Archive for March, 2008

Weekly wrapup, 17-21 March 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

The big Internet TV news this past week is that Joost is reportedly switching strategy and will be bringing its service to the Web browser. Last100 editor Steve O’Hear wrote that the move “would signal an admission that Joost’s strategy to build its service around the kind of ‘lean back’ experience that it hoped to deliver via a full screen desktop application has largely failed.” Also Steve points out that the Internet TV landscape has changed dramatically — there are now a plethora of companies serving a similar mission to Joost, including big hitter Hulu, the NBC/Fox joint venture.

We also reported on Canadian broadcaster CBC’s decision to release a TV show for download, free, legal, and via BitTorrent; YouTube announced the winners of its annual video awards; and a new set-top box from Myka downloads and delivers torrents right to your television.

On the mobile front, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced that the big winners in the 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction were, indeed, Verizon and AT&T, the two biggest players in the industry. Dan Langendorf says that now the wait it over, it’s time for the U.S. mobile industry to innovate.

Following comments from Adobe, we also looked at the implications of Flash on iPhone (or the lack of). In a post titled ‘Who needs Flash on iPhone more? Adobe or Apple?‘, last100 editor Steve O’Hear asked: Is Adobe committing itself to building the missing version of Flash that Jobs demands? Or does Adobe really believe it can go-it-alone? “Without Apple providing the hooks to enable Adobe to tap into the iPhone’s Safari web browser,” Steve contended, “it’s hard to see how a Flash plug-in could be implemented. Instead, Adobe might be able to create a work around: some kind of stand-alone Flash Player that opens full screen to play certain content.”

In the same week, Microsoft hedges its bets and licenses Flash Lite from Adobe.

In Digital Music, LimeWire’s DRM-free music store launched; and there have been reports that Apple is exploring an “all you can eat” subscription model for the iTunes Store.

That’s a wrap for the week!

The Myka downloads and delivers torrents right to your television

mykaGizmodo featured a product today that I must say is interesting: The Myka is a device that makes it easy to download torrents and play them on your living room TV.

It’s no muss, no fuss BitTorrenting, perfect for people who don’t want to mess with downloading torrents and watching them on a computer, or preparing them for play through some bridge device to a television.

The Myka, which sort of looks like a beefed up Mac Mini, connects to the Internet via LAN or WiFi, has HDMI, Composite, S-Video and SPDIF connections, and a choice of 80, 160, or 500 gigabytes of storage. You can even add a USB expansion hard drive to a port that actually works, unlike what’s found on the AppleTV. It runs a Linux OS and is pre-installed with BitTorrent software.

Prices range from $299 to about $460.

For those of you who want to download and watch legal torrents, like CBC’s program “Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister“, or other fare (wink wink), The Myka might be a product worth exploring.

From an adorable laughing baby to a girl named Lisa, YouTube names video award winners

youtube video awardsThere are awards for everything, so it’s only natural that YouTube honors the mostly-amateur artists who submit their work to the online video sharing site.

YouTube today announced the winners of the second annual YouTube Video Awards — and the content ranges from silly and amateurish to totally captivating. There’s an adorable laughing baby, Harry Potter puppets (including a naked Dumbledore), a blind painter, a 25-year-old Minnesota PhD student who sings an original song now covered by Green Day and John Mayer, and a girl named Lisa.

Granted, the content is far from professional or semi-pro at best, but that’s the point. If you want to see spit and polish, watch the Oscars or the Emmys. With the YouTube awards, you’ll see a laughing baby fall over, a human TETRIS performance, a dramatic show about friends who play online games, and a gripping short film about Lisa and her mentally ill mother.

While the “highbrow” write off the YouTube Video Awards as a “major yawn”, we think otherwise, especially as more devices — other than the AppleTV or TiVo — bring YouTube into your living room. When YouTube is readily available on your television, just like network and cable or satellite TV, then what’s the difference between it and NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and all the other channels?

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Don't turn off the life support just yet: Joost coming to the browser

Don't turn off the life support just yet: Joost coming to the browserJoost (last100 review) is planning to let viewers access its Internet TV service via a Web browser, rather than requiring them to download and install the current Mac/Windows application, according to

This year, viewers will be able to watch Joost videos in a browser window. Go to Joost’s website, click on shows like Seth Green’s edgy Robot Chicken or an old Rocky and Bullwinkle episode and you can watch them as easily as you’d watch a video on YouTube. Previously, all Joost users had to download and install special software.

Though no specific launch date is mentioned (Joost has a track record of stating that it has plans to be everything to everybody), the move to a browser based offering is interesting on a number of fronts.

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Jockeying for position is over: Time for the U.S. mobile industry to innovate

verizon wirelessThe jockeying for position is over. It’s time for the U.S. carriers, the world’s handset manufacturers, and third-party application developers to innovate the mobile wireless future.

Today the U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced that the big winners in the 700 MHz wireless spectrum auction were, indeed, Verizon and AT&T, the two biggest players in the industry.

Verizon won the coveted C-block for $4.74 billion, besting Google’s bid of $4.71 billion. Going into the spectrum bid, which began at the end of January, many industry followers had hoped that Google would take its bid seriously as a way to shake up a stagnant industry.

google springGoogle committed to bidding the minimum of $4.66 billion, which triggered a rule that the winner of the 700 MHz C-block spectrum would have to open its network to any device, any application. Just by bidding, Google dictated the new rules of the game — rules that Verizon must now follow.

at&tAT&T won 227 regional licenses around the U.S. Those licenses, along with the piece of the 700 MHz puzzle it already owned, allows AT&T to further enhance the quality and reliability of its existing network and wireless broadband.

“It means that the two big guys just got much bigger,” Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus, told Reuters.

It also means that the jockeying for position is now officially over. The remainder of 2008 will be for the carriers, handset manufacturers, and application developers to introduce their initial products — and you can bet these will be far from perfect. There will be missteps, misfirings, false starts, claims of so-and-so being unfair, buggy software, crappy hardware, and disappointment, but these are the growing pains of an industry in transition

2009 is still the Year of Wireless.

For now, with the auction over, here’s how the U.S. wireless industry shapes up for the remainder of 2008.

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They're not lying: CBC to release TV show for download, free, legal, and via BitTorrent

canada’s next great prime ministerCourtesy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a phrase I never thought I’d read:

“The show will be completely free (and legal) for you to download, share & burn to your heart’s desire.”

CBC announced that it will make the March 23rd episode of the show “Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister” available the following day as a “high quality, DRM-free” download using BitTorrent technology. CBC also will distribute a version formatted for iPods with video.

“Nope, we’re not lying,” CBC said in its release.

CBC is the first North American broadcaster to freely release one of its programs without DRM using BitTorrent. “Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister” will be available for download to anyone in the world.

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Who needs Flash on iPhone more? Adobe or Apple?

Adobe to investors: we're working on Flash for iPhoneUpdated: Adobe says it will need Apple’s support to bring Flash to iPhone (see end of post).

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen says that, with or without Apple, the company plans to develop a Flash player for the iPhone/iPod touch platform.

During yesterday’s earnings call (see SeekingAlpha transcript), Narayen told investors that that Flash was “synonymous with the Internet and frankly, anybody who wants to browse the web and experience the web’s glory really needs Flash support”.

Having evaluated the iPhone’s official Software Developer Kit, Adobe can “now start to develop the Flash player ourselves”, says Narayen. “…we think it benefits our joint customers, so we want to work with Apple to bring that capability to the device.”

With new research suggesting that the iPhone has already established itself as the No.1 mobile browser in the U.S., and No.2 in the UK, Narayen would say that.

However, only a week or so ago, Apple CEO Steve Jobs poured cold water on the idea of Flash on the iPhone/iPod touch, saying that the version designed specifically for mobile devices – Flash Lite – wasn’t good enough, and that Adobe’s more powerful desktop offering runs too slowly on the iPhone. What was needed is a “missing product in the middle”, argued Jobs.

Is Adobe committing itself to building the missing version of Flash that Jobs demands?

Or does Adobe really believe it can go-it-alone?

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Excitement continues: wireless auction ends in U.S., winners will be known within 10 days

fcc wirelessI know you can’t wait — it’s better than who is going to make it to the Final Four. OK, not really, but the largest and most lucrative wireless spectrum auction in U.S. history ended today, and we’ll know within 10 days who won the coveted C-block.

Presumably it’s Verizon, the No. 2 U.S. carrier, and not “telecom” upstart Google, but who knows? Maybe there is a surprise or two in the final results. Or not.

Even so, the auction will bring in $19.5 billion for the Federal Communications Commission, with $4.744 coming from the C-block winner. The winner can claim its prize within the year and start building that super-duper, next-gen, open-access wireless network we’ve been hearing about.

All in all, the event took 38 days to complete with 261 rounds of bidding. For a blow-by-blow account, see RCR Wireless News.

Report: Apple is exploring "all you can eat" and subscription models for iTunes Store

itunes all you can eat take 2It comes as no surprise. Apple is said to be in discussions with the major record labels to allow customers unlimited access to the entire iTunes music library in exchange for paying a premium for iPod and iPhone devices.

The Financial Times reported late today that negotiations for an “all you can eat” model — similar to Nokia’s “comes with music” deal with Universal Music Group — are underway, although it appears Apple and the labels are still a ways off for anything to happen.

According to the FT, Nokia “is understood to be offering almost $80 per handset” to music industry partners. Apple has offered only $20 per device, according to two unnamed executives.

“It’s who blinks first, and whether or not anyone does blink,” one executive said to the FT.

Exploring an alternative or an “in addition to” business model for iTunes comes as no surprise as Apple, a consumer savvy company to begin with, is clearly protecting itself against future shifts in the market and/or consumer behavior.

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BBC podcasts target PSP and Nokia N95 users

BBC podcasts target PSP and Nokia N95 users; iPlayer on iPhone boosts usage by 10%The BBC continues to ramp up its mobile efforts with targeted versions of its podcast directory for Sony’s PlayStation Portable (link) and Nokia’s flagship N95 handset (link), along with a new generic offering designed to work on most Internet-capable cell phones.

Specific to each device’s screen size and other technical specifications, the mobile versions enable users to stream rather than download any of the BBC’s podcasts, which can be browsed by radio station, genre or alphabetically. A similar version for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch was launched last November.

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