As we continue to sort out the future of web-sourced content, as delivered to our televisions, Hillcrest Labs has released the free Kylo browser (Windows, OS X). Similar to software offered by GlideTV and Zeevee’s Zinc, Kylo is a custom Mozilla app designed for couch-based content consumption. Assuming you have a computer connected to your television. Hillcrest, best known for motion remote control technology and now bankrolled by UEI, hopes you’ll consider their Loop in-air mouse ($99) to work the interface. Although iPhone owners are probably better served by Mobile Air Mouse Pro ($2, iTunes). And with TiVo, Roku, a bazillion connected Blu-ray players, the upcoming Boxee box, etc the number of folks resorting to PCs at their TVs will remain small.
Archives For HDTV
Just a few weeks back we heard noise of Google heading into the set-top box space. With DISH Network. At the time, it wasn’t clear if this was merely a rehashing of the upcoming DISH apps or a more significant Android set-top platform play. As it turns out, it does look like Google aims to conquer the television with a dedicated offering. And why wouldn’t they take their open source platform and ad serving business to a larger screen? Following in the footsteps of Yahoo TV, Google has also partnered with Intel and is going with the generic “Google TV.” Beyond DISH, other likely launch partners include Sony and Logitech. Although no concrete functionality, timing, or pricing has been revealed. From the NY Times:
For Google, the project is a pre-emptive move to get a foothold in the living room as more consumers start exploring ways to bring Web content to their television sets. Based on Google’s Android operating system, the TV technology runs on Intel’s Atom chips. Google has built a prototype set-top box, but the technology may be incorporated directly into TVs or other devices.
While the space is getting crowded, television-based Internet content delivery is still in its infancy compared to the mobile marketplace where we’re starting to see some real polished, mature platforms and consolidation. And as you’d expect, the incumbents are firing back. Roku’s CEO says a Google box requires an expensive chip and could run over $200, compared to their highly regarded $99 unit. However, I could easily see Google’s solution subsidized by carriers or advertising. Maybe both. It’s good to see new players and experimentation, but I’m guessing it’ll be at least 2011 before we more clearly see the path forward. Which is also about when I expect the cable industry to start opening up.
the first live next-generation 3D broadcast of a major sporting event on TV, the first live simulcast of a next-gen 3D event online, and the industry’s first live multi-camera next-gen 3D production.
Of course, Comcast’s dedicated 3D channel will be provided in addition to the regular feed and limited to only about two hours of live coverage a day. Because how many of us have actually purchased new 3D-capable televisions and shutter glasses?
Zillion TV continues to sputter along… Originally backed by a few studios, amongst others, in what sounded like a “Hulu box”, the startup has seen all manner of turmoil. Including blown 2009 launch plans, a restructured sales model, a CEO replacement, and unflattering commentary by pilot testers. However, buried within a lawsuit (more turmoil!), we’ve learned Qwest Communications has thrown Zillion a $10 million lifeline “in return for exclusive rights to offer the IP-delivered video-on-demand service in the telco’s footprint.” Yet, it remains to be seen if ZillionTV will actually launch with any telcos in the second half of 2010 as intended. They could always pull a Vudu and figure out how turn it around. But I wouldn’t bank on it. Qwest didn’t… “[We] made a very small, or immaterial, investment in Zillion.”
Wow. The rumor was true. Wal-mart is indeed acquiring Vudu. Given their prior failed attempt at digital media distribution and MediaMemo’s way-off financing stat, I had a difficult time buying it. But the deal is done – so congrats to the Vudu team.
Vudu’s story arc is interesting. From the beginning, and like many, I found the idea of a premium priced, dedicated movie box problematic. And suspected we had another Moviebeam on our hands as Vudu nearly folded late in 2008 when they discovered what most of us already knew. But after a few rounds of layoffs, a new strategy to port the Vudu experience to 3rd party hardware, a press relations agency upgrade, and additional financing, they quite successfully weathered the storm.
With Best Buy embracing TiVo and Napster it sort of makes sense Wal-mart would want a digital distribution partner of their own. Although the investors recouped their cash, consumers probably aren’t the big winner here. I fully expect Vudu’s AVN channel will be the first thing axed. And Dan Rayburn anticipates the whole enterprise, under Walmart’s stewardship, will fail.
I do hope the original stand-alone boxes see one more software upgrade to move them off P2P distribution and onto the CDN in use by all other Vudu devices. Rather than a complete shuttering. Also, in light of the acquisition, my plan to find a deal on a LG BD390 is on hold.
Sure it’s 2010 and you can now get your Olympics fix online (albeit with some headaches), but if you’re home in front of the big living-room screen, why not take advantage of the all-HD experience? NBC Universal is offering coverage on NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, and Universal HD, and, as in years past, the broadcast company has made deals left and right with pay-TV operators to provide on-demand content.
Want Olympics fare on FiOS VOD? Verizon is promising highlights, complete event replays, info on the Olympic park in Calgary, and even Olympics trivia. On the HD front, FiOS customers will get less than half of the VOD content in high-def, but Verizon did just make the announcement that it’s launching MSNBC in HD, just in time for the opening ceremonies. Oh, and if you’re looking for some interactive TV, stay tuned for an on-screen FiOS app with medal counts, bios, and more.
Yes, it’s officially Xfinity now in several markets, but so far the branding hasn’t changed on my Comcast guide. In any case, the VOD menu is full of Olympics clips: an intro of Team USA, physics lessons around different sports (hockey, snowboarding, etc.), a “Where Were You” category with highlights from yesteryear, and a “Best of the Day” selection, which promises daily coverage once the games begin. By my observation, it appears that all of the content is available in HD.
AT&T is heading into the Olympics not just with on-demand content, but also with a Multiview app for watching several events at once. The U-verse NBC Olympics Application includes up to four different channels on screen and links to information like event schedules, athlete bios, and medal count. According to AT&T, its on-demand fare will include “exclusive Team USA” videos. Not sure how valuable that will be, but exclusive is always good, right?