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EU Smart Homes: Part Two – Marketing, Aging-in-Place, Different Perspectives

To recap; the smart home market is behind schedule, early-adopter enthusiasm has only taken it so far, and the next step needed to drive it forward requires a reconsidered approach to design and marketing – and the likely involvement of operators. What follows is the second part of our coverage of the European Smart Home summit. The companies covered in the second part are: 1450, Strategy Analytics, Idratek, Maplin, Ericsson, CFT Denmark, Silk Road 1450: Szymon Janiak, CMO of 1450, was the first presenter of the day, and told the story of Oort – a Polish startup that designed Bluetooth-based smart home devices and appliance adapters. Janiak said how Oort’s failure was not in the technology or the finance, but…

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People Power gets an Origin story, launches smart home down under

Origin Energy has launched a smart home offering for its utility customers in Australia, using People Power’s Home HQ system – a smart home platform that uses some of People Power’s AI-bots. It follows a $1.2m investment in People Power by Origin Energy, which will initially be launching in the state of Victoria. Currently priced at $199 AUD ($152 USD), the Home HQ Starter Kit contains a gateway, a smart plug, smart light bulb, temperature and humidity sensor, a motion sensor, and two entry sensors. Connected to a smartphone app, to allow a user to monitor and control these devices, the system seems pretty comprehensive for the price. People Power’s IoT Suite is the system behind Origin’s new service. Riot…

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AI sees more VC $, but what are these startups promising to deliver?

AI startups received $1.8bn from investors in the first half of 2017, according to CB Insights. The second half of the year has seen a continuation of the trend, as Graphcore and SenseTime secured large capital financing rounds. This said, AI remains a trend with question marks hanging over it, with many of the industry’s leading researchers still feeling that we are a long way off solving critical issues with AI – like the frame problem, and inference. Typically, when most consider AI, they think of the Googles and Baidus of this world, who spent between $20 to $30bn internally on the area in 2016, according to McKinsey. Much of this effort has been focused on a race to achieving…

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Industrial Robotics market grows by 18%, leaders focus on IoT

The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reported that sales of industrial robots increased by 18% to a record $13.1bn in 2016, as a range of new industries started to buy robotics systems, leveraging IoT to create brownfield growth. Robotics companies are also partnering with IoT leaders and launching internal IoT development programs, heavily focused on analytics and diagnostics, in a race to lead in the further proliferation of IoT-enabled robotics. The industrial robotics sector has been helped by an increasing demand for more sophisticated machines, that have more capabilities than simply welding car bodies and lifting heavy loads – able to also perform complex functions for electronic component production. The growth in adoption of robotics has led to an uptick…

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Volvo wins 24k order for Uber self-driving fleet, Uber nets SoftBank cash

Uber is hoping to keep the ship on course, under the watch of new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, as it continues to develop the technology it hopes will replace its human drivers. Placing a 24,000-unit order for Volvo’s XC90 SUVs, Uber will be modifying the cars to integrate its self-driving tech. However, yet another Uber scandal has emerged this week, as the company fired its CSO for his involvement in suppressing a 57m-record data breach. The Volvo deal is an evolution of a partnership that began back in 2016, with Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group. Scheduled for delivery in 2019, it would give Uber the biggest self-driving fleet on the road – although we expect other firms to significantly increase the size…

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Cisco stumps $1bn to finance smart city projects

IT equipment giant Cisco is evidently frustrated by the pace of the smart city market, and has launched a $1bn fund to help cities get the ball rolling. Providing initial financing, in partnership with pension fund APG, Whitehelm Capital, and private equity firm Digital Alpha Advisors, Cisco is planning on securing some nice stable revenues out of these city projects – and is expanding its Cisco Kinetic for Cities platform. Smart Cities represent a huge opportunity for tech firms looking to expand. However, cities are normally strapped for cash, especially so in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Many cities will be aware of the benefits that smart city tech could provide, but are unable to front the cash…

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OTT Video News, Deals, Launches and Products

Deutsche Telekom is the latest pay TV operator to sign an across the board deal with Netflix, having previously signed up only for Germany. DT is one of the largest pay TV operators in Europe, probably 3rd after Sky and Liberty Global, with an estimated 7.3 million customers, with 3.0 million in Germany and another 4.2 million outside it, which have now been opened up to become Netflix customers. Before this, customers in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands had Netflix access, including 4K content. Presumably a deal can also be reached for its 160 million mobile customers around the world at some point. US CCAP equipment provider Casa Systems is finally planning an IPO and says in an S1 filing…

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Chinese operators plan swoop on Philippines and Brazil

The three Chinese operators have been surprisingly reticent about investing in MNOs in other parts of the world, but that may be about to change, with the companies eyeing opportunities as far apart as Brazil and the Philippines. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has offered Chinese premier Li Keqiang the chance for a Chinese firm to become his country’s third operator; while China Telecom is reported to be interested in troubled Brazilian MNO, Oi. The Philippines government has been keen to break the duopoly in telecoms of PLDT and Globe. No specific Chinese company was proposed to take the third licence, according to local reports, but China is considered a good option because it is in the same region and has…

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Media consolidation to ripple across US, feeding giants

A Congress uproar is brewing after the Federal Communications Commission made a controversial decision to loosen media ownership regulations, supporting and empowering media moguls such as the Murdoch family, while restricting diversity. Under the previous Republican administration, an attempt to unravel the same regulations was unanimously down voted by 400 to 20 and quashed by the Supreme Court – with Congress members acknowledging the political minefield that would spawn as a result of loosened regulations. The difference this time around is that President Trump has crafted his own FCC. The long-awaited move means a wave of consolidation will sweep the industry, as a way of asserting wider political influence over an increased footprint and targeting younger generations. The regulations themselves…

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Streaming cannibalization fuels Dish, CBS carriage feud

Dish Network has attempted to make up for this week’s CBS channel blackout, which saw the US broadcaster pull 28 local channels in 18 markets, by offering subscribers free antenna installation to access CBS channels on over the air (OTA) TV at no additional cost, or the option to drop local CBS channels from programming packages and save $10 on monthly TV bills. This is a major statement from Dish which has never been scared to take on additional costs and go it alone, a sentiment CBS probably echoes. Dish claims thousands of subscribers have already made the switch to OTA services, but a large proportion of its 13.2 million pay TV subscribers would rather pay the $10 extra than…

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Will APAC be central to exclusive Amazon, AMC deal?

Amazon and US entertainment company AMC Studios have inked their first output deal for exclusive international rights for original AMC Studios content. Bagging exclusive rights in 28 countries outside of the US suggests Amazon signed a sizable check – another show of intent that the company is willing to make significant content investments in its global expansion efforts where return on investment has so far been minimal. Amazon has only named 5 out of the 28 new countries where it has landed content rights from AMC Studios, with Australia, Germany, India, Italy and Japan getting mentions in the initial agreement release. The missing launch territories remain a secret for now, but the second most populous country in the world is…

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AWS joins Streaming Video Alliance, driving standards collaboration

Nine months after we first heard that Amazon was poised to join the Streaming Video Alliance, the firm has finally put pen to paper by signing up its AWS cloud technology arm. Members don’t come much bigger than AWS, and the latest addition is a huge boost for promoting technical collaboration across the OTT video industry. With Netflix now relying heavily on AWS infrastructure as well as investing R&D dollars in its own streaming technologies, we would not be surprised to see the world’s largest streaming company become the next significant member of the Alliance. However, despite the Streaming Video Alliance boasting some major members, it is less common for giant companies or service providers to join groups pushing for…

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AT&T eyes outdated MCN acquisition to bolster appeal to mobile viewers

AT&T is considering acquiring full ownership of the digital media subsidiary Otter Media that it launched with The Chernin Group back in 2014 – an investment made during a peak in the MCN hysteria that swept the telecom and media sector amid the rise of YouTube’s original programming paradigm shift. At the time, AT&T pledged $500 million to the joint venture for developing over the top content and services that would appeal to younger viewers. AT&T head Randall Stephenson said the telco planned to leverage the subsequent content and streaming services for delivery across its wireless network to smartphones. That was one of the earliest articulations of Stephenson’s grand vision of pairing content assets with its wireless networks and customers.…

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AI and automation make perfect marriage for deep metadata

Video search and recommendation have been held back by lack of detailed metadata, which often offers little more than title, genre, length, time of creation and some credits including director, actors and other participants. Fortunately times are changing as metadata starts to dig deeper and allow recommendations engines to pick up more nuanced information down to scene level and some of the bit part players. This promises not only to match content as a whole more accurately to viewer preferences and profiles, but also to allow micro level extraction down to scenes with potential even for creating and serving personalized extracts or trailers. On the one hand new content is already being created automatically with more information from cameras for…

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Linear overtakes VoD as fastest growing paid OTT segment

Linear is now the fastest growing pay OTT sector, especially outside the US where the SVoD brigade still dominate in terms of subscriptions at least. But the bigger picture is that OTT is spreading out across different revenue and business models while the distinction between on demand and linear is fading. It makes little sense to segment the pay OTT market into two boxes one marked SVoD and the other subscription linear, or SLIN, as one of our analyst peers has done. The problem with SLIN is that it is really little more than “not Netflix” since its definition seems to include just about everybody else of any standing, save perhaps for HBO Now. Netflix has gone out of its…

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Allegations of quid-pro-quo between Trump, FCC and Sinclair emerge

The FCC’s polarizing chairman, Ajit Pai, is in the midst of an extremely aggressive revamp of some of the core tenets of the FCC’s regulatory spirit, and in doing so Pai has garnered serious suspicion from members of Congress. Pai has pushed a handful of controversial agendas that will dramatically change the telecommunications landscape in the US. Those agendas range from loosening media ownership rules, killing Obama-era net neutrality protections, re-instating the UHF discount measure, and even downgrading the definition of “broadband” from 25 Mbps to 10 Mbps. But critics argue that some of Pai’s recent proposals will give one station group owner, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a significant advantage. From the outside, it appears that Pai’s FCC has been surprisingly…

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TiVo wins critical ITC TV Guide patent case against Comcast

Tivo has won at least round one of two patent cases it has going against Comcast, and its Xfinity set top boxes. It has a NY Court patent abuse case, but this ITC complaint which is almost identical, had the additional power of blocking the import of Xfinity X1 set top boxes, and it has delivered on that. All of this relates to the traditional TV guide patents which TiVo inherited from Gemstar, and which came via the Rovi half of the merger to form the new TiVo last year. The likely outcome is that Comcast will have to step away from this particular attempt to get out of the long standing patent agreements it has had with TiVo, and…

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AT&T Time Warner merger goes to lawyers for all the wrong reasons

When the deal for AT&T buying Time Warner was announced a year ago we wrote that the three regulators which stand in the way of the deal are the Justice Department (DoJ), The US Federal Trade Commission (ITC) and the FCC. The FCC has a duty of care to not let its assets – such as wireless spectrum – be used to the disadvantage of the consumer. It can block things which are seen as “not in the public’s interest,” which use such assets and it decided to give the deal a pass, leaving it to the other two. But the DoJ and the ITC can only act if the AT&T deal breaks specific clauses in either the Sherman AntiTrust…

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Verizon to sacrifice NFL mobile rights, initiating bidding war

Whenever a new OTT streaming service offering live NFL matches launches in the US, we must always point out that it is limited to certain screens due to Verizon holding exclusive rights for streaming live NFL games on mobile devices. A bidding war for these rights could soon erupt, as new negotiations between the NFL and Verizon would extend streaming rights to PCs and tablets, as well as mobiles, but at the cost to Verizon of losing its mobile exclusivity. These exclusive rights have kept the influence of AT&T and Dish Network on smartphone NFL streaming at bay, but these two are now likely to pour cash into picking up NFL mobile streaming rights, although there is no guarantee of…

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EC U-turns on geo-blocking, driving stake into OTT heart

The abolishment of geo-blocking in European Union (EU) countries this week has pro-consumer implications in areas such as online shopping, roaming charges and the use of credit cards abroad, but the news for the OTT video industry isn’t so rosy – as the EU’s law makers have U-turned on including streaming services in these new regulations. This goes against everything the European Parliament said in its draft law proposal back in May, which outlined scrapping the act of offering an online content service in one EU country and that country alone. This ruling was set to benefit the OTT video industry across Europe while striking a blow to content pirates, but the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council have…

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