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Showing posts from August, 2006

Indie Labels Could Take More Market Share

Reuters reports that the music industry has delayed publishing its global market share figures because of supposed squabbles over the methodology for counting digital sales. The disagreement comes at a time when the industry is facing growing criticism that it is controlled by too few companies. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the music sector's global trade group, released its annual compendium of 2005 industry data -- with the market share figures omitted. The four major music companies -- Vivendi's Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI Group and Warner Music -- account for about three of every four albums sold in the world. The IFPI said its members were still tussling over how to account for digital sales, and that the figures would be released later in the year. By that time the information will be nearly a year out of date. The trade body said there were no market share figures to disclose as yet because it had not yet collected them for 2005. "Th

Why Did Google's Schmidt Join Apple Board?

The New York Times reports that the announcement of Google's CEO joining the Apple board touched off a wave of speculation about the motives of the man behind the move: Apple's co-founder, Steven P. Jobs. While Google’s and Apple’s strategies are aligned in many ways, there are also potential areas of conflict. Both companies are rumored to be developing smartphones that would potentially compete. Clearly, the big media companies will be watching this new development very closely, as they attempt to defend their legacy news and entertainment turf. The global wireless service providers also have reason to be curious -- will they now work on a mobile smartphone design together, and is this good or bad for the telco sector? There are many possibilities for a complementary strategy between their companies. This week, for example, Google announced that it was beginning to weave together a number of services that could be a Web-based competitor to Microsoft Office. And Mr. Jobs has s

Global Broadband Build-Out Benefit Vendors

The broadband boom continues, says Infonetics Research in three new reports tracking the broadband CPE, DSL aggregation hardware, and CMTS markets. According to the reports, worldwide broadband CPE sales increased 5 percent to $1.4 billion in the second quarter of 2006; DSL aggregation hardware sales increased 14 percent to $1.8 billion; and while CMTS sales dropped 18 percent to $211 million on the heels of a blockbuster 30 percent gain in the first quarter, CMTS revenue is up 15 percent from this time last year and is expected to post strong growth through 2009. "This quarter's growth in DSL port and broadband CPE unit shipments is proof that the race to build out broadband access networks and sign up subscribers continues unabated," said Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband and IPTV at Infonetics Research. "CMTS port shipments were also strong, despite falling from last quarter's record performance, as cable operators expand their footprint and capabil

VOD Usage Shows Maturity and Fluctuations

Per capita usage of video on demand (VOD) seems to be showing seasonal fluctuations at U.S. cable TV giant Comcast, indicating a degree of maturity that may pop up in broader VOD consumption trends. Comcast subscribers generated a peak of 44.5 VOD views in Q4 2005 (or 14.8 views per month) and then usage slid to 42.8 VOD views in spring-to-summer Q2 2006, according to analysis by Kagan Research. A view consists of a request for a discrete item of on-demand content. At the same time, the underlying pool of VOD subscribers keeps enlarging, making VOD a solid growth sector. Comcast's count of VOD enabled subs grew from 7.5 million in Q1 2005 to 10.0 million by Q2 2006. The growing pool drove up Comcast's total VOD views from 278 million in Q1 2005 to 420 million in Q2 2006. Comcast had 22.4 million total subscribers at end 2005—both digital and analog. Per-capita consumption could climb again if consumers warm to specific programming. Comcast, among the most aggressive cable syste

Free SpiralFrog to Challenge iTunes Model

SpiralFrog, the new music download destination, has signed an agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG), the world's leading music company, to make UMG's extensive catalog available for legal downloading in the U.S. and Canada via SpiralFrog's advertising-supported service. SpiralFrog will offer users of its no-cost web-based service the ability to legally download music by many of the world's most popular and award-winning artists. "Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling," said Robin Kent, SpiralFrog's CEO. "SpiralFrog will offer those consumers a better experience and environment than they can get from any pirate site." Kent highlighted some key factors - legal digital files with no viruses or spyware in a controlled client-server architecture, quick downloading, and quality songs and music videos by great artists as among the primary benefits users will gain. Digital rights management tec

CTIA Predicts Mobile Commerce Approaching

The CTIA predicts that mobile marketing will completely change the way we're watching and interacting with television and other entertainment content, finding information and communicating with others -- whether that be a customer, colleague or friend. In the not-too-distant future, we'll be able to make purchases and receive targeted information directly from advertisers from anywhere in the world. The state of mobile marketing and its tremendous possibilities will be discussed and forecasted at a one-day event, Marketing – The Mobile Channel, Wednesday, Sept. 13 during CTIA WIRELESS I.T. & Entertainment 2006, in room 411 of the Los Angeles Convention Center. "Mobile commerce is just getting started in the United States, and that's a huge step for us. We have seen a number of mobile trends take off in Asia, and during the conference we'll discover several new developments underway here in the U.S." said Robert Mesirow, vice president and show director, CT

Rich Media Ads a $1+ Billion Category in 2005

Kagan Research forecasts the rich media segment to be the fastest growing component of Internet advertising over the next 10 years, powered by a steady stream of new wrinkles. Rich media integrates multiple elements, such as animation, sound, video and interactive games or tools in a single advertisement. Examples abound such as the screen appearing to fill with water, a moving element that floats, an element that expands, a small live video window and a flashing image. Christian Anthony, Chairman and Co-CEO of interactive ad agency Special Ops Media, attributes the expected boom to several factors. There's more standardization of audience measurement data making rich media buys easier to justify, creatives relentlessly break new ground, and advertisers use such ads as small test labs. Interaction rate is the percentage of audience that engages the ad. Given the tracking technology used by websites and ad servers, most consumer activity is monitored, unlike analog media such as bro

British Public Trust Newspapers & Television

The BBC reports that the British public trust newspapers and television news programmes as much as their family and friends for information, suggests a new study. The survey also found that blogs and websites were considered the least trustworthy sources of "current affairs." Telecom Express, an interactive marketing firm, quizzed 1,000 people. Respondents were asked what percentage of the information they received from various sources they believed to be accurate, true and unbiased. Around 66 percent said national television was the most accurate and was trusted as highly as family and friends. National, regional and local newspapers were chosen by 63 percent of respondents, and radio was chosen by 55 percent. Only 36 percent of respondents rated websites and 24 percent rated blogs. Despite the findings, the traditional media are feeling under threat from websites and blogs, with increasing numbers of political and gossip sites breaking news stories first.

AGC and Exponential Growth in Online Games

New market research detailing the growth of the online game industry will be announced at the Austin Game Conference (AGC) next week on September 6th, 7th, and 8th in Austin, Texas. At a time of exponential growth in online games, the fourth annual Austin Game Conference will bring together over 2,400 game industry professionals from 20 countries representing more than 520 companies. The announcement was made by The Game Initiative, the organizer of the Austin Game Conference and the leading producer of conferences and events for game industry professionals. The online game market in will grow from $1.1 billion in 2005 to $4.4 billion by 2010 in North America, according to a new study conducted by Parks Associates, a Dallas-based market research and consulting company, who will discuss their new data at AGC. Currently PC gamers spend an average of 18.5 hours playing each week - more than console (13.6 hours), portable (8.9 hours), or mobile games (4.6 hours). Of those PC gamers, 70 pe

TWC Launches User-Generated VOD Service

Multichannel News reports that Time Warner Cable announced the launch of PhotoShowTV free-of-charge to its U.S. digital-cable and Road Runner high-speed-data subscribers. PhotoShowTV allows users to create and publicly share PhotoShows, made from personal photos and video clips, directly on cable TV. Time Warner subscribers can also post PhotoShows on the operator’s video-on-demand service for public viewing. PhotoShowTV was developed by Simple Star. The software, which has been available on Road Runner since April, also allows customers to share their PhotoShows on other Web sites and via email. “By converging our digital-cable and high-speed-online service, this new feature brings sharing the family photo album to a whole new level and gives users the opportunity to put their favorite photos and video clips on TV,” Time Warner senior vice president of on-demand product management Bob Benya said in a prepared statement. The service is currently available on Time Warner Cable's Haw

Google & eBay Collaborate on eCommerce

We can all benefit from the continued collaboration between these two leading eCommerce companies, and their latest announcement will hopefully lead to global interoperability of public Internet-based voice communication service platforms. Moreover, if anyone can better mainstream "click-to-call" capabilities for consumers, then these folks can do it. Google Inc. and eBay Inc. announced a multi-year agreement to benefit both companies' collective communities of users, merchants, and advertisers around the globe. The agreement consists of two primary components involving text-based advertising and click-to-call advertising functionality. Specifically, Google will become the exclusive text-based advertising provider for eBay outside the United States. In addition, eBay and Google plan to integrate and launch click-to-call advertising functionality that leverage both Skype and Google Talk globally in each company's respective shopping and search platforms. The companies

Portable & Mobile Long Form Video Market

The market for long form mobile/portable video content (video content of greater than 30 minutes) is currently in an experimental phase, and will likely remain at this stage for at least two years, reports In-Stat. By 2008, however, the industry will begin to gain traction and demonstrate its long-term potential. The greatest potential for this market rests with its ability to complement the existing video industry. For example, there will be over 50 million portable media players in use worldwide by 2008, says Michael Inouye, In-Stat analyst. The portable/mobile long form video market will not likely cannibalize sales from the DVD and other traditional markets, but rather, supplement top-line growth. In-Stat's study found the following: - It is not clear if users will prefer an all-purpose multimedia cellular phone or separate voice and multimedia devices. - Mobile video subscribers stand to represent over 10 percent of US wireless subscribers by 2009. - Roughly one out of eight r

MTV Networks Searches for its Online Mojo

Billboard reports that just as Urge faces dominant competition from iTunes, MTV was outflanked in the social networking boom when its parent company, Viacom, in 2005 lost out to News Corp. on the bidding for MySpace. Since the acquisition, MySpace's usage has quadrupled, and only the video-sharing site YouTube has come anywhere close to matching its success. As a company that built its brand as a meeting place for young adults, pop culture and music, MTV will not meekly surrender that digital turf to MySpace and YouTube. "We know we want to be in social networking, and we know that's where our audience is," says MTV president Christina Norman. "But it's important for us to approach this in the right way and not have another 'me too' application." One strategy is to extend many of MTV's social outreach efforts like Rock the Vote, sexual health campaigns and town-hall-style meetings with politicians into an online community. On the entertainmen

Google Software-as-a-Service for Small Biz

Reuters reports that Google Inc. is making a concerted move beyond search and advertising into the business software market, starting with a set of Web programs for e-mail, scheduling and communications. The online search leader said it has created a software platform to run basic business activities -- based on programs it already offers separately. The move marks a stepped up challenge to rival Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) as the software giant prepares to upgrade its Windows and Office franchises. The free set of Web-based programs for small businesses, universities and nonprofit businesses goes by the mouthful " Google Apps for Your Domain ". Later this year, Google said it will offer a "paid, premium" version with the option of being ad-free and more administrative control and compliance features to meet the demands of bigger corporations and government agencies. Pricing for this more advanced version is not yet available, it said. Google will host the applications r

See How SMS Texting Can Be a Lifesaver

Proving once again that European television commercials can be so much more entertaining and engaging than the typical sedate American approach to the exact same topic -- here's a featured video on -- from Texxi , the UK-based taxi you text.

Sony Can Integrate Grouper into New Strategy

Informitv reports that Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired Grouper Networks, which provides the Grouper user-generated video site, for $65 million. Traditional media companies are increasingly seeing value in online video services although they have yet to demonstrate a viable business model. Consumers are spending more and more time on sites like Grouper, and as one of the world's largest creators of entertainment, we want to be where the audiences are, said Michael Lynton, the chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidairy of the Sony Corporation. Many people in the Grouper community use Sony cameras to create videos and Sony VAIO computers and mobile devices to store and view them, he said. It makes sense to complete the circle by having Grouper be a part of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which itself creates so much content for people around the world. A site like Grouper allows people to showcase their creativity to a vast audience, he continued.

Chinese Telecom Services Consumer Growth

Pacific Epoch reports that China had over 798 million phone users at the end July 2006, Beijing Morning Post reports quoting statistics by the Ministry of Information Industry (MII). There were 366.5 million fixed-line phone users in China and 431.7 million mobile users at the end of the first half of 2006. China added 38.39 million mobile phone users in the first half of 2006. Mobile users sent 238.5 billion SMS during the first half of 2006, up 44.9 percent year-on-year. China's mobile phone penetration rate has reached 33 percent. In other news, China Mobile held a meeting with 20 service providers (SPs) as well as handset maker Nokia to set a blueprint for 3G services, reports The Beijing News. According to the report, Nokia will pre-install China Mobile's mobile instant messaging client Femoo and Google's mobile search services on some customized Nokia handsets. According to recent rumors, China Mobile has also partnered with Google for mobile search services. China Mo

OSS Reshaped by Service Delivery Platforms

The emergence of IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and Service Delivery Platform (SDP) technologies is having a profound effect on the operations support system (OSS) sector, one that will drastically reshape the ways that network operators of all stripes will build, provision, and manage current and future services, according to a new report from Light Reading. "OSS rationalization and SDP/IMS implementation need to go hand in hand if operators are to put in place the correct transformational architecture to support their businesses in the future," says Caroline Chappell, lead analyst and author of the report. "Understanding how these platforms fit together; how to avoid functional duplication at different levels of the architecture; and how to drive toward a single view of the truth, with no dangerous replication of data that enables inconsistencies and cost to creep, are huge tasks for network operators, but they are essential for survival." Key study findings includ

User Generated Content and Media's Myopia

In-Stat reports that when YouTube recently announced the introduction of video ads that can be placed on their homepage, they added a much needed source of revenue for the new company. Warner Bros. has already used this venue to advertise Paris Hilton's new album, and Deep Focus ran a series of ads for the movie "Pulse." More importantly, however, are the advances being made to offer "paying clients" an opportunity to create branded channels -- with the hope of capturing mindshare of the YouTube audience. MySpace has already offered branded pages, albeit not explicitly "channels," nor are they video centric. In-Stat says this is perhaps the first legitimate bid to support a serviceable business plan. In fact this could be the start of a relatively significant inflow of actual revenue to YouTube's largely investment-supported coffers. If this strategy is successful we may be getting a glimpse of how YouTube is planning on leveraging its user base. M

Global Market Assessment of Retail VoIP

According to Point Topic, the number of subscribers to retail voice over IP (VoIP) services rose by 83 percent during 2005, from 10.3 million at the beginning of 2005 to over 18.7 million subscribers worldwide by the end of the year. The global market researcher estimated the number of people paying for PC-to-phone calls during 2005. This figure is over 4.7 million. When combined with the retail VoIP total, this increases the overall VoIP paying subscriber totals to just under 24 million, compared with 14.4 million a year previously. Japan, France and the USA continue to dominate the VoIP market in terms of subscriber numbers. But other European nations, notably Germany, the Netherlands and Norway are had begun to see a significant number of VoIP subscribers by the end of 2005. Many of these markets were reporting strong growth for early 2006. Many markets, especially in the USA and Europe, should see significant growth in VoIP during 2006. Asia Pacific has seen the slowest rate of gro

Online Music is EU Mass Market Phenomenon

According to Screen Digest, 2006 is the year that online music went truly mass market in Europe. Screen Digest expects that European consumer spending on online music will be greater than 280 million euros in 2006 more than double the 120.8 million euros spent in 2005. By 2010 consumer spending on online will generate more than 1.1 billion euros. Over the next couple of years the increase in online spending will probably not be enough to hold back the decline in sales of recorded music. Screen Digest expects the total European music market to fall to 8.9 billion euros in 2006, down from 9.2 billion euros in 2005. However as sales from digital platforms (online and mobile phone) increase there is every reason to think that this decline will stall and in 2010 revenues will have recovered a little to just under 9 billion euros. The European online music market is hardware driven and, at a pan-European level, dominated by Apple's iPod and iTunes Music Store (ITMS) combination. However

Limitations of Broadband Service Bundling

Ken Pyle, analyst of the U.S. independent telco market and Managing Editor, Viodi View, has a new commentary entitled " Will the Bundle Be Enough? " -- insights include the following key points. Mitch Clark, Executive Vice President of Marketing Operations for UPC Broadband, suggested that successful bundles target lifestyles and give customers choice. At the same time, operators must communicate the benefits and value of the offering in simple terms; in the language of their customers. Clark suggested that simplicity goes beyond communication and includes the ability for customers to self-provision services and having monitoring systems that indicate to customer service representatives the types of services a customer has and what they might want. Ultimately, the bundle will not be enough for an independent telco to remain competitive. The key to future competitiveness will be able to continually add value to the bundle with the addition of new features that are well communi

Competition for Broadband Wireless Services

After several years of false starts, wireless network operators around the world are beginning to succeed in their efforts to attract customers to broadband wireless services, and anticipated improvements in data throughput will accelerate mass-market uptake of mobile broadband, according to a new report from Heavy Reading. Key findings of the report include the following: 3G-based W-CDMA and CDMA 1X EV-DO technology have a strong grip on the broadband wireless market and will continue to dominate it in terms of subscriber growth for at least the next three years. Compared with the challenge being mounted by Mobile WiMax, incumbent cellular standards have a huge advantage measured in terms of a more highly developed ecosystem, greater volumes in terminals and infrastructure, and the incumbent's right of access to premium broadband mobile spectrum in and around the 2GHz band. Both W-CDMA and Mobile WiMax are gaining market momentum in terms of new operator recognition and contract a

Western Europe Wireless Enterprise Forecast

Strategy Analytics released an updated forecast of business mobility revenues in Western Europe, including supporting detail for 18 countries within the region. They predict that recurring operating expenditures on wireless data solutions in Western Europe will approach $12.7 billion annually by 2010, up from $7.9 billion in 2005. Messaging-centric productivity tools including SMS, Instant Messaging and email will continue to take the lion's share of revenues, holding steady at 90 percent throughout the forecast period. However, while this dwarfs the remaining 10 percent attributable to wireless line-of-business applications, mobilizing e-business sales and field force applications will remain vitally important IT-sanctioned wireless initiatives in this region. The UK and Germany (commanding 44 percent of wireless enterprise revenues) are singled out as the most important mobility markets. Sweden will be an especially important test bed for mobile Instant Messaging and other presen

Forecasting Cable MSO DOCSIS 3.0 Adoption

CableLabs recently approved a preliminary specification for the DOCSIS 3.0 standard. It is the penultimate version which will allow cable MSOs to reduce bandwidth usage while improving performance and capabilities on their existing networks. While not producing dramatic short-term changes to the on-demand video entertainment industry, the introduction of DOCSIS 3.0 will affect the developing competition between cable operators and telco TV providers, and because compliant new equipment will be required, will provide opportunities for some vendors. The implications of this development are explored in a new Research Brief from ABI Research. "By delivering interactive IP video to the home over DOCSIS, cable operators shift bandwidth demand on their networks to take advantage of the innovative features offered by IP video," says principal analyst Michael Arden. "CableLabs' release of this nearly-final specification will allow vendors to start developing compatible equipm

Global Market Opportunity for Femtocell APs

In the near future, femtocells -- small cellular base stations designed for use in residential or corporate environments -- will be adopted by operators with great enthusiasm. The lure is of greater network efficiency, reduced churn, better in-building wireless coverage, and the abilities to shape subscriber data usage patterns and to build platforms upon which fixed-mobile convergence services can be realized. A new study from ABI Research forecasts that by 2011 there will be 102 million users of femtocell products on 32 million access points worldwide. "Femtocells offer many benefits to operators," says principal analyst Stuart Carlaw. "From a technological standpoint, their better in-building coverage for technologies such as WCDMA and HSDPA is an incredibly important aspect of service delivery. From a strategic and financial standpoint, the routing of traffic through the IP network significantly enhances network quality and capacity, and reduces the OPEX that carrier

Mobile Phone Manufacturers are Frustrated

Reacting to one of those "either lead, follow, or get out of my way" frustrating moments of inaction, apparently mobile phone manufacturers are now ready to take a more proactive role in promoting value-added product capabilities, as the 'marketing challenged' service providers fail to stimulate market growth across key performance indicators. Nokia's acquisition of Loudeye put it squarely at odds with its largest customers, but it is still the right move. According to Pyramid Research analyst Guy Zibi, he argues that Nokia can't grow if its model is inherently tied to carrier subsidies. The move also puts Nokia in a position to launch a cell/phone music player before Apple does. "Nokia has to free itself from the shackles of cellular-only and become a strong electronics/multimedia manufacturer which just happens to have a strong foundation in mobile handsets," comments Zibi. The company has made other moves in that direction, most notably a revampin

Growing Demand for Flat Panel Televisions

The landscape of living rooms across the globe is changing as consumers join the flat panel revolution. IDC believes consumer interest in flat panel televisions combined with falling prices paint a bright picture for TV manufacturers, vendors, and resellers. According to the latest IDC survey, the future of TV-land is flat in terms of selection as online respondents worldwide favor Plasma and LCD. While less than a quarter of consumers surveyed globally report currently owning a flat screen TV, IDC says that number tripled in terms of the number of respondents who plan to purchase a flat panel TV by the end of this year. High quality video is the main force driving the adoption of the new and emerging digital TVs. Over half of IDC survey respondents consider high definition (HD) compatibility as an extremely important factor influencing their decision to replace their current TV. Surprisingly, however, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents say they do not currently subscribe t

TIA's Telecom Market Review and Forecast

Total spending on Internet access (broadband Internet access and dial-up Internet access) in the international markets -- Canada, Europe, Middle East/Africa, Latin America and Asia/Pacific -- reached $113.3 billion in 2005 and is expected to grow to $139.8 billion in 2006 and $221.6 billion by 2009, an 18.3 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), according to the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the U.S.-based trade group. High-speed broadband access will drive equipment revenue in the next four years as governments throughout the world actively support broadband expansion. South Korea has the world's most advanced broadband market, with 70 percent household penetration in 2005. The Netherlands is second at 60 percent, followed by Canada at 52 percent. Denmark and Japan are the only other countries with broadband penetration exceeding 40 percent. The United States ranks sixth in broadband penetration at 39 percent, followed by Finland and Switzerland at 35 percent

Streaming Music is Preferred by Mobile Users

Several factors point to rapidly increasing consumer acceptance of mobile video and music multimedia services from wireless carriers. Interest in mobile video has inched up during the past three years but streaming music still leads the way, reports In-Stat. Streaming music offers many marketing benefits because it is most like familiar and successful mobile consumer services, the high-tech market research firm says. One plus for mobile phone service providers is that streaming is not subject to the same Digital Rights Management (DRM) issues involved with music file sharing. "Streaming music, which could be marketed like satellite radio services, such as XM and Sirius, holds the most interest of all mobile multimedia for consumers, and it may be easier to deliver than video," says David Chamberlain, In-Stat analyst. In-Stat's research found the following: - According to three years of In-Stat surveys, consumer interest in mobile video is increasing, albeit not as quickly

SMS Still Gets No Respect in the U.S. Market

Back in January of 2004 I wrote a column entitled " SMS Gets No Respect " where I outlined the issues surrounding the very low adoption of mobile text messaging in the U.S. market, and I provided actionable suggestions for a Demand Stimulation Plan to improve market development. Business 2.0 magazine recently picked up this storyline with a column by Paul Kedrosky entitled " Why We Don't Get the (text) Message " which demonstrates that while there has been some progress, the U.S. market development clearly isn't where it should be. Here is an excerpt from Paul's column. Consider this anomaly: Ecuador, with a per capita GDP of $4,300, has the United States beat when it comes to a critical wireless technology. Americans may be 10 times as wealthy, but Ecuadorians send four times as many text messages. Text messaging - or SMS, as it's more commonly known overseas - is evolving beyond simple communication into a delivery mechanism for content and a mobil

Online Consumer Outreach Goes Mainstream

According to Adweek, for big marketers, using a mix of nontraditional communications channels is nothing new, but there is growing evidence that what was once considered 'experimental consumer outreach' is fast becoming mandatory strategy. From packaged-goods marketers to automotive companies, heavy reliance on TV is being reconsidered, as tactics previously seen as ancillary grow into mainstream priorities. Recent Adweek interviews with executives associated with a dozen major brands, which collectively spend more than $9 billion annually in major media, revealed that such clients are rethinking not only how they use TV, but are also upping the ante on emerging media, such as viral campaigns, wireless messaging, blogs and podcasts. "The main driver behind our increased interest in this area is the amount of consumer pull," said P&G representative Jeannie Tharrington. "Consumers want more customization and more personal communication from us that is tailored

Traditional Music Album Sales Slide Again

According to the Hollywood Reporter, a sluggish release schedule during the past three months has led to a major crash in album sales so far this year. That opinion is based upon research figures presented at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers convention. The sobering numbers were shared at a session conducted by Rob Sisco, president of Nielsen Music, and Chris Muratore, director of retail relations and research services for Nielsen Entertainment. Nielsen is a sister company of The Hollywood Reporter. The research executives noted that album sales declined 1.7 percent during the first four months of this year However, from May to July, album sales plummeted 10 percent, culminating two weeks ago in the lowest week for total album sales (8.9 million) since January 1994 and the second-worst total since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.

DSL Chipmakers to Benefit from IPTV Growth

While data and VoIP continue to drive the DSL IC chipset market, and will account for the bulk of port shipments through 2010, the delivery of IPTV capability is the wave of the future, reports In-Stat. Carriers worldwide are using ADSL2+ and VDSL2 as they upgrade their networks to deliver television and video service. "With applications like video phone service, uploading of photos and video in addition to music, on-line applications from Google and others, the demand for upstream traffic is likely to increase over the next few years," says Norm Bogen, In-Stat analyst. "This means the technology able to deliver upstream bandwidth will have the advantage going forward." In-Stat's study found the following: - In 2005, there were 153.1 million total ports of DSL shipped worldwide, including CO and CPE for ADSL, VDSL, and SHDSL. - The number of ports shipped is expected to grow to 185.5 million in 2010. - Revenues through 2010 will decline, however, as there is inc

EDGE has Key Role in Evolving Mobile Data

EDGE-enabled handsets have never attracted the same levels of attention that advanced technologies such as WCDMA and HSDPA have enjoyed. However, recent forecasts from ABI Research indicate that the worldwide EDGE handset market will reach 148 million shipments in 2006, representing 14 percent of the total mobile phone market. Principal analyst Stuart Carlaw points out that, "EDGE is downplayed in the market because it cannot really provide a mobile broadband experience and is therefore not seen as being at the cutting edge of cellular handset evolution; it is viewed purely as an evolutionary step on the GSM ladder, and industry attention is very much focused on the newer technologies such as W-CDMA and HSDPA. That view is further compounded by the fact that operators do not actively report EDGE numbers in the public domain." "However," adds research director Jake Saunders, "This lack of general market attention belies the real importance of the role EDGE plays

STB Remote Control Designs Getting Better

Informitv reports that UK satellite broadcaster Sky has launched a new remote control specifically designed to assist older customers, people with visual impairments and those with limited dexterity. The market introduction demonstrates the importance of accessibility in the design of television related products and services. The new 'Easy Grip' remote device is similar to the usual Sky+ remote control but comes in two styles with either a textured easy grip or a hand strap to assist those with limited dexterity. Both versions have larger numerals, text and graphics with raised contoured buttons and increased color contrast. The development of the inclusive remote control was shaped by research conducted by Sky in association with disability groups and Age Concern. It is designed to meet the needs of customers with both minor impediments and a range of disabilities including motor control and cognitive impairment. As you may recall, I have previously commented on the apparent l

Consumer Openness to Mobile Advertising

It's been more than two years since I last assessed the U.S. mobile phone advertising market potential for a client, and so I was interested to learn the results of the latest market research. However, the U.S. is still significantly behind the Asia-Pacific mobile communication services market, and notably a laggard even when compared to the less-advanced European market. Although a significant 53 percent of U.S. mobile phone consumers expressed interest in spending more money on mobile data, the figure is down from nearly two-thirds from 2005, according to a recent Yankee Group survey. The overall mobile consumer data experience -- or lack thereof -- certainly plays into this, and price may be an issue for some segments. On average, adult survey respondents indicate they currently spend $12 per month on mobile data. For the 53 percent of survey respondents willing to spend more monthly on mobile data, they are willing to spend an additional $12 per month across their top five appl

AT&T U-verse Pay-TV is a Work in Progress

According to the Yankee Group, while IPTV is the next wave of technology that will revolutionize the way we watch television. Unfortunately, IPTV is still years away because of the intensive rollout strategy that AT&T must implement to lay Fiber To The Node (FTTN) architecture to support the full spectrum of services. Although trials are in place, it will take a few years for the company to reach its target of servicing 19 million households. With this lengthy time frame, cable operators have the opportunity to improve their services and strategies in order to fend off the impending competitive threat. To fully develop strategies to keep the threats of AT&T and other telecom companies at bay, it is critical for cable operators to understand what IPTV is and how it compares with existing television offerings. There are many misconceptions about IPTV -- as opposed to broadband 'over the top' TV -- and how the user experience will be different for consumers. As the U-verse

Multi-Room Home Media DVR for FiOS TV

Verizon has launched its Home Media DVR service for its FiOS TV customers. The service supplies a multi-room DVR that connects the Motorola QIP6416 DVR set-top box to remote terminal Motorola QIP2500 set-top boxes for up to three simultaneous viewings of programs recorded by the dual-tuner DVR, according to Current Analysis. The DVR device can record up to 120 hours of standard definition (SD) programming or up to 20 hours of high definition (HD) programming on a 160GB hard drive. The new service also includes Verizon's Media Manager software, which networks digital photos and music stored on home PCs, making them accessible on home TVs. Home Media DVR costs $19.95 a month, with a $3.95 monthly fee for each additional remote terminal set-top box. Verizon uses Actiontec Electronics' wireless broadband home router to provide Verizon FiOS TV subscribers with the ability to link home PCs wirelessly to the Internet. The router connects to the Home Media DVR, letting subscribers view

Studio Wants Dead TV Pilot Buried for Good

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the owners of some cancelled U.S. TV pilots want their creative work to be buried, once and for all. Regardless, "The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend," a comedy series passed over by Fox Broadcasting Co. for the fall schedule, has mysteriously popped up on at least three different viral-video Web sites. The emergence of "Handsome" marks the second known TV pilot left over from the 2005-06 development season to resurrect itself from unknown auspices. "Nobody's Watching," a comedy rejected by WB Network, resurfaced on YouTube last month, and generated enough buzz to prompt producer NBC Universal to pick up the series. Upon discovering the pilot online Thursday, "Handsome" production company 20th Century Fox Television issued a statement indicating plans to track down the source of the leak. "It has come to our attention that the pilot episode of 'Handsome' was posted on the

U.S. Builders Pursue Digital Home Revenue

With 15 million U.S. households moving on average every year and 35 percent doing so primarily as an upgrade over their current residence, the population of moving households is a prime consumer segment for new digital devices and services, according to Parks Associates. Parks Associates' new primary consumer study will identify what, how, and when relocating households purchase, relative to all other households. The project will survey 3,000 U.S. households, including households not moving in order to compare and contrast between these two different market segments. In 2005 alone, 15 million households moved, representing 40 million people, and most were young adults aged 20-35. Further, U.S. households are increasingly purchasing new digital devices and services. According to Parks Associates' "2006 Builder Insights," an annual study of home builders, approximately 70 percent of home builders offer built-in speakers for multiroom audio systems, and these same builde

Multi-Play Services Market in Western Europe

Just as the cable sector moved from analogue TV delivery to multi-play portfolios of TV, telephony and broadband Internet access, the telco sector is looking to multi-play �- and, in particular, to high-ARPU TV services -� for future growth and a means of achieving differentiation. Although well-established, the pay-TV sector has yet to reach its full potential in many markets. In Western Europe, pay-TV subscriptions are set to grow by 31 percent between 2005 and 2011, according to Analysys. Low penetration of premium services in many markets also suggests room for continued ARPU growth. Incumbents are rapidly joining the innovative altnets that already offer TV services. Demand for bundled services, however, remains uncertain, and many telco triple plays have yielded disappointing adoption rates. At the end of 2005, only 3 percent of Western European households subscribed to fixed telephony, broadband Internet and pay-TV services from a single supplier. Nevertheless, competition in th

Multi-Mode Software Based Wireless Modem

The cellular modem market is not in its infant stage anymore. Cellular modem shipments will exceed 5 million units this year and embedded cellular modems are starting to emerge in the market. According to In-Stat, embedded cellular modems, a substitute to PCMCIA cards, should represent 10 percent of total cellular modem shipments this year and about 45 percent in 2011. Dell, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic and Toshiba are the first computer manufacturers to offer this technology to the public. PCMCIA cards have become very handy for business travelers. However, the recent launch of embedded cellular modem PCs is changing the way people look at cellular modems while raising challenging questions on compatibility and price. Currently, cellular modems - PCMCIA and embedded - represent a significant investment for users. The card and subscription costs are still very high and people need to own two different cards and subscription plans to have a full geographic coverage. The major regions where cel

Key Market Dynamics for Online Video Growth

While 2006 has seen a rapid increase in consumers' use of online video, spurred by the breakout success of websites such as YouTube, the vast majority of video content delivered over the Internet is still held captive on the PC. ABI Research believes that the over the next five years new viewing options such as network-enabled video players and download-to-burn will add momentum and broaden the overall market by giving consumers additional choices in how they consume video content. "The percentage of Internet-delivered video viewed on a portable device will go from just 3 percent today to 16 percent by 2011," says principal analyst Michael Wolf. "This move to portable viewing will be driven largely by a new class of devices with embedded networking connectivity and seamless integration with online video providers. As portable media hardware vendors such as Apple and Microsoft add networking connectivity to their products, and Sony moves away from UMD toward network-b

TV Networks Find Clue by Watching YouTube

USA Today reports that the fall TV season is about to begin. The push is on from the broadcast networks to tempt you into watching what they spent the past year filtering for your viewing pleasure. At a moment when the networks would like nothing more than to make a splash � another 'Lost' or 'Desperate Housewives' � the biggest news in TV is the escalating instances of mutiny by viewers. Watching what the networks set before them is fine. But more and more viewers want to cook as well as dine, which makes the TV story of the year the story of a website: YouTube. Officially launched last December, this video-sharing service already plays more than 100 million clips per day with more than 65,000 video uploads added to its mammoth inventory. And those rates are skyrocketing. Where does it end? "As more people capture special moments on video," its website declares, "YouTube is empowering them to become the broadcasters of tomorrow." What's equally

Look to Europe for IMS & FMC Transformation

Two thirds of the world's total VoIP households or 58 million in total, will be served by IMS platforms by 2010 states Pyramid Research's latest report. "The majority of initial FMC rollouts are expected to be delivered with UMA and without IMS," states Svetlana Issaeva, the report's author. However, several alternative carriers � for example, Softbank in Japan � are planning to deliver FMC via IMS from the start. Issaeva states that carrier service migration strategies will determine the short- and long-term adoption and revenue potential of IMS-based services. The report found that several IMS migration options are emerging, depending on the type of carrier and geographic location. Carriers and vendors agree that it will take at least another 24 months before all required pieces of IMS architecture are in place and full IMS services are ready to be delivered. Pyramid anticipates that incumbent telcos in developed markets will start migrating their VOIP subscribe

DBS Recycling of STBs Creates New Trend

Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) providers have traditionally left their customers' purchases of the required set-top box (STB) to the open retail environment. But in a quiet change of tack, some have begun introducing STB lease or buyback schemes reminiscent of cable operators' arrangements. This trend has led ABI Research to revise its STB shipment forecasts for the immediate future. "ABI Research's forecasts for STB shipments have been revised to reflect the new trend towards 'recycling' satellite service STBs," notes principal analyst Michael Arden. "Our current figures anticipate STB shipments of just 46.11 million in 2006, as opposed to 2005's figure of 50.78 million." By 2011, however, the forecasts are more bullish, showing a recovery to 53.72 million units. Much of that growth, says Arden, will come from shipments in Asia, Western Europe and the Middle East, and will be due to subscriber growth as well as upgrades of existing STBs in

First Half 2006 Digital Media VC Assessment

According to Rutberg & Company, venture capital activity in digital media is, by all accounts, robust. During the first six months of 2006, private digital media companies raised $2.4 billion of venture capital through 278 financings. This activity nearly matches that of the full year 2005, in which $2.6 billion was raised through 313 financings. Notably, 245 venture capital firms announced two or more digital media investments during the eighteen month period between January, 2005, and June, 2006. The robust activity indicated by the financing totals is consistent with their conversations with entrepreneurs and investors. On an anecdotal basis, for example, Rutberg notes the formation by numerous venture firms of digital media-specific strategies, practices, and portfolios over the past two years. Although raising capital is never easy, they believe the current environment is healthy for private digital media companies. The M&A market remained steady in 1H06 with 181 trans

Customer Data Integration Adds Holistic View

SearchCRM reports that not everyone has bought into the concept of customer data integration (CDI) tools -- and that played out during the keynote speech at a CDI event. The idea that CDI is just a new name for old practices is similar to the thinking when customer relationship management (CRM) first emerged, expert Jill Dyche told about 50 attendees during her keynote speech at the Customer Data Integration - Americas Summit. CDI is legitimately a brand-new approach, said Dyche, partner and co-founder of Baseline Consulting Inc. and co-author, with Evan Levy, of 'Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth'. Until a few years ago, there were no technology tools and best practices to reconcile, standardize and cleanse customer data in real time. And, despite common misconceptions, CDI can't be done effectively with a CRM system or a data warehouse, she said. CRM systems weren't designed to deploy integrated data, and data warehouse systems weren

China Home Networking Market Development

As you may recall, I previously reported that China recently surpassed the U.S. market with a higher total number of consumer DSL broadband connections. An outstanding accomplishment, by any measure of market growth. Moreover, the installed base of Internet access is now driving other related consumer purchases. Nearly one-fifth of urban household respondents in top-tier Chinese cities are equipped with a home network, according to a recent consumer survey by In-Stat. An increasing number of players in relevant industries have begun to enter this market through various methods. �The China home networking market has passed the difficult initial stages and has begun to take off,� says Rebecca Tan, In-Stat analyst. �Although the situation is still a bit less optimistic in the second-tier cities, around one-fourth of total respondents to our survey may install a home network within one year.� In-Stat's study found the following: - Those most interested in home networks are young, with

Global Market Growth of Product Placement

Global paid product placement spending surged 42.2 percent to $2.21 billion in 2005 with double-digit growth expected to continue in 2006 and beyond, as brand marketers scramble to effectively engage consumers worldwide, according to research released by PQ Media. Global paid product placement spending in TV, film and other media is expected to climb another 38.8 percent to $3.07 billion in 2006, driven by the continued shift in the world�s leading markets toward a paid placement structure from a barter and added-value model. While the markets in the Americas and Asia tend to be more free-wheeling with regulations vague or nonexistent in some cases, the transition is moving slower in Europe due to stricter rules governing the use of product placement. But PQ Media�s Global Opinion Leader Panel believes this will change by year-end 2007, when the European Union is expected to liberalize restrictions encumbering growth in this region, fueling significant upside in some European markets.