TiVo Announces Advertising Search For Television

TiVo Announces Advertising Search For TelevisionTiVo has announced that it plans to offer the first TV-based advertising “search solution” early next year.

Starting in Spring 2006, TiVo’s new television search capabilities will, apparently, “enhance the TV viewing experience” by delivering targeted advertising to subscribers interested in viewing particular advertising categories.

Hotshot media and advertising agencies like Interpublic Media, OMD, Starcom Mediavest Group, The Richards Group and Comcast Spotlight have teamed up with TiVo to develop the product and help determine relevant categories of interest (cars, travel, telecommunications, and consumer packaged goods etc) as well as work out pricing models.

TiVo claim their new technology will allow companies to shunt on-demand, consumer targeted TV advertising to viewers without the limitations of traditional television media placement.

TiVo Announces Advertising Search For TelevisionWith punters able to search for products by category or associated keywords, TiVo sees big benefits for advertisers (obviously) and punters looking for information on products or services.

The (ahem) “heightened viewer experience” offered by the new service is claimed to deliver “non-intrusive, relevant, interactive advertising, on an opt-in basis.”

TiVo subscribers electing to use the search service will be able to retain control over their “viewing experience” by creating a “viewer contributed profile” via the set-top box that will enable them to receive advertisements based on their interests (we wonder if there’s a “begone hideous advertisers forever” profile available?)

“TiVo is once again introducing to the TV landscape a new and innovative advertising solution that is intended to deliver an even better viewing experience for subscribers,” purred Tom Rogers, President and CEO of TiVo.

TiVo Announces Advertising Search For TelevisionSupping deeply on a morning brew of Buzzword Coffee, Tracey Scheppach, VP, Video Innovations Director at Starcom, enthused “The new TiVo application will provide both a needed platform for consumers to seek out relevant, searchable commercial content and an environment for advertisers to engage highly desirable and motivated consumers…it’s the first of its kind in the industry, and a platform that is clearly needed in this challenging advertising marketplace.”

The new service follows a successful interactive direct response advertising program on TiVo in August, where subscribers were able to respond to customised “calls to action” in select commercial spots.

Funnily enough, when we’re bombarded with advertising, the only “call to action” we get is to turn the ruddy thing off.

Legal Digital Music Downloaders Not Kids Shocker!

Legal Digital Music Downloaders Not Kids Shocker!US analyst firm JupiterResearch has surveyed the American digital music market, and discovered that the bulk of paying downloaders come from the 25-44 age group.

The survey found that sixty-two percent of digital service users and 60 percent of subscribers are between the ages of 25 and 44.

More than half of the subscribers are women, but it’s the blokes who are predictably hitting the download button most, fuelled by a crazed desire to compulsively fill up their MP3 players.

JupiterResearch describes both types of buyers as coming from “music aficionados” segment – they’re the 13 percent of online adults who are “digitally active” and already spend a lot on music.

Online music buyers were found to still discover new music through traditional means, like radio shows and music videos shown on TV, with recommendations (both in stores and online) having an impact.

Legal Digital Music Downloaders Not Kids Shocker!Online radio was seen to be a growing influence as were new tools like playlists and music blogs, but the report found that stronger integration with online radio and more promotion was necessary to make punters aware of these potentially powerful discovery tools.

Although still a minor earner in overall US entertainment expenditure, growth in the digital music market is explosive.

Spending on downloads and subscription services is expected to double in 2005, surpassing $750 million, with 20 million US music fans on course to buy digital downloads this year—mostly from Apple’s iTunes store.

But it’s not all smiles in the industry, with JupiterResearch’s European Music Consumer Survey warning that the music industry may be facing an unsure future with three times as many consumers using illegal file-sharing networks in preference to legitimate services.

Legal Digital Music Downloaders Not Kids Shocker!The report blames non credit card-holding kids, claiming that 34 per cent of 15-24-year olds use file-sharing services, and this is “impacting the way they value music with many having little concept of music as a paid commodity.”

JupiterResearch claims that Da Kidz see CDs as irrelevant, crap value for money and so prefer to copy rather than buy CDs.

With a wagging finger, Jupiter Research warned the industry, “Unless these consumers are encouraged to develop music purchasing behaviour soon they may never develop meaningful music buying habits,”


SPH-V6800 Wi-Fi Multimedia Handset Announced By Samsung

SPH-V6800 Wi-Fi Multimedia Handset Announced By SamsungWith a passion for creating new phones that is beginning to border on pathological, Samsung’s overworked designers have just revealed yet another new hi-tech handset, the SPH-V6800.

Revealed to the world by an obligingly smiling model, the SPH-V6800 looks to be a very tasty number indeed, offering a ton of multimedia functionality, a pocketable form factor and built in Wi-Fi.

Sporting a familiar sliding keyboard design, the black and silver handset is dominated by a bright 320×240 pixel QVGA TFT display, packed into a two inch display.

SPH-V6800 Wi-Fi Multimedia Handset Announced By SamsungThere’s also a 1.3MP digital camera onboard with MPEG-4 video recording and MP3/AAC audio playback.

There’s also voice recognition built in, video-on-demand, TV-output, EV-DO, and the bit we really like, the built-in Wi-Fi wireless (802.11b, 11Mbps) LAN.

We used a Wi-Fi card with our chunky i-Mate JAM phone extensively on our travels to New York, and loved being able to send off email and surf the web on the move.

SPH-V6800 Wi-Fi Multimedia Handset Announced By SamsungWith the Samsung packing in wireless connectivity into its tiny 96.8 x 47 x 24.5mm dimensions, we could well be seduced by SPH-V6800 (if it ever makes it to these shores, of course).

The SPH-V6800 will be made available to Korean subscribers for around $477 (~£275 ~€402) and ambitious readers can try and make sense of the press release page in Korean here (we gamely ran it through babelfish, but the results sounded like an acid casualty reading a tech manual).


Free Phone-Back Services Tested By Google

Google Tests Free Phone-Back ServicesGoogle is testing a potentially lucrative sales tool that allows users to ring up advertisers located through a Google search – for free.

The system adds a new phone icon next to the Google search results of participating advertisers.

Users wishing to have a chinwag with the advertiser can click the phone graphic, enter their phone number and then click the ‘Connect For Free’ button.

Google then calls the number provided and when a user picks up their phone they’ll hear it ringing the advertiser’s office.

Once the advertiser picks up, both parties can chat for free with Google footing the bill for all calls – local and long-distance (their generosity may, however, stop at paying for some mobile calls).

Naturally, there are all sorts of potential privacy concerns brewing up here, but Google insist that they won’t share telephone numbers with anyone – including the advertiser.

Google Tests Free Phone-Back ServicesMoreover, they claim that the number will be blocked from the advertiser during the call, with Google promising to delete the number from their servers after a short period of time.

This looks to be an attractive option, making it easier for both businesses to be contacted and for customers to get in touch.

It also means that Google could entice cash from companies with little or no Web presence, with the prospect of free calls from potential customers proving irresistible.

We also wonder if an extended scheme could put a spoke in the wheels of the recently announced eBay buys Skype deal.

As ever, Google are keeping Mum about the details, only offering a curt, “we don’t have any additional information to share at this time” in a statement.

Google Click To Call FAQ

3 Italia Buys TV Broadcaster: Now First Euro Hybrid Mobile TV Co

3 Italia Buys TV Broadcaster: Now First Euro Hybrid Mobile TV CoIn a sure sign that TV to the mobile is the new European media battleground, 3G mobile operator 3 Italia have announced its plans to purchase the Italian national broadcaster, Canale 7. Reports have put the price of the acquisition at between €30-35m.

The addition of Canale 7, Italy’s fourth largest broadcaster, gives the company access to the country’s existing home TV business. Canale 7 currently broadcasts in analogue to around 40% of Italy, predominantly its north. More interestingly, it also has a terrestrial digital TV nationwide network operator’s license. This should provide coverage for over 70% of the country.

It is expected that 3 Italia will work to develop a Pay-TV and interactive services proposition for handhelds. We also understand their intention would be for Canale 7’s nationwide digital project to be integrated with 3 Italia’s UMTS mobile network to create a DVB-H network.

3 Italia Buys TV Broadcaster: Now First Euro Hybrid Mobile TV CoThe company intends to offer a DVB-H mobile TV service from the second half of 2006. Indications are that there will be a minimum of 20 channels, although no line up has yet been decided. 3 Italia already carries Playboy adult entertainment and football via existing technology, and has worked with Mediaset and News Corp’s Sky Italia pay-TV operator.

Italy is already one of Europe’s leaders in mobile consumption and is considered to be a prime market for such services. Reports we’ve seen rather puzzlingly mention a “standard of video quality comparable to DVD” perhaps somewhat unlikely on the small screens that will be deployed for this sector – but we’re sure the picture will be absolutely bella.

3 Italia, which is owned by Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, has so far invested €9bn in its 3G network since obtaining a license from the Italian government in 2000. It currently has around 4.8 million Italian subscribers. Hutchison Whampoa also own 3G licenses in other countries including the UK.

3 Italia
Canale 7

NBC Take First Pop At TivoToGo Enhancement

NBC Take First ‘Pop’ At TivoToGo EnhancementAs we predicted last week, the US TV networks are not taking the new TiVo enhancements to its TivoToGo lying down.

NBC are making the early running, with a spokesman telling the Hollywood’s Daily Variety trade paper, “TiVo appears to be acting unilaterally, disregarding established rights of content owners to participate in decisions regarding the distribution and exploitation of their content. This unilateral action creates the risk of legal conflict instead of contributing to the constructive exploitation of digital technology that can rapidly provide new and exciting experiences for the consumer.”

Legal types though, are quoting the landmark Sony v. Universal Studios case of 1984, citing it as a precedent where time shifting was expressly found to fall within fair use. Although this particular case has come under the microscope recently, during the Grockster case, where the the US Supreme Court ruled that companies could be liable if they deliberately encourage customers to infringe on copyrights.

NBC Take First ‘Pop’ At TivoToGo EnhancementIt could be, that time will prove TiVo have announced prematurely this new augmentation, without fully taking account of the wide ranging business and legal implications. But in this fast moving sector, innovation is a necessity rather than an option.


Teenagers Don’t Like Retro

All too often articles about the things teenagers are interested in are written by people old enough to be their parents and teenagers thinking isn’t represented. Lawrence Dudley gives you a point of view that you won’t find in other publications. You see Lawrence _is_ a teenager.

Motorola Dynatec 8000xA Whole New Meaning To Retro
As a teenager, retro is your dad when he insists on playing his absolutely appalling Cher records. Not that my dad listens to Cher, of course, unless he only does that in secret, which I wouldn’t blame him for. Anyway, so retro is anything but cool as a teenager. In fact, most people my age that I know are very technology-conscious, and new phones, games etc. are common playground talk. What isn’t talked about is all that old stuff that dad’s seem to always talk about. You can imagine then that I almost choked when I read about people in China hacking old Motorola DynaTAC 8000x phones to feature colour screens and GSM-compatibility.

The 8000x was one of the first mobile phones around, and had quite an impressive feature set: A whole 30 minutes of talk time and 8 hours of standby along with a price tag of $4,000. They’re also the size of a house brick. Why on earth then are the chinese fitting these antiquities with colour screens? Well… The original Engadget entry for the story had a link to the original article, sadly for us, it was in Chinese. Using the Babelfish translation engine, I gleaned a vital piece of information from the nonsense-filled, automatically translated page. The following quote surely explains everything: “However, everybody could not forget it the standard use: Defends self the person!”.

Chinese Man Talking On His Motorola Dynatec 8000xAh ha! So that’s it: These “mobile phones” are actually weapons. Guess that means the end of taking my phone on the plane then! Still… The smiling Chinese man talking on his glorified, colour LCD display-equipped brick does look so innocent!

While this article is not intended to be taken entirely seriously, it does highlight the weirdness of some of the stuff people do and how stuff like that spreads as a result of the Internet.

While I accept that some strange people might want their phone to look like a car battery with buttons, I can only hope that no-one attempts to resurrect Cher, because let’s face it: There’s no reason to.

Ed: We’ve got a few of the old Motorola Bricks around the Digital-Lifestyles office, that we picked up at DefCon seven years ago. We’d love to them converted for current use. But then again, we some of us remember them the first time around.

UK Broadband To Peak At 60% Adoption: Datamonitor

UK Broadband To Peak At 60% Adoption: DatamonitorBroadband adoption in the UK may soon be reaching its peak, according to a new report from Datamonitor.

The analyst firm says that although consumer adoption of broadband is at its fastest rate yet in Europe, it expects national broadband adoption to peak at around 60 per cent.

Broadband is currently used by at least half of all internet users in the UK, but looks set to follow the US market where broadband take-up has slowed sharply.

By the end of 2005, nearly eight million UK households should be hooked up to a broadband connection with report author Tim Gower predicting “a good eighteen months to two years of strong penetration increases across Western Europe before markets begin to mature.”

UK Broadband To Peak At 60% Adoption: DatamonitorAlthough we’re nearly broadbanded out in Europe, the report sees excellent opportunities for growth in less mature markets.

“The current situation in many markets is best described as one of rapidly increasing penetration, where broadband has effectively entered its growth sweet spot,” observed Gower.

“With some markets potentially experiencing changes in the household penetration of broadband of up to 10 per cent in a calendar year, service providers must be well positioned to take advantage of the forthcoming penetration acceleration, prior to the inevitable slowdown,” he added.

The report found that DSL and ADSL were the most popular broadband technologies, with adoption being driven by cheaper access rates, marketing campaigns and the growing popularity of broadband-reliant applications like iTunes.


IPTV Asia Forum

Key themes at the IPTV Asia Forum 2005 event will include; Different roll out and launch strategies of Asian IPTV Operators How Asian IPTV operators can clearly differentiate themselves from other pay TV operators New partnerships between operator and content provider; what is the role of IPTV within existing digital TV strategies? New business models emerging around IPTV services; bundling the triple play, what the consumer is prepared to pay for?Hong Konghttp://www.iptv-asia.net/

MetroNet Bought By PlusNet in £1.7m UK Broadband Deal

MetroNet Bought By PlusNet in UK Broadband DealMetroNet, UK broadband ISP, has been purchased by PlusNet in an all cash deal for £1.7m.

MetroNet, who came first in the most recent Which? survey of UK ISPs, happens to be the broadband provider to Digital-Lifestyles HQ. We’ve found them very impressive – the speed of the service is good, the customer services is rapid and responsive and their online software is solid.

MetroNet Bought By PlusNet in UK Broadband DealMetroNet has grown since their start in 2003 to 16,000 subscribers, turning over £2.1m bringing an operating profit of £40,000 in the year ended 31 March 2005. They have net cash of over £200,000 (update, final figures) £400,000. Bearing this in mind, we estimate that each subscriber has been valued at £93.75 £81.25.

PlusNet have been running for over eight years, and were, out of interest, 7th in the Which? survey that MetroNet topped. They currently have 150k users.

MetroNet Bought By PlusNet in UK Broadband DealSpeaking to PlusNet about the future of MetroNet, we were told that short term nothing will change. But longer term, as the purchase sinks in, MetroNet subscribers will be moved over to PlusNet network and 24-hour support system. They thought that longer term translated to some time next year.

PlusNet offer a number of services that MetroNet currently don’t, including a SIP-based VoIP system called PlusTalk which connects to other open standard systems like SIPGate.

MetroNet Bought By PlusNet in UK Broadband DealWe, and we assume other MetroNet subscribers, hope that the high quality of service that we’ve received from them continues, without interruption, in the transition to PlusNet.

An interesting feature of the broadband market in the UK is that changing to another provider is relatively painless, which makes it all the more important that a consistently good service is delivered to the subscriber.