan. The only consolation is that it represents a deceleration from a torrid 30 percent CPE increase a year ago, in Q1 2005. "It's still going up at a double-digit rate because cable companies are buying more digital set-top boxes," notes senior ana

Consumer Electronics Dealer Demand Grows

Installing dealers had total sales of $7.3 billion to residential customers in 2005, an 18 percent increase over 2004 $6.2 billion, according to Parks Associates. Consumer demand for multiroom audio, home theater, and associated control systems was largely responsible for the strong growth in the dealer channel. Audio systems were the single largest product category is 2005, generating more than $2.1 billion in residential sales, with Russound and Denon as the top brands for audio components and SpeakerCraft as the most popular brand of speakers. "Multiroom audio exceeded our estimates by nearly 9 percenty, and home theater sales beat expectations by about 8 percent," said Bill Ablondi, director of home systems research at Parks Associates. "There are several factors driving this demand. More affordable systems are broadening the market to include more midrange homes, more builders are aggressively marketing entertainment amenities, and, most importantly, more home buyer

Latest Global Mobile Phone Shipment Results

Global mobile phone shipments grew a healthy 26 percent year-over-year, to reach 235 million units in Q2 2006, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics. Nokia and Motorola dominated sales and accounted for a record 55 percent combined share during the quarter. Neil Mawston, Associate Director of the Wireless Device Strategies (WDS) service at Strategy Analytics said, "Motorola has recorded an average 52 percent annual growth over the last four quarters, while Nokia has averaged 32 percent. If Motorola can continue this breakneck pace - a stretch, but not totally inconceivable given the strength of their core designs - it would overtake Nokia in the first half of 2007. The stars would need to align for Motorola on additional new products, 3G, and component supply, but this should be a strong warning for Nokia which should feel pressure to more rapidly improve both entry- and mid-tier product offerings in terms of both designs and numbers." Chris Ambrosio, Direc

Television 2.0: Where is the Real Innovation?

The recently placed sign hung in front of AT&T's Cingular retail store at Sonterra Park in San Antonio, Texas proclaims "We�ve Just Re-Invented TV!" It's a bold statement, for sure, coming from a company that openly admits to industry analysts that it is still a novice player in the home entertainment delivery business. Visitors who enter the store can experience the 'AT&T U-verse' television service (that's based-upon new Microsoft IPTV technology), and the 'AT&T HomeZone' television service (based upon the Echostar Dish satellite technology). The demonstrations are side-by-side in the store, presumably to let consumers compare each service to their current pay-TV service offering. It's an interesting strategy, and I'm wondering if this scenario really helps to make a decision, or it actually baffles non-technical consumers. My point: from what I understand, the San Antonio pay-TV market is considered very saturated -- those w

Emergence of the CE Gadget Geekette Market

CNET reports that out of $107.2 billion spent on consumer-electronics technology in 2005, men accounted for 54 percent, or $57.9 billion worth, of those purchases, and women took care of 46 percent, or $49.3 billion, according to market research firm The NPD Group. That's an 18 percent increase in spending by females compared with the previous year, when women rang up $41.9 billion in gadget purchases. Men spent about the same amount in 2004 as they did in 2005. "It's increasingly not just about having a gadget, but having a functional product that enhances the life of the family," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group. "The idea that people go online to go shopping -- that makes the computer purchase something of a household decision. It's not just guys in charge of the gadgets." Whether the wallet is being wielded by a stay-at-home mom, a working woman or any of the other countless variations on the 21st century fema

Consumer-Ready Home Networking Forecast

The need for high-speed multimedia networking links in the home is driving growth for both MoCA and HomePlug silicon, according to ABI Research. Increased demand for both no-new-wires media networking technologies across both service provider and consumer-installable home networks will result in the combined value of MoCA and HomePlug IC shipments reaching $100 million in 2006 and growing to $464 million by 2011. "MoCA has seen some key design wins and rollouts in the IPTV space during 2006," observes Michael Wolf, principal analyst of digital home and multimedia for ABI Research. "Vendors such as Motorola, ActionTec, and 2Wire have all integrated MoCA silicon into selected set-top box and gateway products. HomePlug is gaining traction in the Asia IPTV space, and we are seeing a renewed interest in consumer-installable home networking gear at the retail level in North America." While ABI Research expects Wi-Fi to continue as the dominant home networking physical lay

Shifts from Mass to Micro Media Affect Culture

TelecomTV's Martyn Warwick offers an interesting commentary entitled "Culture Club?" where he asks some very provocative questions about what comes next -- now that open access to 'micro media' is forever changing the old world order of 'mass media.' "It happened first in the US, a nation founded on the thesis of individual libertarianism, spreading from there around the world to take in the likes of the UK, France, Spain, Sweden and eventually even Russia after the implosion of the Soviet Union. It�s rampant, and necessary now even in China as the PRC forges its way to industrial domination of the globe. And as for those nations, like North Korea, Burma, Saudi Arabia and others that maintain a hammerlock on what their populations can access and see, on a global level, who cares? They are irrelevant in terms of the mass market. However, almost limitless mass choice does throw up some questions about the future of cultures. Indeed, it seems to many tha

U.S. Regulators to Revisit Media Concentration

Kagan Research reports that as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to revisit the hot-button issue of broadcast media concentration, TV and radio operators are hoping regulatory relief could spur further consolidation and help both the efficiencies and stock valuations of the business. But current regulation has not dampened the pace of radio station sales, which are within historical ranges although significantly lower than for 1997, when they spiked after Congressional de-regulation ignited M&A activity. Between 6-7 percent of radio stations changed hands each year from 2002-2005, off only slightly from the merger & acquisition levels of the early 1990s. However, both those stretches are far below levels for the boom from 1995-2000 when a loosening of ownership caps triggered a huge wave of consolidation. Kagan notes that Clear Channel Communications mushroomed from 39 radio stations in Feburary 1996, when it was the third largest U.S. group radio broadcaster, to 1

Adverts that People Want, Not Merely Tolerate

MediaPost featured an insightful column by Dave Morgan entitled "Bringing 'Skip This Ad' To An End." The following excerpt captures the essence of his thinking on this topic. My question, can the typical legacy advertising agency really make this transition with their current leadership? As long as consumer ads are viewed from the perspective of exploitation, and 'creatives' are told to make an emotional connection that moves a consumer from awareness to action, no matter what, then 'some day' isn't going to happen soon. "I think that there is a good chance that 'Skip the Ad' buttons will disappear some day; and, most significantly, consumers won't even care. How is that possible? Simple. The advertising will get so much better and so much more useful that consumers won't want to skip it. This is the challenge that we as an industry should embrace. We should strive to produce and deliver ads that people want, not just ads that

Outlook for the Worldwide Wi-Fi Phone Market

The worldwide Wi-Fi phone market increased 116 percent between 2004 and 2005 to $125.5 million, and is projected to more than double in 2006 as enterprises and consumers slowly but steadily continue deploying voice over wireless LANs, says Infonetics Research in its latest report. Infonetics projects Wi-Fi phone revenue to more or less double, and even nearly triple, every year through 2009, when the worldwide market will reach $3.7 billion. Initially an enterprise application, VoWLAN will eventually become more popular with consumers as well, having enormous growth potential as part of a VoIP service bundled with broadband connections. "Single-mode Wi-Fi VoIP handsets continue to penetrate the enterprise market, and with D-Link, Linksys, and NETGEAR all launching products, we expect increasing adoption in the consumer market, too," said Richard Webb, directing wireless analyst with Infonetics Research. "But the real growth will come from dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular handset

It's a Wild West Mobile Content Marketplace

Robust, dedicated content delivery platforms are crucial to the success of mobile content sales, according to a new study from ABI Research. "The mobile content marketplace is currently something of a Wild West frontier, especially for off-portal sales," says principal analyst Ken Hyers. "As operators increasingly move to off-portal content sales (an established trend in Western Europe and becoming more important in North America), a robust delivery platform is critical not just to operators but to the content developers themselves." However content delivery platforms have not always been used, at least not in a comprehensive way. When many wireless operators first began offering monophonic ringtones to their customers, a fully integrated content delivery platform was not essential. Rather than use a dedicated platform, linked to billing and customer care systems, operators and the off-portal community of merchants would deliver content and handle billing through SM

AT&T Offers Abundance of Branded Pay-TV

Is it possible that well-intentioned branding strategy can become a potential business liability, not an asset? That's the question that comes to mind as AT&T launches yet another brand into the mix of their consumer service offerings. AT&T Inc. today launched the previously announced 'AT&T Homezone,' a new service that integrates AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet, AT&T | DISH Network satellite television and AT&T Home Networking services via a single device. The new AT&T Homezone service provides Internet-based video with satellite TV programming in a 'seamless' in-home experience, giving consumers a way to extend the best of the Internet beyond the desktop to bring entertainment content to their TV screens and stereos. It features digital video recording, movies on demand, photo- and music-sharing, storage for both, and enables anytime/anywhere remote Web-based access to the system. With this service, AT&T becomes the first major U.S.

Emergence of VoWLAN/Cellular Service Model

According to In-Stat, for the last 20 years, cellular has had full dominance over the realm of mobile voice communications, and cellular operators have enjoyed this monopoly. Sure, over time, the base technologies used by the cellular operators have changed and evolved. Analog systems were converted to digital to increase capacity and make it cheaper for the mobile operators. Cellular wireless data emerged and slowly data speeds have increased up to the low-end of what we call broadband. And features, such as music player and cameras have been added to phones in hopes that subscribers will use these devices and cellular providers will get incremental revenue. The constant over those 20 plus years of cellular has been limited to one factor, and that factor is that cellular service providers were always in control. With the introduction of Wi-Fi functionality in a cellular handset, the balance of power is about to change. The popularity of Wi-Fi started back in 2000 after the ratificatio