3D TV; First Failure of the New Decade (Updated 7/5/13)

July 5, 2013

UPDATE July 5, 2013
BBC PUTS 3D ON HOLD

According to a post by Broadband TV News:

“The BBC is to take a three-year holiday from the development of 3D programming with the corporation’s head of 3D admitting the UK public had not taken to the format.”

“Watching 3D is quite a hassly experience in the home. You have got to find your glasses before switching on the TV. I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way. When people go to the cinema they go and are used to doing one thing – I think that’s one of the reasons that take up of 3DTV has been disappointing.”

Another nail in the coffin of this expensive experiment.  If Dolby and others can perfect the non-glasses viewing of 3D, there may be a chance for a limited comeback.   For now TV and chip manufacturers are working hard on 4K with set already hitting the early adopter market.

Too bad the BBC didn’t read my posting 3 years ago.  They could have been ahead of the curve with 4K.

Keep Pushing Forward

Jeff

jeff_vinson@sbcglobal.net

 

Original 2010 Posting

The flurry of  press releases following CES 2010 extolling the virtues of 3D in the living room reminds me of sage advertising advice;  “Don’t believe your own hype!”

A Harder Mountain to Climb: As stated in a recent article in Broadband TV News:  “The road from HD to 3D is ‘a harder mountain to climb’, according to the US based research institute NSR, because ‘equipment required to bring 3D from the cinema into the living room is neither on the shelves, nor on wish lists of the general viewing public’.  Difficult facts to ignore.

HD has gained market share not only because of the quality of the image (although most in the US with HD sets do not subscribe to HD services) but because of the large screen, thin profile, built in ATSC, improved energy efficiency, surround sound, etc.  And one of the most compelling reason; their old tube sets were finally wearing out.  Even though the price of the 36″ to 50” screens have come down, they still represent more than just an impulse buy.

Economics 101: Least anyone forget, the world is still mired in an economic crisis.  The US is still experiencing 10% unemployment overall with some regions much higher.  Foreclosures are still rising with no end in sight and retirement investments have yet to recover from being halved in the last 2 years.  Yes, we may be climbing out, but with predictions of no new jobs until 2012, and credit card limits trimmed, aside from those getting bonuses from bailed out banks and Wall Street Robber-Barons, where will the cash come from?  Or are we supposed to think that consumers will lease their next TV from the ‘Bank of Sony’?

Embracing the New Technology – Why? So whatever would possess the “average consumer” to replace their new HD big screen TV with a 3D set so they can get two or three channels in 3D on a sporadic basis?  Will the subscription tier for 3D programming drive their cable bill over $200/month?  Or will 3D programs only be ‘events’ like the Ultimate Fighting Death Matches available for ‘only’ $69.95?

Forget About the Remote, Where Did I Put Those G– D— Glasses? !!!!! A recent NY Times article gave a rundown of the 3D glasses available to movie houses – from sleek $50 models to cheap ones for 65 cents.  Which gets one to thinking about the feasibility of putting on a strange set of glasses every time you want to watch TV.  There are some anecdotal accounts of viewers getting headaches and difficulty putting 3D glasses over the top of their prescription lenses.  (Perhaps Best Buy will include a coupon for Lasik Surgery with every new set.)  And how many pairs will each household need?  Ok, you have one for Mom, Dad and each of the kids (child sized, of course).  So it looks like your out of luck when you want to show off your new toy to the neighbors.  Unless they stop at a Radio Shack on the way to get their own pair.

The economic news will get better (someday) and consumers will want to upgrade their living room TVs.  But the consumer electronics marketplace is filled with many more serious contenders than it was when TV was king.  3D TV may have a place in the market, but for now, it just a novelty, attracting the attention of the early adopters.

Keep Pushing Forward

Jeff Vinson

jeff_vinson@sbcglobal.net

[You may contact Jeff directly for consulting  opportunities.]

Why BOXEE Failed

July 3, 2013

Boxee LogoEarlier today it was widely reported that Samsung had acquired Boxee after Boxee had failed to secure an additional round of financing.  Several sources stated the purchase price was no more than the $30 million or so VCs had put into the company.  Samsung will use whatever they can scavenge off the bones of Boxee and the creativity of the staff that remains to pump up their streaming services for connected TVs and other CE devices.

From my first introduction to the Boxee product in 2008, I admit that I just didn’t get it.  Roku and others were already making a mark for themselves with streaming ancillary STBs and the market seemed to be on a trajectory that included dwindling margins and commodity pricing.  But Boxee supposedly had a hook:  your friends could let you know what they were watching and recommend shows to you.  Likewise, all of your friends would know what you were watching.  Ok, but aside from the early adopters and Facebook fanatics (no there weren’t a billion users back then), who was really clamoring for someone to please, please tell them what to watch?

In the meantime, the Social TV phenomenon has passed the early adopter phase and headed toward profitability through advertising use cases.

Boxee did manage to produce video-streaming applications for phones and tablets using Android and iOS.  However, to make streaming profitable, you need content.  And to get the top line content that viewers want you need the cooperation and licenses from the big studio players.  According to published articles Boxee evidently did not fully grasp the consequences of not getting along with the big boys of Hollywood and those big ole mean cable guys.  Even the latest Boxee deal with WalMart to sell its streaming boxes was not enough to pull it through.   Increased  positioning at WalMart couldn’t hurt Samsung.

Boxee should be applauded for staking a claim and pushing the industry forward.  And, Samsung should be applauded for keeping the people who created the value Samsung recognized.

Keep Pushing Forward

Jeff

Vudu Accounts Compromised by Break-in

April 9, 2013

Vudu Logo Even when one thinks their online purchases are secure, there are old fashion ways thieves can steal your sensitive information.

In an email sent to Vudu subscribers today, the company stated that there was a break-in at one of their brick and mortar offices and a number of hard drives were stolen.  Unfortunately, these drives contained sensitive information on accounts including:

“…customer information, including names, email addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, account activity, dates of birth and the last four digits of some credit card numbers. It’s important to note that the drives did NOT contain full credit card numbers, as we do not store that information.”

The email goes on to state:

“While the stolen hard drives included VUDU account passwords, those passwords were encrypted…”

This begs the question; why didn’t the company have the foresight to encrypt the entire drive?  I have worked for small and large companies who make it a habit for drives to be encrypted – just in case.  Although most have the policy for portable devices, some also extend the policy to fixed systems.  Somehow it just makes good sense.

Consumer confidence is hard to win but easy to lose.  Events like this are a blow to online purchasing community no matter they be streaming videos or the latest fashion.  Security compliance officers MUST protect their most valuable asset:  their loyal customers’ sensitive personal data.

Keep Pushing Forward.

Jeff Vinson

Verizon $10M Design Prize Competition

April 8, 2013

Verizon LogoVerizon knows they need fresh new ideas to stay on top of their game.  They also realize there is a vast creative community of bright minds that are not on the Verizon payroll.  Dangling a $10 million carrot is not a bad way to get the attention of the techno-geek digerati.

From previous work with the Verizon VTO (CTO) team I know that every year 2 or 3 key business projects are selected for serious exploration, experimentation and potential adoption.  By specifying  Education, Healthcare and Sustainability as the key areas for new solutions, Verizon has provided some insite at what  may become potential revenue streams for their future profits.

On April 3, Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam officially launched the Powerful Answers Award. The Award is intended to spark innovative thinking and problem solving across industries and to generate ideas, solutions and answers for some of the world’s biggest challenges.

Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award is an effort to discover ideas that deliver the best new solutions in three core areas of focus: education, healthcare and sustainability.

Entries will be judged by panels of experts, and $10 million total in prizes will be awarded to the winners, who will be announced at 2014 CES.

Keep Pushing Forward

Jeff Vinson

Qualcomm Skifta: First Software to Receive DLNA Certification

February 2, 2011

— Application-based Service Turns Smartphones and Tablets into Global Remote Controls for Streaming Media and Furthers DLNA Vision for Connected Digital Home —

PR Newswire

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Skifta™ for Android, a product of Qualcomm Services Labs Inc., has become the first application to be certified by the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) under its new Software Certification program. Skifta is an application-based media shifting service that allows consumers to access and play their digital media from virtually any source, whether it’s accessed on the phone, from the cloud, or remotely from home.  Consumers can then stream this media to DLNA Certified® consumer electronics such as TVs, IP-connected stereos, Windows 7 PCs, PlayStation3 game consoles and many other consumer electronics products via their Android smartphones and tablets.

As a DLNA Certified software application, Skifta now gives Android users the added assurance that digital music, photos and videos from the phone and around the connected home can be streamed easily to DLNA Certified products at home or on the go.  Through DLNA Certification, Skifta helps meet digital media consumers’ demand for a reliable, interoperable platform for accessing and streaming media within the connected home, or accessing it remotely via smartphone.

“We are proud that the Skifta Android application has become the first DLNA Certified software application,” said Bruce Jackson, vice president of technology at Qualcomm Services Labs.  “The Skifta application demonstrates our commitment to DLNA and to making the smartphone central to the connected home and lifestyle.  The Skifta application creates the potential for tens of millions of smartphones and tablets to run DLNA Certified software and stream multimedia content reliably to devices around the home.”

Analysts estimate that there will be nearly two billion DLNA Certified devices in homes worldwide by 2014, and some expect that DLNA software certification will propel adoption and usage of DLNA devices on consumers’ home networks.  The Skifta application takes advantage of the rapid adoption of DLNA-enabled devices, the growing desire for on-demand streaming media, and the rapid proliferation of smartphones to deliver an easy-to-use service for taking your digital media with you, without actually having to take it with you.

“DLNA Certified software such as Skifta will help bring content such as photos, videos and music, stored on DLNA Certified devices, to an even larger selection of consumer electronics, mobile and PC products,” said Nidhish Parikh, chairman and president of DLNA. “Qualcomm has been an active DLNA member for some time and as the first Certified software application, Skifta complements the DLNA standards and vision.”

Availability

The Skifta application beta is currently available as a free download in the Android Marketplace for smartphones running Android version 2.2 and higher.

About Qualcomm Services Labs

Qualcomm Services Labs Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (Nasdaq: QCOM) created to develop and introduce new services and applications that tap into the advantages of mobile technology.  Designed to operate as an incubator, the company explores new ideas, technologies and service models that can have an immediate impact in the marketplace, as well as drive the adoption of Qualcomm’s technologies.  Additional information on Qualcomm Services Labs and its products is available at www.qualcomm.com/qsl.

Skifta is a trademark of Qualcomm Services Labs Inc.  Qualcomm is a registered trademark of Qualcomm Incorporated.  DLNA Certified is a registered trademark of the Digital Living Network Alliance.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Qualcomm Services Labs Contact:
Gary Brotman
Phone:  1-858-845-5959
Email:  corpcomm@qualcomm.com
Qualcomm Contacts:
Emily Kilpatrick, Corporate Communications
Phone:  1-858-845-5959
Email:  corpcomm@qualcomm.com
Warren Kneeshaw, Investor Relations
Phone:  1-858-658-4813
Email:  ir@qualcomm.com

SOURCE Qualcomm Incorporated

CONTACT: Gary Brotman of Qualcomm Services Labs, +1-858-845-5959, corpcomm@qualcomm.com, or Emily Kilpatrick, Corporate Communications, +1-858-845-5959, corpcomm@qualcomm.com, or Investor Relations, Warren Kneeshaw, +1-858-658-4813, ir@qualcomm.com, both of Qualcomm

Web Site: http://www.dlna.org

TellyTopia – Success 1 Year After Initial Blog

September 24, 2010

TellyTopia Purchase: The recent news release that TellyTopia has been purchased by Concurrent is another example of the strength of Silicon Valley companies in the OTT Game;  We Get It!  (And, once again, the fact that this blogger is on top of the OTT and Digital Media Trends !!!)

After my 2009 interview with Dr. Ram Srinivasan, VP of TellyTopia, I concluded with this statement:  “What I like about their approach is that once again, small players are taking risks and creating new entertainment consumption models.  Their enthusiasm and creativity is just what the television industry needs to stay fresh, current and viable. And now they are getting rewarded for their efforts.  Congrats to Ram and his team!

REPOST FROM 2009: The following is a repost of my blog from August 2009 when TellyTopia was just struggling to make their mark.

No New Set Top Box Required for This Silicon Valley Service.

i2TV Broadcasts UGC on TV Channels:  If you’re serious about getting a local audience to see your latest video creation, why not upload it to a TV station and have it broadcast for everyone to see on their TV?  i2TV is TellyTopia’s viewer video upload platform which allows the next Spielberg or Tarantino to showcase their video productions on a broadcast TV channel not just on YouTube.

Everybody Gets Paid! Once again, this is not a philanthropic endeavor.  TellyTopia’s server engine supports banner ads which appear under the videos at 30 second intervals.  What makes this different from most ad based UGC programs is the money split:  some for the broadcaster, some for TellyTopia and some for the PRODUCER!  So now there’s  a business model for those film students, soccer moms and semi-pro video studios.   Advertisers are getting actual TV exposure for a local audience at a rate of $300 – $500/month – which is far below what the big networks cost.

Silicon Valley is the Second TellyTopia Launch: : After successfully launching i2TV on Sacramento Telco SureWest’s IPTV service in December 2008, TellyTopia launched their “Make Me A TV Star” service on a free ATSC digital channel KAXT 22.8 in the San Francisco Bay Area on August 1, 2009.  New TV moguls simply upload their finished products to the website which reviews it for suitability and puts it into a broadcast loop.  The author is sent an email with a time window of when their program will be broadcast.  Authors can then post a tweet or announcement on Facebook to let their friends know when to watch.

Local Youth Sports on TV:  In April 2009, SureWest extended the i2TV network with a focus on local youth sports.  On channel 702, which can be viewed by any SureWest subscriber, young athletes and parents can watch game highlights on their TVs and online.  “Sacramento residents have been demanding a show like this due to the enthusiasm surrounding youth and high school sports,” said Peter Drozdoff, SureWest’s VP of Marketing. Instead of just sponsoring the local soccer team with an ad on the backs of their shirts, the local pizza parlor (or car dealer or bank or car wash) can put an ad banner on the video highlights of their team’s greatest games.

Shaking Up the Status Quo: According to Dr. Ram Srinivasan, VP of TellyTopia, they have a library of 50,000 videos from 5,000 content producers ready for broadcast.  Whether or not this is enough content or the right mix to ensure TellyTopia will be successful is not for me to predict.  What I like about their approach is that once again, small players are taking risks and creating new entertainment consumption models.  Their enthusiasm and creativity is just what the television industry needs to stay fresh, current and viable.

Keep pushing forward

Jeff Vinson

jeff_vinson@sbcglobal.net

[You may contact Jeff directly for consulting and full time employment opportunities.]

Nokia and AT&T Give Developers 10 Million Reasons to Create Apps

September 23, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, September 23, 2010/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ –

- Calling All Innovators

- Contest Highlights Mobile Content for North America

Developers now have 10 million more reasons to create their next great app on Nokia smartphones. Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and AT&T* announced today an unprecedented developer contest with $10 million in cash and prizes. Winning applications are selected by Nokia, AT&T and, for the first time, by consumers who can use their downloading power to indicate their favorites.

The 2010 Calling All Innovators, North America contest is open to developers from around the world to create apps for North American consumers. All submitted apps will be made available exclusively for download via the Ovi Store by Nokia which is filled with thousands of apps, games and media from the content industry’s biggest names along with independent developers. With AT&T as the exclusive co-judge, developers have a unique opportunity to get started today developing for the latest Nokia devices including the Nokia N8.

Nokia, in conjunction with AT&T, is also inviting developers to a free session, hosted during CTIA Enterprise and Applications in San Francisco, for a special tour of Qt and Nokia Web Runtime and Java tools. Additionally, each participating developer will receive a complimentary Nokia N8 developer pack from Nokia. Developers can register for the free session at: http://www.ctiaenterpriseandapps.com/events/eventdetails.cfm/1154

Calling All Innovators, North America

Developers have until January 28th, 2011, to submit their applications in more than 17 categories. For the first time, consumers will contribute to the finalist selection process by “voting” with their download power; the number of downloads – both free and paid – counts as part of the winning criteria. The final judging will be made by Nokia and AT&T where three winners in each category will be selected. Additionally, an overall contest app and game will be selected as grand prize winners. Category prize winners receive $150K each for a total of $4 million and grand prize winners receive an additional $100K each. Although submissions must be relevant for the North American consumer, developers from around the world can participate.

Winning developers will also receive more than $6 million in marketing promotion by Nokia and AT&T in the North American market.

“The commitment from Nokia is a clear message that we are serious about the North American market,” said Purnima Kochikar, VP Forum Nokia. “Developers have the tools, the support from AT&T and the marketing power of Nokia to get visibility for their apps”, she added. “Additionally, developers can make their Qt-based app available in Ovi Store to Nokia customers globally reaching tens of millions of customers.”

Contest details, judging criteria and submission categories can be found at http://www.callingallinnovators.com/10M.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

About Forum Nokia

Nokia’s global developer program, Forum Nokia connects developers to tools, technical information, support, and distribution channels they can use to build and market applications around the globe. From offices in the U.S., Europe, India, Japan, China, and Singapore, Forum Nokia provides technical and business development support to developers and operators to assist them in achieving their goal of successfully launching applications and services to consumers and enterprises. More information is available at http://www.forum.nokia.com.

About Nokia

At Nokia, we are committed to connecting people. We combine advanced technology with personalized services that enable people to stay close to what matters to them. Every day, more than 1.3 billion people connect to one another with a Nokia device – from mobile phones to advanced smartphones and high-performance mobile computers. Today, Nokia is integrating its devices with innovative services through Ovi (http://www.ovi.com), including music, maps, apps, email and more. Nokia’s NAVTEQ is a leader in comprehensive digital mapping and navigation services, while Nokia Siemens Networks provides equipment, services and solutions for communications networks globally.

http://www.nokia.com

Samsung TV Apps Developer Day in San Jose

September 6, 2010

Samsung TV AppsSamsung is Playing for Keeps:  The importance of this first TV Apps developer day was evident by the large number of TV and video crews in attendance to document this major shift in Consumer Electronics.  Starting with the professional MC, Samantha Harris, from “Entertainment Tonight” to the keynote by Pandora founder Tim Westergren through the “Fireside Chat” with Steve Wozniak,  it was evident that this was not your typical nerd developer meet and greet.

Samsung does not seem to be content providing “the glass at the end of the pipe.”  They want to fully participate in the development, acceptance and launching of new user features for their connected TVs and related products.  And several notable members of the developer community were there to see for themselves.  Among them were Accedo Broadband CEO Michael Lantz;  Carrie Tice from UBISOFT;  Chia Hwu of Ansca Mobile;  Jacek Minko from start-up iLook;  Kurt Hoppe of Catapult Partners;  and of course, Adam Powers from Rovi – a distinguished partner for Samsung TV Apps.

$500k First Prize !! Samsung realizes they cannot just rely on their own stable of developers.  They want to tap in to the creative genius of those geeks who may still be in college or working in their parent’s basement.  The Samsung prize pool for best TV apps could also potentially draw skilled developers away from the overcrowded Apple Apps arena.  $500,000 is a lot of money for any programmer.  But, with the right mix of passion and skill they have a shot at making it big with the Samsung installed base of Connected TVs and BD Players.

Free and Paid Apps are Welcome: Free apps like Rovi, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Maps are great to be on par with the competition.  However, with the potential of paid licenses, the CE manufacturer is now playing in the field that Apple has cultivated so well.  One time licenses, ad revenue shares and ongoing subscription fees could represent a significant recurring revenue stream from loyal customers.  No longer will CE manufacturers have to rely solely on the replacement market for the newer, faster and cheaper device.  The connected platform is a real game changer.

Not the First:  Of course, Samsung is entering an already crowded field.  Aside from Apple, other major players like Sony, Vizio, Philips and LG all covet the same customers.  And Nokia has their OVI store to link their mobile phones to connected devices.  But Samsung, unlike Nokia controls a larger inventory of CE products to complement their own phone.  Another Samsung advantage is in the person of Eva Bask-Karisson.  Eva recently left Nokia and her excellent work on the OVI store in Finland to steer the Samsung Connected Community effort.  Based on the technical developer presentations, it looks like the Samsung internal team is strong and deep.

Fully Functioning Platform: In the spirit of full disclosure, Samsung did give away 50 Blu-Ray players at the end of the day.  And, as luck would have it, this author was one of the winners.  (If you’ve seen the latest Best Buy-Samsung TV commercial you realize that they’re also giving away the same BD player with the purchase of a connected TV.)  Having had a couple of days to explore the system, I can tell you that the only thing missing is a QWERTY KEYBOARD!!!   Trying to type names of songs or groups into Pandora, searching Google Maps or looking for clips on YouTube, is a real PAIN using the virtual T9 keyboard.  (Look at the Vizio slide-out remote for some hints.)  Other than that serious short coming, the apps worked well and actually made the BD player useful without a disc loaded.

A Word from “The Woz”: With his custom Nixie tube watch on his wrist, Apple founder and “Dancing with the Stars” bon vivant, Steve Wozniak, held court on stage in front of a very partisan and enthusiastic crowd near the conclusion of the afternoon session.  Some of the improvements Steve would like to see to improve his own TV experience included; Games to be played during a commercial break, VOD that is easy to buy and auto adjusts to the available bandwidth,  Two-way remotes which would be upgraded via IR from the viewing device and most interesting – and greeted with lots of agreement from the audience – a viewer facing camera built into the TV.  Aside from video calls, the camera could be used for gesture controls – another great improvement to the traditional remote.

The New Entertainment Center: Connected TVs, Hybrid Set Top Boxes and new BD players are really transforming the TV back into an “entertainment center.”  The older generation can experience new functionality without much hassle and younger groups can link their mobile, gaming and iPad devices together to deploy their “friending” and texting tools that they can’t seem to live without.

Keep Pushing Forward

Jeff Vinson

jeff_vinson@sbcglobal.net

[Please contact Jeff directly regarding consulting or full time positions in the Digital TV and the Connected Home marketplace]


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