Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Verizon keeps unlimited data plan for iPhone--for now

Verizon Wireless will keep its $30 unlimited data plan for the iPhone, Lowell McAdam, chief operating officer of Verizon, said today at the company's quarterly investor meeting.

But the unlimited plan will not last for long. The company clarified its position on the unlimited data plan after its investor conference, stating that the iPhone unlimited data plan will be available for a "limited time." Verizon representatives declined to provide details about how long the window would last. But after the offer ends, Verizon will be moving to a usage-based billing model that is similar to what AT&T offers today. Verizon still hasn't disclosed pricing for its 4G LTE handsets, which are set to hit store shelves in the first half of 2011.

As for how long customers will get to keep their unlimited data plans, according to a Verizon spokeswoman, the unlimited plan will only be offered for the contract period. After the contract expires and customers buy a new device, they will be subject to whatever rate plans are available when they upgrade their phones.

For the complete article, please click here.

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How 4G LTE Will Change Home Control

4G LTE could be the biggest thing in home automation since the iPad, ADT and Z-Wave. The evidence was at the Verizon Mobile booth during CES 2011.

There, Verizon demonstrated how its new Home Monitoring and Control system, powered by Motorola's 4Home platform, might utilize a 4G backbone and integrate with 4G-embedded devices such as surveillance systems and home health solutions.

It is that 4G integration that could give Verizon an edge in mass-market home control – a market that is increasingly crowded by the likes of ADT today and Comcast, AT&T and other service providers in the near future.

For the complete article, please click here.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Amazon will acquire the rest of Lovefilm

Online retail giant Amazon brought an end to months of speculation by announcing that it was to buy DVD-to-games rental and download service LOVEFiLM.

Amazon already owns a 42% minority stake in LOVEFiLM International, which operates in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Denmark. It will now buy the remaining 58% share for an undisclosed sum. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of this year and may mean international expansion for LOVEFiLM in line with Amazon’s own European operations.

LOVEFiLM, which has been operating for seven years, offers its 1.6m members a choice of more than 70,000 titles via DVD, Blu-ray, video games, and digital streaming through the LOVEFiLM player, which is used through the PC, PlayStation3 and streamed direct to TV.

For the complete article, please click here.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

World's First Terrestrial 3D TV Service Starts in Italy

The world's first terrestrial 3D TV service officially went live last week, following a successful trial by Italian broadcaster Mediaset.

The service, known as 3VOD, runs on Motive's Bestv set top box, offers subscribers the ability to view films from a selection of around 50 films. It was originally offered as a limited trial to subscribers from late last year.

Previously 3D TV was limited to high-bandwidth pay-tv on satellite and cable platforms. The problem with 3D TV is its very large filesizes—with two images per frame, films are literally twice the size of 2D shows.

What 3VOD does is to trickle the movie file to the Bestv set-top box throughout the day and night. The box stores the film on its hard drive. Trickling small amounts of data allows the broadcaster to extract the maximum value out of any under-used bandwidth. Typically broadcasters transmit up to seven TV channels in what is known as a “multiplex”.

Although it describes itself as video on demand, 3VOD is not a conventional VoD service like the U.S. Netflix. Instead users are able to watch from a limited set of choices. Unlike true VoD services where the files are stored on a remote server and streamed in real-time to the user, 3VOD stores the files locally on a set top box.

For the complete article, please click here.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Verizon Unwraps iPhone

Verizon Wireless finally told the world that it will start selling the iPhone, but the carrier toiled in secret with Apple Inc. for two years to make it happen.

The country's largest wireless carrier said it would have the iPhone in stores on Feb. 10 starting at $199, the same price charged by rival AT&T Inc., which has had the phone to itself since its launch in June 2007.

The move will give Apple an important new source of sales in its biggest market for the iPhone and help it compete with rival Google Inc., which had made inroads for its Android operating system by teaming up with Verizon to develop high-end smartphones.

It also will shake up the U.S. wireless market, ending a deal that has driven much of AT&T's subscriber growth and forcing smaller carriers like Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA to compete against bigger rivals armed with an immensely popular phone.

For the complete article, please click here.

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The Tablet Is Changing the Face of TV

iTunes offers a handful of apps that allow subscribers to watch live TV on their iPhone or iPad. But just browsing through the selections, and more importantly the reviews, it seems live streaming TV to a mobile device has not yet been perfected! Most apps are aimed at niche audiences, require additional hardware to view the video or simply provide an inferior playback experience due to unreliable bandwidth to properly stream the video.

I’d argue the biggest impediment to perfecting these apps is content. The biggest impediment to gaining the rights to content is content security. And who already has access to high-quality content and conditional access (CA) / digital rights management (DRM) systems in place? Digital TV operators. We believe the cable, satellite and IPTV operators that already have the rights to broadcast premium content are in the cat bird seat to offer the best live mobile TV experience.

The demand is clear. According to Sandvine, real-time entertainment, including video streaming, now accounts for about 43% of North American Internet traffic, up from 10% in 2008! And for the first time in history, the number of households paying for TV subscriptions is falling, in part due to the rise of Internet TV and over-the-top (OTT) services.

The technology is finally catching up to this demand when you consider what adaptive rate streaming can now enable.

Now, in this new OTT world, the issue of content rights is complicated. Take companies like Ivi and for example. They have developed technology that captures over-the-air broadcast signals and streams them to mobile devices – without consent from the networks.

Clearly these broadcasters are not thrilled with the so-called loophole that they found in the U.S. Copyright Act. Both of these companies are already in an embattled legal fight with content owners to see if they have the right to do this. According to some attorneys, the law is on the side of the networks.

We recently launched our ViewRight LIVE app in iTunes, which enables secure distribution of premium pay-TV services via WiFi and mobile wireless networks – of live TV. The app provides subscriber/device registration and device-level authentication. ViewRight LIVE also allows operators to customize and brand their mobile TV channel to match the look and feel of their traditional channels.

So with the content rights, technology infrastructure and now the security available to enable a superior live mobile TV experience, digital TV operators have a tremendous opportunity. I’d say it is better to beat fledging online TV operators in the marketplace rather than the courtroom.

What are your thoughts?

--content submitted by Verimatrix--

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kindle app becomes available at the Mac App Store

Amazon has revealed that its Kindle app is now available from the Mac App Store, the relatively new application store for Apple computers.

The Kindle app may feel more at home on a portable device, but it seems that it is popular on other devices too, being that it is already the fifth most popular app on the store.

Amazon has been strengthening its Kindle brand for some time now. The physical ebook reader is the best-selling product ever on Amazon and its app has found its way onto many a mobile device.

Macs have had access to the Kindle service since last year but it has now been given a home on the Mac App Store and can lay claim to being the first ebook reader available on Jobs' shiny new service.

For the complete article, please click here.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gesture recognition, smart home services, energy management solutions, and multiscreen video services among top trends from 2011 CES

Parks Associates anticipates 2011 will mark the resurgence of the Smart Home concept following a series of CES announcements as well as research showing U.S. consumers value energy management as a lifestyle choice as well as a cost-saving measure.

CES 2011 featured several significant announcements for connected home systems and services, smart appliances, and broadband-enabled home monitoring services, including Verizon’s Home Monitoring Control offering, which featured applications for a web camera, lighting control, outlet modules, and a communicating thermostat. Consumers are starting to see energy-efficient products and services as a means to improve their home and personal comfort as well as for cost savings, which opens the market for a variety of solutions from utilities, service providers, and manufacturers.

Parks Associates will further explore the opportunities and implications of residential energy management at the upcoming Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer, January 24-26, in Austin, Texas.

CES 2011 also featured a variety of sophisticated gesture-recognition and multiplatform connectivity solutions.

Other key CES 2011 innovations center on solutions that link mobile and portable CE such as smartphones and tablet computers to the television so consumers can move seamlessly between platforms and even "flick" video from an iPad to an Internet-connectable TV. The use of complementary video viewing devices has significant implications on how interactive television and TV Everywhere concepts will evolve.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Soundbites from Analysts at CES

Some of the Parks Associates' analysts were captured highlighting the significant new products at CES 2011.

Featured analysts include:
Stuart Sikes, President
Farhan Abid, Research Analyst
Bill Ablondi, Director, Home Systems Research
Laura Allen Phillips, Research Analyst
Brett Sappington, Senior Analyst
Harry Wang, Director, Health & Mobile Product Research

The connected home (including refrigerators), the smart grid and personalized video were among topics mentioned by these industry experts.

To view these sound bites, visit:

Funai Electric Becomes First Consumer Electronics Manufacturer to Launch Cloud-Based Interactive Television Solution

Funai Electric Co., Ltd. and ActiveVideo Networks™ announced an agreement in principle that will make Funai the first consumer electronics manufacturer to bring interactive television solutions based entirely in the network cloud to connected televisions.

Funai Electric manufactures Philips, Emerson, Magnavox and Sylvania brand televisions and Blu-ray players. Funai and ActiveVideo anticipate that an announcement regarding availability of CloudTV-enabled products will be issued in the near future.

Under the agreement, Funai will integrate ActiveVideo’s CloudTV™ platform into selected television and Blu-ray player makes and models, enabling viewers to enter a revolutionary environment in which Web-based video, rich graphics and compelling applications are streamed, not downloaded, from servers in the network to Funai-made connected devices.

The CloudTV architecture offers a variety of benefits for the CE and developer communities, including the elimination of the need for more expensive processing and storage capabilities in the CE device; a “One Platform” approach in which a limitless array of content and applications can be written once and delivered to any device; and the minimization of software bugs by streaming, rather than downloading, content to the TV. For consumers, placing the intelligence in the network, and not in the home, ensures maximum functionality throughout the lengthy lifespans that are typical of CE devices, even as web standards evolve.

For the complete press release, please click here.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Analysts open '11 CES by addressing content and security issues facing manufacturers and developers in Internet-connectable CE

Parks Associates wrapped up the fifth-annual CONNECTIONS™ Summit at CES, the first day of 2011 International CES, by addressing the key issues facing CE manufacturers and solutions developers in 2011. The first session, "Analyst Roundtable: The Connected Home Is Here," which broke all previous attendee records, examined key trends and areas of concern, including how Internet-connectable TV devices can avoid the same underwhelming reception that plagued 3DTV after its big splash at CES 2010.

Parks Associates’ recent research finds that – the apps vs. open-browser debate notwithstanding – connected TV manufacturers will find market success with specific content application offerings, particularly premium video-on-demand (movies and TV shows), photo-viewing, social network feeds, streaming music service, customizable widgets, and gaming applications.

With sales of Microsoft Kinects exceeding the company's expectations, and multiple gesture-recognition products debuting at CES, how consumers interact with the television will also be radically changing starting in 2011.

Although online video and applications are major drivers for the rise of connected devices, other areas of focus for CE and service providers in 2011 will be backup, content protection and redundancy, and a greater emphasis on device security. This sets the stage for appliance- and cloud-based storage as well as device security and related features:

• According to Parks Associates, about one-third of U.S. broadband households (32%) are backing up content on at least a monthly basis.

• The firm's recent survey Consumer Demand for Technical Support Services found 20% of consumers are “highly concerned” about losing documents and other digital content because of technical issues, theft, or other catastrophic issues.

• Security concerns are moving into the mobile realm, where U.S. consumers are showing increasing demand for remote protection services for mobile and portable devices. This finding indicates 2011 will be a good year for companies such as Lookout, which provides location and lockdown services for smartphones.

Nintendo Warns on 3-D for Children

Nintendo Co. warned that young children shouldn't play three-dimensional games on a hotly anticipated new game device, citing possible health risks and raising concerns about a technology that many hoped would boost the appeal of 3-D entertainment in the home.

The Japanese company said on its website that children 6 years old and younger shouldn't play 3-D games on the coming Nintendo 3DS hand-held game machine, due for release in Japan in February. The company said looking at 3-D images for a long period of time could have an adverse effect on the eyesight development of young children.

Given scant evidence of medical dangers, it wasn't known what prompted the warning from Nintendo, which echoed that of other 3-D manufacturers. Some people in the industry speculated that it was a prospective effort to fend off litigation.

For now, glasses-free 3-D technology is mostly limited to smaller screens rather than the giant sets in many living rooms. The Nintendo 3DS has a 3.5 inch 3D screen, while Toshiba's new glasses-free television sets come in 12- and 20-inch varieties.

For the complete article, please click here.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Manufacturers of "smart TVs" will make their pitches at CES

After 3-D TV failed to excite consumers last year, manufacturers are betting that following the app-laden path of smartphones and tablet computers will fatten up what have been ultraslim profit margins.

For more than a decade, consumer-electronics manufacturers have been trying to marry the Internet and TV. In recent years, they've added connectors that let TV sets hook up to the Internet and, in some cases, added software that provides shortcuts to Web-based services from companies like movie-rental service Netflix Inc.

But this year, starting with product announcements at this week's Consumer Electronics Show, manufacturers are making a full-on push with "smart TVs"— models that have built-in computer-style processors and operating software so the sets can be modified with applications just as computers and smartphones are.

With no precise definition of a smart TV, manufacturers will be trying to stake out their ideas at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas. Most companies are likely to tout connections that allow a TV to connect to a home Wi-Fi network without requiring an Ethernet cable. Many sets also will have a technical interface, known as DLNA, that allows them to screen videos and apps run from computers, smartphones and other gadgets.

For the complete article, please click here.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Parks Associates Invites Media to 5th Annual CONNECTIONS at CES

Parks Associates invites media to attend the 5th Annual CONNECTIONS™ Summit and Networking Reception at CES from 9:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on January 6, 2011, in Rooms S206-207, South Hall, Las Vegas Convention Center.

Analysts will begin the CONNECTIONS™ Summit with a roundtable discussion of the latest consumer research and market trends for the connected lifestyle. Sessions will feature executives from over 25 technology companies speaking on topics such as operator strategies for value-added services, connected CE, smart grid and residential energy management, and video services for multiple platforms. Agenda available at .

President Stuart Sikes will also be participating at the CES Digital Health Summit on January 8, and Senior Analyst Brett Sappington will moderate a next-gen video session at Broadband Unlimited @CES on January 5.

Sessions include:
9:45-10:45 - "Analyst Roundtable: "The Connected Home is Here!"
11:00-12:00 - "Operator Strategies: Video, Services, and Support"
12:15-1:15 - "Monetizing Connected Consumer Electronics"
1:30-2:30 - "Executive Roundtable: The Smart Grid & the Home Area Network"
2:45-3:45 - "Anytime Anywhere Entertainment & Communication – Mobile Apps"
4:00-5:00 - "Video Everywhere: Key Strategies"

Visit Parks Associates at Booth #20554, South Hall 1.