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10 February 2011

Deals, launches and products

Comcast has introduced a 100 Mbps internet offering throughout Colorado this week, after launching it as the ‘Deluxe 100′ service to just two cities there earlier, using DOCSIS 3.0. It is now available to Business class customers and will cost a massive $369.95 a month with a load of free Microsoft and anti-virus software for up to 25 PCs. When are Colorado homes going to get that sort of speed?

French VoD specialist Anevia says that it has supplied technology to allow Itacom in Paraguay to deploy an over-the-top (OTT) video on demand service there. Itacom is an ISP and the new OTT service is based on ViaMotion, a software-based IP streaming system designed by Anevia, which supports most of the standard streaming protocols and attaches to third party set tops PCs, handsets and tablets.

Telenor conditional access subsidiary Conax, said this week it will supply the conditional access to Russian Satellite TV operator, Telekarta’s DTH platform.

UK IPTV browser designer ANT has created an online application portal for Korean set top vendor Humax in the UK, based around its Galio Platform. The new TV Portal went out to existing Humax Freeview set tops in an over the air update adding Flickr, BBC iPlayer, [email protected] and internet radio literally overnight with more apps to follow including SkyPlayer. The update went to all existing HDR-FOX T2 Freeview+ HD DVRs which work with the Freeview DVB-T service in the UK.

Allot Communications a software supplier to broadband operators, said that its MobileTrends Report shows that mobile data bandwidth grew at 73% in the second half of 2010. Video streaming continues to drive this growth accounting for 37% of mobile bandwidth and YouTube is responsible for 17% on its own, around 45% of the total video streaming traffic. Twitter and Facebook grew by 378% and 267% respectively and VoIP and IM apps drove an 87% increase on mobile broadband. The numbers come from cellular operators worldwide which account for 210 million subs. The report also says that file sharing still eats 30% of mobile bandwidth and the Apple App Store is responsible for 89% and Google’s Android Market is responsible for 9% of overall app store download traffic. Skype continues as the undisputed VoIP market leader, accounting for 87% of mobile VoIP bandwidth.

New Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has not taken long to reach the obvious conclusions that Nokia is sat on a burning platform (Symbian) as rumors emerge this week that he will fire lots of Nokia execs and call for radical new ways to approach business. US analysts are seeing this radical approach as supporting Android or Windows Phone 7, and dumping both Symbian and MeeGo, a move that would, in our view, really set fire to the ship. He laid this out in an email to staff which naturally leaked. He does quite rightly point out that a company that three years on has no viable alternative to the iPhone, can’t expect to lead in handsets for long. It’s a cultural problem that the Finns all think they know best and suffer from Not Invented Here syndrome when it comes to touch screens. He points out that Android is just two years old and has already overtaken Symbian. About MeeGo he asks if it’s the salvation for the company, then why don’t we have more than one phone with it on. Easy to criticize Stephen, now tell us what’s the new plan. He is expected to on Friday this week.

MIPS Technologies said this week that Altair Semiconductor (a long term licensee), which makes low power, small footprint, 4G LTE chipsets, has licensed MIPS’ multi-threaded synthesizable processor IP for next-generation chipsets targeting mobile broadband baseband and modem applications for mobile devices. Altair is a long-time MIPS licensee, leveraging the MIPS architecture across its entire line of LTE chipsets.

Almost every mobile processor vendor has now taken the dual-core plunge, and Broadcom is the latest to promise a doubled-up design to show at Mobile World Congress. It will show its new system-on-chip in a reference design at the show, taking on Nvidia’s Tegra2, Texas Instruments’ OMAP and others. Its BCM28150 or Merlyn is optimized for Android, with which Broadcom has had a close relationship for over a year now and it runs on two 1.1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 cores, like Tegra2, Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon and TI’s OMAP 4 (though TI has already shown off OMAP 5, which goes up to quad-core). The device supports 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second, 12-mp cameras, HSPA+ speeds up to 21Mbps, and 3D graphic fill rates of 1 gigapixel per second.

Parks Associates says that video streaming services and games with online components are driving households to connect their game consoles to the internet more and more and finds that 64% of US broadband households with an Internet-connectable game console have it hooked to the Internet, a major increase from 2007, when only 25% had their next-gen console connected. The company says that PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have higher connectivity rates than Nintendo and that despite the Wii’s built-in wireless capabilities, it has been less successful in getting users to go online. Parks predicts that households will connect more than 260 million game consoles to the Internet worldwide by 2015.

Israeli pay TV Over The Top software supplier Tvinci will be showing an updated OTT platform at Mobile World Congress that works with HbbTV hybrid set-top boxes. This offering is intended for future expansion to include HbbTV connected TVs, tablets and other devices. The project is built on Tvinci’s existing OTT platform for centrally managing content, business rights and user experience across devices.

Online gaming phenomenon OnLive now seems to be adopting a strategy like Netflix, whereby it installs its low footprint client on more and more specific devices and now has a deal with Taiwanese handset maker HTC. In return HTC has invested $40 million buying shares in the company. Last month OnLive cut a deal with US TV manufacturer Vizio and offers its own OnLive viewer on the Apple App Store, which so far only lets you watch others play, not play games yourself. HTC is the first major smartphone vendor to take OnLive. HTC is also paying $48 million to acquire Saffron Digital, a UK based mobile video delivery company. Saffron’s technology is used in Europe by LG, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile and Nokia and in the US by Samsung.

Time Warner Cable has adopted the Samsung Galaxy Tab for launch later this year, to show all of its cable TV video. As we understand it the Tab can access all the same TV channels, but gets it as an internet delivered stream, not from the set top. It will be available the same way over Samsung Smart TVs.

There are rumors published in CNET that Google will work with Spotify to introduce a joint digital mobile streaming music service and that licensing agreements are almost in place with the major record labels. Spotify is thought to have a deal with Sony Music and is in talks with EMI. Google is said to wants to offer purchased downloads as well.

Given that News Corp has taken impairments of $275 million last quarter in its digital media group, it appears that it will now push to sell MySpace. It has recently brought the MySpace offering up to date and thinks it should quit while it is still ahead. It says that it has had interest from industry players and financial players, both foreign and domestic, but has not given out any names.

HP finally brought something out using its Palm acquisition’s webOS, its first tablet, the HP TouchPad. Sorry to say this, but this is an iPad with an HP sticker on it and there is little new or original, unless it’s the way the multi-tasking operating system is designed to work purely with the web. It’s powered by dual core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chips, the screen is 9.7 inches, and the UI uses a set of cards instead of app icons, and the cards can be tidied up in to piles using gesture touch controls. It’s good for emails, social networking and watching video ‘ like we said, a HP iPad except this one has Adobe Flash from the start, rather than years later. There is WiFi access now and 3G promised later. You can connect through SMS, Google Talk, AIM and Yahoo! Messenger and it comes with the Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite, and VPN support ‘ so let’s rephrase that, it’s an iPad for enterprise staff. It has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing webcam, and can attach wirelessly to HP printers. Two other webOS products were also launched, a new Pre phone and the HP Veer, a smaller Pre style phone. TouchPad is out in the summer and pricing comes later.

UK IPTV set top specialist Amino Technologies reported its full financial year with revenues up 74% to £44 million, and profit up 52% to £12.6 million. Operating profit was just £1.8m before exceptional items, and this performance is a big turnaround from this time last year when the company went into losses for the first time. Cash is slightly down at the year-end to £3.6 million, but that’s mostly due to building up stock for its hybrid Telecom Italia tier 1 OTT set top account which only began taking delivers in December. The company says that it has a strong order backlog going forwards.