Archives For mari

CBS Acquires

Mari Silbey —  May 30, 2007

lastfm_red_logo.jpgIf you scroll down TechMeme today past all the news about Microsoft’s surface computing concept (way cool), you’ll land on several articles about CBS’s acquisition of I have a very selfish reason for finding this interesting. If warrants a buy-out by CBS (to to the tune of $280M), maybe that means Pandora will survive. The way I figure it, either someone with a large bankroll picks it up to compete with CBS, or, preferably, legislators finally recognize just how valuable Pandora-like services are and shut down the CRB’s plans to impose unworkable royalty fees.

Okay, probably just wishful thinking. Please don’t take away my Pandora.

tiny-tivo.jpgIt’s a day full of TiVo. The company reports quarterly earnings this afternoon and apparently none of the financial analysts agree on how investors should react to a predicted $.02 per-share loss. I borrowed the title of this post from a Motley Fool article, which goes on to report that seven analysts recommend TiVo as a buy, four as a hold and six as a sell.

Interestingly, if TiVo can manage to beat Wall Street expectations by just a smidge, it could end up profitable for the first (second?) time in the company’s history. There are several new media extender products launching, but few if any are backed by companies without other business interests. TiVo is traveling a very solitary road, and it is still trying to prove it can continue to do so successfully.

In other news, TiVo announced yesterday that it has formed a partnership with Seven Media Group to bring TiVo services to Australia and New Zealand. Time to kick back with that vegemite sandwich…


Whether you like Apple TV or not, last100 (via AwkwardTV) reports it’s relatively easy now to create plug-in applications with the unofficial AppleTV software development kit (SDK). In a closed ecosystem like AppleTV, having a hacker’s SDK is probably crucial to acceptance and proliferation among the geek community.

What will be interesting to me is how the Apple development environment ends up comparing to deliberately-open TV environments. For example, the Open Cable Application Platform (OCAP) is designed to make it easy for third parties to create cable set-top applications. Motorola (my employer), among others, has introduced an OCAP SDK that will be packaged alongside a Motorola set-top for anyone who wants to build apps for cable TV hardware. Mind you, we’re probably talking about development shops as opposed to individuals, but I do wonder how innovation will play out differently in an open environment versus a proprietary one. And yes, I do recognize the irony in considering cable TV an open environment.

What’s Up with Radio?

Mari Silbey —  May 28, 2007


The argument I hear about television is that we’ll never move completely to a pay-per-program model because the vast majority of people like being able to sit mindlessly in front of a TV screen and channel surf. I agree because that theory has already so clearly played out in the radio world. As popular as the iPod franchise is (we have at least three in my house), it doesn’t take the place of radio.

Maybe it’s because radio is so important that the business of radio is so royally screwed up. The CRB is threatening to kill off much of Internet radio, the two satellite radio providers in existence are cozying up to the FCC in hopes of merging, and few terrestrial radio programs survive on the air today unless they appeal to the lowest common listener denominator. What’s the deal?

Obviously people want radio because companies are busy figuring out ways to stream it to every kind of device. But that technology is going to be worthless if the radio sucks or if subscription fees price the mass market right out of the market. I don’t know what the solution is, but I sure wish someone would figure it out.

New TV Stats

Mari Silbey —  May 27, 2007

Because there’s nothing like an official study to make us think we know which direction the market will go…

A study conducted by Canalys (reported on ZDNet) found that 51% of the European adults surveyed were interested in mobile TV. However, the contentweb-tv-3.jpg they reported being interested in varied widely, from live sports events to YouTube clips. Content is king, but apparently no single type of content rules the realm.

In an entirely different study, Ipsos Insight found that Americans are still watching the vast majority of their television on their TV sets. Even adults who regularly stream and download video from the Web watch just 11% of their TV at the computer, while still watching 75% on a traditional TV screen. In the 12-24 cohort, that number drops to “more than 60%.”

Interestingly, a fair number of folks said they’d be interested in burning video from a computer to a DVD to watch on the big screen. Note, they didn’t say they’d be interested in buying a new gadget to stream content from a computer to a TV. Of course, maybe the survey didn’t ask about that.

Flash Drive Fun

Mari Silbey —  May 26, 2007


The state of television today got you down? Never fear, your favorite movies are just a digital download away. Or, enjoy the universe of your favorite flick in an Xbox 360 game. Or, pick up movie extras on a flash drive! Yup, a flash drive.

Flash drives have quietly been added to the line of movie merchandise required with every box-office hit. mimoco has created Star Wars USB drives preloaded with “trailers, soundbites, avatars, and wallpapers!” PenDrive has limited edition USB products with Batman Begins designs. And now, courtesy of Shiny Shiny, I’ve discovered there are Pirates of the Carribbean flash drives with trailers and wallpapers. How was my life complete before?


There was a fair bit of conversation at the recent Cable IPTV conference around how Comcast is approaching competition from online video services. Part of the approach involves having its own online video destination, (see news about the upcoming launch of Fancast), and the other part involves using the Internet to push subscribers to cable TV services. The launch of Comcast’s TVplanner definitely falls under that second category.

The functionality is simple (and non-revolutionary) and therefore extremely easy to use. Plug in your zip code, select your television service and voila! Up comes your TV guide. Next Comcast will undoubtedly add a feature for programming your DVR to record the shows you find. Off the Internet you go and back on to the cable TV network.