Archive | March 2014

Facebook Buys Oculus – Everybody Panic!

lawnmowermanThe tech world is abuzz because oft-maligned social network data gobbler Facebook is set on spending $2Bn on virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR. But what does it mean for all the developers who wanted to cooperate with Oculus on revolutionizing the gaming experience? What does it mean for everyone who thought the virtual reality dreams of the 80s were finally going to come true?
Techblog Gizmodo wants you to throw your worries overboard, predicting that the number of Facebook users will create a huge market for developing Apps for the Oculus Rift, leading to innovations in the field of immersive virtual reality. You can hang out with your FB-friends in a fun “holo-deck” environment.

The virtual reality platform of the future will be “A place for games, sure, but also for chat, for education, for literally anything that involves human interaction. If it seems farfetched that a goofy headset could achieve that kind of ubiquity, remember that Android and iOS didn’t exist 10 years ago; now they’re all-encompassing.”

A more pessimistic view is based on the fear (and experience) of what happens, when a small, smart, innovative company gets swallowed by a huge enterprise. Some tech people just don’t want to work with Facebook.

Go to Gizmodo for a great storystream on the topic.



Thoughts on Apple & Comcast

Apple, Comcast, Netflix and The Last Mile

The Internet Tollbridge

According to WSJ, Apple and Comcast are looking to become partners in the TV market with a service centered around Apple TV, a streaming box that will stream live TV and on demand content and bring the easy to use interface of Apple products to your TV.
To make sure that Apple’s video signal is transported to the customer in best quality, they’re trying to strike a “privileged access” deal with cable giant Comcast, which would assure that the “last mile” of traffic is kept clear for data on Apple TV. This would guarantee the same streaming quality whether a customer uses a Comcast Xfinity STB or Apple TV.
Should these two giants strike a deal, the home entertainment battlefield, which is populated by Sony (PS4), Microsoft (Xbox One), Amazon (upcoming Android Set-Top-Box) and Google (Chromecast) could see a true disruption. It seems realistic to assume that the winner needs to control hardware, content and bandwidth – and an alliance of Apple and Comcast would come pretty close to achieving that goal.
According to the article a deal is not even close because Comcast would have to shoulder investment into their network technology and Apple is demanding control over customer relationships and data. Making things more complicated are repercussions of the Comcast-NBCUniversal takeover regarding net neutrality.
In the meantime, on his blog, Netflix-CEO Reed Hastings is calling for more net neutrality and accusing Service Providers of cutting a raw deal for Netflix, the video streaming service responsible for nearly a third of peak downstream data traffic in the USA. Netflix subscribers are suffering from congestion, which causes buffering, waiting and poor video quality. These problems directly affect Netflix’s business.
Service Providers know this and are looking to charge fees for “preferred services” while they’re actively slowing down Netflix traffic. Hastings: “When an ISP sells a consumer a 10 or 50 megabits-per-second Internet package, the consumer should get that rate, no matter where the data is coming from.”

The battle is far from over and everyone is bringing out the big guns.

Read more at WSJ and Netflix

Keys To Winning The Living Room War

This article takes a look at who’s competing for your living room entertainment budget and offers a solution for Apple TV to win the battle: A motion-sensitive remote control/game controller! Think of a bigger version of the current Apple remote control or a Wii Remote designed by Apple.
Our own experience with Streaming Devices, Smart TVs and next generation STBs have identified the input device specifically and the User Interaction in general as a weak link as well, so the line of thinking in this article makes a lot of sense. It still doesn’t solve the text input problem which may arise if users want to search for content or use a browser.

Read the whole article on Sploid.

Original Content On PlayStation Network

Producing original content is en vogue. Everybody from Youtube to Amazon to Netflix is doing it. You can add Sony’s PlayStation Network to the list of networks who want to lure customers to their screens. Sony Pictures Television is producing ten hour-long episodes of a graphic novel about detectives fighting supernatural crime, called “Powers”.

The 150 million PSN users already have access to Sony Unlimited’s VoD offer.

Microsoft is enhancing the XBox Live platform with a Steven Spielberg produced show based on shooter game “Halo”.

Read more on Mashable or on IGN.

Content Is Expensive

amazon-logo1Who would have expected a price hike for Amazon’s Prime service, the service that guarantees free overnight delivery and allows access to Amazon’s Instant Video catalogue for streaming movies? Well, basically everyone.
Amazon Prime now costs 99$ per year which can be attributed to the heavy investment in video content for Amazon Instant Video as well as the worse than expected holiday business in 2013.

Techcrunch has more.

Couchfunk vs. Zattoo vs. Magine

Während das Thema Social TV um ein valides Businessmodell kämpft, geht das deutsche Social TV Start-Up Couchfunk einfach in Richtung TV.
Couchfunk möchte analog zu Zattoo aus der Schweiz oder Magine aus Schweden (bald auch in Deutschland) mobiles Fernsehen auf Smartphones ermöglichen. Ein werbefinanziertes Modell (mit öffentlich-rechtlichen Programmen und kleineren Privatsendern) und ein kostenpflichtiges Premiummodell (inkl. RTL-Group) sind angedacht. Die User sind sogar eingeladen sich Sender zu wünschen, die aufgespielt werden sollen.
Aktuell betreibt Couchfunk eine Mediatheken-App für Smartphones, die zu den Inhalten aller verfügbaren TV-Mediatheken verlinkt. Die Magine-App kombiniert bereits Mediatheken und Live TV über ein Interface, ähnliches können sich die Couchfunkbetreiber auch vorstellen, abhängig von den Vorgaben der Rechteinhaber.

Für den Konsumenten ergibt sich also bald eine dritte Quelle für TV-on-the-go, die insbesondere natürlich für Couchfunknutzer interessant ist, die sich aktuell bei Couchfunk nur über TV unterhalten können und bald aus einer Hand ihre Social TV- und Live-TV-Bedürfnisse befriedigen können.

Hier entlang geht’s zum Artikel.