Television’s future remains murky as content providers and cable companies get ready for battle, and streaming services continue to gain momentum.
“But change is going to come, and amid news that Google is interested in entering the cable TV business and continued rumors that Apple will be releasing its own branded television set, we also have to wonder what’s going to happen with streaming services like Hulu and Netflix,” reports Digital Trends.
The article suggests it is the cable companies that have the most to worry about (those that control the last model). “Forget applications having a say in all this: The real war is going to be fought between cable networks and the content providers that want to move on to a new format.”
“Farther off, I think [YouTube] will challenge Hulu first. Netflix is more like a library. Google is a beast and you have to keep an eye on those guys,” TalkPoint CEO Nick Balletta says. “They have the muscle and cash to weather the storm.”
Balletta believes adoption of connected TVs will take root by late 2012, and before then we’ll see significant fragmentation before we can truly cut the cord.
Google previously announced a high-speed Internet service project in Missouri and Kansas. The Wall Street Journal now reports that insiders indicate Google may expand the project to include a phone and video service, with channels from Disney, Time Warner and Discovery.
Google has other ventures in the television business including its new Google TV software update and announced deals to produce around 100 free, ad-supported online YouTube channels.
A former Google product director said, “Internet companies like Google will be able to give you [the] same high-quality content” as cable and satellite prices and possibly at lower prices as more TVs connect to the Web.
Nothing has been confirmed about Google’s plans to expand the project to wider areas. But if the company follows through, it “could unleash a new wave of competition within the traditional TV business,” suggests WSJ.
Google has developed a new indexing plan that marks a shift in its traditionally passive approach.
“Mind what you say in Facebook comments,” reports Wired, “Google will soon be indexing them and serving them up as part of the company’s standard search results.”
“Google’s all-seeing search robots still can’t find comments on private pages within Facebook, but now any time you use a Facebook comment form on other sites, or a public page within Facebook, those comments will be indexed by Google.”
The article suggests the new policy may upset developers and users alike.
“There are two primary requests you can initiate on the Web,” explains Wired. “GET requests are intended for reading data, POST for changing or adding data. That’s why search engine robots like Google’s have always stuck to GET crawling. There’s no danger of the Googlebot altering a site’s data with GET, it just reads the page, without ever touching the actual data. Now that Google is crawling POST pages the Googlebot is no longer a passive observer, it’s actually interacting with — and potentially altering — the websites it crawls.”
Analyst Anthony DiClemente of investment firm Barclays Capital estimates YouTube’s revenues at $1.6 billion, which suggests the “site’s revenue has now synced up with the price Google paid for it five years ago,” reports AllThingsD.
Analysts debate the global percentage of Web video revenues YouTube has captured, but seem to agree that it “is finally a big business that makes serious money.”
Is the Hollywood channels strategy the next big step for YouTube to take on the traditional TV and cable networks?
“The big idea behind that one, after all, is to create stuff that advertisers will be happy to pay a premium for,” suggest the article. “But if YouTube is already generating $1.6 billion a year for non-premium stuff, why bother?”
AllThingsD suggests that the new “channel strategy is a big focus for YouTube, but it doesn’t mean the site is abandoning what’s already working.”
Malware has grown dramatically on Android’s open operating system compared to Apple’s closed iOS.
“Juniper Networks says Android malware traffic rose by 400 percent between June 2010 and January 2011,” reports Forbes. “Lookout Mobile Security reported a 250 percent jump in smartphone malware from January to June 2011.”
QR malware codes are becoming increasingly popular. Hackers are looking to acquire personal information, especially banking info.
“Apple has a walled garden, with its curating of apps for its App Store, so it’s had far fewer instances of malware, but Android is far more porous,” John Dasher, McAfee senior director of mobile security, told the Financial Times. “There are more than a dozen apps sites, it’s very easy to download apps and ‘sideload’ apps on to a device, and so it’s far easier for a hacker to get an app published that contains malware.”
Google announced this week the beta release of Chrome, which “enables users to sync different accounts across multiple computers,” reports ReadWriteWeb. “This allows more than one person to sign into Chrome on a shared computer and have access to all their browser data. It also enables one person to have different Chrome profiles with different email addresses, e.g. work and personal, that can all be accessed from any computer by logging in.”
Chrome already syncs personal settings such as bookmarks, extensions and passwords to a user’s account, but the new beta “makes it possible to use multiple Chrome accounts on any copy of the browser.”
Google acknowledges this feature provides convenience at the cost of privacy.
The Google blog notes that it “isn’t intended to secure your data against other people using your computer,” since “all it takes is a couple of clicks to switch between users.”
“Google, Microsoft, Citigroup, IBM, GE and other top-tier American companies on Thursday urged the United States to fight for trade rules that protect the free flow of information over the Internet,” reports Reuters.
The coalition criticized federal requirements for companies to have their data centers within a country’s borders to provide services. Additionally, the group argued against governments blocking access to services such as Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and YouTube.
The group says future U.S. trade pacts must “reflect the new realities of the global economy: specifically, the contribution of the Internet toward economic growth, toward job creation and exports,” said Bob Boorstin, director of public policy for Google.
“Even when Internet curbs are intended to support legitimate public interests such as national security of law enforcement, businesses can suffer when those rules are unclear, arbitrary, unevenly applied or more trade restrictive than they need to be to achieve their objectives,” suggests the group’s paper.
“We want the free flow of data just like we want the free flow of goods and services,” said Nuala O’Connor Kelly, chief privacy leader at General Electric. “In the information age, data is our widget.”
Viber Media is a provider of iPhone and Android apps that enable free text and talk capabilities over 3G and Wi-Fi networks. GigaOM points out that the apps are “built upon a foundation of the MongoDB NoSQL database running atop the Amazon Web Services cloud.”
According to a MongoDB press release issued this week: “Viber enables users to talk and text for free with other Viber users without having to sign up, create a separate account, or log in. Once the app is launched, the user simply enters his or her cell number and is automatically part of the community.”
“MongoDB manages the intercommunity data exchange that enables users to call and text one another,” adds the press release. “Each time a Viber user connects a cell phone to the network, MongoDB receives call-related information.”
Viber’s 130 nodes handle a reported “11 million minutes of calls daily by Viber’s 18 million active users.” GigaOM suggests Viber can be viewed as the “prototypical case study for both NoSQL and cloud computing.”
In his compelling O’Reilly Radar post, digital media entrepreneur Mark Sigal offers his take on the post-PC wave and its major players.
Post-PC is the fourth computing wave that follows mainframes, PCs, and the Web.
Sigal suggests that Post-PC devices, which Morgan Stanley expects to number 10 billion by 2020, are becoming the most personal, mobile, social and human-centric tools that marry hardware, software and services.
For example, Sigal cites John Gruber of Daring Fireball, regarding Apple’s Siri voice-based system: “Siri is indicative of an AI-focused ambition that Apple hasn’t shown since before Steve Jobs returned to the company. Prior to Siri, iOS struck me being designed to make it easy for us to do things. Siri is designed to do things for us.”
Apple, Amazon and Google are the companies that best represent emerging trends in this space.
Apple now owns C3 Technologies, a company that “creates incredibly high-quality and detailed 3D maps with virtually no input from humans,” reports 9to5Mac.
The acquisition is likely a step towards creating a 3D-enhanced version of iOS Maps, eventually moving away from Google entirely. Apple may also be looking to include traffic data.
The update would probably not come for some time as Apple and Google signed a deal to extend the use of Google Maps. “We’re not expecting anything big in the immediate future but we’d be surprised to see the same old Maps program in iOS 6,” suggests the article. “Expect something much much bigger.”
The post includes some interesting video demonstrations of C3’s impressive capabilities.
The updated Google Reader was rolled out this week, featuring a revamped user interface and integration with Google+.
“Google has ignored the cries of the niche community of Google Reader sharing enthusiasts and has pushed forward in its plans to remove Google Reader’s native sharing features to promote deeper integration with Google+,” suggests TechCrunch. “While the ability to share with Google+ is an obvious important step forward for Google’s social agenda, it will be disappointing change for at least some of the Google Reader community.”
A community movement made attempts to save the old features, creating a petition that now has 10,000 responses.
Google’s reply: “We hope you’ll like the new Reader (and Google+) as much as we do, but we understand that some of you may not. Retiring Reader’s sharing features wasn’t a decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus on fewer areas, and build an even better experience across all of Google.”
Google says an Android app update can be expected soon.
A recent study by EyeTrackshop showed that Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPad 2 “drew more glances and held people’s attention longer than Google Android devices from Amazon, HTC, Motorola and Samsung,” reports Forbes.
The study showed participants a picture of six smartphones and five tablets. EyeTrackshop’s software tracked where subjects’ eyes went, in what order and how long, using webcams.
“EyeTrackshop said the results equate to respondents dwelling on the iPhone 4S 42 percent longer than the other phones and on the iPad 138 percent longer than the other tablets.”
Additionally, a follow-up survey indicated that 40 percent found the iPhone most visually appealing; for tablets, 35 percent for the iPad; and disregarding price, 47 percent said they would buy the iPhone and 48 percent preferred the iPad to other tablets.
Media companies and well-known personalities are lined up as YouTube gets ready to produce original content for 100 online video channels.
Sources indicate Google is dedicating $100 million to the initiative, aimed at transforming YouTube into a next-gen cable-like platform for specialized video channels.
“The Internet search giant on Friday said it had signed major deals with Hollywood to bring professional, high-quality programming to YouTube that could help it increase the time viewers spend watching videos on the site and attract more advertisers,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
The company is also launching a software update to Google TV, designed to integrate with the new content.
“The partnerships that YouTube announced Friday with dozens of media companies, production companies and online-video creators will generate about 25 hours of new programming each day for YouTube.”
Michael Eisner’s digital studio Vuguru, Stan Lee’s POW Entertainment and television production company Magical Elves are a few of the early partnerships. Celebrity channels will feature personalities such as Ashton Kutcher, Amy Poehler and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.
Google is offering an update to Google TV that includes a streamlined UI, quick-launch bar for most-used apps, an app that can locate 80,000 movies and TV episodes via the Web or TV, and a new TV-oriented YouTube interface.
The Android Market looks to launch current and new apps specially optimized for television (access to the Android Market may prove the biggest step for Google TV).
YouTube is looking to create original content and become a “next-generation cable provider” by signing deals with media companies and celebrities.
However, the service has been hindered by TV networks that “continue to block Google TV from viewing Web sites that stream some of their shows that are freely available to personal computer browsers,” reports Forbes. “That’s a big turn-off given that other devices such as Apple TV, Roku, and many others offer access to more TV content.”
In a related post, GigaOM lists the more notable new features and includes a 7-minute video demo.
“The new version of Google TV isn’t really all that groundbreaking; rather, it’s what Google TV should have offered all along,” suggests GigaOM. “And that seems to be exactly what Google was aiming for with this release — not a big flash, but finally a solid base that can be continuously improved both through Google’s apps as well as applications from third-party developers.”
Yahoo’s personalized reading app for tablets, called Livestand, is expected to launch this week.
“More than Flipboard and Zite, Livestand looks and feels like AOL’s Editions app for iPad,” reports ReadWriteWeb. “It functions as a personalized, magazine-like publication with dynamic content and sleek, often video-based advertisements.”
Propeller, the code name for Google’s challenge to Flipboard, is expected to integrate with Google+ and include several media partners. AllThingsD describes the app as “an HTML5 reader for the Apple iPad and Android.”
Yahoo and Google may be arriving on the scene a bit late to compete with the immensely popular Flipboard. However, the two companies may have an advantage with the development of cross-platform support, potentially gaining an audience among smartphone users.
Despite the cross-platform advantage, ReadWriteWeb points out that, “applications like Flipboard, Zite and Pulse have proven very popular among consumers. To compete, the big players will need to offer something truly unique to readers, publishers and advertisers alike.”