Archive for August, 2007

Nokia to revive N-Gage for the third time

nokiaWhich will it be: Third Time is a Charm? Or Three Strikes and You’re Out?

Nokia, the world’s largest cell phone manufacturer, is reviving the infamous N-Gage cell phone/game device hybrid this week, reintroducing it as a multiplayer gaming service that will work on its super-popular line of S60 smartphones (125 million sold worldwide). The service will focus first on casual gaming and will offer titles from major publishers like Electronic Arts as well as smaller indie developers that focus on the mobile gaming market.

The N-Gage was first introduced by Nokia in late 2003 to compete with portable gaming consoles from Nintendo (DS) and Sony (PlayStation Portable). Nokia, to its credit, had noticed that people were carrying both cell phones and portable game players, and the idea to merge the two into one device was born.

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"Go!Messenger" – video, voice and IM chat coming to PSP

“Go!Messenger” video, voice and IM chat coming to PSPAt last week’s Games Convention in Leipzig, Sony announced more details of its soon-to-be released VoIP solution for the PlayStation Portable. “Go!Messenger”, developed in partnership with telco BT, adds video and voice calls, as well as instant messaging to the device using its built-in WiFi connection.

According to BT’s press release, the service 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.

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Weekly wrapup, 20 – 24 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 began the week with news that Adobe has released a Beta of the latest version of its near ubiquitous Web video software, Adobe Flash Player 9, which adds improved image quality through support for the industry standard H.264 codec.

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Wallstrip interviews Joost CEO Mike Volpi

Wallstrip interviews Joost CEO Mike VolpiWallstrip, one of my favorite online video shows, has bagged an interview with recently appointed Joost CEO, Mike Volpi. In this week’s episode, host Lindsay Campbell and Volpi discuss the company’s pitch to content owners, how the service differs from competing Internet TV offerings, and the value proposition Joost is offering to advertisers.

A few key quotes from Volpi during the interview:

  • On Joost’s appeal to content owners: “We are very focussed on copy-protected content… everything on Joost is legitimate… all of our content providers are professional.”
  • The competition: “…right now you have CBS news and you have YouTube… and there’s a gaping hole in the middle.” [Joost’s niche, says Volpi, is that it’s professional, on-demand, and targeted content.]
  • On the viewing experience: “A high quality experience that’s full screen… the viewing experience is more television-like.” [Translucent menus blah, blah, blah]
    “More of a TV-viewing experience rather than a classical web with a small screenshot.”
  • Advertising: “We know a little about you [demographics] and all of your viewing history”. As a result, advertising on Joost, says Volpi, will be less intrusive and highly targeted. [This isn’t new information or unique to Joost, but it sounds a lot more scary hearing Volpi describe Joost’s big brother tendencies out loud. Would you want your cable company to keep a record of everything you’ve watched?]

Watch the full Wallstrip episode after the jump.

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Internet Radio saved – for now

Over at our sister blog, Read/WriteWeb, Josh Catone reports: “Net radio broadcasters have reached a deal with SoundExchange, the group that collects royalty fees for record labels, that will put a $50,000 cap on royalties for individual broadcasters. The cap will apply to broadcasters as a whole. Individual channels will be subject to a $500 minimum, but services like Live365 and that broadcast thousands of channels will only pay up to the $50,000 ceiling.”

Continue reading “Internet Radio saved – for now” over at Read/WriteWeb »

DivX unveils "Connected" media extender

DivXDivX has officially unveiled its “Connected” media extender platform. Previously codenamed “GejBox”, the device is designed to deliver content from a PC onto the living room television — entering a crowded market that includes the AppleTV, Playstation 3, XBox 360, as well as dozens of streaming media boxes from companies such as Netgear and Cisco, some of which already license DivX’s own video compression technology.

DivX itself won’t produce or sell “Connected” devices, and instead the company will license the reference design and accompanying software to consumer electronics companies in Asia, in a drive to lower the cost, and therefore grow the market for PC to TV set-top-boxes.

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Windows Media Center — a Microsoft success story?

MicrosoftOn September 3rd, Microsoft will celebrate the five year anniversary of Windows Media Center, arguably one of the company’s more successful products. Windows XP Media Center Edition was released to manufacturers in the United States and Canada in 2002, and Microsoft has followed up with a number of releases since then, most recently as part of Windows Vista. The software is at the core of Microsoft’s digital media strategy and looks to have a bright future ahead. In this post we’ll take a look at what Windows Media Center is, the levels of success it has achieved thus far, and finally we’ll touch on where Microsoft might take the product in the next few years.

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What Sony's PlayTV is, and isn't

sony playtvFor those of you in Europe, congrats.

For those of you in the United States, condolences.

As expected, Sony — well, actually Sony Computer Entertainment Europe — announced that it’s turning the Playstation 3 into a super duper home entertainment device in early 2008. With the addition of PlayTV, the Playstation 3 will become a personal video recorder (PVR) with dual high-definition tuners, allowing users to view, record, and play free over-the-air TV channels through the Playstation 3 console.

This PRV capability, however, will be available only in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, with other PAL locations to follow later in 2008. It’s the first time that a game console has been given PVR capabilities (BBC News).

PlayTV is what we’ve been dreaming about ever since Sony, Microsoft, and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo promised that their game consoles would become the entertainment hub of our digital lives. Sony partly delivers.

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Google unveils YouTube ads; they're not that bad

you tube simpson madinaOnline video needs a business model. So does most of new media. So Google’s attempt to bring advertising to select YouTube clips, unveiled today, is just another step in that direction.

And you know what? The ads are not that bad, all things considered.

After months of testing various video advertising formats, Google settled on an approach that it hopes is less obtrusive to viewers and keeps them in control of what they’re watching. It’s similar to the “ticker ad” concept that VideoEgg introduced nearly a year ago, or the ads that appear along the bottom of the screen during television shows.

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Wal-Mart jumps on DRM-free music bandwagon

Wall-MartPlease let this DRM-free madness stop. Just kidding.

Wal-Mart has become the latest company to jump on the DRM-free bandwagon in an attempt to reach iPod owners, and, with support from two of the majors, weaken the power that Apple has over the emerging online music industry.

Yesterday, Wal-Mart announced that its digital music download store will begin selling tracks without copy-protection software, including thousands of albums and songs from EMI and UMG (as part of the label’s recently announced DRM-free trial). Downloads will be offered as mp3s and at the higher bit-rate of 256kbps.

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