Friday, July 31, 2009

Dogan TV Standardizes on Grass Valley for HD Production

Dogan TV, the leading independent media group in Turkey, is migrating its television production capabilities to high definition with Grass Valley. As a central part of this long-term partnership with Grass Valley™, Dogan TV will standardize on LDK 8000 Elite Multi-Format HD cameras, LDK 8300 HD Super SloMo cameras, and Kayak™ production switchers for all of its HD facilities.

Dogan TV has two HD studios and seven SD studios with its own HD and SD control rooms at its headquarters in Istanbul. The smaller studio (300m2) has four Grass Valley LDK 8000 Elite HD cameras and a 2.5 M/E Kayak production switcher – the larger (1000m2) is equipped with eight LDK 8000 Elite cameras and a 3.5 M/E Kayak switcher.

The company’s largest outside broadcast truck has also been re-equipped for HD production, with 16 Grass Valley cameras including two LDK 8300 HD Live Super SloMo camera systems and a Kayak HD 3.5 M/E production switcher. Local sales and support is being provided by Grass Valley’s principal distributor in Turkey, Istanbul-based consulting company Arttek.

The contract, negotiated in association with Arttek, represents the largest order in the country for HD production equipment. The installation of this equipment allows Dogan TV to produce much of its own premium content for its new Kanal D HD channel, already on air. The upgrade to the truck ensures that remote HD production capability is available for high profile sporting events, such as the Champions League and UEFA Cup football games for which Dogan TV has the broadcast rights in Turkey.

Cloakware and Oracle Work to Integrate Cloakware Password Authority with Oracle Identity and Access Management

Integration Strengthens Access Rights Security with Privileged Password Management

Cloakware, the leading provider of privileged password management solutions announced that it is working with Oracle to extend their suite of Identity Management solutions with its flagship product, Password Authority. By combining these two best-in-class products, Oracle is now able to enhance their customers' security management, with a comprehensive solution to manage, protect and monitor access to vital data.

As more and more high-profile data breaches come to light, companies are realizing they need increasingly robust solutions to protect their vital data. A study conducted in January 2009 by the Identity Theft Resource Center of San Diego found that the percentage of breaches attributed to current or former employees more than doubled from 2007 to 2008. In light of findings like this, companies are struggling to balance individuals' access rights to secure information against risk and compliance requirements.

Cloakware's patented white-box cryptographic techniques ensure defense-in-depth for end-to-end security of data and keys, especially where insiders have access to the execution environment. Working with Cloakware enables Oracle to offer its customers a solution to securely store and manage privileged passwords for human administrators and runtime applications without changes to the customer's existing infrastructure.

Password Authority leverages multiple integration points into the Oracle Identity and Access Management Suite, including:

- Oracle Internet Directory (OID) - Password Authority can manage the passwords for accounts held in OID as well as for service accounts that authenticate against OID.

- Oracle Identity Manager (OIM) - Password Authority ensures that password management is synchronized with roles and access rules.

- Oracle WebLogic Server - Password Authority automates the run-time replacement of current passwords in connection strings/connection pools and the management of WebLogic administrator accounts.

- Oracle Database 11g Real Application Cluster (RAC) - Password Authority makes use of the Oracle database as its secure repository for all passwords, and is capable of supporting a geographically distributed database installation. Password Authority is also capable of maintaining and releasing Oracle Database passwords to humans and applications.

Nortel Adds Enhancements to Industry-Leading Carrier VoIP Portfolio

New Software Gives Carriers More Capacity, Speeds Upgrade Times, Delivers Advanced SIP Applications to Subscribers

Nortel announced significant product enhancements to its carrier voice and multimedia product offerings that will allow service providers to increase network capacity, upgrade their networks more quickly and also improve the communication experience for residential and business subscribers. These new enhancements, which are expected to be available in the third quarter of 2009, include the latest software releases of the Nortel's Communication Server (CS) 2000 softswitch (Rel CVM13) and Nortel's Adaptive Application Server SIP software engine (Rel A2E 7.0 SP1).

New core features introduced in Nortel's CS 2000 IP Multimedia softswitch provide a 66 percent increase in core VoIP capacity while drastically improving software upgrade times by 70 percent over prior releases. Core enhancements to Nortel's Adaptive Application Engine SIP server provide up to a 280 percent increase in SIP lines capacity.

Nortel's new product enhancements include more than 100 new end user features. Highlights include:

- A new Personal Agent web-based portal that lets subscribers view and access their call logs, address book and use click-to-call features from any web browser in a more intuitive manner as well as enabling carriers to create custom widgets into their existing end-user web portals.

- An enhanced Personal Communicator PC client that offers a modern highly intuitive user interface, supports federated instant messaging to Yahoo, AOL, MSN and Google and allows subscribers to manage multiple calls from a single window.

- Open Programmability Interfaces that allow subscribers to communication-enable web applications. For example, a subscriber could communication-enable their home or business security service by programming it to call their mobile phone and play a pre-recorded announcement (i.e., "your back door is open") if an intruder trips the security alarm.

- SIP Business Trunking enhancements to include support of all existing widely deployed PRI trunking capabilities via SIP as well as support of the existing draft version of Standards SIP Connect 1.1. All of these capabilities make it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to migrate their legacy PBX trunking services to SIP.

- New features on Nortel's Mobile Extension application include a "call grabber" feature that lets users switch their calls between their mobile and fixed phone while maintaining the user's presence status and without call interruption. A new "secretary" feature allows a secretary/administrative assistant to handle a manager's calls and see the manager's presence/availability via a PC client.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nortel Obtains Approvals for $1.13 Bil Sale Agreement With Ericsson

Nortel Obtains Canadian and U.S. Court Approvals for Sale Agreement With Ericsson for CDMA Business and LTE Access Assets for Purchase Price of US$1.13 Billion

Nortel Networks Corporation announced that at a joint hearing, it, its principal operating subsidiary Nortel Networks Limited, and certain of its other subsidiaries including Nortel Networks Inc., obtained orders from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approving the sale agreement with Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson for substantially all of Nortel's CDMA business and LTE Access assets for a purchase price of US$1.13 billion.

As announced on July 25, 2009, under the asset sale agreement, Ericsson will purchase substantially all of Nortel's CDMA business which is the second largest supplier of CDMA infrastructure in the world, and substantially all of Nortel's LTE Access assets giving it a strong technology position in next generation wireless networks. Also as part of this agreement, a minimum of 2,500 Nortel employees supporting the CDMA and LTE Access business will receive offers of employment from Ericsson. Completion of the sale is subject to regulatory and other customary closing conditions, and the purchase price is subject to certain post-closing adjustments. Nortel will work diligently with Ericsson to close the sale later this year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Irdeto cuts deal with Foxtel for online plan

Irdeto has cut a deal to provide Australian pay-TV provider Foxtel with cutting-edge content management solution to protect a range of online content initiatives under development. The objective of the exercise is to enable Foxtel to offer subscribers enhanced entertainment offerings and premium content on new media platforms that include downloads to PCs.

One of the challenges posed by the project was to integrate new online delivery systems while ensuring that the pay-TV company’s existing workflows and systems functioned without interruption during the transition. Moreover, Foxtel’s range and volume of video and metadata coming in from various internal and external sources also needed careful synchronisation with online services.

Irdeto has established for its client simple but powerful custom interfaces requiring only a small team to ingest, repurpose and publish hundreds of hours of broadcast content across a wide variety of formats, enabling delivery to Foxtel’s online services and partners, as well as elsewhere.

Thomson’s Innovations Enhance Comcast’s Offerings for the Digital Home

Thomson develops groundbreaking Advanced Cable Gateways for new broadband services and supports Comcast in the deployment of Digital Transport Adaptors (DTA) Paris, France

Thomson, a worldwide leader of services to content creators, announced an agreement with Comcast, the leading provider of cable, entertainment and communications products and services in the U.S., to bring to market the next generation of broadband Internet and digital communications services with Advanced Cable Gateways devices.

Conceived as a home networking and communications hub, this platform allows Comcast to provide state-of the art digital voice and data services to its customers – including using enhanced cordless telephone handsets to view email, manage voice mail, read news, weather, and sports, and to click-to-call from a universal address book powered by Plaxo, business directory, or call logs.

Comcast and Thomson expect to start deploying the Advanced Cable Gateway in the third quarter of 2009. As a long-term supplier, Thomson also provides Comcast with a variety of residential broadband products including data and VoIP cable modems.

Thomson entered last year the US cable video market by developing Digital Transport Adaptors (DTA) for Comcast. These DTAs that Comcast will be rolling out in the coming weeks are one-way devices that enable cable operators to move quickly and cost-efficiently to all-digital infrastructures by delivering digital-quality video and audio service to existing analog cable customers. The DTA, conceived to be completely user-friendly (easy to use, small and “plug and play”), is one of the less expensive ways cable operators will be able to deliver standard definition programs following the broadcast digital transition.

Thomson is currently working on the second generation of DTA, which will be smaller than a PDA and fully environmentally friendly.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rovi Launches Digital Media Guide to Transform the Entertainment Discovery Experience

Relationship with Blockbuster® and Other Content Providers to Enable Access to Online Content such as BLOCKBUSTER OnDemand™ Movies

Rovi Corporation, formerly Macrovision Solutions Corporation, unveiled a new media guide, code named “Liquid.” This new media guide is capable of connecting consumers to entertainment content on the Internet and digital content stored at home, as well as broadcast and cable TV in a single, elegant user interface designed to simplify the entertainment experience.

Today’s consumers have more entertainment options than ever – from television shows and movies to online video content, music and digital photos. With so much content available, the problem then becomes how to sort and find what you really want to watch.

Enabling consumers to easily sift through the enormous amount of digital content available, the Liquid guide builds upon the familiar user experience of the television guide to make it easy for consumers to find what they want, when they want it.

Rovi is working with Blockbuster Inc. to easily integrate access to BLOCKBUSTER OnDemand content and services directly through the Liquid guide. The Liquid guide is designed to provide a direct access to content from leading online entertainment services such as Slacker radio and YouTube™ XL, a website that is optimized for watching YouTube videos on large displays, allowing people to easily interact and engage with content they choose to consume on their own time. It is also compatible with leading movie technology provider Roxio CinemaNow.

The Liquid guide uses intelligence to store favorites and make metadata-enhanced recommendations for undiscovered content. The guide also stores user profiles, so each member of the household can retrieve a personalized guide each time he or she turns on the TV. The Liquid guide is designed to be able to connect to social network applications, such as Flixster – one of the largest social networks for movie lovers on the web – to access and provide recommendations directly through the guide.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CONNECTIONS™ Europe to discuss implications, strategies as digital TV subscribers to exceed 650 million worldwide by 2013

Parks Associates announced the topics for CONNECTIONS™ Europe Summit, taking place November 4, 2009, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Summit, hosted by international research firm Parks Associates, features executive insight and worldwide consumer and industry research for broadband and value-added services, connected CE, digital content, and IPTV.

CONNECTIONS™ Europe Summit, hosted at the M√∂venpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre, also features keynote speaker Rob Timmer, Senior Director Net TV, BU TV, Philips Consumer Lifestyle.

Over 650 million households worldwide will have digital television service by 2013. The population of online video viewers is 44% higher in Western Europe than in the U.S., so European service providers and CE companies will be particularly active in deploying converged services that blend interactive features with traditional entertainment and communication applications.

CONNECTIONS™ Europe Session Topics:
• Opportunities in digital home tech services
• The influence and ARPU of value-added services
• Evolving role of residential gateways
• Impact of online video on video devices and entertainment platforms
• Next-generation applications for television, digital media services, and advanced video

CONNECTIONS™ Global Sponsors are HD-PLC Alliance, DSC, Macrovision, NXP, Radialpoint, ActiveVideo Networks, Affinegy, Icron, Irdeto, ProVision Communications, Telcordia, and Zilog. CONNECTIONS™ Europe Advisory Sponsor is Eyecon Technologies.

CONNECTIONS™ Europe is accepting speaker proposals until August 15, 2009. Visit http://www.connectionseurope.com for sponsorship information, to submit a speaking proposal, and to download the free white paper IPTV and the Digital Home.

Monday, July 20, 2009

ActiveVideo Networks Acquires Avinity Systems, Creates Powerful InteractivePlatform to Redefine iTV on Global Scale

ActiveVideo Networks announced at the end of May that it has reached an agreement to acquire Avinity Systems BV, bringing together the two leading providers of cloud-based interactive TV platforms and applications, and expanding the reach and availability of the Web-based user experiences that are redefining interactive television (iTV 2.0).

The transaction strengthens ActiveVideo Networks' technology and application offerings and creates a global leader in the fast-growing market for delivery of cloud-based services to televisions around the world. The acquisition combines two companies that will have deployed interactive services to more than five million homes worldwide by the end of 2009. Post-acquisition, ActiveVideo Networks will have publicly-disclosed deployments with a wide variety of service providers, including Oceanic Time Warner Cable and Grande Communications in the United States; Tele2 and Reggefiber in Europe; and PCCW in Hong Kong.

ActiveVideo Networks and Avinity have consistently advocated that the future of content delivery -- including VoD navigation, Web-based video, interactive advertising and other services -- will be driven by server-based technologies. Both platforms use an ultra-thin client in the set-top box to pass user keystrokes to servers in the network. The servers create compressed videostreams in response to user interaction and unicast them over IP or cable back to the home to be decoded and displayed by the set-top box. When combined,the ActiveVideo and Avinity RenderCast platforms will be capable of delivering Web-like personalization and interactivity to a worldwidetelevision audience through both legacy and next generation digital set-topboxes and broadband-connected devices.

To view the full press release, click here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Icron to Appoint Silicon Valley Veteran Robert Haefling as CEO

Icron Technologies, the leading provider of USB extension solutions, announces that it has entered into an agreement to appoint Robert Haefling as its new President and CEO.

Robert Haefling will lead Icron through its next phase of growth as the company broadens from successful USB extension markets into Video+USB extension market opportunities. Mr. Haefling brings strong Silicon Valley connections plus extensive experience in various sectors of the technology industry from semiconductor to software and computer component and peripherals.

Mr. Haefling has broad executive management experience in product strategy, global marketing, sales, and business development; and has been successful in driving technology adaptation and development of supporting ecosystem strategies. Prior to accepting the position with Icron, Mr. Haefling was General Manager and Group Vice President with ST Microelectronics and previously held positions as CEO with Meridian Audio Group, GM and VP with Genesis Microchip, VP with Sage Inc., and Director with Bell Microproducts. He started his career with Texas Instruments after earning a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and Finance from the University of North Texas.

CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES addresses challenges, opportunities as connected consumer electronics take center stage

Parks Associates announced the Call For Papers for its upcoming CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES, taking place January 7, 2010, in Las Vegas, NV. The international research firm, which forecasts unit sales and installations of connected consumer electronics worldwide will exceed 100 million units annually by 2013, will host the Summit during the first day of 2010 International CES.

The main topics for the CONNECTIONS™ Summit sessions include trends in consumer electronics, including 3D TV and support services; new advertising models for TV and online video; advanced video services; home systems and energy management; mobile services; and digital health.

The Summit sessions, moderated by Parks Associates’ expert analysts, examine the consumer and industry trends in these digital living sectors and present strategies that fit best with the changing needs of households in the U.S. and throughout the world.

For more information or to submit to speak at CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES, visit http://www.connectionssummit.com/. The form also offers submission options for CONNECTIONS™ Europe Summit, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on November 4, 2009. Submission deadline for both events is August 15, 2009.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

AMIMON Secures $10 Million

Funding to Accelerate Mass Market Adoption of WHDI--

AMIMON Inc., the market leader in wireless HD semiconductor solutions, announced that it has raised $10 million in its latest round of funding. Led by Stata Venture Partners, this series D round of financing included all significant investors from prior rounds, in particular: Argonaut Private Equity, Cedar Fund, Evergreen Venture Partners, Walden Israel and Motorola through their strategic venture capital, Motorola Ventures.

AMIMON's chipsets have been shipping in volume embedded in wireless HDTVs and video accessories by leading TV OEMs selling AMIMON-based products in the US, Europe and Japan. AMIMON's wireless technology has also enabled breakthrough products in the medical imaging and professional video markets. AMIMON's strong technical team has already developed and successfully launched six different chips with its prior funding. Engineering strengths coupled with a high-level of execution allowed for effective and efficient use of capital.

Earlier this year AMIMON announced its second generation chipset designed for the WHDI™ (Wireless Home Digital Interface™) standard. It's the world's only chipset capable of wirelessly delivering full uncompressed 1080p/60Hz HD content throughout the entire home. WHDI chipsets will be integrated into wireless HDTV products and other WHDI devices from leading CE manufacturers.

More information is available at www.amimon.com and www.whdi.org.

For the full press release, click here.

Telcordia Sees Growth in Its Fiber Network Design and Management Solutions With Worldwide FTTx Deployments

Portugal's Sonaecom Is the Latest Operator to Select Telcordia Network Engineer to Ensure a Fast, Efficient Next-Generation Network Access Rollout; Cuts Time-to-Market by 80 Percent--

Worldwide communications service providers (CSPs) that are installing next-generation fiber access networks are increasingly relying on Telcordia for their network design and management needs. Sonaecom, Portugal's leading provider in the telecommunications, broadband and media market, is the latest operator to select Telcordia for anational Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) rollout, designed to serve more than one million homes.

For Sonaecom, the key to reducing the cost, complexity and time to market for its broadband installation is Telcordia's suite of network planning and engineering solutions, including Telcordia Network Engineer, a geospatial network management system that enablescomprehensive design, documentation and management of the physical network and its associated inventory.

Sonaecom initially deployed Telcordia Network Engineer in 2001 anduses it to support a EUR 240 million (US$354 million) FTTH network expansion that will be available to more than 2.6 million Portuguese residents by 2011. Eliminating redundant CAD systems is just one of the ways that CSPs use Telcordia Network Engineer to support major network transformation projects.

For more information about Telcordia, visit http://www.telcordia.com/.

For the full press release, click here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Retrevo's Role in the Consumer Decision Process

Retrevo is an interesting company that has come across my radar on several occasions prior to 2009. I like to think of Retrevo as "The Google of the Consumer Electronics Buying Process" in that they have created and maintain a centralized, independent source that covers consumer needs in three key categories - Find, Buy, and Use. Retrevo does this by analyzing more than 40 different electronics categories, hundreds of thousands of products, millions of facts, and millions of user and expert reviews from thousands of publisher sites, user reviews, blogs, forums and more.

We were pleased to have Retrevo represented at the CONNECTIONS event, and we heard from Vipin Jain, their CEO, on a couple of occasions in Santa Clara. He and Tricia Parks, our CEO, addressed the core elements of the consumer electronics purchase process in a Wednesday morning session titled Navigating the Changing CE Purchase Purchase Process. Both Parks Associates and Retrevo conducted large consumer surveys regarding consumer electronics buying decisions in Q2 2009, with the following key questions examined:
  • How have consumers changed their consumer electronics purchasing habits in the last year?
  • Can puchase behavior changes be attributed to the recession or other factors?
  • With changing purchase habits, where are the opportunities and challenges for consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers?
  • Do CE shoppers have specific brand affinities in specific product categories? What causes brand switching? How to raise visibility of your brand?
  • Where does retail shine? Where is it weak? What can companies do to optimize their retail positions?
  • How will the service provider play a larger role in the delivery of hardware?

Vipin was also a participant on my panel Building the Holistic Support Environment. I asked the Retrevo folks if they would be willing to be interviewed as a follow-up. Here is the transcript.

Parks Associates: Can you please describe the work that Retrevo is doing?

Retrevo: Retrevo (www.retrevo.com) is a new kind of marketplace that makes shopping for consumer electronics simple and fun.

Retrevo uses artificial intelligence to analyze and visually summarize more than 50 million real-time data points from across the web to give shoppers the most comprehensive, unbiased, up-to-date product information they need to make smart, confident decisions about what to buy, when to buy, and where to buy.

To learn more about how we do this, read more about us here.

Parks Associates: What does consumer use of a site like Retrevo tell us about some of the key aspects of how consumers research and buy consumer electronics?

Retrevo: More than 3M users visit Retrevo every month to research what consumer electronics products are right for them. Retrevo observes and analyzes these millions of users behaviors in aggregation, to discover interesting activities and trends. We track these publicly using the CE Demand Index and CE Price Index.

The CE Demand Index reflects the (net dollar) demand for consumer electronics products across 40 categories. This index is a leading indicator of consumers’ purchase intention (or sell-through potential from sellers’ perspective) using various offline and online retail channels. The CE Price Index reflects the price trends for actively selling products across 40 categories that consumers have an interest in purchasing. Some of our analysis from the indexes is made available for free through the Retrevo Pulse Reports. Read more about the Retrevo Pulse here.

Parks Associates: From what you can tell, what appear to be key triggers to the purchase of a particular product?

Retrevo: Overall demand is down 15% year over year, and when consumers do come out to buy, Value (price to pay for the features a product offers) is definitely top of mind for consumers. But a study of buying behavior across categories shows some interesting patterns: Consumers care about innovation and want the latest and greatest (in a meaningful way, not from marketing speak). Sure, consumers are spending 20% more time researching, but at the same time, they are willing to spend more for the innovation. Examples of this can be seen in Digital Camera and Optical Disc Player categories, while lack of innovation shows in categories such as Home Theater Systems. A full report is available here.

Parks Associates: What does your knowledge about consumers and CE buying tell you about how particular CE brands tend to fare? Are there products where consumers are more brand loyal, and brands where they are less loyal?

Retrevo: We recently did some studies about brand affinity, and came up with interesting conclusions. Value (features for the price) trumped brand in all but the strongest categories. While we do not share data about specific brands or products, the aggregate results showed brand affinity to be consistently low across many categories including: DVD Players, Picture Frames, Laptops/netbooks, camcorders, and home theater systems. Cameras had a 180% higher affinity than average, and TVs were are 200% of average.

Other myths that were disproved were:
Myth: Customers are loyal. Once you acquire them, they are yours for life
Fact: Only 56% users stated that they would buy products from the same brand because they had a positive experience with them. 24% of users stated that they would consider buying from the same brand if that brand continued to represent a good value and/or good quality and/or innovation (features/functions in the product). So, even with a positive brand experience, consumers are sensitive to (and sometimes skeptical about) brand’s continued commitment to their differentiation, a hard reality in face of every increasing complexity, innovation and competition in product space.

Myth: A positive product experience means repeat purchase from the same brand
Fact: Even though 80% users had a positive view of a brand they owned and stated they would consider buying from them again, the stated intent didn’t translate into their actions when we silently studied their shopping behavior on the Retrevo site. It appears that consumers get into a different mindset when researching products, not completely rationalized by their beliefs and experiences, highlighting the complexity and fear surrounding consumer electronics purchases. 76% of the users spent better part of their product research identifying/finding products for purchase without ever choosing a brand explicitly. Factors that contributed to brand switching / product selection were good value at 34%, trusted sites and experts raving about a different product/brand at 25% and other users talking positively about a different product/brand at 10%.

Parks Associates: Retrevo has been able to provide some interesting information about what products are “hot.” What can you tell us about the 2008 hot products or brands? What products or brands tended to top the list in 2008?

Retrevo: Retrevo Pulse looked at the behavior of millions of users along with their level of interest, reviews from experts and users and pricing data, to identify the top products of 2008. The Pulse Awards go to products that have been recognized for high quality, high level of demand (user interest), rich feature sets, and most importantly, high value. The winners for 2008 are listed below. For more details, click here.

Parks Associates: What trends are you seeing in consumers purchasing high-definition televisions? What are they looking for? How do features like high refresh rates impact purchasing behavior?

Retrevo: High momentum in the first half and excess inventory in the second half of 2008 depressed prices to unrealistic levels last holiday season. Negative margins forced brands and retailers to raise prices post-holiday season as excess inventory cleared from the channel (ASPs went up more than 30% from January to mid-April). Even though the category has gone through a refresh cycle in last few months (more than 50% of currently selling HDTVs were introduced this year), demand hasn't picked up even after a technology refresh cycle. What is the innovation in HDTVs lately? Transition from 720p to 1080p? Yawn! Consumers are not biting. Let's work on the basics. Get the best out-of-the-box experience without worrying about ISF specs, calibration, refresh rates, etc. Get HDTVs to network and "simply" download content from your computer and from the Internet, and we will have a shot at making people spend more for the newer technology rather than simply gravitating to value brands for a seemingly commoditized technology.

Parks Associates: Who do consumers trust for advice? What is the role of professional product reviewers vs. bloggers vs. friends and family?

Retrevo: The product category, and the stage that a consumer is in during the purchase process, dictates who influences them.

Our research shows that for many technology categories that are considered purchases (including HDTVs, Laptops, Home Entertainment Systems etc), consumers read expert reviews earlier in their shopping journey (to get some grounding and guidance) and use user reviews very close to the purchase to get the final reinforcement and/or reason to buy or not to buy. In fact, more than 75% of people behave this way. Our definition of experts includes not just professional product reviewers, but also vertical sites, blogs and anchors on passion sites (around specific areas of interest)..

Some technology categories are more social / user review friendly from recommendation perspective, mostly mobile categories such as cell phones, MP3 players, accessories/add on etc. Most of these categories fall under either “impulse/emotional” buys.

Parks Associates: What products or categories are you seeing as hot in 2009? What are you anticipating for the holiday 2009 shopping season?

Retrevo: The high unemployment rate and other economic factors are most likely contributing to lackluster growth in many product categories including game consoles, MP3 players, and even digital cameras. The primary categories with any buzz in the marketplace right now are laptops (particularly netbooks) and smartphones. They will likely enjoy modest growth in demand. The next several months leading up to the holidays could find consumers buying smaller ticket items like universal remotes, radar detectors, and headsets which are all showing growth trends on Retrevo's Pulse. TV demand has been on a slow decline for the last few months but has just recently started to show signs growth.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Consona Corporation Announces Close on Acquisition of SupportSoft Enterprise Software Assets

Consona Corporation, a worldwide leader in providing customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and services for companies of all sizes, announced that it has closed on its acquisition of the enterprise software related assets of SupportSoft, Inc., a leading support automation software company in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $20 million.

As of the close, SupportSoft’s enterprise products are now offerings from Consona, specifically under the management of the Consona CRM division headed by General Manager Tom Millay. Consona remains committed to supporting, maintaining and enhancing each of the SupportSoft products as they are today for existing customers.

For the full press release, click here.

Sigma Design Joins HomeGrid Forum Board of Directors

HomeGrid Forum announced that Sigma Designs, Inc. has joined its Board of Directors.

Sigma Designs brings additional semiconductor industry expertise to the group, which also includes representatives from leading retailers, service providers, PC manufacturers and consumer electronics companies – all supporting the development and delivery of next-generation wired home networking products based on G.hn technology.

Sigma Designs is part of a growing list of industry-leading organizations that are part of HomeGrid Forum. Global leaders in the service provider, computing, and consumer electronics industries also support the adoption of G.hn through their participation in the ITU-T.

For a complete list of HomeGrid Forum members, visit http://www.homegridforum.org/.

For the full press release, click here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cloakware Opens New Research Center to Drive Security Technology Development

Cloakware, an Irdeto company, providing proven security solutions protecting software and content on more than one billion PCs, set-top boxes, mobile phones and media players worldwide, recently launched the Cloakware Advanced Research Center (CARC). Working with renowned academic institutions across the globe, the CARC will bring together world-class researchers to advance software security technology and foster innovation.

Led by Cloakware's Chief Architect and founder Yuan Xiang Gu, Chief Scientist and founder Harold Johnson, and System Architect and Team Lead Clifford Liem, as well as a team of respected experts from Cloakware and premier global universities, CARC’s research program will focus on developing advancements in software security and protection technology to address the myriad of modern day software security challenges. Beyond core research, the CARC will also issue external technical publications, and organize and promote international forums and workshops. In addition, the CARC will also offer research grants to some of the brightest minds in the industry, as part of the center’s ongoing mission to advance the science and technology of software security. Moreover, the CARC will partner with government agencies and universities to establish regular internship programs and provide an industry oriented research platform for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

The launch of the Cloakware Advanced Research Center further demonstrates Irdeto’s commitment to R&D, as well as the importance of continued innovation to protect software and content across a variety of devices – from PCs to set-top boxes, and from mobile phones to media players.

For the full press release, click here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

2Wire Follows up on Residential Gateways

As CONNECTIONS™ was originally designated as "The Residential Gateway Conference" in its inaugural year (1997), it's great to bring leaders in this space together every year for a refresh and a look ahead. This is exactly what we did in Santa Clara last month, with a panel titled Service Provider Home Networking Strategies: RGs and Services.

The residential gateway's role for telecom services has become better defined with each year, and the rollout of advanced broadband services, bundles, and telco/IPTV will continue to drive growth. From our recent report Home Networks for Consumer Electronics, we anticipate that residential gateawy deployments will grow from 36% in 2009 to 52% in 2013. The nature of residential gateway deployments among cable operators is a really interesting area to watch right now, with debate on both sides to the merit and need as of this point. However, it's clear that - at least for certain service providers - the reliance of advanced customer premise equipment in faciliating both consumer-facing and backend services and actions - is critical.

Jayant Dasari led a conversation at CONNECTIONS with a number of leading vendors. We have some follow-up responses to share from Jaime Fink, Vice President of Technology and Strategy at 2Wire.

Parks Associates: What are the key hardware and middleware components that need to fall into place for the RG to take on the role of media center in the home?

Jaime Fink: We see two clear gaps that need to be filled for the residential gateway to assume the role of media center in the home:

The first gap is the lack of clearly a defined home networking standard for distribution of media to fixed devices (TVs and STBs) and mobile devices. The race is on, with competition heating up between a variety of wired technologies – none of which have captured either retail or service provider acceptance in a unified fashion – and the increasingly popular wireless technologies. With recent advances in wired technologies like ITU G.hn, as well as the silicon advances in the 5GHz spectrum of wireless 802.11n by expanding up to 4x4 radio implementations, it appears that both wired and wireless technologies will benefit from significant improvements in the very near future. While it’s too early to call a winner in this race, it is safe to say, if the market continues moving toward support for connected TVs and DLNA devices, that wireless is the more desirable approach, especially in areas of the world where wiring quality remains substandard.

The second gap is the lack of a unified user experience for access to multiple content sources and next generation digital home applications. While DLNA has achieved some success in this area, it has not been fully embraced by the public, due to shortcomings in both user experience and legal accessibility of desirable content, including broadcast television, DVR, and over-the-top content. A new approach to user experience must be introduced – one that enables the home media hub to integrate all of these content sources and next generation applications into a single, consistent user experience for television, mobility, and digital home applications. It also means that an acceptable approach to DRM within the home must be established to prevent the various renderers (TVs/STBs, IP-connected Blu-Ray players, etc.) from implementing multiple divergent DRM techniques.

Parks Associates: What will be the major cost drivers? Is there an industry consensus on what the price point needs to be at in order to promote a wider acceptance of RG for all residential services?

Jaime Fink: In determining price points, consumer demand will play a larger role than production costs, as residential gateways and other CPE are typically subsidized by the service provider. However, the intention of gateway manufacturers such as 2Wire is to gradually add only incremental cost to the gateway as more processing power and home networking technologies are added. This will serve to keep the cost basis relatively competitive with other gateway technologies, while aligning today’s costs with tomorrow’s services.

It is important to note, however, that additional peripheral home products and technologies will likely be required, including a very large hard disk, and perhaps technologies such as Zigbee for home automation and home monitoring. Service providers are leaning toward requiring that consumers determine – and pay for – the size of hard disk that corresponds to the amount of storage they require, and this disk must be easily attachable to the gateway (via cable, snap-on SATA, or USB 3.0 connections). This modular approach to the hardware keeps the base gateway systems reasonably affordable, allowing them to be given away or largely subsidized, letting consumers add hardware features as needed to support desired applications and services.

Parks Associates: What are some of the concerns that operators have in deploying an RG that is capable of serving as a multi-service delivery platform?

Jaime Fink: The biggest concern seems to be the lack of a single standard that could be used to manage services. There are several management approaches and service architectures available (TR-069, OMA-DM, OSGi), but none provide a common approach that solves all the needs of the multi-service platform in the home. There are several efforts in standards bodies to align these approaches, facilitating the addition of new APIs to encourage the development of next generation services, but this will take some time to achieve. In the meantime, it is important to begin implementing solutions that prove the value proposition and ease-of-integration with the service provider’s architecture. Only by establishing such proof points can we promise a true turnkey solution that enables services and content from any source in the service provider’s architecture.

Parks Associates: What value added services do you envision the service providers introducing via an RG in the next 12-18 months?

Jaime Fink: The initial demand is for a whole-home storage and backup solution for multiple PCs in the home, including ‘super-backup’ of the most valuable content to a secured Internet-based storage disk. Additionally, there is strong demand for home monitoring solutions, including a variety of camera and other ‘lifestyle’ sensors which provide peace of mind and limit damage in emergencies.

Parks Associates: Will embedded storage be an important component in RGs?

Jaime Fink: YES! The residential gateway is ideally positioned for embedded storage, as it is the center of the home network, accessible to every device, with typically fast link speeds with each device. With cloud-based storage, average users are limited by very slow uplink speeds – sometimes upwards of two months! By contrast, in-home networked storage provides superior speed and user experience, and can even help organize the user’s media library. In the future, as IPTV and IP-connected televisions increase in popularity, the home network storage disk will be the logical solution for caching VoD content and live broadcast TV for availability to all the television sets in the home.

Follow-up with Valens Semiconductor

Micha Risling, vice president of marketing at Valens Semiconductor, was kind enough to respond to some follow-up questions from the panel Extending the Reach of Wired Networks and Interfaces.

Parks Associates: During the panel, I had expressed skepticism about seeing a really large market opportunity for whole-house HDMI solutions, and I asked Micha about this.

Risling: He notes that this skepticism isn't totally unwarranted, but he also indicates that we should expect to see consumer electronics vendors adopt solutions such as HDBaseT™ due to a number of factors:
  • The desire by consumers to distribute very high-quality video from one consumer electronics platform to another;
  • The rise of the connected TV, where Internet capabilities are more prevalent. Risling indicates that HDBaseT will allow televisions to take advantage of Web services as "thinner" clients. In other words, the televisions may not have to account for all of the internal requirements for Web capability (browsers, etc.), but could take advantage of such capabilities provided by one advanced CE platform or perhaps the home computer. HDBaseT would provide the IP backbone to send the Web services to the TVs.
  • A desire by television manufacturers to provide for more advanced interfaces.
  • A "clean" solution that enables televisions and other consumer electronics to receive Web and other content in the whole-home environment without necessarily being co-located to control devices.

Parks Associates: This looks to be a highly competitive field, as a number of vendors (including other participants on the CONNECTIONS panel) are targeting similar applications. I asked Risling to describe the key differentiators for HDBaseT. Here is his response:

Risling: The main difference is easy to say or should I say measure. We can send the same video quality as HDMI (uncompressed 1080P, 60Hz, 48bits) over much-longer cables. We can do it over a 100m standard Cat5e cable and a standard RJ45 connector where other solutions are limited to few meters using a special cable and a special connector. But it is not just the cable; we are the only technology that enables a friendly installation. We support standard passive connectors and field terminated connectors that enables you to easily install it. This is something that you can’t achieve with the other solutions, and the reason is that both need high quality shielded cables with pre-soldered connectors. The cost of deploying these high-quality cables is by far more expensive then using either an existing CAT5e installation or installing a new cable which is the cheapest cable in the market. And that can be the main essence when comparing the other solutions.

HDBaseT was developed from the first place in such way that it fits the specification of an existing cable/connector and thus it is the most reliable solution with the lowest cost. Other solutions are based on a similar implementation that requires very expensive cable and connector and are limited in terms of distance.

Due to its unique implementation, HDBaseT is better prepared for supporting the future needs of the industry including supporting 2K/4K resolution and 3D. In fact, we can assure that our next generation will be able to support 20Gbps. Although other solutions indicate that they support video and Internet signaling, HDBaseT supports "5Play," which adds control signaling and support for power to source CE devices on top of the distributed video, audio, and Internet the ability of sending controls and more importantly a unique capability of sending enough power to source CE devices .

Parks Associates: What do you see as some of the key advantages to HDBaseT over other solutions?

Risling: Performance, distance, friendly installation, the 5Play convergence at the lowest system cost, standard cable/connector, reliability, future upgradability and power of cable.

Parks Associates: Can you explain more about what special requirements HDBase-T needs in order to extend the protection afforded by HDCP over the whole-home?

Risling: Unfortunately I’m not able to disclose it at the moment. It will be announced once the specification is released.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

HomeToys releases June/July 2009 Issue

Home Toys, a CONNECTIONS supporting media organization, released their June/July issue of Home Technology eMagazine.

Articles include:

>> Will RF4CE be the Killer App for ZigBee? - Cees Links, CEO & Founder of GreenPeak
>> Online Marketing Generates Sales - Leslie Stevens, Eclipse Marketing
>> Forget Your Title. Focus on the Job - G.A. "Andy" Marken, Marken Communications Inc
>> Choosing The Right Projector Mount - Rob Buehl, ImportAdvantage, Inc.
>> Programmable Logic Controller - Features - Eugene Kowch, P.I.D. Consultants Inc.
>> An Experiment In Home Automation in Brasil - Jose Roberto Muratori, Brazilian Home Automation Association
>> Give Your Home Office a Wireless Makeover - Courtesy of ComputerTV
>> Classic Home Toys #22 - The Rebirth of 3-D: Part 2 - James Russo

Recent interviews include:


To read these topics in depth, please click here to view this month's issue.

For more information about HomeToys, visit http://www.hometoys.com/ .

Unitech Wireless selects Telcordia Prepaid Mobile Services Platform for Pan-India GSM Network to Serve Millions of Subscribers

Telcordia Real-Time Charging Solution Enables State-of-the-Art Communications Network to Support Advanced Wireless Voice and Data Services across India --

Telcordia announced that it has been selected by Delhi-based Unitech Wireless as part of its build-out of a pan-India GSM network to serve millions of subscribers. The Telcordia® Real-Time Charging solution will enable Unitech Wireless to reduce time-to-market in offering sophisticated and innovative services for advanced wireless voice and data, in all 22 circles across India.

The Telcordia Real-Time Charging solution offers Unitech Wireless a flexible, affordable convergent charging solution that can handle the demands of prepaid-postpaid, voice-data-content, and circuit-packet convergence. While reducing time-to-market for new advanced services, the solution will also help Unitech Wireless reap major cost savings and drive revenue by consolidating charging on a convergent platform while increasing customer loyalty, usage and retention.

For the full press release, click here.

Zilog introduces enhanced, low-voltage serial communications controller

Based on Popular Zilog Serial Communications Controller, New Solution Is Ideal for Computer Peripherals and Other Applications Requiring Lower Power--

Zilog, Inc. announced a new enhanced low-voltage serial communications controller (SCC) for a variety of computing applications requiring increased performance and lower power consumption.

The Zilog Z8523L Enhanced SCC (ESCC) builds on Zilog’s popular and original discrete SCC, providing a low-power solution that reduces the voltage from 5 to 3.3 volts. The ESCC also features performance improvements that allow applications including computer peripherals, networking equipment and routers to experience faster data rates and increased processor bandwidth.

The Zilog 3.3 volt ESCC has deeper FIFOs and other features that significantly reduce the software overhead for each channel. This allows for more channels per system, faster data rates with more CPU bandwidth and overall lower CPU costs. The ESCC can support multiple channel and multiple protocols that easily interface to 8/16 bit addressable non-multiplexed address/data buses. The ESCC can be configured to satisfy a wide variety of serial communications applications. On-chip features include baud rate generators, digital PLLs and crystal oscillators to reduce external logic. Additional features may include optimized FIFOs to support high speed SDLC transfers using DMA controllers.

The Zilog Z8523L Enhanced SCC is in production and now available to ship to customers that place orders through distributors. For more information, visit http://www.zilog.com/.
For the full press release, click here.