Youku, Chinese YouTube Reproduction Raises $25m

youku fundingMoney flowing into Internet video startups doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Just the opposite, the sector continues to expand globally. Pacific Epoch reports Chinese language site has closed a $25m Series C Financing.

The round was led by Brookside Capital Partners (subsidiary of Bain Capital) and the Company’s three existing investors Sutter Hill Ventures, Farallon Capital Management and Chengwei Ventures. is very much like a Chinese languageYouTube, right down to the colors and layout of the pages. Also like YouTube, it is a forum for displaying and interacting with user-generated/user-submitted videos.

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Sony Cuts PS3 Development Costs

ps3 binaryWhen Sony released earnings data at the end of October two things were abundantly clear: i. the PS3 was still a major component of their future plans; and ii. unless they started changing things soon, especially in time for the holiday sales push, the future wasn’t going to be too bright.

Somebody at Sony got the memo.

Monday, in an effort to increase game development, Sony cut the fees charged to game developers. The change comes a month after Sony cut global prices for the console.

The Software Development Kit, which Sony calls the Reference Tool, will now cost $10,250 in North America, $8,600 in Japan, and $11,250 in Europe. Sony will also improve programming tools included with the kit.

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Macrovision Buys Encryption that May Have Already Been Broken

BD+ soldMacrovision, a leading provider of Digital Rights Management and Anti-Piracy technology for the film industry, announced today they had entered agreements to acquire the Blu Ray Disc Plus (BD+) security protocol along with related staffers from Cryptography Research Inc. for $45m.   The purchase of this somewhat esoteric technology isn’t  likely to get much attention outside the cryptographic industry but it’s notable if for no other reason than reports that  BD+ was just recently hacked/cracked.

BD+  is a Blu Ray exclusive security protocol that’s been billed as an added security feature for the Blu Ray platform. Click to Read More

Amazon Kindle: Quick Take

kindleWith a front page letter on Amazon’s site from Jeff Bezos and a New York press conference, Amazon officially debuted Kindle today. With the launch, they are putting answer to some of the questions that hovered ahead of the e-book reader’s launch. Opinions are now flying about the quality of the interface, about the depth of available content, and even, Amazon’s long term goals. A few quick takes:

More PC than Mac, more Zune than iPod, the Kindle is an ergonomic and functional offering but it doesn’t look slick. It’s small and light. The display from E Ink is easy to read but monochrome. Taken as a whole, Kindle doesn’t have the magical kind of design that draws second looks or makes it iconic. For version 1.0, this is not a device destined for beauty pageants. But then, Click to Read More

Amazons Surprise: Kindle eBook To Unveil Monday

kindle launchIt was supposedly due in October.  That deadline came and went.  Now, still in time for the holidays, here comes Kindle.

Amazon’s much speculated digital book reader will debut Monday at an event to be held at the Union Square W Hotel in New York City.

Jeff Bezos will be on hand to introduce the product.  A few celebrity endorsements are likely on track as well.  Kindle will be Amazon’s first foray into an in-house brand of consumer electronics. 

Vaunted as a competitor to Sony’s Reader, the Kindle portable book reader was built with similar easy-on-the-eyes display technology from E Ink.  Like the new iPod Touch, it will be equipped with WiFi access to directly buy and download books from Amazon’s digital store.   The image from early FCC filings suggests it will also have an onboard keyboard and a possible backlight for nighttime viewing. Expectations are Kindle will retail for around $399.

The question is: will Kindle, or e-Books in general, catch on with consumers.  Today, the market for e-Books is conservatively estimated at less than $30m.  Click to Read More

NPD October: Gaming Industry Sales Stats

gameAlbert Einstein once said that "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." Near the middle of every month market research firmNPD Group tries to apply that maxim to the gaming industry with release of retail statistics for the prior month’s sales. The numbers are meant to show the direction of the market, and individual products. Today, the October numbers hit the wires. They don’t account for an apparent turn around for Sony’s PS3, which began moving well with price cuts, but the numbers do give a snapshot of the gaming industry as it enters into the two biggest months of their year. As has been the case all year, the industry is hot.

For October, just about a year after the release of the Wii, Nintendo returned to it’s reign as king of the consoles and portables. (Nintendo was briefly displaced in September result of both strong Halo related Xbox’ sales and a limited supply of Wii’s).

As has been the case all year, the Wii remains hard to get and is selling out consistently. Click to Read More

Activision Enlists Massive for Dynamic In-Game Ads

guitar hero adsDynamic in-game advertising only accounted for a fraction of the nearly $80m in revenue in-game advertising generated in 2006. Still, the nascent industry is poised to overtake product placements, and potentially, by bringing a recurring revenue stream, even change the underlying revenue models for the entire gaming industry. Major game publishers are taking note. With projections of a billion dollar market opportunity by 2011, they’d be foolish not to.

Wednesday, Activision followed Electronic Arts lead and cut a deal with Microsoft’s Massive Inc. Ad Network to bring dynamic in game ads to their hot selling Guitar Hero III game. (EA Sports struck a deal with Massive in late July).

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