Parks Associates Blog

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HP Scooped Up Palm, Unveiling Ambition in Mobile Internet Device

HP this afternoon announced its purchase of Palm, the battered smartphone company finally finding itself in the hands of a stronger owner. We were never optimistic about Palm's viability in the smartphone business even as it rolled out WebOS in 2009. Today's results validated that the cutting-throat competition in the smartphone market just produced another victim.

It will be interesting to see if HP will continue to support Pre and Pixi, or HP will just make Palm technology as a core component in its portfolio. During the conference call this afternoon, HP executives confirmed that Palm's technology will be applied to platforms other than mobile handsets, but declined to give timeline/roadmap or specific structure of the Palm division within HP.

My immediate reaction to the deal is whether HP will reduce its reliance on Microsoft Windows Mobile and focus more on internal platform development. Of course, HP people declined to comment on that. Let's wait and find out.

After-hour trading has been brisk for Palm shares. Last time I checked, it was traded at $5.90, 20 cents higher than the offer price from HP--does the market believe another bidder will soon emerge?

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Evolution of Dance on my 42" Plasma - Thanks, Verizon!

Verizon introduced YouTube and streaming music access to FiOS TV customers yesterday. They have screen shots and video available for a closer look.

Verizon's Internet Radio and Internet Videos services are both accessible via Media Manager, which already allows subscribers to search and view on their TVs user-generated content from online video-sharing sites, Dailymotion and Veoh. In addition, Verizon has expanded the Media Manager service, making it available to all FiOS TV HD customers. Previously, it was available only to DVR customers.

We gave YouTube a try yesterday evening, and it was a fun diversion. I introduced the wife and the four-year-old to "Evolution of Dance." In all, I found the YouTube experience quite good - Verizon has a nice interface, and it was easy to figure out how to use my universal remote controller to get a full screen view of the videos. Searching is an area where I still think these PC-on-TV type of services are going to get stuck. We keep hearing how consumers don't want full-sized keyboards in their living room, but doing one-letter-at-a-time searching for YouTube content is an arduous process. I think that these online services on the TV - Facebook, streaming music, etc. - are fun distractions, but I honestly don't know how many times we'll use the service beyond the introduction last night.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Home Systems Research Director speaks at ConnectivityWeek 2010

Bill Ablondi, Director of Home Systems Research from Parks Associates is speaking at the 2010 ConnectivityWeek.

Bill is moderating the panel, "Understanding Residential Energy Management" on Wednesday, May 26th from 3:30 - 5:00 PM. The race to connect homes to the grid is heating up. With an estimated 20 million meters installed in North America through 2009, utilities are reaching out to consumers to help shift loads through dynamic pricing and demand response programs. Getting consumers engaged will require a new generation of consumer products that are intuitive, affordable and practical. This panel will discuss the market opportunity and various approaches underway to cultivate this emerging market.

Parks Associates is also a supporting organization for ConnectivityWeek.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

What will consumers add next to their home networks and life?

A 3D TV? A smartphone? A smart meter?

Digital Lifestyles: Outlook 2010, a new industry report focuses on the consumer, with an emphasis on expanding and enhancing user experiences in communications, entertainment, support, and connectivity.

This report provides analysis, forecasts, and industry and consumer drivers for a variety of digital lifestyle categories including: Access Services, Television Services, Mobile Services and Devices, Digital Media and Gaming, Trends in Consumer Electronics, Digital Home Tech Support, and Home Systems.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Home controls and the Trojan Horse

Throughout its 24 years of history, Parks Associates has been grappling with the question of when and how home control systems will become mainstream.

Home systems analyst Bill Ablondi, in Parks Associates’ most recent report, Home Systems: Home Controls-- Analysis and Forecasts flips the question. Ablondi and colleague Farhan Abid say that the current value propositions for consumers to purchase control systems are not sufficient to appeal to mass markets. Either the systems are too expensive for a cost conscious home buyer, are too complicated to install, or though appealing, don’t sufficiently wow a mainstream home owner into a purchase decision. The path to adoption, therefore, is for control systems companies to get their technology installed in the systems that we are already buying for our homes. If control companies will partner with systems companies such as Trane, Honeywell, GE, Sony, Whirlpool, Logitech and others in order to incorporate their technologies into TVs, refrigerators, remote controls, thermostats and other established systems, then the consumer can simply enable the control application that, like a welcomed Trojan Horse, has already entered the home.

If a consumer could download a smartphone app or TV widget to enable the control capabilities built into home systems, they would suddenly discover the value proposition first-hand and potentially provide control systems vendors with the holy grail of revenue models – a monthly subscription fee.

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Service Providers Being Repositioned As Media Companies

The popularity of online video consumption is forcing service providers to reposition as media companies with new offerings such as TV Everywhere, according to this report, Online Video and Broadband Provider Strategies.

The number of U.S. broadband households watching premium online content doubled in the last year. Over 25 million U.S. broadband households regularly watch full-length TV shows online, and over 20 million watch movies online.

Connected CE devices are affecting the competitive ecosystem of the television industry, and while the current number of cord cutters isn’t substantial, service providers are concerned about these developments. Pay-TV providers are working to head off a possible shift that might devalue their services by offering TV Everywhere. These services supplement their traditional offerings, which might not dissuade anyone determined to cut the cord, but providers could use them as models for future business strategies.

Online Video and Service Provider Strategies also reports that consumers have yet to establish strong preferences on whether they get video and other value-added services from broadband service providers or over-the-top providers such as Hulu. Service providers can leverage this consumer neutrality and reposition themselves as media companies.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Parks Associates supports Cable Show 2010

Parks Associates is supporting The Cable Show 2010 from May 11-13 in Los Angeles.

The Cable Show 2010, hosted by the National Cable & Telecommunication Association (NCTA), is your three-day immersion into everything cable can do. The people, the platforms and the potential for new business growth are all here, along with the invaluable attributes only a live event like The Cable Show can deliver.

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The Role of the Set-Top Box

The set-top box (STB) is the primary point of entry into the digital home for television services, including cable TV, DTH, and IPTV. This device has evolved beyond its historical role as a simple black box sitting on top of a large TV set into a smaller form-factor device supporting a variety of functions, notably interactive television applications. Service providers worldwide are aggressively upgrading their equipment to support the migration away from analog television and toward digital television (DTV), with the hopes of improving consumer satisfaction and creating service differentiators.

In markets with a high penetration of DTV subscriptions, support for advanced features such as VoD, DVR/PVR, and other interactive applications are driving the deployment of digital STBs. Another interesting development has been a resurgence in the concept of a residential gateway (RG), which is a complex device capable of delivering multiple services to the home, including video, data, voice, and wireless. This development seems to set up competing hardware paradigms, with two different form factors expanding their roles, with functional overlap, within the home. Right now, there is no clear industry consensus about whether, and to what extent, STB functions will shift to the residential gateway or vice versa.

To read more about the Role of the Set-Top Boxes, subscribe to Parks Points.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Research Analyst, Harry Wang speaks at the ATA 2010

Parks Associates is a media sponsor of ATA 2010 to be held from May 16-18 in San Antonio, Texas. In addition, Harry Wang, Director, Health & Mobile Product Research, will moderate a "MarketWatch" concurrent session on Tuesday, May 18, 1-2pm, with presentations on current and future market trends in the telemedicine/telehealth industry, followed by Q&A with the audience.

If you use telecommunications solutions for healthcare, the ATA Annual Meeting is the single-most important event of the year, keeping you up to date with the latest developments in your field. ATA 2010 will focus on outcomes and evidence for telemedicine and telehealth. The meeting will feature roughly 350 peer-reviewed presentations, covering the full spectrum of telemedicine-related subject areas and specialties, within eight concurrent tracks.. Presentations will include oral concurrents, poster presentations, pre-meeting courses and general plenaries. ATA 2010 will also include special Executive Roundtables, featuring top executives in the industry discussing the future of telemedicine from a corporate perspective. More Info

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Samsung issues warnings regarding 3D TV

CNN is reporting about Samsung issuing warnings regarding 3D TV viewing:

Pregnant women, drunk people and "those who are sleep deprived" should not watch 3-D television because of potential health issues, electronics manufacturer Samsung says on its Web site.

The company also says people at risk for stroke or epileptic seizures should consult a medical professional before watching TV in three dimensions.

Samsung and Panasonic began selling the first 3-D TVs in the U.S. last month.

The warnings come as other TV manufacturers are set to debut 3-D home entertainment systems this year. When watching 3-D TV, users wear special glasses with lenses that open and close rapidly to produce an image that appears to leap off of the screen.

Some of Samsung's warnings apply to everyone:

"Viewing 3D television may also cause motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain and decreased postural stability," the Web site message says. "It is recommended that users take frequent breaks to lessen the potential of these effects. If your eyes show signs of fatigue or dryness or if you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume using it for at least thirty minutes after the symptoms have subsided."

The TV maker also says wearing its 3-D glasses in normal situations, when you're not watching 3-D TV, "may be physically harmful to you and may weaken your eyesight."

The warning suggests that some 3-D TV viewers could become so disoriented that they could fall and hurt themselves:

"Viewing in 3-D may cause disorientation for some viewers," the warning says. "Accordingly, DO NOT place your TV television near open stairwells, cables, balconies, or other objects that can be tripped over, run into, knocked down, broken or fallen over."

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Accenture joins the list of connected TV technology vendors

At the NAB show this week, Accenture announced its Over-the-Top TV solution. Key features of the Accenture solution include:

  • Broadcast TV with Video on Demand and interactive application, which enables viewers to see any movie or TV series episode they may have missed. The interactive application enables operators to gather real-time audience data.
  • Personal TV experience, which enables individual household viewers to create a personal profile, customize TV needs, create categories, and share contents with friends, schedule programming, and purchase and record content, over their PC or mobile phone.
  • Targeted personalized advertising, which enables providers to tailor advertising to each user, according to favorite content, most-viewed content, and community profile. Users can also choose to receive the advertising that meets their interests, which can help reduce “channel surfing.”
  • Interactive advertising which enables viewers to express their interest in a product shown on a TV commercial, via a “wish list” application that the user can access later through a web portal.

Accenture is joining a growing list of companies that are working to supply TV manufacturers with solutions to bring Web content to high-definition displays. The Accenture effort looks like it would compare with efforts from the likes of DivX, Google, IBM, and Yahoo!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Barbie, meet KIN"

Microsoft this week announced their KIN social networking devices (phones) designed for a younger set whose primary interest, in addition to an occasional phone call, is social networking. The timing of the announcement interestingly coincides with news that the sagging Palm phone maker is up for sale, having missed several windows of opportunity to capture growing consumer interest in smartphones. Microsoft, expert marketers that they are, have left no question as to who is the target demographic. They may have carved out a position in a tight, yet well-defined demographic well served by Disney, Miley Cyrus and the Twilight crowd. These tweeners and teens may have the income to purchase a smartphone but find their allowance lacks the heft to support the iPhone data plan. In the bloody battle of mobile phone marketing, Microsoft may be content to win a small slice of the growing pie. After all, Zune keeps on quietly plugging in the shadow of the iPod.

Parks Associates’ Consumer Decision Process research of buyers of CE products revealed that Nokia, once the unequaled leader of the U.S. mobile phone market, last year fell to the bottom of the list of brands of basic mobile phones that people would recommend, as measured by Net Promoter Score (NPS). We have to assume that the bright minds at Microsoft did not enter this arena without extensive, long-term battle plans well drawn.

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55% of TVs to Be Internet-Connected by 2013

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Number of smartphones worldwide exceeded 180 million units in 2009

New research from Parks Associates, host of the upcoming executive summit CONNECTIONS™ Europe, indicates that the number of smartphones shipped in 2009 topped 180 million units worldwide, with Nokia, Research in Motion, and Apple sharing 60% of the market. Annual sales will reach almost 400 million by 2014, and as the number of users approaches one billion, consumer demand will grow for mobile broadband services that can share content, particularly high-quality video, across connected devices and the home network.

CONNECTIONS™ Europe, April 27 at the Mövenpick Hotel in Amsterdam, will feature consumer research and analysis on these new service opportunities in the mobile sector in the session “Mobile Video: The Cloud, The App Store & the Connected Home.”

Session speakers:

-- Klaus Milczewsky, Senior Mgr, Deutsche Telekom AG
-- Peter Percosan, CTO, Cable Europe Labs
-- Andy Tiller, Marketing Vice Chair, Femto Forum

In a recent Parks Associates survey on mobile convergence, over one-third of U.S. smartphone users expressed an interest in streaming multimedia content stored on home CE to their mobile device. Service providers will have to adapt their mobile and video strategies to meet the demands of multiple platforms, and the panelists will discuss these challenges, plus the impact of new devices such as the iPad and the HP Slate.

For information or to register for CONNECTIONS™ Europe, visit

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Parks Associates Analyst speaks at the NAB Show

Pietro Macchiarella, Research Analyst from Parks Associates is moderating the NAB Show's Broader-casting track "Digital Shopping: Video Transforms eCommerce & the Retail Experience" on Tuesday, April 13, 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. in Las Vegas.

“All digital, everywhere, all the time” enables new networks to thrive and supports new outlets for syndication or licensing. Programming can be tied to video shopping, taking place on multiple devices within and outside of the home. And now other environments can support standalone video networks which allow sell-through to move products, expanding the notion of brand ROI. Even better for the consumer— video can also transform retail spaces into experiential marketing experiences.

For more information about the NAB Show, click here.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Samsung keynote at CONNECTIONS™ explores future of LCD technology and 3D TV

Parks Associates announced Scott Birnbaum, Vice President, Samsung LCD Group, will deliver the morning keynote, “TV Technology in the New Age of Consumer Buying,” at CONNECTIONS™ on June 9, 2010.

CONNECTIONS™: The Digital Living Conference and Showcase, in its 14th year, will take place June 8-10, 2010, at the Santa Clara Convention Center. CONNECTIONS™ is the premier event for research and analysis of connected home technologies and digital living solutions, with over 600 executives attending each year.

Mr. Birnbaum will speak at 10:00 a.m., June 9, on the future of LCD technology, the accelerated movement toward a 16:9 aspect ratio, and the prognosis for 3D in the home. He will explore the implications for TV design and manufacturing as consumers demand thin, energy-efficient form factors that provide crystal-clear, movie-like experiences.

He will also discuss the need for easy-to-understand data so consumers can understand and make informed choices about thinness, backlighting, energy consumption, contrast and aspect ratios, and refresh rates.

CONNECTIONS™ features multiple sessions on next-generation video services and the growing demand for interactive entertainment, including 3D and connected TV, personalization of applications, Internet video, and mobile applications. Sessions include industry-leading consumer research and executive analysis to highlight the next opportunities and future business strategies for video technologies and platforms, multiscreen experiences, and value-added services.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

FCC and the Thin Line of Net Neutrality

A federal appeals court has determined that the FCC does not have the authority to enforce net neutrality. Who wins and who loses? In theory, the broadband communications service providers are the big winners here – enabling them to adopt tiered pricing such that heavy video or media users will likely pay more for broadband than grandma, who typically uses broadband to check email, perform some light surfing, or occasionally download a few photos. Tiered pricing will cause the big users to pay more when they receive more and will provide incentives for communications providers to build larger pipes to feed the big users. It seems that this will create more profits, more competition and eventually more tax revenues. To me it sounds like the ”invisible hand” fast at work.

The downside, of course, is that grandma’s YouTube or Hulu usage experience may be compromised, causing her to think poorly of media rich sites which may jitter, download slowly, or be simply off limits unless she is willing to pay a premium fee. Looming larger, however, is the increasing digital divide, limiting access to markets, information, research and entertainment by those without the means to buy higher speed broadband.

Free markets, most of us agree, require some degree of regulation. The FCC must have some power to require subsidized service to rural markets or to provide basic, low-cost broadband access to the economically disadvantaged or to those that simply don’t want more. Perhaps this week’s court ruling is merely just a redrawing of the fine line between free enterprise and limited regulation. Proposing a re-classification of broadband as "telecommunications" under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is simply gerrymandering.

We the People have determined that it is the inalienable right of every U.S. citizen to vote, to have a public education and now health insurance. Is it every American’s right to have low-cost access to high-speed, high-quality Internet video?

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Parks Associates Analysts speaking at Broadband Properties Summit 2010

Parks Associates is supporting and speaking at the upcoming Broadband Properties Summit from April 26th-28th in Dallas, Texas.

Harry Wang, Director, Health & Mobile Product Research, Parks Associates, is moderating the panel, "The Growth of Telemedicine in FTTH Communities" on Tuesday, April 27 from 8:00 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.

Bill Ablondi, Director Home Systems, Parks Associates, is moderating the panel, "How FTTH Enables the Smart Grid" on Tuesday, April 27 from 3:50 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

The 7th annual Broadband Properties Summit is the premier fiber-to-the-premises industry event. Each year, it enables a comprehensive look at the FTTP landscape, from today’s success stories to tomorrow’s deployments, technology, and consumer demands. More Info

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Monday, April 05, 2010

LA Games Conference supported by Parks

Parks Associates is supporting the LA Games Conference on April 29 in Los Angeles, CA.

Over 300 of the most influential decision-makers in the games industry gather for the LA Games Conference to network, do deals, and share ideas about the future of console, PC, online and mobile games. LA Games Conference – now in its fourth year – features a lively and fun debate on timely cutting-edge business topics, demos as well unrivaled access to some of the most progressive companies in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond. We invite you to join us at the event and take part in the discussion with executives, creators, analysts, press and professional gamers who will be instrumental in shaping the future of this booming business. The event is designed to be interactive like the world we live in giving delegates the opportunity to share their ideas live at the event via text message and in moderated roundtable meetings.

For more information, visit .

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Parks Associates hosting Mobile Internet Devices Webcast

Parks Associates is hosting a Mobile Internet Devices webcast on Thursday, April 22nd at 1 PM Central.

2009 saw rapid growth for netbooks fueled in part by the strong appetite from consumers for an ultraportable, always-connected device. What are the long-term trends driving adoption of an increasing number of Internet-connected portable devices, like ebook reader, MP3 player, and GPS device, vying for specialized applications or roles in consumer’s digital lifestyle?

For more information, visit

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