Archive for August, 2007

Weekly wrapup, 27 – 31 August 2007

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

We kicked off the week with news of “Go!Messenger”, the video, voice and IM chat service coming to PlayStation Portable. Developed in partnership with telco BT, “Go!Messenger” will first launch in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy this January, “before extending its reach to more than 100 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.” No mention of North America, so as with Sony’s recently announced DVR solution for the PS3, U.S. customers look set to miss out.

However, the biggest news this week was Nokia’s transformation into a mobile web services company, with the launch of its “Ovi” brand.

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NBC Universal plays hardball with iTunes

Update: Apple has issued a statement saying that its partnership with NBC has ended with immediate effect. “The move follows NBC’s decision to not renew its agreement with iTunes after Apple declined to pay more than double the wholesale price for each NBC TV episode, which would have resulted in the retail price to consumers increasing to $4.99 per episode from the current $1.99.”

Our original coverage below

NBC Universal plays hardball with iTunes

The New York Times is reporting that NBC Universal has decided not to renew its contract to sell television show downloads on iTunes. Although the current contract doesn’t expire till December, NBC — whose content accounts for 40% of TV downloads on iTunes — has opted to give Apple the required ninety days notice to end the partnership.

It’s a familiar story to anybody whose been following UMG’s recent standoff with Apple, whereby the major content owners want greater control and flexibility over iTunes pricing, as well as stricter copy protection controls, in contrast to Apple’s insistence on keeping the iTunes experience simple and competitive.

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Sony ditches ATRAC, will close Sony Connect

new walkmansAs Sony executives must have said recently, out with the old, in with the new.

Sony is ditching its proprietary audio format, ATRAC, in favor of a variety of formats, including Windows Media Audio, MP3, and advanced audio coding (AAC). Sony immediately announced new Walkman models, all of which support WMA, MP3, and AAC formats. Two players, the NWZ-A810 and the NWZ-S610, are the first U.S. units to also play video (MPEG-4 and AVC) and display photographs.

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iTunes UK TV downloads disappoint

iTunes UK TV downloads disappointTelevision show downloads have finally made their way to the UK-version of the iTunes Music Store, two years after the service debuted in the U.S. (press release). A cause for celebration you might think? Especially for Mac users who are unable to use competing services from UK broadcasters, all of which employ Windows-only solutions.


As paidContent notes, Apple’s offering is devoid of home-produced content and shows are nearly double the price of their U.S. equivalents.

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The Gphone is coming; how Google could rewrite the rules

Note: Gphone concept sketches by Lorin Wood.

gphone concept a edit

If done right, the Gphone and not the iPhone will be the one to change the face of the wireless industry.

Apple’s iPhone, at least in its initial release, has not upended the wireless industry, particularly in the United States, as much as hoped. The iPhone certainly has pushed the cell phone envelope a bit further, and it hints at what’s to come, but so far the iPhone is still playing by the rules.

See also: Video: GPhone Android demonstration

Google, if it enters the fray as expected with its so-called Gphone, may truly rewrite the rules. What it plans to do is an ongoing topic of discussion and speculation on the Internet, not unlike Apple’s plans for the iPhone before its release at the end of June. The Gphone may be announced as early as next week and may debut as early as the first quarter of 2008. The anticipation will be as fervent as it was for the iPhone, without the Steve Jobs showmanship.

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News Corp. and NBC Universal name joint venture

HuluNews Corp. and NBC Universal have revealed the name of their new online video venture — the so-called YouTube killer, which Google had already dubbed Clown Co., will officially be called “Hulu“.

A statement on the site’s holding page reads:

Why Hulu? Objectively, Hulu is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and rhymes with itself. Subjectively, Hulu strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we’re building. Our hope is that Hulu will embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world’s premier content when, where and how you want it.

The announcement ends a five-month search for a name for the joint venture which is aimed squarely at competing with Google-owned YouTube — through licensing agreements with News Corp. and NBC Universal properties.

“Hulu” will launch as a private beta in October 2007, however, interested users are able to sign-up for invitation from today.

Nokia announces online music store – takes aim at Apple and mobile carriers

Nokia OVi music store ngage mapsAt a special press event held at the Ministry of Sound in London this morning, Nokia introduced “Ovi” the company’s new consumer facing Internet services brand, and in doing so, took aim at Apple, its mobile carrier “partners”, and — to a lesser extent — dot com giants Google and Yahoo.

Nokia 81At launch, “Ovi”, which means ‘door’ in Finnish, will encompass the highly anticipated Nokia Music Store, a revamped N-Gage (Nokia’s mobile gaming platform — see our earlier report), as well as Nokia Maps, a navigation service that offers maps and city guides. The first version of, which can be accessed either directly from a compatible Nokia device or from a PC, is scheduled to go live in English during the fourth quarter of 2007, with additional features and languages added during the first half of 2008.

Nokia also announced two new N-Series phones, the N81 (music phone) and the Nokia N95 (8 GB). “The later with its large screen and higher storage capacity clearly is being launched as a way to ward off the Apple iPhone challenge”, writes Om Malik, over at GigaOm.

Additionally, the company gave a sneak preview of its next generation User Interface, dubbed the “Experience Suite”, which will be applied first to new N-Series devices. The Inquirer describes the UI as being iPhone-like, in which the user is able to “navigate between applications using one flick of the thumb”, and applications are found by “shuffling through various panes.”

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FoxHiLites is latest site/service dedicated to high school athletics

foxhilites screenIt’s about time. Traditional media has discovered the new media potential of high school sports.

The most recent media outlet to the — pardon the pun — tailgate party is the Fox Television Stations, which has just launched as a platform for sharing video and commentary of high school athletics and athletes. The service/site is available in 23 Fox markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and New York.

FoxHiLites is like YouTube for high school sports. FoxHiLites encourages producers, athletes, fans, parents, and coaches to upload video, which may appear on one of the Fox stations. And it’s not just about football, basketball, and baseball: FoxHiLites is looking for contributions in band, softball, boxing and the martial arts, cheerleading and dance, hockey, soccer, skateboarding, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field and cross country, volleyball, wrestling, and other miscellaneous activities.

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NFL to stream games online — DirectTV customers only

NFL to stream games online — DirectTV customers onlyWant to watch NFL games (that’s American Football to most folks) over the web? Well, now you can, sort of (Ars Technica).

First, you’ll have to be based in the U.S. Second, you’ll need to be a current subscriber to DirectTV’s $269 satellite package. Lastly, you’ll need to pony up an additional $99 per year. Once you’ve met all of these criteria, you can then watch NFL games streamed to a Windows PC (Internet Explorer only).

As Josh Catone writes, over at Read/WriteWeb:

If that sounds like a bum deal to you, that’s because it really is. Compared to Major League Baseball, a pioneer in online sports streaming, the NFL package sounds just awful. As a New York Yankees fan living outside of their local market, I rely on baseball’s MLB.TV service to keep tabs on my favorite team. With MLB.TV for under $100 per season I can watch any out of market game streamed live, or watch full archives of completed games for the entire season, including edited/condensed games which show only the outcome of every at bat.

Josh then goes onto make the point: why would anybody want to pay to watch games online, if they’ve already got access via satellite?

It’s clear that the NFL’s crippled online offering is all about respecting its exclusive DirectTV partnership and controlling access to “out of market” games i.e. matches that aren’t shown on local TV.

Consumers know that this isn’t in their interests and are increasingly aware that the Internet provides the perfect platform for getting around any regional restrictions, with or without the support of the leagues themselves. A number of P2P services illegally re-stream sports coverage from television networks outside of the originating country, while Sling Media’s SlingBox enables users to stream their TV signal over the Internet for personal use (which could include live sports coverage).

Read Josh Catone’s full report “NFL to Stream Games Live Online — Poorly” over at Read/WriteWeb »

Cerf: Expect the Internet to radically change television

cerfIt was as if Vint Cerf, the so-called grandfather of the Internet, was talking to a group of dinosaurs.

Cerf, who helped build the Internet while working as a researcher at Stanford University in the 1970s, spoke to television executives at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival this past weekend and told them how the Internet’s influence was radically altering their businesses and how it was imperative for them to view this golden opportunity to be exploited instead of a threat to their survival (The Guardian report).

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