As it becomes more and more difficult to sell TVs at premium prices, manufacturers are coming up with new features they hope will entice customers. Sharp Corp. says its new Freestyle Aquos line of liquid crystal display TV sets, unveiled Thursday, are not bound by the location of the aerial plug, thanks to a tuner that can wirelessly send broadcast signals to a TV elsewhere in the house. “For people wanting to move around all the furniture and freely design their homes, the TV has been a bottleneck,” said Keiko Okada, a Sharp executive in charge of design and branding strategy at a press conference.Sharp’s new TVs represent the latest attempt among television makers to differentiate their product lineup, in a search for an alternative to cutthroat price competition that has been crimping TV earnings at most major electronics makers world-wide for the past few years. In 2009, for example, Samsung Electronics mass-produced light emitting diode-backlit TV sets ahead of rivals. When 3-D TVs debuted in early 2010, the industry hoped the new feature would create a more profitable market segment, but 3-D TVs soon became part of the relentless price competition plaguing the industry. In October, Sony Corp. released new Internet-enabled TV sets that run on Google Inc.’s software, and the so-called “smart TVs” with built-in processors and operating software became one of the major themes at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January.
More consumers with cable, satellite or telco TV services have downgraded their services in the last year -- and more are on the way. Dallas-based researcher Parks Associates says 13% of consumers who have broadband connections have made cutbacks within the last 12 months -- with another 9% to come. The study says this includes some 3.9 million people who regularly watch Internet video. These "downgraders" or "cord shavers," who typically spend $20 or less on monthly video services, are heavy TV users. They watch, on average, 4.2 hours of Internet video on their TV each week. Parks Associates says the growth of downgraders is more closely linked to the growth of broadband adoption than watching more Internet video.
Walmart has landed among the biggest online film providers in the USA, snatching the number three spot from Sony during the first half of the year, the Financial Times reported citing data by IHS Screen Digest. Part of Walmart's success is down to the problems Sony experienced earlier in the year, when its PlayStation network fell victim to hackers. However, the retail giant has also turned into an aggressive digital player in a bid to counter the steady decline in DVD sales. In 2010, Walmart acquired digital film store Vudu and has been building its market share through price discounts. IHS Screen Digest puts Vudu's first-half market share at 5.3%, a substantial improvement on its 1% in the comparable 2010 period. Microsoft, which operates the Zune Video Marketplace, came second with 16.2% against 18.5% last year. Apple continues to dominate the online film market by a very wide margin. Its iTunes store lifted its share in the first half to 65.8% from 64.9%.
New research from ABI says 1.8 million home automation systems will ship around the entire world this year.
Seventy percent of Consumer Electronic (CE) industry 2011 revenues will come from Internet connectable devices, according to the latest research from the Strategy Analytics Connected Home Devices (CHD) service. Internet connectivity has become a key feature for the majority of CE devices, whose global installed base will reach the two billion unit mark by the end of the year. “While connected flat panel TVs, set-top boxes and DVRs still represent a small portion of their respective product segments, sixty-eight percent of all CE devices sold this year will be connectable to the Internet.” says Peter King, Director at Strategy Analytics. According to this report, Connected TVs represent one of the biggest growth opportunities over the next five years as major vendors, such as Samsung, LG and Sony, push their Smart TV initiatives. Global connected TV device revenues will total in excess of $95 billion in 2015, representing more than one-quarter of the overall connected device market.
Gartner’s newly released 2011 Hype Cycle Special Report looks at 1,900 technologies and predicts whether they have already reached their “Peak of Inflated Expectations” (such as Internet TV, the report states) or whether these technologies will have widespread influence across a number of industries in coming years
What’s next for your business and the industry? What technologies and products are you going to be able to offer your clients? Find out at CEDIA’s Future Technology Pavilion. The 2011 pavilion will simulate a future home environment with rooms focused on technologies for the kitchen, bath, bedroom, game room, office, living room, and garage. Products in the 2011 Future Technology Pavilion include a massive yet elegant video wall, smart appliances, wireless power for cooking and charging, and fully integrated home health and wellness. The pavilion offers you and your business insight on what you need to learn now to be profitable later. The Future Technology Pavilion is open during tradeshow hours. Click Here for a Sneak Peek at the Pavilion
Boxee has launched its official, free iPad app, allowing users to watch streaming content on the tablet device and transfer playback from the iPad to the Boxee Box. Additionally, the new Boxee Media Manager allows you to stream video to the iPad from a Mac or PC. Alongside the new apps, Boxee has brought AirPlay support and Lion compatibility to its set-top box. The new Boxee iPad app looks really good. Particularly, there are some social networking features that make it easy to share what you’re watching with your friends. Users can also stream content through AirPlay from the Boxee Box, thanks to the latest update. The newest firmware update to the Boxee Box adds Lion compatibility for streaming locally stored files on a Mac running Apple’s latest desktop OS. NFS and AFP support have been added, with there also being better HTML5 implementation in the set-top box’s browser.
American Airlines has received FAA certification to stream video content inflight via Wi-Fi, and now is offering a library of more than 100 movies and TV shows on flights operated by 767-200 aircraft. The service is available primarily on flights between New York and Los Angeles and New York and San Francisco, though American plans to roll out the service to its entire fleet this year. “We continue to execute this strategy and lead in this space by making prudent investments in innovative, cutting-edge technologies,” said Rob Friedman, American’s VP of marketing. “During this initial phase of launch, Entertainment On Demand allows customers to access content through select personal Wi-Fi-enabled laptops, and in the coming months [we intend] to make tablets and other devices available for use with the product.” TV shows rent for 99 cents and movies go for $3.99. Movies are available for 24 hours, TV shows for 72, and both can be viewed on a portable device after the consumer has debarked, using the same browser and device.
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 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.
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