Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ETSI Becomes CONNECTIONS Platinum Supporting Organization

Parks Associates is proud to welcome the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) as a Platinum Supporting Organization for the upcoming CONNECTIONS Conferences.

ETSI produces globally-applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), including fixed, mobile, radio, converged, broadcast and internet technologies. ETSI is a not-for-profit organization with almost 700 ETSI member organizations drawn from 60 countries world-wide. ETSI is recognized as an official European Standards Organization by the European Commission (EC), enabling valuable access to European markets.

High quality and low time-to-market are the organization's goals while continually striving to collaborate with research bodies. Their international reputation is built on openness, discussion, consensus and direct input from members.
For more information about ETSI, click here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Partner communications selects jungo's openrg™ software for new smartbox™ gateway

Jungo Ltd, a leading provider of broadband residential gateway software solutions, and Partner Communications, a leading Israeli mobile telecoms operator, have reached an agreement that sees Jungo integrating its OpenRG™ residential gateway software into Partner's new SmartBox™ home gateway, part of the operator's innovative new home communications offering.

OpenRG software delivers Partner Communications a range of capabilities as well as a platform for introducing and launching new value added services. With Jungo's remote upgrade capability, an operator can load customized middleware onto deployed gateways from almost any vendor, and therefore can introduce new services without the need to replace its installed base. OpenRG also provides a suite of functionalities to substantially reduce operational costs. These include transparent fault-finding, and user-focused troubleshooting that helps minimize support calls.

With SmartBox, launched in December 2008, Partner Communications' customers will enjoy advanced broadband services such as 802.11n wireless network, advanced VoIP capabilities including integrated DECT, call hijacking between cellular and fixed line, home media sharing and other services.

OpenRG is a hardware-agnostic gateway software platform which gives operators maximum freedom in selecting gateway hardware, and thanks to its remote upgrade capability, OpenRG provides full flexibility for future service enhancements. This saves operators substantial costs when expanding and upgrading existing and future gateway designs.

Jungo Ltd., an NDS Group company, is a provider of broadband home value-added service solutions. Jungo's flagship products, OpenRG™ (residential gateway software platform) and OpenSMB™ (small and medium business gateway software platform) enable broadband Operators to deliver managed revenue-generating services to the digital home.

Jungo's CEO, Eran Rom is also confirmed to speak at the upcoming CONNECTIONS Europe Summit in Nice, France on March 31st.

To find out more about Jungo, please visit

Digital Home Tech Services: New Areas for Customer Support

Stay ahead of the curve on new technologies and consumer trends - attend the CONNECTIONS Europe Summit in Nice, France on March 31, 2009.

Multiple companies are starting to realize the vast market opportunities for customer support services in Europe. To succeed, carriers, manufacturers, and retailers must contend with multiple factors, including the linguistic and regional differences among European countries, to avoid unnecessary expenses – and develop the right support solutions to capitalize on this new service area. This panel discusses consumer demand and the potential revenue opportunities for customer support solutions, from installation to troubleshooting to service plans.

Milan Erbes, Ambassador, HGI; Standardization & Business Development Manager, DS2
Gil Eyal, CEO, Enure Networks
Peter Galyas, CTO, Tilgin
Art Lancaster, CTO, Affinegy
Bill Stanley, Director, Operations Solutions, Telcordia

Customer Support Panel Follow Up Interview with

As a recent participant of the CONNECTIONS Summit at CES, responds to panel follow up questions.

What additional features or services will you be looking to implement?


We currently offer a service that helps consumers create and implement a custom back-up plan. As part of this, we leverage industry leading 3rd party data backup solutions.

Premium technology services for smartphones is an area that we have researched and are keeping an eye on.

We have looked into the feasibility of providing premium technology services for a wide variety other household devices. We focus on devices that can be remotely accessed over the Internet.

As you push into international markets, what do you see as key opportunities and challenges?
While there are similarities in the market opportunity for premium technology services (according to our research in major European countries and existing partnerships), there are significant differences in particular the ability to efficiently provide service in multiple languages and labor costs in European markets.

As you look to partner with more players, what do you see as their key needs?


Retailers need a way to cost-effectively ramp a program while keeping capital expenditures and people-costs in line and find higher margin initiatives

Service providers?

Service providers need a way to extend subscription relationships with their customers. In addition they would like to address out of scope calls for their customers in a manner that increases ARPU and CSAT (reducing churn)


OEMs are looking at ways to reduce return rates and improve the margins for their core offerings.

For remote PC services, we’ve heard that labor costs are a big issue. How do you address this?

We employ a distributed solutions center approach with work-from-home employees. This allows us to keep costs low while providing the best possible service. We will always need to be innovative in labor delivery models.

What are the key requirements for remote access solutions (Bomgar, Citrix, LogMeIn, etc.)?

We deliver turnkey premium technology services differentiated by our proprietary remote access and service delivery solutions. We in-house develop those elements core to delivering a differentiated service experience and leverage third party solutions when required (for example, the phone system).

While remote support services were initially offered in a “pay by use” structure, many of you offer subscriptions services for support.

a. Which is currently more popular, pay by use or subscription services?

Since we launched subscriptions in November we are seeing a mix of both incident-based and subscription sales, and believe both have a role to play in meeting customer needs.

b. Is the popularity of subscription services increasing, decreasing or staying flat?

We have seen a steady level of interest in subscription offers since we launched our offering in November.

c. An immediate problem is clearly the motivator for consumers to pay for “pay by use” support services. What are the primary motivators for consumers to sign up for subscription services? Cost savings? Peace of mind? Preventative? Other?
There are two key trigger points – a debilitating problem (such as a virus) and the purchase of a new PC, printer or home network. The primary motivator for turning that event into a subscription relationship is belief on the consumer’s part that they’ll need the service again – and a subscription will be less expensive over time.

d. What is the best way you have found to sell subscription services?
There is no single “best way”. Existing customers that have had a previous positive experience are a good source for subscription services…..our customers kept asking for them. However, we are also finding that many new customers are opting for a subscription at the time of initial purchase.

When offering remote support services, how sensitive are consumers to security issues and what do you do to offer consumers security protection?
We have not experienced consumer concerns in this area because we are a public company and have a long history of expertise in remote support technology.

What are the most frequent consumer IT problems addressed through remote services?

The single most frequent consumer IT problems are related to virus & spyware infections, followed by PC performance issues and general application failures.

What is the current split of support services being deployed between: computing device and applications vs. entertainment device and applications? How do you expect that balance to change over the next year or five years?

Computing devices / applications (including home networks / printers) is the overwhelming majority of remote technology services today. Gaming consoles and dedicated entertainment devices (such as DVRs) have limited or no remote support access and that is not likely to change in the near future. More likely is a remote support increase for netbooks followed by smartphones.

What integration have you achieved (if any) with device manufacturers to help with specific device support services?

We have not needed to do any device-specific integrations to-date in order to deliver a wide range of technology services.

Are device manufacturers turning to dedicated support service providers to off load some of their service and support calls? If so, what is the economic model look like?

Some device manufacturers have paid and limited support offerings, other have tried broader paid support offerings and/or are partnering with remote support providers in a referral model.

What information from the consumer network or devices (that is currently unavailable or difficult to access) would significantly help in improving remote service capability?

Dedicated entertainment devices (gaming consoles, DVRs) provide little or no diagnostic information, or remote access capability. This is the most significant gap in the home network today for remote service.

What are the biggest barriers of adoption for remote service support in consumer households today (perceived or real)?
The biggest barrier is convincing consumers that there is something better than free tech support – that you can call a technology service provider, pay for a service, have a good experience and get value for money.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tzero responds to Wireless Networking panel follow up

Thank you Dave Borison with Tzero Technologies for participating on the Wireless Networking panel at the CONNECTIONS Summit at CES.

For purposes of our blog, can you please reiterate the range at which your solution is most likely going to be used?

Typical usage is about 10 meters (within a room or two) although we show product demonstrations in our office of (a) 20 feet through two walls, and (b) line of sight to 40 meters

Can you explain “lossless compression”? How would you answer the criticism that you’re compromising the quality of the video with expensive and proprietary solutions?

Unlike the proprietary 60 GHz and 5GHz solutions, TZero’s solution is 100% standards compliant: It uses a WiMedia Alliance certified Ultra Wideband radio -- over 300 member WiMedia Alliance member companies, based on Ecma368 standard -- and an ITU compliant H.264 codec. In terms of video quality, we regularly demonstrate a side-by-side comparison of streaming 1080p60 video using a wired HDMI connection and TZero’s wireless video solution. Customers/press/analysts/consumers can not tell the difference between the wired and wireless link, proving beyond a doubt that TZero’s commercially available solution does not degrade video quality.

As a follow-up, is “wireless HDMI” really a term that can and should be used to describe these solutions?

“Wireless HDMI” is a term used fairly widely in the industry by press/analysts/consumers, and it describes these products well (just as “Wireless Ethernet” describes the 802.11 products well). That said, the HDMI Licensing LLC has a trademark on the word HDMI, and prefers that alternate terms such as “Wireless for HDMI” or “HDMI Wireless Extender” are used instead

What are we realistically looking at for BoM costs to implement your solutions? What is your expectation going forward for where we’ll see the BoM costs?

TZero’s BOM cost is ~$100/set in volume, and we expect it to reach sub-$50/set within the next 12-18 months

How does your solution play internationally in light of regulatory or other restrictions?

TZero’s solution has passed regulatory certification and can be shipped in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Additional regulatory agencies around the world (e.g., China, Korea, etc.) are also drafting regulations that will permit the use of our products in their regions as well
For more information about TZero Technologies, visit

HD-PLC Follow Up Interview regarding Connected Consumer Electronics

Thank you Chenyi Chiu, Technical Engineering Manager of Panasonic Communications Liaison Office America (PCLA) of Panasonic R&D Company of America for participating on the "Connected Consumer Electronics: Linking Premium Applications and Content across Devices" at the CONNECTIONS Summit at CES held on January 8-9, 2009.

With IEEE P1901 and ITU 9960, is their backward compatibility built-in with existing standards? How will this work?

Currently, both IEEE 1901 and ITU 9960 are still under discussion and development. In IEEE P1901, Panasonic is working hard in the working group to address this backward compatibility issue. The positive sign of the progress is that the recently approved IEEE P1901 base line specification has Panasonic HD-PLC’s core technology, Wavelet OFDM, in it. Our goal is to contribute as much as we can to ensure the IEEE P1901 final specification to be backward compatible with the current HD-PLC products. For ITU 9960, Panasonic is also contributing to this group to ensure the compatibility with current HD-PLC products and also future IEEE P1901 products.

Do you see a one-chip solution emerging to handle both high-speed and low-speed (control) signaling? How soon?

In CES 2009, HD-PLC Alliance demonstrated the capability of HD-PLC being used in the home control and energy management applications. It’s proven that HD-PLC (high-speed) can fully support these low-speed applications. However, due to the cost issue, it’s not realistic to use high-speed PLC in the low-speed applications. At this moment, it is not that clear to us if Panasonic is going to put both high-speed PLC and low-speed PLC into one chip. However, we are surveying the feasibility of this approach.

Is it really accurate to call your solution HDMI capable?

HDMI’s bandwidth is much higher than the bandwidth that HD-PLC can offer. Passing the original HDMI signal on the power line is theoretically impossible. However, in CES 2009, HD-PLC Alliance demonstrated two designs which incorporated with video compression technologies to pass the High Definition content over the power line seamlessly. Accurately speaking, HD-PLC is HDMI capable when the video processing technologies are incorporated.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

MoCA® introduces as part of new consumer outreach & education initiative

MoCA has launched a new video-based, social media, web site,, to educate and entertain consumers, service providers and manufacturers on the issues associated with home entertainment networking and the need for high speed connectivity.

The purpose of this new endeavour by MoCA is to establish a place where visitors can watch, deposit or comment on videos that best illustrate real world concerns of consumers when it comes to their digital entertainment lifestyle. The first videos available for viewing are interviews of attendees at the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The name of the site, ConnectMyStuff, was purposely chosen because that’s what people want to do. It is strictly video-based, with room for commentary and feedback, in line with how people are viewing and gathering information in a social media context. The site is consumer friendly, real world and devoid of the industry jargon and propaganda that permeates other technology-related sites.

Access to the site is available to everyone.

In addition, MoCA is interested in posting videos from other consortiums and individuals. The three basic criteria for submission are;

- No overt commercialism or sponsorship;
- Must be in sync and keeping with the nature and theme of the subject matter;
- Must contribute to the body of knowledge via a true and definable value proposition.

Visit and for more information.

Gaming Consoles Follow up Interview with Intel's Randy Stude

Thank you Randy Stude, Director, Intel for participating on the "Connected Game Consoles: King of the Digital Home" at the CONNECTIONS Summit at CES.

Which of the three game console vendors is in the best position to lead in the content and value-added services offerings?

Sony. Sony’s platform is much better equipped by way of its support of Blu-ray. Consumers buying new consoles are connecting them (or will be soon) to high definition tv’s and are looking for high definition content to play on them. The combined sku (gaming & Blu-ray) offer the PS3 a unique long term advantage. Additionally, if Sony is successful in bringing its Movie, Television and Music content to the PS3 they will have an even deeper advantage vs Microsoft who does not own or distribute content directly.

Which of the console vendors is most closely aligned with service providers?
None of the above. Microsoft has strong relationships with Telcos who are developing IP/TV services, but the Telcos don’t want to support consoles directly as they don’t offer a turnkey solution (set top box + services) business model.

Will console manufacturers continue to add value-added functionality such as home monitoring, home controls, home productivity functions (budget software, health and wellness utilities), essentially becoming an infotainment platform alternative to the PC?

Why would they. PC’s are much more adept at performing these functions. The ability to perform these functions is not something inherent to a television…

New White Paper, CONNECTIONS™ Conferences focus on digital content, networked devices, home systems, and consumer electronics

International research firm Parks Associates released a new white paper today, The Future of Networked Devices and Digital Content, which tracks developments and areas of growth for the digital living industries in anticipation of upcoming CONNECTIONS™ events.

The paper addresses the core topics Communications & Entertainment Services, New Media and Digital Content, Home Systems, and Consumer Electronics. These topics will be under discussion at the next two CONNECTIONS™ events:

CONNECTIONS™ Europe Summit
Nice, France
March 31

CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference and Showcase
Santa Clara, California
June 2-4

The CONNECTIONS™ white paper notes that increased competition and the commoditization of voice and bandwidth are pushing providers toward advanced services including fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). They will rely on femtocells to realize their FMC strategies, which will boost the number of these devices shipped worldwide to 100 million in 2013.

In addition, carriers and manufacturers have the opportunity to craft new customer support services as part of bundling and product design. U.S. remote tech support service for consumers was a $650 million market in 2008, and this service area will only expand.

For over a decade, CONNECTIONS™ has been the site for discussions on networking standards, including multiple sessions devoted to wireless and powerline control technologies. Parks Associates forecasts five million smart meters installed in the U.S. by 2012, ensuring home controls will again be an important area of discussion and display in 2009.

The Future of Networked Devices and Digital Content is available as a free download on the CONNECTIONS™ websites and

The deadline to submit to be considered a speaker for either event is Friday, January 23, 2009.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New CONNECTIONS Sponsor, Cloakware

Parks Associates welcome Cloakware as a new Global - Silver CONNECTIONS sponsor for 2009.

Cloakware provides innovative, secure, proven software technology solutions that enable customers to protect business and digital assets in enterprise, consumer and government markets.

Cloakware’s two main product lines include; Cloakware Datacenter Solutions which help organizations meet governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) objectives for privileged password management while ensuring business continuity and the security of mission-critical data and IT infrastructure.

Cloakware Consumer Product Solutions protect software and content on PCs, set-top boxes, mobile phones and media players. Protecting more than one billion deployed applications, Cloakware is the security cornerstone of many of the world's largest, most recognizable and technologically advanced companies.

Headquartered in Vienna, VA and Ottawa, Canada, Cloakware has regional sales offices worldwide.

For more information about Cloakware, visit .

Connected CE Interview with Allegro's Loren Shade

Thank you Loren Shade for participating at the CONNECTIONS Summit at CES held on January 8-9, 2009.

What do you see as key limitations to UPnP and DLNA? How does the work of your companies address additional needs on top of these standards?

DLNA 1.5 standards do not currently address content synchronzation between portable media players and house-based media servers. While DLNA 2.0 guidelines will address these issues, we work with key customers to solve these issues ahead of guideline release. Similarly, we have a number of set top box customers who will want to resolve Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) and Scheduled Recording Service (SRS) issues prior to the release of the corresponding DLNA 2.0 guidelines.
Is your “Remote UI” work compatible with the CEA 2014 standard?

DLNA 2.0 guidelines are still not frozen, but it appears that CEA-2014 will the primary interface standard for Remote UI. Allegro will provide CEA-2014 support, if another interface standard is chosen as the primary, we will provide CEA-2014 support as a secondary item.
For more information about Allegro, visit: .

Babelgum Mobile launches FREE TV services with Vodafone Customers

A free Web TV service, Babelgum Mobile combines the full-screen video quality of traditional television with the interactive and social networking capabilities of the Internet.

Immediately launching a 6 month trial, Babelgum Mobile, a new Internet Mobile TV service allows Vodafone UK contract customers with mobile internet bundles to enjoy a wide range of video clips including film, music, comedy, animation, nature, travel and sports FREE of charge.

This mobile application is available to download from Vodafone live!, initially for contract customers with data bundles for the popular Nokia N96, N95 and 6210.

Known for its innovative, original programming, Babelgum Mobile's customers can access content that’s clearly Webinspired with the accent on interactive entertainment. Clips are short, fun, and unconventional and include viral videos.

Integrated with social networks and streaming via Vodafone's 3G Network, Babelgum Mobile allows users to share videos, vote for favorites, and participate in competitions.

For more information, visit .

Sezmi's Breakthrough Personalized Television System, Protected by SecureMedia

Technology leader in open content protection software, SecureMedia, will be providing the digital content protection for Sezmi's redefined TV stands out from the traditional television offerings with a highly personalized, intuitive user experience at an affordable cost.

With a line-up of content from broadcast networks, cable networks, internet video, and on-demand movies and TV shows, Sezmi is the first to directly combine a broadband experience with traditional broadcast and cable TV programming.

Winner of both the TelcoTV 2008 Vision Awards and the 2008 IPTV World Series Award, SecureMedia's Encryptonite One™ System provides the end-to-end digital content protection that enable access to Hollywood blockbusters, new and existing TV channels and Internet video.

For more information, visit
For more information visit .

Telcordia's Customer Support Interview

Thank you Bill Stanley of Telcordia for participating at the CONNECTIONS Summit at CES!

What additional features or services will you be looking to implement?

Mobile for handsets, laptops and PDA/smart-phones

Which organizations and standards do you view as critical with whom to work today?

Broadband Forum, TM Forum, HGi, IMS Forum, OMA, ATIS HNET

As you push into international markets, what do you see as key opportunities and challenges?

We already operate in international markets and first and foremost, need to understand what is different and what is same. Some things translate very well from domestic US markets including some technologies, some methodologies and some market dynamics. But many of these do not. It’s important to know the differences on all 3 levels so as not to take a mis-guided approach to international markets. One example is the difference between Telco and Cable operators globally. In the US, the Telco’s and MSO’s have nearly 50/50 share in broadband deployments whereas overseas, Telco’s have a much higher percentage of the market. Another point is to be aware of the prevailing buying practices when selling to Network Operators overseas. These will vary from country to country, region to region.

As you look to partner with more players, what do you see as their key needs?

Channel to market. Service providers represent a huge market opportunity for wares in the Customer Care space yet selling to Service Providers means partnering with them. Channels that have established relationships with the Service Providers are critical to success.

CONNECTIONS™ on the Web TV Market

CONNECTIONS™ sessions are always rich in data – and include expert analysis on the strategic implications for each market. For example, HDTV is a rapidly maturing market. The challenge for manufacturers now is to differentiate and add value to their displays. So the next stage of competition in this area will focus on connectivity and value-added applications.

At recent CES shows, there have been a wide variety of connected TVs on display. Panasonic is working with Google to bring some of its applications – including photos and YouTube – to the television. Samsung has developed an RSS “widget” offering, focusing on personalized information from USA TODAY. Sharp’s benefits include remote customer support. Sony has Internet television offerings that provide not only video but access to music via Slacker.

Every major manufacturer will likely implement at least some basic connectivity and provide some sort of Web or PC-linked application (such as photo viewing). In turn, aggregators like Netflix, CinemaNow, and Amazon will provide (or already do) CE manufacturers – including the display companies – with turnkey content services. There will be more announcements like the Intel and Yahoo Widget announcement, which will come to define the Web-enabled TV market. More new TVs will be capable of receiving third-party Web/widget applications, much like the iPhone, and consumers will be able to customize their TV experience for just the type of information they want – weather, traffic, sports scores, etc. Television providers (cable, satellite, IPTV) will follow suit, using their electronic program guides and advanced set-top boxes to provide a more customizable television experience.

If you build them, will consumers come?
Parks Associates’ Digital Media Evolution asked consumers to rate their interest in a number of home network and Web-enabled applications on a variety of consumer electronics devices, including digital cameras, televisions, portable multimedia players, mobile phones, digital photo frames, and Blu-ray players.

For “Connected TVs,” we asked consumers about their interest in various features, including watching Internet video on the television, watching stored video on a home PC, renting programs directly through the TV, and receiving customized information on the TV screen.

Consumers showed strong interest in some Web-connected features, particularly those that expand video-on-demand offerings for TV shows and movies. Consumer electronics companies – including manufacturers of displays, Blu-ray players, etc. – should aggressively pursue deals to provide streaming and downloadable content, which matches with the consumer desire to have access to a wide array of content, both user-paid and ad-supported, while not having to buy an additional black box.

This practice could steer consumer electronics companies away from a pure “sell-it-and-forget-it” practice and build new business models that center on recurring revenues, subscriptions, and value-added content and services applications. While this new business model will likely not create huge revenues for the device manufacturers, it is a compelling long-term business opportunity and a key point of differentiation in the short term.

Sizing the MarketManufacturers and their partners, in positioning for premium services, expect to generate only 200,000-300,000 unit sales in 2008 but anticipate millions of unit sales in future years. A Parks Associates forecast for Web-enabled TVs, focusing specifically on applications for watching Web video (CinemaNow, YouTube, etc.), is pretty conservative. Looking at total projected sales for HDTVs for the next few years (with sales at around 26-28 million units in the U.S. through 2012), the Web-enabled portion will remain relatively small – from 2% of total sales in 2009 to about 20% in 2013. Sessions at CONNECTIONS™ will address in detail the rationale for these forecasts plus the implications of these new business opportunities in Web TV.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Will online sites take over pay TV?

At CONNECTIONS™, we often have to address questions regarding the direction of different digital living markets, the trends, opportunities, and potential pitfalls. Parks Associates research, conducted throughout the year and surveying tens of thousands of consumers, forms the foundation for these discussions. Our analysts combine their industry and consumer knowledge with our speakers’ market experience to provide attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the new opportunities.

Digital entertainment is one area that will get plenty of attention at CONNECTIONS™ in 2009. The past two years have witnessed tremendous growth in online video viewing, particularly for premium content such as television shows. In a 2008 study, Parks Associates found that more than 26 million U.S. adults with home broadband access watch TV shows on the Internet through services such as Hulu, Joost, Veoh Networks, or network portals.

So, CONNECTIONS™ will tackle the key question – will consumers begin to see their pay TV services as expendable, since so much television content is available online free of charge (and with many fewer advertisements)? Today, the number of “cable cutters” is negligible. TV 2.0: The Consumer Perspective found that 0.6% of U.S. broadband households don't pay for TV service but are watching or downloading TV shows over the Internet. That would be around 400,000 households.

Despite the popularity of Internet video, cable VoD services retain a tremendous advantage in terms of quality-of-service and the quantity of high-definition offerings. In sizing the potential market for both broadband video and pay-TV VoD services for the next five years, we see significant revenues coming to the operators for these transactional services.

These calculations do not take into account revenues from ad-supported free VoD content, though. To succeed in the free VoD space, operators will have to fine-tune their content management systems and advertising relationships in order to capitalize on nonlinear advertising revenues. Cable operators will likely follow a model similar to the Comcast Fancast development by providing a broadband VoD service that can spur advertising sales and ties back to the existing digital cable service through applications such as remote DVR programming and personal online content features. Cable operators that can develop seamless user experiences between the broadband and cable TV worlds will have an edge on their competition.

Finally, Parks Associates’ data indicate that even among active Internet video users, their likelihood of cancelling pay TV services is no higher than for all respondents. Access to live news, sports, and other exclusive programming, as well as more content in on-demand and high-definition formats, will continue to attract consumers to pay TV services. Parks Associates will track these trends throughout the year, both U.S. and worldwide, and CONNECTIONS™ sessions will feature the latest data and expert analysis on these figures and how they might change over time.

Wireless Networking - SiBeam's VP responds to follow up panel questions

Thank you John Marshall, Vice President, Sales & Marketing of SiBEAM, Inc. and Chairman of the WirelessHD Consortium for your responses.

For purposes of our blog, can you please reiterate the range at which your solution is most likely going to be used?

WirelessHD is an in-room solution for uncompressed, lossless video streaming that operates at full HD rates of ~4Gbps at a distance of 10m.

Can you explain “lossless compression”? How would you answer the criticism that you’re compromising the quality of the video with expensive and proprietary solutions?

Traditionally, the industry has regarded any compression technique above 4x as lossy. However, 2x and 4x compression ratios are typically regarded as lossless.

As a follow-up, is “wireless HDMI” really a term that can and should be used to describe these solutions?

This is not such a good term since no wireless technology today emulates true HDMI. That said, WirelessHD is the closest in that it streams uncompressed baseband video and supports control commands just like HDMI.

What are we realistically looking at for BoM costs to implement your solutions? What is your expectation going forward for where we’ll see the BoM costs?

As the Chair of a special interest group, we don't traditionally discuss pricing. We leave pricing discussions to our adopter and promoter companies to review when launching products.

How does your solution play internationally in light of regulatory or other restrictions?

60GHz is an interference-free, unlicensed band worldwide. Worldwide regulations permit the use of 60GHz in consumer products.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hot Topic for CONNECTIONS™ 2009: Widgets on the TV

CONNECTIONS™ has followed developments in interactive and digital entertainment for several years, and at each event, we highlight the new television features the industry is offering to consumers. This year CONNECTIONS™ will feature multiple sessions on the key TV 2.0 applications generating market attention – and widgets (and, more broadly, customization and Web-based applications) will be a key point of interest in 2009.

Parks Associates, the host of CONNECTIONS™, recently completed TV 2.0: The Consumer Perspective, a study examining, among other things, consumer attitudes toward new television services. The study, which will figure prominently in several upcoming CONNECTIONS™ sessions, finds that a fair number of consumers are interested in the ability to have Internet-like experiences on their televisions. Twenty percent of U.S. adults in broadband households express a strong interest in having widgets on their TVs. These widgets would allow them to customize on-screen tickers to display information such as news, sports, weather, and traffic. In addition, 23% want media-sharing capability on their TVs (for example, the ability to view pictures from a photo-sharing site).

Consumers also want to interact with one another via their TVs. Again, TV 2.0: The Consumer Perspective finds 14% of consumers are interested in the ability to chat with other people viewing the same program (25% of 18-24 year olds) and 13% like the ability to recommend (and receive recommendations) about programs (22% of 18-24 year olds).

Needless to say, bringing Internet features to the TV is a gamble, as Microsoft, Apple, Sony, and many others will attest. However, the idea has merit and can be successful with consumers if the provider offers the right features. Yahoo! and Intel are moving in the right general direction, and many similar products will be unveiled in the near future. At CONNECTIONS™, we will drill down further into this topic, but at the outset, companies contemplating such products and services must keep a few things in mind if they are to have a winning strategy:

1. New services must be very simple to set up and use
2. Every service/function must have a distinct purpose that makes the lives of customers easier
3. The company (or companies) behind the launch must have a solid business model to accompany every new service

At CONNECTIONS™, we will look further into widgets and other TV 2.0 topics – and you will be able to see what other companies are planning in this space!

Is your company planning or about to launch a new TV 2.0 feature? Sponsor CONNECTIONS™, and you can show your new offering at the CONNECTIONS™ Showcase.

Wireless Networking Follow Up Interview with Celeno's Lior Weiss

Thank you Lior Weiss, VP of Marketing of Celeno for your responses!

For purposes of our blog, can you please reiterate the range at which your solution is most likely going to be used?
Celeno targets multi-room or whole-home applications. We quote 40m (120ft), 4 brick walls, 3+ floors, but granted this is a statistical factor depending on the actual home where the set up is. These particular numbers have been tested multiple times in European-style built homes which are even “harder” then north American home, as they are built with thicker interior walls from tougher materials such as bricks, ceramics, etc.

Can you explain “lossless compression”? How would you answer the criticism that you’re compromising the quality of the video with expensive and proprietary solutions?

Well, for one our solution is not proprietary and this is important. We believe we have the only solution which is fully standards based: WiFi radio technology and H.264 compression technology. Expensive is also a relative term, but suffice to say that as a standards based solution it has the ability to enjoy the aggressive price curve of the 802.11n mass market for example. As far as “lossless compression”: First, I would say that other than 60GHz technology all other technologies use some kind of lossy compression. And even 60GHz technology will need to use compression in the future as video quality scales up and adds higher resolutions, deeper color depths and higher frame rates. All digital media is lossy compressed, otherwise it would have been impossible to get HD video to the consumer. In fact even IPTV and Blu-Ray normally use H.264 lossy compression. Now, when combining radio technologies to send the video over the air, compression becomes even more important. Lossy compression is the only efficient-enough technique to send over the air video over distances while mitigating the fluctuations of the radio channel capacity. The trick is to build a solution that will work this out with “Perceived lossless” quality to the human eye and even more so – doing it in a standard way. It is a fact that WiFi+H.264 built correctly (with high enough throughputs and zero packet error rate) achieves “Perceived lossless” video quality over distances and robustly enough while being standards-based and achieving the right price points. The importance of standards-based is clear when one watches WiFi technology embedded into TV’s anyway for Widgets and over the top video delivery.

As a follow-up, is “wireless HDMI” really a term that can and should be used to describe these solutions?

We sometime use also Wireless HD. But typically we use Wireless HDMI to differentiate and stress that real-time compression is required vs. Wireless HD where video comes in already compressed in the home network (for example in an IPTV deployment)

What are we realistically looking at for BoM costs to implement your solutions? What is your expectation going forward for where we’ll see the BoM costs?

BoM is really a question of volume and timing. But with 802.11n chipsets solutions hitting already the sub-$10 mark, suffice to say we believe the combination of WiFi and H.264 is a winner in the long run. Also, when one considers BoM , one needs to take into calculation the bigger picture. With WiFi radio technology there are greater efficiencies as on the TV receiving side – WiFi is already mandatory as well as H.264 decoders for over-the-top services as well as widgets. So BoM is shared over applications !

How does your solution play internationally in light of regulatory or other restrictions?

With WiFi being standards-based we don’t have any regulatory issues.

For more information about Celeno, click here.

Home wide HD video over wireless product launched by AXAR Media

AXAR Media revealed the AXAR 1000 to deliver high-definition (HD) video wirelessly throughout the home.

The AXAR 1000 Sender and Receiver are the only HD video over wireless products to combine globally ubiquitous standards, such as 802.11n Wi-Fi and H.264 AVC, with proprietary techniques to send live TV and recorded video to HDTVs throughout the home.

The stylish devices have two inputs enabling HD video, from set-top boxes, DVRs or Blu-ray players, to be securely distributed over Wi-Fi. The HD content can also be received by Wi-Fi enabled PCs, notebooks and mobile devices.

The AXAR 1000 is a simple to use self install product targeted towards pay TV operators who want to offer a flexible multi-room solution to their subscribers. The product’s intuitive functionality means it can be readily set up by the end user, eliminating the need for a costly truck-roll.

A recent report by Informa Telecoms and Media has predicted the HDTV market will grow from 44 million households in 2008 to 179 million by 2012. As this happens, consumers will be looking for easy ways to view HD content on the proliferation of displays around their homes, and wireless solutions will be the preferred choice.

AXAR Media demonstrated its technology as part of the UKTI’s CES Unveiled event. It is one of a select group of companies chosen by UKTI to highlight British innovation at CES.
For more information about AXAR Media and the AXAR 1000, please click here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Consumer Electronics Panel Follow Up with Robert Eisses of Icron

Thank you Robert Eisses, President & CEO, Icron, for a quick response to these panel follow up questions!

How do you ensure quality of service with your solution?

Icrons technology supports a QoS based Flow Control and Switching to ensure quality audio, video, and I/O support. This is built right into the chip.

What do you see as key limitations to UPnP and DLNA? How does the work of your companies address additional needs on top of these standards?

A key limitation of DLNA is the lack of PC application support. Linking to the PC, users certainly wish the content from the PC but in many instances are looking for applications such as IM, Email, Gaming, etc. on another device such as the TV. DLNA does not support this nor does it have an easy path to add this. Icron’s technology allows for the full transmission of the full PC functionality form the PC to the TV, all content, applications, and full Internet support.

For more information about Icron, please visit:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

ProVision launches AXAR Media to deliver video over wireless throughout the home

ProVision Communications launched its consumer products division, AXAR Media. At CES the Bristol, UK based specialists in video over wireless technology launched its first product, which distributes HD video over wireless throughout the home.

AXAR Media demonstrated its technology as part of the UKTI’s CES Unveiled event. It is one of a select group of companies chosen by UKTI to highlight British innovation at CES.

ProVision will demonstrated its wireless HDTV technology to potential customers, investors and analysts at CES.

ProVision Communications, a wireless and HD video company, has been working with leading broadcast operators and set top box manufacturers including Thomson, Pace, the BBC, and BSkyB since 2001. Recent developments have included real time video transmission over Wi-Fi to portable devices at outside broadcasting events, along with HD and wireless innovations for set top boxes and media home gateways.

ProVision’s expertise lies in its end-to-end understanding of wireless networks and video systems: this includes MPEG-4/H.264 Advanced Video Codecs, radio propagation, antenna design, wireless networking, and reliable interoperation between HD video and wireless standards. ProVision is now strongly placed to deliver its world-leading HD video networking products and technologies to cable and satellite TV operators. The company is based in Bristol, UK.

For more information please visit .

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bunchball's Founder & CEO - Follow Up Interview on Social Media

Thank you Rajat Paharia, Founder & CEO, Bunchball for providing your comments!

What is your advice to brands who want to participate in the social media (i.e., companies social networking sites, posting comments on third-party blogs, etc)?

I would tell brands to broaden their definition of consumer connection to go beyond advertising. Just thinking about advertising on a small group of narrowly defined Social Media sites will not solve the problem. The question they should be asking is: "How can I connect with and engage my customers ON THEIR TERMS?" That is, in a meaningful and relevant way that also achieves my Brand objectives. Many brands are still locked into the belief that they should push more and more impressions at consumers who don't want them. That model is broken. Using social media as just another source of inventory or eyeballs misses the point entirely. I believe Brands should focus on engaging with their consumers, not on ad delivery; and these new approaches to driving engagement are not only preferable, they are essential for the brand's success. They also drive superior ROI.

How can the effectiveness of the social media advertising be improved (form the publishers' perspective)?

I believe that many advertisers forget the context and intrusiveness of advertising when consumers are involved in certain activities. Is it really appropriate for Tide to try to be someone's Facebook friend? The effectiveness can be improved if the Brands find ways to be relevant to the conversation. If they are intrusive or irrelevant, they will do more damage than doing nothing. If brands find ways of participating with consumers in areas that they feel passionate about, eg. social causes, then the brands create positive association and benefits while tapping into their consumers core needs. That process builds strong consumer loyalty far beyond just the delivery of the brand message through and ad.

4Home Energy Wins CES 2009 Best of Innovations for Eco-Design & Sustainable Technology

Brings Energy Management, Monitoring and Conservation to the Home for Consumers and Utilities --

Simple self-installable kit lets consumers manage energy usage and reduce utility bills with smart power adapters, thermostats, and an in-home energy control center.

4Home, the leader in home control services, announced a new energy management system, 4Home Energy. Offering onsite or remote monitoring, this new system gives consumers a connected home solution for controlling home energy usage and saving money won Best of Innovations (#1 overall).

Combining technology from Echelon, SMC Networks, and Radio Thermostat Corporation of American, the 4Home Energy system provides a real-time analysis of home energy usage, displaying energy consumption down to a single appliance or light fixture. It also suggests options for saving money and conserving energy.

Components of the 4Home Energy system:

- EnergyPoint 3200 Home Energy Command Center (aka, the Energy Gateway)
- Programmable Communicating Thermostat (PCT)
- Energy Measuring and Controlling Appliance Adapters, both 110V and 220V
- Energy Measuring and Controlling Lighting Adapters

For more information on 4Home and its award-winning energy management system, please visit .

Revision3 - Follow up Interview on Social Media

What is your advice to brands who want to participate in the social media (i.e., companies social networking sites, posting comments on third-party blogs, etc)?

My advice to companies wanting to participate in social media is to simply get involved, start today, no matter how small. Sign up for a company twitter account, start a blog (revision3's blog)- whatever. Just get the socialization with your audience/customers rolling in some form or another. You don't need to be an expert or do everything under the sun. Just start with one thing and build from there. Just by having a presence on Facebook or Twitter or having a blog will be a step in the right direction and it will give your customers a place to go to interact with you. Then once you're interacting balance your needs with the needs of your customers. Don't be afraid to ask what your customers want from you. What sites do they use, how do they want to interact with you and then listen and act based on this valuable feedback.

How can the effectiveness of the social media advertising be improved (form the publishers’ perspective)?

Effectiveness of social media can be improved with advances in agreed upon metrics, so that we're working off the same concepts and numbers. Additionally the continued adoption from the general public of the participatory lifestyle that social media provides.

For more information on Revision3, visit .

iPhone Becomes Home Automation Controller

Many manufacturers are developing apps that make Apple's ubiquitous mobile device a touchpanel controller for automation, lighting, distributed audio and more. Apple’s iPhone is doubling as a new type of touchpanel controller these days.

Apple has already sold more than 6 million iPhones, and many home control companies are capitalizing on that trend by engineering their systems to communicate directly with the mobile device, as well as with Apple’s iPod and iPod touch products.

Most home control companies expect Apple’s mobile devices to be used primarily as a means of monitoring and controlling a home’s lights, thermostats and other equipment remotely from the office or the road. However, it’s feasible that the iPhone could also function as a main command center within the home.

To read more about this Electric House article entitled "Let Your iPhone Take Full Control," please click here.


ServiceShield™ 3.1 sets a new standard for home and small business network management --

At the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opening on Thursday January 8th, Enure Networks, a global provider of home network management software, announced the release of ServiceShield™ 3.1, a revolutionary consumer-grade tool capable of completely automating the setup, security, configuration, repair and management of broadband home networks. By providing a reliable and controllable network environment, this software is aimmed at becoming an enabler of the next generation connected digital homes.

Setting up a home network, managing network security, enabling printer sharing and solving problems can be overwhelming for non-technical users. With ServiceShield™ 3.1, Enure ensures dependable, consumer grade home networks that are easy and fun to use. ServiceShield™ 3.1 is offered to consumers through partnerships with leading internet service providers, consumer premises equipment (CPE) manufacturers, premium support vendors and other strategic partners (such as internet security vendors) who wish to enrich their consumer offering with affordable, automated support packages.

ServiceShield™ 3.1 builds on the objectives of Enure’s product offerings, namely ease of use and reliability. It lays the foundations for the digital home where pictures, videos and music can easily and conveniently be shared across the network.

For more information, please visit: .

Tough Digital TV Market Results in Boxer Subscriptions Falling

By the end of 2008, Boxer had 689,000 digital TV subscriptions. Competition between Pay-TV operators in the Swedish digital TV market have intensified throughout the year. As a result, subscriptions decreased by 3% from the start of 2008 with 709,000 subscribers.

In March 2008, Boxer was selected Pay-TV operator for the approaching Danish digital terrestrial network; in addition, Boxer received an equivalent licence to be the Pay-TV operator in the Irish digital TV network in July 2008. For 2009, operations in Denmark and Ireland are planned.

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

At CES, 2Wire Announces HomePortal GEM, open software platform

2Wire Inc. is trying to bring carriers more into the managed services arena by offering an open software platform on its HomePortal GEM gateways, launched at the 2009 International CES.

By selling applications, carriers will be able to capture a segment of the revenues. Having an open software environment, 2Wire invites developers to create applications and sell through via the carrier's portal. For the applications that require a purchase, 2Wire would handle the back-end management and billing, something it's already doing with some of its other products.

2Wire is already sharing the necessary software development kit with a variety of partners including Logitech Ltd. , OpenDNS , and Sharedband Ltd.

2Wire intends to only sell GEM through carriers.

For information, visit Light Reading's article, "CES: 2Wire Brings Apps Home."


HDGIANTS, the leading distributor of high definition entertainment directly into the living room, showcased the latest version of its HD MediaStore™ application at the NextGen Home Experience. Demonstrations were available during CES.

Designed for easy integration with consumer electronics devices running on Microsoft Windows Vista Media Center, the HD MediaStore™ application allows media center customers convenient purchasing and downloading of movies and music in the highest quality available directly into their home through a remote control.

CES attendees will be able to navigate the HD MediaStore™ and experience HDGIANTS' premium content on an Aspen Media Server (AMP), Model PL-4109, inside the NextGen Home Experience at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The HD MediaStore™ client application, which hardware manufacturers like AMP integrate into their media server products, provides a seamless and robust search experience for high definition movies and music that includes content previews as well as in-depth metadata. Convenient navigation between the HD music and the HD video content allows consumers to browse all the available entertainment and purchase and download from a single shopping cart. In essence, the HD MediaStore™ application offers consumers a complete high quality entertainment experience with the click of the remote.

For information on HDGIANTS, visit


MoCA launched a new video-based, social media, web site, , to educate and entertain consumers, service providers and manufacturers on the issues associated with home entertainment networking and the need for high speed connectivity.

The purpose of this new endeavour by MoCA is to establish a place where visitors can watch, deposit or comment on videos that best illustrate real world concerns of consumers when it comes to their digital entertainment lifestyle. The first videos available for viewing are interviews of attendees at the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The name of the site, ConnectMyStuff, was purposely chosen because that's what people want to do. It is strictly video-based, with room for commentary and feedback, in line with how people are viewing and gathering information in a social media context. The site is consumer friendly, real world and devoid of the industry jargon and propaganda that permeates other technology-related sites.

In addition, MoCA is interested in posting videos from other consortiums and individuals. The three basic criteria for submission are;
- No overt commercialism or sponsorship;
- Must be in sync and keeping with the nature and theme of the subject matter;
- Must contribute to the body of knowledge via a true and definable value proposition.

Visit for more information.


Apex Digital has teamed up with Zilog, Inc., to develop the Apex Connect Home Controller, an easy-to-use device that provides customized control of home audio/video products and a variety of devices that use INSTEON or Z-Wave technology for lights, blinds and thermostats and more.

With the Apex Connect Home Controller introduced today at CES, a browser-based smart phone, iPhone, iPod touch, PC or PDA can be turned into a comprehensive home controller via an existing wireless network in your home. The controller, which features learning functionality to teach and control other Infrared (IR)-based controllers that consumers have in their homes, is a collaborative effort between Apex Digital, a leading provider of consumer electronic devices, and Zilog Inc., a global supplier of innovative embedded control solutions.

The device features native application support for Apple’s iPhone mobile telephone or iPOD touch. Users can download the application for the device they want to control from Apple’s Apps Store through iTunes. The picture of the device becomes an icon on their iPhone, and they can use the buttons on the picture to control their devices and personalize home control.
Apex Connect is simple to use and install. Just attach the Apex Connect Home Controller to a home wireless network using the network router set up, then download the Apex Connect application to an iPhone or iPod touch and the controller is ready to use. Market introduction of the controller is targeted in the second half of 2009.

For more information about Zilog, visit

Macrovision Showcases Technology for the Evolution of the Digital Home at CES 2009

This week during the International Consumer Electronics Show 2009 at an invitation-only exhibit at Caesars Palace, Macrovision Solutions Corporation showcased its portfolio of technology solutions for consumer electronics manufacturers including a new next-generation on-screen program guide and the capability to deliver digital content to Internet-connected televisions through Macrovision’s interactive program guide (IPG).

The new guide, being developed under the project name “Neon”, provides a framework for CE manufacturers to build next-generation devices that can find and play broadcast and premium content, such as television shows, Internet-delivered media and music as well as access and manage content from consumers’ personal media libraries – all on one screen.

In addition, Macrovision has announced that it is working with CBS to demonstrate the integration of select CBS Internet content including episodes from its top-rated drama, CSI, which can be accessed directly from Macrovision’s CE IPG on an Internet-connected television.

Earlier this week, Macrovision also announced two recent customer wins:

• SANYO Manufacturing Corporation will deploy Macrovision’s Guide Daily in its digital TV product line. The Guide Daily is a version of Macrovision’s full-scale IPG, designed to help consumers navigate, sort, select, and schedule television programming.

• Onkyo’s next-generation IP audio video receiver (AVR) will use the Macrovision Connected Platform to incorporate the capability to find, acquire, manage and play back personal and premium digital audio media content from a variety of devices and locations in the house.

Based on a continuing relationship with Sony, Macrovision will also exhibit a newly released Sony Bravia® TV developed with My TV Guide, an interactive program guide with personalization features and recommendations. My TV Guide provides viewers with a media rich, enjoyable experience for discovering TV programs that will ultimately change the way that they view their TVs.

For more information on Macrovision’s solutions showcased during CES go to

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Bunchball, creator of the consumer engagement and interaction platform “Nitro,” announced today the addition of Comcast, Exent, Piczo, Ultimate Movie Site and Meredith to their client roster.

“The diversity of our client list demonstrates the cross-vertical appeal of Nitro,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Bunchball. “Traditional brands like Meredith understand the critical need for innovation in marketing, and the power of engaging with consumers using Nitro. By the same token, cutting-edge gaming companies like Exent recognize the super-charge Nitro can give their customers in harnessing the connection to and relationship with their users.”

Marketers worldwide are being faced with declining ad performance, increasing costs and dramatic budget reductions. In this challenging environment, clients are recognizing Bunchball’s ability to change the marketing game for brands and consumers.

“The trend toward building relationships with consumers by creating compelling activities on a site that enlist people’s feedback and loyalty is one that will continue to turn traditional marketing on its head and create real opportunities for brands who are trying to differentiate and be cost-effective in a tough financial climate,” said Kurt Scherf of Parks Associates. “Bunchball is well-positioned to fill this need for brands of all types and sizes and has shown an impressive track record thus far.”

Nitro in Action

Comcast turned to Bunchball and Nitro to increase page views, time on site, logged-in users, and overall customer engagement on the portal site, one of the most heavily trafficked sites in the United States.

"The Nitro product launch was a great experience. A collaborative effort between the teams, Bunchball proved to be knowledgeable and proactive throughout the integration,” said Jean-Claire Fitschen, Sr. Product Manager, Games, Comcast Interactive Media. “Since launch, the program has been successful and can be tied back to metrics-driven results (like high member conversion and page views per unique) which is essential for internal communication."

Better Recipes, a Meredith property, is an ever-expanding online cookbook of recipes for any meal. Meredith implemented Nitro on Better Recipes to incent users to create and rate the site's core content, recipes. Users earn Kitchen Bucks by participating and can use them to customize a virtual kitchen, which provides Meredith with revenue-generating virtual item sponsorship opportunities. Meredith also anticipates that the increased engagement and time spent with the Better Recipes and Better Homes and Gardens brands will increase subscriptions to the print Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Piczo empowers teens worldwide to creatively express themselves, build personal communities, and share experiences with their friends in a safe environment. On Piczo, Nitro's activity-tracking and self-expression widgets are being used to build customer loyalty and lock-in, increase page views and ad impressions, and drive additional revenue through branded and sponsored virtual items targeted specifically to their teen demographic.

Exent is a global leader in delivering video games over broadband, with customers including Verizon, Orange, and Virgin Media. Exent views Nitro as a value-add for their distribution network partners, as it encourages users to spend more time playing games, and to play more often. By wrapping their game catalog in the same game mechanics that resonate so strongly with their end users, Exent is using Nitro to increase the value of their service to their customers and increase engagement among their end users.

About Bunchball

Bunchball enables brands to cost-effectively measure and drive consumers' most valuable behaviors. Bunchball's customers range from startups to multinationals, including Hearst, NBC and Comcast. Bunchball’s proprietary engagement engine, Nitro, plugs seamlessly into a brand’s web site, enhancing online communities, and promoting consumer interaction and loyalty while driving revenue. Based in Redwood City, California, and founded in February 2005, Bunchball’s investors include Granite Ventures and Adobe Systems Incorporated.

For more information, visit Bunchball online at

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES features latest consumer research

Parks Associates forecasts mobile broadband to exceed 140 million U.S. subscribers in 2013, creating new convergence opportunities for fixed and mobile services --

Consumers are growing more sophisticated in their purchasing habits for electronics and services, even as they rein in their total spending, according to international research firm Parks Associates, which will host the CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES on January 8-9.

CONNECTIONS™ Summit will take place at CES in the South Hall, Rooms 106-107, and feature sessions with over 50 executives discussing new and future business opportunities in networking, entertainment services, social media, consumer electronics, and home systems. Parks Associates’ analysts will also present key research findings at the event.

Parks Associates forecasts 4.5 billion mobile phone users worldwide by 2013, with many people using these devices as gateways for entertainment services, community information, and social networking. The increasing importance of the mobile phone will affect other product and service sectors. For example, over 100 million femtocells will be shipped worldwide in 2013, cumulatively serving over 300 million subscribers.

CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES features 10 sessions, including Wireless Networking; Advanced Video Services; Customer Support; Social Media; The Changing CE Purchase Decision; GPS Technologies; Connected Consumer Electronics; Digital Photo Frames; Connected Game Consoles; TV 2.0; and Home Systems.

Sessions feature executives from the following companies: ActiveVideo Networks; Affinegy
Allegro Software Development Corporation; AMIMON; AT&T; Avenue A Razorfish; BigBand Networks; Bunchball; Cisco; Comcast; Control4; CSR; D-Link Systems; Ensequence; HD-PLC Alliance; Hitachi USA; HomeGrid Forum; Icron; Intamac Systems; Intel; Kodak; Logitech; Macrovision; MediaUnbound; Microsoft; MoCA; NDS; Orange – France Telecom NA; PlumChoice; ProVision Communications; PUCC; Qualcomm; Radialpoint; Revision3; RMI; Samsung Semiconductor; Sony Computer Entertainment America; Sony Electronics;; Synaptics; Telcordia; Tele Atlas; TeleNav; thePlatform; TZero Technologies; WirelessHD; and Zilog.

CONNECTIONS™ Global Sponsors include Platinum Sponsor HD-PLC Alliance; Gold Sponsors DSC, Macrovision, and MoCA; and Silver Sponsors ActiveVideo Networks, Affinegy, Icron, ProVision Communications, Telcordia Technologies, and Zilog.

Parks Associates will be at booth # 25556, South Hall 2, Ground Floor, during CES. For more information, visit

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Heart of Connected CE Strategies

by Kurt Scherf, VP and Principal Analyst, Parks Associates

There is no question that the marriage between consumer electronics devices and broadband content will be a key trend in 2008. For content providers and aggregators, a “go-to-TV” strategy solves at least one of the early challenges facing broadband video services – the requirement to watch the content on a PC. The hope is that if the industry provides a more seamless video-on-demand experience, consumption of video and other broadband services increases. For consumer electronics manufacturers, Web connectivity allows them to differentiate on content and services. It also opens the door for them to receive recurring streams of revenue, either by profit sharing with the content delivery services or via ad-support content. Of course, there is a third revenue stream – enhanced customer support – and I’ll discuss this a bit later.

Prior to the Consumer Electronics Show, here were some of the CE and content convergence efforts of which we were aware:

  • On January 3, Netflix and LG Electronics announced they will work together to develop a set-top box to allow consumers to stream video and other content directly to an HDTV. This device would be an ideal fit with the Netflix Instant Watching feature that now comes standard with the DVD rental service. My only question about this is why develop a separate set-top box? We’re quickly heading toward “black box overload” in the living room. Apple and VUDU are both pursuing this separate set-top route, but why not include the connectivity in something like a DVD player? If I’m a Netflix subscriber, I’m still going to rely on it to play DVD rentals for the vast majority of my video entertainment. Consider that the ratio of Netflix DVD offerings to Instant Watching is something like 90,000 titles to 6,000 broadband video offerings.

  • HP’s MediaSmart TV provides access to CinemaNow content. CinemaNow reports that it has about 1.5 million users (we assume that is cumulative), and the company announced an agreement with Macrovision shortly before CES. The companies are integrating technologies that will allow manufacturers of DTVs, network-attached storage devices, and set-top boxes to acquire premium content. So, we assume that HP will not be the only CinemaNow-capable CE manufacturer in the near future.

  • Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE Marketplace offers more than 3,500 hours of premium content, including high-definition video, from 35 studios and networks. On January 6, Microsoft announced that ABC (Disney) and MGM will be joining the lineup of content available through the service. Our own data indicate that 17% of Xbox users actually do pay to download the high-quality video from the LIVE Marketplace, making it the most-successful CE and content marriage to date.

  • Sony’s BRAVIA Internet Video Link service provides content from Yahoo!, AOL, Sports Illustrated,, CondéNet’s,, Epicurious and channels, and Sony Pictures’ Crackle, The Minisode Network, and Inside Sony Pictures channels. At CES, it was announced that CBS content will also be available.

Although the emphasis for CE vendors has been on developing alternative video-on-demand strategies, CES brought a number of announcements from the other major CE manufacturers that included both video and non-video applications. This looks to be the beginning of a “throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks” period for the CE industry, as they integrate the basic components of Internet and home networking into their devices, add some broadband features, and see what gains traction. Here is a sampling of the related announcements in this space:

  • Panasonic announced products leveraging tru2way™ technology. (formerly known as OCAP) The VIERA® HDTVs will be able to access interactive digital cable video services, including video-on-demand and interactive program guides, without a set-top-box. The company also introduced true2way set-top and portable DVR. In addition, VIERA PZ850 televisions with VIERA CAST will allow access to Picasa Web Albums and YouTube video from Google.

  • Samsung demonstrated its InfoLink™ RSS service with applications from USA TODAY that include access to customized news, weather, and other information.

  • Sharp introduced AQUOS® Net that brings Internet content and remote diagnostics to the television set. AQUOS Net includes powerline networking, so it looks like it is bringing content from a PC to the television set instead of an Internet-based service, at least as of now.

The remote diagnostics capability on Sharp’s product is intriguing. I’ve been saying for a while that consumer electronics companies are facing a challenge in providing support to their increasingly complex devices and that remote support with features such as automated diagnostics and troubleshooting will be critical (see my March 2007 blog A New Trend in Digital Home Customer Care: Enhanced “User Diagnostics”). Now Sharp is bringing this capability to some of its televisions. It’ll be interesting to see if other manufacturers do the same.

The marriage of content, services, and CE devices such as TVs and DVD players is in its formative stage, and it is a very fluid market right now. We certainly see the manufacturers taking an interest in the ability to sell services and applications above and beyond the set-top box, but it is unclear as of now as to how these services will be monetized. For online content services, we keep hearing about how ad-supported content will be the ticket, but nobody has really been specific in this area. We can certainly point to areas in which enhanced customer support (remote management, diagnostics, and troubleshooting, for example) can save on customer support costs and can also be a revenue generator. We fully expect others to follow Sharp’s lead.

One question that we’re getting frequently is whether these new CE and content initiatives are indicative of the pending demise of traditional entertainment providers such as cable, satellite, or IPTV services. As of now, we’d argue “no.”

Network capacity continues to favor the incumbent video providers on their ability to send lots of high-definition content (both linear and on-demand) to the home, and I expect that we will see aggressive moves on major players in 2008 to experiment more broadly with models such as day-and-date release of certain movies (matching the DVD window). Hollywood hasn’t bent over backwards in support of traditional VoD to date. However, if I’m a content producer, my best allies in the next few years could very well be the service providers who operate networks with large capacity and established security, who can pipe their content to a growing number of devices (such as mobile phones), who have the network infrastructure to ingest vast quantities of content and deliver it in a high-quality format, who have well-established billing practices, and whose advertising strategies grow more sophisticated.

For the incumbents, the opportunity also doesn’t end with commercial content. I was impressed with Cisco demos that I saw at CES that showed “hyper-syndication” of user-generated content into an operator’s TV lineup. This way, YouTube or other content can be ingested into the operators’ networks and provided as a stand-alone channel if desired. Game over? Not exactly. It’s just another example of what makes this industry so interesting to follow. We’ll be turning our attention to this space in several research reports in 2008 and look forward to reporting some of the findings later in the year.

About the Author
Kurt Scherf studies developments in home networks, residential gateways, digital entertainment, technology development in the housing market, and residential and building management and controls. Kurt is the sole author or contributing author/analyst to more than 60 research reports and studies produced by Parks Associates since 1998.