Archive for December, 2007

Feature posts on last100 in 2007, editor's picks

last100As the year comes to a close, here are ten of my favorite feature posts from last100 in 2007. These weren’t necessarily the most popular in terms of page views or reader comments, but give a great overview of the breadth and depth of digital lifestyle coverage we’ve tried to deliver since we launched on May 20 2007. Here’s to more of the same in 2008 and wishing you all a happy new year!

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Why Wal-Mart's video download store was doomed from the start

Why Wal-Mart’s video download store was doomed from the startNews this week that less than twelve months into its existence, Wal-Mart’s video download store has closed (Reuters) comes as no surprise.

In a bid to get all of the major studios on board, while at the same time not compete negatively with Wal-Mart’s traditional DVD sales, the service was plagued by high pricing and a ridiculously large dose of DRM (one Windows-PC only). It was doomed from the start.

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Report: Apple to offer Fox new releases for rental via iTunes

apple showtimeIt’s been almost two months since we reported that Apple is opening up iTunes for movie rentals. Today, if reports are true, we finally have good news that Apple and News Corp. have signed a deal that will allow consumers to rent the latest 20th Century Fox DVD releases by downloading a copy from iTunes.

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Digital music: 2007 year in review

iTunes PlusDitching DRM, new mobile offerings, pay-what-you-want and other alternative business models — one word to sum up activity in the digital music space in 2007: “experimentation”. In this post we look back at 2007 through the lens of last100’s coverage, highlighting some of the important stories and trends, and how they point to what we might expect for digital music in 2008.

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Weekly wrapup, 17 – 21 December 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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In our first feature post of the week, Steve O’Hear wrote an in-depth review of Internet TV in 2007: “From YouTube’s continued dominance, the television networks’ newfound willingness to experiment online, the rise of the desktop Internet TV application, and a number of new PC-to-TV devices and set-top boxes — it’s been a big year for Internet TV in all shapes and forms. In this post we look back at 2007 through the lens of last100’s coverage, highlighting some of the important stories and trends, and how they point to what we might expect for Internet TV in 2008.”

Next up, Dan Langendorf revisited the topic of eBook readers, giving a great overview of the main players, outlining their strengths and weaknesses and how eBook devices and services still have a long way to go.

Digital lifestyle news

That’s a wrap for the week. Enjoy the festivities.

Hey handset guys! Look around: Consumers want smartphones

blackberry pearlI’ve noticed this for a while, written about it, talked about it, and yet many handset manufacturers seem to be ignoring the obvious: Consumers want “smart”phones.

Case in point: Yesterday I spent time at a satellite R&D office of one of the largest handset manufactures in the world. A few of us were getting on an elevator as our escort talked about one of the company’s Windows Mobile smartphones.

“It’s for the business user,” he said.

“Maybe,” I answered, “but haven’t you noticed the number of average people out there carrying (RIM) BlackBerries, (Samsung) Blackjacks, and (Motorola) Q’s? These aren’t business people. They’re soccer moms and young adults.

“They’re not using smartphones to get their email from a corporate Exchange server. They’re not conducting traditional business. They’re conducting life’s business.”

In one ear, out the other.

And yet the latest numbers from Research in Motion, the ones behind the BlackBerry, bear me out and substantiate the trend.

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Hulu invites

Hulu invitesThe folks over at Hulu have made 2500 invites available for the closed beta of the Hulu service for ReadWriteWeb blog network readers (that includes you!).

Hulu is a joint venture between News Corp. and NBC that offers streaming video of both companies’ television and film content along with offerings from other studios such as Sony Pictures Television and MGM. It’s ad supported (via pre and mid-roll ads) and shows include 24, The Simpsons, Family Guy, 30 Rock, The Office, House, and Psych.

Here at last100 we’ve written often about Hulu. Though pre-launch reports were skeptical, once the Beta was launched, early reviews for the service were generally positive.

On the other hand, Read/WriteWeb called Hulu “umpressive,” but now it’s your turn to decide for yourself.

Invites are on a first come basis and are available at this link.

Despite recent interest, eBook readers have a long way to go

kindle and book smWith the introduction of the Amazon Kindle, alternative ways to read books is back in the public eye. Problem is, where are they going? And will they ever be accepted after years of promise?

As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a lengthy Newsweek cover story when the Kindle electronic book reader was released, “Books are the last bastion of analog.”

Indeed. Most people, particularly authors, publishers, and book lovers, passionately believe that the book is perfect and will never be improved, even in an era of digital upheaval.

Books do not have storage memory, displays, or power sources. They’re bound paper with words and images, sturdy, reliable, always-on, with a fabulous user interface. They feel great in our hands, smell good, and when we’re done reading we shelve them like trophies.

kindleAnd yet it’s inevitable that the book will ultimately succumb to digital technology, which has already consumed music, film, video, photography, and communications and is turning those industries inside-out and changing society.

There’s no reason not to believe that digital technology will do the same to books. Unfortunately, alternative book reading remains an unfulfilled promise, hampered by poorly designed hardware, cumbersome user interfaces, scant content, competing formats, digital rights management (DRM), and a misplaced business model.

For now, consumers have no compelling reason to stop reading printed books. In this post, we examine the state of alternative book reading, what choices people have, what works, what doesn’t, and what resources are available.

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MovieBeam closes. Bad news for Vudu, AppleTV?

MovieBeam closes - bad news for Vudu, AppleTV?MovieBeam, an early attempt at creating a consumer facing set-top box and accompanying movie service, has closed its doors after fours years in business.

Originally founded by The Walt Disney Company and later sold to U.S. video rental chain Movie Gallery, MovieBeam was designed to bypass Cable and Satelite providers by beaming movies wireless into the home. The set-top box came with dozens of movies already stored and ready for rental (at $5 a pop), with forty new titles refreshed each month. In total the device could store around a hundred movies at any one time.

Meaghan Repko, a spokeswoman for Movie Gallery, told Reuters that MovieBeam had 30 employees and 1,800 subscribers when it shut down, and that subscribers who joined the service in March or later were being refunded the cost of the set-top box.

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Verizon to broadcast 24 college bowl games on V Cast

verizon vcastJust in case you are a graduate of, say, Southern Missouri, Boise State, or South Florida, and can’t make it to your beloved team’s bowl game, don’t despair. Verizon Wireless has you covered.

If you subscribe to Verizon Wireless.

And if you have a V Cast enabled phone.

If you do, and you’re out Christmas shopping and not in front of the big-screen TV with chips and beer, then you can watch your team on a really tiny screen. But, hey, something is better than nothing when it comes to bowl season, right?

ESPN Mobile TV, CBS Mobile TV, and Fox Mobile will be bringing complete NCAA bowl games to Verizon Wireless V CAST TV this month — but only 24 of the “lesser” bowls, not the biggies like the Capitol One Bowl (Michigan vs. Florida), the Rose Bowl (USC vs. Illinois), and the BCS Championship game on Jan.7 between Ohio State and LSU.

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