Aaccording to new consumer research from Parks Associates reports more than 10% of broadband households plan to purchase a smart TV in the second half of 2011, up from 6% in the first half. These households, representing 50% of the nearly one-fourth of U.S. broadband households planning to purchase a flat-panel TV, anticipate an average cost of $1,000 for the smart TV, defined as an HDTV with built-in Internet access capability. Consumers show strong preferences for entertainment and social networking options on connected CE devices such as Blu-ray players, game consoles, and smart TVs. Preferred features include the ability to stream and download movies and TV shows as well as access to Facebook and online music.
After months of speculation, it's here: Amazon's tablet, the $199 Kindle Fire, was unveiled Wednesday. Smaller and cheaper than Apple's dominant iPad, the Kindle Fire has a 7-inch display and runs on a heavily customized version of Google's Android operating system. The tablet offers Wi-Fi connectivity, but no 3G or other cellular connection. It also lacks a camera and microphone, two features found in most rival tablets. But the Kindle Fire isn't trying to be an all-in-one computing device. Amazon's focus is on media consumption, like reading books and magazines as well as watching video and streaming music. The tablet includes a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, the company's $79-a-year service that includes two-day shipping and some free streaming video access.
Best Buy will launch new initiatives and enhance its return and price-match policies to help provide a "hassle-free" shopping experience this holiday season. Initiatives include the introduction this fall of specially trained "connection specialists," a product of the chain's Connected Store pilot, who will help shoppers navigate Best Buy's wide assortment of mobile products and services. Other holiday enhancements include an extended return period of Nov. 13 through Jan. 24, and a promise to match the price of any brick-and-mortar competitor on any identical product between Nov. 13 and Dec. 24, excluding Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Blockbuster unveiled a video streaming service limited to Dish Network satellite subscribers, a move to better compete with movie rental giant Netflix and rival cable and satellite TV providers. For non-Dish subscribers, the company plans to unveil an online streaming plan later this year, Blockbuster president Michael Kelly told Reuters in an interview. Called Blockbuster Movie Pass, the new subscription service will start at an additional $10 a month for streaming plus movie and video game DVD rentals by mail and at the company's more than 1,500 stores.
'Tis the season to read holiday tea leaves, and three just-released forecasts predict that consumer spending will be lukewarm, at best. At the low end, the International Council of Shopping Centers is looking for a 2.2% rise. And while the trade group points out that there are many components to such a forecast, the overall trend is tepid. "No matter which metric of performance is used, ICSC projects 2011 U.S. holiday sales are likely to advance at a slower pace than in 2010 as strong economic headwinds continue to persist," says Michael P. Niemira, ICSC's chief economist, in its release. "The 2011 holiday season forecast also envisions a pace of sales considerably slower than during the first half of 2011 since retail sales generally advanced at a faster pace in early 2011 than during the 2010 holiday season." It predicts a gain of 2.7% in apparel and 1.2% in electronics; overall, it anticipates higher-end stores to fare better than moderate or lower-priced stores.
The global home automation and control systems market is estimated to grow from $16,888.27 million in 2011 to $35,627.83 million in 2016 at a CAGR of 16.1%. Starting off with pneumatic phase, the home automation and control systems market has reached the world of standards, protocols, and data distribution systems; which allows the home automation control structures such as security systems, and lighting systems to interact and integrate with each other. The home automation and control systems that started with wired technology have now entered the era of wireless technology with technologies such as Zigbee, Z-wave, EnOcean, and others coming up. The wide adoption of Internet across the globe has resulted in the growth and advancement of home automation and control market. The flexibility to control and monitor home automation and control systems from any point even out and far from homes is possible through Internet. These systems are also accessed and monitored via smartphone through message alerts.
After watching customers leave and the company's stock price plummet, Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings on Sunday admitted that he had fallen victim to "arrogance" and announced changes to the DVD offering. The company's DVD-by-mail service will get a new name, Qwikster, and add the option to order video games along with movies. "We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery," Hastings wrote in a blog post and an email sent to subscribers. "We will keep the name 'Netflix' for streaming." Netflix in August announced that it would separate the pricing for online video streaming and DVDs, resulting in a hike of up to 60% for people who utilize both options. A number of customers were outraged, and last week Netflix disclosed that it is on track to lose 600,000 subscribers in the current quarter, after previously telling investors to expect that it would add 400,000. As a result, Netflix stock fell 26% in two days, equating to a loss of $2.6 billion in market value.
More than 17,600 attendees and 444 exhibitors from 70 different countries participated in CEDIA EXPO 2011, September 7-10 in Indianapolis, Ind. Of those participants, 25% were first time attendees and 83 first time exhibitors. "The feedback received from attendees was positive and energetic," said Utz Baldwin, CEDIA CEO. "According to the 2011 CEDIA Benchmarking Survey, electronic systems contractor businesses are experiencing higher revenue and profitability and judging by the data and the traffic at the show the coming year looks to be one of growth and expansion." CEDIA EXPO offered more than 100 CEDIA University education courses and 150 Manufacturer Product Training opportunities. The most popular CEDIA courses attended focused on home networking, content delivery, and emerging technologies/trends. According to exhibitors and attendees, CEDIA EXPO 2011 was a valuable business opportunity to connect with new buyers and identify new and future technologies.
Netflix subscribers threatened to flee in droves when the company whacked them with a surprise price hike, which kicked in this month. Now they're making good on that threat. Netflix on Thursday cut its subscriber forecast for the current quarter, saying it now expects to end the period with 24 million customers -- down from the 25 million the company forecast just a few weeks ago. That's also down from the 25.6 million global subscribers Netflix had on June 30, the end of its second quarter. Investors punished the stock, sending Netflix (NFLX) shares down more than 14% -- even though the company did not change its earnings or sales guidance.
Amazon is planning to launch a service that would offer customers access to a library of books for a fixed monthly fee, reports The Wall Street Journal , citing sources familiar with the matter. Amazon is reportedly in talks with publishers about the service, but it’s unclear how far the project has progressed, as some publishers aren’t too happy with the idea. The details about the project are scarce, but it appears that the library would primarily contain older works with restrictions on how many books a user can access each month. The service would also be available to subscribers of Amazon Prime, a membership program that gives users free shipping and access to movies and TV shows for $79 per year.
The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) recognized the outstanding work of its members at the annual Electronic Lifestyles® Awards Banquet Saturday night. The honorees included over 40 winning projects in the Designer Awards competition, 16 Manufacturers' Excellence Awards winners, three inductees into the CEDIA Fellows program, and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Also honored were the year's top volunteers. HomeToys.com Congratulates this years winners. The full list of award winners can be viewed at www.cedia.org/awards .
New subscription service planned for next month could include movies from Starz Entertainment, which just ended license talks with Netflix Dish Network Corp. reportedly is readying a Blockbuster-branded subscription streaming service for launch in October that would include movies from cable aggregator Starz Entertainment. Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the deal, said the SVOD service would augment Blockbuster's transactional VOD platform and 1,500 Blockbuster stores and by-mail subscription service. It would also include movies from Starz Entertainment, which just ended license renegotiations with Netflix.
CEDIA Expo 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. As usual HomeToys.com will be the place for all the news coming out of the show. Our Special CEDIA newspage is already full of Press releases from all the exhibiting companies. Make sure to check out the news and post your company news throughout the show. Stay tuned for our CEDIA report going online shortly after the show!
The big question in Web video this week is how many Netflix customers will stick with the service in the face of a price increase. But even those planning to continue with the service might want to make some decisions before time runs out and the decisions are made by the company. In July, Netflix announced it would eliminate a popular hybrid plan. For $10 a month, users were allowed to rent one DVD at a time as well as obtain unlimited Web access to the company's streaming-video library. That's scheduled to disappear on September 1st. This is a reminder that if you're a hybrid subscriber and do nothing by then, Netflix will assume you want both plans. That's certainly logical but it may be something you didn't think about. After Thursday, each plan will cost $7.99 per month, or $15.98 per month for both. If you want to go exclusively with one offer or the other, it's time to get a move on.
In 2010, Apple announced the ability for Apple TV owners to rent television shows for $.99, the price of most iTunes music downloads. CEO Steve Jobs explained that the pricing was intentionally aggressive, and that the company would make revenue on the volume of rentals. This past week, however, Apple deleted all options for renting television shows, shuttering a rental service that only Disney and Fox had signed on for in the first place. Apple TV owners can buy shows for $2.99 each. So was the rental service shuttered for lack of consumer interest or a because of technical issue with the upcoming iTunes in the Cloud? An Apple spokesman told All Things D's Peter Kafka, who broke the story, that Apple was following the consumer trend. "iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows," Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said. Fox corroborated the story by saying it hadn't seen much traction, telling Kafka that the best model for its consumers was to purchase content.
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