Apple Inc. is moving forward with its assault on television, following up on the ambitions of its late co-founder, Steve Jobs. In recent weeks, Apple executives have discussed their vision for the future of TV with media executives at several large companies, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple is also working on its own television that relies on wireless streaming technology to access shows, movies and other content, according to people briefed on the project. In the recent meetings with media companies, the Apple executives, including Senior Vice President Eddy Cue, have outlined new ways Apple's technology could recognize users across phones, tablets and TVs, people familiar with the talks said.
One in five U.S. broadband households intends to purchase a new flat-panel TV before the end of 2011, making it the most popular CE product this holiday season, according to new consumer research from Parks Associates. Among households intending to purchase a flat-panel TV, 73% plan to select a set with advanced features such as 3D capabilities or built-in Internet connectivity, but the demand for smart TVs (sets that connect to the Internet) is nearly twice the demand for 3D TVs. "Smart TVs are now pushing into the mainstream, whereas previously smart-TV buyers were largely early adopters and those from high-income households," said Kurt Scherf, VP, principal analyst, Parks Associates. "The combination of a maturing product ecosystem with great holiday deals is putting smart TVs within the reach of the American middle class."
LG Electronics (LG) said Thursday it has entered a strategic alliance with Intel to use the chip-makers' wireless digital video over Wi-Fi (called WiDi) technology in next year's Cinema 3D Smart TVs. The agreement makes LG's TVs the first to feature the WiDi system, LG said. WiDi was developed by Intel to stream video content from an Intel-based laptop, notebook or other external mobile device to a TV, projector or display monitor. Currently, the system requires a receiver box or dongle be connected to a TV's video input, but the agreement would enable the system to be built into LG's Cinema 3D sets. The WiDi system uses point-to-point connectivity and features a wireless interface for instant viewing of content on the wirelessly connected display. "Through this strategic alliance, Cinema3D Smart TV users will be able to access a wider variety of content in a more convenient manner," said Seog-ho Ro, LG Home Entertainment TV Business Unit senior VP. "Intel WiDi will be one of several features that will enhance the user convenience of our Cinema 3D Smart TVs, further differentiating our products from the competition."
The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) has released findings from the new CEDIA market research report, Size and Scope of the Residential Electronic Systems Market in the US in 2011©. Findings indicate that the industry is optimistic about the future. The report features data on the characteristics of companies working within the residential electronics systems industry in the U.S. The report is an expansion of CEDIA’s research offerings, which are designed to provide CEDIA members and other key stakeholders with market data that will enable them to make better business decisions and identify new opportunities. CEDIA’s Size and Scope of the Residential Electronic Systems Market in the US in 2011© report offers details on the state of the industry as well as current opportunities and threats. The findings of the study indicate that there are 20,000 to 22,500 companies in the US that are installing CEDIA portfolio products in residential environments.
Consumers are returning lots of electronics products, and it's costing the U.S. consumer electronics industry a bundle, says a study by Accenture. According to the management consulting firm, product returns cost U.S. consumer electronics retailers and manufacturers nearly $17 billion this year, an increase of 21% since 2007. Included in the $17 billion are costs associated with "receiving, assessing, repairing, reboxing, restocking and reselling returned products," Accenture reports. Product return rates over the past three to five years have increased for 57% of the retailers and 43% of the manufacturers surveyed by Accenture. If there's any positive news for the industry, it's that just 5% of returns are related to actual product defects, Accenture says. Indeed, 27% of returns reflect "buyer's remorse" and 68% of returns are characterized as "No Trouble Found." Accenture calculates that just a 1% reduction in the number of "No Trouble Found" cases could save a typical large manufacturer about $21 million in return and repair costs or $16 million for an average consumer electronics retailer.
DMX, Inc. and its digital signage partner, 11Giraffes, were selected by Bass Pro Shops to launch its new digital signage program throughout the United States and Canada. Offered under the DMX®MARQUEE brand, Bass Pro Shops is now displaying multiple screens per store in the Fishing, Hunting and Marine departments. "We are excited to announce that Bass Pro Shops, the nation's leading retailer of outdoor gear, has selected our DMX®MARQUEE product to provide customers with a digital signage experience. DMX®MARQUEE, along with the current music and messaging services DMX provides to Bass Pro Shops, gives their customers a superior branded experience. Our partnership with 11Giraffes, which launched in January of this year, has been a truly exceptional example of our two companies bringing an excellent product to the marketplace," said John Cullen, CEO of DMX. Bass Pro Shops, known as The World\'s Greatest Outdoor Store, serves millions of people each year who pass through their doors seeking to satisfy their outdoor passions. The DMX®MARQUEE digital signage product will provide Bass Pro Shops with an outstanding tool with the flexibility for control at both the corporate and local levels - promoting their highly regarded brand, unsurpassed product line, and providing their customers with the information and knowledge they seek.
Researchers have developed a new form of light-emitting crystals, known as quantum dots, which can be used to produce ultra-thin televisions. The tiny crystals, which are 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, can be printed onto flexible plastic sheets to produce a paper-thin display that can be easily carried around, or even onto wallpaper to create giant room-size screens. The scientists hope the first quantum dot televisions - like current flat-screen TVs, but with improved colour and thinner displays - will be available in shops by the end of next year. A flexible version is expected to take at least three years to reach the market.
By the end of this year, the streaming set-top box market will reach about 12 million units worldwide, according to a survey published Monday. And the company known mainly for phones, tablets and computers is set to own a third of that, according to Strategy Analytics. It says Apple's small $99 streaming Apple TV is on pace to hit 4 million units by the end of this year. For perspective, four million devices is what the iPhone 4S sold in a weekend. But Apple's somehow managed to reach this number in Apple TV without really trying. And by "trying" I mean doing things like running TV and billboard advertisements or making it the centerpiece of press events. Apple has for years since its introduction excused Apple TV as merely "a hobby." And while it's played with the concept and design and the price, doesn't talk much about it or how many it's sold. Breaking with tradition, Steve Jobs did say in October 2010 that after a month on sale, the new $99 Apple TV had sold 250,00 units.
Panasonic announced the availability of the LF30 Series of Professional LCD Displays. The LF30 Series was designed to serve as a reliable indoor digital signage solution distinguished by high brightness, slim design, fanless design, low power consumption, light weight and a wide range of professional features. The displays are built specifically for digital signage and are ideal for environments such as airports, showrooms, shopping malls, hotels/casinos, financial institutions and hospitals. The LF30 Series features Slot 2.0 architectures which accommodates optional boards, expanding application possibilities. The technology allows users to easily mount and swap optional function boards to suit specific applications. The Slot 2.0 architecture also allows for a variety of input terminals, including DVI-D In/Out and RS-232C In/Out, for connection of up to 100 displays in a daisy chain configuration for greater operating efficiency.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt's claim that half of TV sets in stores next year will have Google TV capability sounds impressive – but how quickly does that mean it will reach everybody? Eric Schmidt, previously Google's chief executive and now chairman, forecast at the Le Web conference in Paris on Wednesday that "by the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded on it". That's because he sees the "smart TV" sector exploding – with companies that make TVs wanting to build in internet connectivity and processing capacity. He didn't specify which companies will be selling sets with that capacity, but Samsung and Sony have already been offering "smart TV" sets for more than a year.
Samsung Electronics Co, the world's top TV brand, said on Thursday its television sales hit a record 5.7 million units in November, helped by strong U.S. sales during the long Thanksgiving weekend. November sales grew 14 percent from the 5 million units sold in October and Samsung is certain to keep its top global title for all of 2011, the South Korean firm said in a statement. During the Black Friday weekend, Americans spent $7.4 billion more in stores than a year ago. A Samsung spokesman said it was confident of meeting its 2011 flat-screen TV sales target of 45 million units. The solid results come as global TV manufacturers are restructuring their businesses and outsourcing production as cutthroat competition and weak demand squeeze margins.
The financially challenged U.S. Postal Service Dec. 5 said it is taking further steps to eliminate first-class, next-day delivery of letters, postcards and related items - such as Blu-ray Disc and DVD mailers - in an effort to save money. Netflix is the Postal Service's largest individual commercial mail client, generating more than $500 million annually in first-class postage revenue. The USPS in September first announced intentions to possibly eliminate more than 250 mail processing centers, stop Saturday delivery and eliminate about 28,000 jobs, among other steps. The USPS, which lost $5.1 billion in its most recent fiscal year, is looking to enact $20 billion in cost savings and return to profitability by 2015.
Amazon is offering consumers up to $5 off on purchases if they compare prices using the online giant's mobile phone application in a store. The promotion goes live Saturday and will serve as a way for Amazon to increase usage of its bar-code-scanning application, while also collecting intelligence on prices in the stores. This holiday season, mobile commerce is surging as more people become comfortable using applications on their phone to compare prices or simply shop when not at home or at work.
American consumers want a wireless Christmas, according to a survey by Cisco's home networking unit. The survey found that 96 percent of those surveyed expected that they themselves, or one of their immediate family, would receive some type of new wireless gift this year. What people expected Santa to bring was wide ranging, with 26 percent expecting a new computer or laptop, 19 percent a game console system, 16 percent a tablet PC and 14 percent a smartphone. When asked what was the most important technology they had in their home, 28 percent said it was their wireless home network. However, 85 percent of those people had no idea what kind of wireless network was in their home, and this could cause a problem, Cisco said, as many of the newer wireless devices require an up-to-date 802.11n home network to properly operate.
The technology industry is absolutely bent on reinventing television. But nobody seems to be able to answer the big question: what exactly is so broken about TV anyway? It's true that the TV guide in most cable systems is pretty awful -- it looks like Yahoo circa 1994. It's a pain fiddling with a bunch of different remotes. It might be kind of nice to watch YouTube videos on a big screen in the living room. But I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most TV viewers simply won't care enough about any of this stuff to shell out $1,500 for a new Apple TV, or spend a few hundred bucks and countless hours fiddling around adding a new box to their TV set and figuring out how it works. All of these are destined to be niche products at best -- just like every other attempt to improve TV over the last 20 years.
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