Thursday, May 27, 2010

CONNECTIONS US sponsors include Verizon Wireless, Cisco, Intel...

Parks Associates announced CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference & Showcase will feature more than 60 sponsors and supporters from the digital living markets. Parks Associates will host CONNECTIONS™ on June 8-10 at the Santa Clara Convention Center, with more than 500 executives focused on new media, home controls and energy management, mobile and entertainment platforms, value-added services, and connected consumer electronics.

Our CONNECTIONS™ sponsors reflect a broad array of companies all adding value to both home networks and access services and helping to create new value from these exciting applications.

CONNECTIONS™ sponsors:

Reception: Verizon Wireless

Gold: Cisco, Intel

Silver: Accenture, ActiveVideo Networks, Allegro, DivX, D-Link, Gigle Networks, Intamac, ProVision Communications, PacketVideo, RedMere, Rovi,

Bronze: 4Home, Accedo Broadband, Affinegy, Arxan, IBM, iTOK, LEVEL Studios, PlumChoice, Vuze, Zenverge

Breakfast: Roxio

Platinum supporting organizations are Churchill Club and JETRO. Supporting organizations include ADMIN, ATIS, CABA, CEDIA,, Circle F Media, Digital Media Pipeline, Electronics Technicians Association, EMA’s GamePlan Summit, ETSI, Experiential Marketing Forum, FTTH Conference & Expo, HomePlug Powerline Alliance, HomePNA, IDMA, MoCA, MPEG Industry Forum, SIP Center, Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi Technology Forum, Wireless Industry Partnership, and WITI.

Platinum supporting media are Connected Planet, Digital Media Wire, and Home Toys. Supporting media are BoogarLists, Conference Guru, Connect-World, FierceIPTV, FierceMobileContent, FierceOnlineVideo, FierceWireless:Europe, Gadget-t, Global Electronics & Electrical Appliances, HiddenWires, Home Media Magazine, IPTV Industry, OSP, Residential Systems, Screen Digest,, VentureBeat, and WiMAX Industry.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Secure Your Online Identity

Identity theft or fraud is one of the fastest growing areas of crime in the digital world and has impacted millions of consumers worldwide. According to a recent study on identity theft published by Javelin Strategy & Research, identity fraud affected 11 million Americans in 2009 which is a 12% increase from 2008. In monetary terms it is estimated that identity theft approached $54 billion through the end of 2009.

Identify theft is defined as one person impersonating another person by using stolen identity (personal information) for committing financial fraud or any other criminal activity. The fraudsters typically steal the personal identity by breaching the security of your personal computer and gaining access to personal information like credit card numbers, bank account details, social security number (SSN), financial documents, and other personally identifiable information (PII). The data from your computer can be stolen by a malicious program, through network intrusion by a hacker or by physical theft. Once a fraudster has access to your personal information he/she can use your stolen information in a number of malicious ways including:

  • Steal money from your bank account(s)
  • Make purchases using your credit card(s)
  • Apply for home loans
  • Get medical benefits
  • Any other financial gain

At we encounter thousands of issues related to diverse malware attacks on a daily basis. Most systems found to be infected do not have active and up-to-date security software that can prevent such malicious attacks. Our Personal Technology Experts help consumers by identifying and removing malicious programs from their computers in order to safeguard and protect their identity.

What can you do to protect your identity before it is compromised? Here are five simple steps that will make your personal information more secure:

  1. Keep your computer secure by using up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software.
  2. Prevent network intrusion by hackers with an active and properly configured firewall and by ensuring Windows Update is active and all security patches are applied automatically.
  3. Never provide sensitive information over emails in response to a mail.
  4. Beware of fake corporate emails, web address redirects and cloned web pages that plant malicious programs like viruses and key loggers to capture sensitive information.
  5. Provide only limited access to your computer, and only to those whom you trust. Use restrictive permissions to protect sensitive data and hard to guess passwords.

In addition, there has been a renewed focus among financial institutions and businesses to counter the threat of identity theft. Follow the best practices and technological solutions recommended by these institutions to safeguard and secure your personal information.


Service: The New Key Word for Growth

Walt Disney, a master at building brand loyalty, once offered the following guiding principle: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

Providing an excellent customer experience will not only encourage your customers to keep coming back; it will enhance your brand’s reputation. In today’s ultra-competitive communications industry, the decisive factor in brand loyalty and reputation is becoming technical support and customer service – and the providers that excel in these areas are positioned to rule the day.

Exponential technological change has profoundly altered the old customer service models for communications service providers. Traditional product sales models have evolved to become ongoing vendor-buyer relationships where post-product support helps determine future brand loyalty and future revenues. While it may be obvious that strong service builds customer loyalty, the power of high-quality digital home support is startling.

A recent Accenture Global Digital Home Consumer Study shows that approximately two-thirds of consumers switched communications providers during the past year. Globally, customer service -- not price -- was the number one reason. Furthermore, 71 percent of respondents agree that experiencing good customer support makes them more likely to buy from the same company in the future. An additional 58 percent say that it makes them more likely to recommend that company to their friends and family.[1]

These same customers are also willing to pay for and reward good service: 69 percent of respondents are willing to pay for technical phone support, while 62 percent said the same for remote monitoring services. The bottom line is that these findings are no surprise when nearly three quarters of retail technology consumers today say they buy based on service quality.

Achieving High Performance in Service

To help position for high performance and success in serving the digital home, communications service providers must develop strategies for how to build and deliver improved technical support to users. Providers can then determine how best to monetize these services and leverage their unique position in the digital home value chain to create distinctive, long-term relationships with their customers.

Successful providers will identify and develop innovative internal and external processes, technologies and standards to create the distinctive capabilities that serve as the building blocks of high performance. Industry leaders will be able to address the following important questions:

• What do customers value? What is the right mix of price versus quality?

• What should your digital home support service offer?

• How should you price the service?

• How should you deliver it? What is the right mix of onsite versus remote delivery?

• What capabilities do you need in terms of people, processes and technology?

• What channels will drive effective and efficient sales and service?

By improving or replacing home technology support services, a provider can reduce costs through fewer minutes, lower repeat rates and call deflection. Through the use of automated tools and some tasks that can be assigned outside of the company, communications providers may achieve substantial savings. In addition, communications service providers that offer cable, phone and Internet can help increase revenues by driving supplemental monthly fees for premium technology support for customers who are willing to pay for a higher level of support.

Accenture research indicates that the industry failure rate for consumer home technology solutions can be as high as 30 percent. With better service comes higher customer retention and brand loyalty in an industry where negative (or positive) experiences stick with consumers and switching costs for the end customer are relatively low.

A Final Thought

Communications and technology companies have drastically reshaped their attitudes toward services. Instead of regarding services as a drag on bottom-line profitability, providers are now rushing to determine how to transform the consumer experience through their service offerings. The providers who innovate in this area are likely to have customers that will “want to see it again and bring their friends.”

Cathy L. Bradley, Managing Director, Customer Contact Business Process Outsourcing Services, Accenture

[1] Accenture 2009 Global Consumer Satisfaction Survey, November 2009.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Service providers must adjust strategies as consumers turn to alternate sources for video & online media

Key industry executives will address recent shifts in consumer video and online viewing habits at CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference & Showcase. These changes in consumer behavior are forcing service providers to expand and enhance their business strategies for connected CE, online video, and other value-added services.

Nearly 20% of U.S. broadband households have a PC-to-TV connection, and the vast majority is using this DIY solution to stream online video.

Over one-half of U.S. households don’t know their broadband speed. Broadband has become a commodity, and service providers are in a position where they have to talk about additional services, including TV Everywhere and tech support. It can be a difficult transition, but they are in an excellent position to leverage their existing customer relationships and take the lead in the digital living ecosystem.

CONNECTIONS™ is the premier event for research and analysis of connected home technologies and digital living solutions, including multiple speakers and attendees representing service providers and their partners.

The conference features sessions on evolving carrier strategies and service and partnership opportunities in response to new consumer behaviors and connected CE:

For more information about the CONNECTIONS Conference, visit
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Verizon Expands Availability of FiOS TV's Mobile Apps

Verizon continues to rapidly enhance the FiOS experience inside and outside the fiber-optic-powered digital home, expanding access to two of FiOS TV's growing suite of mobile applications -- Mobile Remote and Remote DVR Manager -- and adding new features to Mobile Remote.

Effective immediately, the FiOS TV Mobile Remote app can be downloaded to additional smartphones (the DROID ERIS by HTC, DROID Incredible by HTC, HTC Touch Pro2 from Verizon Wireless and the HTC Google Nexus One); and the Remote DVR Manager app now operates on more than 50 mobile devices.

Mobile Remote lets FiOS TV high-definition subscribers use their mobile phones as a television remote control, dynamically changing the TV experience. The application automatically personalizes options based on the specific smartphone connected to the set-top box, enabling customized favorites and other preferences.

In addition, customers can use their mobile devices to flick stored photos from the mobile device to the TV, and Mobile Remote has virtually the same functionality as the standard FiOS TV remote.

In addition to enhancing and expanding Mobile Remote, Verizon is also expanding its popular remote DVR management application, now available on more than 50 devices including most Verizon Wireless BlackBerry devices and Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Customers can review, change or add recording requests; record an entire series; delete recorded programs; browse and search TV and VOD listings; set parental controls; check their DVR recorder status and more -- all through their mobile device, anytime, anywhere.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Rogue Antivirus Software Threatens the Digital Home

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“Rogue Antivirus software” (also known as “Fake Antivirus software”) is a category of software that mimic antivirus software with a key difference: malicious intent. The starting point is usually an innocuous web search or an innocent-looking link in an email from the infected computer of a friend. As soon as a user hits the website fake warnings of virus infections are presented to entice the user to install the rogue antivirus software. Once installed, rogue antivirus software presents the user with a fictitious list of malware infections and bombards the user with incessant pop-ups. The goal? To coerce the user into paying for removal of the fictitious infections. The user is left with no option but to either pay up or to seek expert assistance for removal of the rogue software.

At, we remove Rogue Antivirus software from thousands of computers every year and therefore track this category of malware closely. Recently, a couple of interesting reports caught our attention: a Google study on Fake Antivirus software and an interesting variant of rogueware.

The Google research paper highlighted the trend, noting that 15% of malware domains served up Rogue Antivirus software: over 11,000 domains have been identified. A second important point was the declining lifespan of these domains – to avoid detection Fake Antivirus creators are spawning more variants and are rapidly changing their “hiding places” on the web. For more information on this study click here.

The second interesting news item was from leading Antivirus provider Avira. Rogue Antivirus variants have been detected that closely mimic the look and feel Avira’s security solutions. Rogue Antivirus software usually mimic the Windows Security Center, but mimicking real antivirus software makes it even harder for a normal user to detect the malicious intent. For more information click here.

For the Digital Home, the Rogue Antivirus software is one of the most devious and prevalent threats to guard against, because your computer can get infected despite having active and up-to-date Antivirus software and a site guard for your browser. In addition to securing computers by using legitimate antivirus security software, the Digital Home user needs to be educated on safe browsing and software installation from the Internet. For a first-hand account view of a real Rogue Antivirus software attack, and security tips from, click here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Advertising Capabilities to Monetize iVOD

ActiveVideo Networks, the global leader in cloud-based interactive television and This Technology, LLC, announced a joint initiative to enable cable system operators and programmers to improve monetization of and control over advanced VOD advertising to help grow the iVOD category.

The two companies are leveraging the capabilities of the ActiveVideo CloudTV platform and This Technology’s Metamore and Spotbuilder software to create an SCTE 130-compliant ad serving and delivery solution that enables operators and programmers to dynamically target traditional, Web-based and interactive advertising in conjunction with viewers’ on-demand activity.

The joint solution is intended to use This Technology’s dynamic metadata and advertising supply management software to enable operators and programmers to replace pre-encoded ads, including mid-rolls, with new or different ads. The solution maximizes opportunities in an iVOD environment that encompasses web-like functionality including seamless, personalized navigation, search and discovery, recommendations, social television and interactive television.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

CONNECTIONS addresses potential of new 3D and connected TV enhancements

The percentage of U.S. broadband households purchasing CE continues to decline year over year, falling from 87% in 2007 to 76% in 2009.

Already over one-half of households are spending less on CE in 2010 than they did the year before. The recession has deeply affected consumer spending, but several product categories have defied the downward trend. Industries can develop new revenue streams by building off of these devices, such as Web-based apps or 3D programming for connected LCD TVs or support services bundled with a new computer purchase.

CONNECTIONS™ will feature multiple sessions in the Consumer Electronics track discussing the state of the market and business strategies to leverage these devices:

Design Elements for Connected CE
Monetizing Connected CE
The Future of the Set-top Box

The panels will feature speakers from 2Wire, Actiontec Electronics, ActiveVideo Networks, Allegro Software Development Corporation, BigBand Networks, BridgeCo, Cisco Systems, Gigle Networks, Motorola, Orange/France Telecom Group, PacketVideo, ProVision, RedMere, Roxio CinemaNow, Technicolor, Xpand, Yahoo!, and Zenverge.

CONNECTIONS™ will also feature the keynote presentation “TV Technology in the New Age of Consumer Buying,” from Scott Birnbaum, Vice President, Samsung LCD Business, on June 9 at 10:00 a.m.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Consumers Increasingly Interested in Paid Tech Support Options

Bookmark and Share recently completed an online survey of U.S. broadband-connected consumers and found that an increasing number of consumers have purchased or have expressed a strong interest in using a paid tech support service when faced with a difficult technology problem.

The Sept 2009 research found that 28% of U.S. broadband-connected consumers have paid for a computer tech support service (online / over the phone, in a store or in-home). Of the 72% that haven't yet paid for tech support, 44% indicated they "would considering paying for a computer tech support service when faced with a computer problem" they couldn't solve themselves. Both results - purchases and consideration - have increased over the past few years. Repeat purchase rate is also up - 53% of consumers who have paid for a service have done so more than once (vs. 45% in Oct 2006).

"My computer was infected with a virus or spyware" remains the most common problem with a long tail of slow computer and application-related problems following. Not surprisingly, consumers who have considered paid tech support were much more likely to have experienced a computer problem they couldn't solve themselves.

The majority of paid services (52%) are provided by thousands of local computer repair shops and independent technicians across the U.S., but this is down from 63% (Oct 2006) as retailers, service providers and standalone premium technology support companies have entered the market.

The online survey was fielded to 2,204 broadband-connected consumers, age 30+ during Sept 24-27, 2009.

For a copy of the research email James Morehead ( - VP Product Management, Please include your name, title, company and phone number with your request.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cablevision Systems & ActiveVideo Networks Announce Significant Rollout of CloudTV Interactive Channels

Cablevision Systems and ActiveVideo Networks, the global leader in cloud-based interactive solutions, announced that Cablevision has deployed and delivered more than two dozen new interactive channel experiences to its entire digital video customer base using the ActiveVideo CloudTV platform.

Cablevision, the nation’s fifth-largest cable system operator, is utilizing CloudTV to offer an expansive menu of personalized television content -- including hyper-local sports and news, advertising showcases, and mosaic programming -- to approximately 3 million subscribers in the New York tri-state area. The lineup includes MSG Varsity Interactive, News12 Interactive and a variety of other channels and advertising showcases that are designed to serve specific interests of Cablevision subscribers. In addition, the ActiveVideo platform is powering Quick View kids, sports and news navigational mosaic channels.

Using the ActiveVideo CloudTV platform and content developer’s kit (CDK), Cablevision is able to write Web-based content once for delivery as a single MPEG stream to any digital set-top box. Because CloudTV development is based on standard Web tools and talents, applications that previously took years to create can now be built, tested and deployed in just a few months. Subscribers use standard remote controls to search for, select and engage with video and information just as they can on the Web, but within the “lean-back” environment of television.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Home Systems & Controls, track focus at CONNECTIONS 2010

The Home Systems & Controls track at the upcoming CONNECTIONS™ Conference includes the following panels:

· Residential Energy Management
· Getting Consumers to Care about Home Controls
· Business Models for Energy Management
· Home Area Network: Architectures and Implications
· Energy Management as a Key Application for Home Controls

The panels will feature speakers from 4Home, Best Buy, Cisco, Control4, Direct Energy, GridWise Architecture Council (U.S. Department of Energy), HomePNA Alliance, Ingersoll Rand, Intamac Systems, Powerhouse Dynamics, SimpleHomeNet, and Wi-Fi Alliance.

Other CONNECTIONS™ Session Topics:

· New Media and Digital Content
· Consumer Electronics
· Entertainment Platforms & Value-Added Services

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

50% of U.S. households are interested in home energy monitoring

Home monitoring and controls companies will need to take alternate, more indirect routes to reach mass-market status, according to international research firm Parks Associates.

Almost 50% of U.S. households are very interested in an energy-monitoring device, with nearly 80% willing to pay $100 provided it saves 10-30% on their electricity bill. Energy applications are popular now because of the need for cost savings, but in the end, all home systems will need to be interconnected. By embedding their technologies into energy-related appliances and systems, controls and monitoring companies can get a foothold in the home and start to build traction on a mass scale with consumers.

Controls and monitoring companies can form strategic partnerships with system manufacturers, service providers, and utilities to build these inroads. Many utilities have smart grid programs, which have partnership opportunities, but the popularity of energy solutions has attracted new, nontraditional players. For example, Intel recently announced a sensor that monitors power usage throughout a home and shows the homeowner the amount of power used by different appliances and systems.

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Sonic Announces 'Total 3D' Initiative

Sonic Solutions announced a broad program to support the "next big thing" in home video — the arrival of 3D in the home — with new professional and consumer solutions for the creation, publishing, and playback of 3D digital video content. Sonic is unique in its focus on "Hollywood-to-Home" solutions that enable the growth of new video formats, and Sonic's new 3D offerings will help to fuel the availability and consumer adoption of 3D video. Sonic has developed tools that allow Hollywood studios to encode video, author interactivity, and format titles for release over the internet and in the new Blu-ray 3D format.

The RoxioNow entertainment platform serves a broad range of premium content, including new movies and next-day TV programs, to a growing, multi-manufacturer ecosystem of home and mobile electronics including PCs, connected TVs, set-top DVRs, Blu-ray Disc players, smartphones, and mobile media devices. RoxioNow already powers digital storefronts on 3D-enabled HDTVs and Blu-ray Disc players and is primed to deliver 3D content once titles become available for online distribution.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

ActiveVideo Networks Acquires TAG Networks

ActiveVideo Networks, the global leader in cloud-based interactive television solutions, announced that it has completed an acquisition of TAG Networks, adding the world's most scalable network game platform to its CloudTV interactive streaming platform.

The acquisition extends ActiveVideo’s CloudTV development platform to include games development, a growing and profitable segment of the entertainment market. The combined entity leverages TAG Networks’ successful technology and content portfolio with ActiveVideo’s proven CloudTV to create a powerful and versatile platform that supports both casual and twitch or fast-motion games.

Using TAG’s extensive portfolio of licensed titles, ActiveVideo can enable the development of new revenue streams for cable system operators and the CE industry through the delivery of advertising supported casual games to any digital set-top box or CE device. ActiveVideo, which currently is in approximately 5 million homes, anticipates that the combined benefits of TAG and CloudTV, the addition of compelling new titles and the ultimate introduction of faster-paced games will significantly drive distribution of both services for the foreseeable future.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

CONNECTIONS welcomes 2010 sponsors

Parks Associates is proud to announce the 2010 CONNECTIONS U.S. Sponsors and Supporting Organizations.

CONNECTIONS™ sponsors include 4Home, ActiveVideo Networks, Affinegy, Allegro, Arxan Technologies, Cisco, Gigle Networks, IBM, Intel, iTOK, PacketVideo, ProVision, RedMere, Rovi, Roxio, Verizon Wireless, Vuze and Zenverge.

Supporting organizations include ADMIN, ATIS, CABA, CEDIA,, Circle F Media, Electronics Technicians Association, EMA’s GamePlan Summit, ETSI, Experiential Marketing Forum, HomePlug Powerline Alliance, HomePNA, IDMA, JETRO, MoCA, MPEG Industry Forum, SIP Center, Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi Technology Forum, Wireless Industry Partnership, and WITI.

Platinum supporting media are Connected Planet, Digital Media Wire, and Home Toys. Supporting media are BoogarLists, Conference Guru, Connect-World, FierceIPTV, FierceMobileContent, FierceOnlineVideo, FierceWireless:Europe, Gadget-t, Global Electronics & Electrical Appliances, HiddenWires, Home Media Magazine, IPTV Industry, OSP, Residential Systems, Screen Digest,, VentureBeat, and WiMAX Industry.

Thank you to all the above organizations for their continued support!

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