Archive for July, 2008

Roundup: Apple still hasn't cleaned up its MobileMess

Not only has it been a rough two weeks since the disastrous introduction of MobileMe July 10-11, it’s been a miserable last three days for Apple and its “Exchange for the rest of us” product.

First, up, the Wall Street Journal

Well-known personal technology columnist Walt Mossberg, a big fan of Apple products and services about 99.99 percent of the time, said in his first complete review of MobileMe on Wednesday:

“Unfortunately, after a week of intense testing of the service, I can’t recommend it, at least not in its current state. It’s a great idea, but, as of now, MobileMe has too many flaws to keep its promises.”

Continue reading »

Report: 100,000 Roku Netflix set-top boxes sold

It was only yesterday that our friend Dan Rayburn over at Streaming Media was talking down the impact that Internet-delivered video was making in the living room. Or to quote Rayburn himself, his guest post for GigaOm was intended to “set expectations properly”, based on official figures and various estimates, which suggest that consumer facing set-top boxes from the likes of TiVo, Sony, Microsoft, Apple, Roku and Vudu that are capable of delivering online video, have sold a lot less than what most people think.

Today, however, Rayburn admits he got one figure wrong. Based on a new source, Rayburn says that rather than selling 10,000 units, the Netflix player by Roku has sold closer to 100,000.

While it surprised me the number was that high, it does seem possible, as that would equal about 1% of Netflix’s 8.2 million customers. Considering the price point ($99) and the fact that the product’s marketing is very focused, to a targeted audience, Roku’s penetration rate would be higher than the average product that has only been on the market for eight weeks. Plus, once you have the Roku box, the content is free.

Rayburn goes on to suggest that it won’t be long before the Roku box outsells the AppleTV (we don’t disagree), especially with the promise that the Roku player will soon support more than just Netflix. “This little device has some real potential to make a real impact in the market”, he says.

Q&A: Nicolas Gramlich of talks Android, Google's developer relations, and more

Talking down Google’s Android mobile operating system has become pretty easy of late: An incomplete and buggy SDK, favoritism towards select developers, a general lack of transparency, and valid concerns that the platform could become fragmented and that Google has ceded too much control to carriers.

Yet, for the most part, the initial excitement and optimism over the long term potential of Android remains. Not least for 21 year-old Nicolas Gramlich, a computer science student at the University of Applied Sciences Mannheim in Germany, and founder of, an online community for Android developers. “Android’s main attraction is its simplicity”, says Gramlich, which enables the rapid development of “feature-rich applications”.

See also: Interview: zintin CEO talks iPhone, Android and mobile future

“One can create an application that uses Google Maps, get the current GPS-position or read out the accelerometer within 10 lines”. The integration with Google Maps is especially tight, he says, something that doesn’t currently exist on other mobile platforms. And Gramlich should know. His first Android effort is a free navigation app called AndNav!.

In a short Q&A with last100, Gramlich discussed the slow progress Google appears to be making in updating the Android SDK, the company’s relationship with the developer community, competition from iPhone, and more. Read the transcript, edited for space and clarity, after the jump.

Continue reading »

Verizon bringing Internet TV to its set-top boxes

Verizon bringing Internet TV to its set-top boxesAnother major player enters the PC to TV space. Verizon is currently beta testing web video on their set-top boxes, reports Zatz Not Funny.

Unsurprisingly, the content looks like it will be mostly user-generated or that which has been created specifically for the web, and therefore won’t compete directly with the telco’s own video-on-demand offering. Initial “marketing partners” to include Veoh,,, and YouTube.

On the downside, a PC is still required to act as a bridge between Internet content and the TV via Verizon’s DVR set-top box, notes Dave Zatz.

Unlike TiVo which taps directly into YouTube’s H.264 content, Verizon utilizes their Media Manager PC software as an intermediary. Sites are indexed on a regular basis and when a video is selected from the DVR, the PC software automatically transcodes and streams content on the fly.

In addition to pulling in content from supported video aggregation sites, Verizon’s Media Manager software “also facilitates shipping virtually any video podcast to your DVR”. Podcast subscriptions can be added directly to Media Manager in the standard way via the PC’s web browser.

The new features will be offered as part of Verizon’s top tier DVR package, which currently includes PC photo sharing and multi-room DVR playback, and is expected to be offered to customers later this year or early next year.

How big of an impact is Internet-delivered video making in consumer living rooms?

I’ve often wondered this, but my math skills suck. How big of an impact is Internet-delivered video really making in the consumer living room?

Dan Rayburn, the EVP of and the blogger behind, crunched numbers in a post for GigaOm today and decided that the impact is not nearly as large as we think.

“While it is good to see more content options coming to consumers, adding up all of the install numbers for these devices gives a stark picture of just how small the install base really is,” Rayburn wrote. “The market is still too fragmented, with too many different devices, all limited by a lack of premium content.”

Rayburn bases his analysis on market penetration rates. His point is that the best technologies don’t always win — it’s what consumers adopt. The numbers for TV-connected devices are interesting.

Continue reading »

MySpace Music is reportedly set to launch in September as music store, subscription service

TechCrunch noted today that MySpace’s music store will launch in September with three of the four major labels providing content. The lone holdout, EMI, is expected to give in soon.

Chris DeWolfe, CEO of MySpace, told TechCrunch co-editor Erick Schonfeld that MySpace Music will be a music store and subscription service, with unlimited playbacks of full tracks for free.

DeWolfe said the revenue model will be advertising and paid downloads. Advertisers are reportedly lining up.

See also: Live and in concert: Why MySpace music has a chance against iTunes

MySpace Music first surfaced in March when Sony BMG and Warner were close to signing deals. Universal entered the picture in April, but this is the first time that a launch date has been discussed.

It’s interesting to see how important music is to MySpace, which hosts pages for five million artists. Sixty-five percent of MySpace users embed music on their pages and more than five billion songs are streamed on MySpace monthly.

Music, undoubtedly, will be a growth business for MySpace.

Interview: Eventful attracts new users through iPhone app, not just Web site

This is the power of the iPhone.

In less than two weeks, Brian Dear, the founder of the event discovery Web site Eventful, has seen “a whole new wave of users coming in” — so much so that he predicts that “in the very long term, everybody will be going mobile and the Web will be secondary.”

These new users, of which I am one, are not all coming to Eventful through its popular Web site, which helps more than six million people discover, share, and create events from concerts to dog shows. They’re signing up for Eventful because of the iPhone.

“This is what happens when you offer mobile,” Dear said in a discussion with last100.

By the end of last week, Apple had not provided Dear with specific numbers on Eventful downloads, although the app has consistently ranked among the favorites downloaded by users. In many respects, the number doesn’t matter. The decision to keep developing Eventful for the iPhone has already been made.

“Absolutely we are going to evolve it,” Dear said.

Of all the programs I’ve downloaded and fiddled with, Eventful is one I use nearly everyday. And it’s a far-from-perfect app, as many people point out in App Store ratings. Even so, Eventful demonstrates the power and promise of the iPhone platform because it integrates digital technology into my lifestyle in a fun and productive manner.

Dear, who lives in San Diego, spoke with last100 about developing the application for the iPhone, the challenges he and his team faced, the shortcomings of the Eventful app, and future plans.

“It was by far the most fun software development project I’ve done in years,” Dear said.

Continue reading »

Sky offers subscription-based music service

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky announced today that they are launching a new music service in the UK, that offers both streaming and downloads of tracks for a monthly subscription.

Downloads will be in mp3 format, compatible with any digital music player including iPods.  According to the press release, “a range of subscription options will be available, offering different download packages tailored to customers’ needs”, suggesting that downloads will be limited per month depending on how much you pay, but streaming maybe unlimited.

Continue reading »

Video: Netflix streaming on XBox 360

Now it’s official that Netflix is coming to the Xbox 360, although not until this fall, we’re as curious as the next person to see just how well it’s been implemented. Luckily, Inside XBox has published a brief – and we mean brief – video walk-through of the new feature.

Initial impressions: the UI is slick, and the integration between the XBox 360’s newly designed dashboard and, where you still manage your Watch Now cue, works as expected. We’re not sure what kind of Internet connection they were using, but movies start playing almost immediately. Check out the video for yourself after the jump.

Continue reading »

TechCrunch interested in developing own web tablet — with your help

last100 editor Steve O’Hear has been a big advocate of the so-called ultra-portable Netbook computer from Day One. Now we see others are just as interested.

TechCrunch today announced interest in building its own Web tablet using open source everything. As TechCruch founder Michael Arrington wrote, the basic idea is the “machine is as thin as possible, runs low end hardware and has a single button for powering it on and off, headphone jacks, a built in camera for video, low end speakers, and a microphone.”

The specs continue: It will have Wi-Fi, maybe a USB port, a built-in battery, a half a gig of RAM, a 4 GB solid state hard drive. Its primary method of input is an iPhone-like touchscreen, it runs on the Linux operating system, and it uses Firefox as its browser.

Continue reading »