Microsoft seeks to further establish the Xbox 360 as an access point for all forms of home entertainment, announcing plans to integrate content and services from the likes of cable operator Comcast and networks such as HBO into the Xbox Live dashboard. The integration does not represent a consolidation of consumersâ cable bills, however (via the Seattle Times); access to cable programming, for example, will require subscriptions to both cable (and Internet) service and Microsoftâs $60-per-year Xbox Live Gold package.
At NAB: Verizon Automates Digital Media Supply Chain; Akamai Demos TV Everywhere; My Eye Media Adds Speed
More highlights from the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas:
â˘ Verizon introduced a Digital Media Services solution that automates previously manual workflow processes associated with formatting, managing, and delivering digital media to smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Verizon says it is developing in-house the majority of the digital distribution technology for the service. But the company is teaming with Technicolorâs Digital Delivery Business Group, along with other software and hardware companies, to support advanced capabilities for the automated solution.
â˘ Akamai Technologies, along with cloud optimization company Synacor, is demonstrating at NAB a simplified process for providers of âTV Everywhereâ services to identify/authenticate subscribers and authorize content access. Together, the companies can offer system operators features such as single sign-ons to minimize disruptions to customersâ viewing of content, and âviewing continuityâ of content across various devices, such as a laptop and a tablet.
â˘ QC services provider My Eye Media announced that it has established a 10 Gigabit-per-second fiber-optic connection between the companyâs headquarters in Burbank, Calif. and the One Wilshire building in downtown Los Angeles, a key international data switching center. My Eye Media CTO Steve Waugh said in a statement that the new connection gives the company the ability to move extremely large files in a short time. âA 2K feature could be transferred in under an hour, assuming similar bandwidth and hardware exists on the other side,â Waugh said. âIt also gives us the ability to stream high-resolution video from remote locations, so we could potentially QC content that resides at customer sites.â
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was expected to approve this morning new regulations on consumer access to Internet content services. But the so-called net neutrality rules are being criticized before they are even published.
The National Journal reports that Verizon is mulling a lawsuit to overturn the FCCâs plan. Meanwhile, the agency faces criticism from various other interests, complaining either that the plan goes too far in regulating Internet business, or that the plan doesnât serve as enough of a check against telecommunications companies.
More commentary on the rules at GigaOm.
Recent deals to market the iPad in Verizon and AT&T stores, as well as in mass merchants such as Walmart and Target, position the Apple device to be a top holiday seller, opines GigaOmâs Om Malik. That certainly would spell good things for developers and distributors of apps and other digital content leading into 2011.
GigaOM estimates some 8 million tablets will ship to retail in 2010, with iPad units comprising a majority of those shipments (about 6 million units). But GigaOm notes that other analysts have set even higher expectations for Apple: UBS Research, for example, expects the company to sell 4.5 million iPads in thr fourth quarter of this year alone.
Apple is expected to reveal new iPad sales figures on Monday during its quarterly earnings report (via Reuters). Apple sold 3.3 million iPads between its April launch and the June closing of its second quarter; analysts are looking for the company to have sold as many as 5 million more during Q3.
Apple is designing a version of its iPhone for Verizon to market early next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A key issue for entertainment distributors is whether Apple will be able to port over the same digital media storefront that iPhone owners now use on AT&Tâs network â or whether Verizon will force some concession from Apple to accommodate its V CAST content marketplace on the device. That issue proved to be a dealbreaker in earlier negotiations, according to the Journal. But it also could affect the value proposition for consumers. More on that point (as well as on the curious timing of the Journalâs iPhone scoops) at TechCrunch.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and 12 other music industry trade groups have sent an open letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, seeking more information on how the companyâs joint proposal with Verizon for an open-Internet framework would accommodate digital content protection efforts.
âThe music community we represent believes it is vital that any Internet policy initiative permit and encourage ISPs and other intermediaries to take measures to deter unlawful activity such as copyright infringement and child pornography,â the letter reads (via Digital Media Wire). The letter also urges for the tech companies to honor a distinction between âlawful and unlawful activityâ online.
Backstory and analysis at Ars Technica.
Time Warner Cableâs Britt: New Net Neutrality Regulations Would Risk âUnintended Consequencesâ
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Time Warner Cable chief executive Glenn Britt says that new regulations for Internet service providers could carry âunintended consequencesâ if they wind up being outmoded by the ever-competitive broadband marketplace.
On the Google-Verizon policy proposal, which calls for an exception to open-Internet principles for new services and mobile/wireless networks, Britt offers: âVirtual private networks already exist. [Critics of the Google-Verizon proposal] are ignoring the fact that these services have been in place for many years. If there were a prohibition against that, then corporations couldnât do business the way they do it today internally. If IBM wants to pay me to lay a cable from one place to another using Internet technology, should that be prohibited?â
In proposing that the wireless broadband space remain free from government net neutrality regulations, Google acknowledges that it has shifted from its previous position. However, itâs all âin the spirit of compromise,â the company says in a follow-up corporate post.
Googleâs chief Washington counsel, Richard Whitt, cites three factors driving the companyâs strategic shift. âFirst,â he says, âthe wireless market is more competitive than the wireline market, given that consumers typically have more than just two providers to choose from. Second, because wireless networks employ airwaves, rather than wires, and share constrained capacity among many users, these carriers need to manage their networks more actively. Third, network and device openness is now beginning to take off as a significant business model in this space.â
More on Googleâs previous stance â and on why it wants the proposal considered by Congress instead of the Federal Communications Commission â at Ars Technica.
Subscription television operators from Comcast and Time Warner Cable to Verizon Communications are looking to compete with the likes of Netflix on the iPad, with plans to release apps of their own, the Wall Street Journal reports. The operatorsâ various apps will offer subscribers access to select movies and TV shows for little or no additional fee. At least seven of the countryâs 10 largest pay-TV operators are in the process of developing tablet computer apps, the Journal says.
Google and Verizon are receiving pushback from many media companies, but praise from some, on their proposal to keep mobile networks and the development of ânew entertainment and gaming optionsâ (among other services) outside the governmentâs net neutrality framework.
Among those criticizing the proposal is Facebook, which advocates the application of open Internet rules to mobile networks (via the Wall Street Journal). IAC chief Barry Diller, meanwhile, called the proposal a âsham,â according to the New York Times.
Yet some agree with the proposalâs call for the government to allow broadband providers room to develop new products, such as a premium tier for content access. Danny Stein, the chairman of eMusic, tells the New York Times that while Internet access should remain open and neutral, âthat doesnât mean there canât be premium options to appeal to some amazing consumer experience outside of the garden of net neutrality.â
Rival tech giants including AT&T, Comcast, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon announced earlier this week that they are joining together under the newly formed Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) to âdevelop consensus on broadband network management practices or other related technical issues that can affect usersâ Internet experience.â Chairing the group is a former chief technologist of the Federal Communications Commission. CNET reports that the formation of the group signals a political dĂŠtente between the companies over net neutrality, as well as a bypassing of Washington regulators. By CNET
Joining fellow Internet service providers AT&T, Comcast, and Cox Communications, Verizon Communications plans to begin issuing âcopyright noticesâ on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America to customers accused of illegally downloading songs from the Web. By CNET
Lionsgate Entertainment says that movie channel Epix, which it co-owns with Viacomâs Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is on track to secure other distribution partners soon. The channel launched late last month with just one distribution partner, Verizon Communicationsâ FiOS TV service, making it available to 2.5 million households. By Reuters