Nov 24, 2006
Besides their Media Center strategy, Microsoft is betting on the Xbox to control the home entertainment arena.
Their huge installed base (they hope to reach 10 million by end-of-year) will rapidly surpass many major competitors.
This recent press release gives a good preview of what they are up to for Xbox Live:
- a library of 160 high- definition games
- standard and high-definition TV shows and movies to download and to rent
Ergo: Watch out Sony, this new fact just confirms the new Xbox is rolling out fast and executing well on its plans, the days of absolute Playstation dominance are over….
Oct 22, 2006
Microsoft has decided to scrap its current software based approach to mp3 players (Plays for sure) and enter the hardware market directly with its own music device: Zune.
Plays for sure (PFS) is an interesting approach by Microsoft to control the mp3 market through its Windows Media software. The idea was to offer an alternative to Apple’s iPod by offering a seal of quality grouping all non-Mac providers of soft and hardware (a little bit like the Intel inside – but Windows Media inside).
However early compatibility problems (like the early Plug&Pray) and the continuing radical success of Apple have surprisingly caused Microsoft to change gears, launch its own PFS-incompatible Zune and start the mp3 war all over again (they keep PFS, but with who will support this if Microsoft itself is taking a different system).
The new ZUNE clones the closed-standard strategy of Apple. Like with gaming consoles, Microsoft seems to be betting on a few players controlling the music player market with a closed software and hardware solution. Given that Apple makes no significant money from selling songs, but cashes in on the devices, Microsoft is probably also recognizing Apple’s strategy as the best, at least for the early market situation.
Will Microsoft succeed and turn around the market?
I will put my bet on Apple this time – Microsofts golden age is over!
Oct 16, 2006
Yesterday I came accross a very interesting video speech by Bill Gates (you can find versions for higher bandwidth here) talking about future trends and upcoming MS product launches (for a shorter version look at this Engadget summary in pictures)
To summarize the main contents:
* In the initial part of the keynote Gates demonstrates how he sees the digital lifestyle becoming real in the next four years, up to 2010. In Gate’s vision user files will be stored on the Internet (what they call “live services”) and will be accessible from all sorts of net-connected devices he demonstrates as examples:
- a huge vertical screen that could well fit on a refrigerator that he uses to check news and emails and see the current location of geopositioned family members
- a huge horizontal screen (1,5m to cover full viewing angle) on his working desk where he runs teleconferences while in parallel working on documents on other parts of the screen (see picture)
- a projected screen in the airport VIP lounge that uses his phone as connection and his fingerprint as user-authentification
All these services will support a fully connected lifestyle, where you have full seamless access to all your data and the Internet at any point in time
* After this first demo there are several product teasers on MS Vista, the new Urge music project and XBOX360 among others
Very recommended video if you are into digital lifestyle and want to check Microsoft’s vision on 2010.
Oct 8, 2006
Several blogs and newspapers (NYT/WSJ) are hinting at the possibility of a large acquisition of Youtube by Google for 1.6 USD billion.
This would be a huge change to the online video market, allowing Google to be number one in this fast growing category, getting an improved position to extend its text-ads/search domination to video-ads, which is the definitely the next big growth frontier.
While some analysts think of Googletube as the result of a perfect match, I definitely understand there would be benefits from structuring the deal as an extended alliance (MySpace style) – certainly a safer option for Google (see Mark Cuban’s opinion)
A Myspace style deal would have following advantages:
However my feel is, that there is a high chance of the acquisition going through in the end, despite Google never having made any such large-scale acquisition in its entire history. The last 6-12 months have been a collection of deals by Google attempting to pre-empt Yahoo and MSN to get distribution: From the Dell deal to have the Googlebar preloaded for 2 USD per PC, to the multi-year exclusivity deal with MySpace worth 900 USD million.
I believe Google will decide to aggressively bet on user-generated videos, believing it will have to face copyright issues and confront being sued by 3rd parties anyway with Google Videos, so why not bet on a positive outcome thanks to it excellent lawyers and go for full market leadership if everything goes right.
Aggressive? Yeah, but hey we are talking about the same company that:
- offered 2GB free mailspace for anyone (300-500 times more than competitors),
- is building a gigantic proprietary computer network with 10s of thousands PCs running its own OS
- is starting to offer free Wifi for the full city of SanFrancisco (and soon NY?)
This move would certainly not come as a surprise to me.
Good luck Google
Oct 5, 2006
The entrepreneurial team behind Kazaa and Skype, Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, are testing a new system of TV streaming based on P2P.
Based on their success track record, this is definitely a project to put on our “watchlists”.
While the website doesn’t give a way a lot Businessweek has just published this insightful article.
Exec summary of the article:
The Venice Project is currently trying to convince a range of small, medium, and large media and TV companies to place their full-length, professionally produced content on the network, although anyone will be able to post video on the network. It’s also talking to advertisers and marketers that could place video ads on the network.
At the bottom of the screen, there are controls like those on a DVD player, including stop, pause, and fast-forward, as well as a search window to find new videos. An image on the left includes a menu of preset channels. And on the right, there’s a set of interactive tools that let you share video playlists with friends or family. An image at the top of the screen identifies the channel and the name of the clip you’re watching. All of the images can be expanded by clicking on them with a mouse.
The Venice Project is not a file-sharing system. It’s based on peer-to-peer technology, in which the infrastructure comprises user PCs, not central servers. But users don’t download video files. The videos are streamed to their computers instead.
The beta test will be expanded dramatically by the middle of November, he said.
Sep 30, 2006
If you are a of strategy games and/or a fantasy fan you have to check the amazing trailer to the new Warhammer RTS game Namco is developing.
It’s just amazing how the cinematics look so good. Look at the details, such as the spikes of the priest’s hammer or his facial expressions (watch in HD and full screen)
Unfortunately the in-game units, although pretty decent, are not half-as-spectacular, but that’s the classic disconnect between mouth-watering trailers and real gameplay.
Sep 27, 2006
It´s already 2 weeks ago, but I have to post this excellent coverage of Apple’s recent announcements regarding iPod.
It’s just too cool to be true – just look at the new Shuffle – a microclip! (what an amazing form factor!) – It has been inmediately put on my wishlist for my fitness workout…
Apart from the revised nano, the new ipod movie store (initially only Disney movies – no coincidence, Jobs is on the board there) and some other cool details, for me the biggest announcement is the codenamed “iTV”, a box that will allow you to have itunes on your TV.
First because Apple never makes announcements on such a low development level (as it puts pressure on them and reduces quality of final output) and second because it clearly shows Apple’s continuing thrust to be THE entertainment product company and to get fully inside our living rooms.
Together with technologies like the FrontRow and Coverflow iTV will help form an easy-to-use video solution that “just works” and allow Apple to conquer the mainstream just as iPod has done before.
While I agree that Microsoft Media Center has much more advanced, specially TV and PVR related functionalities (link1 link2) I also believe that Apple is on the right track, and is favourite to finally close the TV/PC convergence circle.
The jury is open – choose your favourite – and let the games begin!!!
Sep 20, 2006
Interesting article from Wall Street Journal on how MTV is not capturing the online buzz with their offering.
“MTV’s stumble has lessons for major media companies watching the explosion of video on the web.
In the closed confines of cable TV, where competition is limited, MTV protected its niche by portraying itself as the iconoclastic outsider.
But the web is free-for-all, and the roster of competitors grows every day.
MTV, now part of the establishment and late to the game, wrongly assumed its famous brand name and product would have the same resonance online”
The law of evolution/business: survival of the fittest! As simple as that, and this time the revolution is really coming to video contents, not like in the über-hype 5 years ago.
MTV, wake up and re-invent yourself online or prepare to fall into oblivion!
Sep 19, 2006
Warner Brothers has been very aggressive lately in the digital market, e.g. closing a deal to distribute their movies through Bittorrent, leading the move of Hollywood studios towards digital distribution in order to avoid the Napsterisation of movies.
A new deal has just been announced with YouTube that allows YouTube to use all Warner Music videos, and even allows users to use the IP (Intellectual Property) in mashups and mixes.
WOW!!! What a change of direction. From threatening to sue platforms like YouTube or Bittorrent to actively leveraging them as promotional tools for their products.
Welcome to Web 2.0 -> where the rules are changed all over and media & entertainments gets re-invented!!!
BTW this is the second deal with one of the “BIG 6″ media groups after a previous deal of YouTube with NBC (Universal)