Parks Associates Blog

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Bad News for Cable Providers, Good News for Consumers

On the heels of Comcast announcing a bigger than expected loss of basic subscribers for the third quarter, the cable industry received more bad news. This news was in the form of the FCC approval of banning exclusive agreements that cable providers have with apartment buildings and other multi-dwelling units. (Link to FCC Statement) With more than 25 million or 30% of Americans living in MDUs, this opens up a new marketplace to more providers of voice, video an Internet, particularly Verizon and AT&T.

In some of our recent consumer research we conducted on new television services, we did hear quite clearly frustration from consumers who are in apartments and locked into only one service provider. The same rules apply to competition at a multi-family unit as they would with single-family housing developments – the entry of new competitive players for multi-service offerings tends to have two immediate changes: lower prices and improved customer service. I’d add a third – innovation. Without competition, the incumbent service provider doesn’t have a great deal of incentive to upgrade their services and offer a more compelling service set. Although the FCC’s language clearly focused on lower-income MDU residents, there are clearly upscale multi-family developments where service providers may find fertile ground in offering advanced communications, data, and entertainment services.

For Cable providers, it makes an already competitive landscape even more treacherous. With more choice and lower prices, it will be incumbent on cable operators to not only provide the best products and services, but engage in strategies that deliver the highest customer satisfaction and value to consumers.

Wanna see a ticked-off wife?

With great fanfare, Verizon has now brought its Interactive Media Guide (IMG) to the FiOS TV service in our neighborhood. I actually was awake at 2-something in the morning a couple of nights ago and heard our bedroom set-top clicking away, like it was digesting many lines of code.

I think that the set-top has indigestion.

The IMG brings some new search functionality and 32-bit graphics, which really adds some depth to the program guide, the Widgets, and the video-on-demand titles. And, the new primetime VoD offerings (although limited) are a nice feature. I watched Friday Night Lights last night. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to get emotionally invested in another TV program.

The IMG is nice, but not if it comes at the expense of the wife's happiness. And, I've got a major quibble with the performance of the system now. It is painfully slow. Now, I realize that channel changing is not quite as instantaneous with digital television services as it is promised, but volume adjustments occur at a snail's pace now. I'm finding the time lag between hitting the menu button and the main guide coming up to also require more time than I'd like. The way that DVR recordings are organized is also new and different - I'm not sure I'm 100% behind it, at least right now. But, that's not even the worst part.

Last night, my wife (suffering from a cold) just wanted a break. After chasing the kid around, feeding him, and getting him to bed, all she wanted to do was catch up on last week's recorded episode of Grey's Anatomy. She was not a happy camper when she discovered that (for reasons unknown), every episode recorded was the high-def version. So, she got audio, but no video. I don't think that the IMG activation would have caused this, but it didn't matter. She was mad. And, she doesn't like the "warming up" message that pops up on the screen prior to intitiating certain services.

Thank goodness the trash needed to be taken out last night. The Apostle Paul wrote in one of his epistles something along the lines of "not letting the sun set on your anger." In other words, don't go to bed with an argument still looming. Wise advice from a 2,000-year-old writing. But Paul never had to deal with time-shifted television.

I'm hoping that some of these things are just the nature of the software taking hold and us growign accustomed to the new uses. I sure hope so. The family needs to stay happy.

The Fourth Estate - Keeping Us on Our Toes

We like reporters. We especially like reporters who are writing about this digital lifestyles stuff with some fresh angles. So, thanks to the recent requests for the usual year-end write-ups on "What's Hot" and "What to Expect this Holiday Season" in terms of CE buying.

We dug into the Parks Associates' treasure trove of data and came up with some time-series tracking of purchase intentions for some common CE devices. The data comes from our two Digital Media Habits surveys, conducted both in Q3. John Barrett and his team have done a great job of developing consistent questionnaires that lend themselves to comparisons in both Digital Media Habits and our Global Digital Living projects. Here's just one example of how we can use this data.

So, what are our takeways as we compare last year's data to this year's? Based on these results, I think that we (along with folks in the economist community) have some trepidation in looking at the holiday season, given the credit crunch, home values declining, and news about weakness in the economy. I think it is going to be easier for consumers to consider upgrades of products they already own – particularly computers, digital cameras, video camcorders, and music players, as opposed to thinking about a totally new product purchase. After all, the price for the portable devices continues to fall, and you can buy a significant upgrade to cameras (improved megapixels, etc.) for not a whole lot more (or even less) than what people spent on the original product. PC sales should be solid, either because people are finally going to upgrade to a Vista system, or because XP systems will be very cost-effective as upgrades.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Verizon: "We're Number Three!"

We now have Verizon and AT&T's Q3 2007 numbers for their fiber-based television services. FiOS TV now has 717,000 subscribers (a net increase of 200,000 over Q2), and U-verse TV now has 126,000 subscribers, a substantial jump from Q2.

With Verizon’s announcement that subscribers to its FiOS TV service now exceed 700,000, it now claims third place among worldwide telcos deploying a broadband-based multi-channel television service, only behind France Telecom in Europe and PCCW in Hong Kong.

Home Networks Heating Up

Today, the HomePlug Alliance announced that a joint proposal from the Alliance and Panasonic is the sole MAC/PHY proposal remaining in the IEEE P1901 work group process for creating an international standard for in-home and access powerline communication technologies. This is significant, because Panasonic was pursuing its own proprietary powerline solution (HD-PLC) after its submission to HomePlug for the HomePlug AV specification was not selected. For awhile, we had three competing solutions - HomePlug, Panasonic, and the solutions from Spanish chip developer Design of Systems ofn Silicon S.A. (DS2).

Although DS2's underlying technology was not selected by the IEEE P1901 work group, the company isn't sitting still. It indicates that it will have a 400 Mbps solution out soon. And, DS2 has an impressive list of European service providers that it says are taking a look at its solution. Europe may be where this market is won or lost. Given the strong emphasis on solutions such as bridges for IPTV and multi-service residential gateways, Europe is likely to be the leading market for powerline solutions. We're waiting to see which service providers and CPE vendors are willing to go public with their support for either the HomePlug or the DS2 solution. One suspects that many are waiting for a standards resolution in the IEEE before making a public affirmation of either technology.

In the meantime, both Entropic/MoCA and CopperGate/HomePNA were quite visible at last week's TelcoTV conference. CopperGate announced that 2 million HomePNA 3.1 chipsets have shipped, and several Tier 1 telcos -TELUS (Canada), KDDI (Japan), and Sonaecom (Portugal) - have been announced as customers.

In the U.S., AT&T and Verizon have chosen different solutions - Verizon is using MoCA for its FiOS deployments, and AT&T is using HomePNA 3.1 for U-verse rollouts. Verizon uses MoCA for different applications, depending on what FiOS services are being used in the home. For broadband services, MoCA can be used to eliminate the Ethernet run between the ONT and the residential gateway. MoCA is also a key component of the Home Media DVR solution, where existing coax is used to enable the multi-room DVR functionality as well as the PC-to-set-top media streaming features.

AT&T is using one HomePNA chipset in each U-verse residential gateway and one in each U-verse set-top box and they use HomePNA 3 for the u-Verse home networking to transport the IPTV.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Few people would pay to use social networking sites

Over 70% of social networking users would stop using a site

Few U.S. consumers are willing to pay a monthly fee to use social networking sites, according to Digital Media Habits II, a new survey from market research firm Parks Associates. This online survey of Internet users found 72% of social networking users would stop using a site if required to pay a $2 monthly fee. Likewise, nearly 40% would stop if a site contains too many advertisements.

These findings present a challenge to the companies competing in the social networking space. Parks Associates found 80% of broadband users ages 18-25 use these sites on a monthly basis; however, monetizing these users is proving to be difficult, with even category leaders such as MySpace struggling to turn big profits.

Visit this link for more information.

Labels: , ,

TelcoTV - early predictions are coming true

I find the TelcoTV show to be a very accomodating conference - the show floor is a good way to get some updates on what's hot and happening in the Telco/IPTV space. Furthermore, with another year of rollouts under their belts, telcos and their solutions providers are increasingly talking about real activity and case studies that back some early hypotheses around business model development.

It turns out, for example, that converged communications (a simple example being Caller ID on the TV) is now showing some promising results in terms of cutomer satisfaction and loyalty. The folks at Integra5 discussed some recent survey work among Comporium customers that indicates that this is an important feature. Based on our own survey work - Parks Associates' Bundled Services & Residential Gateways study, we found both Caller ID on the TV and a phone service with greater utility between mobile and fixed-line calling to be areas where telcos should make some inroads in initial stages.

As we've posted in previous blogs, home networking remains a key to telco TV and bundled services strategies. It was interesting to hear both Thomson and Tilgin discuss the role of of their IMS-capable routers and home networking equipment in providing a crucial translation point between the IMS services and legacy platforms. As service providers evaluate the deployment of IMS services (or consider how they can use legacy instrustructure to provide more of a modular approach to converged communications and entertainment applications), the role of home networking equipment as an intermediary hasn't been discussed much. This should take on greater importance as we're expecting to see more IMS deployments occur in Q3 and Q4 2008. We're currently writing about the home network space through the lens of service providers in our report Networks in the Home: The Global Service Provider Play.

Of course, advertising remains such a hot area, although there are still plenty of questions surrounding how it's going to be best implemented and used. There were discussions about some of the challenges facing telcos in the area of ad insertion, particularly in MPEG-4 deployments, where the different profiles associated with the video streams are going to require some fairly sophisticated and on-the-fly transrating by ad insertion and grooming technologies. Our analysts Kim Kitchens and Harry Wang are looking into what's next in advertising in an upcoming report New Advertising Platforms and Technologies. They will be covering the word of interactive and targeted advertising for the television in this report.

There was also talk of what's next in the telco TV space, and the role of the mobile platform (particularly the mobile phone) in enabling more seamless communications and entertainment experiences is obviously a big focus. Advertising again will be a focus of companies such as Tandberg, which is now part of Ericsson. They anticipate that they will have some significant opportunities to provide compelling advertising solutions that reach across broadband, television, and mobile communications services. And, as the handset and other portable and mobile devices evolve to incorporate more multimedia functionality (and play a stronger role within the context of the service provider's offerings), the incorporation of more robust storage (both hard drive and flash) is going to be an interesting area to watch. Chris Roden is finishing up his analysis of storage requirements for mobile and portable devices in Storage Opportunities for Handheld Devices.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

So by next year, Facebook will be worth $225 billion right?

Let me start by making some comparisons.

About a year ago, Yahoo! was rumored to have offered $1 billion for Facebook. The current deal with Microsoft places the company’s value at $15 billion which means Facebook's value has increased by 1500% over the past 12 months. Assuming that the next 12 months are just as good, Facebook should be worth a cool $225 billion.

Or consider this, dusting off my high school algebra skills, Facebook is now roughly worth:

6x as much as Skype (when Ebay purchased it)
9x as much as YouTube (when Google purchased it)
26x as much as MySpace (when News Corp. purchased it)

Jokes aside nobody, not even Microsoft, seriously believes Facebook is worth $15 billion. The Redmond giant's willingness to pay $240 million for tiny sliver of the company (1.6%) testifies to two facts: 1) Microsoft has enough cash-on-hand ($23 billion) that a little Halloween splurge is no big deal and; 2) Microsoft executives turn white as a sheet thinking about Google trick-or-treating in their neighborhood.

I could recount the challenges of weaving advertising into social media or MySpace & YouTube's struggles with profitability but really, why bother. We all know that the only get-rich-quick play in social networking is to start a company and sell it to someone a lot wealthier that you are.

Turning MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, or any of these others sites into a hugely profitable venture is going to be a long, painful process. The real insight revealed by the deal has little to do with online advertising or really even "Web 2.0". No, a willingness to pay so much for so little can only be explained by a desire to prevent Google from expanding its reach at all costs. It certainly looks like panic fire from the outside and I suspect, time will prove it so.

So here's wishing Mr. Zuckerberg & Facebook a Happy Halloween. They successfully trick-or-treated Microsoft by using fear and being at the right place at the right time. Like all those 3rd world dictators that weaseled billions out of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. during the Cold War, their day in the sun will pass. The war between Google & Microsoft will eventually end and with it, the insane competition for 'strategic' yet scarcely profitable start-ups. That is at least until a new war begins between another set of companies looking to out maneuver each other on the battlefield of business.

It Wont Be a Happy Holiday Season for Blu-ray and HD DVD

“Every big problem was at one time a wee disturbance.” -Unknown

I believe this quote is very insightful when looking at how the battle of next generation DVD formats has played out over the first nine months of 2007. The first half of 2007 saw tremendous momentum by the Blu-ray format. The format had the support from most of the major Hollywood studios, exclusive retail support from Target and Blockbuster and a strong initial base of users with the integration of the drive within the PS3.

However, the HD DVD camp remained vigilante and continued to push with PR blasts and price reductions for their hardware. These “wee disturbances” evolved into a “big problem” for Blu-ray in August. Paramount, who originally backed both formats, decided to only support HD DVD. This was a big and unexpected win for HD DVD. This relationship has already paid dividends. Last week, the HD DVD exclusive release of “Transformers” broke a record selling 190,000 copies in its first seven days. As the holiday season approaches, high sales are also expected for other HD DVD exclusive releases such as “Shrek the Third” and “Stark Trek: The Original Series-Season One”.

It is not all bad news for the Blu-ray format. Home Media Research announced this week that the Blu-ray format still holds an almost 2:1 disc sales lead for the first nine months of 2007. (2.6mm Blu-ray vs. 1.4mm HD DVD) Blu-ray also has a trio of high profile discs being released exclusively on the format before the holiday season. (“Spider-Man 3, “Pirates of the Caribbean: AWE” and “The Simpsons Movie”)

What does all this mean? First, it means we are no closer to a single format than we were this time last year. Second, it is unlikely anything will be decided in 2007. The mix of exclusive content and lower prices for hardware may increase the overall adoption, but will not result in one format pulling away.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Broadband Marketing is about to Shift - Verizon's Symmetric Service Offering

Yesterday, Verizon announced a new FiOS broadband offering to consumers on the East Coast - a 20 Mbps symmetrical broadband service. Not only is this feature interesting insofar as its competitive pricing to existing cable broadband offerings, but it's really is the beginning of a shift in how we're going to see broadband services marketed. For years, cable broadband providers have had the edge in advertising blazing-fast download speeds. Now, given the trends that we're seeing in how consumers want to be able to use fast upload (for uploading and sharing photos and videos, using online storage solutions, playing games, etc.), marketing very responsive upload capabilities starts to become a critical differentiator. Our own Digital Media Habits I and II surveys show some really interesting time-series data showing the growth of the media habits that are likely to drive consumers toward a symmetrical broadband service.

Further, Managing the Digital Home: Installation and Support Services study from 2006 provides some interesting consumer profiling of the types of people who are likely to find a symmetrical (what we termed an "optimized") Internet service compelling - to the point of paying a slight premium. Indeed, it was among active gamers and "creative computing consumers" (those active in editing and sharing photos and videos) where the interest for such a service was strongest. We also found similar trends in asking consumers about their interest in remote storage features - applications that again will benefit from symmetrical broadband.

Verizon indicates that symmetrical services are going to be applicable far beyond entertainment applications - they view such services as remote video monitoring and digital health as also important for driving symmetrical broadband. We're keeping an eye on applications like these as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cisco Buys Navini

Cisco's acquisition of Navini Networks for $330 million in cash and options (it's 124th such purchase) is a sign that WiMAX technologies will now be a significant focus of carriers and equipment vendors, not only in underserved areas, but also densely-populated markets where a mobile wireless broadband solution may be a strong component of a mobile phone carrier's broadband mobility strategies.

In May, we issued a report titled Mobile Broadband Wireless: Path Toward 4G. In this report, we predict that mobile WiMAX will connect 8% of the world’s 1.1 billion mobile broadband subscribers by 2012, accounting for nearly 88 million users worldwide (see press release).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Telco TV's Impact on Cable MSOs

There have been a couple of interesting news items in recent weeks about IPTV deployments and the encroachment that AT&T and Verizon in particular are having on the video business for cable operators.

IPTV Subscribers are Growing

First, the DSL Forum has announced the latest worldwide IPTV subscriber figures in an October 8 press release. Worldwide growth, according to Point-Topic data, was 176% between June 2006 and June 2007, and the total number of users sits at 8.2 million. Parks Associates' own count from year-end 2005 to year-end 2006 was a 229% growth rate, so the numbers are progressing nicely, despite a general slowing of growth in Asia, where PCCW in Hong Kong and Chunghwa Telecom in Taiwan have been the two dominant providers. With Korea Telecom's entry into the IPTV market with Mega TV, however, growth can be expected to be healthy. Furthermore, we predicted a total of around 10.9 million worldwide households with IPTV services at year-end 2007 (IPTV: From Quadruple Play to Multiplay), so it looks as though we're on track to reach that figure.

Where is Telco TV Impacting the Cable MSO Business?

In the U.S., all eyes are on the competitive dynamics that AT&T and Verizon are now bringing to the table. Specifically, we're interested in whether the entry of U-verse TV and FiOS TV are showing an appreciable impact to the businesses of the cable operators with whom the telcos are most directly competing. Comcast's Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke, for example, has publicly noted the threat that Verizon's FiOS service poses to the company. However, Cablevision may be at most risk. For example, Cablevision notes in a recent SEC filing that Verizon's FiOS service now passes an estimated 25% of households in its service areas. And, recent subscriber counts from the four largest public cable MSOS - Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable - indicate that Cablevision is lagging well behind Comcast and Time Warner. Comparing Q2 2007 growth to Q2 2006 figures shows the following:

Cablevision Q2 2006: 6.8% / Q2 2007: 1.6%
Comcast Q2 2006: 4.1% / Q2 2007: 6.2%
Time Warner Cable Q2 2006: 3.0% / Q2 2007: 2.4%

Cable CAPEX on the Rise; Stocks on the Decline

Today, there was an interesting article on Fiber Today about Wall Street's reaction to Verizon's initial FTTH plans and their current view of cable stocks. Investors intitially punished Verizon for the large CAPEX it was putting into its network upgrades; the stock has now risen more than 40% since a low of $32 per share earlier this year. At the same time, cable stocks have declined. Both Cablevision and Comcast have experienced a 20% drop in their share prices. The Fiber Today article does a nice job of explaining the dynamics that are shaping these recent trends, including the risk posed by the telcos in taking cable customers and the acknowledgment by cable MSOs that CAPEX will be increasing as they seek to improve their capabilities to offer more interactive and high-definition video services and even more robust broadband. Comcast, for example, notes that CAPEX will increase about 24% in 2007, and Time Warner indicates a rise of 26%. After spending billions in the 1990s to upgrade their networks from analog to digital, it appears that the cable industry will be investing more heavily again in upgrades and improvements to their services. And, in the short term, investors may cast a wary eye at these expenditures.

TV Competition and Impact on the Digital Home
As broadband and television operators in particular seek to differentiate their basic packages and offer new connectivity-related services to their product mix, we expect that certain solutions - chief among them home networking and communications equipment, customer premise equipment (set-tops and residential gateways), and so-called "federated devices" (network storage appliances, etc.) will see strong growth in coming years as they become integral pieces of service offerings.

To account for the new services that broadband carriers and television operators will deploy, home networking and customer premises equipment will evolve beyond basic broadband and data sharing to include new voice applications (voice-over-Wi-Fi and/or mobile-to-fixed-line-handoff services) and distributed entertainment. We see opportunities for more advanced set-top boxes and other third-party storage devices (such as media server NAS devices) to fulfill a dual role of providing secure backup and distributing entertainment content in and outside of the home.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Music & Lawsuits

With the first court-case over file-sharing now on the books, Parks Associates thought it would be appropriate to make a few observations about music piracy and the music industry. Here is the take from two of our analysts:

John Barrett

The RIAA’s efforts have made a difference. Relative to other countries, the U.S. has been a success story in terms of anti-piracy efforts. A substantial number of consumers habitually download pirated tracks (~20% of broadband HHs) but the number habitually purchasing legitimate tracks is comparable. This stands in sharp contrast to Canada where the copyright laws have made it difficult to prosecute file sharers. There, the number of consumers downloading pirated tracks far exceeds the number making purchases.

The RIAA needs a long-term strategy. There should be no delusions that a barrage of lawsuits will provide a permanent solution; piracy will persist indefinitely. Music sharing is not a new phenomenon; digital technologies have simply made it easier and improved the quality of pirated copies. The music industry should thus consider the long-terms costs and benefits of pursuing legal action.

A multi-pronged approach to piracy is necessary. Since it is only feasible to prosecute a small percentage of all file sharers (the total number exceeds 14m HHs), the true value of the lawsuits is their psychological impact i.e. the extent to which they scare consumers into using legitimate services. News reports and high-profile cases thus help fight piracy by raising awareness. Yet lawsuits will become less noteworthy over time (they are still something of a novelty today). This will reduce their effectiveness in combating piracy and make it all the more important for the music industry to have alternative means of fighting piracy such as public awareness campaigns that stress the economic consequences of piracy and free, advertising based music services which provide a ‘costless’ alternative to piracy.

Harry Wang

The lawsuits won't solve the problem: The lawsuit is largely a PR effort of the music industry to warn those file-swappers to stop or reduce file-sharing activities. RIAA expects neither the file-sharing activities to disappear nor the fines and compensations to re-coup the industry's lost revenue.

The legal action on individuals is not the best approach: The lawsuits sadly put individuals under the media spotlight. Choosing legal action targets based on file-swapping volume without considering individual's unique circumstances could rally public sympathy to the defending individuals and damage RIAA's public image further, if the trade group does not handle the situation carefully. for the industry to stop illegal activities, the best approach is to target illegal file-sharing networks through international collaborations on copyright law enforcement, but different interpretations on copyright protection in different countries make such efforts slow going. Pursuing individual violators is the last resort perhaps even in RIAA's mind, but lack of more effective alternatives in the near-term, the RIAA has to pick up this weapon.

The long-term solution for piracy requires a basket of steps: 1) put content protection on CDs or find a way to prevent music tracks from being massively uploaded to file-sharing networks, so future music tracks will not easily find way to the file-swapping networks; 2) give consumers more options to enjoy music through a wide variety of digital music distribution channels (copy-protected); 3) collaborate with international community to curb piracy on a global scale. 4) educate consumers to respect copyright and get used to copy-protected content; and 5) closely monitor the music industry for any violation of DRM abuse cases.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Richer Digital Media Offerings Needed to Spur German Home Networking Offerings

Parks Associates’ research indicates companies need to develop and market richer digital media offerings in order to spur the German home networking market. “While home network penetration has grown in Germany, there has not been an upsurge comparable to France or the U.K.,” said John Barrett, director of research, Parks Associates. “More competition combined with digital media offerings such as video-on-demand, IPTV, and multiroom DVR are required to promote greater adoption of home networks.”

Parks Associates’ Global Digital Living (GDL), which surveyed households worldwide on their technology use and attitudes, finds:
  • Among the surveyed countries, Germany has one of the lowest percentages of households who download or upload videos to P2P websites on a monthly basis. Germans are also less likely to watch videos via video sharing sites.
  • Among the European countries surveyed, Germany has the lowest percentage of households who watch purchased DVDs on a monthly basis. Conversely, among all the surveyed countries, Germany has the highest percentage of households who watch movies on broadcast TV. These and other GDL findings map consumer patterns and areas of opportunity, essential factors for companies looking to advance the markets for digital products and media.

To this end, several CONNECTIONS™ Europe sessions will focus on the role of TV-centric devices and examine the evolution of interactive services, the role of Web content, and the features and applications that will move television from a one-to-many to a one-to-one experience.

CONNECTIONS™ Europe provides thorough examination and understanding of advanced technologies and services for residential and mobile environments, including digital entertainment, IPTV, telco TV, set-top boxes, advanced communications across mobile and landline platforms, and home management and its corollary services.

Labels: , ,

CONNECTIONS™ SUMMIT at CES Focuses on Strategies for Converging Media, Entertainment, and Controls

CONNECTIONS™ Summit, a one-day executive summit, precedes 2008 International CES and features expert insight and debate on market strategies for home systems, new media and social networking, home networking, and digital entertainment.

Preliminary Speakers:
Ralph Ackerman, Founder and Director, International Short Film Association
Ade Bamigboye, CTO, Intamac Systems Ltd
Marc Canter, CEO, Broadband Mechanics
Brian Caskey, VP, Worldwide Marketing, UTStarcom
Jonathan Cobb, Founder, CTO, Kiptronic, Inc.Joe Dada, CEO, SmartLabs, Inc.
Paul Palmieri, President & CEO, Millennial Media, Inc.
Kate Purmal, GM and SVP, Digital Content Solutions Division, SanDisk
John Reister, Chief Architect, IPTV, BigBand Networks, Inc.
William T. Schafer, Director, Product & Channel Development, Crestron Electronics
Dan Scheinman, SVP and GM, Cisco Media Solutions Group, Cisco Systems Inc.
Singu Srinivas, President, HiWired, Inc.
Chris Wagner, EVP, Marketplace Strategy, NeuLion, Inc.
Ben Weinberger, CEO, Digitalsmiths Corporation
Michael Wexler, President, HiWired, Inc.
TBD, Superna

CONNECTIONS™ designed the summit as the ideal preparatory event for 2008 International CES. The summit sessions feature panels of leading executives, moderated by Parks Associates analysts. In addition, Parks Associates will provide consumer and industry data on various product and service categories of 2007, with forecasts for growth in 2008 and beyond.

“The convergence of controls, broadband, and digital content will promote growth in many advanced industries serving consumers,” said Kurt Scherf, principal analyst, Parks Associates. “We will be discussing these and other opportunities at the CONNECTIONS™ Summit.”

For more information, visit or


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Briefly Noted but Pay Attention

This week, Facebook announced that it would give users greater ability to control who can see their profile & photos. The news was not exactly earth shattering but, worthy of notice nonetheless. Let me explain why.

Social networks mirror offline relationships. Most of us (let's hope) already had a circle of 'friends' before we signed up for MySpace and officially knighted people with the title. Likewise, whenever we got together with those friends, we would share information about each other. Social networks simply made the process hyper-efficient by incorporating Web 2.0 technologies.

The challenge for social networking websites is that offline social patterns are incredibly complex. (Just observe teenagers for a while and you'll get the idea.) There is not just one kind of relationship but many subtle variations. The information we share with one friend, many not necessarily be shared with others. Likewise the kind of information shared with coworkers is very different than the kind shared amongst friends.

By allowing users more control over who sees what, Facebook is making itself more reflective of reality. Facebook is not alone, with this respect, and the move will not be the last made along these lines. Far from it, it likely foreshadows the future of social networking.