Sony Computer Entertainment Discusses Long Term 3D Strategy

  • Sony’s Mick Hocking talks about what they’ve learned about 3D in the last year at Sony Computer Entertainment. Hocking has been responsible for spearheading the 3D games enterprise.
  • The main lesson involves the need to educate developers in how to produce quality 3D. “We’ve actually now got a guide with 10 points for producing technically correct 3D, it’s our 3D 10 Commandments if you like, and we also have lots of resources now to help developers creatively with 3D as well.”
  • Last year 3D had a “wow factor.” This year there are many 3D capable devices becoming available.
  • Sony has 50 million 3D-enabled PlayStation 3 units and over 50 3D games in the market. In addition, there are 3D Blu-ray, 3D MP4s and 3D Camcorders and 3D HDTVs. Sony may look to build 3D on a handheld. Virtual reality may come back with Sony’s head-mounted, twin-OLED 3D display.
  • Despite what critics are describing as waning interest from consumers, Hocking emphasized that 3D remains a long term strategy for Sony.

Sony to Release its First Two Tablet PCs this Fall

  • Sony offered up some additional details about its first two tablets in a New York press event this week. The S1 and S2 were initially introduced in April in Japan.
  • On Wednesday, the company announced that AT&T will serve as the exclusive U.S. cellular-data provider for the S2 model.
  • The foldable S2 features dual 5.5-inch screens and will operate via Wi-Fi as well as AT&T’s 3G and HSPA+ 4G networks. According to TWICE: “When the S2 is held vertically like a book, each screen can display separate pages from a book downloaded from Sony’ e-book store.”
  • The S1 model will be Wi-Fi only and feature a 9.4-inch screen. Both tablets will include preinstalled Adobe Flash. Sony execs explained that additional technical specs are being saved for the fall launch.
  • Both models are based on the Android Honeycomb OS. Prices, however, have yet to be announced.

3D Experience Delivers On Demand Programming to Bravia HDTVs

  • This week Sony launched “3D Experience” for its Bravia line of 3D-capable LCD TVs. The free service offers 3D trailers, promotional video clips and trial content.
  • The company hopes that 3D Experience will serve as a step forward in providing consumers with interesting 3D content, the lack of which has been a common complaint.
  • Initial content includes “The Green Hornet” trailer, highlights from the FIFA Women’s World Cup and clips from 3net, Sony, Discovery and IMAX.
  • Sony pledges to “further expand the content line-up and promote ‘3D Experience’ among content holders as a forum through which to showcase their 3D offerings.”
  • 3D Experience is currently available in the United States, Canada, Germany, the UK and France.

Hacker Group Anonymous Targets Apple Online Data

  • Apple has joined Sony and Fox News in the growing list of companies experiencing recent security breaches.
  • In what appears to be a warning salvo, 27 user names and encrypted passwords from an Apple website were reportedly posted online over the weekend along with a warning of future attacks from hacker group Anonymous.
  • The hacker group posted a list of data supposedly taken from an Apple Business Intelligence website. Apple has not commented on this.
  • Anonymous hacker group, which linked to this leak in a Twitter post, threatens that Apple could be a target of its attacks.
  • Anonymous is running “antisec,” an operation that threatens government, law enforcement and corporations.

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.

Yahoo! Connected TV Claims 8 Million Devices and 140 Apps

  • Yahoo! Connected TV has over 140 apps and will be introducing the Y! Connected TV Store to sell apps on a 70/30 percent revenue sharing model.
  • Yahoo! made a widget development kit available that provides publishers the opportunity to build new apps.
  • The company is rolling out broadcast interactivity that tailors ads based on viewer interests.
  • Device control technology allows television interactivity with smartphones and tablets.
  • Watch in 2012 for the platform to appear in new TVs by Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, LG and Vizio.

Phil Harrison: Apple Will Be the Games Industry

  • Edge Magazine speaks with Phil Harrison, former president of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios, and recently appointed advisory board member of cloud-based streaming game service Gaikai.
  • Harrison answers questions on the future of gaming and suggests the following projections: Games will rely increasingly upon social networks; free-to-play will become the predominant business model in 20 years; local storage will disappear; music, film and television will be consumed like a utility and browsers will replace consoles (in the wake of a next-generation browser war).
  • On the future of non-physical media: “If you live in Korea, it’s already happened, if you live in China, it’s already happened. That’s an easy prediction to make: there is undoubtedly a generation of kids alive on the planet today who will never purchase a physical media package for any of their digital entertainment.”
  • On Apple’s impact on the market: “At this trajectory, if you extrapolate the market-share gains that they are making, forward for ten years – if they carry on unrestrained in their growth, then there’s a pretty good chance that Apple will be the games industry.”

E3 2011: Pre-Show Announcements from Sony and Microsoft

The 3-day Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) kicks off today at the Los Angeles Convention Center. E3 is a professional trade event with a focus on electronic gaming (no longer open to the general public) that draws CE manufacturers, business partners, news media and industry analysts from 80 countries. Yesterday’s pre-show press events featured some interesting announcements from Sony and Microsoft. Today, the big news should come from Nintendo, when it unveils its next-gen Wii console (watch it live starting at 9:00 AM PDT).

Microsoft began by introducing new Xbox 360 features and games (Microsoft has sold 55 million Xbox 360s globally to-date, thanks in part to the successful Kinect motion sensor technology). Next up: voice-activated search via Bing will be available for the Xbox enabling users to sort through Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and other sites via voice commands, minimizing the need for the remote control. “You no longer have to navigate through the menus to find content,” said Mark Whitten, corporate VP of Xbox Live.

Whitten also announced that the Xbox will incorporate a live TV service in the fall. Few details were offered, other than to say that more content partners will soon be added. For the gamers, Microsoft premiered the trailer for the next installment of the Halo video game series, which expects a 2012 release (Gamespot has the trailer plus an interesting commentary). Microsoft also demonstrated new games and innovations utilizing its Kinect technology.

Sony began its Monday evening press conference with an apology to customers, video game developers and retailers regarding the recent hacker attacks that hit 70 million user accounts. Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, explained that activity on the PlayStation Network is now back up to 90 percent from what it was prior to the data breach.

Tretton also discussed the PlayStation’s growing success as the leading Netflix streamer (according to Sony, the PS3 accounts for 30 percent of video streamed via the service). Engadget reports this should come as no surprise: “…consoles far outpace other TV connected streamers in install base, and between the Xbox 360, Wii, and Sony’s box, the PS3 is the only one that lets you watch without an additional subscription and in HD.” In addition to the Netflix news, Sony announced a new partnership that will provide access via the PS3 to more than 12,000 video on-demand movies and TV shows from Best Buy-owned CinemaNow.

Sony also showcased a collection of 3D products and games, including an interesting new product bundle that features a 24-inch active shutter 3D display and 3D glasses. Engadget noted in its initial hands-on eval: “The dual-full-screen trick will only work with PlayStation 3 games specifically programmed to make use of the feature, and although none have been announced yet, we wouldn’t be surprised if pack-in title Resistance 3 is compatible. Staff couldn’t say if the games featured in the demo video, Motorstorm Apocalypse and Wipeout, would be updated to support this feature. While the demo units we saw performed their trick reasonably well, visible ghosting and flat, muted colors give us some reservations about that competitive $499 price tag.”

Sony’s biggest announcement, however, was its new handheld device, PSP follow-up the PlayStation Vita. Touting a 5-inch multitouch OLED display with rear touch pad (and front and rear cameras), the Vita will sell for $249.99 (Wi-Fi-only) and $299.99 (Wi-Fi/3G). Engadget was especially impressed with the “monstrous” OLED display and the dual analog sticks (“they completely blow away the original PSP’s analog nub”). Both models will be available exclusively through AT&T toward the end of 2011.

Related Engadget post: “Microsoft sells 55 million Xbox 360 consoles, claims that’s consoles history” (6/3/11)

Related CNET post: “E3 2011: Live TV coming to Xbox this fall” (6/6/11)

Related PC Magazine article: “E3: Sony Apologizes for Outage, Pitches 3D Display, PS Vita” (6/6/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony’s 24-inch PlayStation 3D display first hands-on!” (6/7/11)

Related Digital Trends article: “Sony 3D Display could revolutionize 2D gaming” (6/7/11)

Related Engadget post: “PS3 claims the lead in Netflix streaming, adds VOD from Best Buy’s CinemaNow” (6/6/11)

Related Engadget update (with videos): “Sony’s PlayStation Vita: a closer look (update: burning questions answered)” (6/7/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony’s PlayStation Vita official: $249 for WiFi, $299 for 3G” (6/6/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony’s PlayStation Vita: first hands-on impressions” (6/6/11)

Related Wired article: “With New Hardware Far Away, E3 Expo is Thin on Innovation” (6/3/11)

MeeGo Smart TV aims to Combine TV Services with One Set-Top Box

A new software platform developed for television by the MeeGo open-source community (hosted by The Linux Foundation) is expected to launch as early as next month. MeeGo Smart TV 1.2 was developed in order to enable service providers to combine pay TV, apps, video and a variety of other content in a unified set-top box. According to MeeGo, “This release provides a solid baseline for device vendors and developers to start creating software for various device categories on Intel Atom and ARMv7 architectures.”

The MeeGo Smart TV platform is based on the MeeGo 1.2 release that came out last week, just prior to the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco (May 23-25). MeeGo TV hopes to succeed where others have failed regarding efforts to fuse TV and the Web by remaining open to applications from a multitude of developers.

“What people don’t want is a browser on their TV,” explained MeeGo TV Architect Dominique Le Foll at the MeeGo Conference. “Instead, just as on a mobile phone, consumers prefer to use apps that are optimized for the device.”

CIO.com reports: “The MeeGo team is not alone in recognizing this. Even TV manufacturers, including Sony and Vizio, are trying to build up stores of apps and widgets that can be used on their sets. But MeeGo’s openness gives it advantages over other options for connected TVs, Le Foll said. Previous TV-Web systems have been based on set-top boxes with traditional embedded operating systems, which are difficult and expensive for service providers to update and maintain. By contrast, MeeGo TV is maintained by a community of developers, organized on the model of the Linux community and managed by the Linux Foundation.”

The MeeGo press release outlines the anticipated development schedule: “MeeGo development continues forward on a six-month cadence, with MeeGo 1.3 scheduled to be released in October, 2011. Many new features targeting MeeGo 1.3 have already been accepted in MeeGo Featurezilla. The development tree for MeeGo 1.3 is open and we are starting to integrate new components now.”

Interesting history of the project from The Linux Foundation (pdf format): “Introduction to the MeeGo Project”

One-year anniversary overview from The Linux Foundation (pdf format): “12 Months Since the Project Announcement: Where Are We and What’s New in MeeGo1.1?”

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)

Sony Announces S1 and S2 Honeycomb Tablets

At a Tokyo press event, Sony announced a pair of Android 3.0 tablets — the S1, featuring a 9.4-inch touchscreen display, and the smaller S2, with dual-screen 5.5-inch displays that can can fold like a book. The tablets will connect to Sony’s cloud-computing library of movies and music in addition to Sony PlayStation Android-based games and digital books from Sony’s Reader store.

The S1 media tablet features front- and rear-facing cameras and what Engadget describes as “a curved wrap design that resembles a folded magazine.” The S1 also features a Tegra 2 SoC, touch panel UI, and integrated infrared for use as a remote control for Sony devices. The second tablet, the dual-screen S2 clamshell, features two 1024 x 480 pixel displays, Tegra 2 SoC, and camera. Engadget reports: “Sony takes advantage of the two screens with a custom book-style UI layout for its e-reader app, split keyboard and messaging displays for email, and split display and game controllers for PS One gaming.”

In a video report, IDG reports the S1 and S2 are PlayStation certified, WiFi and 3G/4G compatible, and will support DLNA (enabling users to buy a movie from the online Qriocity store, for example, and stream the content to a TV from the tablet via WiFi).

Sony said the devices will go on sale worldwide by September. The company has yet to announce prices, but according to Engadget: “…sources told us back in February that Sony was considering a $599 MSRP on the S1 while the S2 would likely come in at $699. Still no word on the Windows 7 slider but with the other two leaks official, it’s now only a matter of time.”

Related Huffington Post article: “Sony Shows Off S1, S2 Honeycomb Tablets With PlayStation Integration” (4/26/11)

Cisco Pulls the Plug on Flip Camcorder Division

Wired comments on the demise of the Flip camcorder and questions what could have been done to possibly revive Cisco’s $590 million investment in the no-frills digital video camera (Cisco purchased Flip-maker Pure Digital in March 2009). Wired reports that in the wake of company earnings falling 18 percent in the second quarter of 2011, Cisco will pull the plug on Flip.

In related news, The Wall Street Journal reports Cisco CEO John Chambers has announced a strategic shift at the company that will involve stepping away from consumer-targeted brands and returning to a focus on corporate customers and service providers.

Flip cameras were all the rage in their heyday and spawned a number of similar products from the likes of Kodak and Sony geared toward consumers who wanted to shoot simple video and easily upload clips to the Internet. An unanticipated result of the camera’s portability and durability included uses such as capturing extreme sports footage and gathering b-roll for broadcast news. Affordable mounts for helmets and motorcycles soon emerged, as well as waterproof casings for recording underwater footage, increasing the line’s popularity. So what happened?

Wired suggests that once iPhones and Android phones started offering improved camera capabilities, including HD video recording, the Flip cameras started down a path of redundancy. Second, came the shift to real-time social networking — and without an Internet connection, Flip had trouble competing with other connected portable devices. Consumers began to expect immediacy in terms of media interaction and the ability to post their own content on-the-go.

A Wi-Fi or 3G connection may have been the first step in keeping the Flip alive, but in today’s market it would probably also need a touchscreen with apps to compete.

Related Story: David Pogue offers a different take on the camera line — “The Tragic Death of the Flip” (4/14/11)

UPDATE: Related press release — “Cisco Announces Streamlined Operating Model” (5/5/11)

Sony Unveils New F65 CineAlta Digital Motion Picture Camera

Sony unveiled its new F65 CineAlta digital motion picture camera at an NAB press conference in Las Vegas this week. The F65 camera features a 20.4 megapixel, Super 35mm CMOS sensor, a significant jump from the F35’s 12.4 megapixel 1080p CCD. Is this another step away from film as a motion picture medium?

Pictured on the left is Curtis Clark (ASC) who directed a 4K short with the new camera, that is being shown at NAB.

According to Engadget: “…this sensor is fast — not only can it capture up to 72fps on 4K, but it can also crank up to a smooth 120fps on 2K. As for those seeking to squeeze out every bit of detail from their clips, don’t worry: the F65’s got you covered with a 16-bit RAW output (19Gbps) at 4K resolution, or it can be compressed to 5Gbps for the convenience of recording onto the new SR-R4 portable 4K recorder. Looks like Sony’s finally found a candidate that’ll put a lid on film stock, but then again, at the end of the day it’ll depend on the price tag when it comes out in Q3 this year.”

Sony also announced 2 new professional 3D cameras at NAB (and for consumers, the company announced the 3D Handycam and 3D Bloggie cameras at January’s CES).

Read the Sony Blog report on the NAB unveiling: “Sony Kicks off NAB with the announcement of a new 4K professional camera” (4/11/11)

Related Engadget post: “Sony shoots out CineAlta F65 4K camera and PMW-TD300 3D camcorder at NAB” (4/11/11)

The Photography Bay write-up includes video coverage of the NAB press conference and behind-the-scenes footage with Curtis Clark directing a 4K short with the new camera.

Sony Announces Professional OLED Monitors

Sony announced it will soon offer a professional monitor aimed at TV and film production industries that contains the largest commercial organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen yet produced. OLED is a flat-panel technology that rivals liquid-crystal display (LCD), with pixels that contain an organic material that emits its own light when energized, so screens can be made thinner and more efficient. OLED also displays brighter and richer images than LCD panels.

Despite recent tech advances, manufacturers have had a difficult time getting OLED production to the point where it can create reliable larger screens. Smaller screens designed for cell phones and portable devices have not been an issue, but larger screens have remained problematic. Despite earlier prototypes and announced plans from the likes of Sony, Samsung and LG, we have yet to see OLED TVs larger than 11-inches on the consumer market.

Sony is positioning the new Trimaster EL professional OLED monitors for use in editing bays, satellite trucks, and broadcasting control rooms. Expect to see the 25-inch screen ($28,840) by May 1 and a 17-inch model by July 1.

Page 44 of 44«...102030...35363738394041424344