Hulu Subscription Rumors Pick Up Pace

Hulu, the web video powerhouse jointly owned by News Corp (Fox), GE (NBC/Universal) and Disney (ABC) brought in an estimated $100m in ad revenue last year.  Rumor has it that’s not enough and the company will look to a subscription service to push its revenues higher.

According to a Reuters report citing “sources familiar” and a bevy of chatter, the company is looking at both subscription and the expansion of its service to consumer devices including the Xbox platform and the iPad.

The concept, if the rumors echoing for months, prove accurate, would have Hulu charging $9.95 a month for access to older catalog programming.  It would be something like Netflix’ “Watch Now” service – only it would cut out the middle and be owned by the networks themselves through their stakes in the Hulu joint venture.

Newer TV episodes would likely remain free.

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M&A Recap: Zynga and Google Make Buys

Social gamer Zynga grabbed a lot of press lately.  First the company re-upped with Facebook.  Next it doubled down with Yahoo.   Now the company is expanding its development operations with the purchase of Austin based Challenge Games.  Challenge, which developed games like Warstorm and Ponzi was backed by Sequoia Capital and Globespan.

In other M&A news, Google has acquired Philadelphia based advertising shop Invite Media for an undisclosed sum thought to be in the range of $50 to $75m.  Click to Read More

Skype to Charge for 3G Connected Service After 2010

It’s official, there are no more free rides for smartphone data users.  AT&T is phasing out its unlimited data plans (for new customers), and now Skype, just days after rolling out its first 3G friendly application will go from free to paid (sort of, anyway).

Skype confirmed that it’s free Skype to Skype VoIP calling service over 3G networks will cease being free at the end of the year.   Click to Read More

Intel WiDi Video Technology Gets More Support

There is a lot of video content online but watching it on your television remains a hit or miss affair.  The market is fragmented as best so what you get depends on your specific hardware and the vendor partnerships that go with it.  With one TV (or connected Blu-ray player) you can watch Netflix or a YouTube stream out of the box.  With another you can plug into Cinema Now content or something else.

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iPad Arrives Internationally

London, Paris, Tokyo.  Across the globe people lined up around street corners.  Some camped out. Some cheered.  Hungrily, they waited for the moment – it wasn’t for tickets to some rare concert ,not for a hugely anticipated movie premier – the moment they sought was a chance to grab a bit of tech history, Apple’s latest trophy device, the iPad.

Originally intended for an earlier global roll out, Apple had pushed back the delivery date to insure there was ample inventory to supply the domestic market.  The extended wait seemed to only fuel greater anticipation and more gadget lust.

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Applevine: Apple TV Getting a Refresh?

Apple has grabbed a solid piece of almost every digital media market its entered, every market but one.   Apple TV has never been much more than a sideshow.  In nearly three years on the market, the device aimed at bridging the digital divide of the living room – the elusive TV to Internet gap – hasn’t really lived up to its promise.

That may soon be changing.  It’s too soon to know but there’s an increased volume of chatter suggesting Apple will overhaul the device Steve Jobs has downplayed as “a hobby” sometime this year.

Expected changes include a shift to the iPhone/iPad operating system and a reduced price point.  One of the theories behind the concept is that the modification would allow user’s to run select “Apps” through their TV platform.

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Facebook To Simplify Privacy Controls

In the late 90’s, there was periodic uproar over privacy issues coming from then developing internet marketing practices.  A decade later, some of the old lessons are still being revisited, some of them relearned.

Amid growing concern and outrage from users over privacy controls, Facebook announced Wednesday that it will implement a much more simplified privacy management environment for its users.

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