Weekly wrapup, 21-25 April 2008

Here’s a summary of the week’s digital lifestyle action on last100. Note that you can subscribe to the weekly wrapups, either via the special weekly wrapup RSS feed or by email.

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Internet TV news

First off, Viacom, Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate announced a joint venture to create a new premium TV channel and VOD service, to be rolled out in the fall of 2009. The project will include a strong online component, according to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman: “It will also meet the needs of varying distributors and take advantage of online distribution…innovative both in presenting the content and in distributing it.”

Netflix’s ambitious Internet TV plans are forging ahead, with three new set-top box partners to integrate the company’s ‘Watch Now’ video streaming service into their products by the end of the year. Who those partners are, Neflix won’t say, while speculation builds that Microsoft (XBox 360) could be one. However, we think it’s more likely that we’ll see Netflix compatibility added to a number of media streamers, such as those produced by D-Link and KISS (Linksys). The company has previously announced a partnership with Korean manufacturer LG Electronics to stream movies, TV shows, and other content to LG high-definition televisions or set-top boxes by the second half of 2008.

A new report surfaced this week on Sony’s forthcoming movie download service for the PlayStation 3. Not much is yet known, except that negotiations with Hollywood studios are taking place — no word on pricing or if the movies and TV shows are for rent or purchase. One tantalizing tidbit, however, is being floated about: “Unlike closed networks such as Apple’s, Sony plans to embrace open standards that would make its offering compatible with a range of computers and hand-held devices, including the PlayStation Portable,” according to the LA Times.

Lastly, Motorola is rumored to be planning movie download service for its mobile devices. This is from a company that reported a $1.2 billion operating loss last year, and is considering splitting off or selling its handset division. Our advice: Worry about getting cool new phones on the market to compete with Nokia, Apple, Samsung, LG, and the highly-anticipated Google-powered Android phones. Otherwise, Motorola has bigger problems than the latest Hollywood releases.

Digital Music news

Sony BMG has became the second major label to sign up to Nokia’s ‘Comes With Music’ service, whereby customers who buy a supported handset will get a year of unlimited access to “millions of tracks”. When Nokia first unveiled its all-you-can-eat music offering last December, Universal Music was the sole partner, a natural fit considering that the label has been busy touting its own flat-rate plan known as Total Music. However, the two remaining majors, EMI and Times Warner, have yet to commit to Nokia’s scheme.

We7 signs new indies, Sony BMG streaming by end of month: We7, the UK-based free, advertising-supported online music service backed by Peter Gabriel, has announced new licensing deals with three leading independent labels and distributors: IRIS, InGrooves and BFM Digital. The move adds a further 200,000 tracks to We7’s catalog (now totaling 750,000+), which offers free ad-supported downloads from other independent labels including Sanctuary Records, V2 and Nettwerk. In early March, the company also unveiled its first major label partner, Sony BMG, who by the end of this month will begin offering free streaming of its music catalog to We7 users in the UK.

Mobile news

Microsoft’s “Mesh” wants to be your digital hub: Microsoft unveiled its much rumored “Mesh” platform, a service designed to be the hub of our digital lifestyles: “Imagine all your devices—PCs, and soon Macs and mobile phones—working together to give you anywhere access to the information you care about”. Mesh – currently in limited Beta – “synchronizes data across multiple devices (currently just Windows computers, but theoretically it will extend to mobile and other devices in the future) as well as to a web desktop that exists in the cloud”, writes Josh Catone over at our sister blog ReadWriteWeb. The service also has a social aspect too, enabling collaboration and sharing. “It can sync data across devices used by a single user, as well as create shared spaces for multiple users”.

Through its own mobile client, Skype is now available on about 50 cellphones: The new Skype client is an open beta (available here) and is expected to work with about 50 handsets from Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson. Other phones may work if they support Java, the language the client is based on.

Apple patent for real-time IM on iPhone hints at what’s really to come: The patent details what the IM client would look like and how it would behave on the iPhone. Judging by images that accompany the patent, IM will look like the current SMS program and also be a bit iChat-esque.

Analysts: 3G iPhone to be announced June 9. Why should we care?: What seems more important than speed, at least at this time, are potential hardware changes that are expected to come along with the 3G iPhone — a larger screen, the use of OLED vs. LCD displays, the ultra-mobile Intel processor, power-efficient 3G chips, better battery life, an improved camera, GPS capability, and SD card storage.

Also see: The Mobile Industry Wants You! (to tell them what you want in a cell phone)

That’s a wrap for the week!

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

One Response to “Weekly wrapup, 21-25 April 2008”

  1. Randell says:

    Greetings! and test of guestbook, coming up here to show love to the site.,

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