Here is something that TV companies like Viacom are going to love: The Japanese government is apparently considering allowing anyone and everyone to upload previously broadcast television shows without permission.Anyone who does upload TV content will need to pay a mandatory license fee to the rights holders.

TV Companies Will Be Upset
While I think this is a great idea because it will spread entertainment and information making it more accessible, the TV companies and rights holders are not going to be happy.

TV companies have been working hard to keep control of their video content so they can maintain revenue models that they are comfortable with.

In other words most rights holders don’t want to lose out on DVD sales, a profitable and successful business model, by making TV shows available online. You need only look at the DRM crippled and overpriced movie download services like Amazon Unbox, or the huge limitations on TV shows being distributed online, such as with the BBC iPlayer. Continue Reading…

PSP 3.50 Firmware Update

Dave Zatz —  May 31, 2007 — 8 Comments

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Sony is out with a PSP firmware update today. Though I never use my PSP, I did run the 3.50 updater. Remote Play, Sony’s rudimentary PS3 placeshifting service, now works beyond the LAN. Maybe Alexi will give me his password so I can check it out. There’s also a new RSS Channels feature… which connects to a webpage of outdated (2006) content. Otherwise, there’s not really much going on here. I’m not sure why I hang onto the PSP… I guess I’m holding out for a keyboard and a POP mail client or maybe a movie download service.

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Yesterday Apple announced that Apple TV is now available with a 160GB hard drive configuration (for $100 more than the 40GB config) and that YouTube integration is slated for this summer. While access to YouTube doesn’t do much for me, perhaps it’ll motivate a younger demographic to get onboard with Apple TV. (Wonder how that’s working out for Netgear with the EVA8000.)

However, the 160GB option is intriguing… I assume Apple is aware of what’s going on in the hacker community (and WeaKnees) and figured they could make a few extra bucks. More importantly, this foreshadows direct-to-box net downloads in addition to the current computer->ATV sync. One industry dude I respect, though often disagree with (as I do now), believes this upgrade option also sets the stage for DVR functionality.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a financial guy — it just doesn’t interest me and early on I decided not to buy or sell TiVo stock given the leaks and embargoed info that comes my way. Forbes seems to think TiVo posted a “narrower 1Q net loss” while Reuters tells me TiVo posted a “quarterly profit.” Either way (both?), TiVo performed much better than Q1 of the prior year… Most likely due to lack of advertising. Meaning the current $15 million “My TiVo Gets Me” advertising blitz is going to make Q2 look pretty bad on paper.

So now that the financials are out of the way, let’s discuss TiVo’s upcoming product lineup.

Series 3 Lite

According to CEO Tom Rogers:

Second, we did not have a lower-priced mass appeal HD offering. As we indicated last quarter, given the price of our Series 3 unit, we have not been able to meaningfully participate in the HD wave in retail. without having a mass appeal priced HD unit to participate in the real key trends that you want to see in consumer electronics today, it’s difficult and until we have that product later this year

I’m not sure who advised them to create an $800 DVR (Series3), but I’m glad they’ve seen the error of their ways and will attempt to reach out to the mass market. Unfortunately, they’re doing a good deal of damage to their stand-alone business while folks continue to add cable and satellite HD DVRs. As no one buys anything during the summer travel months, I assume we’ll see a Series3 Lite hit in September or October in time for holiday shopping. As to how TiVo might cut costs, they’ll use cheaper components and leave out some of the S3 polish such as that OLED display.

Comcast Motorola TiVo

According to Tom Rogers:

Comcast’s plan, and I’m now quoting Comcast directly, the Comcast TiVo trials will continue into early summer with a commercial launch plan for August. The commercial launch will be in parts of our New England division, including Metro Boston, Southeast Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

After more than two years, we have a launch date and location for the Comcast Motorola TiVo! Too bad it’s not in my neighborhood… Though maybe that S3 Lite will be economical enough that I won’t bother with Comcast’s offering. It’s yet to be seen what effect these continued development delays will have… This summer, new HD DVR deployments will be separable security (CableCARD) boxes rather than the current Moto 6412 units. Have TiVo & Comcast begun work yet on another software customization? Will new Comcast customers be out of luck for a year?

TiVo in Australia

According to Tom Rogers:

Australia’s leading broadcast company, where Seven will market and distribute TiVo products and services in Australia and New Zealand. The Seven relationship is meaningful because it is a partnership with the most significant media company and leading broadcaster in the Australian market. What is even more exciting about this is that the hardware will be based on the digital terrestrial DVD-T platform that has emerged as a major worldwide standard

I was pretty excited to come home yesterday and see the news that TiVo worked a deal Down Under. However, given the EPG wars in Australia and the sloooooow Comcast dev effort, I’m not holding my breath this will launch in the first half of 2008 as suggested. Also, Davis Freeberg points out that TiVo will be regionalizing (aka “neutering”) fast forward to move slower.

coaster1.jpgThose of you following along already know I failed in my attempts to remain disconnected while on vacation. The Marriott upgraded us to the Executive floor which included access to a lounge area with food, drink, and Internet. Though I may have checked out a few of my regular websites and verified touristy stuff, I did manage to stay completely off email (and phone). And boy was it relaxing.

I was generally pleased with the Fuji FinePix F30 loaner. My Panasonic Lumix may produce slightly better color (though I’m no expert), but the Fuji really shined when it came to motion. The camera managed to focus and fire quick enough to catch everything I threw at it, including the Tivoli Gardens roller coaster to the right. The Lumix would have produced a blur at best, and likely would have missed the shot altogether. Look for a complete F30 review over on LiveDigitally in the near future.

In other Danish tech news, I cornered a UK business traveler on the elevator. He had the cutest looking GPS I’ve ever seen – the small, sleek Fujitsu LOOX N100. It makes my Mio DigiWalker look like a boat. How come the coolest Fujitsu stuff remains overseas?