Wal-Mart's Vudu Trance - home entertainment and apps

mot-bile 2010 - What is exactly "home entertainment" according to Wal-Mart ? Everyday low prices for home movies or everyday more promotions for everything else on your TV screen ?

The Bentonville, AR giant acquired VUDU, Inc, an online video service embedded in broadband-ready TVs and Blu-ray players, and "combining VUDU's unique digital technology and service with Walmart's retail expertise and scale will provide customers with unprecedented access to home entertainment options as they migrate to a digital environment".*

But Wal-Mart also mentions VUDU Apps, a very crucial entry point in households for all sorts of services, including Twitter or Facebook, the kind of "web family names" we mentioned earlier as the hottest TV stars of the year (see "
Skype on your TV : home improvement ?" - 20100106).

Wal-Mart was not the only bidder for this entry point : it won over direct rivals (Amazon & co), victims of Vudu curses (Blockbuster & co) media manufacturers turner entertainers (Sony & co), or the usual Redmond suspects (Micro and Soft).

Now back to the smaller screen, but still in the retailing arena : SK Telecom and Hana Bank eventually released their joint services** in Korea. Push and pull location-based marketing make sure you have always an incentive even if you came out without your paper coupons.

Note that in their latest TV ads, SKT are marketing Android a very cute way with a green robot dancing on "That's the way (uh uh uh uh) I like it", and that's likely to boost the brand's fun factor. The Android brand, I mean : the character bumps into SKT's dull "T" logo and roars at it... There was probably a smarter way of celebrating this encounter of the third kind.

* "
Walmart Announces Acquisition of Digital Entertainment Provider, VUDU" (20100222)
** on this killer alliance, see "
SK Telecom's Wild Hana Card" (20090612)


WACking Apple's App Store : United Colors of MNOs or WAP redux ?

The Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) chose the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to announce its foundation. The aim it to make application standards transparent, and services available on as many platforms as possible, or as the association puts it from the customer's point of view : to offer "a broader choice of innovative applications and services available on a wider choice of devices than ever before". From the application developers' point of views it goes like this : "a single gateway (...) to access a vast potential customer base".

How big ? Among the 27 founding members of the WAC, 24 operators claiming 3 bn subs : America Movil, AT&T, Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KT, Mobilkom Austria Group, MTN Group, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Orascom Telecom, Softbank Mobile, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor Group, Telia Sonera, SingTel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, VimpelCom, Vodafone, Wind.

The casting is less impressive for manufacturers : Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson. Significant players, but all losers in the smartphone standards. Yeah, Samsung is showing off its Samsung Bada OS in Barcelona but come on, that one is not going to become number one. Even Nokia and Intel combined can't make it with their brand new Meego.

Anyway, here's the deal for developers : on one hand, become one of the billion plus apps available in the App Store reserved to iPhone users... and on the other, tap into the 3 billion plus market opened by this elite of haves and havemores.

Tired of the multiplication of proprietary platforms ? The WAC intends to make that layer transparent for you. And when the WAC writes "developers will only have to create one version of their application and this can be used on multiple types of devices and operating systems (such as Symbian, Android, Windows etc)", it's up to every potential "etc" to decide : keep playing it solo or join the party.

Some developers may remember how WAP struggled in its early stages. Will this WAC work ? Fool me once, shame on... shame on you. Fool me... you can't get fooled again'.

Can you ?

I think Vodafone, Orange & co remember perfectly the WAP episode. Since then MNOs proved they could work on common platforms to boost the ecosystem (ie Gallery in France). And if they fight against each other, they would love to commoditize markets they cannot rule anyway.

I'm not worried about technology roadmaps and paths.

But the editorial line... believe me, that one is gonna be a long and winding one.

mot-bile 2010

* see "
Leading Operators Unite to Unleash Global Apps potential" (20100215 - on wholesaleappcommunity.com, the association's website)


Microsoft Pink Phone : sexing up Windows Mobile 7

A fun handset with an innovative ergonomy and an app store ? Before Apple came Danger, who remained below the radar after Microsoft purchased it.

Granted. The Hiptop has a vintage look of a Minitel II, but what matters is the platform, and the industry has been bracing for the Danger + Zune + WM7 combo for months.

What's in a (code)name ? Pink stresses the need to sex up the Windows Mobile platform against iPhone and Android.

WM performed well in Korea against the iPhone (Samsung Omnia)... but only for lack of an alternative before the arrival of Android (see "
SK Telecom pushes Android"). Motorola's Motoroi has just been introduced on a market suddenly converted to smartphones, and Samsung and LG are working double time on Google's platform.

Microsoft, Apple, Google... sooner or later telecom "incumbents" will raise their voices, and leader Nokia will have to do what it does worst : look cool, not cold.

mot-bile 2010


Google Smokescreen Computing : May The Dark Fiber Be With You

Google has made some progress since its previous experience as an innovative ISP (see "Google TiSP - US Open at Flushing Windows). Big G issued a nice video (see below*), but here are a few keywords :

Crowdsourcing - "Today we're putting out a request for information (RFI) to help identify interested communities".

Interested in what ?

1 Gbps FTTH - "We'll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people."

A lightweight on the market ?

Lobbying - "We've urged the FCC". We'll soon be urged by the EU but that's not the issue of the day...

Not in a hurry when it comes to digging your own grave ?

Digging - "We'll test new ways to build fiber networks". Like we don't actually build but find partners, or bail out people lost in the dark fiber, or invent smokescreen computing.

Smokescreen computing ?

The highest stage of cloud computing.

mot-bile 2010


"Think big with a gig: Our experimental fiber network" (20100210 - Official Google Blog)


Google Avatar

"Parisian Love", Google's Superbowl ad. Rom@nce, cliches and snapshots... as artificial and predictable as Avatar, only cheaper. And just like Avatar, you keep watching :


Hey kids, Apple is educating the market for iPad

mot-bile 2009 - Traditionally, ebook readers have been marketed for an elite of early adopters not only interested in high-tech but also in books.

With its Kindle, Amazon focused on "human" readers, making the technology as transparent as possible, talking about books instead of gizmos, and widening the base all of a sudden.

For its iPad, Apple seems to be focusing on kids and education (beyond, of course, the iMac / iPod / iPhone followers). Neither reinventing the old chalk tablet nor the old "kids as prescriptors" mantra : simply considering an important part of the edition ecosystem snubbed by rivals, a cornerstone of familial and societal spheres.

You're going to hear a lot about school textbooks, lessons, ebooks for kids, animated mangas and cartoons, and even do-it-yourself cartoons. About more serious stuff of course, but somewhere, Jeff Bezos must wonder why his marketing teams didn't venture beyond the standard Amazon customer.

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