Google+ Business Test Program will Move Up its Schedule

  • Google had originally planned to test business partners on Google+ sometime in the coming months, but strong interest has led to the company possibly announcing partners as early as next week.
  • Christian Oestlien, group product manager at Google, wrote this week that “thousands upon thousands” of businesses are interested in using Google+. And as a result, the demand “has got us very focused on accelerating our business plans.”
  • Several businesses — including Ford, Breaking News and Mashable — have already moved ahead by creating Google+ profiles for their brands.
  • Businesses interested in a partnership are being asked to submit their applications by Friday, July 15.

Netflix Announces Content Deal with NBCUniversal

  • On the heels of raising eyebrows regarding increased subscription rates, Netflix offered some good news yesterday when it announced it has renewed its licensing agreement with NBCUniversal.
  • The multi-year agreement includes TV shows such as “The Office” and “30 Rock” in addition to cable programs “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane” (future seasons will be available on a one-season delay basis).
  • Streaming access to Universal films such as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Motorcycle Diaries” has also been added.
  • “The content buying spree has purportedly been pricey, but Netflix maintains that it will pay for the new shows it acquires rights to by gradually moving customers away from its mail service.”

Insiders say Amazon Plans to Launch an iPad Rival

  • Amazon may be selling a tablet computer as early as October, report people familiar with the matter.
  • The new tablet is expected to feature a 9-inch screen and run on Android’s operating system (but will reportedly not include a camera). An Amazon-designed second tablet may be available next year.
  • Amazon is still expected to introduce two new Kindles in the third quarter.
  • With its own online retail operation, Amazon is well positioned to compete with Apple. Moreover, one analyst says Amazon can offer a cheaper alternative and make up the difference with movie, music and book sales.

Exclusive Look Inside RIM: Rise and Fall of the BlackBerry?

  • In the wake of recent negative press and pleas to management made public, BGR interviewed “multiple” ex-RIM executives and learned stories about the company’s overall “lack of vision and leadership.”
  • The two CEOs, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, are described as brilliant “irreplaceable leaders” who unfortunately did not listen to the marketplace over time. (For example: “There will never be a BlackBerry with an MP3 player or camera.”)
  • One significant problem involved the three-year roadmap that focused on refining technologies on existing phones, not on identifying or shaping future trends.
  • For example, one executive claimed RIM was proud of how LITTLE data a user would use so there was no R&D done on browsers.
  • Another claim suggests RIM views carriers, rather than the end users, as the customers.
  • In the tablet realm, execs claim the PlayBook was sold to carriers below margin and is not making RIM any money. Moreover, RIM did not reveal that the PlayBook would not have native email until the last minute. “RIM is notorious for dropping these bombshells at the 11th hour on the carriers, and the PlayBook not having native email was a shock to the carriers.”

Android OS Could Prove Big Business for Microsoft

  • Android is the global leader in smartphone platforms with over 500,000 daily activations, serving as an obvious advantage for Google.
  • However, Android’s success is also becoming a boon for Microsoft, which has negotiated agreements with several Android licensees to settle patent infringement claims, providing $5-10 for each device shipped.
  • With the potential of 500,000 activations per day, this could amount to $1 billion in value to Microsoft.
  • This amount would exceed the value of their Windows 7 and Bing businesses currently.

Piracy Takes to Broadway with The Book of Mormon

  • Trey Parker’s “The Book of Mormon” has joined the growing collection of pirated media available on the Internet.
  • In what may be a first for Broadway musicals, a bootlegger shot the popular award-winning production on video and made it available online.
  • The recording was made in March and is now available as a 1GB download on sharing sites.

Google Continues to Push its Social Networking Efforts

  • Eric Schmidt, executive chairman and former CEO of Google, says his company is continuing to experience strong demand for invitations to the new social network, Google+.
  • As previously reported on ETCentric, the network allows people to share links and media with others they have divided into “circles” of relationships.
  • If demand continues, Google will be looking at applying the social “circles” relationships to its search functionality and YouTube.
  • On Hulu, which Google is rumored to be bidding for, Schmidt explained that if there were any sort of deal, Hulu’s current TV shows would complement, not replace, YouTube’s online-only content.

Proposal: Develop a New Internet to Address Cybersecurity

  • The U.S. may want to create a new, more secure Internet infrastructure that would support critical services like banking, suggests former CIA director Michael Hayden.
  • The public Web would not be able to access this network making it more secure from the threat of cyberattacks.
  • Visitors on the secure network would need certified credentials. There would be no privacy. And network operators could scan traffic content.
  • The Obama administration and Congressional lawmakers are working on cybersecurity legislation that would increase oversight of commercial and government networks.

Smart TV Platform Flingo Merges Television and the Web

  • Flingo has created a development platform to integrate the Web and TV.
  • The company’s video demo shows how you can “fling” a YouTube video from your PC to your TV.
  • Their technology is already available in over half the TVs being sold including those from Samsung, LG, Vizio and Western Digital.
  • It is currently available on 5.7 million TVs in 117 countries. You can also buy Flingo-enabled Blu-ray players and Roku boxes.
  • The goal is to merge TV and the Web, allowing media partners like Fox, Showtime and others to build apps that integrate both.
  • Flingo was founded in 2008 by former BitTorrent employees Ashwin Navin and David Harrison.

Milestone: Apple Surpasses 15 Billion App Store Downloads

  • Apple announced the 15 billionth app download this week. The App Store has been open three years.
  • There are some 425,000 apps and 100,000 iPad apps available to users in 90 countries.
  • Apple has paid more than $2.5 billion to app developers to date.
  • From the Apple press release: “Users of the more than 200 million iOS devices around the world can choose from an incredible range of apps in 20 categories, including games, business, news, education, sports, health, reference and travel.”

IARPA Proposes Monitoring of Publicly Available Data

  • IARPA, a research arm of the intelligence community, is looking to fund the development of an Open Source Indicator (OSI).
  • The proposed OSI is intended to gather publicly available information in order to analyze, anticipate and/or detect societal disruptions, such as political crises, disease outbreaks, economic instability, resource shortages, and natural disasters.
  • From their proposal: “Many significant societal events are preceded and/or followed by population-level changes in communication, consumption, and movement. Some of these changes may be indirectly observable from publicly available data, such as Web search trends, blogs, microblogs, Internet traffic, webcams, financial markets, and many others. Published research has found that many of these data sources are individually useful in the early detection of events such as disease outbreaks and macroeconomic trends. However, little research has examined the value of combinations of data from diverse sources. The OSI Program seeks to develop methods for continuous, automated analysis of publicly available data. The Program will aim to develop methods that ‘beat the news’ by fusing early indicators of events from multiple data sources and types.”

ISPs Agree to Voluntary Copyright Enforcement Plan

  • Hollywood studios and music recording labels announced an agreement with major ISPs including AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon in which the ISPs agree to send “copyright alerts” to consumers who have accessed pirated content.
  • The intention is to educate, not punish.
  • A 2007 study showed that a “large majority” of those who receive alerts will stop the illegal activity.
  • If the alerts have no effect, mitigation measures may be pursued. Consumers will have the option of an independent review for a $35 fee.
  • Mitigation measures begin with the fifth or sixth alert, and may include: “temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter.”

Tablet-Notebook Convergence: Ultra-Thin, Touch-Sensitive Devices

  • “Tablets aren’t cannibalizing notebooks; they’re converging with them,” writes John Paczkowski in a WSJ article about how fears regarding an iPad takeover of PC sales is overblown.
  • Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi sees tablets and notebooks converging as solid-state storage, low-power processors, app stores, touch interfaces, and lighter weights continue to span both platforms.
  • Sacconaghi predicts there will be notebooks of iPad weight with touchscreens and integrated keypads for under $1,000 which may undermine sales of tablets.
  • Paczkowski concludes: “In other words, the cannibalized becomes the cannibal. And in the end, it turns out that the post-PC era doesn’t mean that the PC is dead, but rather that it’s been born anew as a converged device — an ultrathin, touch-sensitive notebook.”

Are 3D Glasses Hindering the Adoption of 3D TV?

  • “Almost everyone interested in seeing 3D on a home TV would be much happier if they didn’t have to wear those awkward glasses to do it,” writes TVTechnology.
  • While autostereoscopic 3D is available for small screens such as the Nintendo 3DS, it is not yet practical for large flat screen displays.
  • Both lenticular and parallax technologies exhibit sweet spots where the illusion is best.
  • Phil Lelyveld, ETC’s Consumer 3D Experience Lab program manager, says we’re many years away from a marketable product.
  • “3D is the one of the first art forms that impacts your visual system and can have a health response on it,” says Lelyveld. “Some autostereoscopic display technologies can be very age-dependent, and market research has found that people in their early 20’s and younger can more readily accept the AS3D effect, but people in their 20’s and older find it very annoying.”

Law Professors Argue that Protect IP Act is Unconstitutional

  • Some 90 law professors have signed a joint letter opposing the Protect IP Act which is intended to deal with copyright infringement. The Act is currently being reviewed by Congress.
  • The letter contends that the Act’s domain-blocking provisions can be viewed as Internet censorship, which is barred by the First Amendment.
  • “The Act would allow courts to order any Internet service to stop recognizing [a] site even on a temporary restraining order… issued the same day the complaint is filed” without allowing for an adversary proceeding, which has been required by the Supreme Court.
  • Moreover, blocking an entire domain when infringing material exists in a subdomain is equivalent to “burning the house to roast the pig.”