HBO Programming Comes Online, Sort of.

Time Warner’s HBO unit has created some of the most original programming on television over the past decade but efforts to make the programming available online have been snagged in the webs of legal contracts. As a subscription service, HBO’s distribution agreements with cable and satellite providers stand in the way.  That remains a problem but Tuesday, HBO is set to try again. 

Their new service, called “HBO on Broadband” will provide access to about 400 hours of programming a month.  The full library of HBO content will not be available.  Also, only existing subscribers to HBO’s TV programming will be able to participate.

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Media and Entertainment 2007: By the Numbers Recap

New years seem to start with a tempered excitement.  As a symbolic beginning, we’re prone to look ahead anxious of the unknown.  As a symbolic end, we’re drawn  to look back and take inventory of what has passed.  Where have we been? What have we done? And, most of all,  where are we going?

chartsIn the mix, the glass is neither half full nor half empty.  In the beginning of a new year, it is just there with some liquid in it open to all voices to call it what they will.   Looking back is a means of measuring where momentum is taking us. Corporate earnings, personal achievements (or faults), annualized statistics: all numbers and quantities to set benchmarks and goals.

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From the Labs: Better Batteries, Smaller Devices?

breakthroughEven as reports are starting to indicate there’s no cause for concern, one of the most common complaints (or perhaps concerns) raised about Apple’s new Macbook Air is the fact that the battery is not meant to be user-replaceable.    A few years from now, however, that design decision may be even less relevant.

Earlier this week, Yahoo and other news sites began to report on work researchers at Stanford’s Materials Science and Engineering department reported in the journal Nature Nanotechnology in mid December.   The scientists’ breakthrough discovery could yield batteries that can run for 40 or more hours and be smaller than what we use today.  And these high powered wonders could be just a few years from being on the market. The implications for portable gadgets, our entertainment on the go, even electric cars, could be significant.

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NPD December and 2007 Gaming Results: Incredible Video Game Sales.

npd gamingEveryone knew the numbers were going to be good; it was just a matter of how good.  That and how long it would take to see them.   Usually, it takes a few weeks to tabulate year end results.  In that time, expectations were building.  Today, NPD Group released their December and Year-End Sales results for the U.S. video game industry.   The results took November’s stellar returns and raised them by one more. More records were broken.

Total U.S. hardware and software sales for 2007 rose 43% over 2006 to set a new record at $17.94b.  December contributed $4.82b to that tally (a 28% annual increase).

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IPTV in Trouble? CTO Changes at Joost and Babelgum

exec shakeupBuilding successful companies from the seed of a startup is usually a long process, one of those things characterized as “more of a marathon than a sprint.”   Joost, and some of their Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) competitors got off to a very fast start, maybe too fast.

It was revealed Thursday that Joost’s CTO Dirk-Willem van Gulik is the leaving the startup next month to become Chief Technical Architect for the BBC.  He’ll work on their sites and likely, Project Kangaroo.

The change may be nothing more than the attrition of a volatile market (tech talent is always in demand).  On the other hand, taking into account the similar departure of rival Babelgum’s CTO in November, it may indicate the honeymoon is starting to end for some IPTV companies.

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Library of Congress 2.0: Yahoo’s Flickr to Host Photo Collection

flickr libraryIt’s hard to think of a two hundred year old institution as forward thinking but in many ways that’s what the Library of Congress is and (set out to be).   It’s not just the Library for Congress and the government; it’s the repository for copyright protections, an archive of 30 million books, hundreds of years of newspapers, enough shelf space to span 530 miles. 

It’s no small job keeping 130 million items organized and accessible.  It takes a staff of more than 5,000 on  a budget of more than $300m to keep the gears turning.  To keep it efficient, it takes all the technological resources possible.   Wednesday, the library’s staff announced they’d decided those resources should include Yahoo’s online photo sharing community: Flickr. They also decided that it would be a good idea to let “the crowd” help out with the process. A library of the people, for the people and now … by the people.

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Macworld Update: Macbook Air, A First Look

macbook air reviewAround the Macworld show Floor, I heard a lot of the same comments. The Mac faithful groaned consistently this morning’s keynote address was a snoozer.  They weren’t impressed enough.  There was too little surprise, they said, and, worse, only little changes.  It’s not that something is wrong with the existing Apple product line, Apple’s Steve-worshiping fans just wanted more. Their expectations were over stoked.  They wanted to be surprised, wowed and awed.   The reality was short.

In a way, it’s not unlike the stock price.  It tends to rise before the trade show and drop a bit after; a consequence of Apple’s finely tuned marketing machine. Sometimes, it’s almost too good for their own good.

It’s true, Apple’s product announcement this morning largely validated the rumors, or the rumors largely pegged the announcements. There were few surprises.   Odds on, most expected announcements were made.    Like a predictable book, Apple delivered the comfortable conclusions.  That’s not to say it wasn’t satisfying, however.   The new Macbook, in fact, is rather impressive.  The improvements to the Apple TV’s software aren’t bad either.

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