Parks Associates Blog

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Roku Player Sales at 500,000

Finally - some hard numbers in the digital media player device space. According to the article in Multichannel News, Roku has sold 500,000 of the devices, and is looking to double that figure in 2010.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Will the iPad Kill the Digital Photo Frame Category?

With much fanfare, Steve Jobs unveiled his new darling today—a much-hyped iPad. It’s a big iPod Touch for sure. For now, the iPad appears to wow netbook and Kindle users, but intentionally or not, the iPad could lead to a sea change to the designs of a more established product category: digital photo frame.

With a dock and purportedly 10-hour battery life, the iPad can be used as a photo frame when owners are not actively using it. It won’t be the major function of the iPad, but photo frame vendors should not dismiss it simply because it is priced much higher than every frame on the market today. Reasons are:

1. It is multifunctional than most frames on the market
2. It has the built-in connectivity AND rich content that many frames lack today
3. Its design is more contemporary and elegant than most frames today
4. Don’t forget Apple is famous for dropping the price to drive adoption

Whether the iPad will have a runaway success with consumers is difficult to predict today, and it may not threaten digital photo frame sales in the near term. But the frame industry may take cues from iPad’s design to consider changes in the following ways:

1. Remove the traditional stand, replace it with a cradle or dock so the frame can be positioned as a portable device; make it thinner and lighter
2. Adopt the battery technology that iPad uses
3. Give the frame a more Internet-tablet look versus a plain frame appearance
4. Add more content choices and easy sync functions either over the air (which means adding wireless connectivity) or USB

The mainstream frame business is now a low price, low margin sector, and high-end products lack the content that consumers perceive as valuable. For those who try to differentiate, the iPad is the clear direction to go before it is too late.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mobile Ads You Can't Escape

Mobile ad company Crisp Wireless has introduced a fixed placement unit for smartphones that stays onscreen as a user scrolls up or down on a mobile Web page. The new "Adhesion" ads support rich media formats like expandable, tap-to-call and tap-to-video as well as the ability to share, close or save, or ad content via email or social networks.

But what if users aren't so enamored of the in-you-face factor of the new ads? A Crisp Wireless spokesman emphasized that people can close the Adhesion ads -- unlike most banners -- and that the ads can be set to only reappear once someone stops scrolling down a page. That feature also helps prevent accidental click-throughs, he said.

Nearly four in 10 consumers don't want to receive mobile ads for any reason -- and less than 20% recall seeing a mobile ad, according to data released by technology research firm Parks Associates last November. The fixed ads are designed to ensure that people don't ignore or forget mobile ads so easily. The trick is to achieve this without alienating users.

For the entire article, click here.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Verizon addresses opportunities in bringing energy management innovations to consumers at Parks Associates’ Smart Energy Summit

Parks Associates announced that Robert Heffron, Utility Market Manager, Verizon, will deliver the morning keynote at the Smart Energy Summit on Wednesday, January 27, at 9:00 a.m.

In his keynote, “Home Energy Management is Ripe for Huge Innovation,” Mr. Heffron will discuss the role of the carrier in addressing sustainability and home energy management.

As the home becomes more connected, it is open to a variety of new energy applications, including smarter appliances, load shedding, distributed energy production and resale, electric vehicle grid integration, and even neighborhood energy networking. The consumer is looking for a trusted partner to manage these solutions, maximize savings, and maintain privacy, a role the carrier is in a unique position to fulfill.

For more information, visit

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Smart Energy Summit addresses consumer value proposition and distribution channels for in-home energy management and control solutions

Smart Energy Summit analyzes the consumer side of the changing energy industry and the impact of Smart Grid technologies and in-home management solutions. Sessions feature over 30 government, utility, and industry executives, offering insight into the current landscape for energy management, barriers to overcome, the mass-market potential, and deployment status of smart infrastructure and energy management devices for in-home use.

Keynote speakers include Andres Carvallo, CIO, Austin Energy; Dr. George W. Arnold, National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), U.S. Department of Commerce; and Bob Heffron, Utility Market Manager, Verizon.

Didier Boivin, SVP, Marketing, Watteco
Kris Bowring, Sr. Director, Emerging Business, Best Buy
Susan Cashen, VP, Marketing, Control4
Steve Cashman, Chief Strategy Officer, Exceptional Innovation
Luke Clemente, General Manager, Smart Grid, GE Energy
Mike Coop, Director, Smart Grid Strategy, HomeGrid Forum
Reid Cram, Product Manager, Vantage Controls
Joe Dada, President & CEO, SmartLabs
Aaron Deyonker, Director, Product Management, eMeter
David Dollihite, VP, Product and Business Development, Mass Markets Energy, Direct Energy
Greg Ennis, Technical Director, Wi-Fi Alliance
David Friedman, Senior Director, Strategic Marketing, ZeroG Wireless, Inc.
Dan Gittleman, Chairman & CEO, OpenPeak
Vince Groff, Executive Director, Cox Communications
Brent Hodges, Director, Smart Energy Partnerships, Reliant Energy
Scott Hublou, SVP, Products, Co-Founder, EcoFactor
Jim Johnson, President & CEO, uControl
Stephen R. Johnson, Jr., Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Itron
Ogi Kavazovic, Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategy, Opower
Michael Kuhlmann, President, RCS
Brewster McCracken, Executive Director, Pecan Street Project
Letha McLaren, VP, Energy Products, iControl Networks
Kevin Meagher, CEO, Intamac Systems
Roy Perry, Director, Technology Integration, CableLabs
Thomas Pickral, Director, Business Development, HAI
Carol Priefert, Sr. Manager, Global Consumer Insights and Technology, Global Product Organization, Whirlpool
Jon Rappaport, Chairman, USNAP; Product Manager, Sensus Metering Systems
Bill Scheffler, Director, North American Sales, Z-Wave
Bill Simpson, Sr. Energy Efficiency Program Manager, Progress Energy
Michael Smith, VP Energy Solutions, Lutron Electronics Co.
Dr. Kenneth Wacks, Member, GridWise Architecture Council, U.S. Dept. of Energy
Gene Wang, CEO, People Power
Nate Williams, CMO, 4Home
Tim Woods, Founding Partner, POCO Labs

Visit for more information or to register for the event.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Parks Associates Research Findings

Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer examines the roadmap for the in-home energy management technology market, offering consumer and industry research and strategic insight. Parks Associates research finds:

· Over 80% of consumers are very interested in learning about how to cut their energy costs, but less than half want to learn more about smart grids.

· 80% to 85% of households are willing to pay $80 to $100 for cost saving equipment if they are guaranteed to save 10% to 30% off their monthly electricity bill.

· Only 15% to 20% of consumers are likely to sign up for time-of-use or demand response programs; 35% do not want utilities to control systems in their home no matter what the potential savings.

· Less than 5% of households have any type of electronic lighting system, but 55% are very interested in light dimming systems that can save them money.

View Agenda

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Parks Associates announces CONNECTIONS™ Europe Summit Series for 2010

International research firm Parks Associates will host two CONNECTIONS™ Europe Summits in 2010. The first CONNECTIONS™ Europe of 2010 will be April 27 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. This executive summit will focus on connected consumer electronics and digital media, including analysis of new monetization models and the impact of technologies such as 3D TV and smartphones.

The second CONNECTIONS™ Europe of 2010 will take place in November in Paris, France. Both events will feature Parks Associates’ expert consumer and industry research, with the company’s analysts presenting data from consumer research projects including All Eyes on Video, Consumer Decision Process, Residential Energy Management, and Digital Media Evolution.

Parks Associates projects that by year-end 2013, revenues in major Western European markets from video-on-demand (VOD) – including traditional pay-TV services and online video services – will approach 12 billion Euros.

Early sponsors for CONNECTIONS™ Europe, also members of Parks Associates’ Premier Program, include ActiveVideo Networks and PacketVideo. Visit for more information on the Premier Program.

Parks Associates will start accepting speaker submissions for the April 2010 Summit on January 18, 2010.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Pecan Street Project Director to discuss Austin’s smart-grid demonstration and Energy Internet project at Smart Energy Summit

Parks Associates announced the Smart Energy Summit will feature a special session focusing on the Pecan Street Project, with a presentation from the project’s executive director Brewster McCracken on January 27, 3:30 p.m. Mr. McCracken will discuss the activities of the Pecan Street Project, which was awarded $10.4 million in federal stimulus money in November 2009 for its proposed Energy Internet project.

Smart Energy Summit: Engaging the Consumer, hosted by Parks Associates in cooperation with Austin Energy on January 25-27 at the Hyatt Regency, Austin, Tex., focuses on the opportunities and challenges in residential energy technologies.
The Pecan Street Project in Austin, Texas, is a city-wide laboratory devoted to revolutionizing the delivery, use, and generation of energy. It provides a place where researchers and entrepreneurs can develop, test, and implement the urban power system of the future.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Parental Controls in the Connected Home - A New Frontier for CE and Parents alike

It was not until the wrapping paper was off and the happy squeals over our bright, shiny, new, holiday gifted, Internet content (Netflicks, YouTube, etc.) to the TV, connected CE device had faded to shrill echoes that the question hit me, “Just what sort of content were we about to welcome onto the family room big screen?” A question asked too late? Hopefully not - for certainly, in an age where so many of our home CE products are moving towards greater interconnectivity, and so much of that connectivity is centered on increasing the accessibility of Internet provided content , there must be advanced, comprehensive and easily programmable parental control options, right? Right?

Well….yes and no…

Yes, many of the new connected CE products do come equipped with some parental control functionality, and yes, that functionality does provide a measure of protection against content you may not want your younger family members to accidentally (or purposefully) access; however, these controls have their limitations. Some are complicated and cumbersome, requiring super-geek like skills to set-up and operate, while others are so simplistic that your child may soon be showing you how to use them – and most are unable to fully separate the inappropriate content from the family friendly (albeit nails-on-a-chalkboard annoying) chin puppet videos on YouTube.

Exacerbating the problem are user generated content (UGC) sites that leave it to the contributor to tag the content as appropriate or inappropriate for younger viewers. In such cases, other than locking out the site itself, there is no guarantee that your little one may not land on content way outside their G, PG or PG-13 rated boundaries. Should you feel the urge to confirm this, give yourself five minutes armed with nothing more than a few innocent sounding search terms and see where you land. I did. It was very entertaining. It was also an excursion through some territory I would not want my child to tread while e-channel surfing on a Saturday morning.

This is not to say that you should disconnect all your CE devices or hide the remote until everyone in the house is old enough to vote. There are other options. Some consumer electronics and consumer technology companies have started down the road towards affordable, comprehensive parental control solutions for connected CE. For Netgear (in collaboration with OpenDNS) the solution being offered is the router-based, Live Parental Control system included currently with its Wireless-N 300 Router and available soon on additional wireless routers and DSL gateways. This type of control-at-the-hub approach may help to marshal the content through a centralized solution – but it cannot completely solve the problem if the content in question is improperly tagged by the contributor. However, since this is the problem that has long bedeviled more expensive parental control devices and subscription services, it may in the end prove out the low-tech, high common sense wisdom of teaching children to self-monitor and of simply being present and aware, exerting in-the-flesh parental control, whenever your child is connected through household CE devices to the outside world. Heck, you may even come to appreciate the genius behind chin puppetry.