Zediva is nuked, Hollywood rejoices

A federal court has issued a preliminary injunction against Santa Clara–based Zediva, essentially ordering a shutdown of its low-cost streaming-movie-rental service. The decision comes less than six months after the launch of the service, which aimed to curtail streaming licensing fees by renting and streaming DVDs over the Internet. Zediva launched in March, hoping to build a business from what it saw as a loophole in the way that DVDs are rented and how streaming-video-on-demand services license content. It built out a data center that housed numerous DVD players, which were hooked up to servers to deliver streaming “rentals” of those DVDs over the Internet. As a result, Zediva was able to offer streaming rentals at a much lower price than competing services that licensed the content for streaming. While most new releases on online VOD services like iTunes or Vudu are priced at around $5 each, Zediva was offering rentals for $1.99 or a package of 10 rentals for $10. It was also able to offer new releases sooner than competing subscription VOD services like Netflix, which must wait for titles to hit a certain distribution window before they’re available for streaming. Because it was buying the DVDs, it could offer new titles as soon as new releases were available for sale in stores.

CEDIA Awards Program - Finalists Announced

CEDIA has announced this year’s finalists in the Manufacturers’ Excellence Awards competition. Finalists include 30 products in the Best New Product category as well as two products in the Sustainable Lifestyle Product Innovation category, which recognizes products with an environmentally friendly approach. Winners will be announced at the Electronic Lifestyles® Awards Banquet during CEDIA EXPO on Saturday, September 10 in the Indiana Roof Ballroom. Up to 10 Best New Products will be recognized, and one Sustainable Lifestyle Product Innovation winner will be announced. Also honored at the banquet will be the 2011 Product Hall of Fame inductees as well as winners of the Designer Awards, the Attendees’ Choice Award, the CEDIA/HGTVPro.com People’s Pick Awards, and more!  View Finalists here.

Best Buy moves into the connected TV business with Tivo's user interface

Internet connected TVs are becoming a lot more mainstream. The latest sign of that is that Best Buy is announcing its own house label model, dubbed the Insignia Connected TV. Best Buy, the nation's largest gadget retailer, hopes to capture more margin in the increasingly competitive electronics business by selling its own equipment under Best Buy's house brand, rather than selling more gadgets under brand name such as Sony or Samsung. It's a strategy that has been working for a while. This TV will be the first to use Tivo's design interface, giving Best Buy's customers a user interface that is well-known as a good way for browsing for shows and watching TV - without a TiVo subscription. The TV will be available in 32-inch and 42-inch models for $499 and $699 respectively at BestBuy.com and Best Buy stores nationwide. The TVs offer a variety of ways to access movies over the web, such as Netflix, CinemaNow and YouTube. It also has applications such as Pandora, Napster, Facebook, Twitter and Photobucket.

Japan's tech firms face weak TV demand, keep forecasts

Japan's top consumer electronic firms recovered faster than expected from the March earthquake, keeping their full-year profit forecasts despite a weakening TV market and worries about the outlook for the global economy. Video game maker Nintendo Co was a standout disappointment, unexpectedly slumping to its first quarterly operating loss on record, hit by slow sales of its 3DS handheld game player and a strong yen. It now forecasts its lowest annual profit in 27 years. Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp warned of weak TV sales, especially in the United States and Europe, following Philips and Corning Inc in highlighting sluggish demand. Global consumer confidence fell in the second quarter to its lowest level in 18 months as an uncertain economic outlook, a deepening euro zone debt crisis and rising inflation made people cautious, a Nielsen survey showed.

Logitech CEO steps down after money losing Q1, Revue price slashed to $99

After a disappointing Q4 saw Logitech reduce the price of its Revue it revealed today that after a net loss of $29.6 million for the first quarter it is cutting the price of the Revue to $99, as well as saying goodbye to CEO Gerald P. Quindlen. Quindlen had been an outspoken supporter of the Google TV box but according to Logitech this price cut and corresponding $34 million hit to its finances are necessary to "remove price as a barrier to broad customer acceptance." In the midst of these results -- as well as lowered sales in several regions and key products like Harmony remotes -- Chairman and former CEO Guerrino De Luca will assume the role of acting CEO while a long term replacement is sought.

As DVD sales decline, Walmart.com adds Vudu streaming

It's been about 18 months since Walmart bought Vudu, but as demand for physical media declines, the big box retailer is finally marrying the online video service with its website. By doing so, it's hoping to introduce its customers to a new way of watching movies and getting them to spend money on digital copies instead of buying the DVD. Steve Nave, SVP and general manager of Walmart.com, said the decision to buy Vudu was made as the retailer realized that there was a rapid shift in consumer behavior from purchasing physical media to streaming content online. The acquisition was made to help better position Walmart and its web property as this shift occurred. The result of that purchase can now be seen at Walmart.com. Users shopping online for DVDs and Blu-ray discs on the site will now also have the option of buying or renting digital copies of titles that are available as part of the Vudu streaming library. Once purchased, those movies can then be accessed either through the Walmart website, Vudu.com or on any of the 300-plus connected devices that the Vudu streaming service is available on.

NEXTGEN INTRODUCES INDUSTRY'S FIRST RECHARGEABLE ACTIVE 3D GLASSES

NextGen introduced Active 3D Glasses ($79.95 MSRP) that work with virtually any 3D TV and are the only universal ones on the market that are rechargeable. When used with a compatible 3D TV, users will enjoy lifelike, vivid 3D images right in their home. According to NextGen's President, Bob Dolatowski, "These new Active 3D glasses are highest quality and work with all the major 3D TV brands. What really sets them apart is the convenience of being able to recharge them with a standard USB cable. And a three hour charge lasts about 50 hours which will get you through quite a few movies before they need to be recharged." NextGen's Active 3D Glasses are available to order now and will be shipping around August 1.

Apple rumored to be making a bid for Hulu

Apple, which is sitting pretty on an Uncle Scrooge-sized pile of $76.2 billion in cash, is rumored to be eyeballing making a bid in the upcoming Hulu auction. Apple is currently the world's second largest company, and surely figures it needs to put that cash to use, especially with an enterprise as tantalizing as the Hulu video service is. Hulu would add a subscription service to Apple's portfolio, which, valuable as it is on its own, could potentially flourish within the highly-insulated and interconnected tech ecosystem Apple has put so much work into creating. Hulu also offers Apple an excellent opportunity to jump headlong into the subscription-based streaming video marketed that's been dominated with much aplomb by Netflix until that company's recent dust-up with subscribers over upcoming rate changes.

CEA: Connected Portable Media Devices to Drive 2011 Market

Despite sluggish sales of Internet-enabled television and 3DTVs, the consumer electronics industry is projected to surpass $190 billion in overall shipment revenues this year, a growth rate of 5.6%, according to a new mid-year industry report from the Consumer Electronics Association. The projection is higher than a previous CEA projection in January. The CEA also predicts industry shipments will grow in 2012, reaching an all-time high of $197 billion. Tablet computers, which offer movie streaming and downloads, are projected to grow 157% in 2011, with more than 26.5 million units being shipped to dealers and resulting in $14 billion in shipment revenue.

Roku Unveils Roku 2 Set-Top Player Family

Roku launched Wednesday a next-generation version of its popular TV set-top Internet streaming box, highlighted by a more compact form factor, an interactive Bluetooth remote that will support new video game play, and expanded entertainment offerings. The new Roku 2 is billed as a new family of streaming players that will be available in three (good-better-best) versions -- the Roku 2 HD ($60 suggested retail), Roku 2 XD ($80) and Roku 2 XS ($100). All will be available at the end of July and retailer outlets, including Roku.com, Amazon.com, Best Buy, Fry's Electronics and RadioShack. The new line introduces popular casual game play, including Rovio's Angry Birds (free with the XS version), to the system.

China Account For Growing Share Of Global CE Retail Sales

Global retail-level CE sales are growing, and so is China's share of the pie, according to Germany-based research company GfK Retail and Technology. The company also found smartphones accounting for a significant and growing share of global CE sales and that combined sales of smartphones and other cellphones exceeds sales of flat-panel TVs. In a presentation during the China International Consumer Electronics Show (SINOCES), GfK Group GM Juergen Boyny forecast that global retail-level CE sales will grow in 2011 by 6 percent to 668 billion euros ($937.3 billion at an exchange rate of $1 to 0.71 euros) compared with 19 percent growth in 2010 and a 5 percent decline during the Great Recession year of 2009. In each of these years, China accounts for a growing share of global retail-level CE sales, GfK said. In 2011, China's share will grow to 13 percent from 2008's 10 percent while Europe's share shrinks from 35 percent to 28 percent, Boyny said. In 2011, North America's share will remain at 21 percent, the same level as it was during the previous three years.

RIM rumored to be planning Apple TV competitor

Research In Motion is reportedly going into the home entertainment business with a rumored set-top box in the works intended to rival Apple TV. Nerdberry is reporting that RIM is developing a BlackBerry OS-based media box similar to Apple's set-top box that will be dubbed as the "BlackBerry Cyclone." Expected features include HDMI, Wi-Fi connectivity, and access to Netflix, YouTube and more unspecified channels. Not much else is known at the moment except that we should be seeing this device this fall - if it is really going to happen.

Registration is now open for CEDIA Expo 2011

Registration is now open for CEDIA Expo 2011, which will take place Sept. 7 -10 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. CEDIA Expo 2011 will offer 30 new CEDIA University courses. The show will also feature an expanded edition of the Future Technology Pavilion, and CEDIA members can take advantage of the $299 Members' Only Education Pass for unlimited education at an affordable rate. To register for CEDIA Expo 2011, click here. Early-bird registration discounts are available until July 15.

Not much demand yet for premium video-on-demand

The recent public flap between theater owners and studios over premium video-on-demand appears to be much ado about nothing -- at least for now. Initial consumer response has so far been tepid to an experiment by four studios that signed up with DirecTV to offer movie rentals at home for $30 as little as 60 days after theatrical release, executives from three of those studios acknowledged privately because they were not authorized to speak on the record. Beginning in April, the studios - - 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. - - began testing so-called premium VOD. They have thus far offered 13 films, ranging from the comedies "Hall Pass" and "Paul" to action films including "Battle: Los Angeles" and "Sucker Punch" and dramas "Water for Elephants" and "The Adjustment Bureau." The pictures became available about two months after they debuted in theaters and one or two months before they were released on DVD. Under their agreements with DirecTV, each of the four studios is expected to provide at least four premium VOD films to the satellite television service by the early fall.

U.S. REVENUES FOR CONSUMER, SMB TECHNICAL SUPPORT SERVICES TO APPROACH $30 BILLION BY 2015

Revenues for U.S. consumer and SMB (small and medium business) technology support services will grow nearly threefold in the next five years, with U.S. households accounting for over 40% of the $30 billion market, Parks Associates reports. The firm's new research reports - Consumer Technical Support Services: Overview and Opportunities for SMB Technical Support - find broadband service providers in particular driving this market. Services such as AT&T's ConnectTech and Tech Support 360, Verizon's Expert Care, and Comcast's XFINITY Signature Support have increased awareness and use among both consumers and SMBs in the past year. Major retailers (Best Buy, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples) and OEM efforts (Dell and HP) are also important in promoting technical support services to a wider audience.

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