Archive for November, 2009

BBC iPlayer downloads coming to iPhone?

iPlayer-iPhoneIt looks like a proper iPlayer app for the iPhone (and iPod touch) is on its way. A recent press pack issued by the BBC includes images of a dedicated iPhone app for the TV catchup service.

Of most interest is that unlike the current browser-based offering for Apple’s iconic smartphone it appears that the new app will support both streaming and downloads. This was thought to be near-impossible given the iPhone’s lack of support for any ‘standard’ form of copy-protection, a necessary evil given the way the Beeb licenses third-party content, and will bring it in-line with existing versions of iPlayer for Symbian and Windows Mobile.

As it stands, when asked to recommend a smartphone I usually try to ascertain if iPlayer support is a priority. If it is, and downloads are in particular (better battery life, off-line playback), I’ll more often than not point them towards a Nokia.

Soon that may no longer be the case.

Roku launches app store for its set-top box – adds Flickr, Facebook, Pandora and others

Roku’s $100 set-top box (U.S.-only) just got even more compelling. The company has launched its own app store of sorts – called the ‘Channel Store’ – that brings a growing number of third-party content sources to the device including Pandora (music streaming) Facebook photos, Flickr (photo sharing), along with FrameChannel, Mediafly’s podcast directory, Revision3 and more. Dave Zatz over at Zatz Not Funny has a few screen grabs and a nifty walk-through video (embedded above). The new content ‘widgets’ join existing partnerships with Netflix, Amazon VOD, and MLB.TV.

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Carphone Warehouse pulls Sony Ericsson Satio – I'm not surprised [mini review]

It appears that Carphone Warehouse, the UK’s largest independent mobile phone retailer, has pulled Sony Ericsson’s flagship Satio smartphone from its stores. The internal memo, which was leaked to GSM Arena, suggests that buggy software is the cause – the Satio runs a version of the Nokia-led Symbian S60 5th Edition – and that Carphone is “investigating a solution as a priority.” If software is the problem then the solution will obviously need to come from Sony Ericsson themselves, so we’ll wait and see how long that takes.

However, none of this I find surprising. I had it on good authority some weeks ago that Carphone Warehouse had already returned a batch of Satios on Day One of its release. The issue: buggy software.

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Boxee set-top box on its way – let the connected living room battle begin

boxee_logoBoxee, the socially driven and feisty Internet TV browser, will soon land on a set-top box of its own. Currently the media center software is only available on Mac, Windows, Linux, along with a hacked together version for the AppleTV (the closest that Boxee has come so far to appearing on a set-top box). That’s about to change, says the company.

Founder and CEO Avner Ronen writes on the official Boxee blog: “I am very happy to announce we have signed our first partnership with a CE company. At this point we can not say more about the partner or the specs of the device, but we can tell you we are working closely with them to make sure we deliver a great Boxee experience on it.”

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I'm really liking 3's MiFi, mobile broadband turned WiFi hotspot

mifi-3I’ll admit that when I first heard about 3UK’s MiFi offering and similar devices from other mobile networks, I didn’t really see the appeal.

The tiny gadget – about the size of a typical candy bar phone – uses its own built-in 3G modem to create a mobile broadband-powered WiFi hotspot, which, optionally, several devices can connect to. In my experience, however, mobile broadband isn’t the quickest (not helped by the fact that I sit in front of a fiber-optic connected laptop most of the day), so it’s not something that I’d instinctively want to share. But…

Now that I’ve actually used the MiFi, I totally get it.

It’s not just about sharing a single 3G connection with others – though at times this could be a life saver – but the flexibility the MiFi offers through the ability to add mobile broadband to devices that aren’t compatible with a USB 3G dongle but that do have support for WiFi.

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TechCrunch Europe: Voddler, the Spotify-for-movies; BlinkBox partners with the BFI

Over at TechCrunch Europe where I’ve been helping out over the last two weeks (that’s why it’s been a quiet around here) I’ve covered two Internet TV-related stories that maybe of interest to last100 readers.

Voddler, the Spotify-for-movies, partners with Paramount and Disney

57008v2-max-250x250Voddler is beginning to garner quite a lot of buzz in Europe, having been widely described as the “Spotify for movies”. It’s also been called the Hulu of Europe. The Internet TV service offers add-supported streaming of movies and TV shows as well as premium paid-for content through its own desktop client and is currently only available in a closed beta in the company’s home country of Sweden. However, following content deals with Paramount and Disney, Voddler is beginning to open up and has plans to expand into other European countries. On being compared to Spotify and Hulu, I comment:

… a more apt and less flattering comparison might be the largely defunct Joost or another European video startup, Babelgum. Both services have struggled to secure enough compelling mainstream content and, in hindsight, forcing users to download a desktop app would seem to have been a mistake. A big one.

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Streaming Media West conf. and expo: Get a $200 discount

SMW09_125x125_c1Last100 readers – Streaming Media West – the leading online video industry conference & expo – is offering a $200 discount to attend Streaming Media sessions. Click here to take advantage of these savings. If you can’t buy a conference pass, you can still sign up for a free expo pass which this year includes access to two separate, open-bar networking receptions!

Streaming Media West is November 17-19 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.  The Exhibit Hall opens on November 17 at 5pm.

Sony Ericsson "explains" Satio battery discretion

And I believe in the tooth fairy.

Some stories are best left alone but that hasn’t stopped Sony Ericsson (or me) from following up on my original story — Is Sony Ericsson short changing Satio users? — regarding why the company’s flagship Satio smartphone appears to be shipping with a smaller battery than the one in the possession of Anders Westin, Sony Ericsson’s Head of Software Relations, Symbian Software.

On Friday a Sony Ericsson PR rep called (and emailed) to explain that there had been a misunderstanding. Apparently Anders’ Satio does have the same sized battery as the retail version — 1000mAh — but that the “first ‘0’ had been scraped half off, so it looked like a ‘3’.”

Ahh, that explains it then.

Although I’m sure I recall Anders saying it was a 1350mAh not a 1300mAh, which would require two numbers to have been defaced. And, as one colleague pointed out, it’s pretty hard to scratch a battery that spends most of its life living under a battery cover. But what do I know?

(Wish me luck next time I request a Sony Ericsson review unit.)