Sunday, April 29, 2012

Apps dropping Blackberry

Post contributed by Brittany Schumacher -

Visual Voicemail, a popular application that allows you to see your messages and choose which ones you want to listen to or delete instead of your voicemail dictating that for you, has decided to leave Blackberry behind. 
  YouMail, the company that owns visual voicemail, announced the decision in a blogpost, also revealing that it was a bittersweet decision as Blackberry brought the company their first million users and started their company's success. Which is no small feat as the application currently sits in the top-10 of Blackberry's "productivity" category of applications. The change comes as YouMail is finding that their number of Blackberry users has dropped below the number of Windows Phone 7 users, which is an application they do not even put out themselves. 
  As Android and Apple continue to generate and rapidly grow in numbers, the company has decided it is the best move for them to make. Other issues have risen between the compatibility  between the two companies as the platform for the software only took 2-3 days to build for Android and iPhone, but 2-3 weeks for the Blackberry. This is only another hit for the phone company on the tail of a gradual decline since the boost in sales of Android phones, while iPhone users have been on a rise for years. The expansion of the iPhone to other phone service companies, such as Verizon, have also been attributed to the falling in sales of Blackberry. 
  The CEO for YouMail, Alex Quilici stated, "We're all rooting for BlackBerry over here," he said. "IPhone was a success because it was different and cool, while Android got attention for being largely free and open. I hope RIM finds something like that to differentiate itself."

Black Magic Design's new Camera

Post contributed by Stuart Hohl -

Is The New Black Magic Design Cinema Camera All It Appears To Be?
  Filmmakers have had an exciting time as more and more information about the new BMD Cinema Camera has come out in the past month. We’re slowly starting to see some images produced on some of their prototype cameras and preorders have gone through the roof.
  First off, what’s so exciting about this camera? Well, the tech specs are pretty impressive:
  • Raw Resolution: 12-bit RAW files recorded at 2432 x 1366
  • Shooting Resolution2.5K RAW at 2432 x 1366. ProRes and DNxHD at 1920 x 1080
  • Frame Rates: 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p 
  • Sensor Size: 16.64 mm x 14.04 mm
  •  Dynamic Range: 13 stops
What’s more impressive is the price: $3,000! Most cameras shooting RAW footage cost at least 4 times that much or more. But is it too good to be true?
 Well, that depends on what you’re using it for. It may not be very effective for production companies but for an indie filmmaker then it may be a great choice. There are some cons that may make a competitor like the Red Scarlet more attractive: first, it has an internal battery. This is an issue because on long shoot you have to be tethered to some sort of power supply - also, replacing an aging battery will become more difficult; second, there's o reference or time code input available (This becomes an issue on multi-cam shoots where you would want to synchronize footage to make life easier in postproduction. Also, it may make life harder if you want to synchronize audio as even one frame off can be a pain to fix and half a frame would be a nightmare); third, no XLR input for audio (It does have ports for similar cables, but that’s either new cables or an adapter for many filmmakers).
  So, how does it compare to say the Canon 7d, a favorite of indie-filmmakers? It’s twice the price but the bonus with the BMD is that you can shoot RAW footage and don’t have to deal with the h.264 compression codec and 4:2:0 color of the 7d. It means that your video is suddenly more true and versatile than a Canon 7d. However, functionality is about the same in that a multicam shoot with a BMD is just as difficult as with a 7d. Also the BMD has 13 stops of dynamic range as compared to the ~8 of the 7d which means that your depth of field will always be better with the BMD.
  The verdict? To buy or not to buy? I say that if you are trying to make compelling, gorgeous video without needing a multicam shoot and are willing to ignore the internal battery issue, then go with the BMD. For $3,000 no one can compete with the price point and provide uncompressed video. If you are not worried about compression or portability is key to you then the 7d (or similar camera) may be a better or choice for you. Right now, the BMD looks great and I’m excited to see what this level of competition does to the DSLR and RAW video markets.

For some initial footage with a BMD prototype go here.

Sources - BlackMagic Design product info

BJB - some minor editing

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rise of mobile wallets

Post contributed by Ben Daniel -

iPhones Replacing Cash?
  A "mobile wallet" is something that could be a part of our future, and there is really no reason to doubt it considering types currency have changed drastically and consistently over the last few hundred years.
  In an article from CNN, it was stated that 65% of responses to a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey believe that people truly will have a way take care of "their day-to-day means of paying" with a "mobile wallet" by 2020.
"Whether it's paying for coffee with a mobile app, using more versatile apps such as Google Wallet or doing business using tools such as Square that turn phones into mobile cash registers, the adoption of mobile payments is clearly under way."
We all use our computers to make purchases and some of us, 38% of people in the survey, use our phones to make purchases already, but if you had an app or a mechanical device that you plug into your iPhone and could just swipe your debit card or credit card to pay for everyday things, life could be a little easier.
"By 2020, most people will have embraced and fully adopted the use of smart-device swiping for purchases they make, nearly eliminating the need for cash or credit cards. People will come to trust and rely on personal hardware and software for handling monetary transactions over the Internet and in stores. Cash and credit cards will have mostly disappeared from many of the transactions that occur in advanced countries."
I feel that if this is true, instead of having wallet with cash in them, we would all basically have Paypal wallets to middleman our bank accounts, but I don't think this could work, and like me, there are others critical of this innovation.
  Peter J. McCann, a FutureWei Technologies senior engineer stated, "The use of a simple string of digits that must be shared with any vendor with whom you transact is really a ludicrously insecure system that can and must change."
  I agree. If cash is taken away for the use of digital payments, then how do you pay for things at a garage sale, buy or sell a car without using dealership, or even drugs? Not that it is a bad thing to take cash off the street that is being used to deal drugs, but are illegal drugs going to disappear? No. So, if this innovation takes place, that means that you would be swiping your credit card to enable yourself to buy something from a friend. What about when your pay thousands of dollars to someone, how is the IRS going to understand what the payments were for?
  To me it seems like there is a future of change because two hundred years ago we were using pounds of silver to pay for things and now that's a ridiculous thought. But are we eight years away from cash becoming an after-thought?

Source - Experts: Most peope will make purchases by phones by 2020CNN Tech blog

Thoughts on the Divide

Post contributed by Benjamin Daniel -

One in Five adults choose not to use the internet
  If you took a poll of every college student in the United States, I'm pretty sure it would be 100% of them use the internet daily and frequently. Likewise, almost all professions outside of manual labor require the use of the Internet frequently. The internet is becoming a part of life that can not be avoided.
  People use the internet for education, finding jobs, receiving news, staying in touch with friends and family and many other reasons. When I read an article on CNN, it is stated that in a new PEW report a pole shows that one in five adults do not use the internet.
  When I read this, I figured the one in five adults are probably people who cannot afford the internet or did not see the need to pay for the aspects that the internet could provide them, but as I read further money was the second monist reason, the number one reason was that the others just don't feel the need to use the internet.
  The report explained that, "Among current non-internet users, almost half (48%) say the main reason they don't go online now is because they don't think the internet is relevant to them -- often saying they don't want to use the internet and don't need to use it to get the information they want or conduct the communication they want".
  Obviously, many of these people who don't use the internet are older (59%) and there are several other reasons like disabilities or not being able to afford it, but what about the others? These people claimed to just not be interested at all, "not in the Web, e-mail, YouTube, Facebook or anything else that happens online."
  If you chose not to use the internet because you do not see the reason, I feel that you are just trying to stay stubborn and only the other side of the media divide. As phone continue to become smart phones and internet continues to become more and more accessible, this divide will shrink smaller and smaller. You cannot go to school and not be able to use the internet and sooner or later, you probably won't be able to look at your bank account, pay for your meal, or withdrawal money without using the internet.
  "Once someone has a wireless device, she becomes much more active in how she uses the internet -- not just with wireless connectivity, but also with wired devices," the report said. "The same holds true for the impact of wireless connections and people's interest in using the internet to connect with others.
  This one in five adults has to be getting smaller. I understand people refusing to use Twitter and Facebook or using the internet to watch videos, but the internet will be more than that. Soon even senior citizens will have to know how use their computers.

Source -  Why one in five U.S. adults doesn't use the InternetCNNTech

BJB - slight editing for style
  Also, it's not so much a stubborn refusal, than it is a perception that there isn't anything on the Web that's worth the time and effort of going online.  Now this perception may be considered and accurate, or it may be that some people aren't yet aware of things on the Net that they would find useful and valuable.  To increase diffusion, sometimes you have to make sure there's content and services for people that they want to (or need to) use, as well as having the ability to go online.

Test Driving the Red Epic & Ultra-HD

Post contributed by Stuart Hohl -

Ultra High Definition Video is an emerging format of video that takes pixels to a much larger level than traditional digital HD. Formats such as 4K, 5K and 8K (still in development) may have up to 16 times the number of pixels as traditional 1080p. It is a format that is slowly starting to catch on with only a few companies stepping up the creation of cameras that can shoot at those resolutions.
  One of these companies is Red Cinema Digital Camera Company (colloquially known as Red). Red has had several Cameras out that can shoot in these formats but with different levels of performance. The Red Scarlet-X can only get 12 frames per second at 5k, but the older Red-Epic and Red-One can reach higher fps at 5K resolution. These cameras were recently used for the upcoming blockbuster “The Hobbit,” but the University of Tennessee used a Red Epic to shoot their Vols' Baseball and Softball TV spots.
  One issue with these cameras is the sheer amount of data that these cameras can produce, particularly at the Ultra HD levels. For the 30 second Baseball spot Athletics Broadcasting shot over 500 GB of Footage. A shoot can get very expensive very quickly when shooting in Ultra High Definition because of the money you have to put into storage systems. One of the things the industry will have to do is to bring data storage up to speed with data creation.
   UT Athletics Broadcasting was shooting with 64 GB cards and could get only about 30 minutes of footage onto each one. That means that you need multiple expensive cards and a storage system to get the footage off of them so you can reuse them. One quick fix for some productions has been to write it directly to hard drives, but that can be extremely cumbersome for some shoots and very expensive. That’s just a stopgap until new storage methods are developed to make shooting at such a high resolution and/or frame rate convenient.
   Why shoot UHD, if it requires so much storage space? It is for the quality of the image. You can look at a camera like the Canon 7d, which has been a favorite of many young and freelance filmmakers. The Canon 7d shoots with a highly compressed 4:2:0 h264 codec, 1080p, with approximately 8 stops of dynamic range. A camera like a Red can shoot with various degrees of compression (or in some cases uncompressed), 5k resolution, with 13+ stops of dynamic range. You get more to work with and you have the raw, uncompressed footage to work with. However, there is a massive difference in price. For most filmmakers (especially amateurs) the Canon 7d is more than enough to get the picture they need (for around $3,000 for the camera and appropriate lenses). However for production companies and the like a Red camera can cost $25,000 and lenses can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Obviously, it’s not for everyone.
  Film has been the traditional  quality standard of Hollywood for some time now. As we move into a digital age, film is finally being challenged by new digital systems that can match the quality and versatility of film that photographers and filmmakers have enjoyed for 100 years. It will be interesting to see if storage systems can advance an keep up to make it cost effective for even smaller productions. Director Peter Jackson talks about his experience with Red UHD cameras and 3-D in this clip. At 4:30 in the video there is a quick and simple explanation of 1080p versus 4k and 5k. Definitely check that out and even watch the entire video because it’s very interesting.

Sources -

BJB - edited for style. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

More Briefs: Milestones and Stats

Some more brief notes from various research reports

  • ComScore is reporting that Amazon's Fire tablet now accounts for more than half of all Android OS tablets. In second place is the Samsung Galaxy with 15% of the market.Source -  Kindle Fire Claims More Than Half Android Tablet Market, Online Media Daily
  • Research from Accenture suggests the effort to push the social TV concept is working - 64% of their sample of U.S. Consumers remember seeing social media symbols on TV programming, and a third used social media when seeing the symbols.
    "Social media and social networking are exploding across television screens as networks use social media to enable audiences to interact directly with related content for a richer viewing experience," said Robin Murdoch, Accenture's global Internet segment managing director.
    Source -  TV-driven social media interaction popular among U.S. viewers, says survey,  Broadcast Engineering
  • A post on the TVNewsCheck blog reports on the growing integration of social media in local broadcast news operations in the U.S. “Social media is indeed the more effective, efficient means of engagement,” says Jaime Spencer, a VP at Frank N. Magid Associates.
    Source - Status Of Social Media Rising At TV Stations, TVNewsCheck
  • A Sandvine report indicates that Netflix's streaming traffic has grown by 30% over the last six months.  Looking at Netflix's impact in other ways,  Netflix streams account for about one-third of capacity infrastructure costs for broadband providers, 32.9% of Internet traffic during primetime hours, and 24.4% of total Internet traffic volume. YouTube is the second largest source of peak traffic, accounting for 13.8% of downstream traffic.  Looking at mobile data traffic, YouTube is the largest single source of video traffic in every region of the globe; it accounts for 23.4% of daily traffic on mobile networks.
    Source - Netflix Streaming Traffic Grew 30% In Last Six Months: StudyMultichannel News
  • Half (53%) of online video viewers in an Accenture survey felt there were too many ads during shows. They were also often frustrated with the time it takes to buffer or start online videos.  When asked what they'd be willing to pay for, top responses were reduced ad loads (35%) and higher quality content (35%).  Accenture summarize: "there appears to be a point at which the trade-off between free content and frequency of commercials becomes unpalatable."
    Source - Half of Online Video Viewers Say There Are Too Many AdsVidBlog
  • A story in the LA Times reported that Microsoft indicated that U.S. consumers now use their Xbox Live service more for entertainment purposes than for multiplayer gaming.  The general manager for Xbox Live entertainment and advertising told attendees at a conference on digital content that "When Xbox Live started 10 years ago, what it was all about was multiplayer gaming. Now, Xbox Live really is an all-in-one entertainment platform."  He added that Microsoft had struck more than 50 content deals in recent months.
    Source - VideoDaily Roundup: Xbox Live Usage Outstrips Multiplayer Gaming in U.S.Online Media Daily
  • There's been significant consolidation in China's Web video advertising market.  Last month, China's top video site Youku bought out the #2 site, Tudou Holdings for a reported $1 billion.  Subsequently, Tencent Holdings, (#3), and Baidu (#4) announced that they would join forces in offering video services.
    Source - VideoDaily Roundup: Xbox Live Usage Outstrips Multiplayer Gaming in U.S.Online Media Daily
  • A report by analytics firm Distimo calls Instagram "a new kind of social network -- one that is build from an app."  The report argues that both the size of Instragram's international user base and the increasing number of mobile applications integrating the service  set it apart from the typical social media service.  Over the last year, U.S. downloads increased sevenfold, and shares from Instagram to Twitter increased twelvefold.
    Source -  Distimo: Instagram's growth heralds 'a new kind of social network'  Fierce Mobile Content

Spotify teams with Coke for Promo

Post contributed by Cori Mullaney -

The digital music service, Spotify, has taken the music media industry by the horns. The service, which provides customer access to millions of songs, is already at the top of the media chain. But how does it plan on staying there?
    With the rise in competition amongst media firms, services such as this must look toward the future. As the competition increases at a rapid rate, revenues begin to decline. Therefore, services such as Spotify must find and develop new sources of revenue in order to stay afloat.
   In addition to developing new and improved features, the digital music service must look toward marketing campaigns. The service has done just that. Spotify announced on Wednesday that it will be teaming up with Coca-Cola Co. to help expose and recruit the service. Spotify will gain access to Coca-Cola’s formidable global marketing engine, making it easier for the service to expand internationally.
   So what’s in it for Coca-Cola? According to Alex Pham, writer for the Los Angeles Times, “Coca-Cola can now use Spotify’s service to instantly add music to its online marketing repertoire.”

With a solid marketing partnership such as this one, the future for Spotify will surely be bright.

Source- Spotify and Coca-Cola for marketing partnership Los Angeles Times

BJB- some editing for style

Vis-a-Vis for Free (Forever)

Post contributed by Clara Reed -

Traditionally, magazines have been printed and sold on the stands at grocery stores, bookstores and street corners. With the emergence of the digital age, the magazine industry is looking to revamp their style and translate formats for the tablet.
  While many magazines contemplate how to do this, some start-ups have jumped int the mobile tablet market.  One example is Vis à Vis, a digital, interactive magazine from Spain. They designed the magazine with the iPad in mind, and now seven journalists work together in a small office to bring this magazine to life.
"Journalism is going through a phase in which either you undertake your own idea or you have to conform to the reality of market," said Laura Blanco, the magazine's editor in chief.
The name Vis à Vis means “face to face,” and the content of the magazine contains just that; face to face interviews of prominent figures in television, sports, fashion and gastronomy.
  With this venture, Vis à Vis looks to “reinvent” magazine journalism, using the features and capabilities of the digital tablet form.  And perhaps providing some lessons for other magazines as they seek to “digitalize.” The Vis à Vis team hasn't stopped there - they use social networks for getting word out about their magazine, and them credit for helping to quickly build an audience. They are working on the third edition, in which “the team has already secured the first advertisements that will finance the project.”
From the audience perspective, interest is fueled by their motto of “Free Forever,” meaning that it’s free of charge to online readers.

Source: Spain’s iPad Mag, Vis a Vis, Shows Growth, Points to New Path, PBS MediaShift blog

BJB - edited for style

Bid Sites: Breaking into Freelance Writing

Post submitted by John Holzapfel -

New freelance writers can get their start with contract sites, also known as bid sites, such as ElanceGetAFreelancer or Ifreelance. Using these sites can help one deal with issues associated with freelance writing, such as, the need to make money, the ability to create an online presence and reputation.
  Like everything else in life, it takes money to make money. After a small start-up fee, one can begin choosing and bidding for projects that appeal to their interests. Many established freelance writers scoff at the notion of using a bid site. For new writers, however, they provide an important foundation for continued growth and success, not to mention a certain level of stability.
  Many of these sites work in a fashion that recommends writers to take on a premium membership for an additional charge.  Features included in many premium memberships include a broader range of projects to bid on and more storage space for clips and highlighted bid proposals.
  Bid sites allow one to build their own personal website, creating an opportunity to expand one’s web presence. This profile should include an archive of previous articles, sample clips, resumes, bios and photos.
  Once your profile is set up and you begin bidding on projects, it is only a matter of time before project managers start selecting you for stories on your highlighted bids.  Then you start completing the assignments, your reputation enhances, your portfolio strengthens and the money starts rolling in.

BJB - Not our standard format, but nonetheless useful.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Milestones and Stats

Here's some recent reported numbers -
  • Three quarters of marketers say they see online video as complement to traditional TV, not a replacement for it.  Check infographic for other headline results.
      Source - 2012 State of  the Online Video Industry Report,
  • AT&T U-verse subscribership passes 4 million, 6 million for combined U-verse and Internet subscriptions.  The also reported U-verse revenues up 38%, compared to Q1 2011.
    Source - AT&T cracks 6M U-verse subscribers in Q1 2012Fierce Cable
  • Netflix added a net of 1.7 million subscribers in the last quarter, bringing the number of streaming subscribers to 23.4 million.  Netflix predicted that subscribers will hit 29 million around the end of the year - that's 30% of the US homes with some kind of pay subscription.
    Source - Subscribers Jump At 'TV Network' NetflixMediaDailyNews
  • ComScore is reporting that use of newspaper websites increased about 4.4% over the last year.  There was a big jump in terms of the number of daily unique visitors (up 10%), and the total time spent on newspaper websites (up 6.9%), although total reach was steady at just under 64% of US adult internet users.  The shift online are most meaningful for the 18-34 age group, where 48% reported only reading digital newspapers, 34% read both digital and print newspapers, but only 24% read only print versions.
    Source - Newspaper Site Traffic, Times UpMediaDailyNews
  • A study by Strategy Analytics predicts that global advertiser spending on mobile media will grow 85% this year, reaching a total of $22.6 billion for 2012.  U.S. mobile ad spending is projected to grow from an estimated $1.6 billion in 2011, to more than $4.2 billion in 2012.  Spending on mobile apps in the U.S.  is projected to grow by 30%, totaling $6.7 billion for 2012.
    Source -  U.S. Mobile Ad Spend to Double in 2012Online Media Daily
  • Apple's App Store boasts hosting more than 600,000 apps, and over 25 billion downloads..  Apple reported selling more than 35 million iPhones and 11.8 million iPads in the last quarter, for a total of 365 million active iOS devices around the world (including 67 million iPads).  Revenues for the quarter were reported at $39.2 billion, up almost 60% from the same quarter last year.
    Source -  Apple's App Store passes 600k apps, iTunes revenues top $1.9B in Q2Fierce Mobile Content
  • The Asia-Pacific region is now the world's largest TV market, with a projected one billion TV homes by the end of the year.  It's also become the largest payTV market (394 million subs), although generating only a fifth of the revenues of the U.S. payTV market.
    Source - Asia Pacific now largest TV marketDigital TV Europe
  • One analyst is predicting that by 2017, Facebook will get 25% of the U.S. display ad market (it's currently at 12%), earning $12.6 billion in ad revenues.  At that point, ad revenues will account for about 70% of total Facebook earnings.
    Source -  Facebook Ad Revs Expected to Hit $4.2 billion, Online Media Daily
  • Most communication industries are doing well, according to the recent VSS Forecast Mid-Term Update.  Total spending across communication industries is showing a 5.7% Compound Annual Growth Rate.  The gains are lead by targeted media (8.1% CAGR), with Entertainment & Leisure Media growing at 5.7% and Traditional Consumer Advertising Media trailing at 2.7%.  Print fared poorly, with growth estimates downgraded for Consumer Book Publishing and Newspaper Publishing.
    Source -
    Communications Industry Exceeding ExpectationsResearch Brief, MediaPost blog

Gaikai brings gaming to the Cloud

Post contributed by Jamison Lanum -

For those unfamiliar with the rise of cloud-gaming, here's the rub -
   Streaming content from the Cloud may not seem like such a big deal anymore. Netflix does it. Hulu does it. However, streaming video games is an entirely different animal to tame. High-end video games typically require a dedicated gaming pc that can run between $800 and $1200 and even higher.  This platform is needed because the data loads and throughput of games can run orders of magnitude greater than simple video, and speed and responsiveness is often critical.

    Companies like Gaikai have installed a massive network infrastructure that allows them to stream (that's right) high-end video games over the internet. Gaikai has this hardware and network in place on their own service, allowing customers to play games on lower-end machines without sacrificing performance.  Now it needs to show off these capabilities to potential users.
   Taking their service to Facebook is a huge step for the company, offering access to hundreds of millions of users around the world, many of whom are already playing simple games on Facebook. While Gaikai is only set up for streaming game demos at this time, full games are on the horizon. Partnering with Facebook seems to be a good marketing strategy, as long as the service delivers the full video gaming experience.

Source -  Gaikai brings its cloud gaming to Facebook, launches beta applicationEngadget

BJB - edited for style

Nielsen reports on Hispanics' use of social, mobile media

A new Nielsen report finds that Hispanics are the heavy users of smartphones, social networking, downloading music and photos to mobile devices, and in watching online videos.  Specifically, Nielsen found that U.S. Hispanics were 68% more likely than white non-Hispancs to watch online videos, and 20% more likely to watch videos on their mobile phones.  They're heavy uses of traditional phone services as well, making an average of 13 phone calls a day, and sending or receiving an average of 941 SMS text messages a month.  Hispanics are also increasing their involvement with social media - Facebook use over the last year was up 8%, Blogger use up 10%, Twitter up 32%, LinkedIn up 52%, WordPress up 27%, and Tumblr up 85%.  Hispanics are also not just reading blogs, they are 17% more likely than the average media user to build or update a personal blog, and 21% more likely to post information such as links, articles, or videos to websites.
  Nielsen found that one possible reason for the heavy mobile use was that Hispanic were also much less likely to have Internet access at home (more than 60% less likely)  Nielsen concluded that“mobile presents a significant avenue of opportunity for marketers looking to reach Hispanic consumers,” and the firm also notes that the group has “amassed significant buying power, despite perceptions to the contrary.”

Source - Nielsen finds U.S. Hispanics Tops in Mobile, Social ActivityPromaxBDA

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ideas for iPhone 5?

Post contributed by Michael Culpepper -

  While we have all experienced the fact that concept designs for new technology rarely are incorporated in that specific generation, Apple has announced some interesting features about the new IPhone that we may want to keep an eye on. What they are proposing is an interactive holographic keyboard and display. All of the information come from a video created by a San Francisco-based 3D animation and digital content shop called Aatma Studio, which imagines the integration of Pico projection for holographic keyboards and displays on future iPhones.  
   During the video, the virtual keyboard is shown projected onto a surface by swiping it off the screen. The projected keyboard can then be scaled to a more comfortable size using a pinch-to-zoom gesture directly on the surface of the projection. This is very similar to the track-pad function of their Macbook series. It appears that sensors are able to detect your key strokes as a combination of light and shadows then reports, “But Aatma takes this idea further to show a holographic display. While Apple has filed patents for pico projection systems for their iPhones and iPads, as well as a feature that can read and react to the silhouettes of gestures in front of the projections, the concept shown in the video projects an image in mid-air.”
   While admittingly, this technology probably won’t make it to the IPhone 5, it is something to really consider. We are now opening the doors to a much more interactive version of entertainment. We may not be too far off from things like the Microsoft Kennect being able to be utilized on an Android phone. Not only that but it now offers the availability of multiple people using programs on the same phone without having to crowd around each other.

If you would like to see the video of the concept, you can find it here.

(BJB - A bit off format, but I've got a backload to push out)

Taking Social Offline - MeetUp

Post contributed by Courtney Vick -

Meetup Inc.'s website,, may be the next big social network, by taking social media offline.  It was created in 2001 and inspired by September 11, 2001, when New Yorkers came together to show their support and respect for their community. It is available worldwide and in many different languages. It offers the capability to connect with individuals across the globe who share common interests, and encourages users to "meet up" with existing clubs or organizations, or even individuals.
   When people access the website, they can pick a city or type in their zip code of choice. They can either create a group to join and "meet up" with or join an existing club/organization. The business has three sources of revenue: gathering locations essentially advertise their location as a preferred spot, preferred members can choose which spot they meet at and pay for that service, and organizations like AARP and MTV have access to paying for advertising. Nevertheless, people do not have to pay to have a membership.
   This idea is influential because it will be able to bring different cultures together and celebrate both common interests and expose the diverse nature of different subjects and people. People will become more educated on issues that they care about. Although it is set up similar to other social networks, this one is advanced because it acts as an event planning service and meeting website for those who would not otherwise have access to those luxuries.
   Since it is a social networking site, it can be accessed online, and it has the advantage of people meeting after they've met on the site. It is not a dating website but rather a place for people to be able to meet others who they can relate to. This is perfect for lonely individuals and those who feel that they do not relate to others. This site has the capacity to make those people feel welcome and part of a unified group. It is my opinion that the need to connect others will save many lives. with its capacity for strangers to meet.
   It is my opinion that they should open this website up to SKYPE or a similar service in order to expand their outreach. This would make them more valuable as a media company and be better able to serve their customers/users. For those who are not able to find a group of their interest and want to learn about people in another city with a shared interest, this idea is difficult to beat. Not only does it have the capability to connect individuals, but businesses and interest groups as well.

Sources and additional information - MeetUp's main site - I
nterviews with co-founder, Scott Heiferman can be found here -

BJB - Slightly edited for style

Future of mobile - Nokia Human Form

There's a lot of people envisioning what the future holds for mobile technology and mobile devices.  Here's a report on Nokia's vision, contributed by David Comm -

Recently the engineers at Nokia have been working on a concept of a phone that could revolutionize the world of mobile phones…it’s called the Nokia Human Form. Of course, this is still just a concept…not yet a phone. However, it is based off of the Nokia Kinetic Device which IS real, so the Human Form is not complete fiction.
  The Kinetic Device is a concept phone that Nokia developed that is flexible…yes, flexible. Instead of buttons, the Kinetic Device is controlled by bending, twisting, and squeezing. It was unveiled at Nokia World 2011 at London’s Excel Centre. The phone was unveiled by Tapani Jokinen, Nokia’s Head of Design, Technology Insights. Tapani said that while there is a touch screen on the phone it goes “beyond it.”
  This is the technology that will be used in the Human Form, plus a little. The Human Form will look like no other phone…it looks like a min surfboard, it is thin, transparent, and flexible. Not only that but it can mold to your ear when you talk and can mold to you leg while in your pocket. If that wasn’t enough, a particularly cool feature is the tactile sensory touch that accompanies a photograph, so when you look at a picture, your skin can interpret the surface of that particular object by simply touching it, as if they were virtually right there in front of you.
  Again, this is still just a concept, so it will be years before this could even be possible, but you can still see a really cool video of Nokia’s vision of the Human Form here. From Nokia PR comes this description:
“Human Form…a visionary solution beyond touch screen and voice communication where technology becomes invisible and intuition takes over. The solution is a redefined phone where interactions become natural and convey human emotions.”
Sources – Nokia Research Center and Nokia Connects

It's a Multiplatform World - for some anyway

Time, Inc., has released a new study of media consumption habits, entitled "A Biometric Day in the Life."  The study examines the changing patterns of media use of people who grew up with mobile technology (Digital Natives) compared to us old folks who were already adults by the time digital mobile technology came into our lives (Digital Immigrants).
  The biggest difference is that Digital Natives are more prolific users of multiple platforms, switching their attention between various media devices an average of 27 times an hour.  The report suggests that this results in less engagement with media and content, which moderates emotional response.  Additionally, Digital Natives are more likely to try to use media to regulate their mood.  They're also more fickle, turning to new media as soon as they grow tired or bored.  Digital Natives are more likely to take their mobile devices with them, carrying them from room to room even when at home.
Dr. Carl Marci, CEO and Chief Scientist, Innerscope Research, observed that "This study strongly suggests... patterns of visual attention and emotional consequences of modern media consumption... rewiring the brains of a generation of Americans... storytellers and marketers in this digital age will... face an increasingly complex environment with a higher bar for engaging an audience of consumers... “
Digital Natives are also more interactive - 85% send or receive text messages daily, compared to 52% of Digital Immigrants; 80% of Natives use Facebook at least daily (57% for Immigrants). Natives divided their media usage evenly between digital and non-digital media, while Immigrants spent 68% of their media time with non-digital media.
  More support for the transformation of the media environment.

Source - Fickle "Digital Natives" Switch Platforms Every Other Minute,  Research Brief blog, MediaPost

App for UGC online magazines

Post contributed by Clara Reed -

“Create Your Own Magazine”
  Adding another innovation to the Web 2.0 world, YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen are working on a new project known as “Zeen.” This app will allow users to “discover & create beautiful magazines.” Not much is known yet about Hurley and Chen’s latest venture, but it is rumored that an announcement about the site will be made at The Next Web Conference later this month.
  With hits like Pinterest, Zeen is believed to be a sort of creative “sharing site with a DIY twist.” Those of us with a creative mind will be able to make our own virtual magazine tailored to individual preferences.
  As of now, Zeen’s website features a box where you can request a username and reads “Coming soon” below the name and phrase stating the purpose of the site. '
  While websites like Pinterest, Flickr and Tumblr have been successful, it’s hard to say if the launch of Zeen will be as ground breaking, but with more and more people wanting to produce original content, it could provide another outlet for people to do so.

Source: Zeen: New Magazine-Creating AppBangstyle blog

BJB - some editing for style

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Newsrooms Revamp to Stay Local

As the news market gets ever more competitive, many traditional media outlets are looking to refocus on coverage where they have a competitive advantage.  Several sessions at the NAB Broadcast Management Summit explored the topic, with a focus on the options for local broadcast TV stations.
  Highlights -
  • "It wasn't too long ago that all of our workflow was focused on the evening news at 6 and 11 p.m.," notes Brian Bracco, vice president of News at Hearst Television. "But now that we are competing with all these platforms, we've had to change our workflows so that we can be more agile and deliver the news in all formats and platforms the way consumers want it."
  • "(Local TV news stations) are facing an aging demo and a declining demo for TV news at a time when the revenue dollars are increasingly being diluted and spread out over more outlets," notes Bill Hendler, chief technology officer at Chyron.  Finding a way to connect with younger demographics may be critical - Hendler continued,  "You are seeing a lot of energy focused around social [media] and social TV integration and second- screen platforms."
  • TV News operations are being transformed by the development of smaller, lighter cameras and new remote access technologies. "Stations are taking steps to cut costs while increasing the content they create, so more and more stations are investing in lower-cost devices to bring news back to the studio over cheaper 3G and 4G networks," said Streambox CEO Bob Hildeman.
  • Some speakers spoke of other cutting edge technology, such as robotic cameras and virtual set systems. "We think that augmented reality is a great way to differentiate yourself from the lower-end webcasters or online news and to offer viewers a much more immersive, higher-quality experience," explains Jeff Moore, executive vice president of Marketing and Sales at Ross Video.
  •  Hearst's Bracco says they have already implemented a number of these technologies at Hearst stations, including the widespread use of smaller cameras and iPhones for ENG, and that these efforts are beginning to pay off in terms of larger audiences. "We had record traffic on our Web and mobile last year," he reports. "Some of that could have been associated with the terrible weather, but I think changing our operations to get more video onto the site and making it a more robust experience played a key role." 
The advantage of working in a digital networked environment is that it provides options and new opportunities.  The key is how quickly local TV newsrooms can find ways to use these to further exploit what they do best - provide local news and information.

Source -  Newsrooms Revamp to Stay LocalNABShow Daily News

AOL patents for sale

Post contributed by David Comm -

Bloomberg reports that Facebook was interested in bidding on AOL’s 800 patents—that is before Microsoft won the bidding war for $1 billion. AOL had announced it would be auctioning its patents the day Mark Zuckerberg announced he was buying Instagram for $1 billion.
  Today it was announced that Microsoft would pay $1 billion for more than 800 patents from AOL and will license 300 more. However, Microsoft is planning on turning around and selling some of these patents, so Facebook will still have an opportunity to buy some.   The AOL management plans to return a large chuck of this money to the AOL shareholders. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong stated that
“We continue to hold a valuable patent portfolio as highlighted by the license we entered into with Microsoft," said AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in the release. "The combined sale and licensing arrangement unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value."
Source - Facebook Tried To Buy AOL's Patents Before Microsoft Bid $1 Billion, Business Insider 
AOL Will Sell More Than 800 Patents To Microsoft In A $1 Billion Deal, Business Insider
WEIRD: Microsoft Is Planning To Sell Most Of The Patents It Bought From AOL Business Insider

BJB - slightly edited for style.  Intellectual property rights, whether copyrights on content, or patents for innovations, remains the key for controlling uses. 

Printing through the Clouds

Post contributed by Courtney Vick -

It seems like the next step - connected printers, networked printers, wireless printers, and now Google is offering the Google Cloud Print service - the ability to access your printers through the Cloud..  According to their main website, "Google Cloud Print is a new technology that connects your printers to the web. Using Google Cloud Print, you can make your home and work printers available to you and anyone you choose, from the applications you use every day. Google Cloud Print works on your phone, tablet, Chromebook, PC, and any other web-connected device you want to print from."
  To make printing even more mobile, the service also has the option of sending documents to FedEx shops around the world to be printed. The Cloud Print system will change the way people use media because it gives them instant access to print essentially anywhere. There are 1,800 FedEx stores located in the United States that will print documents from this service or other Android devices. If someone is not near a printer, all they have to do is go to a FedEx store and have their work printed their for a minimal fee. This will drastically reduce the stress in everyday life. You can even print documents to to other Android devices as PDFs. In order to pick up the documents at FedEx, customers will need a code in order to get their documents at one of the Print & Go machines. Many Canon printers work with the Google Cloud Print service.

   This service provides safe, convenient sharing because when you print, your material is sent to a printer via web. You can print to any printer that is set up through the Google Cloud Print system meaning you can send a print job anywhere. You can send the print job through a phone, a desktop, a tablet, etc. Virtually any form of technology has the ability to use this service. People have instant access to documents and files.

BJB - edited for style.

Hacker group targets music industry

Post contributed by Michael Culpepper -

In a move sure to attract attention from the music industry, a small group of coders claiming to be part of Anonymous is putting together a social music platform. The rather ambitious goal: Create a service that seamlessly pulls up songs streaming from all around the internet.
  The project, called Anontune and still in its infancy, is designed to pull songs from third-party sources like YouTube and let anonymous users put them into playlists and share them — while keeping the service from being shut down by music industry lawsuits. This works similarly to iTunes shared music profiles, except it is meant to reach the entire web. In a way it is like Grooveshark with more selections and you would “own” the music.

One of the creators of Anontune said they met while on a hacking site and began talking about music and how the industry is operating in bad form.

Anontune works by automating what most people do online manually. After setting up an account, users can build playlists by simply typing in the names of songs they want to hear (very similar to Pandora), or they can choose from the names of songs imported from their mp3 device. Anontune's "music engine" runs in the user's browser and finds them songs on the internet. Currently most of the tracks come from YouTube and SoundCloud, but there are plans in the works to add Yahoo Music, Myspace Music, Bandcamp and others. From there, users, of which there are currently fewer than 1,000, just press play.
  In reporting the story, CNN aired a word of precaution:
(A word of caution to curious readers: The system relies on executing a Java applet. Unless you are extremely trusting or using VMWare, you should think very carefully about running code on your machine that was written by members of Anonymous.)
"The project is not so much a response to Megaupload but a response to the tycoons from the RIAA shutting down music services," the anon (member of anonymous) wrote to Wired. "You may have heard about what Anonymous has done in Operation Payback. We believe the underlying reasons for the revolt were (mostly) correct, however their approach is unlikely to change anything in the long run."
  When asked about Anontune by Wired, an RIAA spokesman declined to comment.
  The version is only about 20% complete at this time, according to one anon. They hope to get better results as people start using it. 
  This underlying technology has the possibility of exploding. All that needs to happen is for it to exit its “Darknet” arena. With the talent and skill anonymous has (if they actually are members of the group), the application should function effectively.
  If this comes out to a more public usage, it could be revolutionary. If users around the world could upload music to a cloud-like format rather than risking faulty downloads, you will see a rise in downloading (especially if it is safe).
  The activity could also bring about very harsh legal sanctions by the RIAA, trying to make an example of those that fail to pay royalties (much like in the early days of music piracy).
  Overall, the pirate in me takes over, and I would much rather see music in the hands of the public, rather than Benjamin’s in the pockets of the executives.

Source - Anontune: the new social music platform from 'Anonymous'Wired/CNN

BJB - slightly edited for style.  Official caveat - "views expressed, etc." and deal with unlicensed content at your own risk.

Broadcast Tie-ins and My Home Improvement

Post contributed by Logan Innis -
My Home Improvement has been establishing localized websites in numerous locations across the nation and even a few up with our Northern neighbors in Canada. This website is a one stop shop for anyone who is looking to do any home improving. It has over 7,000 experts listed with Q & A’s for all of you home owners (which I know about 2 of you are) out there who are looking to spruce up that humble abode. Let’s say you’re trying to fix something yourself and you get caught up on something, go to and see what they say to do. If you’re like me then you’re going to let someone who actually knows what they’re doing take control. In that case you would go to the NEW to find someone near you who is credible and ready to help.  
 The tie-in is that each localized site is linked to local broadcast stations, who provide some content and can provide local businesses with listings on the site (in conjunction with local advertising through the station).  Knoxville’s own My Home Improvement site was recently launched with more than  10 businesses initially, and another dozen or so expected in following weeks. Each business has their own page with their information listed but if you would prefer to search it yourself, you’re more than welcome to do that. The Knoxville site is linked through three of Knoxville’s largest radio stations (Star 102.1, Q 93.1 and Hot 104.5).
Main company website -
 This is one of several innovative advertising/website tie-ins that are being tested by local media outlets as a new revenue enhancer, (or at least providing added value to basic local advertising. 
BJB - edited for style and added last comment.

AOL, Nielsen to test Online Ratings Approach

One of the factors that has slowed the development of online advertising revenues has been the lack of a standard audience exposure metric - particularly one that is comparable to the metrics employed by more traditional media outlets.  While there are a number of current efforts working towards devising a metric acceptable to both advertisers and the online industry, to date there's no widely accepted metric like Nielsen's TV ratings, Arbitron's radio ratings, or the ABC metrics used by newspaper and magazine publishers.  (All of which are also having problems trying to measure cross-platform exposures).
  The recent announcement that AOL would start using the new Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) will certainly push the effort along.  Nielsen's OCR moves beyond base online metrics, using a large sample to link demographic information with raw counts of screen views or click-throughs.
“With online video increasingly playing a role in traditional TV upfront buying and selling, consistent cross-platform metrics are becoming more and more critical to proving the true value of advertising on a site, in terms that are familiar to brand marketers,” stated Steve Hasker, a top Nielsen executive.
AOL plans to use the Nielsen numbers to establish an upfront market for online advertising, providing the same kind of audience guarantees used by TV networks for several of its original content offerings.  The advertising industry remains somewhat skeptical at this point, arguing that even while there may be some premium online inventory that would justify upfront purchasing, its supply still exceeds current levels of demand - so that AOL is unlikely to receive any kind of premium for its offerings.

Source -  AOL Uses Nielsen Ratings, Peels Ad Dollars From TVOnline Media Daily

Facebook's Global Dominance

Post submitted by Reanna Mortensen -

There is a major difference in international social network use from 2008 to 2011. The biggest difference is the world domination of Facebook over other social media sites in 2011. In the top map, it shows that MySpace dominated the United States as a social media website, Hi-5 was the biggest site in Mexico, Orkut and Hi-5 were popular in South America, Europe had many different sites depending on the country, and Africa had a variety of social network systems. In 2011, almost the entire globe turned to Facebook as its main social medium. In fact, there are only three other colors visible on the 2011 map.
    I think it’s unreal how fast Facebook spread across the world in just three years. This brings up the question, what does Facebook offer that other social networks do not? Perhaps Facebook is better advertised than other social media websites, or maybe the concept and functions it offers are just really well designed. Either way, Facebook is the powerhouse of social networks internationally.

BJB - This also illustrates the concept of network economy - that for many networks, the value of the network to users, as a means to interact with others, increases as the number of users (or possible connections increase.  As Facebook gained ground, its value as a social medium increased, enticing more to join or switch from other options.

Source -  World Map Showing the Popularity of Social Networks, blog

Monday, April 23, 2012

Setting the Next-Gen Standards for TV

Thirteen broadcast engineering and standards bodies from around the world gathered at the National Association of Broadcasters convention last week to sign an agreement that would set up an initiative to develop a new global standard for broadcast television.
  Since the birth of television, countries have establ9shed a variety of technical systems, or standards, for their local terrestrial, wired, and satellite TV broadcasting.  And most of these are not compatible with one another.  Variances in power systems (50 Hz vs 60 Hz), the desire to set a more technically advanced system accounted for some of the variation, and political considerations fought against setting a single standard.  Moreover, the analog standards were significantly incompatible with one another, making translation of signals difficult and expensive.  With the transition to digital, there was once again consideration of developing a single standard, but in the digital universe, translating signals across standards is fairly easy, so the initial push for a single standard once again was waylaid by the myriad needs of different groups.  (The U.S. ATSC "standard" actually embraces a wide range of screen format/resolution/frame rate mixes).
Today, its easier (and cheaper) to build a digital receiver chip that can receive any of the world's broadcast standards, decode the digital signal, and translate the signal to any receiver output, than it is to develop separate production lines for the different standards.
  That's the difficulty facing the "Future of Broadcast Television Initiative," as it seeks to guide the world's various standards-setting organizations as they consider what will be the next generation of digital television.
“Broadcasting has to go from linear to nonlinear solutions for tomorrow,” said Lieven Vermaele, director of European Broadcasting Union’s Technology and Development Department, at the panel session. Mark Richer, the president of ATSC, said: “The first step is for broadcasters to make sure we all believe in the same goal and have the same shared vision moving forward. If we do not have that, we can’t expect other industries to make that happen. … If you want everyone to sing from the same hymn sheet, you have to write the notes first and the lyrics.”
 There are areas where standards would clearly help, but establishing a global standard is increasingly unnecessary, as well as increasingly problematic as more and more devices with different power needs, screen sizes and orientations, and resolutions, are used to watch broadcast television.  Good luck, FoBTV folks - it's going to be a rocky and difficult path to a future where the next big shift may not come from traditional broadcasters, organizations, or equipment manufacturers.

Source - Global Next-Gen TV Group Gets to WorkTV Newscheck

News, Search Engines, and Copyright Infringement

The AP (Associate Press wire service) recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against a company, Meltwater, for providing summaries of news stories that include keywords of interest to their clients.  Some of these digests include portions of the news stories, arguably providing a basis for the copyright infringement claim.  In the suit, the AP contends that Meltwater is undercutting AP's news business by providing its content without paying AP for it.
  The AP argues that Meltwater is a clipping service that doesn't pay for the papers it "clips" from.  In addition, while recognizing that their summaries do not violate copyright, that if you add up the headline and "a short snippet of text," Meltwater clients might obtain a significant percentage of a story, violating the limits of fair use.  The AP also argues that that Meltwater, by providing a link to the original story, may be contributing to later copyright violations by the clients.
  Those claims, Meltwater alleges in a formal response filed in the suit, that the type of violations AP alleges challenge the core functions of search engines.  The Courts long ago found that search engines use of such content fell under fair use.  It is difficult to see how Meltwater differs, except in providing their own summaries, which in fact would be original stories that Meltwater held copyright to.
  In commenting on the suit, one blogger noted the dangerous precedent of the AP's "contributory" argument -
Because users can cut and paste AP stories from their original websites and “save” them in a Meltwater archive, Meltwater is guilty of violating copyright law. Under that argument, so is any email program or word processing program.
  The filing also contains the foundation for a countersuit,  arguing that the AP's very public pursuit of the infringement claim has disrupted its business relationships and scaring away prospective clients.

  Its hard to see, from the reports anyway, that the AP even has the standing to sue (that would depend on whether Meltwater uses AP wire reports, or newspaper articles based on them).  It also seems like the AP is trying to argue that Meltwater's actions might result in infringement (by themselves or their clients), rather than basing the suit on actual evidence of wrongdoing.  That last is a disturbing trend in IP policy and Court cases - using the possibility of infringement, rather than actual violation, as the basis for legal action.

Source - Meltwater says AP's copyright lawsuit threatens all search engines,  Poynter MediaWire

Gannett reporters to get mobile support

Gannett has joined the BBC as a major news organization that has decided to provide its journalists with a variety of tools to report remotely, via mobile.  Gannett will be providing thousands of new iPhones, iPads, netbooks, portable wireless hotspots and A/V accessories for their newspaper reporters.  The initial memo indicated that more information on training and use expectations would come at a later point.
  The new iPads and iPhones provide sufficient capabilities to capture sound, video, and pictures, write stories, and send reports in while in the field.  The equipment is also small enough, and light enough, that we will have to come up with a new catchphrase for the one-man reporting team - instead of "backpack journalism," perhaps "coat pocket journalism."

Source - Gannett buys thousands of iPhones, iPads for its journalists,  Poynter MediaWire

The Internationalization of News

Japanese broadcaster NHK has launched a new English-language news channel, with studio operations in New York.  Programming will focus on Japanese topics, and looks to become a gateway for Asia-wide news and trends, especially since many U. S. media outlets have closed their Tokyo bureaus.  The service is on a dedicated over-the-air as well as a number of cable systems in the New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC markets.
   NHK joins a growing number of international and foreign language who have opened English-language channels as a means to get their perspective out to compete with the dominant US/UK news agencies and channels. 

Source -  NHK/World English-Language News Net Launches in NYCMultichannel News

Issues with Microsoft's Outlook 2011 for Mac

The latest Microsoft Office 2011 release for Mac OS is creating a lot of the wrong kind of  buzz on the Net.
Apparently, the Outlook portion was not as well-integrated or as well-tested - failing to open Outlook databases without a rebuild of the full Office database.  The problem is widespread enough that Microsoft had to create and release a support document that provides step-by-step directions on how to get Outlook up and running.  In fact, the support document "fix" was released the same day as the upgrade, suggesting that this wasn't some unknown error, but a decision to release a version incompatible with previous Outlook datasets.
  Whether this was an attempt to push more computer folks to Windows, or an attempt to trim costs (or keep to a tight release schedule) by failing to include a database translator, or ensure that the software was backwards compatible, is unknown.  But it never helps your image to provide a clunky product - particularly one that makes users have to first find out what the problem was, and then have to go through a lengthy process to fix it.

Source -  Undoing the damage wrought by Microsoft's Outlook update,  Macworld Business Center

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Broadcasters Embrace Multiplatform Future

Las Vegas hosted the annual NAB Show, where broadcasters, programmers, content producers, and equipment suppliers get together to show off the new and discuss the trendy.  And one of the biggest trends is the growing emphasis on all forms of distributed media.
"It is still about broadcast, if you will, just a new definition, driven by the need to deliver content in a multiplatform environment when and where the consumer wants it," said Chris Brown, executive vice president of Conventions and Business Operations for NAB.
  On the conference side, there are sessions addressing new ways to create, manage, distribute, and monetize content.  There's also a focused conference-within-a-conference on Disruptive Media looking at online and mobile content distribution, and the emphasis on branded content.  On the trade show floor, organizers have moved from setting things up by type of equipment, to focus on the various stages of content production and distribution.  "The premise is that the tools, services and technologies that are required apply whether you are in broadcast television, film, cable, satellite, Internet, mobile, whatever," Brown said.  New theme areas include the Start-Up Loft (for new market entrants), a Content Market pulling together exhibitors showcasing programming for digital distribution, and a new Cloud Computing Pavilion.
  It's good to see a media industry taking a serious look at the changing media and technology environment, before they loose too much to new, more innovative, competitors.  Still, it was an outsider who framed the underlying issue:
"People have to think about looking at their business as a content business and a delivery business, and look at the way that they can profit from each one," said Peter Tannenwald, a member of the media and technology law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth.
 Source -  Convention Embraces Multiplatform WorldNAB Show Daily News

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No optical drive for nex-gen console?

Post contributed by Jamison Lanum -

  According to Shawn Knight, writer at, Microsoft's next video game console may not support the world's most popular physical format:discs.
"Microsoft is reportedly telling partners that the next Xbox, tentatively dubbed the Xbox 720, will not include an optical disc drive. The briefings are said to be released under what one source claims is the strictest NDA they have ever encountered, according to an exclusive article from MCV."
While many have thought this would happen eventually, I don't think this shift was expected so soon. While this is still speculation at this point, I think it's important to take a look at a few issues that could arise if this is in fact true. Not having an optical drive presents many problems for the customer and may even drive some away. 
  • If there isn't an optical drive then games will have to be downloaded over the internet. This will require owners to also have a fast internet service. The only other option is to have a sort of download kiosk that gamers can go to with removable storage to download the games then take them back to their console. This does not sound like a solid alternative.
  • Even though 1TB drives are becoming more affordable, more storage would be needed if Microsoft kept storage local (in the device). The alternative would be to tap into the cloud. Companies Onlive and Gaikai have both proven the cloud can handle storage and also reduce the hardware requirements needed in the physical console. This, once again, would require the customer to have access to high-speed internet. In more rural parts of the country, customers would probably be out of luck. 
  • Backwards Compatibility - One thing gamers demand of consoles is the ability to play their older games on the newer one they just dropped a pretty penny on. With no optical drive, there is no feasible way to make this happen. I'm sure Microsoft and other companies would make older games available for download, but a price tag would certainly be attached. 
  • No Used Games - No physical copy of the game means you can't take it to a second-hand seller like GameStop and trade it in to get another game. No longer will these stores be able to offer customers slightly used games at discounted rates. Microsoft and others could develop a system where each game can exchange hands x-amount of times, but financially it doesn't make sense for them to do so. 
BJB - This is a continuing reflection of the continuing transition to online access for content (see prior post on streaming vs disc for movies).  Although I'll agree that it might be a bit early to drop drives and force users to go that route.
(I reformatted the above slightly).

Source -  Source claims Xbox 720 will ship without optical drive, Techspot