Archives For mari

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Whether you like Apple TV or not, last100 (via AwkwardTV) reports it’s relatively easy now to create plug-in applications with the unofficial AppleTV software development kit (SDK). In a closed ecosystem like AppleTV, having a hacker’s SDK is probably crucial to acceptance and proliferation among the geek community.

What will be interesting to me is how the Apple development environment ends up comparing to deliberately-open TV environments. For example, the Open Cable Application Platform (OCAP) is designed to make it easy for third parties to create cable set-top applications. Motorola (my employer), among others, has introduced an OCAP SDK that will be packaged alongside a Motorola set-top for anyone who wants to build apps for cable TV hardware. Mind you, we’re probably talking about development shops as opposed to individuals, but I do wonder how innovation will play out differently in an open environment versus a proprietary one. And yes, I do recognize the irony in considering cable TV an open environment.

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The argument I hear about television is that we’ll never move completely to a pay-per-program model because the vast majority of people like being able to sit mindlessly in front of a TV screen and channel surf. I agree because that theory has already so clearly played out in the radio world. As popular as the iPod franchise is (we have at least three in my house), it doesn’t take the place of radio.

Maybe it’s because radio is so important that the business of radio is so royally screwed up. The CRB is threatening to kill off much of Internet radio, the two satellite radio providers in existence are cozying up to the FCC in hopes of merging, and few terrestrial radio programs survive on the air today unless they appeal to the lowest common listener denominator. What’s the deal?

Obviously people want radio because companies are busy figuring out ways to stream it to every kind of device. But that technology is going to be worthless if the radio sucks or if subscription fees price the mass market right out of the market. I don’t know what the solution is, but I sure wish someone would figure it out.

New TV Stats

Mari Silbey —  May 27, 2007 — 1 Comment

Because there’s nothing like an official study to make us think we know which direction the market will go…

A study conducted by Canalys (reported on ZDNet) found that 51% of the European adults surveyed were interested in mobile TV. However, the contentweb-tv-3.jpg they reported being interested in varied widely, from live sports events to YouTube clips. Content is king, but apparently no single type of content rules the realm.

In an entirely different study, Ipsos Insight found that Americans are still watching the vast majority of their television on their TV sets. Even adults who regularly stream and download video from the Web watch just 11% of their TV at the computer, while still watching 75% on a traditional TV screen. In the 12-24 cohort, that number drops to “more than 60%.”

Interestingly, a fair number of folks said they’d be interested in burning video from a computer to a DVD to watch on the big screen. Note, they didn’t say they’d be interested in buying a new gadget to stream content from a computer to a TV. Of course, maybe the survey didn’t ask about that.

Flash Drive Fun

Mari Silbey —  May 26, 2007 — Leave a comment

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The state of television today got you down? Never fear, your favorite movies are just a digital download away. Or, enjoy the universe of your favorite flick in an Xbox 360 game. Or, pick up movie extras on a flash drive! Yup, a flash drive.

Flash drives have quietly been added to the line of movie merchandise required with every box-office hit. mimoco has created Star Wars USB drives preloaded with “trailers, soundbites, avatars, and wallpapers!” PenDrive has limited edition USB products with Batman Begins designs. And now, courtesy of Shiny Shiny, I’ve discovered there are Pirates of the Carribbean flash drives with trailers and wallpapers. How was my life complete before?

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There was a fair bit of conversation at the recent Cable IPTV conference around how Comcast is approaching competition from online video services. Part of the approach involves having its own online video destination, (see news about the upcoming launch of Fancast), and the other part involves using the Internet to push subscribers to cable TV services. The launch of Comcast’s TVplanner definitely falls under that second category.

The functionality is simple (and non-revolutionary) and therefore extremely easy to use. Plug in your zip code, select your television service and voila! Up comes your TV guide. Next Comcast will undoubtedly add a feature for programming your DVR to record the shows you find. Off the Internet you go and back on to the cable TV network.

abc-ms.jpgIn the category of you can’t make this stuff up, the Jackson Mississippi ABC.com affiliate site had the headline yesterday: Meth Addicts Posed As Comcast Workers.

My first reaction – couldn’t they have found something more exciting to pose as?

Of course, it turns out they were pretending to be Comcast workers to rob someone’s house. Poor Comcast. Now they’re getting blamed for home invasions!

Who Has the Best HD?

Mari Silbey —  May 21, 2007 — 13 Comments

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Comcast published the results of a study earlier this month claiming that viewers preferred Comcast HD signals to HD transmissions from Dish Network and DirecTV. The study was conducted by Frank M. Magid Associates with oversight by Accenture and the law firm Loeb & Loeb.

Now DirecTV is suing Comcast for claiming better quality HDTV in its advertising. According to the complaint, the study does not sufficiently substantiate its claims.

You can head on over to NewTeeVee for a discussion of why DirecTV is pursuing this lawsuit. In the meantime, I have to wonder how relevant a HD test like this is to actual viewers. So much of HD quality comes down to the original source material, and the quality of video recorded for broadcast varies widely today. There’s also the issue of how good your HDTV display is, and how the video has been compressed during the encoding process.

In short, you can’t get the best HDTV by simply picking one television service over another. It just ain’t that easy.