Most Popular Smartphone Platforms: Android, iOS, BlackBerry

  • Google’s Android continues its lead over all other smartphone platforms, according to the latest quarterly report from comScore.
  • However, Apple has overtaken Research In Motion’s BlackBerry for second place among U.S. smartphone software providers.
  • Android grew from 33 percent to 38.1 percent, while Apple grew to 26.6 percent and RIM declined to 24.7 percent.
  • Microsoft and Palm both showed declines as well.
  • In terms of handsets, Samsung currently leads with 24.8 percent of the smartphones in circulation while Motorola remains in second place.

Cloud Music Services Continue to Face Legal Questions

  • The legal debate continues regarding the divergent approaches to cloud-based music lockers proposed by Amazon, Google and Apple.
  • The 2008 Cablevision decision in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals allowed for a remote DVR feature (when done at the direction of users and separate copies were stored for each user as would be done for an in-home DVR). The decision is the strongest legal case for a music locker service.
  • EMI’s current suit against MP3tunes.com will also impact the situation. EMI asserts that music locker services must remove material if they become “aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent.”
  • While Apple has signed agreements with the major labels, it has not yet done so with smaller labels.
  • According to Ars Technica: “Either Apple wasted millions of dollars on licenses it doesn’t need, or Amazon and Google are vulnerable to massive copyright lawsuits.”
  • Google and Amazon will assert their rights under DMCA Safe Harbor and the Cablevision case. In addition, they may have some protection under rights they have to sell music through their online stores.

Google Misses Out on Nortel Patent Portfolio

  • Google missed out on the $4.5 billion auction for Nortel’s patents, losing to a consortium made up of Apple, Microsoft, EMC, Ericsson, RIM, and Sony.
  • Google’s loss of the patent portfolio puts its Android platform at a disadvantage, and the company will not have access to over 6,000 patents covering a range of technologies.
  • It has been reported that Google may respond with a Restraint of Trade suit in an attempt to force the consortium to license some or all of the patents.
  • The consortium’s participants will likely take key patents for their own use. For example, Apple’s $2 billion may give it ownership of Nortel’s LTE (4G) patents.

MySpace Efforts May Have Cost News Corp. More Than Millions

  • ETCentric reported earlier in the week that social networking site MySpace would be sold to Irvine-based advertising firm Specific Media for $35 million in cash and stock.
  • Although News Corp. has claimed that its Google ad deals helped curb MySpace losses over the recent years, others suggest a darker picture.
  • The sale of MySpace for a mere 6 percent of its original $580 million purchase price may be yet another chapter in a disappointing tale, one which started with a failed attempt to build an all-service media empire.
  • Ars Technica suggests that when considering the entire picture, including the operating losses over the years, the MySpace acquisition may have cost News Corp. well over $1 billion (read the article for a breakdown of the math).
  • Specific Media, with Justin Timberlake as a backer, is expected to focus on music for MySpace’s new direction.

google

Google Launches WDYL.com: What Do You Love?

  • Google quietly launched WDYL.com this week, a new site that presents search results across 20 different products/widgets on one page.
  • The acronym asks the question: “What do you love?”
  • WDYL.com was launched without fanfare or marketing, and while little more is known about it at this time, a box at the bottom of each search result suggests: “More coming soon.”
  • According to TechCrunch: “The most striking thing about the new site is that it seems pretty well designed — not always a given with Google.”

acquisition

Social Networker MySpace to Be Sold to California Ad Agency

  • News Corp. is in the process of selling once-popular social networking site MySpace to Specific Media, an Irvine-based ad network.
  • The cash and stock deal is reportedly valued at $35 million — a mere 6 percent of the $580 million News Corp. paid for the site in 2005 (although News Corp. claims it made back its investment earlier from a Google ad deal).
  • The one-time leading social networking destination, MySpace was decimated by the global popularity of Facebook.
  • Specific Media is expected to return MySpace to its music roots as a location to discover new bands and songs.
  • The sale comes in the same week that Google announces its own new networking service, designed to directly challenge Facebook for dominance in the space.
  • Facebook is presently valued at more than $70 billion.

Multiplatform News: Google Acquires SageTV

  • Google announced it has acquired Inglewood, California-based SageTV and the company’s multiplatform DVR technology.
  • SageTV integrates broadcast, Internet, Netflix and Hulu via its Home Theater PC (HTPC) software.
  • SageTV Placeshifter enables users to view TV from any high-speed Internet connection, similar to Slingbox.
  • Although details have yet to be announced, we may see SageTV functionality incorporated into Google TV.
  • From the SageTV site: “We’ve seen how Google’s developer efforts are designed to stimulate innovation across the web, and as developers have played a core role in the success of SageTV, we think our shared vision for open technology will help us advance the online entertainment experience.”
  • The Engadget post features the SageTV press release and a 4-minute video (created by user jaredduq).

Average YouTube Viewer Watches 5 Hours of Videos per Month

  • According to comScore’s May 2011 online video rankings, the average U.S. Internet user watched almost 16 hours of video last month.
  • The report indicates the total U.S. audience engaged in more than 5.6 billion viewing sessions during May, while 83.3 percent viewed online video.
  • Not surprisingly, Google’s YouTube was was the leading video site (again) with 147.2 million unique viewers, and an average of five hours spent per viewer on the site.
  • VEVO followed YouTube with 60.4 million viewers, Yahoo had 55.5 million viewers, and Facebook took the fourth spot with 48.2 million viewers.
  • Hulu had the highest number of video ad impressions at more than 1.3 billion.
  • The average length of online video content was 5.2 minutes.

AllThingsDigital1-300x200

Best of D9: All Things Digital Conference

Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher of The Wall Street Journal hosted the D9 (D: All Things Digital) conference May 31 to June 2 in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The annual event featured compelling interviews and demonstrations from an array of top media and technology executives representing companies such as HP, Twitter, AT&T, Nokia, Netflix, Disney, Adobe and many more.

The D conference was established in 2003 by columnists Mossberg and Swisher as an annual showcase for technology innovators and big names from the worlds of business, entertainment and occasionally politics. This year the title was “D9″ (indicating its ninth year). The conference is known for hosting influential heavy-hitters and its somewhat exclusive nature. Typically, attendance is limited to about 500 guests.

ETCentric readers were quick to forward relevant news items and announcements that emerged during this year’s show. The following is a collection of links to articles and videos submitted by our readers, accompanied by their comments:

 

D9 Video: Eric Schmidt Highlights

  • Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are successfully exploiting global platform strategies.
  • Challenge working with entertainment companies since taking content from scarcity to ubiquity.
  • Also need to deal with disintermediation and piracy. On privacy, Google will remain a place where you can do anonymous searches. And committed to insuring you have control over information they have on you.
  • We’re seeing the consumerization of IT that will lead to the death of IT as we know it.
  • There are not sufficient resources to develop for more than the two largest players: Google and Apple.
  • Search is moving from link-based answers to algorithmically-based answers using artificial intelligence.
  • Concerned about a balkanization of the Internet, which will lead to an Internet per country.
  • If you’re concerned about security, use the Chrome browser and use a Mac.

 

Google Shows Off Its Groupon Killer, Launching Tomorrow

  • Video of Eric Schmidt’s demo of Google Wallet and Google Offers.
  • Google is not charging a processing fee but is taking a share of the offer.
  • Credit card companies are willing to upgrade the POS terminals to get benefits of higher security.
  • Lookout Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.!!!

 

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason on Google, Clones and Hubris – But Not on an IPO

  • CEO sees Groupon evolving in three phases so far: One – the Daily Deal, Two – Personalized Deals, and Three – a technology company where they become more integral to a person’s daily life (i.e. wherever they are and whatever they want to do, they can get a deal right now based on the inventory of available deals).
  • Could you use Groupon to sell media?

 

D9 Video: Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky on Windows 8

  • 95 percent of how the world gets on the Internet is through Windows.
  • Windows 8 will be a “modern” rethink to enable PCs and tablets to satisfy “things they say are solved in an iPad” and still bring all the benefits of Windows.
  • Video demo of Windows 8 showing touch-based UI (can still use mouse too), live tiles.
  • Targeting 2012.

 

D9 Video: Fanhattan Demo

  • Free video discovery app Fanhattan launched at D9 this week.
  • The iPad app serves as a directory and discovery engine, sourcing reviews and ratings from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, while organizing related content from the likes of YouTube, IMDb and Amazon.
  • Also shows pre-release version running on an Internet TV which is capable of creating a branded movie page in this case for Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • It connects to iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and the ABC Player to view TV and movies.
  • CNET review: “This free iPad app sounds simple–it finds stuff about movies and TV shows you want to watch–but the depth of the content, utility of what the site does, and clarity of the interface just puts this app on a different level than anything else I’ve seen.”

 

D9 Video: Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker

  • WebOS will be available to other companies and enterprises for their own use.
  • Goal is to create an end-to-end ecosystem that figures out on a single device in the Cloud whether you’re doing enterprise or private work.
  • HP can create a large ecosystem of printers, PCs and tablets amounting to 100 million devices a year itself. They hope to interest others as well.

 

D9 Video: Reed Hastings Highlights

  • On Netflix’s virtuous cycle: the more content they get, the more members they get and they can pay more for content.
  • Consumers want all the new stuff but that’s very expensive.
  • At $8/month, they’re a compliment to the new stuff.
  • The news stuff will remain pay-per-view since has higher margin for content owners.
  • Can grow from 24 million subscribers currently to capture Internet TV and tablet viewers plus a share of the 5 billion active mobile phone users worldwide who like video.
  • Need to stay innovative.
  • Focus on talent density, which is the fewest number of talented people.

 

D9 Video: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo

  • Took three years to send the first billion tweets. Now sends a billion tweets every SIX days!
  • There are over 600,000 developers who have downloaded over 900,000 API tokens.
  • Will look to TweetDeck (recently acquired) as the professional UI.
  • Rolling out a native photo sharing app, relevance sorted search results and web intents which allows you to add a Twitter client into your website. 80 percent of advertisers using promoted tweets renew.
  • Advertisers are experiencing very high engagement rates (VW’s ad: 52%).
  • Focused on success of business, not IPO.

 

DARPA – The Coolest Agency You’ve Never Heard Of: Regina Dugan at D9

  • Regina Dugan’s DARPA t-shirt says “Impossible, Improbable, Inevitable” which describes the progression of their programs.
  • Developed Internet, GPS, stealth, night vision, UAV, MEMS technologies.
  • DARPA’s Mission is the “prevention and creation of strategic surprise.”
  • Encourages programs to have the big success.
  • So that means they can’t fear failure. Fear of failure is the limiting factor.
  • Talks about growth in need for cyber security, new computing architectures, explosive detection system.

 

D9 Tech Demo: Inkling

  • Inkling reinvents the college textbook for the iPad that is both interactive and social.
  • Rather than paying $200 for a book, you can buy it a chapter at a time for far less cost since the content is not re-sold like a physical book.
  • See impressive video demo.

Next-Gen Animators Adopt Online Model

  • YouTube’s profit-sharing Partner Program enables animators to be their own bosses, reach out directly to potential audiences while enjoying a cut of the traffic.
  • So far, approximately 20,000 program participants have gained hundreds of thousands of subscribers and tens of millions of monthly views.
  • For the more successful, this has translated into incomes in the high six figures.
  • In addition to becoming a viable platform for earning, the program serves as a launching pad for emerging talent (companies are perusing the YouTube content as a means of recruiting).
  • “It’s been a huge game-changer,” says Aaron Simpson, VP of animation and business development for Mondo Media. “Profit sharing had been done a bit before on some websites, but not on the huge scale that YouTube allows.”

YouTube_VidEditor-300x199

Expanding Video Library Available for Legal Remixing through YouTube Editor

Google-owned YouTube announced last week that its YouTube Video Editor now features access to more than 10,000 Creative Commons-licensed videos, including clips from partners such as C-SPAN, Voice of America, Public.Resource.org and Al-Jazeera. “It’s as if all the Creative Commons videos were part of your personal library,” explained product manager Jason Toff.

According to the YouTube Blog announcement: “As part of the launch of Creative Commons licensing on YouTube, you’ll also be able to mark any or all of your videos with the Creative Commons CC-BY 3.0 license that lets others share and remix your work, so long as they give you credit.”

Creative Commons is “a nonprofit organization that develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing and innovation.” It was co-founded by Harvard professor and political activist Lawrence Lessig. The Creative Commons licensing process will provide YouTube users with a simple mechanism for legally integrating existing video content into remixes, mashups, music videos and more. TIME reports that the CC-BY 3.0 license “allows for sharing, remixing/adapting and commercial use of the original, as long as the original author is credited.”

CC-BY also allows for commercial reuse, which will not only benefit YouTube and its producers, but in the long run should have an impact on Creative Commons as well. GigaOM reports: “The organization has gotten a lot of traction amongst photographers ever since Flickr added a Creative Commons licensing options as part of its uploading process. Recent Flickr data reveals the site is now hosting close to 190 million Creative Commons-licensed photos. Its licenses haven’t been nearly as popular in the video space, where it has only been adopted by smaller hosting sites and select individual publishers. YouTube’s sheer magnitude could help to make Creative Commons mainstream for video as well.”

Related Wired article: “Google Rolls Out YouTube Creative Commons Licenses” (6/2/11)

Related TIME article: “YouTube Adds Creative Commons to Clips, Allows Legal Remixing” (6/3/11)

Related YouTube Blog post: “YouTube and Creative Commons: raising the bar on user creativity” (6/2/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “YouTube’s Payouts to Channel Partners Come With Strings” (6/3/11)

Apple-cloud-music-300x192

Apple Close to Launching Cloud-Based Music Service

Earlier this month, ETCentric reported that Apple has been planning a cloud-based music locker service that will enable its customers to stream music to smartphones, tablets or computers. As progress continues regarding deals with the major music labels, the new service may launch sooner than originally reported — with rumors speculating possibly as soon as June 6 in San Francisco at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2011).

The Apple proposal is different from Amazon’s recent Cloud Drive rollout and Google’s Music locker service (the beta for which was announced at Google I/O). As reported, Apple is seeking paid licenses from the labels for its service (Amazon and Google launched their services without gaining such approval). Bloomberg reports that Apple has reached agreements with three of the major labels (Sony, EMI and Warner) — with Universal Music Group close to a deal.

By jumping the gun, Amazon and Google may have helped Apple position itself to take the lead in this arena. As TechCrunch reports: “So the labels, which for the better part of a decade now have been looking for someone, anyone to help counter Apple’s power in their business, is turning right back to Apple when they need help. And Apple will obviously gladly welcome them with open arms. After all, with these licenses, Apple will have secured the cloud music high ground despite being the last to launch. Think about it. With these agreements, Apple is likely going to be able to do the one thing that is absolutely crucial for cloud music to take off: offer library syncing without uploading.”

Plus, Apple has the benefit of an existing consumer base, with 200 million people who already have iTunes accounts. There has also been speculation that the cloud music service may be integrated with a revamped version of MobileMe, Apple’s subscription-based collection of online services and storage.

CNET raises two interesting points:

1. There’s no doubt who the top-four record companies are pulling for in the cloud music wars. They hope Apple’s service makes the other two guys look shabby by comparison. The thinking is that if Apple’s service eclipses those of its rivals, it will prompt Amazon and Google to pay the labels’ licensing rates.

2. What nobody has proven yet is whether consumers even want the cloud. CNET has reported that Apple is likely to charge a subscription fee eventually for its cloud service. Subscription music services, such as Rhapsody, have a spotty record at attracting audiences.

Related TechCrunch article: “Google And Amazon May Have Just Handed Apple The Keys To The Cloud Music Kingdom” (5/18/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “For a Song, Online Giants Offer Music in a Cloud” (5/19/11)

Related Patently Apple article: “Whoa! Apple Patent Confirms iTunes Cloud Media Services” (5/19/11)

Related CNET article: “Exclusive: Apple near cloud-music deals” (5/18/11)

Related TechCrunch article: “Without The Labels, Google’s Music Locker Service Will Look Like Apple’s Ugly Sibling. Again.” (5/9/11)

chromebook-300x168

Google Unveils Its New Chrome OS Netbooks

Anxious to promote its new Web-based Chrome operating system introduced this week at Google I/O in San Francisco, Google announced its plans to begin selling netbooks based on the Chrome OS starting June 15. The devices, aimed primarily at enterprise customers, will use Web-based applications rather than storing software.

The new Chromebooks will initially take the form of Wi-Fi- and 3G-based laptops from Acer and Samsung that will start at $350 (available from retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy). Verizon will offer 3-year 3G contracts priced at $28/month for up to 100MB of wireless data usage.

Google also announced a new feature to the Chrome Web Store that will enable developers to configure one-touch in-app purchases. Google will reportedly take only 5 percent of the purchase price (comparatively, Apple takes 30 percent).

According to InformationWeek: “The pricing of Google’s subscription plan is modest: For $28 per user per month, businesses will receive Chromebooks, Web-based administration controls, enterprise-level support, a warranty, and hardware replacement upon subscription renewal. Schools and governments have access to the subscription package for $20 per user per month. Access to Google Apps for Business is not included; it will continue to be offered for $50 per user per year.”

Related CNN Money article: “Google makes push for the Enterprise with Chrome” (5/12/11)

Related PC Magazine article: “Hands On: Samsung Series 5 Chromebook” (5/12/11)

YouTube_Logo-300x173

YouTube Adds 3,000 Titles to Streaming Movie Rental Service

YouTube is going Hollywood with its new streaming VOD service that may provide some competition to services from the likes of iTunes, Hulu and Netflix. YouTube Movies now offers current mainstream features in addition to trailers, reviews, alternate endings, behind-the-scenes specials, cast interviews, and other extras. (You can browse current titles and check out the interface at the YouTube Movies page.)

This may prove to be a big move for Google (YouTube’s parent company), which no doubt hopes consumers will use Google TV (with updated Android 3.1 this summer) to stream rented movies. YouTube has been renting and offering movies for free with ads for more than a year, but the titles have been less than current.

According to the FAQ section of the company’s press release, YouTube has added approximately 3,000 new titles, “including catalog and new releases from Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, NBC Universal, Lionsgate Films and many great independent studios. This brings the total number of movie titles available to rent on YouTube to over 6,000.”

Viewers will have 30 days to begin watching a rental and, in most cases, will have up to 24 hours to complete viewing.

Engadget reports: “The pricing is $2.99/$3.99 for movies viewable via PC or Google TV (no other device support is mentioned) and the FAQ notes that YouTube supports resolutions up to 4K but ‘most’ of the new additions are sadly in SD, a choice which is apparently up to its partners.”

YouTube is betting that consumers are ready for a change in their viewing habits. Head of YouTube, Salar Kamangar writes on the company’s blog: “You’re finding more and more of the content you love on YouTube, which is now available on 350 million devices. We know this because you’re watching videos to the tune of 2 billion views a day. But you’re spending just 15 minutes a day on YouTube, and spending five hours a day watching TV. As the lines between online and offline continue to blur, we think that’s going to change.”

Related Engadget post (including YouTube press release and FAQ): “YouTube adds 3,000 movies for rental from Universal, Sony, Warner Bros.” (5/9/11)

Related article from TheWrap: “YouTube Finally Goes Hollywood With New Movies on Demand Service” (4/25/11)

Related article from TheWrap: “Mark Cuban: YouTube Can Change the World, But It Can’t Make Money Streaming” (4/14/11)

AndroidMarket-300x215

Google News: Updated OS, New Google TV Partners, Cloud Music Service

Google has been making headlines the last few days as product and service announcements continue to emerge from the Google I/O 2011 conference in San Francisco (live streaming, photos, announcements and a Twitter feed are available on the Google I/O site).

Much of the news is surrounding OS changes, the availability of cloud-based Music Beta, and a potential revitalization of Google TV.

Gizmodo reports that the Android Marketplace may have the greatest impact on Google TV when it launches later this summer: “At first, it’ll just be apps from Google-approved developers to set standards. The most awesome kind of app we’re going to see are multi-screen apps — apps specifically designed to span your Android phone/tablet to the TV. Google’s going to pushing them totally hard as a huge part of what makes Google TV special. Think things like poker games on the big screen, with individual controls on your own phone/tablet. And other crazy ways to control Google TV from your phone from app developers.”

Some of the recent Google announcements include:

  • The anticipated Google TV update to Android 3.1 will be available this summer.
  • There are new hardware partners for Google TV (for example, Samsung and Vizio are joining Logitech and Sony as hardware vendors).
  • Google has added movie rentals to the Android Market, accessible from Android devices and the Internet (similar to YouTube’s new rental service).
  • Android@Home framework for home automation is a future platform that will enable interaction with home media equipment, dishwashers, cars, lights, security systems and more via any connected device.
  • The next version of Google’s Android operating system, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich, will merge the phone and tablet versions of the OS.
  • The beta version of Google’s cloud music service is now available (and like Amazon’s earlier launch of a similar cloud service, Google is forging ahead without approval of the major music labels).

Check out the posts below for more details…

Related Engadget post: “Google announces Android@Home framework for home automation” (5/10/11)

Related Ars Technica post: “Google announces Android Ice Cream Sandwich will merge phone and tablet OSes” (5/10/11)

Related ZDNet post: “Google TV getting update to Android 3.1, access to Android Market this summer. Will it be enough?” (5/11/11)

Related Gizmodo post and video: “Google Music: Upload and Stream All Your Tunes From the Cloud” (5/10/11)

Related All Things Digital article: “Google Launching Its Cloud Service Tomorrow, Without Big Music’s Approval” (5/9/11)

Related GigaOM post and video: “Google Forces Roku to Take Down Its YouTube Channel” (4/21/11)

Related WSJ article about gathering info from mobile phones: “Apple, Google Take Heat” (5/11/11)

Related Engadget post: “Google TV shows off new Honeycomb UI, plans for Market, SDK; opens up remote app source code” (5/11/11)

Related New York Times article: “Google’s Digital Music Service Falls Short of Ambition” (5/10/11)