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Microsoft Sells Mediaroom IPTV business to Ericsson for $200 Million

posted Sunday Apr 14, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Microsoft Sells Mediaroom IPTV business to Ericsson for $200 Million

Ericsson and Microsoft have come to an agreement over Microsoft's IPTV asset, Mediaroom. In a deal worth close to $200 million, Ericsson will be acquiring Mediaroom to allow Microsoft to focus on continuing with the Xbox being the center for all family entertainment. Mediaroom is a company that makes software that communication businesses use to send TV signal over the Internet, with one of their biggest projects being the AT&T U-Verse service.

Per Borgklint, Senior VP of Ericsson said,

Mediaroom is the leading platform for video distribution deployed with the world's largest IPTV operators. This strategic acquisition positions Ericsson as an industry leader thanks to the skills and experiences of the talented people of Mediaroom combined with Ericsson's end to end service capabilities.

With the acquisition, Microsoft will put to rest a twenty year mission to bring itself to the forefront of the IPTV space. Ericsson will now pick up the business and the technology, and the deal should finish up later this year. The company, who is already the world's biggest mobile networks maker, will become the IPTV leader as well, owning 25 percent of the market. A statement from Microsoft said that 400 people are employed at Mediaroom, and that it is used by more than 40 operators and powers 22 million set-top boxes across the globe.

Corporate VP of Microsoft, Tom Gibbons, was pleased with the transition of Mediaroom over to Ericsson.

We are proud of the number one IPTV market position that we have achieved with Mediaroom. Ericsson's complementary portfolio of TV and networking services will help drive the future growth and development of Mediaroom. Ericsson is positioned to be a valuable strategic partner for operators and TV service providers around the world as the IPTV market evolves.

On the Microsoft Blog, Yusuf Mehdi made it clear that this move will remove all distractions from Microsoft and will put all of the spotlight on improving Xbox's entertainment and media offerings.

With the sale of Mediaroom, Microsoft is dedicating all TV resources to Xbox in a continued mission to make it the premium entertainment service that delivers all the games and entertainment consumers want - whether on a console, phone, PC or tablet. And with 76 million Xbox 360 consoles around the world with 46 million Xbox LIVE members, it is a mission that gets us out of bed in the morning.

Some have been suspecting that the Xbox could transition into its own set-top box or TV service. Microsoft already lets Verizon, Comcast and U-Verse customers (obviously) use the Xbox as a set-top box, but has the time come for Xbox Cable TV? We've said on the show that Microsoft could offer an Xbox Platinum membership, which would include Xbox Music and Video, and this additional service could be a nice bundled feature for the higher-priced tier. What do you think? Could we see Xbox TV in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Emilio Estefan, Target and Monster Team Up with the Sound Machine Headphones

posted Sunday Apr 14, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Emilio Estefan, Target and Monster Team Up with the Sound Machine Headphones

For those who have been following us for a long time, you'll know that we're huge fans of Monster Cable. Say what you will about their cables (and we'll argue most of those points in a logical and scientific way at another point in time), but their headphones are really becoming unmatched by any other product. After departing from the Beats brand, the Head Monster, Noel Lee, had to look elsewhere to find names, looks and styles that could really captivate a new audience to let them experience an astonishing audio experience. Mr. Lee calls this Pure Monster Sound. This year at the International CES, we saw a whole new lineup of headphones coming to consumers this year, but it seemed like a certain genre was missing from the pack: Latin music. Starting today, however, Monster, along with Target, have filled that void.

Monster has teamed up with Target and GRAMMY-Award winning producer Emilio Estefan to introduce the Sound Machine by Monster headphones. Target will have a 60-day exclusivity with these higher-end models, with the on-ear and over-ear models priced at $149.99 and $249.99, respectively. With Latin music in mind, which is high in percussion and hard-hitting sounds, the Sound Machines help grow the relationship Target and Estefan have already created over the course of the past year and a half. On these headphones and the expanded partnership, Target's divisional merchandise manager of entertainment, Anne Stanchfield, said,

Emilio Estefan is an icon in the music industry as well as the Latin community, and our partnership has been met with great excitement. With the introduction of Sound Machine by Monster headphones, we are expanding our relationship to include a product Emilio played a role in creating.

The Head Monster also spoke on how working with Emilio Estefan will help Monster grow in a more diverse way.

Emilio Estefan's music has been and continues to be a tremendous influence on musicians all over the world. Being able to work with him to create Sound Machine by Monster headphones has been inspiring for everyone here at Monster, and thanks to our valued partnership with Target, we are looking forward to being able to bring Target guests a new way to enjoy all the music they love, with a unique headphone that epitomizes the heart and soul of Emilio's art.

Estefan added that the Sound Machine headphones cater exactly to the music that he produces it really brought together the "blend of rhythms that are synonymous with our culture and our city (Miami)."

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CBS Threatens to Stop OTA Broadcasts if Aereo Remains in Business

posted Sunday Apr 14, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

CBS Threatens to Stop OTA Broadcasts if Aereo Remains in Business

After last week's appeal hearing, the over-the-air video streaming service, Aereo, won their appeal, we talked on our show about how this could change the media industry as a whole if everything stays in Aereo's favor. However, we didn't think the broadcasters would be so arrogant as to throw out idle threats like CBS has.

This week, CBS said they would have no problem in cutting off its free, over-the-air stream of its networking programming if Aereo isn't put to rest. CBS' Leslie Moonves said at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Vegas that they'd have no issue in turning into a cable channel to combat these "illegal practices." Moonves added that CBS agrees with everything Chase Carey, from News Corp, had to say about Aereo's business.

We won't just sit idle and allow our content to be actively stolen. It is clear that the broadcast business needs a dual revenue stream from both ad and subscription to be viable... One option could be converting the Fox broadcast network to a pay channel.

For now, Moonves is only talking about doing this in the New York metro area only, however he said this would all happen if the revenue streams start to decrease. We can put aside the fact that Aereo has said they're expanding to two dozen more cities by the end of the year. So, there's a couple of things here. First, as we talked about last week, even when someone is using Aereo, the broadcasters are still making their money per viewer, which proves that, as mentioned before, these TV execs have no clue how new, Internet-based operations work. Second, nobody has said a single word to Slingbox, whose product pretty much resembles that of Aereo's business model, except Aereo is handling the hardware for you so you don't have to set up the box or antenna anywhere.

Lastly, at the end of the day, if one were to really consider this decision from a financial standpoint, there is a huge majority of people who use the free, over-the-air broadcast of companies like CBS because they cannot pay for cable or satellite TV. Making a move to switch to a cable channel could, in certain cities, quickly erase over half of the current viewership, especially in places like the greater Tampa, Florida area, where there are a high number of mobile home parks and half-year residents, who watch only channels they can get on their antenna.

So, is this a path CBS, or any other broadcast should take? Or are they merely talking a lot but actually saying nothing at all? Do you think any action will be taken? To me, it feels like the broadcasters are a little bit scared of the not-so big, bad wolf called the Internet. If people can watch more channels in more locations, isn't that better for everyone involved? Let us know your thoughts to those questions in the comments below.

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Rumors Swirl Around Nintendo Handing Out Free Wii U Dev Kits

posted Wednesday Apr 10, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Rumors Swirl Around Nintendo Handing Out Free Wii U Dev Kits

With buzz around the recently announced PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's long-awaited announcement of their NextBox, it's only right for Nintendo to squeeze their way back into the picture. There's some rumor going around about Nintendo handing out free developer kits for their Wii U to third-party studios in hopes that the studios will invest long-term in the Wii U platform.

Destructoid's Jonathan Holmes posted this Tweet that has everyone wondering if the rumors are true,

Hearing more and more stories of Nintendo giving developers free Wii U dev kits. I hope devs take advantage of that. Could lead to victories

Considering that a dev kit runs $5,000, it definitely could lead to victories from smaller studios who would otherwise not be able to get on the Wii U train. When asked about Wii U's future and if it's considered "next-gen," Holmes added,

I think of Wii U as next gen, and thought it's had a shaky start, it could very well end up getting the most support in the end

While the console is very popular among die-hards, the lack of a truly diverse library has led some to hold off on purchasing the Wii U. By removing a 5k price tag from the dev kit, it's very likely that we'll see a bunch of new games hit the market by the end of the year, as devs were initially given the kits in May 2012, just months before the Wii U's arrival in stores for the holiday season. If the rumors are true, this is a sure pick-me-up for Nintendo as a whole.

Should we read too much into this rumor, like we do with everything else as a gaming community? If true, what do you think this means for Nintendo's Wii U game library? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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NY Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of Aereo

posted Sunday Apr 7, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

NY Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of Aereo

Last year we talked about streaming company, Aereo, who was ready to take on a round of legal battles for them dancing on the line of copyright infringement with their broadcast TV-streaming service. This week, we have some news coming out of that lawsuit, where it's pretty much Aereo vs every broadcaster in America.

Coming from a federal appeals court in New York, a judge had upheld a ruling favoring Aereo, which now means the two sides will face off in a big trial. The broadcasters have said that they do not understand the upheld ruling, however are confident that they will win out in the long run (due to their billions of dollars they can spend on lawyers). Aereo can also continue to operate as-is until the trial, and they look to expand beyond New York City and offer their over-the-air streaming service to another 24 cities by the end of this year.

Media giant and Aereo backer, Barry Diller, said this about the appeal being upheld,

We always thought our Aereo platform was permissible and I'm glad the court has denied the injunction. Now we'll build out the rest of the U.S.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said that the lower court ruling is sound and ruled in a two-to-one decision that,

Aereo's streams of TV shows to individual subscribers did not constitute public performances, and thus the broadcasters' copyright infringement lawsuits against the service are not likely to prevail on the merits.

Other judges seem to be unhappy with the ruling, like Denny Chin, who said that Aereo has simply "taken advantage of a perceived loophole in the law." Wait a minute, isn't that what big name companies like News Corp., Apple and the like do all the time and nobody says a word? Ah, how the tables have turned. Fox and PBS had this to say,

Today's decision is a loss for the entire creative community. The court has ruled that it is O.K. to steal copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation. While we are disappointed with this decision, we have and are considering our options to protect our programming.

While I think that Aereo will eventually fall, due to not only the premise of the service that is questionably legal at best but because of the deep pockets of big business, it's nice to see broadcast companies sweat a little bit more. We already know they're afraid of the Internet and have no idea what they're doing in the space. Fox lets Dish Network users view Hulu Plus content seven days earlier but they have ownership in DirecTV. That, in itself, is proof that this battle will go on, long after Aereo falls, if they do. Someone else will come along and find another small loophole, exploit it as much as we can, and we'll probably be back at this in a year or two. It's time to change, broadcasters, and you can either do it on your own, or someone else will step in and help you, albeit in a backwards, take-money-out-of-your-pockets, kind of way.

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BlackBerry's Numbers for Q4 2012, Company Optimistic About Future

posted Sunday Apr 7, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

BlackBerry's Numbers for Q4 2012, Company Optimistic About Future

The new and improved BlackBerry has been in the news a lot lately. From their CEO not holding back any punches to an unknown buyer picking up one million of BlackBerry's new devices. Now that the dust has settled, and the BlackBerry Z10 is available for purchase, it's time to crunch some numbers this week.

For Q4 of 2012, BlackBerry moved 6 million units, with the obvious 1 million being new BlackBerry 10 devices. Analysts predicted a total of 7 million, with 1.1 BB10 smartphones, so while they were right on the money, it's pretty close. This brought BlackBerry $94 million in profit and a revenue of $2.7 billion. Not bad at all considering the company only made $19 million in profit in Q3, and most of that was from the settlement in August.

For some bad news, BlackBerry said it has lost 3 million subscribers this quarter, dropping to 76 million users of BlackBerry devices across the globe. They expected this change, though, and look for the number to go right back up with the launch of the new devices coming in this current Q1 for 2014. BB also said that they will ramp up advertising and marketing expenses by 50% in order to really push the brand new operating system on their phones. This move will be key for the upcoming BB Q10, which has the familiar keyboard that old CrackBerry enthusiasts know and love.

Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, said this on BlackBerry's upcoming year,

It's the next 1-2 quarters that will really tell the story of how well the devices are being received in the US. The big challenge for BlackBerry is to up the marketing and get people interested in the devices.

While most of the statement was on the new BB10, BlackBerry also said it still was able to ship out 370,000 PlayBook tablets. This number is shocking to me, but considering that most places sell the device for sub-$200, I guess it's a pretty popular alternative to anything Android.

So, now that the numbers are in the books, is there success in the future for BlackBerry? One of their Co-CEOs are stepping down May 1st, and they have a new look and feel about them as a whole. Perhaps we'll see BlackBerry back at the top of the mobile space by the end of the year? Who knows? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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