Obstacle to on Demand DVDs Removed

locked_cd.jpgDownload a movie from any download service and chances are, you can’t burn it onto a DVD, at least one that will play on any machine (e.g. your home DVD player).  It’s a matter of copyright protection.  Store bought DVDs are encrypted with what is essentially a digital padlock called a Content Scrambling System (CSS).  Your home DVD player was manufactured with the keys.  Your computer, similarly equipped to unlocking the file when it comes to playing a movie, doesn’t have the tools to make a lock of its own.   That may soon change.

Thursday, the DVD Copyright Control Association (DVDCCA), a trade association that oversees these issues, agreed for the first time to begin licensing the encryption technology to consumer device makers.  Click to Read More

Another Mixed Bag: Good and Bad Sony PS3 News

mixed bagThe 2007 Tokyo Game Show would have been a idyllic podium for Sony to make some positive PS3 announcements. Despite the hot gaming industry, they’ve been getting handedly beaten in monthly sales by Nintendo and even Microsoft.  They could use some good press.  Instead, a few bright spots notwithstanding, it was largely another missed opportunity and more bad news.  Sony said Thursday they were delaying the launch of their virtual world meets Xbox Live clone (aka their own virtual community for PS3 users).

The Home community was scheduled for a fall launch; due in time to help support the holiday sales push.   It’s now expected early 2008. Click to Read More

Slacker adds music, Player coming soon?

slacker playerSo far, web music company Slacker has been living up to its name. Launched in March to high fanfare, and resurfacing again in June with the close of a $40m financing, not much has been heard from them since.  That may soon change.

The company founded by three former CEO’s has been ambitiously trying to marry three  musical delivery channels into a single product.  Part 1 is a Internet radio station that features personalized music streaming similar  Pandora or Last.fm (bought by CBS).  Part 2 is a desktop music management application that marries the personalized radio services with a customer’s own music files – kind of like taking iTunes and giving it radio functionality.  Part 3,  which was scheduled for a summer a release that has not happened,  is a small portable player (like an iPod)  that will sync with the software to update music wirelessly via WiFi.  The player also promises the unique ability to download new tracks via satellite through an accessory car kit.  This satellite feature, which is able to work around the Sirius/XM monopoly by using proprietary technology to move data on unused commercial satellite signals, is truly unique.

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Mobile Funding: 2 More Deals

moneybag.jpgSignaling investors continued bullishness about mobile entertainment, two new companies have secured middle rounds of financing: mobile gamer Vollee and mobile video provider Quickplay Media.  The specifics:

Founded 18 months ago, Vollee is developing game distribution technology that allows them to adapt, host and stream PC and Console games for play on mobile phones and portables over 3G Networks.  Based in Israel, and running with a staff of near 50, the company previously closed a $4m Series A round in March from Benchmark and Blue Run Ventures (BRV).  BRV Partner Yossi Hasson is also a co-founder of the company. 

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Games on Fire: How Hot is the Gaming Industry?

hot gamesForget Web 2.0.  Think twice about Internet video? Is gaming the next big frontier for investors and entertainment media companies alike?  It’s sure starting to look that way; even for those late to the party.  From Venture Investors to Big Media, gaming seems hot all over.

The sector has been hot for a while but in the past few months the temperature continues to rise.  Retail sales of consoles and games are returning consistently impressive results well ahead of the holiday season.  More than 68m people played a console game in June worldwide.  According to a report released Tuesday from market research firm DFC Intelligence, the cumulative worldwide “interactive entertainment industry” is on track to grow about 9% per year to reach $47b by 2009 (from $33billion in 2006).  Other market data firms are similarly bullish: Gartner has predicted mobile gaming revenue will hit $9.6b by 2011.  IDC predicts Internet connected consoles will generate revenue upwards of $10b by 2011, up from $981 in 2007.

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Ripping Video for the Enterprise: Ripcode and MySpace

ripcodeAfter spending eighteen months in “stealth mode,” and burning through a chunk of $17m in funding, a little Texas startup called Ripcode Monday came out of hiding with a bang.  The company, which has been developing a network appliance for encoding video data streams, formally introduced their product and also announced they’d signed a whale of a first customer: MySpace.

For every well run startup there is always one question, one market problem that they are aiming to fix.  For Ripcode it’s been about efficiency and cost effectiveness.  Their question was how can an enterprise which hosts Internet video re-encode the files in a cheaper and more efficient way. Click to Read More

NY Times Select: the experiment is officially done.

times selectIn early August the NY Post ran a story citing “sources briefed on the matter” saying that rival NY paper, The Times would discontinue their paid subscription service Times Select.  The rumor fell into the category of “more likely true than not” but for the last month it languished without update or official comment. Now it’s official. Times Select is done. Effective midnight Tuesday Times Select will cease being selective and revert to freely available, publicly accessible content. 

The Select service began two years ago as a value added service. They charged $49.95 a year (or $7.95 a month) for online access to the work of some columnists.  Click to Read More

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