Author Archive

CES 2010: Internet-connected TVs: Yahoo, Samsung, Roku and PopBox

This is a guest post by Assia Grazioli-Venier (@flypapertv) of FlypaperTV.

Internet TV and Connected TVs were big topics at last year CES. This year we are seeing content-filled products coming to fruition, and deals being made to make watching Internet TV on the big screen a comfortable reality.  At CES this year the Internet set top boxes (STBs) evolved. But with the innovation comes fear. Cable companies fear of the complete disruption of their business model, and their concerns are warranted given the latest developments.

At the center of everyone’s attention is the Boxxee Box, allowing users to find and watch online content directly from the TV. Boxee TV content includes CNN, CBS, and a myriad of Internet TV channels. Its remote features a full QWERTY keyboard on one side and a navigation pane on the other, to ease surfing and browsing on the TV.

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How to tune up a tone deaf Rhapsody

This is a guest post by Michael Pinto who is the Creative Director of Very Memorable, Inc. a design firm that specializes in the youth market and interactive media.

Over one year after EMI took the first step to offer DRM-free downloads (April 2007) Rhapsody has decided to play catch up. Rhapsody is a joint venture between Real Networks and MTV, and that’s where its problems start: At this point for the youth market MTV is no longer associated with music – if anything on cable it’s been replaced by MuchMusic and on the web there are upcoming dynamic brands like that are poised for high growth.

The sad reality is that while MTV is doing better than ever before, its original core competency has faded with time. But even if you go with the nostalgia value of MTV, then it’s a poor idea to keep the name “Rhapsody” which carries no branding weight – if anything the service should incorporate the MTV moniker in some shape or form, even if it’s something as simple as If Rhapsody is to break out of its generic funk it’s going to need to take advantage of the creative packaging that MTV Networks use to be well known for – but up to this point has been ignored.

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How to save the Zune

This is a guest post by Michael Pinto who is the Creative Director of Very Memorable, Inc. a design firm that specializes in the youth market and interactive media.

With the iPhone taking away the mind space of the iPod, the Zune already seems to be in an orphan category with consumers. A sign of this is the recent high profile blowout when GameStop announced that they planned to stop selling the Zune. However, to me the surprise was that GameStop had been selling the Zune in the first place. I’ve been to several locations over the last year or so and I’ve never spotted one in a store. Perhaps the reason for this is that I was hunting to buy yet another Nintendo DS Lite and not looking for an MP3 player as a stocking stuffer.

In fact the only time that I’ve seen a Zune in the wild was while I was running through Kmart. Now think about that for a second: The biggest market for this device would be those hungry for music — tweens, teens and young adults. This market is very style conscience to say the least, and the one place they might encounter this device is in-between the linens and pantry items. Also the few times that I’ve seen representatives of the youth market at Kmart they were hunting for dorm room necessities rather than objects of entertainment.

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10 mobile apps and services for sharing media

This is a guest post by Aseem Kishore, a technology enthusiast and lead blogger for Online-Tech-Tips.

In my last post on last100, titled ‘Ten mobile apps and services you should definitely check out‘, I listed ten mobile phone applications that enable you to do everything from shop to accessing your PC desktop remotely via a mobile phone.

In this post we take a look at ten more mobile phone apps — this time focusing on those that enable you to share content and various media via a cell phone. While most of these applications will work on just about any modern handset, some also have the added benefit of being optimized for the iPhone.

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Gerd Leonhard: Flat Rate or Flat Line – further thoughts on the Music Flat Rate

Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution Licensed (3.0 US).

This is a guest post by Gerd Leonhard: Music & Media Futurist, author of “Music2.0“, co-author of “The Future of Music”, CEO of, speaker and advisor.

Gerd Leonhard: Flat Rate or Flat Line - further thoughts on the Music Flat RateLast week I wrote a response to the now (in)famous Paul McGuinness speech at MIDEM in Cannes. In his otherwise quite misdirected talk, Paul briefly referred to the so-called ‘digital music flat rate’ (Ed. something we’ve been calling a “music tax”) and so I wanted to make sure I specifically address this topic in a separate guest post here at last100.

Paul’s MIDEM speech sadly reflects the current situation: a music industry still run by yesterday’s managers, executives and (mis)leaders that are still obsessed with control, more than with anything else. Many of them (with some notable exceptions) still can’t seem to face the fact that despite a long, hard struggle to desperately (re)gain some kind of control over what people do with their music, the industry has in a most spectacular fashion in fact totally lost control over the distribution of its product. And good riddance: this development is neither new nor does it need to be the cause of doom and gloom. Rather, the bizarre part is that the most popular and widespread uses of music are still not blessed with permission i.e. a LICENSE. 10 years after Napster and still no real progress – this amazing ineptitude of the music industry to actually adapt has now led to a ‘music is free, period’ attitude among the Digital Natives and the Net Generation.

The longer the likes of Paul McGuinness wait to accept the basic fact of control-loss, the less likely they are to survive this shift to a new ecosystem or maybe even prosper in a Music 2.0 world – and the less likely the artists and writers are to get paid anytime soon.

So why would the flat rate for digital music solve the rampant music sharing ‘problem’?

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Ten mobile apps and services you should definitely check out

This is a guest post by Aseem Kishore, a technology enthusiast and lead blogger for Online-Tech-Tips.

Got an iPhone? What about a Treo? Or maybe you’re in love with your Blackberry? Whatever phone you may have, it’s becoming more and more common to see people with phones that can access the Internet, play video, download music, and do a lot more.

However, most cell phone companies are not necessarily giving you the best software and services for your phone. If you’re looking for some cool mobile phone apps or mobile services that are free and really useful, here are ten worth checking out.


MShopperMShopper is a mobile phone application that lets you quickly find the best bargain deals for any product right from your cell phone. It’s free, very fast, convenient, and can be accessed while you’re window shopping. You can also purchase items once you find a good deal or email the info to a friend.

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OPENhulu: setting Hulu's videos free?

This is a guest post by Muhammad Saleem, a social media consultant and a top-ranked community member on multiple social news sites.

HuluIt was called a stupid idea at first and then ridiculed for its name. But once people had a chance to look at the site’s lineup of shows and try it out, it was praised as a worthy competitor. The service I’m talking about is of course Hulu, the multi-million dollar online television streaming (video on demand) venture between NBC Universal and News Corp. Most people haven’t had the chance to try the service yet because of the highly exclusive closed private beta but today we are talking with Matt, who has found a way to get around the “closed private beta” problem without breaking any rules.

Most online video services allow you to embed the videos into blogs and websites in an effort to increase their branding and in the hopes of driving traffic back to the originating site. But what would happen if someone took all your embeds and called it a day? Let’s find out.

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NewTeeVee Live: How traditional media companies approach new media

VCs predict an uncertain future for Internet TV startupsQuincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive, gave a fast-paced talk at NewTeeVee Live in which he whizzed through a description of how traditional media companies like CBS approach new media opportunities like video and social networking.

He acknowledged that herd mentality rules the day for traditional media, so the objective is to try and get at least a couple of companies to move in the same direction. In general, Smith did his best to bridge the gap between old and new media, though he did defend traditional media execs by arguing that they’ve made more of an effort in recent months to understand the new media space than the other way around.

So what has Big Media learned?

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NewTeeVee Live: Brief Q&A with YouTube's Steve Chen

VCs predict an uncertain future for Internet TV startupsNewTeeVee Live co-hosts Om Malik and Liz Gannes hosted a brief chat with YouTube co-founder and wunderkid Steve Chen.

On the key to YouTube’s success, Chen stressed the idea of YouTube as a platform where the focus is creating a simple experience so users can put whatever content they want on the site and get help from YouTube in syndicating it. Which sounds straightforward enough. Except when you consider one of the other topics Chen fielded: how to handle concerns about copyright infringement.

Chen talked about a two-pronged approach that includes using digital fingerprinting technology to try and identify unauthorized clips, as well as a monetization strategy that entices content owners (think Viacom) to allow their clips to be posted on the site. Legally.

In terms of what’s next for YouTube, Chen talked about a future with easier tools for sharing content and better video quality, especially on cellphones.

NewTeeVee Live: Can the network cope with Internet TV?

VCs predict an uncertain future for Internet TV startupsNewTeeVee Live host Om Malik moderated a self-described “geeky” roundtable to address what he sees as one of the biggest questions in the online video market: What is the implication on network infrastructure?

The panelists, execs from Cisco, Akamai, Level 3, Verizon and Maven Networks, generally agreed that video is pushing the envelope. Though they all seemed confident in the industry’s ability to rise to the challenge.

Grant van Rooyen of backbone provider Level 3, in particular, seemed more than happy to make upgrades to the network to support broadband video, HD and whatever else might come next. His company has already earmarked in excess of $600 million in network upgrades this year alone.

So, while it’s not the first time that Malik has pondered whether or not the back-end infrastructure is up to the task of supporting continued online innovation on the Web, today’s panelists at least think the Net can take it.

[Ed. Network infrastructure vendors may be confident of the technology’s ability to support Internet TV, but some ISPs are telling a different story.]