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It’s no secret that Mari and I are both huge Slacker fans. In fact, we’ll go ahead and proclaim Slacker as the official music service of Zatz Not Funny. I subscribe to their Internet Radio Plus service ($48/yr), which enables unlimited skips and kills all advertising. AND caching of stations for offline iPhone playback… to arrive sometime in the near future. Mari subscribes to a higher tier of Premium service, which Slacker no longer advertises. Given their upcoming On-Demand offering, being demo-ed at CTIA, I think we now know why.

Slacker’s Premium tier allowed you to save/bookmark songs for playback on-demand. But it looks like Slacker will be taking this to a Rhapsody-eque level, with content searching, playlist creation, and on-demand playback. Pricing and timing haven’t been revealed, but they’ll have to come in lower than the competition… who’s yet to prove there’s a large (enough) market for this type of offering. Fortunately, Slacker On-Demand will be built on top of the existing Slacker service and application. Allowing folks to opt in or out at any time.

This one is from the bleeding obvious department, but noteworthy nonetheless. The Nielsen Company’s latest Three Screen Report, which tracks consumption across TV, Internet and mobile phones, says that in the last quarter of 2009, Americans’ simultaneous use of the Internet while watching TV reached three and a half hours a month, up 35% from the previous quarter. “Nearly 60% of TV viewers now use the Internet once a month while also watching TV”, notes the report.

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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.

OnLive, the streaming games start-up, has announced that it will begin rolling out its subscription service ($14.95 per-month plus the cost of purchasing or renting the games themselves) to customers on the 17th of June 2010 to coincide with this year’s E3 gaming conference. It will be a US-only offering, however, at least for the foreseeable future, restricted to “to early registrants throughout the 48 contiguous United States”. This is in-line with their beta test program which requires users to be within 1000 miles of one of OnLive’s data centres.

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android-set-top-box

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.