Apple/TiVo Bid Rumours Considered

TiVo jumps on Apple bid rumoursRumours pointing at Apple as a potential bidder for TiVo have given the digital video recorder company’s shares a healthy boost – and got people wondering whether the deal would be a good fit.

TiVo’s technology which allows viewers to skip ads breaks and to pause and rewind live television made it a must-have gadget, although some of the competition is catching up.

As of 31 January this year, TiVo had a subscription base of 3 million (the majority of them from DirecTV), and said it’d added around 698,000 subscriptions during its fourth quarter. And the company has said it is not for sale.

But for some, a tie-up between Apple and TiVo would be a marriage made in gadget heaven, bringing together some of the coolest gadgets – and brands – the industry has thought up in the last few years. And it is possible to see a few areas where it would make sense.

With Apple’s stock running at such a high price and TiVo’s suffering, the purchase of TiVo (the whole company is currently valued at under $400m), could be easy – almost a rounding error.

TiVo jumps on Apple bid rumoursNearly every media and technology company is aiming at the living room now, either with Media Centre-style PCs or other digital hubs to spread content such as video and music around the home.

For Apple, bringing video to its massively popular iPod would certainly be an understandable step, perhaps allowing users to dock the iPod with the TiVo and download favourite shows. But it is hard to see how popular this would be in the short term.

Neither TiVo nor Apple are commenting on the rumours. Other media giants have been floated as potential buyers for TiVo as well, and financial analysts remain split on whether any deal is on the cards.


$100 PC Touted by Negroponte for Developing World

$100 PC Touted by Negroponte for Developing WorldA $100 (€76, £53) laptop computer for the developing world has been touted at the World Economic Forum in Davos by Nicholas Negroponte, founding chairman of MIT’s Media Lab.

The computer will have a 14-inch color screen and will run the Linux operating system. According to Red Herring magazine, Negroponte is looking for support from companies such as chip giant AMD, Google, Motorola, Samsung, and News Corporation.

The first units could be ready in about 18 months, Red Herring said.
The developing world is increasingly a target of technology companies – Microsoft has built a slimmed-down version of Windows XP for the Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Russian markets, as part of its Windows XP Starter Edition pilot programme. In part this reflects its desire to fight off Linux, which is becoming increasingly popular in these new markets.

Another source of PCs for the developing world is recycling. Every year in the UK 3 million PCs taken out of service, but many are still in good working order. In contrast most schoolchildren in the developing world graduate from high school not having seen a computer in the classroom, and there are a number of charities which take these PCs and reuse them in the developing world.

In related news, MIT has announced that Media Lab Europe, launched in 2000 by the Irish government and MIT will close on February 1 due to a shortfall in financing.

Red Herring Aims to Shakeup Music Downloads

EasyMusicCheaper legal download sites will shake up the online music industry, according to Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Last month Haji-Ioannou launched his download site, in collaboration with online music service Wippit, and predicts that cost-efficient digital downloads will take over from CDs.

He told the BBC World Service’s The Music Biz programme: “There were people who said when I started Easyjet that £29 ($54, €42) would ruin the airline industry. Far from it – it has made some companies less profitable, but it has forced them to compete, and therefore become leaner and more competitive.”

The site includes tracks from more than 200 labels, including Universal, Warner, BMG, Sony and EMI, with single downloads starting at 25p, ($0.47, €0.36) and UK users can also pay by SMS.

It also plans to includes downloads on a ‘copyleft’ – the opposite of copyright – basis, giving downloaders access to new music for free.

But is just one of number of new legal download sites launched in the last 12 months to take on market leaders such as

According to figures from recording industry association IFPI, legal music sites quadrupled to over 230 in 2004, and the available music catalogue has doubled in 12 months to 1 million songs.
And while IFPI chairman and chief executive John Kennedy may say it is now the “priority” of the record industry to licence music “to as many services, for as many consumers, on as many formats and devices for use in as many places and countries as it can”, music sites may struggle to cut the cost of downloads unless they can persuade the record companies to cut back on their margins.

And of course many consumers still prefer to get their music for free – IFPI calculates there are 870 million pirate tracks on the Internet.

eContentplus €149m Digital Content Fund Get EU OK

EU IST eContentplusThe European Parliament has voted in favour of a new programme to promote the European digital content market, setting it a budget of €149m (~$194m, ~£103m) for the next three years.

The eContentplus programme aims to tackle the fragmentation of the European digital content market by supporting the development of multi-lingual content for innovative, online services.

“The internet offers a unique opportunity for content companies to outgrow their so far mostly national markets”, said Viviane Reding, the Commissioner responsible for Information Society and Media.
“The eContentplus programme will facilitate the production and distribution of online European content, thus stimulating innovation and creativity. At the same time it will help to preserve and share Europe’s cultural and linguistic identities and give them a more prominent place on the Internet,” Reding added.

The European Parliament voted in favour of the programme with only one amendment, which sets the budget of the programme at €149m for the period 2005-2008. Reding said the new budget was a substantial increase in comparison to the previous programme.

The eContentplus programme will concentrate on the parts of the digital content market where there is clear fragmentation in Europe, and where market forces have not been enough to drive growth.

It targets three areas – spatial or geographical data, educational material and cultural content.

In the case of geographical data such as post codes, planning and land registration details, fragmentation occurs because different member states collect and store data in different ways.

If the programme can reduce this fragmentation, it can open the way for new EU-wide information services using this data in areas such as transportation, navigation, emergency response and environmental management.

The eContentplus programme is part of a set of measures to boost innovation and creativity in the converging content market, including the MEDIAplus programme, and the modernisation of the Television Without Frontiers Directive, due later this year.