Archive for April, 2008

Google says it has received 1,788 entries for Android challenge; not everybody is happy

android dudeIt’s great that developers for Google’s mobile operating system Android have “risen to the challenge,” as a Google-ite said on the Android Developers Blog late Thursday. Google has received nearly 1,800 submissions from 70 countries for its Android Developer Challenge.

But at least one developer we know has ditched Android for the time being because his investors are demanding results, and so far he cannot deliver an Android solution in tandem with actual working hardware.

Peter Wojtowicz, the mastermind behind the Wi-Fi Army mobile game, announced early this year that his team would be developing the revolutionary game in Android, which generated a lot of interest from gaming, mobile, and Android blogs around the world.

Because Wi-Fi Army is cutting edge, combining a cell phone’s camera with Wi-Fi, bluetooth, location-based service, a back-end server architecture, and a slew of other complexities, investors interested in supporting his team have demanded proof-of-concept results that Wojtowicz cannot deliver with actual working Gphones. Adding to the frustration, Wojtowicz is often delayed when one Android SDK release isn’t compatible with an older one, forcing the team to lose time backtracking.

Time is something Wojtowicz doesn’t have as he — and others — are racing to get their next-generation games to market as quickly as possible. For the time being, Wojtowicz’s team is developing Wi-Fi Army simultaneously in Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Symbian; he expects to start work on the iPhone when Apple releases the SDK in June.

“It would be a lot easier with the (Google-powered) phone in hand,” Wojtowicz said.

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Let's hope Lonelygirl 15 and KateModern creators put their $5 million to good use

eqalThe Internet is really feeling like the fifth TV network these days, with the line blurring between producing content for television and the Web. For a while now, the Internet has had its own production companies like NextNew Networks and 60Frames to develop unique online “shows.”

On Thursday Net TV got another online production company, one with pedigree. Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried, the ones behind Web hits Lonelygirl 15 and spin-off KateModern, secured $5 million in Series A venture funding to launch Eqal, their new “social entertainment” production company, which supplants an earlier effort known as LG15 Studios/Telegraph Ave. Productions.

Eqal — pronounced “Equal” — join the likes of Joss Whedon’s Mutant Enemy and Bryan Singer’s Bad Hat Harry Productions as independent production houses, only Eqal produces for the Web, not for television or film.

“It’s an exciting time for online entertainment,” Beckett and Goodfried wrote on the company blog. “There are a slew of independent producers, digital studios, and social media companies sprouting up, not to mention the fact that traditional media isn’t exactly ignoring this whole ‘internets’ thing. . . .

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Catching up on iTunes news: NBC wants back on iTunes, but with conditions

Catching up on iTunes with NBC Universal, Fox and Paramount, Amazon MP3, and Starbucks.

NBC wants back on iTunes, but with conditions

George Kliavkoff, NBC Universal’s chief digital officer, indicated indirectly and directly at the Ad: Tech conference that NBC would like to be back on iTunes, which the network dumped in late 2007 over a nasty public spat about pricing.

kliavkoffIndirectly, Kliavkoff said during an on-stage interview at the conference, “If you look at studies about MP3 players, especially leading MP3 players and what portion of that content is pirated, and think about how that content gets onto that device, it has to go through a gate-keeping piece of software, which would be a convenient place to put some anti-piracy measures.”

Directly, Kliavkoff said, “We’d love to be on iTunes”, but only if Apple institutes more anti-piracy measures. “It has a great customer experience,” he said. “We’ve love to figure out a way to distribute our content on iTunes.”

The timing is interesting. iTunes is now the largest music retailer, and while the video side of the store (TV shows and movies) has not reached the same level, it still benefits from the overall iTunes brand and music traffic. Since NBC bolted, no other major network or studio has followed, leaving NBC standing alone.

Think NBC regrets its decision?

If it does, NBC doesn’t appear to be budging. In addition to the extra anti-piracy protection, the network would also like to see flexible pricing on iTunes, which doesn’t seem to be likely anytime soon.

(via News.com and NewTeeVee)

Photo credit of Kliavkoff: News.com at Ad:Tech

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Where do you get your recommendations on the Web? From a service like The Filter? Or from friends?

It’s hard to fault Peter Gabriel’s logic: We are overwhelmed by the amount of information and choice we have on the Web. But is his solution — a recommendation engine called The Filter — really the answer?

Of course Gabriel, the genius behind the British rock band Genesis and the solo artist who gave us such tunes as “Solsbury Hill,” “Exposure,” and “Games Without Frontiers,” thinks so as he and England’s Eden Ventures have invested $8 million in The Filter. They believe people are overwhelmed by the Web and can’t find good content because it’s buried out of sight.

“When you drown people in an ocean of information, you’ve got to give them navigation tools,” Gabriel told News.com. “I know that there is better stuff out there than what I generally am exposed to . . . So if I have a sort of intelligent ally working with me 24 hours a day, I think I have a much better chance of getting stuff that will entertain, excite, and inspire me.”

The Filter, originally launched as a music recommendation service about a year ago in Europe, re-launched today in private beta as a more complete solution. It will be available to the public sometime in May.

But there’s something about The Filter that bugs me. What separates The Filter from any of the other algorithm-based recommendation engines out there, whether a human is a part of the process or not — Amazon, iTunes, lastFM, Netflix, Imeem, Digg, Pandora, and many more?

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CBS scores big with March Madness on Demand

cbs march madness on demandNo surprise here, unless of course you were a Memphis fan, but CBS’ online March Madness on Demand was a big hit.

CBS said it had 4.8 million unique visitors throughout the three-week tournament, a 164 percent increase over 1.8 million uniques in 2007. Of course, that’s apples and oranges: This was the first year CBS made the entire NCAA men’s basketball tournament available from start to finish.

Total hours consumed live online were 4.9 billion, up 81 percent from 2.7 billion in 2007. Again, apples and oranges. (via paidContent)

As you might figure, interest in the tournament was greater at the start, when 64, then 32, then 16 teams were involved, expanding the number of fans who might tune in via the Web. The busiest time was during business hours, when people did not have access to a television and the boss was out of earshot.

CBS has not said anything officially about the profitability of March Madness on Demand, but a spokesman got in touch with the folks at NewTeeVee to say it estimates revenues at $23 million, up from an earlier prediction of $21 million.

All in all, not bad for CBS, the NCAA, and tournament winner Kansas. Memphis, however, may see it a bit differently.

The mobile web isn't dead. It's just starting.

mowserThe mobile Web is dead! The mobile Web is dead! The mobile Web is dead!

Or says Chicken Little, aka Russell Beattie, the founder of Mowser, a Menlo Park, Calif., startup focused on mobile Web browsing. Beattie delivered the news Monday that Mowser “is at the end of its life in its current form.”

For that, I am truly sorry. Beattie, who has invested everything he has in Mowser for the past year, is a gutsy entrepreneur who knows a little something about mobile. From November 2004 to September 2006, Beattie worked at Yahoo! creating mobile products and content.

Beattie left to launch Mowser, a Web site focused on content adaption for mobile phones. You can read about his experiences on his blog, but what it all comes down to after a year of intense work is that “I don’t actually believe in the ‘Mobile Web’ anymore” and the market “is limited at best, and dying at worst.”

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Weekly wrapup, 7-11 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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Top digital lifestyle news

Adobe Media Player launches – does the world need another Internet TV app?

The big Internet TV news this week was the full launch of Adobe Media Player (AMP) version 1.0. Built using the company’s Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) — a cross-platform technology designed to bring web-based applications to the desktop — AMP is an aggregator and media player that enables users to subscribe to, download and playback Flash-based video.

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What is music 2.0?

Music futurist Gerd Leonhard has just released an informative video explaining what music 2.0 is and how the music industry should change to adapt to ‘web 2.0′ principles. Some of the themes are that control doesn’t work (e.g. DRM and trying to control networking) and that music is meant to be shared. Even iTunes comes into some criticism – iTunes works great, says Leonhard, but it “is a locked community”. Ultimately, Leonhard says that “open is king” and that “we have to give up on the idea of control and move to an open ecosystem in music.”

Video embedded after the jump…

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FUD permeates analog-to-digital TV conversion in the U.S.

It seems like a straight forward proposition, but there’s FUD — fear, uncertainty, and doubt — swirling around when it comes to the upcoming U.S. digital TV conversion.

By Feb. 18, 2009, all broadcasters in the U.S. will be required to unplug their analog signal to broadcast solely on the digital spectrum. Considering the government just auctioned off freed-up spectrum, there’s no turning back.

This far into the 2000s, this far into the digital age, you’d think the Big Switch would be a minor inconvenience for most people — that their primary TV sets are new enough to handle a digital signal, that whatever analog sets are in use are connected to a TV delivery service like cable, satellite, or fiber, and what analog sets connected to an antenna are located in spare bedrooms or the garage.

But the digital TV conversion is surprisingly controversial with government bodies, industry and consumer advocacy groups, trade organizations, manufacturers, marketing researchers, and consumers pointing fingers and forecasting doom and gloom.

In February, at the one-year-to-go mark, politicians and a Federal Communications Commissioner were putting the heat on the government to get its act together before it’s too late. Jonathan Adelstein, the commissioner, warned there would be a “state of mass confusion” if various Federal agencies don’t coordinate their efforts to inform the public sufficiently that Feb. 17, 2009, is the last day of analog broadcasting.

The next day, an estimated 21 million households with TV sets that receive only over-the-air signals will go dark.

FUD, indeed.

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Blockbuster to launch set-top box?

AppleTV, Netflix on LG, Tivo, XBox 360, Vudu and now Blockbuster? …the list goes on.

The latest company thought to be readying its own Internet TV set-top box plans is Blockbuster, according to Hollywood Reporter. The new “set-top device for streaming films directly to TV sets” could be announced as early as this month, and would utilize the company’s recent acquisition of online movie service Movielink, giving users access to over 3,000 film titles from major Hollywood studios Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros. and MGM.

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