Parks Associates Blog

Friday, October 29, 2010

Industry Group Launches Entertainment Registry

A new industry initiative is underway to tag every commercial digital video worldwide, helping group every asset into one catalog with the hopes of streamlining digital delivery and simplify commercial transactions of digital video. The intiative, Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR), aims to simplify the task of tracking all of the millions of new videos coming from content companies and distribution channels, making life easier for everyone in the digital entertainment supply chain.

Much like International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for the book industry, the EIDR would assign a single, unique identification code to movie and TV assets. But because of the different versions of single video assets — including different version edits, formats, regions, languages, subtitles, standard definition, high-def and so on — the sheer amount of digital tags EIDR will have to undertake will be much larger than any other media tagging ever undertaken.

The international coalition is being led by MovieLabs, CableLabs, Comcast and Rovi, and four of the six major studios — Warner, Paramount, Disney and Sony — have backed the initiative, with Fox and Paramount in talks with the group, Powers said. The Motion Picture Association of America, Deluxe Digital Studios, Neustar, Civolution and Vobile are also among the industry groups that have also signed on. The service is expected to get off the ground in 2011. The group is an independent nonprofit supported by member dues, and the system is built on an open Digital Object Identifier [DOI] standard. The International DOI Foundation has 10,000 organizations worldwide using its registry system.

For the full article, please click here.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What about advanced hybrid television services in the U.S.? Skitter.TV and Verismo Networks

For now, much of the attention about hybrid television services that combine over-the-air programming with IP video-on-demand and streams from other online video sources has been focused on Europe, and rightfully so. In fact, many "IPTV" efforts in Europe are themselves hybrids, among them BT Vision and Telefónica. Between operator-deployed hybrids such as IPTV and retail-based hybrid approaches, we anticipate that Europe will have more than 60 million households receiving hybrid television services by 2015.

But what about the U.S. market? Up until now, hybrids have been a more difficult proposition, as pay-TV has been the norm. In fact, our recently-released Digital Living Forecast Workbook indicates that pay-TV services will reach approximately 87% of all U.S. households by year-end.

However, there are at least two drivers for the consideration of hybrid services:
  1. Consumers are getting more fed up with high television prices and may consider ways to either reduce or eliminate their pay-TV services altogether. In fact, our study All Eyes on Video reveals very little satisfaction for the cost of pay-TV services, with the exception of subscribers to AT&T U-verse or Verizon FiOS services. I suppose these folks are still in the honeymoon stage.
  2. Second, the hybrid services themselves are becoming more compelling, both in price and features. Take Sezmi for example - for as low as $4.99 a month (and a $149.99 one-time hardware purchase from the local Best Buy), subscribers receive their local channels an HD DVR, and access to VoD. For $19.99, subscribers receive 80 cable TV channels.

I think that hybrid approaches will be something about which we'll be hearing a whole lot more, particularly with events such as TelcoTV November 9-11. We're already seeing some pre-announcements, including Skitter Inc. and and Verismo Networks.

Skitter.TV is a hybrid IPTV/over-the-top video platform enabling telecom service providers and entertainment content companies to encode, configure, deliver and monetize streaming media services. Skitter.TV provides a broadband media experience on computers, televisions, mobile devices and gaming consoles. The end-to-end video and audio solution includes head-end hardware and software for integrated Web video, live (linear) cable network and broadcast TV, digital audio, and video-on-demand content, delivered over IP via DSL, fiber optics or wireless networks. Skitter.TV's end-user software and program guide offer consumers premium-quality high definition (HD) or standard definition (SD) multiscreen entertainment service that combines live TV, over-the-top Web video, on-demand content, digital audio and apps, all in one unified, remote-control-driven environment.

Verismo Networks announced its next-generation high-definition VuNow Internet TV platform that allows Multi System Operators (MSOs), Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Telcos to bring linear channels combined with value-added internet applications over the Internet to their subscribers. By using the internet as a distribution method, service providers can rapidly expand their existing footprint and reach new global markets with minimal investment in their infrastructure.

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Worldwide broadband households to hit 530 million by year-end; residential gateways top 130 million households

Key Numbers
  • Worldwide residential broadband subscriptions are expected to grow from 530 million at year-end 2010 to more than 730 million by year-end 2015.
  • Worldwide households with home networks will grow from 50% of all broadband Internet households to nearly two-thirds by year-end 2015.
  • Global households with residential gateways are expected to grow from 130 million at year-end 2010 to more than 300 million by year-end 2015.
  • Potential connected home revenues for broadband service providers and managed video operators are expected to grow from $16 billion by year-end 2010 to more than $60 billion by year-end 2015.
Inside the Digital Living Forecast Workbook
As the Broadband World Forum kicks off in Paris, France, today, Dallas-based Parks Associates forecasts that worldwide households with broadband Internet service will reach 530 million by the end of 2010. With the strong growth of home broadband connections, service providers are taking a more active role in deploying residential gateways to centralize the delivery of access services and enable new value-added connected home services. The number of worldwide households with residential gateways is expected to exceed 130 million by the end of this year. By 2015, these numbers are expected to grow to exceed 730 million broadband households and 300 million households with residential gateways.

This data comes from Parks Associates newly-released report Digital Living Forecast Workbook, a set of worldwide forecasts in 16 categories including television services, home networks, smartphones, mobile TV, HDTVs, game consoles, and Blu-ray Disc players.

The New Broadband Internet Service Provider Mindset
The mindset under which broadband service providers develop and deploy services is evolving due to two important variables:
  • Broadband as a lone service is becoming highly commoditized; as a consequence, “speeds-and-feeds”-based marketing is changing as consumers can get the same or similar services from other providers. In fact, Parks Associates’ research finds that one-half of U.S. broadband households are not aware of the broadband speed they are receiving! This finding indicates that provider promotions on speed alone won’t work. Successful marketing must focus on other factors, such as bundles that combine broadband services with other core access services, high reliability, customer support, and compelling add-on services.
  • As competition increases, customer satisfaction and retention strategies become more important. The ability of service providers to offer unique value-added services to their customers is important to retaining customers. Later on, these value-added services will create new revenue streams from high percentages of their subscribers, but providers first must sow the seeds of higher customer satisfaction for their current subscribers.

With the widespread deployment of broadband Internet services and residential gateways comes the opportunity for service providers to strengthen customer satisfaction and potentially grow revenues via the delivery of connected home value-added services.

Moving the broadband service value proposition beyond mere “speeds-and-feeds” includes the provisioning of value-added services that can increase customer satisfaction and create new revenue opportunities. Additional service offerings will fall into one of several categories:

  • Entertainment: Access to exclusive music, video, and game content; the multi-platform availability of this content, both in and outside of the home.
  • Lifestyle: Additional e-mail features (larger storage), calendaring, photo and video storage and sharing, and online storage and backup for data and digital media.
  • Premium Technical Support: Phone, chat, remote, and in-home troubleshooting and fixing services; CE device setup and configuration; managed Internet security and parental control; and additional warranties and damage protection.
  • Home and Health Management: Web cameras monitored from Web-connected devices and TVs, energy management features, and health tracking services (vital signs and health monitoring devices).

Consistent with previous Parks Associates’ previous research, recent research shows consumers rating technical support and certain lifestyle value-added services as most highly valued additional services.

We anticipate that the service provider revenue opportunity in the connected home can potentially exceed $60 billion by 2015. This projection is built in the following core services:

  • Video-on-demand;
  • Health monitoring;
  • Residential energy management;
  • Premium technical support;
  • Smart home applications; and
  • Safety monitoring.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Netflix could be the Netflix of Europe

There's LOVEFiLM attempting a Netflix-like rise in Europe, but there's also the original looking beyond North America.

According to this article, Netflix may invest US$50 million (€36 million) in the second half of next year to launch services beyond North America.

In the near term, Netflix plans to extend a subscription-based streaming service already tested in Canada to the US if tests currently under way are successful, according to CEO Reed Hastings, who said that plans for expansion outside North America could follow soon after.

“Our success with our pure streaming offering in Canada at $7.99 has encouraged us to test this model in the USA. If our results are as strong as we think they will be, then we will look to start this offering later in this Q4,” said Hastings on the company’s website as the company posted strong quarterly results last week. “Pure streaming could become our core offering in the USA, and DVD would be offered as a supplement for an additional charge, like we offer Blu-ray today. We'll know by the holiday season if consumers would prefer this more streaming-centric approach.”

Hastings said Netflix would look to launch internationally if conditions continued to look positive. “If we continue to gain confidence in a large return on our Canadian investment, and we have confidence in the financial return on further geographic expansion, then we'll look to grow beyond North America starting in the second half of 2011,” he said. “In that case, we would invest approximately $50 million for beyond-North-America expansion in the second half of 2011, and our addressable market would increase significantly.”

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Can I rely solely on Internet streams to replace traditional TV? Netflix says yes, while the studios say no

Here are a couple of news items that show both sides of the potential "cord-cutting" story.

First, Netflix is reported to be trialing a streaming-only plan, costing $7.99 a month. Or, is it $8.99 a month?

At the same time, the studios are taking a harder stance to the availability of ad-supported streams of television shows, reports the Associated Press. Broadcasters took a big step toward eliminating free TV shows on the Web after they blocked access to their programming online this month to enforce their demands to be paid.

Recent actions by Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS in two separate fee disputes suggest that after a few years of experimenting with free, ad-supported viewing, broadcasters believe they can make more money from cable-TV providers if they hold back some programming online.

And, the rumor du joir regarding Hulu is that its Hulu Plus service fee may be cut in half, to $4.95 per month.

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Parks Associates CEO to moderate two sessions at Broadband World Forum 2010

Tricia Parks, CEO, Parks Associates is participating on the panel, "Managing Household Energy" on Tuesday, October 26th from 3:30 PM at the Broadband World Forum in France. Tricia Parks is also hosting a breakfast briefing, "Getting Consumers to Care about Home Controls" on Wednesday, October 27 at 8:00 AM.

Broadband World Forum Europe focuses on convergence, interoperability, and the transformation of carrier networks and is hosted in Paris, France Oct 26-28, 2010. Tricia Parks’ energy presentation will focus on actions consumers in the U.S. are taking to manage their energy usage as well as on their attitudes towards emerging services to help that effort and the entities offering those services. During the breakfast briefing, she will be highlighting new applications driving home controls systems.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

It's ADB and not Netgem buying Pirelli Broadband

Instead of Netgem, it's ADB buying Pirelli Broadband, as reported by CED. The set-top box/residential gateway convergence continues.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

EU TV Markets: Progress of IPTV, VOD, DTT services

The Western European market for television service features a diverse set of offerings and regulations across nations. Terrestrial services are a common choice among consumers in all nations, but IPTV is making inroads in some areas, with France in particular serving as a worldwide leader in IPTV growth. The following is a brief overview of several key countries, with information and data from Parks Associates' recent report Television Services: Global Outlook (Second Edition).

The upcoming executive summit CONNECTIONS Europe™, November 15-16 in Amsterdam, will feature multiple sessions focused on advanced TV services and devices, including "Consumers and Connected Consumer Electronics," "Bringing the Content: Content Delivery and Control for Connected TVs," "Extending the Video Experience to Multiple Screens," and "Value-added Services & the Video Ecosystem." Register Today at

To read more about the EU TV Markets: Progress of IPTV, VOD, DTT services, subscribe to Parks Associates' European Research Update Newsletter.

Click here to subscribe to other Parks Associates complimentary newsletters.

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Avanquest and SoftAtHome Partner to Bring Parental Controls Elements to the RG

Avanquest Software and SoftAtHome have partnered to bring universal parental control capabilities to networking devices. With SoftAtHome's focus on residential gateway and set-top box software, this feature will apply parental controls to different types of home network devices, including smartphones, connected television, tablet computer, game console, and more.

We are already seeing strong uptake in broadband service provider-deployed parental controls software in Europe. From our Customer Support in the Digital Home: Europe study, we find that the French market leads others in current use and interest in these features. With multi-platform support, interest is likely to grow.

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Get your tent and your reading material - the Boxee Box is available on November 10

I don't suppose that it will attract the zaniness associated with the release of Apple products, but the Boxee Box will be available on November 10 (Boxee and D-Link had previously reported the November date), and there will be a launch event in New York City. Just in case you're there...

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Verizon on top of a huge trend - transforming the smartphone into a remote controller

I imagine that every service provider will soon be enabling remote control capabilities on smartphones and tablet computers; it just seems that Verizon's FiOS is ahead of the usual. The company reports that its Mobile Remote application is now available on more than forty devices.

The FiOS TV Mobile Remote app can be downloaded to Apple’s iPhone and iPod devices and will soon be available for download on tablet devices. Mobile Remote - which launched in February on DROID by Motorola - is also available on every device running Android software v.2.1 or above that supports Wi-Fi.

Verizon’s suite of applications is available for download - at no additional cost - in the Verizon Wireless Media Store, the Android Market, Apple’s App Store and BlackBerry App World. After just one year in the market, both Verizon’s DVR Manager, which lets customers manage DVR settings via their smart phone, and Mobile Remote have been downloaded more than 500,000 times.

In our Broadband, Communications & Entertainment Bundles study (press release here), we find that one-third of consumers in U.S. broadband households are highly interested in such a feature. So, yes, this one is going to be a difference-maker.

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Intel making headway in the service provider market with "smart TV" solutions?

After several missteps into the living room, Intel seems to have made significant progress in working with service providers and their CPE vendors. There have been announcements with Technicolor, Telecom Italia, and Liberty Global/UPC this year. Now, Reuters is reporting that Intel and Chunghwa Telecom are in discussions for a "smart TV initiative.

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Samsung working on single software for both connected TVs and mobile handsets

Although Silicon Valley powers such as Google and Yahoo! get the lion's share of attention regarding their plans for the connected TV strategies (yesterday's article in Home Media Magazine discusses this and cites our data), the TV manufacturers (who also happen to make mobile handsets in some cases) are harboring their own ambitions.

From Reuters, Samsung Electronics is developing a joint software platform for use on its cellphones and televisions, hoping wider audience attracts more developers to use its products.

"We have a plan to have a single platform for Samsung TV and phones," Kyungsik Kevin Lee, vice president at Samsung's Visual Display Division, told Reuters in an interview.

The article speculates that LG Electronics and Sony - given their handset development - would also pursue a similar path.

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Smartphones + Tablets Most Popular Consumer Electronic Products as Holiday Season Approaches

Parks Associates reports consumer electronics buying in the U.S. rebounded in the first half of 2010, with 63% of broadband households making at least one purchase, a rate 6% higher than in the first half of 2009.

Smartphones promise to be the highest selling product through the end of the year, fueled by both repeat and first-time purchases. Twenty-one percent of broadband households intend to purchase a smartphone by year’s end, according to the report Consumer Decision Process: 1H 2010 and 2010 Summer Update. Of those intending to purchase a new smartphone in the next four months, 28% report an iPhone preference, 23% want a Blackberry, and 20% want an Android-based phone.

The study found that, on average, buying households purchased 4.3 CE products and spent $1,094 in the first half of 2010. Smartphones were a top purchase across most demographic segments, particularly among younger consumers, and 3-4% of broadband households bought at least one Apple iPad tablet. The study also reveals that standard iPad buyers are typical early adopters – they are younger than 35 with a graduate degree and household income greater than $100,000.

Parks Associates is currently launching 2010 Holiday Intentions, which will provide incidence of product ownership and data on 3Q 2010 purchases and purchase intentions for the 2010 holiday season.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quantenna gets a design win with Swisscom and NETGEAR

The expanded role of wireless networks in a managed video realm (that is, distributed video from a pay-TV provider) has been an area of speculation, but not a whole lot of action. We've seen consumer electronics manufacturers willing to experiment with next-gen wireless solutions in devices such as digital video players (Roku, etc.) and even connected TVs, but we haven't really seen many operators going the wireless route whole-home DVR features or even bridging between a residential gateway and one or more set-top boxes.

Which makes the announcement from Quantenna today a potential harbinger.
Quantenna announced that its full-11n™ 4x4 MIMO 802.11n chipset has been selected by NETGEAR® for a video-bridge solution that Swisscom has used to complete field trials of the first high-definition (HD) video-over-Wi-Fi service.

In 2008, Swisscom began working with Quantenna to define and develop video service-delivery technology that provides whole-home coverage at very high data rates, which is mandatory for services and applications such as HDTV. NETGEAR, whose first video bridge was introduced in January 2008 at CES, joined the partnership in 2009 to deliver a video bridge that uses Quantenna’s Full-11n product to transport multiple HD video streams from residential gateways to multiple set-top boxes around the home

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The return of the "Tire Kickers" to CES

Exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show typically find the last day - now a Sunday - to be a particularly slow day. Most industry participants do their best to get their meetings out of the way on Thursday and Friday to head home for the weekend. However, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) will open the doors once again to consumers on the final day, providing for heavier show floor traffic and perhaps allowing companies to find their next gadget guinea pig. Here's the news from TWICE:

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) will invite individuals -consumers -- to become part of CEA, and to celebrate membership they will be able to attend the last day of the 2011 International CES in January.

Outgoing CEA chairman Gary Yacoubian (left) with CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro at Tuesday's luncheon at the CEA Industry Forum

That was the main surprise in the keynote of Gary Shapiro, president/CEO of CEA, during his keynote speech at Tuesday lunch during the organization's Industry Forum, being held at the Fairmont Hotel, here, in which he discussed the industry, the economy and a little politics.

Consumers will be invited to become members of CEA for the first time -- who will be called Consumer Technology Enthusiasts, or CTEs.

These new members will be able to participate in beta tests of new products, be part of an online community, and be given insider access to the industry, Shapiro said.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time Warner is Expanding TV Everywhere to Include Live ESPN Sports

The Time Warner Cable and ESPN TV Everywhere partnership will be the first big test of the stickiness of access to live sports in an authenticated service. We think that the cable operators' high-definition capabilities, growing VoD libraries, and aggregated live sports are among the chief weapons at their disposal to fend off cord-cutting. It will be quite interesting to see if TWC will report any figures on the usage of the ESPN content, as well as any impact this has on customer satisfaction and retention.

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Parks Associates Analyst Participating in Converged TV: Building the Social, Dynamic Video Platform Webcast

Kurt Scherf, VP, Principal Analyst, Parks Associates will be participating on the webcast, "Converged TV: Building the Social, Dynamic Video Platform" hosted by Multichannel News and sponsored by Motorola on Wednesday, October 27th at 2:00 PM EDT.

With the next generation of television services, viewers will become doers. The fusion of TV with Internet and mobile applications, if done right, should greatly enhance engagement and interactivity. It's no longer just one-way TV: These services will enable interaction with friends around video; seamlessly span multiple devices; and deliver contextually relevant content. This webinar will provide an overview of this emerging class of converged media services-and discuss how service providers can use them to gain a competitive edge.

Click here for the list of the other speakers and additional event information.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Ruckus Wireless: 802.11n's Role in Mobile Broadband

The bandwidth challenges inherent to today's mobile broadband services are well-reported, particularly with the heavy usage of AT&T's iPhone customers on its 3G network. Although mobile broadband network upgrades continue, operators are looking at other solutions to reduce network constraints. Wi-Fi is one such solution, and most of the activity has been focused on encouraging users to leverage the Wi-Fi connections on their smartphones along with the in-home access point (which is now found in nearly 30% of U.S. households).

However, Ruckus Wireless today announced what it calls "carrier grade" Wi-Fi products - including an outdoor access, a backhaul bridge, indoor equipment, and sytem-wide remote Wi-Fi management software - positioned as a strategic solution to the demand for mobile broadband access. Ruckus notes that the consumption of mobile bandwidth is outpacing revenue growth, and operators will need a Wi-Fi solution to augment 3G and 4G networks.

We're pleased to welcome Ruckus Wireless to our CONNECTIONS™ Europe Summit - 15 and 16 November - in Amsterdam. They will be represented on a panel discussion titled Mobile Broadband: Devices, Strategies, and Consumer Demand.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

UPC's Horizon Gateway Revealed: Europe's Cablecos are Pushing RGs

Yesterday's news highlighted what NDS was expecting to show at SCTE next week in terms of a residential gateway platform. Today, there is an article highlighting the UPC Horizon Connected Home Gateway, which is expected to deploy across UPC's European network beginning in 2011.

The Horizon gateway will provide access for both broadband and pay-TV services, enable whole-home DVR, and allow any content stored on the home network (PCs and other storage devices) to be viewed on the main TV.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Alcatel-Lucent's Velocix and Its Strategic Alliance Program

Here's more evidence that the incumbent video infrastructure companies are quickly rolling the devleopment of solutions for multi-content and multi-platform delivery.

On Wednesday, Alcatel-Lucent announced a strategic alliance program for the Velocix Digital Media Delivery Platform to ensure that service providers can benefit from a range of pre-integrated technology components to accelerate the deployment of multiscreen consumer solutions.

Initial members of this alliance program include: 3Crowd, Adobe, Aspera, Blue Coat Systems, Clearleap, Elemental Technologies, Harmonic, Inlet Technologies, Microsoft, RGB Networks, Rights Tracker, thePlatform™, and VidZapper.

Focused on digital media delivery solutions, this program creates an ecosystem of some of the major players in the application and content provider space similar to Alcatel-Lucent’s leading role in the award winning, multi-industry ng Connect Program, which focuses on the development of next generation of broadband services based on Long Term Evolution (LTE). This open collaboration will result in innovative and creative bundled multimedia offers that service provides can quickly deploy and take to market.

This new strategic alliance program brings together key players throughout the industry to foster collaboration in four main focus areas: • Manage – For Content Management, Ingestion and Encoding • Publish – Players, EPG/UI and Feed Aggregation • Monetise – Ad management, Revenue enablers, Transaction processing • Deliver – Velocix Digital Media Delivery Platform provides the delivery capabilities Alliance members will benefit from direct interaction with engineering and development teams to accelerate solution design and enable knowledge and skill sharing to accelerate deal cycles.

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More Set-top Box/Home Network Convergence: Netgem is Evaluating the Purchase of Pirelli

There are certainly synergies that exist between companies in the set-top box and residential gateway markets, and the acquisitions have followed, with a particular focus on the European market. First, there was NDS and Jungo back in late 2006. Pace Micro has been on a tear in 2010, acquiring both Bewan Systems and 2Wire. Of course, one cannot forget Technicolor, which brings requisite hardware, software, and content delivery to the table.

Now, Netgem has confirmed that it is evaluating the purchase of Pirelli Broadband Solutions. Pirelli Broadband Solutions specialises in products and platforms for the broadband connected homes and offices. Its business covers residential access gateways, hybrid IPTV set-top boxes , remote management and embedded middlewares.

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NDS to Demonstrate its Über-gateway at the SCTE Show

There have been a number of announcements this year regarding cable operators' push toward deploying customer premise equipment that takes on the functionality of the residential gateway, set-top boxes, media server, and manager of remote user interfaces. So far, I've seen news from Liberty Global, and NDS is preparing to introduce its version at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo next week.

Demonstrations will include:
  • Secure end-to-end delivery of triple and quad play services from a single managed gateway device: featuring NDS’ Unified Gateway - an advanced media server that enables unified delivery of video, data and voice services in and outside of the home network from a single point-of-access. The Unified Gateway integrates residential gateway, home networking connectivity and optional DVR functions through a single home-based device. It helps MSOs to converge and launch new offerings with home network connectivity supporting a wide range of IP-enabled entertainment and communication devices.
  • Unified end-user experiences across multiple devices: using NDS Snowflake - an advanced user interface (UI) that provides an integrated portal for broadcast, DVR, on-demand and over-the-top programming. Snowflake UI enables high performance and unified experiences for the end user, on a wide variety of connected-devices, such as TVs, set-top boxes, DVRs, PCs, and smartphones.

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The "Netflix of Europe"? LOVEFiLM streaming content available on PS3

LOVEFiLM's streamed content (about 5,000 titles) has been available on Sony BRAVIA® and Samsung Internet @ TV HDTVs and Blu-ray players in the U.K.. Now, this content is available on PlayStation 3 game consoles, expanding LOVEFiLM's potential footprint to about three million homes.

LOVEFiLM offers a subscription service starting from £5.99 (€6.80) a month. PlayStation users will be able to access the service via the console’s XMB menu system. Lovefilm is set to launch on the console in November.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Connected TVs in the managed video realm - announcements from Widevine and ADB today

There were a couple of announcements today that point to an expanded role for connected TVs beyond "over-the-top" video. Instead, the connected TV can also serve as a gateway for managed video services. Companies such as Verimatrix, Clearleap, thePlatform, Cisco, Motorola, ActiveVideo Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens, and Ericsson have all made recent announcements in this area.

Now, ADB has joined the fray, offering a solution called the Virtual Gateway. This sofware solution distributes multimedia capabilities throughout the home. Some use cases that ADB highlights are a user's ability to enjoy pay-TV, music and videos from wherever they are in the home: subscribers can use their gaming consoles to tune to a pay-TV channel or watch recorded programs, or access music tracks and videos stored on their DVR and play them on their smart phones.

Also, Widevine continues to make announcements regarding its adaptive streaming solution. The company announced that it has signed a global agreement with LG Electronics (LG) to distribute Widevine’s live and on-demand adaptive streaming, virtual DVD controls and digital rights management (DRM) on LG connected products. Widevine’s DRM and adaptive streaming software are already included in 2009 models of LG Blu-ray players and home theaters shipped in the United States. This agreement enables LG to expand distribution to more devices, on a worldwide basis.

Widevine’s video optimization and DRM platform will now be included on a wide variety of additional LG products, including connected TVs. Widevine’s video optimization technology ensures that consumers using LG products receive an excellent quality of viewing experience for both live and on-demand content. Widevine’s DRM keeps premium content secure, regardless of the LG device to which it is delivered .

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Sonus Names A New CEO

This week at their user conference in Palm Springs, FL, Sonus named a new CEO. Ray Dolan, a former telco (Bell Atlantic and Nynex) and industry technology (Qualcomm and Nextwave) exec is taking over the position from Richard Nottenburg, who will step down as president, CEO and director.

Sonus has faced business challenges in recent years, made worse by the pull back in service provider spending during the economic downturn. The competitive playing field in the carrier VoIP market as well, with Genband growing through acquisition of Nortel’s VoIP assets and an energized Metaswitch are its biggest challengers.

For the full article, please click here.
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Sony introduces its Google TV products

Sony's Internet TV products were showcased its Google TV™ products on Tuesday, including both TVs and a Blu-ray Disc Player/"smart TV adapter" box (like the Logitech Revue), priced around $400 (the Revue is priced at around $300). Given consumers' hesitancy to add yet one more box into their main entertainment console, I wonder if they would be more receptive to the idea of an integrated Blu-ray Disc player/smart TV adapter compared to a stand-alone box? $400 is a big premium on the standard connected Blu-ray players - a quick scan of Best Buy's offerings shows pricing at around $230 (if not well below that), but consumers may see much greater utility in the Google TV product's ability to provide more of an open Web environment, as opposed to just be locked into certain applications.

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Parks Associates is supporting DiscoveryBeat

Parks Associates is supporting DiscoveryBeat 2010 on October 18th 2010 in San Francisco, CA.

DiscoveryBeat 2010 is an event focused on the “secret recipe” for application discovery and monetization. We’re gathering the movers and shakers in the emerging app discovery ecosystem to take an in-depth look at these issues, and why their strategies are working.

The event will attract 300+ mobile and social developers, major platform providers, advertising players, venture capitalists, and press. For more information, please click here.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apple ipad- Fastest Adopted Consumer Electronic Device

The Apple iPad is proving to be one of the most successful consumer electronic devices of all time. Despite much derision at its time of launch, the iPad is now selling faster than the iPhone and leading the way in the worldwide tablet revolution.

At this rate, the Apple iPad is not only flying of the shelves faster than the iPhone, but is also far ahead of entire categories of tech products like the 350,000 DVD players that sold in the first year. The iPad will reach sales of $9 billion in 2011, making it the fourth largest category of electronics and putting it ahead of cellular phones and game consoles.

The rest of the market is obviously affected by the huge success of the iPad, which is the reason why so many manufacturers are starting to produce similar tablets of their own. However, only time will tell if the Microsoft and Google Android tablets starting to hit the shelves have what it takes to acheive the same kind of consumer excitement as the iPad.

For the full article, please click here.

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GDC Online 2010 - The Short Course

After an exciting week at GDC Online, the online game developer's conference (Oct 5 – 8, Austin, Texas), I must confess that I am both exhausted (they are a very social set) and impressed with where the industry is headed. Although the misconception is still alive for some, online gamers do not all look like escapees from a Wayne’s World casting call. Au contraire; most online gamers look like, well, you and me. Depending on the gaming genre, you may now find yourself rubbing elbows with young professionals, stay at home moms/dads or your own middle-aged, albeit still youthful, parents while playing online ( to avoid too many in game discussions of your misspent youth).

It is a whole new world out there. And that world is getting bigger, thanks, in part, to online social gaming (who knew that virtual cows, crops or mob hits could be so much fun?) and mobile gaming. This is not to say that the traditional MMO is out, for there were many bright, shiny, new, beautifully crafted full-fledged massively multi-player games on display at the event. The graphics of these offerings were incredible and the game play was definitely designed to appeal to a wider audience.

It was an educational week for me and I am thankful to everyone who took the time to meet with us, offer an introduction or simply share their time. I am especially grateful to the other members of our panel, How Economic Context Affects Game Development from Start-Up to Grown-Up Companies, as well to the Canadian Consulate General Trade Commission that helped to put it together. I also appreciate the time and patience of the Metaverse Mod Squad group who were always on hand to answer questions and put things into perspective.

I am looking forward to the next gaming conference (E3, in June 2011), where I hope to add to the useful information garnered at this one, including:

• The mobile game development cycle is far shorter than the traditional game development cycle;

• Children are highly accomplished multi-taskers online; some having the ability to squeeze, on average, 11 hours of game play, social networking and media downloads into only 7.5 hours; and

• Game developers are oddly obsessed with zombies. Truly, they love unleashing them on other characters, sending them through obstacle courses, blowing them up, leaving them in odd places and giving them day jobs that require them to carry a briefcase in their cold, dead hands.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Sezmi and Oregan Networks Offer Solutions for Interactive TV in Developing Markets

It's interesting that two different releases crossed my desk this morning, both related to interactive television services in developing markets (Malaysia and Latin America), but with different approaches.

Oregan Networks and Telefónica announced a collaboration whereby Oregan's Web hardware an software solutions will be used to bring online video and other Web content to Telefónica's customers via a set-top box. Although 64% of Telefónica's subscriber base is in Latin America, IPTV and other pay-TV services are notably limited in their deployments in this region. According to a recent Parks Associates study, however, television services in the Latin America market will grow by double digits over the next five years, outpacing service growth in Asia and other emerging markets.

Sezmi, a provider of a hybrid digital television offering in the U.S., has extended its reach into Malaysia with an agreement with YTL Communications, the Internet arm of YTL Corporation, Malaysia’s leading utilities and infrastructure company. The service will provide for wireless delivery of all consumer entertainment and communications services to homes and mobile devices in Malaysia by the end of 2011.

The wireless “quadruple play” service will offer voice, data and television services to the home and mobile devices over a hybrid broadcast and 4G wireless network. This hybrid television component of the offering is based on Sezmi’s television solution, which has already been deployed in the U.S. market.

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Parks Associates is supporting GridWeek

Parks Associates is supporting GridWeek, on October 18th 2010 in Washington, D.C.

Globally recognized as the must-attend Smart Grid gathering, GridWeek is the only event with a proven history of attracting the complete diversity of global Smart Grid stakeholders to explore Smart Grid’s impact on the economy, utility infrastructure, consumers and the environment.

Planned by a representative committee of industry stakeholders, GridWeek’s agenda is focused on the most relevant industry topics, defining the agenda for Smart Grid advancement.

For more information, please click here.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

Wyplay extends connectivity software beyond NAS - Supports advanced TV services from Vodafone and SFR

It's good to see companies like Wyplay getting design wins in the digital television space. Broadband TV News reports that the company's software has been chosen to power Vodafone's new hybrid television service in Spain and Italy, and SFR in France has also chosen it for its new offering. Time was when networked "middleware" players such as Wyplay were relegated to a specific market, such as home NAS/media servers. Companies such as Rovi and PacketVideo (Twonky) have taken these solutions to the next level, integrating their capabilities with user interfaces and mobile devices, which allow users to more easily aggregate content in one guide and also extend media experiences beyond the home computer.

Now, pay-TV operators are seeing merit in deploying feature-rich video services that play on multiple screens and bring to the viewer a full range of content - terrestrial, on-demand, online video, etc. This is where Wyplay's software comes into play - as a way to present all of content choices in an integrated fashion.

"We want to bring a new user experience to our customers by facilitating access, exchange, and consumption of all media; TV, internet, mobile, PC, NAS,” said Pierre-Alain Allemand, general manager Networks SFR, in a statement. “We found Wyplay to be the ideal partner to collaborate with in this adventure.” More details on the set-top box are expected before the end of the year.

Vodafone Italy has deployed the Wyplay solution for its Vodafone TV Connect service, involving a hybrid set-top box bringing together a DVB-T tuner, internet access via dedicated widgets and access to locally stored content. The TV Connect widgets include Vodafone Calcio (football), the weather, horoscopes, information and more. The STB is available in retail under €200, with discounts available for Vodafone DSL customers.

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How many U.S. homes can use Cisco ūmi™ telepresence?

I had discussed some initial thoughts about Cisco ūmi™ telepresence in an earlier post, and I had mentioned that the high price of the equipment and monthly fee would be a large deterrent to mass-market acceptance. However, what about the broadband infrastructure required? If you read the requirements that Cisco has, it's a broadband upload speed of at least 1.5 Mbps to accomodate a 720p resolution, and 3.5 Mbps for 1080p. That got us thinking about the number of homes in the U.S. that could even be eligible today. Cisco says that 31 million homes have the capabilities for ūmi today, and this figure will grow to 62 million, but we wondered if broadband upload speeds would be a constraint.

According to a report from the Communications Workers of America, the the average upload speed in the U.S. was only 1.1 Mbps. Also, as the Federal Communications Commission is advocating the nationwide availability of a 4 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream service, it notes the limitations today of services that are somewhat comparable. The FCC says that the current advertised broadband packages that come closest to their Plan are those with 3 Mbps/6 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps/1.5 Mbps upstream. The FCC reports that only 39% of cable broadband subscribers choose to subscribe to at least a 3 Mbps down/768 kbps upstream.

I’ve got FiOS 15 Mbps downstream service, and it only gives me 1.7-1.8 Mbps upstream, so I wonder how many consumers would really be able to enjoy the full benefit of ūmi.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Parks Associates Analyst Presents at Multimedia over Coax Alliance

Brett Sappington, Senior Reseach Analyst at Parks Associates will be presenting at the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA).

MoCA is hosting an interactive workshop being held at TelcoTV in Las Vegas, on Tuesday, November 9, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Speakers and case study presentations will feature pay TV operators and integrated service providers including Verizon, Comcast, Cox and DirecTV. Parks Associates will provide an overview of integrated service provider and pay TV market trends.

For the more information, please click here.

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FiOS Flex View - TV Everywhere Taken to the Next Level

I had talked about some of the recent announcements that point to the evolution of TV Everywehre services beyond authentication and online channel availability. The recent announcements (here and here) point to wider availability of premium content (TV shows and movies) on more connected devices.

Although Verizon hasn't yet announced services that extend pay-TV offerings to devices such as connected game consoles or televisions, its Flex View feature is a start. It's a video store where VoD content (rented and purchased) can be viewed on up to five authorized devices - FiOS set-top boxes, mobile phones (currently supported models include the HTC Imagio, the Samsung Omnia 2, the Blackberry Storm 2, the DROID X, the DROID 2, and Windows Mobile 6.5 handsets), PCs/laptops/netbooks, and Windows® PlayReady® compatible portable media players. It's an interesting concept, where content can be purchased/rented from any of these devices and viewed on any of them as well. From our recent studies (TV 2.0: The Consumer Perspective and All Eyes on Video), we know that there is good demand for multi-platform VoD services, so I would expect Verizon's lead to be followed quickly by other operators.

This pursuit of solutions to bring wider availability of content and viewing experiences in the digital realm is moving quickly to "cloud media" concepts, where consumers will have the capability of virtually hosting all of their media content and content owners and producers have more efficient ways of producing and delivering their content, not only on an enterprise-wide basis, but also straight to consumers. I had an interesting briefing with HP regarding their Media Cloud solutions today. HP is aiming many of its assets at this space, looking at production, post-production, content management, multi-screen delivery, business intelligence, and consumer-facing services such as video access on multiple consumer electronics and RS-DVR features. From both the consumer services perspective and the infrastructure play, this will be an incredibly interesting area to be watching in coming months.

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Western Digital Announces WD Photos™

Western Digital announced WD Photos™ (photo), the newest release of its photo viewer app, which is now optimized for iPad™ and iPhone®4. Available as a free download from iTunes®, the WD Photos app provides remote access to photos stored on a WD network hard drive including My Book® World Edition™, My Book Live™ and WD ShareSpace™. The images are displayed in native iPad and iPhone resolution, and users can access up to 285,000 of their favorite photos anywhere they can access the Internet by simply copying their pictures into the "Shared Pictures" folder on their WD network hard drive. The WD Photos photo viewer app offers a variety of new features that allow users to stay connected to more of their digital photos, including:

  • Pinch and zoom functionality so consumers can digitally zoom in on the displayed photo;
  • Horizontal split view for iPad;
  • Option to instantly post photos from the WD Photos app to users' Facebook® wall;
  • New slideshow transitions including pan and zoom, page curl, and cube;
  • Increased 5 GB capacity to support iPad's larger memory and higher resolution;
  • iPad full screen support at 1024x768; and,
  • iPhone HD/OS 3 & 4 support.

WD Photos photo viewer app, optimized for iPad and other leading Apple® mobile devices, fulfills the growing demand to view, store, and consolidate photos on the go. Although digital photo viewing is not new, our Consumer Storage Opportunities report found that, 68 percent of broadband households viewed digital photos at least monthly in 2009, compared to 59 percent in 2006.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Logitech's Google TV Accessories

Logitech unveiled its Google TV accessories today, centered on the Revue™ companion box. The additional products showcased include:

  • Logitech Mini Controller: a compact palm-sized keyboard/ touch pad/remote control combo.
  • Logitech TV Cam and Logitech Vid™ HD: Plugs into the Revue compansion box and allows HD video calls (up to 720p).
  • Logitech Google TV Apps: Logitech will offer two downloadable smartphone apps: the Logitech Harmony for iPhone and the Logitech Harmony for Android. These apps allow consumers to use their iPhone®, iPod® Touch, iPad™, or Android device to control the Google TV experience. With just one touch of the “Watch Google TV” button, both apps can turn on your television, cable/satellite box and A/V receiver.

These products are available for pre-order today on, and, Logitech’s line of products for Google TV are expected to be available online and in Best Buy stores across the U.S. by the end of October. The Logitech Revue with Google TV suggested retail price is $299.99 (U.S.). The Logitech Mini Controller suggested retail price is $129.99 (U.S.). And the Logitech TV Cam suggested retail price is $149.99 (U.S.).

In addition to being bundled with the Logitech Revue, the Logitech Keyboard Controller will be available for purchase online as an individual item to work with other Google TV systems and will have a suggested retail price of $99.99 (U.S.).

The Logitech Harmony for Android app will be available for download from the Android Market for free. The Logitech Harmony for iPhone app is expected to be available for download from the Apple iTunes store for free.

In a separate press release today, Logitech and DISH Network announced that Logitech Revue with Google TV and accessories will also be offered to existing and prospective DISH Network customers through both Logitech and DISH Network.

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Consumer Videoconferencing Takes Center Stage - Cisco's ūmi and Vidyo's Adobe Collaboration

Cisco has made its poorly-kept secret official - it has introduced Cisco ūmi™ telepresence, a consumer videoconferencing product and service. The product (which comes with an HD camera, a console, and a remote control) will cost $599 and there is a $24.99 monthly service. In addition to some high-profile positioning at Best Buy Magnolia Home Theatre stores, Cisco is also spending major marketing dollars in Q4, with positioning on the Oprah Winfrey show, new commercials with Juno star Ellen Page, and a mall tour. Verizon will also distribute ūmi to FiOS customers in early 2011.

There are consumer trends that point to a growing desire by consumers to experience videoconferencing. From our Digital Media Evolution II study this year, 12% of consumers in broadband households are engaged in video chat using Webcams on at least a daily basis. Thanks to the FaceTime feature on the Apple iPhone 4, consumers are becoming more interested in the idea of videoconferencing on the mobile handset. In our recent study Mobile Cloud Media & Access Platforms, 11% of consumers indicate that they are extremely interested in such a feature. From that same study, video chat features are among the most-important to consider as consumers look at buying a tablet computer. The current use of and interest in video chat is most notable among younger consumers, age 18-24.

Despite these underlying trends and drivers, I'm not sure that the world is ready for consumer videoconferencing at the TV. The high cost of equipment and the monthly subscription itself are going to be barriers. Should operators like Verizon aggressively subsidize the cost of the equipment and roll the monthly fee into an existing FiOS subscription, that would certainly be more palatable. From our study TV 2.0: The Consumer Perspective, we know that 24% of consumers in U.S. broadband households find the idea of videoconferencing appealing, but only 5% are willing to pay a fee of up to $5 additional per month.

Better yet, perhaps we'll see the Scientific-Atlanta set-top boxes integrate the videoconferencing capabilities directly into the set-top box, thus reducing the need for a separate console. We are soon going to see products with embedded videoconferencing come in the form of the Logitech Revue, which will support Logitech Vid™, the company's videoconferencing software.

I also think that consumer videoconferencing is going to appeal to very specific niche audiences. In qualitative studies, we've heard mostly concerns about privacy ("Will people see me walking in front of my TV in my bathrobe?"), but we also heard that a high-quality videoconferencing solution would be useful for people who want to keep a closer eye on older/elderly parents who may be living independently. Given Cisco's emphasis on very high-quality video, ūmi could be a good solution to allow people to be able to see the general health of an older parent and provide reminders ("Have you taken your pills today?"). I can also imagine that this solution will be useful for folks living overseas and who want to stay in touch with family here.

Cisco has demonstrated some useful applications with Telepresence that aren't necessarily consumer-related (having Telepresence in an office setting to be able to communicate with a family physician as one example), and I think that's where you'll see more activity in videoconferencing - businesses and healthcare providers in particular looking for ways to reduce or eliminate travel expenses or deliver healthcare more efficiently. I do think that education is an area to watch as well, and that's the gist of today's announcement from Vidyo.

Vidyo announced that it and Adobe will be demonstrating a plug-in that allows users to launch a telepresence-quality Vidyo™ conference within an Adobe® Connect™ session to collaborate with multiple parties. The plug-in will demonstrate the ability to integrate Vidyo and Adobe Connect using Vidyo APIs, and is the result of an ongoing collaboration to offer solutions to the education market.

Vidyo is a videoconferencing solution for a growing number of learning centers, universities and K-12 educators, offering high-quality low-cost options for instructors and administrators. Adobe Connect is a market-leading suite of web conferencing software that allows users to securely share presentations and multimedia from their desktops via the Internet.

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Comcast's XFINITY Security is Available in Houston

The word from Light Reading comes that Comcast has made its XFINITY™ Home Security service available to the Houston market. This is another example of mobile and broadband service providers expanding their value-added services offerings into home, health, safety, energy, and security monitoring.

What is the demand for home and health management solutions from broadband providers. In Customer Support in the Digital Home, we found 15% of consumers in U.S. broadband households extremely interested in such a service. There are two main draws to these types of services: 1) the service cost can be bundled into one monthly bill, and hardware may be subsidized (as is the case with residential gateways and set-top boxes today); and 2) these emerging monitoring services can leverage smartphones and other IP-connected devices to provide users with more proactive monitoring capabilities. Heck, we've even heard consumers discuss the value of home monitoring for keeping an eye on the pets!

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

New White Paper, "European Mobile Market: Beyond Price-based Strategies"

Parks Associates has released a new white paper, "European Mobile Market: Beyond Price-based Strategies."

This new white paper examines challenges for mobile carriers in Europe and strategies to sustain ARPU and expand their base of postpaid users.
  • Regulations, Competition, and Churn

  • Evolving Beyond Price-based Strategies

  • Examples of New Strategies: Vodafone, Telefonica, T-Mobile, & Orange

  • The Road Ahead - Evolution of Carrier Strategies

To download this white paper, complete this online form.

Other recent white papers include Google TV- Searching for Success and Consumer Attitudes and the Benefits of Smart Grid Technologies.

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Google TV Announces Content Partners

Google TV has a new Website, and it announced its initial apps. The TVs and Logitech Revue product will come pre-loaded with Netflix, Twitter, CNBC, Pandora, Napster, NBA Game Time, Amazon Video On Demand, Sony Qriocity, and Gallery.

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Comcast Deploys a Bot Notifcation Service

Comcast has launched its its Constant Guard™ Bot Detection and Notification initiative. This service automatically notifies customers if their home computer appears to be infected with a bot, which the National Cyber Security Alliance has called “one of the Internet’s fastest growing cyber crimes.”

A bot is a type of virus that allows an attacker to force a computer to perform designated actions, usually without the owner’s or user’s knowledge. Once a bot is in control of a computer, it can be used to send spam, host phishing sites or infect other computers.

Comcast’s Constant Guard Bot Detection and Notification service combines bot detection technologies with a customer notification system – either through a browser or customer e-mail – that provides a customer with direct assistance to remove a bot and prevent it from infecting other PCs. This initiative, as well as the other components of the Constant Guard Security Program, is provided to Xfinity Internet customers for no additional charge, and will be gradually rolled-out nationwide.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Parks Associates is supporting Health 2.0

Parks Associates is supporting Health 2.0 on October 7th-8th 2010 in San Francisco, CA.

Health 2.0 always features the most comprehensive line-up of technology innovators, as well as leaders in health care, government and finance, and unveils the best new health care technology startups at Launch! You won’t want to miss the Fourth Annual Health 2.0 Conference.

For more information please click here.

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