Allwinner in mainland China moved first to quad-core Cortex-A7 with the A31 SoC introduced with the launch of the first two tablet products, Onda V972 and V812, on December 5, 2012 (and delivered from December 24, 2012 on in mainland China). That prompted a direction only reaction that Qualcomm quad-core Cortex-A7 SoCs with Adreno 305 and 1080p coming for the high-volume global market and China [Dec 9, 2012]), with sampling just planned for Q2’13 and only now publishing a completely redesigned 2013 roadmap according to Qualcomm moving ahead of Allwinner et al. in CPU and GPU while trying to catch up with Allwinner in Ultra HD [Jan 12 – Feb 20, 2013]. The #2 SoC vendor MediaTek from Taiwan had already plans to move to Cortex-A7 so was able to react much more quickly with MediaTek MT6589 quad-core Cortex-A7 SoC with HSPA+ and TD-SCDMA is available for Android smartphones and tablets of Q1 delivery [Dec 12, 2012]. Such a delivery first happened with Micromax A116 in India (from February 14, 2013 on) which targeted the delivery of Samsung Galaxy Grand (from January 21, 2013 on) based on a very much ‘2012 vintage’ SoC from Broadcom still using a dual core Cortex-A9 driven CPU.
So here we have an interesting possibility of comparing a ‘2013 vintage’ (quad-core Cortex-A7 at 28nm etc.) phablet solution with a ‘2012 vintage’ (dual core Cortex-A9 at 40nm LP etc.) one. In addition from a vendor (MediaTek) trying to agressively conquer the global market after the Greater China one by going against the global #1 heavyweight Samsung. Such an analysis would, no doubt, reveal quite interesting facts not only about the current state of the market but about the future market as well.
First here is an overall comparison video from India:
Micromax Canvas HD A116 VS Samsung Galaxy Grand – Gaming, Benchmarks, Camera, Performance, Display [intellectdigest YouTube channel, Feb 16, 2013]
Next there is a detailed specification comparison is in the table somewhat below.
Before that, however, note that to do such a comparison one needs to invest more than one day of time which shows quite well that in the consumer computing space customers will hardly be able to recognize the really deciding differentiators(in the same way as this happens with consumer products in general). I am particularly dismayed by the fact that even from such a table one will hardly recognize the most important differentiator that from power consumption point of view the Galaxy Grand is ways better that the Micromax A116 (440 hours of standby time vs. 174 hours, and 10 hours 10 minutes of talk time vs. 5 hours).
Then the display quality difference discussed first in the above video is far less than one would conclude from the below table (TFT LCD at 800×480 resolution on Grand and IPS at 1280×720 on Micromax A116) as evidenced by the excerpted video image included below (taken az [1:15] with A116 on the left and Grand on the right, for both the brightness set to maximum for the comparison). One of the reasons for that is the mDNIe (mobile Digital Natural Image engine) technology from Samsung going back to 2003 with TVs. In fact MediaTek just now came up with a kind of similar technology of its own (see in the end of Section 1) called MiraVision. Immediately after that (in the whole Section 2) I included all available material about both the mDNIe and its “parent from TVs”, DNIe in order to make possible to understand the maturity of Samsung solution vs. the MediaTek one. And there are definitely other “tricks” (additional layers etc.) which are also essential for making the Grand screen a true masterpice of display engineering.
Click on the image below or this link in order to go to a clickable version of the table!
Click on the image above or this link in order to go to a clickable version of the table!
Finally, in addition to the already mentioned first two sections of the detailed analysis there is a Section 3 in the end devoted to the Broadcom SoC technology used in the Samsung Galaxy Grand
More information for this introductory part:
– Micromax Canvas HD A116 [Micromax microsite, Feb 13, 2013]
– MediaTek High Performance Quad Core Solution Empowers Micromax A116 Canvas HD [MediaTek press release, Jan 22, 2013]
– Micromax Canvas HD demo Video [micromaxtube YouTube channel, Feb 19, 2013]
– Micromax launches Canvas HD to strengthen phablet leadership [Micromax press release, Jan 21, 2013]
… it is the ideal phone for the young generation who is always on the lookout for better, faster and savvier smart phones on the go!
Commenting on the launch and association with MediaTek, Mr. Deepak Mehrotra, Chief Executive Officer, Micromax said, “At Micromax, we constantly strive to innovate and develop great technological experiences for our consumers. Today’s launch marks our association with MediaTek to bring forth our first quad core phone in this segment, offering consumers a great user experience with latest features and added functionality.” He further added, “We are excited with the success of Canvas 2, which has clearly established Micromax as number one player in the new 5” phablet category in India. We are looking forward to similar success with the new phone being unveiled today.”
Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Finbarr Moynihan, General Manager – Business Development at MediaTek, said, “In less than 2 years of launching our first smartphone chipset, MediaTek’s shipments in this category have grown more than ten times, with 110 million units in 2012. As the world’s first commercialized quad-core Cortex-A7 SoC, the MT6589 is an innovative solution that accelerates product development, simplifies differentiation, and offers the best possible experience that mid to high-end smart device owners desire. Micromax shares our core philosophy of pushing the bar on innovation and bringing it within the reach of the masses. We are delighted that India’s leading youth mobile brand has chosen MediaTek to power its top-end mobile smartphones.”
About Micromax [the 12th largest handset manufacturer in the world]:
Micromax started as an IT software company in the year 2000 working on embedded platforms. In 2008, it entered mobile handset business and by 2010 it became one of the largest Indian domestic mobile handsets company by offering unique affordable innovations. … The brand’s product portfolio embraces more than 60 models today, ranging from feature rich, dual – SIM phones, 3G Android smartphones, tablets, LED televisions and data cards. The company has many firsts to its credit when it comes to the mobile handset market including the 30-day battery backup, dual SIM phones, QWERTY keypads, dual reception mode handsets, universal remote control mobile phones etc. Micromax has presence in more than 500 districts through 100,000 retail outlets in India. The company has global business presence spread across Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri-Lanka, Maldives, UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan and Brazil.
– Samsung Galaxy Grand (i9082) full review hands on video [mobiscrub YouTube channel, Feb 4, 2013]
[2:06] The display of the Grand is a 5 inch Super Clear LCD with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. When compared to the Super AMOLED screen in the Galaxy Note II or the S III, the screen does look less saturated, however, color rendition is great & looks very natural. Wide viewing angles & good outdoor visibility lets you watch movies & read content easily. [2:42]
The Galaxy Grand camera is an 8 MP sensor with autofocus & LED Flash. The camera also features BIS (Backside Illumination Sensor) which basically takes great shots even in low light condition. The shutter speed of the Galaxy Grand camera is quite nice as well but not as fast as the Note II or the S III.
Much of the smart features in the Galaxy Grand resemble to those found in the S III & Note II such as: Multi window, Smart Rotation, Smart Stay, Smart Alert, Direct call & pop up play. Obviously there is no S Pen included with the Galaxy Grand, that differentiates from the smartphone beast, the Note II.
– Samsung GALAXY Grand [Samsung Mobile Press announcement, Dec 18, 2012]
– Samsung Unveiled GALAXY Grand [Samsung Tomorrow Global, Dec 18, 2012]
– Galaxy Grand GT-i9082 [Samsung India microsite, Jan 22, 2013]
– Samsung Galaxy Grand Redefines Smartphone Experience for All [Samsung India press release, Jan 22, 2013]
Even though it supports a massive 5.0″ screen with WVGA TFT display powered with mDNIe [mobile Digital Natural Image engine]technology, the device is incredibly slim and comes with an ergonomic design which makes is comfortable to hold. The vivid display provides an expansive viewing experience rendering messaging, multimedia and Web content in brilliant color and clarity.
Samsung GT-i9082 Galaxy Grand [Duos]
– Micromax Canvas HD A116 Detailed In Depth Video Review And Comparison With Galaxy Grand [Intellect Digest, Feb 17, 2013]
– List of Top 5 Phablets under Rs 20k – Feb 2013 [My PhoneFactor.in, Feb 20, 2013]
– Micromax A116 Canvas HD performance review vs. other quad-core phones [Thinkdigit, Feb 15, 2013]
Section 1 MT6589
Quad-Core Cortex-A7 1GHz+CPU Smartphone Platform [MediaTek product page, Dec 27, 2012]
The world’s first commercialized quad-core SoC available for mid to high end smartphone and tablets market
The Coolest quad core solution- MT6589 is the world’s first commercialized quad-core SoC (AP+BB) available for mid to high end smartphone and tablets market, the MT6589 integrates a power-efficient Cortex™-A7 CPU subsystem from ARM, PowerVR™ Series5XT GPU from Imagination Technologies, and MediaTek’s advanced multi-mode UMTS Rel. 8/HSPA+/TD-SCDMA modem. The MT6589 is delivered in advanced 28nm process technology, creating a universal platform that delivers powerful performance at a very competitive price.
Innovative, Advanced Dual-SIM solution
Dual-SIM and Dual-Active functionality frees users to seamlessly make and receive calls on two SIM cards at the same time.
High-end Multimedia Capabilities
13MP camera with integrated ISP, 1080p playback and recording at 30fps, and enhanced image processing for DTV-grade image quality
Full HD (1920×1080) [1080p] LCD support for razor sharp visuals
Best-in-class MediaTek Technology
Integrated leading 4-in-1 connectivity combo, providing 802.11n Wi-Fi, BT4.0, GPS and FM radio
MT6589 – The Coolest Quad-Core SoC Platform – Thermal Benchmark [mediateklab YouTube channel, Dec 28, 2012]
– MediaTek Strengthens Global Position with World’s First Quad-Core Cortex-A7 System on a Chip – MT6589 [MediaTek press release, Dec 11, 2012]
MediaTek Inc., a leading fabless semiconductor company for wireless communications and digital multimedia solutions, announced the launch of the MT6589, the world’s first commercialized quad-core System on a Chip (SoC), available for mid to high-end Android smartphones and tablets worldwide. The new quad-core SoC integrates MediaTek’s advanced multi-mode UMTS Rel. 8/HSPA+/TD-SCDMA modem, a power-efficient quad-core Cortex™-A7 CPU subsystem from ARM, PowerVR™ Series5XT GPU from Imagination Technologies, and is delivered in 28nm process technology. As a leader in Dual-SIM technology, the MT6589 is also the world’s first HSPA+ smartphone platform supporting Dual-SIM, Dual-Active functionality to address increasing multi-SIM demand around the world. The integration of these compelling features makes the MT6589 a universal platform that delivers premium multimedia capabilities with extremely low power consumption for an outstanding user experience. It also enables handset makers to reduce time to market, simplify product development and manage product differentiation in a more cost effective way, for any market worldwide.
The MT6589 also supports Miracast™ technology for multi-screen content sharing and pre-integrates MediaTek’s leading 4-in-1 connectivity combo, which supports 802.11n Wi-Fi, BT4.0, GPS and FM.
The MediaTek MT6589 is currently being incorporated into smart devices by MediaTek’s leading global customers, and the first models based on this new chipset are expected to ship commercially in Q1 2013.
– Lenovo S3000 uses MediaTek quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 [Charbax YouTube channel, Feb 26, 2013]
– MediaTek Powers Lenovo’s Premium Multimedia IdeaTab S6000 Tablet [MediaTek press release, Feb 25, 2013]
This year, at Mobile World Congress, MediaTek’s quad core SoC will be powering three new Android tablets launched by Lenovo, led by the Lenovo IdeaTab S6000. Built on the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, the S6000 is a sleek (8.6mm) and light (560g), 10” tablet which leverages quad-core processing to deliver performance, connectivity, and clarity.
Jeffrey Ju, GM of Smartphone Business Unit of MediaTek. “Our aim is to democratize the smartphone market by enabling the smart ecosystem to make high performance products at affordable prices for the mainstream market. This in turn will be the catalyst for the smart age as customers will demand greater device integration to share and view their entertainment and information seamlessly across multiple screens – requiring a sophisticated smart ecosystem that only MediaTek’s SoC total solutions can drive.”
– How MediaTek helps lower mobile device power consumption? [mediateklab YouTube channel, Feb 24, 2013]
– MiraVision makes Full-HD support for mobile devices a reality to everyone [MediaTek press release, Feb 25, 2013]
MediaTek Inc., a leading fabless semiconductor company for wireless communications and digital multimedia solutions announced today the availability of “MiraVision,” the world’s most comprehensive suite of display picture quality technology, for its smartphone and tablet platforms.
The joint hardware and software suite of display picture quality technology – MiraVision – aims to strengthen Mediatek’s leading position in the smart age, where consumers can expect the same, high quality of the visual experience across various display resolutions. Leveraging MediaTek’s leading display picture quality technology developed in digital TV (DTV), MiraVision is designed to deliver seamless full high-definition display picture quality on mobile devices. It empowers handset and tablets makers to provide the best visual quality on the mobile platform with reduced time to market, simplified product development and differentiation for consumers everywhere.
MiraVision is equipped with specific features that enable users to enjoy DTV-grade display picture quality on their mobile devices. With MiraVision, contents will be displayed more vivid and saturated with more details, providing a far richer and more colorful viewing experience previously only available on a high-end DTV. Furthermore, specifically tailored for mobile devices, the all-important power efficiency has been addressed and boosted through the Ambient-Light Adaptive Luma (AAL) technology, which intelligently adjusts the panel backlight in response to the ambient light intensity and the displayed contents to simultaneously optimize battery life and viewing experience. The combination of enhanced sharpness, richer color and adaptive Luma technology means true seamless quality across multiple devices is closer than ever before.
“The future is more than just TVs or smartphones alone,” commented Jeffrey Ju, GM of Smartphone Business Unit of MediaTek, “our focus is on innovative solutions that enhance the chip, driving speed to market at premium performance up for our customers while ensuring the seamless cross-screen experience across the array of devices through which users are consuming entertainment and information. We are proud to be the one who can truly integrate technologies of DTV and mobile phones/tablets in the smart age, making the premium cross-screen experience real to everyone in every market.”
This background technology from MediaTek is also available to the MT6589 as evidenced by [2:00 – 3:00] time fragment of this recorded video (at [0:56] it is explicitly said: “Miravision engine which has been included in the new MT6589 quad-core SoC”):
MiraVision: world’s leading digital TV-grade picture-quality engine for mobile devices [mediateklab YouTube channel, Feb 24, 2013]
Section 2 Samsung mDNIe [mobile Digital Natural Image engine]
Mobile Digital Natural Image Engine – mDNIe [Read a tech, June 12, 2010]
Samsung Wave display features Samsung’s mDNIe – mobile Digital Natural Image engine technology, borrowed from Samsung’s latest LCD TV and LED TV products, says the company. The mDNIe technology is said to offer better viewing angles and “super fast response.” The Wave’s display is also touted for its tempered glass and anti-smudge surface.
The Samsung Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) Video Enhancer refines all analog NTSC and wideband video inputs for an overall improvement in picture quality. DNIe improves contrast, white level, picture detail and incorporates digital noise reduction to improve lower quality video inputs. The 3-line digital comb filter constantly analyzes the three dimensions of picture height, picture width, and picture changes-over-time to dramatically reduce edge image artifacts while improving transition detail. Samsung’s Cinema Smooth 3:2 pull-down film mode corrects for the artificial frames created when films are converted to DVDs. The result is a clearer image without the subtle motion artifacts caused by 24-to-30 frames per second video conversion.
Samsung’s DNIe™ technology offers digital perfection in naturally presented, crystal-clear images that uncover even the most minute detail.
Motion Optimizer: The visual data are automatically broken down into signal and noise and adjusted through a combined spatial/temporal process to eliminate noise and blurring without the slightest damage to the original signal. This guarantees the viewer a picture of astounding sharpness, whether the scene is still or moving.
Contrast Enhancer: DNIe has done away with the unwanted side-effects that conventional contrast enhancement can produce, such as noise boost-up and flicker by developing an algorithm that recognizes over 1 million criteria for applying contrast. Its detail contrast enhancement technology can automatically analyze up to 70,000 local images within a frame, treating the viewer to a picture rich in contrast even in the tiniest details.
Color optimizer: For each scene the color optimizer calculates the saturation of red, green, and blue in the input signal and adjusts it to the shades that the human eye accepts as natural. Even a conventional process like white tone enhancement produces more striking results when when used with DNIe. The end result is a palette of vivid hues and pure white tones to satisfy the most discerning viewers eye.
Detail enhancer: Many viewers complain of the unnatural effect that conventional uniform detail enhancement produces by relying on artificial amplification of the input signal. In contrast, DNIe automatically analyzes the portion to be amplified, detecting and re-processing any noise or defect to bring the viewer a startlingly sharp and lifelike image.
“Nature created DNA, but SAMSUNG developed DNIe.” Samsung Electronics Unveils New “Natural Image” Technology for Digital TV [Samsung press release, April 2003]
– Digital TVs with new DNIe technology are being put on the world market. DNIe technology can be applied to all digital TV types—LCD, PDP, projection or CRT.
– The cleanest and most natural images are produced under all viewing conditions.
– Samsung, which leads the world market in color TVs, TFT-LCDs, and color monitors, aims to do the same with digital TVs.
Samsung Electronics has developed the Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) that greatly improves the clarity and detail of images reproduced by color TVs. The company expects its technology breakthrough to elevate the Samsung brand the top of the rapidly growing world digital TV market.
On April 29, Samsung Electronics held a briefing on the new DNIe technology and digital TV business strategy. On display were PDP, LCD, projection and cathode ray tube (CRT) models supported by DNIe, which offers far greater image detail than conventional digital TVs. Samsung Electronics began its research project to improve picture quality back in 1996 and implemented it in stages. The first prototype digital TV with DNIe was ready last December. The technology can be used with all types of digital TVs to re-create natural colors that truly please. Last year, Samsung sold more color TVs than any other manufacturer, and now the company is ready to do the same in the digital TV market.
DNIe technology optimizes the moving picture image and color, while the contrast ratio and fine details are amplified. These four processes automatically and precisely capture broadcast signals in all formats, from analog to high definition. This high clarity, high detail image technology provides the best possible picture quality under all conditions.
Last December, Samsung Electronics completed development of the four processes. The next four months were applying the new technology to CRT TVs (29”-32”), DLP projection TVs (43” to 61”), CRT projection TVs (43” to 52”) PDP TVs (42” to 63”) and LCD TVs (32” to 40”) and commercializing the new products.
Significance of New DNIe Technology
Samsung Electronics’ high clarity, high detail image technology is the product of a determined effort to improve picture quality. This approach is far more than a simple picture improvement based on analog signal reception. Rather, the new technology produces complete image quality; any signal input comes out cleaner and more natural.
DNIe can completely eliminate blurring from movement or image prolongation. A deep contrast can also be achieved. What is more, the finest detail appears sharp, while the vivid natural color is most pleasing to the eye.
The Samsung Electronics briefing clearly demonstrated the superiority of the company’s latest technology over conventional technology. The company has received 85 foreign and domestic patents related to DNIe, including a basic technology patent for contrast reproduction.
DNIe Technology in a Nutshell
Samsung’s unique DNIe technology encompasses four functions that analyze all signal input, from analog to high definition, in stages. The volume of noise in the signal is detected and the signal level is classified according into analog, SD or HD and then optimized accordingly.
Motion Optimizer: Processes Noise More Completely than Ever Before
This noise processing technology integrates temporal and spatial concepts to ensure clear images even when the motion is very fast.
Contrast Enhancer: For a Deeper Contrast
This technology employs a contrast ratio of one million or more and a new algorithm that can reproduce the optimal contrast to provide a deep and rich image quality.
Detail Enhancer: Complete Images, True to the Finest Detail
A vastly improved technology for automatically analyzing the picture signal reproduces images in amazing detail, resulting in more lifelike video.
Color Optimizer: Vivid, Natural Colors
The video signals being generated are analyzed and the quantities of reds, greens and blues are calculated to provide the colors most natural to the human eye.
FAQs: What is DNIe [Samsung, Oct 10, 2012]
Samsung’s Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe TM) is a set of four advanced image processing technologies that makes digital TVs, including various types of displays such as LCD, PDP, projection, and CRT, produce the clearest, most detailed, and yet most natural-looking images ever.
The four technologies used by DNIe are:
Motion Optimiser: eliminates noise, even in moving pictures
Contrast Enhancer: increases the contrast
Detail Enhancer: sharpens pictures and makes details visible
Color Optimiser: provides natural and vibrant colours
The secret of DNIe TM begins with an Intelligent Analyser that analyses any kind of input signal to optimise the picture quality. By analysing the frequency characteristics of the input signal, the Analyser automatically detects the amount of noise in the signal, identifies the source level as analogue, SD, or HD, and even determines whether it has been scaled.
Through this analysis of the input signal at the first stage of the DNIe TM process, the Intelligent Analyser ensures that the optimal adjustments is made throughout the remaining four stages to the production of the final output.
DNIe technology is not only suitable for all usual input signals for television reception today, such as analogue, cable, satellite and digital, it also works with the input signals of DVD, camcorders and game computers.
DNIeTM R&D History
Progress in picture quality enhancement has been achieved through sustained research and investment at Samsung, beginning in 1996 with an independent project. In 1997, Samsung’s project developed a noise reduction function for the image enhancement of CRT TVs.
In 2000, Samsung embarked on a new picture quality enhancement project and confirmed its potential for production. By 2001, the fruits of these research efforts had laid the technological foundations for the birth of Samsung’s full-fledged image enhancement algorithm.
In March 2002, the basic version of Samsung’s unique DNIe technology was ready. At last it was possible to obtain optimal picture quality with signals ranging from RF all the way up to HD. The development of DNIe was completed by 2002, and early 2003 this radical new technology caught the eye of the world in a successful demo at a show in Las Vegas.
For more information on (DNIe) Digital Natural Image engine click Here
DNIe – Digital Natural Image engine [Birds-Eye.Net, Apr 3, 2011]
DNIe, or Digital Natural Image engine, is a “natural image” technology introduced by Samsung in 2003. Originally developed as part of a concerted effort by Samsung to improve television picture quality on non-high-definition-televisions, the DNIe chip is now used in Samsung’s plasma and high definition televisions (HDTV). DNIe makes input signals sharper, clearer and more lifelike. Its advanced image processors help to create true-to-life colors and high contrast, while pretty much eliminating digital artifacts.
DNIe offers better detail than conventional televisions by using four proprietary processes that optimize and enhance image quality and sound: a Motion Optimizer that is a noise processing technology used to eliminate blurring and noise in fast moving images and thus producing a more natural-looking motion; a Contrast Enhancer that offers rich details and image quality through brightness and contrast levels that are enhanced for deeper, richer blacks with greater detail, and more natural whites; a Detail Enhancer that automatically analyzes the picture signal elements in order to produce sharper detail, clearer image separation and more natural edge transition; and a Color Optimizer that analyzes the video signals being generated so that the quantities of reds, greens, and blues are calculated to provide colors with a more lifelike realism, where whites are more accurate, and skin tones are given a more natural hue. DNIe also offers Samsung’s patented “My Color Control” technology that the user to control specific colors without affecting the whole screen, providing six color-control selections: white, red, pink, yellow, green and blue, so the user can adjust a color to their liking.
Other Related Definitions for DNIe
“The secret of DNIe TM begins with an Intelligent Analyzer that analyzes any kind of input signal to optimize the picture quality. By analyzing the frequency characteristics of the input signal, the Analyzer automatically detects the amount of noise in the signal, identifies the source level as analogue, SD, or HD, and even determines whether it has been scaled.” [Samsung]
“The SAMSUNG DNIe vision is an image enhancement algorithm with remarkable engines that work in tandem and individually to improve the visual quality. This technology from SAMSUNG that spells the end of conventional television.” [Samsung]
“SAMSUNG’s DNIe Pro (Digital Natural Image engine) ensures the clearest, most natural images imaginable. Colour and motion are optimised and the contrast and detail are enhanced to ensure unprecedented image quality.” [Samsung]
“Samsung’s proprietary technology, DNIe – Digital Natural Image engine – is the secret to stunning HDTV picture quality. DNIe optimizes six different elements of image quality such as color balance, sharpness, and motion to reproduce the most life-like and vibrant picture throughout Samsung’s broad portfolio.” [Samsung]
“DNIe generally improves most HD and DVD content with a few exceptions, but it’s a mixed bag with NTSC sources. Many HD and DVD images are made sharper with DNIe, contrast is improved, and color accuracy is enhanced in many scenes.” [Extremetech.com]
“DNIe is Samsung’s image “enhancement” engine…On the surface these claims sound great, but on closer examination most of these features are either impossible (6 times density enhancer) or undesirable (dynamic contrast ratio). For every image DNIe makes better there are two images that it makes worse. There is no way these sets can hold a calibration with DNIe enabled. If accuracy is desired DNIe should be turned off and left off. On the HLP DNIe can be easily disabled in the user menu. It should be noted that there are a few models of Samsung DLPs (notably the HLR series) that have DNIe permanently enabled. Before purchasing a Samsung display I would make sure that DNIe can be toggled from the user menus.” [Gadgetbench.com]
“DNIe is a video enhancer that makes the picture more colorful and lifelike. You can tell too. In the DNIe product demo, the screen is split – one side shows natural footage, the other shows DNIe enhanced footage. The difference is remarkable. The natural footage is boring and robbed of color while the DNIe footage is bright and crisp. The user controls when DNIe is used, which is good because not everyone will want enhanced video all the time – like an editor previewing footage to see what color correction is required.” [Matthew Torres]
Links Related to DNIe
Nature created DNA, but SAMSUNG developed DNIe – Samsung Electronics Unveils New “Natural Image” Technology for Digital TV
What is DNIe? – Digital Natural Image engine
Technical Resources for DNIe
Feel the DNIe – Video demo of DNIe and Technical Information
Blogs about DNIe
Samsung Village – Official Samsung blog for news and inside stories
Books about DNIe
Digital Video and HD, Second Edition: Algorithms and Interfaces (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Graphics) – by by Charles A. Poynton
Global Marketing Management – by Kiefer Lee and Steve Carter
Smartphone HSPA+ Platform (from 2013 Products of Broadcom [Feb 8, 2013]):
- BCM28145: 720p 4G HSPA+ Smartphone Processor
BCM28155: 1080p 4G HSPA+ Smartphone Processor
Broadcom CEO Discusses Q4 2012 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Jan 29, 2013]
Scott A. McGregor – Chief Executive Officer, President and Director
Samsung launched the Galaxy Grand, Grand Duos, and Galaxy S2 Plus, leveraging our complete Android platform, which includes our 3G cellular SOC and wireless connectivity.
We also have more than 40 designs in process in China on our turnkey reference platforms. Our technology mix is trending to HSPA+ dual core application processors and additional connectivity, features which command a meaningful ASP premium.
The Galaxy Grand, for example, includes Broadcom’s dual core SOC NFC controller, connectivity combo with built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and FM, RF transceiver, power management, and GPS.
Robert Americo Rango, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Broadcom’s Mobile and Wireless Group:
Broadcom’s focus is on 3G and 4G. The reason we’re focused on 3G is because we see the 3G market continuing to grow. We see it being very important for emerging markets. And we see the 3G market taking over the feature phone market going forward. So for emerging markets, our focus is on 3G. And then the 4G market, of course, for developing regions like the U.S. Big investment in 4G, a lot of progress to report, and I’ll get into this in my presentation. So focused on both because these — this is where the growth is, and this is where the action is in the market.
So 2 years ago, we had one 3G smartphone SoC. That was the 21553. And you can see that’s the 7.2-megabit modem, single-core device. It could address screen sizes, say, from 3 to 3.5 inches. And this was the device that last year I talked about that powered the Samsung GALAXY Y, which was one of the most popular smartphones in India. Now, over the last year, we added 2 chips that we announced earlier this year, the 21654 and the 28145. We switched from 65-nanometer to 40-nanometer, and we went from single core to dual core. So — and you can see that it helped us address a bigger part of the market. We were able to move up to the 4- to 5-inch phone screen size.
Now today, with the announcement of the 21664 and extension of the 28145 to the 28155, we now have a full family of solutions on 3G. We can cover anything from 3 inch, all the way up to 7 to 10-inch, which would be a tablet. More interesting actually is the 5 to 7-inch category, because the phablet is growing at a 93% compounded average growth rate. And phablets turn out to be one of the biggest growth areas for phones in Asia, okay? So Broadcom has the ability now to address this entire market. And again, why is that important? Because once a customer invests in one of these chips and picks up the Broadcom software suite for one, it can quickly be applied to an entire family of products.
Now, again, 3G market is very competitive. We all know that 3G is probably the most competitive segment out there. The reason that we can win is because we have a family of devices here that offer different feature points, different cost points and allow us to make money at these various cost points, okay? So a full range of 3G for all of the segments is now complete.
Now, let me highlight one other point. So 82% of the volume is in this 5-inch and below, but I did mention the phablet being an important segment.
Now, let me highlight our multimedia capability. I just wanted to compare the 28155 on the right to the HTC One X on the left. So HTC One X is a phone you can buy today. HTC One X is the phone that has been touted to have a lot of multimedia capability, world-class imaging, world-class image signal processing. This is the post-processing that goes on, on the pictures to make the pictures look good. A console gaming capability, good browsing experience, a 720 HD screen, Miracast capability that I just described to you, this ability to beam videos from your phone to a TV as well as Wi-Fi Direct. All these are the multimedia capabilities touted by the HTC One X.
Now last year, I talked about the economics of the chips that we were announcing. For those of you who were here, I talked about how Broadcom’s ability to integrate with — change the economics of the smartphone business. And here’s a perfect example of how it changed it, okay? So HTC One X, tear it apart, what do you see inside? Three different chips. A thin modem chip, a quad-core application processor, discrete application processor, and a discrete ISP chip.
Tear apart one of our 28155 phones, what do you see inside? One chip, integrated modem, application processor, graphics and ISP. Okay. So I told you I would exemplify the power of the 28155, and I wanted to talk today about Samsung’s — Samsung is going to be announcing a series of phones based on Broadcom’s 28155 dual core HSPA+. I’m holding the first one in my hand. This is the GALAXY S II Plus, okay? And again if you look go back and look at the GALAXY S II, you’ll see a similar architecture, GALAXY S II Plus, based on 28155, is based on the Broadcom chip, the integrated chip. So those economics that I was talking to you about, they come to play right here with the Samsung GALAXY S II Plus. And in fact, there’s a series of phones that Samsung will be putting out based on the 28155 over the next couple of quarters.
So and then beyond that, what have we done in 2012? We’re working on customer diversity. And in order to achieve customer diversity in today’s 3G market, you need what’s called a turnkey device, a turnkey design. And you might ask what’s the difference between a turnkey and a reference design? Well, a turnkey is something that can quickly be put into production by a customer. So I’m holding up Broadcom’s 28155 turnkey design. And you can see it’s very thin, it’s very light, it’s the kind of phone that you’d want to carry with you. We have a design file that we can offer a customer. And it can reduce their investment from 6 to 9 months of time, down to 30 to 60 days. Where it used to take 200 to 300 engineers to put a design in production, now it’s something like 20 to 30 engineers because we’ve done the turnkey design. And this design is so complete, we have second-sourced the major components, the panel, the sensor, the memory, and we picked suppliers that are favorite suppliers for companies in China who are really building, taking advantage of these turnkeys. So what we’re doing is we’re enabling our handset companies to focus on what they do best, brand and distribution, and we focus on what we do best, which is engineering execution, okay? And we now have turnkeys for 21654, which is our single-core device, 40-nanometer single core; 21664, which is the part we just announced yesterday, which is our low-cost dual-core device, HSPA+ capable; and our 28155, which is what I’m holding up right now, which is our high-end dual core HSPA+ device. Okay.
So a lot of activity has been spawned by this — by these turnkeys and, again, this is a capability we’ve put in place in 2012. So it’s hard to measure the progress yet, but I tried to do that with this chart. And you can see, even in the short time that we’ve had the turnkey capability in place, the number of designs have gone up significantly, almost threefold. So significant number of designs that are currently going on, 15 from last year to 44. So you can see the power of the turnkey design because it enables companies — handset companies, to quickly adopt our platforms.
So talk some more about our expanding cellular SoC share. If you focus on that first row now, those are the phones that I’d like to highlight. Of course, I just mentioned the Samsung GALAXY S II, and I mentioned that there’ll be a series of phones based on Broadcom’s 28155 dual core HSPA+ coming from Samsung. The other phones you see here, GALAXY Chat, GALAXY Music, GALAXY Pocket Plus, are the beginning of a series of phones that are coming out on our single core HSPA+ device. And I’d also like to point to some of these interesting carrier-branded phones, okay? Kind of a blessing our 3G technology in the world’s biggest carriers: T-Mobile, with Concord, this is our first 3G phone in the U.S. market; Vodafone, with the Smart II and Orange. All phones based on Broadcom 3G SoCs, okay? And then all the phones in the bottom row, all in production still, all rolling along with our first 3G SoC, that’s the 21553 that I talked to you about last year. Samsung GALAXY Y is still selling like gangbusters along with a number of these Samsung smartphones in the developing countries, okay? So a lot of progress on 3G. And you can see a number of Chinese vendors on the chart, TCL, ZTE, G’FIVE, Sprocomm. Those are all customers and certainly, there’s other customers in China now working on our turnkey designs.
So exemplifying that growth we have in the 3G space, this chart shows that from Q3 2011, Q3 2012, we grew our 3G business 500%. Pretty big growth. More important to me though, is the market share that we command. You can see that Strategy Analytics has now recognized that Broadcom has 15% of the 3G/4G Android smartphone SoC ecosystem, okay? 15%. And we haven’t started shipping our 4G LTE solution yet, okay? So again, significant market share gains over the last 24 months in the most important ecosystem for us, which is Android, 15% market share.
… roughly 15 different customers that make up that 44. And if you talk about when products hit the market, I mean, I think, they’re starting — they’re going to start hitting the market in — over the next 3 months. …
… you’re asking, should I worry about the vertical integration at Samsung? And I think anything Samsung does on vertical integration only applies to one segment of their business. I mean, if you look at Samsung’s business, it’s very broad. Everything from entry-level smartphones, midrange 3G smartphones, 4G smartphones, they have a very broad portfolio. In order for them to make money in all these areas, they need chips that are optimized for each one of those segments. And I think I exemplified that with the 28155 for the GALAXY S II Plus. So I think the risk of vertical integration is kind of overblown because you just need to apply the best solution to the particular class of product you’re building. …
… we see Wi-Fi changing very rapidly and it will change even in the China market. So we don’t see the need to go integrate it. We believe the idea of having a connectivity island and a SoC island with app processor graphics and cellular modem, is the right partitioning for the next couple of years. …
My question is, I guess, is do you think your timing — it seems like now, you’ll really going to hit the market, 2014 is when you get any significant revenues. Is that — are you going to really miss out on the profit pools while you’re fighting it out at the — with MediaTek at the midrange and low-end, meanwhile your good buddies in Southern California capture all this profit and then use that to attack you elsewhere?
… if you look at the 3G space, it’s a lot more than just China. Right? I mean, I just showed you all the different phones from Samsung that are still coming out on 3G. So I do not believe that there’s not money to be made in 3G. Okay? Having said that, a big investment in 4G, absolutely recognize the importance. We’re moving very fast we have a big R&D investment in 4G. We think we’re going to get there in time to hit the sweet spot of the 4G market. And 4G will last for many years to come.
Can you talk a little bit about your position on the RF side of the equation? You’re building full turnkey solutions now, there’s a lot of complexity on the RF side of the handset and whether you have the applicable tool kit to do more integration on that side.
That’s an easy question because we have one of the world’s most capable RF teams in Broadcom. Broadcom pioneered CMOS RF, implementing RF in CMOS. And you can — as witnessed by our patent portfolio, which is second to none. We have a very capable team. The team has built RF chips for all of our devices. And I mentioned earlier that we sell more wireless chips with integrated RF than any company on the planet. So I’m very confident in the capabilities. They are doing the RF for all of our complete platforms that I showed you. So whether it’s 21553, 21654, 21664, 28155, those are complemented with Broadcom RF internal, 100% Broadcom IP. And again over the course of time, we can integrate all these IP into a single chip. That’s the reason these big OEMs, these big handset OEMs want to work with Broadcom because they know eventually all these connectivity pieces will integrate into a single connectivity island, and same thing with the baseband island.
As it relates to the wins that you had earlier this year with the single-core platform like let’s say for example going into Samsung, I think the rough dollar content is about $10 to $12. Because you’re not only supplying the baseband, you’re supplying the power management, RF, integrated connectivity. And I think you’ve told us before that as the team moves to the dual-core platform, very similar to the GALAXY S II plus announcement today, that it’s roughly about a $7 to $9 increase in dollar content. So first question is, is that still the case?
I think you’re asking is can our dual core — our 28155, for example, which is our high-end dual core, okay. As I mentioned, this is part that has integrated ISP. That’s the same ISP engine that Nokia used for their 41-megapixel camera that’s on board our 28155 device. We also have very high-end graphics on that device. The graphics on Broadcom 28155 rivals lot of the 4G SOCs that are out there. In fact, it surpasses a number of them, okay. So when you compare the price of that to the single core, absolutely the price delta would be in the range that you mentioned, okay, the ASP uplift.
And then the second question is, as a team rolls out the turnkey solution, my sense is that there is still a lot of customization that has to be done on the software and the firmware set for your customers.
… the idea behind the turnkey is not to have a lot of customization. The way that a company — a handset company could take advantage of our turnkey is to perhaps change the color, perhaps change the idea a little bit, but not change it. And that’s really what’s important. So there isn’t a lot of customization needed. We do all of the Android integration, all the tests. And we make sure all of the Android certification tests pass when we deliver that turnkey design. So if somebody wanted to put their own skin on top of it, we could do that, but would really prefer when it comes to the turnkey that they don’t touch anything, that they use this as their experience phone, if you will.
12 months from now, most of the growth of the smartphone market is coming from emerging markets, much lower-end mix, can you help me understand how that impacts the content, the pricing, the competitive landscape, the profitability? Is that China market really going to be it’s a Broadcom turnkey solution or it’s a MediaTek turnkey solution and whoever has that turnkey solution wins it all?
… first of all, every handset company, any smartphone handset company is — are spinning their 3G offerings today. So in order to — for them to take advantage of the growth in 3G, they’re all having to reduce their costs. They are all having to move to more integrated solutions. So I don’t see it as just a China play, okay. So I see it’s a worldwide event. And that certainly in China, I think the turnkey does help significantly because if you look at Tier 2s and Tier 3s in China, they don’t have as much engineering resource. So I do think it’s a big swing, an advantage to have a full turnkey and be able to supply this multi-sourcing capability to those Chinese customers. But again, the 3G turnover is going to happen across the world, not just in China.
Source: Broadcom 2012 Analyst Day Supplemental Content, Dec 6, 2012
Dual Core 720p/1080p HSPA+ Baseband Processors [Broadcom product page, Feb 24, 2012]
The BCM28145/BCM28155 HSPA+ baseband processors are highly integrated high-performance dual-core CPUs implemented in a cost effective 40 nm LP process that squarely targets today’s power-conscious mobile platforms. These devices, combined with their complete reference platform, provide system designers with everything needed to bring next-generation mobile devices to market while also providing an extremely flexible platform for application, video, and multimedia developers.
BCM28145/BCM28155 devices integrate high performance dual-core ARM® Cortex-A9 processors, each with a NEON floating-point SIMD processing engine. A powerful 2D/3D graphics engine, the latest audio codecs, and advanced video and image processing capabilities are all delivered by the integrated Broadcom VideoCore-IV® technology.
Advanced 2G/3G modem with support for 21/5.8 Mbps HSPA+ and Class 33 EDGE
Advanced applications processing subsystem
– Dual ARM cortex-A9 processors with NEON extensions, up to 1.2 GHz per core
– VideoCore-IV multimedia and imaging processor
– Support for 20-Mpixel imaging, 720p (28145) /1080p (28155) video capture and playback, and accelerated 2D/3D graphics
– Full integration of audio subsystem
High performance memory and peripheral interfaces
– 400 MHz LPDDR2 memory interface (single-28145, dual-28155)
– High-speed e.MMC/SD/SDIO and NAND interfaces
– CPI and MIPI® CSI-2 and MIPI DPI-2, DBI-B and DBI-C DSI serial camera and display interfaces
Source: Broadcom 2012 Analyst Day Supplemental Content, Dec 6, 2012
– Broadcom Introduces New Platforms Optimized for Android ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ Smartphones [Broadcom press release, Feb 27, 2012]
Single and Dual Core Processors with VideoCore® Technology Provide Premium Android Experience
Broadcom’s new family of 3G platforms will enable handset OEMs to affordably deliver a premium Android 4.0 user experience across multiple smartphone product tiers. The Broadcom® BCM21654G features a 1 GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor, an integrated 7.2/5.8 Mbps HSPA modem and low-power VGA video support. The BCM28145 and BCM28155 include dual ARM Cortex A9 cores up to 1.3 GHz, 21/5.8 Mbps HSPA+ modems and HD 720p and 1080p, video respectively. All three chips were developed in an advanced, low power 40 nanometer process technology and are complemented by radio frequency (RF), power management unit (PMU) and an advanced connectivity suite for a complete system solution.
All three platforms are sampling to customers and expected to be in production in the second half of 2012.
Optimized for Superior Android 4.0 ICS Smartphones:
Broadcom’s industry-leading VideoCore technology offers a ‘third processing core’ to offload the application processor, enriching the Ice Cream Sandwich user experience with the industry’s lowest power HD playback and camcorder capabilities up to 1080p.
Low latency memory and bus architecture boosts overall system performance for a highly responsive user interface.
Highest quality imaging is provided by Broadcom’s latest Image Signal Processor (ISP) that supports cameras up to 42 megapixels, with very low light capabilities and wide dynamic range for the sharpest images.
Robert Americo Rango, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Broadcom’s Mobile and Wireless Group:
… Broadcom has been investing for many years, actually, since 2004 when we did an acquisition, in graphics. In fact, we call it VideoCore, and that, it’s maybe a misnomer, it should be called MediaCore because this dedicated IP block does graphics, it does image signal processing. When your image comes off the camera, you need to post-process it, that’s called image signal processing, okay? And it does video. So you can’t do those functions well with standard application processors. You need to do that with dedicated hardware, dedicated customized hardware, and that’s called VideoCore.
Source: Broadcom 2011 Analyst Day, Dec 14, 2011
Now let’s see how we do versus the industry’s competition. One of the most recognized benchmarks that’s out there is called Taiji. It’s the OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark most people will recognize as benchmark, as a very important benchmark. And what you see here is Broadcom versus Qualcomm versus TI. In fact, this TI chip, I think, is running the latest version of some of Ice Cream Sandwich phones that are out there. And you can see that Broadcom’s VideoCore is able to render over 50 frames a second while some of the competition can barely get to 30. And in fact, just another data point comparing Broadcom VideoCore 4, all this — again, this is a fair comparison because it’s comparing what’s in production to what’s in production. Our VideoCore 4 is in production in many different Nokia phones, smartphones. And Nokia’s multimedia experience is widely considered to be one of the best. Now comparing VideoCore 4, which again is in production, to one of Imagination’s latest IP cores, we’re 1/2 the power and 2x the performance.
So some of our competitors don’t have this IP. They go often license it from a company like Imagination. It sounds good on paper until you have a problem. And a customer calls you up and says, “Hey, this game, this Modern Warfare 3 won’t run,” and that company has to go call Imagination. Okay, Broadcom doesn’t have to do that. We’re a one-stop shop. All this IP that I’m talking about is owned and within Broadcom so I can walk down the hall, knock on the engineer’s door and say, “What were you thinking when you designed this?” and I usually get an answer very quickly. And I think that’s the respect we have with our customers, okay? We have the IP in-house. Okay, so the industry’s best graphics performance and power consumption. …
Broadcom Announces 1080p Multimedia Processor with Breakthrough Mobile Power-Performance [Broadcom press release, Dec 15, 2009]
New Broadcom® BCM2763 VideoCore® IV Processor Features 1080p Video, 20 Megapixel Photos and 1 Gigapixel Graphics in an Ultra-Low Power 40 Nanometer Design
Broadcom Corporation (Nasdaq: BRCM), a global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, today announced its next generation multimedia processor that delivers industry leading performance and lower power in the top multimedia categories for mobile devices. Using 40 nanometer (40nm) CMOS process technology, the new Broadcom® BCM2763 VideoCore® IV multimedia processor provides even higher integration, smaller footprint size and lower power consumption than 65nm designs.
With the higher integration and significant power savings from 40nm CMOS process technology, the BCM2763multimedia processor features the most advanced mobile high definition (HD) camcorder and video playback, up to 20 megapixel digital camera and photo image processing, and 1 gigapixel 2D/3D graphics rendering for a world-class gaming experience. HD video, 3D games and high resolution 20 megapixel pictures can be displayed at top quality on full-sized HD televisions and monitors using an on-chip industry standard HDMI interface. Additionally, the BCM2763‘s highly integrated architecture reduces bill-of-materials (BOM) cost to help drive sophisticated multimedia features into more affordable handsets.
The breadth and quality of Internet multimedia content is rapidlyimproving, with sites such as YouTube now supporting full HD 1080p video sharing. Consumers are also increasingly using cell phones as their primary digital camera and camcorder, which is driving demand for higher resolution and more sophisticated image processing which is currently only available on advanced standalone camcorders and cameras. Additionally, newer graphics-oriented user interfaces and mobile games now require enhanced graphics capabilities.
The new Broadcom BCM2763 VideoCore IV multimedia processor enables best-in-class performance in the following areas:
Full HD 1080p camcorder capabilities in a cell phone with significantly improved quality over current generation handsets (which generally have VGA or lower resolution camcorders).
Up to 20 megapixel digital camera with advanced features such as multiple shots per second, image stabilization, face and smile detection and panorama mode.
The ability to render mobile games natively at up to 1080p resolution, which in combination with an on-board HDMI output, allows a console-quality gaming experience on large screen HDTVs.
In addition to providing these capabilities on new handsets, the BCM2763 has improved power savings using a 40nm process without draining the battery or significantly reducing talk time. Additional ultra-low power consumption features include:
20% to 50% power reduction in comparison to the prior generation Videocore III multimedia processor.
4 to 6 hours of 1080p video recording and 8 to 10 hours of mobile playback, with up to 16 hours of full HD playback over HDMI given sufficient handset storage.
Only 490 mW of chip power is required for 1080p camcorder H.264 High Profile encoding and only 160 mW for 1080p playback.
Only 160 mW of power is required for mobile game graphics processing, supporting up to 1 gigapixel per second fill rates and improves graphics performance by a factor of 4x to 6x in comparison to the prior generation Videocore III multimedia processor.
The BCM2763 processor integrates the key functionality and components needed to drive advanced multimedia capabilities in new handsets. As a result of this high integration, the BCM2763 enables a lower overall BOM cost, enabling manufacturers to pass these lower costs on and introduce advanced features to lower tier phones than previously possible.
The BCM2763 integrates the functions of eight chips including GPU and graphics memory, image signal processing (ISP) and ISP memory, video processing and video memory, HDMI and USB 2.0. 128MB of LPDDR2 graphics memory is stacked in a single package.
The 40nm process enables reduced power, improved performance and reduced handset board space.
Benefiting from an existing VideoCore software code base and legacy architecture, manufacturers of phones and other consumer electronics devices can easily add these new VideoCore IV multimedia features to their products, allowing faster time-to-market.
Mark Casey, Vice President & General Manager, Broadcom’s Mobile Multimedia line of business.
“VideoCore IV is setting new benchmarks for performance, power consumption and affordability and is poised to drive advanced multimedia capabilities into new tiers of handsets. Supported by our comprehensive line of complementary cellular and connectivity solutions, our multimedia processor technology is the right choice for next generation mobile designs.”
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Broadcom Corporation is a major technology innovator and global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications. Broadcom products enable the delivery of voice, video, data and multimedia to and throughout the home, the office and the mobile environment. We provide the industry’s broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art system-on-a-chip and software solutions to manufacturers of computing and networking equipment, digital entertainment and broadband access products, and mobile devices. These solutions support our core mission: Connecting everything®.
Broadcom is one of the world’s largest fabless semiconductor companies, with 2008 revenue of $4.66 billion, and holds over 3,650 U.S. and over 1,450 foreign patents, more than 7,750 additional pending patent applications, and one of the broadest intellectual property portfolios addressing both wired and wireless transmission of voice, video, data and multimedia.
A FORTUNE 500® company, Broadcom is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and has offices and research facilities in North America, Asia and Europe. Broadcom may be contacted at +1.949.926.5000 or at www.broadcom.com.
Linux client market share gains outside the Android? Instead of gains will it shrink to 5% in the next 3 years?
The Linux Foudation quite proundly referred to ReadWriteMobile: The ‘Year of the Linux Desktop’? That’s So 2012 [Feb 3, 2013]
For those Linux enthusiasts still pining for the mythical “Year of the Linux Desktop,” the wait is over. In fact, it already happened. In 2012 Microsoft’s share of computing devices fell to 20% from a high of 97% as recently as 2000, as a Goldman Sachs report reveals [”Clash of the titans” downloadable from here, dated Dec 7, 2012]. While Apple has taken a big chunk of Microsoft’s Windows lead, it’s actually Google that plays Robin Hood in the operating system market, now claiming 42% of all computing devices with its free “Linux desktop” OS, Android.
Read more at ReadWriteMobile.
from which I will include here the following chart:
for which Goldman Sachs commented as:
The compute landscape has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last decade with consumers responsible for the massive market realignment. While PCs were the primary internet connected device in 2000 (139mn shipped that year), today they represent just 29% of all internet connected devices (1.2bn devices to ship in 2012), while smartphones and tablets comprise 66% of the total. Further, although Microsoft was the leading OS provider for compute devices in 2000 at 97% share, today the consumer compute market (1.07bn devices) is led by Android at 42% share, followed by Apple at 24%, Microsoft at 20% and other vendors at 14%.
Note from Goldman Sachs: Microsoft has gone from 97 percent share of compute market to 20 percent [The Seattke Times Dec 7, 2012]:
I asked Goldman Sachs about what happened in the 2004-2005 time frame — as seen in the above chart — that made Apple’s vendor share jump, Microsoft’s share plummet and the “other” category to go from zero to 29 percent. Goldman Sachs replied that it has to do with more mainstream adoption of non-PC consumer computing devices but declined to elaborate beyond that.
Microsoft was put into the “Challenged” category (along with Google BTW) by Golmann Sachs noting that:
… we estimate that Microsoft would have to sell roughly 5 Windows Phones or roughly two Windows 8 RT tablets to offset the loss of one traditional Windows PC sale, which we estimate has an overall blended selling price of $60 for business and consumer.
but a kind of more positive than negative outlook was predicted for the company by
… we expect the recent launches of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 tablets to help the company reclaim some share in coming years.
Apple, at the same time, was into the “Beneficiaries” category (along with Facebook and Samsung BTW) by Goldmann Sachs for the reason of:
… we believe loyalty to the company’s ecosystem is only increasing and this should translate into continued growth going forward. In particular, we see the potential for Apple to capture additional growth as existing iOS users move to multiple device ownership and as the company penetrates emerging regions with new devices such as the iPad miniAAPL and lower priced iPhones. As a result, we believe Apple’s market share in phones has room to rise much further, and that its dominant tablet market share appears to be more resilient than most expect. We expect these factors to continue to drive the stock higher.
This is, however, not going to happen if taking a judgement from the stock market reflections since then with 13.7% drop in Apple’ share price vs. that of Dec 7 (the report publishing date) and a whopping 34.5% drop vs. its last peak on Sept 19, 2012 (at $702.1):
source: Yahoo! Finance
Why Did $AAPL Stock Go Down After Beating Earnings Estimates And $AMZN Stock Go Up After Missing? [Techcrunch, Jan 29, 2013] had the following explanation:
The moves in different directions for Amazon and Apple have been about expectations and guidance. Wall Street has higher expectations for Apple and ‘different’ expectations for Amazon. Wall Street wants Apple’s ‘gross margins’ to grow. They don’t expect Amazon’s ‘profits’ to grow. It sounds silly, but if Apple has reported lower profits and a huge gross margin increase the stock might have shot up. If Amazon had reported record profits today on decreasing margins, Wall Street might have panicked.
Wall Street has stopped caring about Apple’s profits today. They were displeased with forward guidance. Growth rates have slowed measurably at Apple which is understandable for a company of its’ size. Wall Street is worried that growth is slowing and competition from Google and Samsung are taking a toll. Apple has given Wall Street so many wonderful surprises so magic has become the norm. Now that Apple is boring, they have run for the hills.
That moode didn’t change even after Apple CEO Tim Cook was trying to assure investors at the Goldman Sachs Internet and Technology Conference on Feb 12, just a week ago. Read the Wrap up: Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Goldman Sachs Conference keynote [AppleInsider, Feb 13, 2013] from which I will quote only the following excerpts as the most notable ones:
Cook went on to say that introducing a “budget device” was not something Apple would be comfortable with, and instead pointed to the strategy seen with the iPhone lineup. In that model, new variants like the iPhone 5 are sold at the highest price while preceding versions like the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 are sold at discounted rates.
According to Cook, the iPad is “the poster child of the post-PC revolution” and has driving the push to tablets since its introduction in 2010.
While Apple’s tablet has been the downfall for a number of PC alternatives, such as netbooks, the device is also said to be hurting the company’s own Mac computer sales. During the last quarter of 2012, Mac sales dropped 22 percent year-to-year on low demand and supply constraints. Apple’s iPad business, however, grew by nearly 50 percent over the same period.
“The cannibalization question raises its head a lot,” Cook said. “The truth is: we don’t really think about it that much. Our basic belief is: if we don’t cannibalize, someone else will. In the case of iPad particularly, I would argue that the Windows PC market is huge and there’s a lot more there to cannibalize than there is of Mac, or of iPad.”
Cook noted that burgeoning markets like China and Brazil will be major players in future growth, and the company is banking on its ability to draw customers in to the Apple ecosystem with “halo products.”
“Through the years, we’ve found a very clear correlation between people getting in and buying their first Apple product and some percentage of them buying other Apple products.”
At the same conference Microsoft, similarly to Apple, declared a ‘no change’ strategy despite of the obvious failure of its Windows 8 and Windows Phone efforts so far. In the No “Plan B” for Microsoft’s mobile ambitions: CFO [Reuters, Feb 13, 2013] report one can read:
“We’re very focused on continuing the success we have with PCs and taking that to tablets and phones,” Microsoft’s Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein said
“It’s less ‘Plan B’ than how you execute on the current plan,” said Klein. “We aim to evolve this generation of Windows to make sure we have the right set of experiences at the right price points for all customers.”
Gartner estimates that Microsoft sold fewer than 900,000 Surface tablets in the fourth quarter, which is a fraction of the 23 million iPads sold by Apple. Microsoft has not released its own figures but has not disputed Gartner’s.
Windows phones now account for 3 percent of the global smartphone market, Gartner says, which is almost double their share a year ago but way behind Google’s Android with 70 percent and Apple with 21 percent.
To grab more share, Klein said Microsoft was working with hardware makers to make sure Windows software is available on devices ranging from phones to tablets to larger all-in-one PCs.
“It’s probably more nuanced than just you lower prices or raise prices,” said Klein. “It’s less a Plan B and more, how do you tweak your plan, how do you bring these things to market to make sure you have the right offerings at the right price points?”
So the last 3 months went against Goldmann Sachs’ November 2012 predictions. The only question now remains whether those 3 months brought any changes in the non-Apple and non-Microsoft territories which would question other parts of the Goldmann Sachs’ forecast as well?
There were no negative changes just strengthening of the already established dominant position against both Apple and Microsoft:
1. Mainstream tablets 7-inch at US$199, say Taiwan makes [DIGITIMES, Feb 19, 2013]
Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD have reshuffled the global tablet market and consequently 7-inch with a price cap of US$199 has become the mainstream standard for tablets, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers.
Cumulative sales of the Nexus 7 have reached six million and are expected to reach eight million units before the expected launch of the second-generation model in June 2013, the sources said. The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire have driven vendors to develop inexpensive 7-inch tablet models instead of 10-inch ones, the sources indicated.
In order to be as reach US$199, 7-inch tablets are equipped with basic required functions such as access to the Internet and watching video, the sources noted. While Google, Amazon, Samsung Electronics and Asustek Computer are competitive at US$199 for 7-inch tablets, white-box or other vendors need to launch 7-inch models at lower prices such as US$149, the sources said. Fox example, China-based graphics card vendor Galaxy Microsystems has cooperated with Nvidia to launch a 7-inch tablet in the China market at CNY999 (US$160).
2. Digitimes Research: 68.6% of touch panels shipped in 4Q12 from the Greater China area [DIGITIMES, Feb 19, 2013] meaning that in supply chain terms there is a growing concentration on suppliers not only from Greater China but especially from mainland China:
Taiwan- and China-based touch panel makers held a 68.6% global market share for touch panels shipped during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Digitimes Research.
China-based panel makers saw the biggest share in the handset touch panel market during the fourth quarter due to smartphone demand in China, while Taiwan-based panel makers only held a 27.5% share in the market largely due to lower-than-expected sales of the iPhone 5, said Digitimes Research.
In terms of touch panels used in tablets, Taiwan-based panel makers saw a drop in their global market share to 59.9% during the period largely due to the iPad mini using DITO thin-film type touch screens provided from Japan-based touch panel makers. China-based panel makers meanwhile held 18.6% in the market due to demand for white-box tablets in China, added Digitimes Research.
Meanwhile, Digitimes Research found that Taiwan-based TPK provided 70.9% of all touch panels used in notebook applications in 2012.
3. Touch Panel Market Projected for a 34% Growth in 2013 from 2012 [Displaybank, sent in a newsletter form, Feb 19, 2013] published to promote Touch Panel Market Forecast and Cost/Issue/Industry Analysis for 2013 [Jan 30, 2013]
The touch panel market is growing rapidly due to the increasing sale of smartphones and tablet PCs. The touch panel market size in 2012 was 1.3 billion units, a 39.4% growth over 2011. The market is projected to grow 34% in 2013, growing to more than 1.8 billion units.
Smartphone and tablet PCs, major applications that use touch panels, are expected to continue to grow at a high rate. In addition, most IT devices that use display panels have either switched to or will start using the touch panels soon. Therefore the touch panel market will show a double digit growth annually until 2016, by unit. The market size is expected to reach more than 2.75 billion units by 2016.
With the explosion in the sale of smartphones and tablet PCs during the past few years, our lives have changed dramatically. They are now common place in our lives, and have a huge influence in the IT industry in general. With the introduction of Windows 8 OS in October 2012, upsizing of touch panels has begun. The impact of this event on the immediate growth of the touch panel market and the long-term effect is so immense that it cannot be estimated at the moment.
The financial crisis that started in 2008 left much of the IT industry hobbling worldwide. But only the touch panel market is enjoying a boom. Many new players are pouring into the industry, and those on the sidelines are waiting for the opportune moment to enter. As more players enter the competitive landscape, touch panel prices are falling rapidly. In addition, to gain competitiveness and to differentiate itself in the market has led players to develop and improve structure, technique and process, and seek out new materials.
The introduction of Windows 8 is leading the increase in touch capable Notebook and AIO PCs. It is still too early for the touch interface to completely displace keyboard and mouse, but the touch functionality does add convenience to some operations. We are sure to see an increase in specialized apps that capitalize on such functions. Therefore, touch functions will complement traditional input methods. As the technology is still in early implementation stages, it is used only in select high-end Ultrabooks. But it’s only a matter of time before touch functions make its way to mid-end products.
Forecasting the future of touch panel industry is not only difficult, but also outright confusing in the current landscape due to the rapid expansion; the increase in number of devices that use touch panels; more players in the market; and rapid development of new products and new processes. In serving clients, Displaybank has released “Touch Panel Market Forecast and Cost/Issue/Industry Analysis for 2013” to provide industry outlook by application, product, and capacitive touch structure. The report also includes the supply chain of set makers and touch panel manufacturers; and cost analysis of major capacitive touch panels by size and type. This report will serve as a guide to bring clarity and understanding of rapidly transforming touch panel industry.
4. Cheaper components could allow 7-inch tablets priced below US$150, says TrendForce [DIGITIMES, Dec 14, 2012]
Viewing that Google and Amazon have launched 7-inch tablets at US$199, other vendors can offer 7-inch tablets at below US$150 only by adopting cheaper components, according to Taiwan-based TrendForce.
As panels and touch modules together account for 35-40% of the total material costs of a 7-inch tablet, replacing the commonly used 7-inch FFS panels with 7-inch TN LCD panels accompanied by additional wide-view angle compensation could save over 50% in panel costs, TrendForce indicated. In addition, replacing a G/G (glass/glass) or OGS (one glass solution) touch module with a G/F/F (glass/film/film) one, although inferior in terms of transmittance and touch sensitivity, can cut costs by about 70%. Thus, the adoption of a TN LCD panel and a G/F/F touch module for a 7-inch tablet could reduce material costs by about US$25, TrendForce said.
Given that the type of DRAM affects standby time only as far as user experience is concerned, costs can be reduced through replacing 1GB mobile DRAM priced at about US$10 with 1GB commodity DRAM priced at about US$3.50, TrendForce noted. As for NAND flash, 8GB and 4GB eMMC cost US$6 and US$4, respectively, and therefore the latter should be the preferred choice to save costs.
For CPUs, China-based IC design houses, including Allwinner Technology, Fuzhou Rockchip Electronics, Ingenic Semiconductor, Amlogic and Nufront Software Technology (Beijing), provide 40-55nm-based processors at about US$12 per chip which could be alternatives to chips used in high-end tablets which cost about US$24, TrendForce indicated.
While the sales performance of tablets below US$150 is yet to be seen, such cheap models are expected to put pressure upon China-based white-box vendors, and in turn intensify price competition in the tablet market in 2013, TrendForce commented.
5. Strong demand from non-iPad tablet sector to boost short-term performance of IC vendors [DIGITIMES, Jan 28, 2013]
Demand for IC parts from the tablet industry in China has been stronger than expected in the first quarter of 2013, which could help boost the short-term performance of IC design houses, while offsetting the impact of slow demand from China’s smartphone sector caused by high inventory levels, according to industry sources.
Entry-level tablets meet market demand in terms of pricing and functionality, particularly in China, said the sources, adding that demand for entry-level tablets in China and other emerging markets could top 4-5 million a month in 2013 compared to 2-3 million in the second half of 2012.
MediaTek, while seeing demand for its handset solutions from China decrease in the first quarter of 2013, has also enjoyed emerging IC demand from the tablet sector, with plans to release chipset solutions for the segment in the second quarter of the year, the source revealed.
Since the growth momentum for tablets in 2013 is expected to come from non-iPad vendors in China and other emerging markets, Taiwan-based suppliers of LCD driver, analog and touch-controller ICs as well as those of Wi-Fi, audio and Bluetooth chips will benefit from the trend thanks to cost advantages and strong business ties in these markets, the sources commented.
6. Allwinner A31 SoC is here with products and the A20 SoC, its A10 pin-compatible dual-core is coming in February 2013 [Dec 10, 2012] and The upcoming Chinese tablet and device invasion lead by the Allwinner SoCs [Dec 4, 2012], both from my own separated trend tracking site devoted to the ‘Allwinner phenomenon’ coming from mainland China and having the potential of drastically altering the 2013 device market (not taken into account at all by Goldmann Sachs report):
that already resulted in huge growth of the mainland China Android tablet manufacturing in 2012, as well shown by this chart:which has already fundamentally affected the worldwide tablet market in 2012:
7. What Allwinner started in 2012 with the single core A10/A13 SoCs and which was further boosted by the quad-core Cortex-A7 A31 SoC on Dec 5, 2012 with the release of Onda V972 and V812 tablets (for US$ 208 and US$144 respectively) is an incredible strategic inflection point for the whole ICT industry, which ALL SoC vendors should compete with. Rockchip shown as the #2 on the mainland China market just followed the suite:
8. Now the most ambitious external challenger Marvell Announces Industry’s Most Advanced Single-chip Quad-core World Phone Processor to Power High-performance, Smartphones and Tablets with Worldwide Automatic Roaming on 3G Networks [press release, Feb 19, 2013] which is going to add to the competition the integrated on the SoC 3.5G modems:
Marvell’s PXA1088 is the industry’s most advanced single-chip solution to feature a quad-core processor with support for 3G field-proven cellular modems including High Speed Packet Access Plus (HSPA+), Time division High Speed Packet Access Plus (TD-HSPA+) and Enhanced Data for GSM Environment (EDGE).
The Marvell PXA1088 solution incorporates the performance of a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 with Marvell’s mature and proven WCDMA and TD-SCDMA modem technology to provide a low-cost [elsewhere stated by Marvell that this SoC is for the phones space in the “$100 range”] 3G platform for both smartphones and tablets. The advanced application processor technology of the PXA1088 enables a breakthrough end user experience for multimedia and gaming applications with universal connectivity. Marvell’s complete mobile platform solution includes the Avastar® 88W8777 WLAN + Bluetooth 4.0 + FM single-chip SoC and the L2000 GNSS Hybrid Location Processor, and an integrated power management and audio codec IC.
Marvell’s PXA1088 is backward pin-to-pin compatible with its dual-core single-chip Unified 3G Platform, the PXA988/PXA986, enabling device partners to upgrade their next-generation mobile devices to quad-core without additional design cost.
Currently, the PXA1088 platform is sampling with leading global customers. Products based on this platform are expected to be commercially available in 2013 [elsewhere stated by Marvell that “We’ll start seeing PXA1088-based phones in the first half of this year”].
9. Yesterday we had two significant advancements described in the Ubuntu and HTC in lockstep [Feb 19, 2013] post here. Especially the Ubuntu related part is remarkable as first time we had a new platform which can span the whole spectrum of devices: from smartphones, to tablets, to desktops, to TVs – actually all from a smartphone capability expanded via docking and other means to a screen, to a TV, a keyboard, and a mouse. This is certainly an extreme case of the new Ubuntu capability which can have implementation in different devices as well. Even in that case, however, the source and binary codes could be the same. This is also cleverly using the already well established Android drivers and Android Board Support Package (BSP) infrastructure of the most cost-efficient ARM SoC vendors. Note that this is furthest from any “license violation” attacks as the original OHA terms and conditions are stating the Apache V2 licencing which:
The Apache license allows manufacturers and mobile operators to innovate using the platform without the requirement to contribute those innovations back to the open source community. Because these innovations and differentiated features can be kept proprietary … Because the Apache license does not have a copyleft clause, industry players can add proprietary functionality to their products based on Android without needing to contribute anything back to the platform. As the entire platform is open, companies can remove functionality if they choose.
10. Finally today came Google Glass: showing how radically the user experience might be changing in the next 2-3 years:
Conclusion: There are even more uncalculated by Goldmann and Sachs advancements in the non-Apple and non-Microsoft spaces than in Apple and Microsoft ones. Just in these 3 months! Therefore it would be ridiculous if Goldmann and Sachs’ “consumer compute platform share” forecast as shown in the chart above will be fullfilled!
With Intel Media: 10-20 year leap in television this year [Feb 16, 2013] and Microsoft entertainment as an affordable premium offering to be built on the basis of the Xbox console and Xbox LIVE services [Feb 13, 2013] this is a highly probable assumption.
There is other evidence as well. In fact plenty of them. Especially from Microsoft side:
The Entertainment and Devices Division (EDD) of Microsof is currently the place where all of Microsoft consumer-only activities are concentrated. EDD revenue, however, was 11% down for the latest quarter vs. that of a year ago. Moreover, it was just 17.6% of the overall Microsoft revenue vs. 20.3% in the quarter a year ago.
– in Microsoft Reports Record Revenue of $21.5 Billion in Second Quarter [Microsoft press release, Jan 24, 2013] great progress was reported in the non-consumer segments of Microsoft:
“Our big, bold ambition to reimagine Windows as well as launch Surface and Windows Phone 8 has sparked growing enthusiasm with our customers and unprecedented opportunity and creativity with our partners and developers,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “With new Windows devices, including Surface Pro, and the new Office on the horizon, we’ll continue to drive excitement for the Windows ecosystem and deliver our software through devices and services people love and businesses need.”
The Windows Division posted revenue of $5.88 billion, a 24% increase from the prior year period. Adjusting for the net deferral of revenue for the Windows Upgrade Offer and the recognition of the previously deferred revenue from Windows 8 Pre-sales, Windows Division non-GAAP revenue increased 11% for the second quarter. Microsoft has sold over 60 million Windows 8 licenses to date.
“We saw strong growth in our enterprise business driven by multi-year commitments to the Microsoft platform, which positions us well for long-term growth,” said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft. “Multi-year licensing revenue grew double-digits across Windows, Server & Tools, and the Microsoft Business Division.”
The Server & Tools business reported $5.19 billion of revenue, a 9% increase from the prior year period, driven by double-digit percentage revenue growth in SQL Server and System Center.
“We see strong momentum in our enterprise business. With the launch of SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012, we continue to see healthy growth in our data platform and infrastructure businesses and win share from our competitors,” said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer at Microsoft. “With the coming launch of the new Office, we will provide a cloud-enabled suite of products that will deliver unparalleled productivity and flexibility.”
The Microsoft Business Division posted $5.69 billion of revenue, a 10% decrease from the prior year period. Adjusting for the impact of the Office Upgrade Offer and Pre-sales, Microsoft Business Division non-GAAP revenue increased 3% for the second quarter. Revenue from Microsoft’s productivity server offerings – collectively including Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange – continued double-digit percentage growth.
– while Entertainment and Devices Division Performance and KPIs for Earnings Release FY13 Q2 [Microsoft Investor Relations, Jan 24, 2013] were reported as:
Continued leadership position in console market
- 5.9M consoles sold, down 28%
- Halo 4 best-selling title of gaming franchise
- Xbox LIVE members >40 million
- Windows Phone sales were over 4 times greater than last year
- 138 billion minutes of calls on Skype in quarter, up 59%
EDD revenue decreased, primarily due to lower Xbox 360 platform revenue, offset in part by higher Windows Phone revenue. Xbox 360 platform revenue decreased $1.1 billion or 29%, due mainly to lower volumes of consoles sold and lower video game revenue, offset in part by higher Xbox LIVE revenue. We shipped 5.9 million Xbox 360 consoles during the second quarter of fiscal year 2013, compared with 8.2 million Xbox 360 consoles during the second quarter of fiscal year 2012. Video game revenue decreased, primarily due to $380 million of revenue deferred associated with the Video Game Deferral. Windows Phone revenue increased $546 million, including patent licensing revenue and increased sales of Windows Phone licenses.
EDD operating income increased, due mainly to lower cost of revenue and sales and marketing expenses, offset in part by decreased revenue and increased research and development expenses. Cost of revenue decreased $544 million or 19%, mainly due to decreased sales of Xbox 360 consoles, offset in part by payments made to Nokia related to joint strategic initiatives and increased royalties on Xbox LIVE content and video games. Sales and marketing expenses decreased $92 million or 21%, primarily reflecting decreased Xbox 360 platform marketing. Research and development expenses increased $98 million or 25%, primarily reflecting higher headcount-related expenses.
– and here we should consider the following Segment Information for the Entertainment & Devices Division excerpted on Feb 17, 2013:
Entertainment and Devices Division (“EDD”) develops and markets products and services designed to entertain and connect people. EDD offerings include the Xbox 360 entertainment platform (which includes the Xbox 360 gaming and entertainment console, Kinect for Xbox 360, Xbox 360 video games, Xbox LIVE, and Xbox 360 accessories), Mediaroom (our Internet protocol television software), Skype, and Windows Phone, including related patent licensing revenue. We acquired Skype on October 13, 2011, and its results of operations from that date are reflected in our results.
Note here the inclusion of Mediaroom (MS IPTV platform) into the portfolio which was not in the FY12 portfolio as per Microsoft 2012 Annual Report [Microsoft Investor Relations, Oct 9, 2012]. Mediaroom is described by the Microsoft Mediaroom Newsroom [excerpt as of Feb 17, 2013] as:
Microsoft Mediaroom powers multi-screen entertainment services for consumers in partnership with operators. Visit: Mediaroom Website
Microsoft Mediaroom is the world’s most deployed IPTV platform. Mediaroom-powered TV services are being offered by more than 40 of the world’s leading operators, delivering services to more than eleven million consumer households equaling more than 22 million set top boxes deployed throughout the Americas, EMEA and APAC. Operator partners including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and TELUS are already giving their subscribers the freedom to watch TV how they want, while gaining the most innovative ways to reach them wherever they are.
Windows Media Center will be available as an economical “media pack” add-on to Windows 8 Pro. If you are an enthusiast or you want to use your PC in a business environment, you will want Windows 8 Pro.
With further details provided in Making Windows Media Center available in Windows 8 [Building Windows 8 blog, May 4, 2012]
On the PC, … online sources [such as YouTube, Hulu, Netflix] are growing much faster than DVD & broadcast TV consumption, which are in sharp decline (no matter how you measure—unique users, minutes, percentage of sources, etc.). Globally, DVD sales have declined significantly year over year and Blu-ray on PCs is losing momentum as well. Watching broadcast TV on PCs, while incredibly important for some of you, has also declined steadily. These traditional media playback scenarios, optical media and broadcast TV, require a specialized set of decoders (and hardware) that cost a significant amount in royalties. With these decoders built into most Windows 7 editions, the industry has faced those costs broadly, regardless of whether or not a given device includes an optical drive or TV tuner.
Our partners have shared clear concerns over the costs associated with codec licensing for traditional media playback, especially as Windows 8 enables an unprecedented variety of form factors. Windows has addressed these concerns in the past by limiting availability of these experiences to specialized “media” or “premium” editions. At the same time, we also heard clear feedback from customers and partners that led to our much simplified Windows 8 editions lineup.
Given the changing landscape, the cost of decoder licensing, and the importance of a straight forward edition plan, we’ve decided to make Windows Media Center available to Windows 8 customers via the Add Features to Windows 8 control panel (formerly known as Windows Anytime Upgrade). This ensures that customers who are interested in Media Center have a convenient way to get it. Windows Media Player will continue to be available in all editions, but without DVD playback support. For optical discs playback on new Windows 8 devices, we are going to rely on the many quality solutions on the market, which provide great experiences for both DVD and Blu-ray.
Windows 8 Pro is designed to help tech enthusiasts obtain a broader set of Windows 8 technologies. Acquiring either the Windows 8 Media Center Pack or the Windows 8 Pro Pack gives you Media Center, including DVD playback (in Media Center, not in Media Player), broadcast TV recording and playback (DBV-T/S, ISDB-S/T, DMBH, and ATSC), and VOB file playback.
According to Should I Upgrade to Windows 8 Media Center? [About.com Guide, Nov 23, 2012]
The short answer? No. As of this writing, Media Center 8 is an exact duplicate of Media Center 7. No new features, no improvements, nothing.
So with Windows 8 Microsoft was clearly placing the bet on the on-line video!
Then we should consider also that Microsoft was just Announcing Release of Windows Azure Media Services [Scott Guthrie’s blog, Jan 22, 2013] supporting Xbox and IPTV (?i.e. when instead of Mediaroom –I would assume [to be verified!]– the content comes to the IPTV set-top boxes from Windows Azure Media Services?) as well:
What was announced is the V1 of the cloud-based variety of the overall Microsoft Media Platform (built on foundations of Windows Azure, Internet Information Services, Smooth Streaming and PlayReady) as defined in Microsoft Media Platform: Encoding and Serving Choices and Migration Considerations [Microsoft whitepaper, Jan 2, 2013] (corrections, emphases and additions are mine):
Two Microsoft Media Platform Technologies are on-premises (that is, they run on servers placed directly in an enterprise), while the latest, Windows Azure Media Services, is cloud-based as part of Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud computing platform ( http://www.windowsazure.com/).
On-premises media technologies:
- Windows Media Services (with versions for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2)
- IIS Media Services 4.1 (which runs on Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2012)
Cloud-based media technologies:
The initial components of Windows Azure Media Services, including Ingest [Upload media], Encoding [encode assets using a range of standard codecs, including popular adaptive bitrate formats], Content Protection [store and deliver your content securely using Microsoft PlayReady DRM or Apple AES Encryption], and On-Demand [Streaming] [deliver a fast, smooth, and adaptive experience to users while leveraging format conversion on the fly], are available
or shipping soonwith this release. Advertising (Ad Insertion) is currently available through Client SDKs. Additional components, including Live Streaming and Analytics, will be rolled out as they become available. When all of the components are in place, Windows Azure Media Services will offer a complete end-to-end media services solution, including video ingest, encoding and conversion, content protection, on-demand streaming, live streaming, and analytics.
The current environment for video streaming is experiencing new challenges. The video portion of Internet traffic today is significant and growing rapidly, as is the number of internet connected TVs and mobile devices. In this environment, video providers and broadcasters are switching to IP as the medium of choice to reach this wide diversity of endpoints.
To address these challenges, Windows Azure Media Services is designed to become a one-stop platform for securely encoding, packaging, and delivering video content from Windows Azure or CDNs, thus offering the scalability and reach of the cloud.
Some of advantages of migrating to Windows Azure Media Services are:
- Windows Azure Media Services has the scalability and reliability of a cloud platform and can handle large bursts in demand for video applications.
- It is widely available for a global audience and can use third-party CDNs like Akamai, Level3, or Limelight.
- Windows Azure Media Services has cloud-based versions of familiar Microsoft Media Platform and media partner technologies.
- As a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Windows Azure Media Services is faster, cheaper, and lowers risk:
- PaaS is faster because there is less work for developers. End-to-end solutions benefit from a single platform that solves integration issues. As a result, applications can go from idea to availability more quickly.
- PaaS is cheaper because it offers less administration and management overhead, and greater economies of scale: you pay only for what you use, and large capital outlays for media servers and network infrastructure can be replaced by the more efficient operating expenses of cloud computing.
- PaaS lowers risk. Because the platform does more for you, there are fewer opportunities for error.
- Security Standards and Certifications: Windows Azure Media Services Security is working towards SOC2 (Service Organization Control 2) compliance and plans to complete a CDSA (Content Delivery and Security Association) certification process and an MPAA audit in 2013.
Windows Azure Media Services have the flexibility and power to enable you to create whatever media services solution that you envision. Some key usage scenarios are:
- Creating an end-to-end workflow in the cloud. For example, a content management service can use Windows Azure Media Services to process on-demand Smooth Streaming video and distribute it to a variety of mobile and desktop clients.
- Developing hybrid workflows that incorporate pre-existing on-premises resources. For example, a video production house might upload its finished videos to Windows Azure Media Services for encoding into multiple formats, and then use the Windows Azure Media Services Origin Service and a third-party CDN to deliver video on demand.
- Choosing to utilize built-in Media Services components, or mixing and matching your own custom components or components from third parties. Individual Windows Azure Media Services components can be called via standard REST APIs for easy integration with external applications and services.
[see more detailed information in the whitepaper itself and in the announcement blog referred earlier]
I should only highlight one particular additional feature with the V1 release from Announcing Release of Windows Azure Media Services [Scott Guthrie’s blog, Jan 22, 2013]
… our on-demand streaming support also now gives you a cool new feature we call dynamic packaging.
Traditionally, once content has been encoded, it needs to be packaged and stored for multiple targeted clients (iOS, XBox, PC, etc.). This traditional packaging process converts multi-bitrate MP4 files into multi-bitrate HLS file-sets or multi-bitrate Smooth Streaming files. This triples the storage requirements and adds significant processing cost and delay.
With dynamic packaging, we now allow users to store a single file format and stream to many adaptive protocol formats automatically. The packaging and conversion happens in real-time on the origin server which results in significant storage cost and time savings:
Today the source formats can be multi-bitrate MP4 or Smooth based, and these can be converted dynamically to either HLS or Smooth. The pluggable nature of this architecture will allow us, over the next few months, to also add DASH Live Profile streaming of fragmented MP-4 segments using time-based indexing as well. The support of HLS and the addition of DASH enables an ecosystem-friendly model based on common and standards-based streaming protocols, and ensures that you can target any type of device.
ADDITIONAL MPEG DASH / MICROSOFT RELATED INFORMATION:
– Microsoft Announces Support for MPEG-DASH in Microsoft Media Platform [Microsoft Media Platform team blog, April 16, 2012]
– Alex Zambelli of Microsoft at Streaming Media West – held on Oct 30-31, 2012 [streamingmediavideo YouTube channel, published on Jan 2, 2013]
as well as the quite universal aspect of multitargeting even in this V1:
Windows Azure Media Services provides a large set of client player SDKs for all major devices and platforms, and they let you not only reach any device with a format that’s best suited for that device – but also build a custom player experience that uniquely integrates into your product or service.
Your users can consume media assets by building rich media applications rapidly on many platforms, such as Windows, iOS, XBox, etc. At this time, we ship SDKs and player frameworks for:
- Windows 8
- Flash Player (built using Adobe OSMF)
- Windows Phone
- Embedded devices (Connected TV, IPTV)
To complement all that here is a brief introduction into the whole Microsoft Media Platform (the on-premises varieties as well) followed in details with how HTML5 is fitting into that, from streamingmediavideo YouTube channel [May 9, 2012]:
In Streaming Servers 2012: New Features, New Opportunities [StreamingMedia.com, Oct 24, 2012] the latest features of the streaming server/platform solutions from Adobe, Anevia, CodeShop, Microsoft, and RealNetworks are overviewed, together with some upcoming features. This shows quite well how much the Microsoft Media Platform is advanced and hence could be the best platform for such an effort as that of Intel Media.
There is a wortwhile comment as well from the same Microsoft specialist as already shown in the videos above:
Just a few corrections: The latest version of IIS Media Services, known as IIS Media Services 5.0 Premium, targeting OTT linear TV scenarios is available exclusively to Mediaroom customers as part of Mediaroom Component Technologies.
See also: How to Use Continuous Network DVR Feature in PlayReady Premium and IIS Media Services Premium? [PlayReady blog, Dec 29, 2012] “PlayReady 2.x Premium and IIS Media Services 5.0 Premium have enabled the following four key features which are needed for scalable live TV service:”
This is showing that Mediaroom is using the latest technologies available in the Microsoft Media Platform along with Windows Azure Media Services.
Finally Intel Media is heavily betting on the new H.265/HEVC standard. This is how the same Alex Zambelli (since January working for a premium video workflow services and products partner of Microsoft) is viewing this issue in his H.265/HEVC Ratification and 4K Video Streaming [Alex Zambelli’s Streaming Media Blog, Jan 28, 2013] post:
The media world today is abuzz with news of H.265/HEVC approval by the ITU. In case you’ve been hiding from NAB/IBC/SM events for the past two years – or if you’re a WebM hermit – I will have you know that H.265 is the successor standard to H.264, aka MPEG-4 AVC. As was the case with its predecessor it is the product of years of collaboration between the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG). The new video coding standard is important because it promises bandwidth savings of about 40-45% for the same quality as H.264. In a world where video is increasingly being delivered over-the-top and bandwidth is not free – that kind of savings is a big deal.
What most media reports seem to have focused on is the potential effect that H.265 will have on bringing us closer to 4K video resolution in OTT delivery. Most reports speculate that H.265 will allow 4K video to be delivered over the Internet at bit rates between 20 and 30 Mbps. In comparison, my friend Bob Cowherd recently theorized on his blog that 4K delivery using the current H.264 video standard would require about 45 Mbps to deliver 4K video OTT.
While I think the relative difference between those two estimates is in the ballpark of the 40% bandwidth savings that H.265 promises, I actually think that both estimates are somewhat pessimistic. Given the current state of video streaming technology, I think we’ll actually be able to deliver 4K video at lower bit rates when the time comes for 4K streaming.
A common mistake that most people dealing with lossy video compression seem to make is to assume that the ratio between bit rate (bps) and picture size (pixels/sec) remains proportional and fixed as the values of both axis change. I don’t think that’s the case. I believe that the relationship between bit rate and picture size is not linear, but closer to a power function that looks like this:
In other words, I believe that as the pixel count gets higher a DCT-based video codec requires fewer bits to maintain the same level of visual quality. Here’s why:
The size of a 16×16 macroblock, which is the smallest unit of DCT-based compression used in contemporary codecs such as H.264 and VC-1, grows smaller relative to the total size of the video image as the image resolution grows higher. For example, in a 320×180 video the 16×16 macroblock represents 0.444% of the total image size, whereas in a 1920×1080 video the 16×16 macroblock represents only 0.0123% of the total image. A badly compressed macroblock in a 320×180 frame would therefore be more objectionable than a badly compressed macroblock in a 1920×1080 frame.
As many studies have shown, the law of diminishing returns applies to video/image resolution too. If you sit at a fixed distance from your video display device eventually you will no longer be able to distinguish the difference between 720p, 1080p and 4K resolutions due to your eye’s inability to resolve tiny pixels from a certain distance. Ipso facto, as the video resolution goes up your eyes become less likely to distinguish compression artifacts too – which means the video compression can afford to get sloppier.
Historically the bit rates used for OTT video delivery and streaming have been much lower than those used in broadcasting, consumer electronics and physical media. For example, digital broadcast HDTV typically averages ~19 Mbps for video (in CBR mode), while most Blu-ray 1080p videos average ~15-20 Mbps (in 2-pass VBR mode). Those kinds of bit rates are possible because those delivery channels have the luxury of either dedicated bandwidth or high-capacity physical media. However, in the OTT and streaming world video bit rate has always been shortchanged in comparison. Most 720p30 video streaming today, whether live or on-demand, is encoded at average 2.5-3.5 Mbps (depending on complexity and frame rate). 1080p30 video, when available, is usually streamed at 5-6 Mbps. Whereas Blu-ray tries to give us movies at a quality level approaching visual transparency, streaming/OTT is completely driven by the economics of bandwidth and consequently only gives us video at the minimum bit rate required to make the video look generally acceptable (and worthy of its HD moniker). To put it bluntly, streaming video is not yet a videophile’s medium.
So taking those factors into consideration, what kind of bandwidth should we expect for 4K video OTT delivery? If 1080p video is currently being widely streamed online using H.264 compression at 6 Mbps, then 4K (4096×2304) video could probably be delivered at bit rates around 18-20 Mbps using the same codec at similar quality levels. Again, remember, we’re not comparing Blu-ray quality levels here – we’re comparing 2013 OTT quality levels which are “good enough” but not ideal. If we switch from H.264 to H.265 compression we could probably expect OTT delivery of 4K video at bit rates closer to 12-15 Mbps(assuming H.265′s 40% efficiency improvements do indeed come true). I should note that those estimates are only applicable to 24-30 fps video. If the dream of 4K OTT video also carries an implication of high frame rates – e.g. 48 to 120 fps – then the bandwidth requirements would certainly go up accordingly too. But if the goal is simply to stream a 4K version of “Lawrence of Arabia” into your home at 24 fps, that dream might be closer to reality than you think.
One last thing: In his report about H.265 Ryan Lawler writes that “nearly every video publisher has standardized [H.264] after the release of the iPad and several other connected devices. It seems crazy now, but once upon a time, Apple’s adoption of H.264 and insistence on HTML5-based video players was controversial – especially since most video before the iPad was encoded in VP6 to play through Adobe’s proprietary Flash player.” Not so fast, Ryan. While Apple does deserve credit for backing H.264 against alternatives, they were hardly the pioneers of H.264 web streaming. H.264 was already a mandatory part of the HD-DVD and Blu-ray specifications when those formats launched in 2006 as symbols of the new HD video movement. Adobe added H.264 support to Flash 9 (“Moviestar”) in December 2007. Microsoft added H.264 support to Silverlight 3 and Windows 7 in July 2009. The Apple iPad did not launch until April 2010, which was also the same month Steve Jobs posted his infamous “Thoughts on Flash” blog post. So while Apple certainly did contribute to H.264′s success, they were hardly the controversial H.264 advocate Ryan makes them out to be. H.264 was already widely accepted at that point and its success was simply a matter of time.
– What Is HEVC (H.265)? [StreamingMedia.com, Feb 14, 2013]
– Episode 99 – Windows Azure Media Services General Availibility [Microsoft Channel 9 video, Jan 25, 2013]
In this episode Nick Harris and Nate Totten are joined by Mingfei Yan Program Manager II on Windows Azure Media Services. With Windows Azure Media Services reaching General Availability Mingfei joined us to demonstrate how you can use it to build great, extremely scalable, end-to-end media solutions for streaming on-demand video to consumers on any device and in this particular demo shows off the portal, encoding and both a Windows Store app and iOS device consuming encoded content.
For more information visit the Windows Azure Media Services page to learn more about the capabilities, and visit the Windows Azure Media Service Dev Center for tutorials, how-to articles, blogs, and more information and get started building applications with it today!
– How to build customized Media Workflows using the Media Services .NET SDK – Part I [Microsoft Channel 9 video, Feb 5, 2013]
In this two part video, Mingfei Yan will teach you how to use the Windows Azure Media Services .NET SDK to create your own media workflow including how to upload, encode, package and deliver your video assets. In this part you will learn how to create media asset and upload a video file from local drive.
After completing this part you can watch part II here. You can get started with Windows Azure Media Services today for free!
– How to build customized Media Workflows using the Media Services .NET SDK – Part II [Microsoft Channel 9 video, Feb 5, 2013]
This blog gives an overview of what kind of client support Microsoft offers as part of Windows Azure media Services. On one side, you could create, manage, package and deliver media asset through Windows Azure media services. Many popular streaming formats are supported, such as Smooth Streaming, Http Llive Streaming and MPEG-dash. On the other hand, we provide various SDKs and frameworks for you to consume media asset by building rich media applications rapidly on many platforms, such as PC, XBox, mobile and etc.
– Introducing Microsoft Media Platform [Media & Entertainment Insights blog, April 12, 2011]
– Microsoft Media Platform – David Sayed interview [Quantel blog April 20, 2011]
– H2 2012 Media Platform Product Update Roundup [Alex Zambelli’s Streaming Media Blog, Nov 16, 2012]: “It’s been a busy summer with most of the team focused on Windows Azure Media Services, but I’d like to take a moment to highlight a few other Media Platform releases of the past few months:”
– Mediaroom 2.0 Unites Software and Cloud Services to Power New TV Experiences Across Three Screens [Media & Entertainment Insights blog, April 6, 2010]
Updates: Coming Soon: Intel’s Must-See TV [Barrons.com, June 22, 2013]
The chip giant readies a TV subscription service powered by a set-top box unlike any other.
Full disclosure, dear readers—I’m not a TV viewer. I chucked the set years ago and mainly watch things on computers.
But then, television hasn’t changed much in decades, so I feel I’m still qualified to opine on the boob tube’s future. And two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to glimpse a possible part of that future at the Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters of Intel (ticker: INTC), where I saw a TV service that is novel, elegant, and highly desirable, even to a television Luddite like me. The service faces a number of hurdles, including potential obstruction by the cable and telephone industries, but what I witnessed could take Intel in a thrilling new direction.
Sometime this year, the chip giant will offer a set-top box at retail, with a subscription service that brings you live television over your broadband Internet connection.
It is, in industry argot, an “over the top” video connection, requiring no actual TV package from the four major “multiple system operators,” or MSOs, as they’re called—Comcast (CMCSA), Cablevision (CVC), Time Warner Cable (TWC), and Charter Communications (CHTR)—or from Verizon Communications (VZ) and AT&T(T).
WITHOUT GIVING TOO MUCH AWAY, the user interface seemed to hover beautifully above the currently playing show. An elegant simple menu made it easy to switch between channels or to pick and rent a recent film. It was light years from the cumbersome garbage that takes up most of the screen when using a standard cable-channel picker.
There was a wide array of popular channels to choose from that would be familiar to any couch potato, though the final lineup is still being formulated. Equally important, when you hit the button on the remote, the TV seemed to jump to the next channel faster than is typical on cable. There also is a time-shifting aspect that goes beyond DVR, allowing you to go back through recent episodes.
One wonders: Why hasn’t TV always been this way?
Others who’ve viewed the project are enthusiastic, too. “The No. 1 thing I noticed was speed,” says Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. Intel’s horsepower in the set-top is partially responsible for this, but multiple data centers that Intel is building to serve video also were a factor. “A lot of the value comes from what they’ve done on the back end,” says Moorhead. “They have the highest-performance Intel servers and video-encoding technology.” And he notes, “This is live television,” unlike other over-the-top offerings, like those from the TV network consortium Hulu, Apple‘s (AAPL) AppleTV,Netflix (NFLX), or closely held Roku, which merely provide on-demand content from a back catalog. “It’s something I’ve never experienced before” in an Internet offering, Moorhead adds.
No less thrilling is the fact that Intel, which makes $53 billion in yearly revenue from selling chips, and spends billions to make them, is becoming both a hardware and software vendor.
The project is the effort of Erik Huggers and his staff of 350 people. Huggers, 40, won praise for developing the iPlayer for the BBC, a piece of video software that allows one to follow the channel’s TV and radio broadcasts. He came to Intel two years ago to advance efforts to sell chips to set-top makers. He made a bold move in telling his boss that the $4.5 billion TV-chip market wasn’t desirable. “The market was split up between 20 or more silicon providers, and it was a race to the bottom on prices,” says Huggers. “I said, ‘I don’t know how we ever turn that into a profitable market.’ ” Instead, he pleaded, “Release me to go after the $500 billion television market in a very different way.” He got his wish.
Erik Huggers over het televisieproject van Intel (Erik Huggers ons the television project of Intel) [MT Management Team, May 13, 2013] the essence of which is summarized below (the quotes were translated from Dutch):
Hired in April 2011 and spending with 12 others 3 months on the plan Erik Huggers suggested that instead of manufacturing and selling chips for smart TVs and similar products Intel should take a different course of developing a complete TV solution. He got an approval for that in December 2011 and since he managed to grow the project to a 300+ people organisation working in tight separation from the rest of the Intel and in stealth mode typical of Silicon Valley. He used the so called acquihire approach (a novel thing although used by Facebook very much) to speed up the process when “you at once take a whole team of a company over, but not the company itself”. Intel Media bought in this way a number of “very targeted small businesses”. So it was only twelve months needed to arrive at “a device, the software, the user interface, design, packaging, branding, all services, the back-end and various deals.”
Such urgency was essential “because I think the time for over-the-top live television has arrived.” The product will initially be launched in the U.S. only as it is the largest media market in the world which also happens to be the most difficult one as it is so saturated and “ if you come up with something new, you have to have something very good.” They are going to offer “live TV, catch-up TV, Video On Demand as a transaction model, an iTunes-like service so that you pay per viewing time. And in addition, we will offer what they call in the United States electronic selltrue. You can buy a digital copy of a film in the cloud, which is playable on various devices.” That is there will be various payment models behind the television service of the Intel Media.
It was initially difficult to convince content providers to come on the board. He said that “there are a total of nine parties in America depositing content to consumers, plus another 5 or 6 providers like Comcast. It is a very concentrated market, where we now stand as a newcomer. The balance in this market is very, um, let me just say very interesting. The established parties are very close to each other and have a lot to do with each other. The idea to deliver video over the Internet television is as revolutionary. We will use the infrastructure of the cable company, which is the same infrastructure they sell to consumers. It was so difficult to explain that, now it’s purely for the execution.”
With 300+ people Intel Media will compete in such an environment. It is even more unusual as “we compete with companies like Comcast, which has 80,000 employees, and it’s just one of the many parties that are active in this market” he said. They are going to launch before the end of the year and see the iPod as an example to follow. He said: “Look at the rise of the iPod. Around 2004, in 2005 there were hundreds of MP3 players, but none worked really well. Then came the iPod and was at one time game over for all other players. The current state of affairs of smart television and streaming boxes is similar to the mp3 world for the introduction of the iPod. It is interesting that a lot like Apple, to date at least, very disappointing in television. Apple TV works fine, but it is not revolutionary. ”
Regarding his first public announcements two months ago (which is detailed in this original post below) he said: “The reason I sit at All Things Digital on stage was because we had to show. Just 4 or 5 weeks before, during CES, senior officials from the media industry had seen our product. Sometimes more than 10 people per company. So between 100 to 200 people have seen the device, and all like to talk. … In addition, we were just starting to roll out the product to Intel employees. First it was tested by fifty families, but we wanted to test it on scale. So currently it is used by 1,000 families in Arizona, California and Oregon. Soon we will go to 5,000 families. They are all Intel household, so with people who are with us on the payroll. Now as it is seen slowly but surely seen by more people, it is better to put a story myself. You don’t have control, but so you can do a twist of your own. You don’t want it through the back door on some blog. But we still have very many details omitted. That we keep it that way, until we are ready.”
End of updates
Excerpts from Video – Dive Into Media: Intel’s Erik Huggers on What’s Next for Web TV [Feb 12, 2013] – the full transcript will follow in a separate section later on:
[00:38] “We have been working for about a year now to set up a new group called Intel Media, … a new group focused on developing an Internet TV platform.”
[~2:00] “For the first time … we will deliver a new consumer electronics product that consumers will buy directly from us or through retail under a new brand. This is obviously associated with Intel brand. It is an Intel powered device, it is a consumer electronics product with beautiful industrial design powered by, obviously, an Intel chip. That’s not where it ends, it’s not just the device. Where it really gets interesting is, we are working with the entire industry to figure out how do we get proper TV delivered via the Internet to consumers.”
ADDITIONAL INSERT BBC iPlayer (Global) – Available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch! [BBCiplayerglobal YouTube channel, Sept 28, 2011]
[03:08] “At the BBC we launched the product in 2007 called BBC iPlayer. The iPlayer is the promise to consumers, to audiences that we would make the unmissible truly unmissible. And so what does that mean: basically all the BBC output, everything on radio and television networks, is available from transmission points plus seven days on over 650 different devices. And so this is not a cherry pick of a variety of products for output, this is literally everything. So if you missed something you don’t have to record it because it’s already there. It’s a cloud based service that offers you catch up. [03:50]
ADDITIONAL INSERT BBC WiE: Daniel Danker on evolving the BBC iPlayer [TheBBCAcademy YouTube channel, Aug 9, 2012]
– Android: An update [Dave Price, Head of BBC iPlayer on BBC Internet blog, Dec 12, 2012]: “Android as a platform is becoming increasingly complex and fragmented with a huge difference between video playback capabilities across the 1500+ Android devices.”
– BBC has new competitors, warns iPlayer boss Daniel Danker [BBC Ariel, Feb 8, 2013]
Daniel Danker, the general manager for on-demand and iPlayer, said that the BBC’s fiercest and most nimble competitors are no longer likely to be Sky, Channel 4 and ITV.
‘I think we are measuring ourselves against the wrong competitors, because actually the companies that are most likely to be disruptive in what we do are Google through YouTube, Amazon through LoveFilm and Netflix,’ he told Ariel in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
… Today, iPlayer reaches about 25% of the UK every month, he said, but YouTube reaches about 40%. …
… American giant Netflix is leading the way by releasing its drama House of Cards online to its subscribers. It took a gamble by releasing the entire series, a remake of a BBC political drama from 1990, immediately.
Danker, an Israeli-born American who spent 11 years at Microsoft, said the series is ‘pretty good’ and has attracted big names, including Kevin Spacey. He called Netflix ‘innovative and nimble’. …
… The iPlayer manager said that in YouTube’s Soho offices, artists and content creators are being asked to ‘professionalise their content’ at specially built studios. He predicted that it won’t be ‘skateboarding chimpanzees’ for much longer, but high-quality content. …
[~12:00] “I don’t believe that the industry’s ready for pure a’la cart [where you only pay for the channels you want]”, he stated and suggested that this would be a great opportunity to create offers that provide users with greater flexibility. “I believe there’s value in bundles, I believe that is a form of curation” he concluded.
[~ 13:30] “This thing looks like a leap in time of 10-20 years compared to what you have today. That is much more personal, that learns about you, that actually cares about who you are.”
[~14:00] “We think there’s real value in the ability to actually identify the various users. Today, television doesn’t really know anything about you. It’s the same television service for everyone in the household. In order to actually recognise who is there and to offer you your personal experience, rather than having to log in or put your fingerprint or do a retina scan whatever, to make it completely seamless you need a camera. If you don’t like the idea of a camera, you think it’s creepy there is a nice little shutter and you just close the camera” Huggers said.
[~19:00-20:00] “Intel is very interested in getting into consumer businesses, having a direct relationship with those consumers. Intel as a company is making a big shift towards, what Intel calls, becoming an experience driven company.”
[~22:00] “We have gone out of our way to bring a completely new class, new type of skill sets into this crew. And we’ve set the group up in such a way that it is run in its own building, complete own building, with our own security, we have our own culture. We are still proud to be part of Intel, don’t make any mistakes, but this is a new effort.”
[~25:00] “It’s not a value play, it’s a quality play where we’ll create a superior experience for the end user.”
[~35:00] “The model that we are envisioning is a model where live TV and catch up TV all live in the same paradigm. These are not different applications, and so if you’re a programmer why would you want your catch up programs to live in an app somewhere else? Why doesn’t that live under your brand?”
Intel’s Erik Huggers took the stage with Walt Mossberg at D: Dive Into Media on Tuesday [Feb 12, 2013] to talk about the company’s forthcoming TV device that he describes as revolutionary.
[00:38] We have been working for about a year now to set up a new group called Intel Media. It’s a completely new division with new people, sort of a mix of existing Intel people with a lot of people from outside the company. To give you an example we hired people from Apple, from Jawbone, from Microsoft, from the BBC, and the list goes on, even Netflix and Google. So it’s a new group focused on developing an Internet TV platform.
There’s no other Internet TV platfom?
There’s quite a few out there but my opinion is that not many have yet actually cracked it, not many have truly delivered.
Have any cracked it in your opinion?
No, actually. That’s my opinion.
Just to be clear. You are talking about becoming a pay TV service to deliver video over the web like instead of paying cable company for video I will pay you.
That’s right. And so for the first time what we will do we will actually deliver a couple things to consumers. We will deliver a new consumer electronics product that consumers will buy directly from us or through retail under a new brand. This is obviously associated with Intel brand. [01:56]
[02:12] It is an Intel powered device, it is a consumer electronics product with beautiful industrial design powered by, obviously, an Intel chip. That’s not where it ends, it’s not just the device. Where it really gets interesting is, we are working with the entire industry to figure out how do we get proper TV delivered via the Internet to consumers.
This is an over the top service where we will deliver both live television, broadcasts, cable nets and other output, but also have catch up TV and introduce that properly to this market Because I personally think catch up TV still really doesn’t exist here, not as it exists in Europe today. And will have on demand and a host of applications. [02:57]
[03:08] At the BBC we launched the product in 2007 called BBC iPlayer. The iPlayer is the promise to consumers, to audiences that we would make the unmissible truly unmissible. And so what does that mean: basically all the BBC output, everything on radio and television networks, is available from transmission points plus seven days on over 650 different devices. And so this is not a cherry pick of a variety of products for output, this is literally everything. So if you missed something you don’t have to record it because it’s already there. It’s a cloud based service that offers you catch up. [03:50]
In the UK with the BBC what happened was that iPlayer became sort of synonymous with on demand. Just like Xerox is copying and Kleenex is tissues. So I think that in this market we have yet to see a proper catch up TV service, like the one that I just described. [04:09]
[04:45] When you say proper TV, I was struck by the term of that, I like that, proper TV, because you are talking about what I get through my cable box. And this is the key, because I have a Roku, I have an Apple TV on my big television at home. They give me a lot of interesting things but they don’t get me cable. … the cable box right up to pay a lot of money to the cable company and the effect of three things. You tell me you’re going to be one thing that would do almost three things?
Our ultimate vision is you need one …
Ultimate vision? That means …
Ultimately we think there is an all in one solution. … Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time sometimes but where we will start, to be clear, is: we will have live TV, catch up TV, consistent. We will have on demand and we’ll have a set of applications. But the proper TV piece is something that I want to just pause for a second. Why do I say that?
[05:57] I think that what we’ve seen so far in the industry are sort of … it’s like the interface is that you have to date on all these variety of television connected devices [the so called smart TVs] they all look like Web pages from the 1990s blown up to ten foot. … They’re pretty clumsy to use, they are hard to use and … When I say proper TV the other thing I think about is I think about when my five year old came to me over the weekend literally, and he is — like probably every other five year old — a wizard with iPads and Android devices, he is completely self sufficient. Yet he comes to me on Saturday morning and gives me two remote controls and says ‘Daddy can you please put up …’ some PBS stuff, I forgot what it was, because he literally doesn’t know how to use it. It is impossible. [06:56]
[07:53] So are you doing something different or are you going to do what I am already getting?
We are going to do a lot of things different.
First of all, in the pay TV space today what you get from experience perspective is, let’s talk about the EPG (electronic program guide) for just a second. EPG today is equivalent to a spreadsheet, it’s basically columns and columns and rows and rows, and you have to go through and through and through it, until you’re blue in the face. It is not very friendly, it is not very easy to use, and it is sort of feels like, it reminds me of my days of my first computer, the Commodore 64. There’s a lot of room for improvement there. If you look at what people are used to today on iPads, on iPhones, on Apple TVs and other devices out there, there is a massive gap. So I think that’s one, the incredible user experience that is completely easy to use. [We have] the people that we brought over from the UK, the people that did the iPlayer UI. So we’ve got a team that really know how to do this sort of stuff.
[8:00] The second thing is that we’ll have a scenario where you don’t need a lot of different inputs anymore. You do not need to have all these different HDMI inputs. Today in my home I had to buy an HDMI switch because I have too many devices. [09:22]
[10:15] The bundle thing that Peter [Kafka] mentioned is really really important. It’s a piece of the puzzle. There’s loads of people who deeply resent their cable and satellite company, for a number of reasons, but one of them is this bundle. I have to buy all these channels, I don’t watch all these channels, I don’t want all these channels. … You are going to revolutionize TV, you are going to bring us this box, but a minute ago I heard you say you’re still going to have these bundles. Is that right?
[11:17] I agree with you that what consumers want is choice, control and convenience. I do believe that there is value in bundles actually. The whole world talks about curation because there’s such a mass of information out there. In a way if bundles are done right, bundles are bundled right, for the lack of a better way to explain it, then there’s real value in that. … I think there are opportunities out there to create a much more flexible environment where the end user has more control than what they have today. I don’t believe that the industry’s ready for pure a’la cart. [11:56]
[12:19] All I’m talking about … is the fact that I believe there’s value in bundles. I believe that is a form of curation. [12:27] … it’s somewhere in the middle [between current bundles and pure a’la cart] [12:34]
So it’s still bundles, but more intelligent bundles, or smaller bundles …
That’s a great way to explain things.
… things that are more logical to me as a consumer?
As a consumer.
I may be so glad to not see the bundle Comcast makes me buy that I’ll say these guys at least giving me a better set of choices
That’s the hope.
It’s not a pure a’la cart but at least a better set of choices
It’s way towards more control, more choice for audience. [13:00]
Are we going to save money?
What this is not about for sure, it’s not about a value play. … What I believe is that if you get a vastly superior experience where the delta literally, when you get to see it ready to show you, this thing looks like a leap in time of 10-20 years compared to what you have today. That is much more personal, that learns about you, that actually cares about who you are versus being just … [13:40]
The boxes would be a caring box?
We hope so. …
… There is a less positive way to spin that caring box, this is the box that watches what you are watching, and targets you with advertising …
We think there is real value in the ability to actually identify the various users. Today TV doesn’t really know anything about you. It’s the same TV service for everyone in the household.
… little creepiness here?
I don’t think so because one of the features we put on there is, in order to actually recognize who is there and to offer you your personal experience, rather than having to log in or put on your fingerprint or do a retina scan whatever, to make it completely seamless, you need a camera, but if you don’t like the idea of a camera, you think it’s creepy there is a nice little shutter and you just close the camera and off your uncle. [15:00]
… But cameras in iPads [etc.] are for those people to turn them on if they want to have a chatter, to take pictures something with it. It’s not looking at them for the purpose of serving up ads based on them. …
[15:58] But there is value. Let me talk about the value of a camera if we have to explain that. Imagine a scenario where you are watching your favorite TV show whenever that may be. … The idea of television back when I grow at least was that it was truly a social experience, a family experience. You’re together in the living room. What if you could actually watch that episode completely synchronized across the country and have a real social experience.
… but we are talking about the camera watching you for the purpose of targeting, and that’s not the same as voluntarily Peter and I turning on the camera
[17:02] I didn’t talk about that we will use the camera for targeting. What I’ve talked about … it’s gonna watch you because: imagine the following scenario … I’ll give you another example. I have a Netflix account, and my five and nine year old will use that Netflix account all the time. When its my time to use that Netflix account with my wife the recommendations that I get are usually cartoons. They are not relevant to me because it’s a household account versus a personal account. That sort of the enviropnment is the living room. But if I can just … Want your kids a separate account. I’m cheap I am Dutch. … If you have the ability to actually distinguish that it’s you or Peter, or me or the kids, or me and the kids, then you can create an environment where you can recommend me ads actually relevant for you.
[18:14] Why is Intel getting into the consumer business?
Over the weekend I visited the Intel museum for the first time. … Tjere was a quote on the wall that actually stuck with me. One of our founders, Robert Noyce, he said, apparently, don’t be encumbered by past history. You go off and do something wonderful. So that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get closer to the end user. We understand that the end user audiences have a much bigger control these days over the direction of travel.
[18:56] When you use the term end user then you’re not all the way there yet?
Audiences, audiences … We talk about one thing. Back of our card, of the Intel Media card, it says: the audience is at the heart of everything we do. So we really care about audiences.
[19:32] Is it just because Robert Noyce said … or is it because Intel’s principal business making chips for PCs has been flat or down in recent years?
Intel is very interested in getting into consumer businesses, having a direct relationship with those consumers. Intel as a company is making a big shift towards, what Intel calls, becoming an experience driven company. So if you think about it what better way to learn what experience driven is all about than through digital media, through a service that directly relates to audiences, that directly delivers experiences to audiences. [20:16]
…. [Will the coming CEO sign off for that as well?] …
[20:40] Intel Media is governed by a small board, some of the most senior people at Intel. While our CEO is certainly a very important proponent of what we’re doing here with Intel Media there is a very broad support for …
[20:58] Why are you going to be better at having that kind of resonance with the consumer than big companies that happened to have a lot of consumer wealth already? Apple, Microsoft … Google. These are not companies that have to come from someplace different. They are right there in the consumer space. Look at this room and look at the logos of the devices, and they don’t say Intel. Intel somewhere in the device but … The point is what makes you thinking to compete with these guys?
In the end of the day all comes down to people … people, people, people. I spent the last twelve months putting together an incredible leadership team. We have a lady from Apple who’s been there for literally twelve years. She launched most of their iProducts. She’s our head of marketing. We have a gentleman from Jawbone who put Jawbone, the Bluetooth company, in twenty thousand retail outlets around the world. We have a gentleman from Microsoft who built the Mediaroom platform that AT&T U-verse runs on. The list goes on and on. We have gone out of our way to bring a completely new class, new type of skill sets into this crew. And we’ve set the group up in such a way that it is run in its own building, complete own building, with our own security, we have our own culture. We are still proud to be part of Intel, don’t make any mistakes, but this is a new effort. [22:43]
In many ways I sort of compare it with … when I’m [going] back in the day when I was at Microsoft, many years ago, there was this moment when Microsoft indeed got into the gaming console business, and a lot of people said what are they doing, you make enterprise software you don’t know anything about this space. Yet ten years later or maybe more it’s the enormous success … [23:10]
[23:26] Why do you think no one else [from those already consumer companies] has stepped forward [in the TV space] so far?
I don’t know frankly. It’s hard to tell. I mean those companies [already in the consumer space and trying] should speak for themselves.
[24:16] We’ve taken the leap of faith that time is here. I mean broadband capability is here, it works. Compression of video is completely changing landscapes again. I mean we are moving to a new codec HEVC [H.265] which again compresses fifty percent better than H.264. So the ability to deliver super high quality video via the Internet live and on demand is here today. We have the silicon and the software, and the knowledge and the know how to create an incredible product with an incredible UI, with a new user paradigm. Rather than wait for others to jump into that market and see it take off we’re jumping in, and we’re going to try and make … [24:57]
[25:22] But it’s not a value play, this is not a kind of cutting our cable bill
It is not a value play, it is a quality play. It is a play where we will create a superior experience for the end user.
[30:57] You’ve got all these connected devices already. Why just not build apps for them?
When we started the discussion we talked about the fact that I built this thing called iPlayer in the UK. We made that service available to over 650 different devices. Everything from phones to tablets, to game consoles, to smart TVs, to Blueray … literally anything that plays back audio and video as I play on it. … It’s fair to say that with the experience that we’ve had over there in the UK, this is definitely a direction that we’re going to follow with this as well.
Why build the device it’s an excellent question. I happen to believe that if we want to deliver the experience that we have in mind for the living room there is no platform out there today where we can do that. In order to deliver on our vision of that new experience you need to control everything, you need to control the chip, you need to control the operating system, you need to control the app players, you need to control the sensors etc. That sort of the reason why we were there. If there were platforms out there where we could deliver exactly what we have in mind there wouldn’t be a need to do it but there isn’t. [32:15]
[32:30] At the end of the day I believe in the world where you have a good, better, [and] best experience. The best experience that we have in mind. We will deliver on that device that we will ship and sell to audiences.
[32:55] The programmers are taking billions and billions of dollars from the cable companies. What incentive do they have to unbundle and work in different ways? No matter how beautiful your devices are going to be, what incentive do they have to break their established business models and give you some of their content, no matter how much are they getting paid for?
[33:12] First of all I didn’t say that we will unbundle. What I said we will create new bundles. … But your question is a very valid question.
Let’s take a look at history. We went from over the air television to cable TV, to satellite TV, to telco driven television. Constantly there were new forms of distribution out there. For programmers to get new distribution is a good thing in the end of the day. So I believe that this is just another step in the evolution of distribution. The internet has finally got to a point where you can deliver a true television experience where channel zapping becomes the same experience that we lost twenty years ago when we went digital. In the analog days when you zap to channel it was instant. In today’s digital world if you zap a channel you have 2-3 seconds of nothing in your waiting. We can bring an incredible TV experience via the Internet to consumers, and that is a real opportunity for programmers.
The final thing I would say is that the model that we are envisioning is a model where live TV and catch up TV all live in the same paradigm. These are not different applications, and so if you’re a programmer why would you want your catch up programs to live in an app somewhere else? Why doesn’t that live under your brand? If you were an NBC or something like that, why do I need to go to the service provider catch up service to find the NBC programs when actually I wanted to find it through … [34:58]
[35:14] The ability to wirelessly beam things from these devices to your TV, which Apple brands AirPlay and other companies have something like it, but I think Apple’s is the only one that’s really taken off and a lot people use so far, is that can be a feature of what you do? Wireless beaming from my other devices?
This is certainly something that we’re looking for sure. It is an important use case where consumers have obviously a multitude of media capable devices, whether it’s photos, audio or video. The ability to display that on another screen a certain something I’m of intense interest.
Insight: Intel’s plans for virtual TV come into focus [Reuters, June 8, 2012]
Intel is counting on facial-recognition technology for targeted ads and a team of veteran entertainment dealmakers to win over reluctant media partners for its new virtual television service
But so far it’s proving a challenge to get the service off the ground, thanks to an unwillingness on the part of major media content providers to let Intel unbundle and license specific networks and shows at a discount to what cable and satellite partners pay.
Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, has kept its strategy to launch a slimmed down cable TV service under wraps as the tech giant risks getting into a completely new line of business.
According to five sources who have been negotiating with Intel for months, the company is emphasizing a set-top box employing Intel technology that can distinguish who is watching, potentially allowing Intel to target advertising.
The set-top box pitched by Intel doesn’t identify specific people, but it could provide general data about viewers’ gender or whether they’re adults or children to help target advertising, two sources said.
Intel’s plans put it in the middle of Silicon Valley’s battle for the living room. Heavyweights such as Apple, Amazon and Google believe the $100 billion U.S. cable television ecosystem – dominated by major distributors such as Comcast and DirecTV Group and program makers like Walt Disney Co and Time Warner Inc. – is ripe for disruption for reasons ranging from shifting viewer habits to ever-increasing programming costs.
While none of these companies have so far been able to make major inroads, Intel thinks it can build a better set-top box and over-the-top subscription service to deliver TV content to consumers, even though the initiative catapults it into virgin market territory. A successful TV service showcasing Intel technology could be a big step toward making its chips prevalent in more living room devices.
“If they can create a virtual network and it incorporates proprietary Intel technology, they could certainly bring something different to the subscription TV model.” said JMP analyst Alex Gauna.
Intel’s offering aims to exploit one of the TV industry’s major issues: the reliability, or lack thereof, of Nielsen ratings data on audiences. Nielsen has long been the dominant provider of TV ratings, but the accuracy of its data has come under attack by some network programmers, who argue that its polling system of 50,000 homes is antiquated for the digital age.
For its part, Intel claims that the new interactive features in its set-top box would add greater value to TV advertising and help offset reduced revenue from licensing fees for network owners.
“They’ve told us the technology is going to be so much more interactive with ads that you can make more money. But it’s just a little unproven,” said one executive who has been involved in the talks.
An Intel representative declined to comment for this story.
Chip features making it easier for Hollywood studios to protect content streamed to computers, as well as tools for detecting faces and analyzing audiences, are examples of current proprietary technology that Intel would like to see widely adopted.
While Intel’s processors power 80 percent of the world’s PCs, its chips have not achieved a significant presence in smartphones, tablets and other interconnected devices. Intel executives say they are eager to make sure its semiconductors play major roles in new markets with big growth potential.
According to a company source, ensuring that its chips become prevalent in home entertainment devices would be the driving reason behind any Internet TV service it launches.
Comcast, for instance, recently announced the gradual rollout of an Intel-based set-top box that customers can control with their smarpthones. Called “X1,” the platform will rely on data centers packed with high-end servers — which typically also use Intel chips.
Intel last year wound down a push to make chips specifically for “smart” TVs after Google TV, which it had backed, failed to make a major splash with consumers.
At the same time, it formed the Intel Media business group with a mandate of promoting digital content on Intel-based platforms.
According to sources, Intel is proposing to media companies a service could include both a bundle of TV channels similar to a normal cable package and an on-demand component.
Intel is intent on launching its video service before the end of the year, sources said. Original plans called for it to be launched by November, said one of the sources, but that deadline likely will not be met.
The biggest problem Intel faces is its inability to reach deals with major content providers, which are reluctant to license their networks and TV shows at rates that could undercut their larger established cable and satellite partners.
Intel wants to keep its costs down by licensing smaller packages of TV networks instead of replicating the basic cable TV bundle of more than 100 channels. But network owners won’t agree to smaller bundles without being paid a premium for the channels they choose to license.
“Why would I want you to take subscribers away from another distributor at a lower price?,” asked the same media executive who spoke with Reuters on condition of anonymity.
To change that mindset, Intel has assembled a team of television industry veterans well-schooled in negotiating distribution deals. Leading the group as head of Intel Media is Erik Huggers, who worked on media at Microsoft before going to the BBC. Huggers enlisted as an adviser Garth Ancier, who most recently served as president for BBC Worldwide America and before that worked at NBC, FOX, and Disney.
In addition to Huggers and Ancier, sources said, two other names prominent in TV circles have emerged as consultants for Intel: entertainment lawyer Ken Ziffren and former MTV executive Nicole Browning.
Browning, who previously negotiated on the other side of the table for MTV, has been handling some of the talks with partners, sources said.
Ziffren built his reputation representing Hollywood talent – he was instrumental in negotiating the deal that returned the “Tonight Show” to Jay Leno. Lesser known is his firm’s work negotiating deals for DirecTV’s video-on-demand service and carriage agreements for pay-TV network Starz.
But even that quartet of executives may not be enough to resolve an intractable problem, which is that content companies have little incentive to offer their channels to Intel at a discount and Intel is loathe to pay a premium.
“They’d love a better deal but they won’t get one,” said Needham & Co analyst Laura Martin of Intel. “The industry has always worked on volume discounts.”
Underscoring the difficulty insurgent tech companies face in securing content, Microsoft in January indefinitely postponed plans for its own online TV subscription service after deciding that licensing costs were too high, according to people familiar with those discussions.
And therein lies that dilemma that Intel and other insurgent over-the-top providers must tackle before their big plans can be realized.
Intel eyes Internet-based TV service: WSJ [Reuters, March 12, 2012]
Chipmaker Intel Corp is developing an Internet-based TV service for consumers and has been promoting it with media companies, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the effort.
The world’s top chipmaker plans to create a “virtual cable operator” that would offer media companies’ TV channels in a bundle over the Internet, the WSJ said.
An Intel spokeswoman declined to comment on the story.
The product could use an Intel set-top box and Intel’s name, and the chipmaker has told its potential partners it wants to start the service before the end of the year, the WSJ said.
In October, Intel wound down its efforts to make chips for digital “smart” TVs, although it continues to make chips for set-top boxes.
At the same time, it formed the Intel Media business group, headed by former BBC executive Erik Huggers, aimed at promoting digital content on Intel-based platforms.
Intel winds down smart TV business [Digital TV Europe, Oct 13, 2011]
Intel has ditched its move into internet connected TVs after closing its Digital Home Group.
The company will continue to supply chips to gateway devices and set-top boxes but will wind down its Digital Home business. Digital Home Group staff will be relocated to focus on netbooks, smartphones and tablet devices.
Erik Huggers, a high profile appointment from BBC Future Media in January, will remain at Intel where he will lead a new group called Intel Media.
Intel’s decision is reportedly due to a lack of demand for its chipsets for internet-enabled flatscreen TVs. Intel’s Atom CE4100 chips currently are used to power to a variety of devices including Sony’s Google TVs and the Logitech Revue Google TV-enabled set-top, but also the D-Link Boxee box as well as French ISP Free’s Freebox Révolution and Liberty Global’s Samsung-built Horizon set-tops.
Intel Looks Beyond Smartphones, Tablets & TVs [Information Express blog, Oct 19, 2011]
– Appoints Huggers to Found & Run New Intel Media Group
– Digital Home Group Merged into Netbook & Tablet Group
Intel, under the hands-on direction and guidance of CEO Paul Otellini, wants to look beyond smartphones, tablets, TVs and consumer PCs, way beyond, so it can plot a course for its future, not just for the near term. To that end, Intel has taken two giant steps.
It has created a new group called Intel Media that Erik Huggers will head. Huggers’ Digital Home Group, except for smart TVs, will be merged into the existing Netbooks and Tablets Group that Doug Davis will continue to operate. The smart TV operation is being closed down except for existing customers.
Intel sees the TV market as currently being a “footage per dollar” one. Consumers set a budget for what they can spend and then try to buy as big of a screen as possible for less than their budget. Evidence of that is 60-inch TVs that are going for $1,200 and a 42-inch LED smart TV from LG, this year’s model, being sold by Amazon for $650 including delivery to the home and the chip making giant Broadcom exiting the market a few weeks ago.
The economic downturn and increased competition has put brand name makers of TV sets under tremendous pricing pressure. Sony, once the king of high-end TV sets, has lost billions of dollars in the TV market and says it expects to lose millions more. Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi are working together with a government-backed fund to spin off and merge their LCD businesses. (Why not? The US did almost the same for US car makers with loans and advances for “green” cars.)
No one has cracked the smart TV platform yet and that’s why so many have popped up. In some respects Intel is doing what the smart TV industry will have to do at some point: stop and ask where we are going. It’s like the early days of MP3 players, Huggers said, when there were lots of MP3 players but no one was buying. Suddenly Apple entered the market with the iPod and the iTunes store and player, perfectly synched, and consumers started buying millions of its players and songs from iTunes.
Perhaps the straw that will break the camel’s back in TV pricing is that two major new factories are being built in China to make displays, according to Intel. The golden age for buying TV sets will continue but goodness help you if you’re trying to make them for a profit.
As long as the pricing pressure on TVs continues, TV set makers don’t want to add any feature they don’t have to — although it’s widely acknowledged that the tipping point for smart TVs has been passed. All TV sets will be smart, just like they all now have color.
There’s another reason for Intel to meld IPTVs and tablets. As Apple has clearly shown, successful CE makers will have one silicon and one ecosystem. Apple, for example, is not going to use a different silicon family or ecosystem for apps and online store than the ones it uses for iPhones and iPads if it were to launch a line of TV sets.
Let Us Praise the Dead Digital Home Group
The Digital Home Group had some notable successes handling the CE versions of the Atom processor:
– The Boxee Box
– The failed (through no fault of Intel) Google TV that Sony andLogitech made
– The IPTV STB Comcast ordered from Pace
– The snazzy Samsung STB that Liberty Global’s UPC ordered
The follow up on those and others like them will be handled in Intel’s Netbook and Tablet Group.
Intel sees a major opportunity in IPTV boxes — media processors and the gateway/home network businesses. It sees the synergy that’s emerging between tablets and smart TVs plus other smart consumer devices.
The move to all-IP infrastructures by the cablecos and the links between TV sets and tablets were loudly obvious at The Cable Show in Chicago.
The world’s telcos started with IP for their TV technology and the cablecos are rushing to catch up. The race to integrate tablets and TVs takes two forms:
– The use of the tablet as a second viewing device — a mobile TV within the home.
– The tablet and smartphone becomes a companion screen to what’s on the TV, one where viewers can chat with friends and the show’s stars about what they’re watching. It goes beyond allowing viewers to “click” on advertising links to learn more about a product. Ask any parent of teenagers about it.
Intel spokesman Claudine Mangano said, “We believe the future of TV is in IP delivery and multi-screen usages and are aligning our focus to these areas, and with other top corporate imperatives that include ultrabooks, smartphones and tablets.” She made it clear that Intel is not abandoning its existing smart TV customers.
Intel Media Looks Way Ahead
Intel Media is being founded to look beyond the current generation of smartphones, tablets, TVs, PCs and IPTV. It is mandated to answer, “What technology will be needed as the digital media industry progresses?”
Intel is not clear publicly on what Intel Media’s mandate is but in Erik Huggers it has put one of the industry’s leading digital media executives in charge. Huggers is not talking about it very much except to say Intel is very, very serious and ambitious in digital media and that he is super-excited by Otellini’s challenge.
Huggers was previously at the BBC as director of the its future media and technology division until Intel hired him earlier this year. Before that he worked for Microsoft in various digital media projects.
With impossible hurdles in front of him, Huggers led the technology dinosaur BBC into the digital media era. He oversaw the launch of the BBC’s iPlayer for catch up TV. Launched in 2007, it was years ahead of its time and still ahead of anything in the States.
He nearly led the BBC to the forefront in smart TV platforms with Project Canvass, now called YouView. It is an attempt to develop a standard smart TV platform that lets developers easily add apps and CE makers to easily add to their gear. Unfortunately the BBC Trust, which runs the BBC, decided to play politics instead of getting out of the way.
It forced the BBC to bring in seven other companies such as BT, each with a different opinion as to what should be done, to help develop and deploy YouView. Know the story about the committee and the camel? Well, that’s what happened. YouView is still not on the market and the rival HbbTV standard is becoming dominant on continental Europe.
A common smart TV platform would have benefitted consumers and CE makers just as Windows did for PC makers and consumers. Instead the world is awash in smart TV platforms — all incompatible and inconsistent in their user interface — and with some companies changing platforms from year-to-year.
The closest Huggers comes to revealing anything about Intel Media is to say, “For Intel to be successful in digital media, it must have the best access to digital content.” He then says that Amazon is showing the way with its Kindle Fire.
Intel wants Intel Media to sail out into the future of digital media and see what’s there. It has selected the best man for that task. Perhaps Huggers will again be called “director of future media and technology” as he was at the BBC.
Innovation in Media [Erik Huggers on Intel Capital, Global Summit 2011, Nov 15, 2011]
Huggers joins CMI supervisory board [CMI press release, Oct 27, 2011]
Consolidated Media Industries, the innovative European digital media group, is delighted to announce that Erik Huggers is joining its Supervisory Board. The Intel Executive and former BBC Future Media & Technology director, has an extensive international track record at the forefront of digital media innovation.
“Erik Huggers really understands how innovative technology is changing the behaviour of media consumers worldwide,” said CMI President and CEO Bart-Jan van Genderen. “He will play a key role in the realization of CMI’s international ambitions. Erik’s experience and vision on global media, innovative consumer services and digital content creation are of tremendous value to us. We’re delighted such a talented person is joining our Board to share his insights and expertise.”
“CMI is one of the most digitally savvy media enterprises in Europe” said Erik Huggers, Corporate Vice President of Intel Media. “I feel privileged to join this team and look forward to working closely with the other Board members during this important phase of CMI’s growth.”
Erik Huggers Career
Erik Huggers is currently Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Intel Media and a member of Intel’s Management Committee. Erik’s mission is to establish Intel as a global leader in consumer software and digital media services.
Prior to his position at Intel, Huggers has worked with Endemol Entertainment as Director of Business Development for its interactive division. He then joined Microsoft, where he led the global business development for Windows Media Technologies.
He joined the BBC in 2007 and became a member of the BBC’s Executive Board. He was appointed Director of BBC Future Media & Technology and during his tenure was responsible for the successful roll-out of BBC Online, BBC iPlayer, Mobile and Red Button services. All these technologies were designed to help audiences enjoy easy access to BBC content, on demand and on any device. Huggers also held responsibility for managing the Broadcast and Enterprise Technology group, BBC Archives, as well as leading the Research & Development department.
Intel Names BBC Executive to Lead Digital Home Effort [Intel Newsroom post, Jan 18, 2011]
Intel Corporation today announced that Erik Huggers will serve as corporate vice president and general manager of the company’s Digital Home Group and become a member of Intel’s Management Committee. Huggers is director of the BBC’s Future Media & Technology division and serves as a member of the BBC’s Executive Board. He replaces interim general manager Brad Daniels.
“Erik Huggers’ proven track record of managing a variety of digital media businesses will be an extraordinary asset to Intel’s digital home initiative,” said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. “Erik’s background and vision for delivering new platforms, interactive content and services to consumers are an outstanding fit for Intel, and I am thrilled to welcome such a talented person to drive this key strategic business for Intel. We look forward to him joining our team.”
Huggers joined the BBC in 2007 and is responsible for delivering BBC content over the Internet, interactive TV and mobile, helping audiences enjoy programming using a wide variety of devices from any location. He is also responsible for managing the BBC’s Broadcast and Enterprise Technology Group and BBC Archives, as well as leading the BBC’s Research and Development activities.
Huggers has long been at the forefront of digital media innovation. Prior to joining the BBC, he was with Microsoft where he led the global business development for Windows Media Technologies. Before joining Microsoft, Huggers worked with Endemol Entertainment as director of business development for its interactive division.
“I look forward to joining one of the leading technology companies in the world,” said Huggers. “This is a tremendous opportunity to build a new business for silicon, software and services to unlock the potential of high-quality connected media experiences in the living room.”
Intellect Consumer Electronics Conference 2011 – Keynote presentation by Intel’s Eric Huggers [IntellectTechnology YouTube channel, Aug 2, 2011]
One on One with Erik Huggers [Intel Free Press, Aug 18, 2011]
Former BBC executive heading up Intel’s consumer electronics efforts on management, smart TV and life.
When Intel went looking for a new leader to replace departing executive Eric Kim as head of the Digital Home Group, they went to someone who knew very little about silicon.
But through his work at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as director of the Future Media & Technology organization, and Microsoft, where he drove a wide variety of digital media initiatives, Erik Huggers is no stranger to digital media innovation.
In the following Q&A, Huggers, a native of The Netherlands, talks about why he joined Intel, how the company needs to get into the heads of digitally savvy teenagers, and why his new user experience design team is in London is a key asset.
Since joining Intel 4 months ago, have you ever asked yourself, “What have I gotten myself into here?”
On day one. I’ll tell you the honest truth. Let me first say, I do not regret joining Intel for a second. I’ve been overwhelmed by the warm reception I’ve gotten.
When I was at the BBC as an executive board member in a media and entertainment company, you get a certain set of privileges when it comes to office spaces.
I had a proper executive suite on the top of the building, lots of windows, a living room set up in my office, projectors, televisions. That’s how it’s done for those companies for the last 90 years.
When I arrived here on day one and they showed me to my cube on floor five [in the Robert Noyce Building of Intel’s Santa Clara, Calif. headquarters], I literally thought, what have I done?
I’ll adapt, don’t get me wrong. But the delta on day one between the executive suite and my new cube (laughs). I had a bit of detox to go through, I think.
So when I moved [in 2007] from Microsoft to the BBC I had people in front of BBC Television Centre dressed up in these chemical nuclear suits picketing against my appointment.
At Intel, I’ve only been warmly welcomed by colleagues and folks around the business. And so far, it’s been an amazing 4 months.
During your short tenure at Intel, have you seen areas where we can improve?
As someone who’s been here for 4 months, I don’t claim to have tons of wisdom. I was surprised by the number of steering groups and meetings that happened. Some of these meetings are like professional debating societies, where there are armies of Intel people talking about incredible minutia. I would’ve thought we would be fleeter of foot.
In these meetings, I am surprised by the number of people doing email. If you don’t want to be in a meeting, get out. Don’t do mail. Close your laptop.
One of the things that I really learned being in the media industry directly and indirectly for 15, 20 years now, is that what those industries do really well is put the audience at the heart of everything they do. I don’t think that’s what we do today.
What we talk about is valid stuff like the next process node, or putting more transistors on a die, or can we do more gigahertz or flips or flops or whatever we measure, and we get really excited — for good reasons. But what’s more important is: What does this stuff enable for the consumer?
And I’m not talking about the people who buy our technologies and build end-products. I mean the person who buys the end-product. How is what we build valuable to a 15-year-old who’s completely connected?
We need that hardcore technical super-engineering capability that we have in spades here. But we also need the audience insight.
Finally, I’m a big supporter of our investments in software development, and I think that’s absolutely critical. We need to attract the best possible engineering talent in order to take a bit more control over our own destiny as a company.
Can you talk more about user experience?
Everyone talks about user experience at Intel these days. I’ve come to the conclusion that most people don’t know what they’re talking about.
We have great talent inside Intel, don’t get me wrong. Genevieve Bell and the team [Interaction and Experience Research (IXR) group in Intel Labs] clearly get it.
We need to bring top talent that can execute on that user experience and design piece into Intel so that starts to influence our culture, our way of thinking, how we think about products, the audience. So, we just hired a user experience design crew in London.
Here in the Silicon Valley, when it comes to those sorts of skills, it’s impossible for us to — well not impossible — but it’s very difficult for us to compete, because you’re competing with Facebook, Apple, Google. We don’t have that same sort of competitive situation in the UK right now, and traditionally the UK has been a hub for design talent.
Plus, the people that I’ve been able to attract I know very well, because they worked in my organization. These are the guys that have designed industry award-winning services across television, telephone, tablets, PCs.
I think bringing that expertise into Intel will influence the direction of travel for whatever we do in next-generation silicon, next-generation software, next-generation services, so that we start with that audience in mind, and then we work our way back.
So in 2 years, where do you see smart TVs and Intel’s play?
My hope is that our play in smart TV is going to be more than just silicon. Silicon is absolutely a critical element to get right, and I would argue that the silicon engineering team has performed miracles.
Just having that platform in your living room means nothing if there’s no content, no services, no applications, if there isn’t a vibrant ecosystem of third party ISVs and media companies who target that platform as a means of reaching the consumer and building a viable business.
So is DHG only about smart TV?
I think it’s important to realize that we have some pretty interesting early momentum. Getting Comcast to work with us is a huge milestone. Getting other service providers to take us seriously, like Free in France, a wonderful success story, and Sony on Google TV. As Intel, we’re going beyond the PC. We have early glimpses of what that world could look like in DHG. We have shipping products, we have customers.
My entire career has been dedicated to digital media. And consumers do not care whether it’s consumed on a TV, a PC, a phone or a tablet. It doesn’t matter.
Consumers today are hungry for taking control over their digital media consumption.
And so to me, DHG is not just about television. DHG can potentially help the rest of Intel with our digital media ambitions.
How would people at the BBC and Microsoft describe your management style?
In some cases, if a project is going completely off the rails, maybe the management style is slightly more autocratic and directive and hands-on and micromanaging. In other cases, you have a great leadership team in place and they’re ticking along quite well, it’s much more coaching and supporting and helping resolve blocking issues. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a single style.
Dutch people are very direct, and they call it as they see it, and I think that’s very important.
Is there some area of management that you’ve had to improve upon?
No one’s perfect. Everyone has opportunities to improve their day to day work, the way they interact with others. I think everyone always has to work on communication style and over-communicating, because just because you think something doesn’t mean that everyone automatically understands what you’re saying.
What I’ve found is that when I get bored of the message, that’s when it really starts to ring through with other people.
Who was your best manager?
Two individuals that I have in mind were both entrepreneurial, self-starters, not afraid of managing up or managing down.
They also were able to create teamwork, group spirit, and didn’t necessarily pit their best people against each other. A bit of creative tension is good, but animosity and negativity, that’s simply not good.
What made you decide to come to Intel?
[President and CEO] Paul Otellini convinced me that he was absolutely, completely, and utterly dead serious about moving Intel beyond the PC.
The PC was going to remain critically important as were servers, but he was dead-set on making sure that we as an organization were going to be successful in phones, in tablets, in television, and whatever other form or factors comes along. We’re going to move from a PC company to be a compute company.
How do you balance work with life?
I’m passionate about what I do. This is not for me about a paycheck. I want to be part of an organization and contribute to an organization and lead an organization that has the ambition to change the world, change the industry.
When you’re mission-driven like that, putting in the long hours doesn’t matter. You’re passionate about it, you love what you do, you enjoy it, that’s what gets you out of bed every day. And so, work/life balance is tough, but I’m fortunate that I’ve got a brilliant wife who’s very understanding and forgiving.
How do you relieve stress?
What I do is I talk all day with customers, with partners, with employees, with colleagues. To relieve some stress, I like to be quiet. Maybe simple stuff like watch a movie or go for a walk.
What are your hobbies, besides traveling?
I’m passionate about technology, keeping up-to-speed with the latest and greatest of what’s happening on the web, what’s happening with consumer electronics. I get the latest widgets and gizmos and try them out.
My wife is a Formula 1 fan, and because of her, I get kind of forced into it.
Microsoft entertainment as an affordable premium offering to be built on the basis of the Xbox console and Xbox LIVE services
OR create interactive content as a premium offering together with partners using Kinect technology as a starter OR moving Microsoft Xbox 360 to ‘entertainment console’ OR leaving the good quality commodities to others and going for a premium brand with Xbox as well OR Xbox 360 and Microsoft’s Gaming Future – D: Dive Into Media [WSJDigitalNetwork YouTube channel, Feb 12, 2013]
[04:26] “Our focus is to really transition [Microsoft’s Xbox] to an entertainment device,” Nancy Tellem said Monday at All Things D’s D: Dive Into Media in Laguna Niguel, Calif. “We have thousands of movies, sports events, live events.” [04:34]
[05:14] “We’re looking at a whole variety of types of content. What I call it premium, which is aligned with HBO and Showtime quality, networking cable quality” she said. “Then, of course we’re looking at alternative, reality, live events. All of the premium. It’s a premium service. Also we are looking at each content as what it would be best. Whether in format, whether in time. So we are not constrained in the same way traditional media distribution companies are, having to produce something at certain length. We have 46 million global users all connected. With all the premium service we offer may be behind, being part of the the membership.” [06:05]
In addition to producing content internally, Tellem said she was also looking at partnering with “traditional media partners, studios and creatives.”
“[The] Xbox brand stands for the best, most interactive, most amazing entertainment you can get,” Yusuf Mehdi said, comparing it to low-cost media streamers like the Roku. [08:35] “Our current and future investment is about doing the things that are big and premium. Let really do things that are amazing for customers.” [08:43]
Would you become a pay-TV provider? [09:18] “For questions like this it always goes back to what do we feel we can really be best in the world we are doing, what’s our value add” he said. “Our value add is not being another distributor of content that comes from many good sources today, it’s about adding that level of interactivity, creativity, fidelity that makes it come alive.” [09:36]
[12:46] Nancy Tellem: “I think one of the perfect example of more live events as you’re looking at, this is more hypothetical as obviously we’re not there yet, but certainly if you do a comedy show, and you can actually from a transactional standpoint know where the comedians going to be performing, buy tickets, that’s an example. You can also, not just from a Twitter standpoint, but actually share with your friends, actually experience it together. He or she may be on the other side of the United States or in anthor country, Ireland or wherever, that’s kind of the real time experience that really is quite unique. We’ve already done a joint venture with Sesame Street where from children’s programming the kids can actually interact with the video itself and have a real interactive experience with …” [13:50]
She saw episodes ranging from as short as 10 minutes to an hour and a half, multiple episodes being produced, and using Xbox’s interactive capabilities, be it the voice-and-gesture-enabled Kinect or the second-screen SmartGlass app.
Xbox Execs Talk Momentum and the Future of TV [Microsoft feature story, Feb 11, 2013]
Living room entertainment is in its largest evolutionary period since the transitions of black-and-white to color, and from standard definition to high definition. The Xbox 360, alongside Microsoft’s entertainment industry partners, is at the forefront of that evolution as one of the only devices that brings all forms of entertainment together in one device, while making access to content easy and providing new ways to interact with existing programming. In 2012, the amount of TV and other entertainment offerings on Xbox almost tripled, now surpassing 100 custom, voice-controlled TV and entertainment apps on Xbox LIVE.
“Yes, we started with video games, but we have been on a journey to make Xbox the center of every household’s entertainment,” says Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business.
Today Mehdi, along with Nancy Tellem, president of entertainment and digital media at Microsoft, participated in a D: Dive into Media session, facilitated by Peter Kafka, to discuss that journey and the opportunities that lie ahead. Mehdi revealed some new data that illustrates how entertainment usage on the Xbox has exploded during its living room transformation, and Tellem shared more about her newly created Los Angeles-based Xbox Entertainment Studios.
Today, there are more than 76 million Xbox 360 consoles around the world. That’s three times the number of original Xbox consoles sold. And a Kinect sensor now sits next to roughly one third of those Xbox 360 consoles; the company has sold 24 million Kinect sensors since launch.
Social has been an important part of Xbox from the beginning, and that’s true today more than ever. The Xbox LIVE community has grown to 46 million members, a 15 percent growth since last year.
2012 also marked the Xbox’s biggest year for entertainment and games usage. Users enjoyed more than 18 billion hours of entertainment in 2012, with entertainment app usage growing 57 percent year over year globally. Last year in the United States, Xbox LIVE Gold members averaged 87 hours per month on Xbox, an increase of 10 percent year over year.
Those numbers strongly indicate that consumers enjoy all kinds of entertainment via Xbox, and Mehdi believes the future of entertainment is even brighter, as Microsoft plans to keep the momentum rolling.
“We believe that Xbox is being used by more people in the household, during more hours in the day and for more forms of entertainment,” he says. “People are using Xbox in the morning to work out with the Kinect Nike+ Fitness program, kids are watching cartoons, families are enjoying movies, and of course people are playing blockbuster games like ‘Halo 4.’”
The Future of TV Is Interactive and More Engaging
According to Mehdi, Xbox has something in the living room no one else has – a large installed base of devices already in the home, connected to TVs, and over half of those are already linked together, delivering amazing personalized and social entertainment experiences via the Xbox LIVE network.
Microsoft believes that the future of TV and entertainment is one where the TV becomes interactive and more engaging, Mehdi and Tellem explain. Microsoft sees that viewers want to do more with their TV shows, movies, sports and other forms of entertainment.
“We believe that we are at the start of the next wave of truly interactive entertainment,” Tellem says.
Tellem is spearheading a new L.A.-based studio called Xbox Entertainment Studios, where the mission is to create true interactive content for Xbox and other devices that will change the way entertainment content is experienced and delivered. Tellem also now oversees live event programming for Xbox LIVE. Xbox has had success with live events such as the Elections 2012 Hub on Xbox LIVE, which aired the presidential debates with an added interactive polling capability. Viewers submitted 3 million answers to on-screen questions during the live telecast of one of the debates. More recently, Xbox aired an interactive red carpet experience for this year’s Grammy Awards and will be doing the same for the 85th Academy Awards.
“When I worked in traditional TV, we would find ourselves saying things like ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could add an interactive aspect directly into the show and engage directly with the viewers?’” says Tellem. “With Xbox, that is possible today.”
Xbox already offers content such Kinect Sesame Street TV, which blurs the lines between traditional linear TV show and interactive experience, where a kid can jump into their beloved Sesame Street and throw coconuts at Grover.
But it’s not just about new types of entertainment; it’s also about new business models and new engagement opportunities for advertisers. Mehdi called the launch of NUads – a new ad format that harnesses Kinect and natural user interface – an important moment for TV advertising. NUads deliver what is most scarce to advertisers today: consumer engagement. NUads enable natural interactivity using the simplicity of a spoken word or the wave of a hand. The first wave of NUads, which launched last fall with interactive polling, saw a record level of consumer engagement with 37 percent of people responding. With this model, passive TV advertising is transformed into engaging and actionable experiences.
Pioneering the Future of TV
In addition to Xbox Entertainment Studios creating content that will highlight what’s possible and demonstrate the capability of the Xbox platform, Microsoft will continue to partner with content creators, networks, aggregators and advertisers to “pioneer the future of TV,” says Tellem.
During 2013, Microsoft is planning to launch more than 40 new voice-controlled, customized TV and entertainment apps on Xbox.
“We want to partner with the industry to bring entertainment into a new era,” she says. “It’s an era when interactive entertainment becomes the greatest form of all entertainment – and we couldn’t be more excited to play a part in it.”
Next week, the Xbox team heads to Los Angeles for E3. Having recently joined the team, I have the benefit of fresh perspective, and one of the things that has struck me is the amount of opportunities we have ahead.
Before joining Xbox, I had the fortune of being a part of some incredible periods of innovation and incubation such as in the early days of Windows and Internet Explorer, and, more recently, with the creation of Bing. I have also had a great passion for gaming and entertainment, and watched the growth of MSN into one of the world’s largest media sites on the Internet.
Similar to many of those experiences, the Xbox has arrived at an important inflection point in its growth and development. In particular, in the last year, the Xbox has transcended from a gaming console to a broad entertainment device inclusive of movies, TV, music and sports. I will give you an example of what that means.
A few weeks back, my family and I decided to escape a rainy Sunday afternoon by watching a movie. The need for indoor entertainment in Seattle in May is (sadly) no surprise, but what really struck me was the way my son went about finding a movie. After my children finished a heated rock-paper-scissors battle to determine who got to choose what we would watch, my son sprinted to the Xbox 360. He didn’t first turn on the TV or go to our relatively hefty collection of DVDs. For him, the Xbox is now the gateway to what he wants to watch.
Now, my household may be a little biased, but my son isn’t alone. Xbox will always mean games, but for tens of millions of people around the globe, it also means music, TV, movies and more. Xbox LIVE subscribers now spend an average of 84 hours per month on the console. For comparison, the average American watches a little more than 150 hours of TV in the same period. The more entertainment options we add, the more time people spend on Xbox. In the last six months, we’ve grown our entertainment library on Xbox to include more than 60 voice controlled applications and more than 200,000 premium movies and TV shows.
As a result of people engaging with Xbox more frequently for more entertainment activities, we have been able to defy gravity compared to where consoles traditionally are at this point in their lifecycle. Sales for Xbox 360 in year five were greater than in year four, sales in year six were greater than in year five, and sales in year seven were greater than in year six.
Since 2005—when we launched Xbox 360—we have sold 67 million consoles and have generated more than $56 billion at retail, and we’re still going strong in our seventh year. With 47 percent share of the current-generation console market in the U.S., we are hitting our stride largely as a result of the success of Kinect for Xbox 360 (19 million sold worldwide) and the flood of new entertainment options through Xbox LIVE (40 million members worldwide).
To date, our success with Xbox has been led by a box in the living room. Moving forward, Xbox will go beyond the box to reach all new families of devices. Just as Xbox has grown to mean more than just games, it also is more than just a console. This year, Xbox becomes the premium entertainment service for Microsoft. Whether on your PC, tablet, TV or phone, Xbox will be a gateway to the best in music and video, your favorite games and instant access to your friends. With the launch of Windows 8, we’ll bring Xbox entertainment to everyone. With Xbox on Windows 8 devices, we rapidly accelerate the reach of Xbox entertainment from more than 60 million people to hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
We understand that entertainment has become a multi-screen experience where you and your friends are watching TV, listening to music, and playing games while interacting with your tablets and phones in new ways. We’ve got ideas for making all the entertainment you love more personal, interactive and social across the devices you love—and on the phenomenal Windows 8 devices that are to come.
You’ll see the first of that next week at E3 where we will showcase the very best of Xbox. We’ll unveil new games, show new ways to enjoy the entertainment you love and, as always, we’ll have a few surprises to share!
We can’t wait. We kick things off on Monday, June 4 at 9:30 a.m. PT. You can watch us on live TV though our partnership with Spike TV, on the Web (Xbox.com), and for the first time ever – on Xbox LIVE.
Posted by Yusuf Mehdi
Chief Marketing Officer, Interactive Entertainment Division, Microsoft
Below is a post from Yusuf Mehdi, Chief Marketing Officer for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Division, announcing details about a major new update to the Xbox dashboard and the launch of Xbox SmartGlass, which brings games, music, TV and movie experiences off the console and onto your phone, tablet and PC.
Steve Ballmer recently stated that 2012 will be “the most epic year in Microsoft’s history.”
Not only do we have major releases coming to the PC, tablet and phone, but we have worked extremely hard to ensure those screens work together with the other major screen in peoples’ lives, the television. People often call out the role Microsoft design style is playing in this new wave of experiences from the company. Whether you are using a phone, PC, tablet or console that is running our software you have an experience that is distinctively Microsoft, elegant, intuitive and integrated.
Now, there is another common thread that ties all of these experiences together – Xbox entertainment.
Today marks the beginning of two major launches for Xbox entertainment.
First, on top of what is the greatest year for games in Xbox history, beginning today a brand new update will roll out broadly for every Xbox 360 owner in the world that brings entirely new TV entertainment experiences. We are bringing the Web to the TV like never before with Internet Explorer, launching a brand new music service, and making it even easier to find the entertainment you love using Kinect and Bing voice search. This release is the next step in our journey to transform Xbox 360 from a games console to an all-in-one entertainment system.
Second, we are bringing Xbox Entertainment off the console to your phone, tablet and PC to deliver great games, music, TV and movie experiences. And as a part of this effort with Xbox SmartGlass we are going to introduce amazing multi-screen entertainment experiences.
Back in June, we talked about how this is the year Xbox becomes the premium entertainment service for Microsoft. While our success with Xbox to date has been led by a box in the living room, we’re now reaching individuals in new and exciting ways across PCs, tablets and phones. Xbox will be a gateway to the best in movies, TV shows, music, sports, your favorite games and instant access to your friends, wherever you are.
This week, with the launch of Windows 8, followed shortly thereafter by Windows Phone 8 devices, we’ll flip the switch on that transformation with the launches of four new experiences that make entertainment better on every screen in your life:
At that moment, we will rapidly accelerate the reach of Xbox entertainment from more than 67 million consoles to literally hundreds of millions of devices worldwide. Also this week, we will take our biggest step ever to increase our global reach, extending Xbox entertainment experiences to 222 countries from 35.
We realize some may ask, “Why are all these apps called Xbox, isn’t Xbox just a game console?” For us the decision to have Xbox stand for our broad entertainment efforts was a simple one. It is a natural evolution of our consumer offering. Even as Xbox has become the number one game console in the world, and continued to deliver arguably the best line up of games in our history, we have seen the use of Xbox broaden to watching TV/movies and listening to music.
During the last couple of years, we have grown our global entertainment portfolio to more than 62 TV and entertainment partners. Our Xbox LIVE subscribers now spend more time enjoying entertainment apps than multiplayer games. And this is occurring even when multiplayer gaming is also growing on our console.
Also, we live in a multi-device world. The millions of people enjoying entertainment on their Xbox are doing so within arm’s reach of another device. We believe your entertainment should travel seamlessly across devices, that devices should work together to make your entertainment more accessible and create entirely new experiences. We knew we needed a single name for all entertainment experiences from our company and nothing means entertainment at Microsoft more than Xbox.
Xbox SmartGlass is a great example of our approach to multi-screen entertainment. With SmartGlass we are focusing on two key objectives:
- Make discovering and controlling your entertainment simple, no matter the device you’re using; and
- Ensure you get more from your entertainment experience.
Xbox SmartGlass is a free downloadable app that takes your Windows 8 and RT tablets and PCs, Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android devices, and converts them into smart second screens for the entertainment you are enjoying through your Xbox.
Today, we are unveiling our first wave of experiences and partners for Xbox SmartGlass. They are the first of many to become available over the coming months.
Navigate your Entertainment – Your phone and tablet will become the best remote controls in your house. Use the touch screen on your smartphone or tablet to control your Xbox 360, and use your devices to pause, rewind or advance entertainment.
TV & Movies – With Xbox Video, start a TV show or movie on your Windows 8 tablet and finish it on the big screen through Xbox 360; see the names of cast and crew for the film you are watching and discover related films. To give you one example of what you can expect, coming next season, HBO GO’s “Game of Thrones” will offer groundbreaking Xbox SmartGlass experiences.
Sports – While watching the game, use a second screen to follow real-time stats, player bios, news and highlights you may have missed. All of this and more will be available for NBA Game Time, ESPN and UFC in the coming months.
Music – Control your Xbox Music experience on the TV using your smartphone or tablet, discover related artists and songs, cue up additional music, read artist bios and more.
Internet Explorer for Xbox – The Web comes to TV like never before with Xbox 360 and Xbox SmartGlass. With your smartphone or tablet, pan or pinch and zoom to explore the Web on the largest and best screen in the house, enjoy easy text entry with the keyboard on your tablet or phone, and then move your browser back to your device to take it on the go.
Games – Get more from your game when you can use a second screen. Turn you phone or tablet into a virtual GPS in Forza: Horizon. Don’t stop the dance party in Dance Central 3 by going back to the menu to choose your next song. Instead, queue it up on your tablet or smartphone. In HomeRun Stars, use SmartGlass on your favorite device to throw a surprise pitch to your friend up at bat in front of Kinect. See detailed stats on how you are progressing in Halo 4, or check up on friends. All of these features and much more will be available when your favorite game extends to multiple screens.
And we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. In the future, new games will be created, TV shows and movies will be re-imagined, and sports will be broadcast from the ground up with Xbox SmartGlass in mind.
Moreover, we are making it easier than ever to buy an Xbox 360 console. Starting this fall, we are rolling out the “Entertainment for All” pricing plan that enables you to buy an Xbox 360 for $99 when you sign up for 2 years of Xbox LIVE. Entertainment For All Plan will include U.S. retailers: Best Buy, GameStop, Walmart, Toys R Us and the Microsoft Store.
With these new technologies, services and pricing, Xbox entertainment has never been:
- More simple and engaging
- Available on so many new devices; and
- More affordable.
So, yes, this is certainly an epic year for Microsoft. But more importantly, it’s an epic time for all of you that love amazing entertainment.
Then there is certainly Nancy Tellem:
Microsoft Names Longtime Entertainment Executive Nancy Tellem Entertainment & Digital Media President [Microsoft press release, Sept 18, 2012]
Microsoft Corp. today announced that Nancy Tellem, former president of CBS Network Television Entertainment Group, has joined Microsoft as Entertainment & Digital Media president.
In her role reporting to Phil Spencer, corporate vice president, Microsoft Studios, Tellem will oversee the launch of a newly created production studio in Los Angeles that will develop interactive and linear content for Xbox and other devices. In addition to running the production studio, she will help spearhead the company’s efforts to turn Xbox into a destination where consumers can enjoy all their entertainment in one place.
Tellem and her group will collaborate with the creative community to develop unique, compelling storytelling experiences for the Xbox brand. More than just a gaming console, Xbox has evolved into a consumer destination for the world’s most popular TV, movies, music and sports content. With a roster of more than 65 entertainment apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, MLB.TV, ESPN, YouTube and VEVO,global video consumption on Xbox LIVE has increased 140 percent during the past year. In addition, this September, Microsoft will introduce 2-way TV experiences from renowned entertainment partners Sesame Workshop and National Geographic that will further expand the Xbox platform beyond games, offering entertainment options for everyone in the family.
“I am excited to be a part of the continued evolution of Xbox from a gaming console to the hub of every household’s entertainment experience,” Tellem said. “The Xbox is already a consumer favorite, and we now have a tremendous opportunity to transform it into the center of all things entertainment — from games, music and fitness to news, sports, live events, television series and movies — so consumers have one destination for all their entertainment needs. I look forward to building a studio team that embraces the challenges of creating true interactive content that the Xbox platform supports and to work with talent to create content that will change the way entertainment content is experienced and delivered.”
“Whether you are voting for your favorite contestant on a TV show or playing a game, entertainment is becoming more personalized and social, driven by the Internet and new tools to interact with content,” Spencer said. “We are embarking on a new chapter with the creation of a studio dedicated to making original interactive and linear content, and I’m excited to have Nancy leading this effort.”
“With her impressive background in entertainment innovation, I am thrilled to have Nancy join our team,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business Group at Microsoft. “Under her direction, we look forward to building and extending our creative offerings from the living room to all your devices.”
Tellem has been a CBS executive since 1997, most recently as senior adviser to CEO Leslie Moonves, where she explored business and strategic opportunities — domestic and international — involving content partnerships, new production models, emerging media and technologies. As president of the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group, Tellem supervised programming, development, production, business affairs and operations. She oversaw the network’s prime-time, daytime, late-night and Saturday morning lineups (with shows like “CSI,” “Survivor,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The King of Queens”). Before joining CBS, Tellem was executive vice president of Business and Financial Affairs for Warner Bros. Television and was part of the team that launched the landmark programs “Friends” and “ER.”
In 2006, Tellem was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame for her contributions to the electronic arts. In 2008, Forbes ranked her 32nd on its list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” and Entertainment Weekly named her the third-smartest person in TV for quickly restoring CBS’s entire primetime lineup after the 100-day writers’ strike. That same year, the National Association of Television Program Executives awarded Tellem a Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award in recognition of her “extraordinary passion, leadership, independence and vision in the process of creating TV programming.”
Xbox is Microsoft’s premier entertainment service for the TV, phone, PC and tablet. It’s home to the best and broadest games, as well as one of the world’s largest libraries of music, movies, TV and sports. With Kinect, Xbox 360 transformed gaming and entertainment in the living room with a whole new way to play games and find entertainment — no controller required. More information about Xbox can be found online at http://www.xbox.com.
Nancy Tellem: Why Microsoft’s Looking for TV Hits on XBox Live (Q&A) [Hollywood Reporter, Jan 4, 2013]
The entertainment and digital media president on why she left CBS, how she’d handle Angus T. Jones and why she’s not into violent entertainment: “I don’t like blood.”
Nancy Tellem, who had been a consultant to CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves for nearly three years after stepping down as president of the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group in 2009, became entertainment and digital media president at Microsoft on Sept. 18. One of her primary mandates: to create a TV studio in Los Angeles during the next year, where she and her staff will make original content for the 40 million customers worldwide who subscribe to Xbox Live, which already features fare from Netflix, ESPN, HBO Go, Amazon Prime and other providers. Tellem, 58, a mother of three sons who is married to sports agent Arn Tellem — and who spends what little free time she has bicycling, reading and doing yoga — spoke with THR at her temporary office at Wasserman Media Group in Los Angeles.
Nancy Tellem, who had been a consultant to CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves for nearly three years after stepping down as president of the CBS Network Television Entertainment Group in 2009, became entertainment and digital media president at Microsoft on Sept. 18. One of her primary mandates: to create a TV studio in Los Angeles during the next year, where she and her staff will make original content for the 40 million customers worldwide who subscribe to Xbox Live, which already features fare from Netflix, ESPN, HBO Go, Amazon Prime and other providers. Tellem, 58, a mother of three sons who is married to sports agent Arn Tellem — and who spends what little free time she has bicycling, reading and doing yoga — spoke with THR at her temporary office at Wasserman Media Group in Los Angeles.
The Hollywood Reporter: Is it scary to move from traditional TV to a tech company?
Tellem: For me, it was a natural next step. I was always interested in where the next distribution platform was happening and was very engaged with talking to tech companies.
THR: Xbox Live already gives users access to tons of video. Why do you need original content?
Tellem: Incredible content really raises the brand — look at Mad Men with AMC. So original programming gives us an opportunity to kind of brand the Xbox. And looking at the technology the Xbox console provides, we are really a bit ahead of the more traditional media companies in having the ability to develop and produce interactive content.
THR: What types of shows do you plan to make?
Tellem: We’re looking at all forms of content for every member of the family. So that certainly covers live events, reality, game shows, documentaries and scripted comedy or drama. We’ll cover it all. We’re figuring this out as we go. But we certainly intend to produce things with high production value, with the same breadth of storytelling that you see on traditional TV.
THR: Interactive TV hasn’t taken off yet. What are you going to do differently to make it popular?
Tellem: We’ve all tried to produce multiplatform programming, but the difficulty has been that you don’t have the technology to support it. This is where Microsoft and Xbox are in a unique position. The technology is there, not only for the audience that just wants to watch passively, but also for those who want to engage the content more, whether by mobile, tablet or on TV.
THR: Will you be able to attract major TV talent to make shows for a tech company?
Tellem: I certainly hope so. I know that before my arrival, they were able to attract a certain level of great talent. I invite everyone to come and listen to what we want to do. There’s a great playground we have here.
THR: What agents and talent have you spoken with so far?
Tellem: I’m somewhat overwhelmed by the interest, but I can’t say. It’s a little too early.
THR: Have you made any major hires yet?
Tellem: Not yet. We’re obviously taking advantage of all the existing people we have in Seattle, but at the same time we want to build a top-notch staff in L.A. for what will certainly be a full-fledged production studio.
THR: Why did you leave CBS?
Tellem: It’s probably the toughest decision I’ve made in my career. I’m very, very close to Leslie and close to all the executives there. We’re like a wonderful family. I just felt that I had done the job, and hopefully I did it well, and there were new challenges I wanted to take on. I wanted to be a little less comfortable, and I was always so intrigued with where television was going.
THR: What exactly did you do as an adviser to Moonves?
Tellem: I’ve always been interested in looking at the next generation of television. In the early days, I ran CBS.com before CBS acquired CNet, and I initiated the mobile strategy. So I’d try to embrace what’s on the horizon. I was also interested in the global production model, so I did a lot of that, going to places like India and exploring.
THR: Can you give me an example of a crisis at CBS when you were there and how you handled it?
Tellem: I don’t want to be specific, but there are situations where talent has personal issues and it’s like an athlete: Do you throw them out in the field if it hurts them but helps the team? Ultimately you have to think about the well-being of the talent. I guess I’m referring to the Charlie Sheen, Angus T. Jones type of situations. But among the executives, it should be a collaboration, and we should listen to different points of views to come to a conclusion we can live with while also protecting the show.
THR: How would you handle the controversy over Two and a Half Men star Jones’ plea for people to stop watching the show because it’s “filth”?
Tellem: I was just thinking this morning that it’s a good thing I’m not at CBS. Nina [Tassler, CBS Entertainment president] and Leslie and the Warner Bros. people are handling it appropriately. Who knows what motivates these things, but I think his apology was correct. We’re all blessed to be in this business.
THR: Is any part of traditional TV in jeopardy because of advancing technologies?
Tellem: It’s certainly disruptive. We always compared ourselves with the music industry and said we had to be much more nimble and accepting of change. The TV industry has done just that.
THR: How does the industry combat DVRs and ad-skipping?
Tellem: With VOD and embracing the whole concept of giving consumers their content where and when they want it. And there have been studies — and I do this also — where I watch the commercials because I forget I’m watching a recorded show. Ratings aren’t reflecting what’s really happening. It’s interesting, though, that when you download something, you end up watching the commercials, because you’ve made the decision to watch it free with ads instead of paying for it without ads. Because of that proposition and the intimate relationship people have with their computers and tablets and such, people are accepting commercials and watching them more.
THR: What was your favorite CBS show with which you were involved?
Tellem: Oh my God. You know, it’s like, as Leslie would always say, “They’re all our children.” But obviously, the things that made a huge difference in turning around that network were shows like CSIand Survivor and, my gosh, Everybody Loves Raymond.
THR: What do you like to watch now on TV?
Tellem: I’m quite enthralled with Game of Thrones. I’ve been watching Newsroom a lot on HBO. I love Homeland, of course, because everyone does, and Modern Family. I hate to admit it, but I agreed with most of the Emmy Awards this year. I love television. I spent the last 25 years in it, you know?
THR: Now that you’re at Microsoft, is there pressure to become a gamer?
Tellem: I love FIFA and I play Madden and golf games, and I think it’s due to the influence of my kids. I was aware of Halo, Call of Duty and the shooter games, but I didn’t play Halo until four days ago. It’s really amazing, but shooter games aren’t my cup of tea.
THR: Do you have a political problem with them?
Tellem: It’s funny. Like in television, we’re all fine with violence but not sex. The shooter games are much like procedural series, which I’ve never embraced. I don’t like blood.
And that’s not all as Microsoft Names Longtime Technology Entrepreneur Blake Krikorian Corporate Vice President in Its Interactive Entertainment Business [Microsoft press release, Jan 10, 2013]
Proven innovator and leader in media and technology brings strong entertainment background to Xbox team.
Microsoft Corp. today announced the appointment of Blake Krikorian as corporate vice president for its Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB). Krikorian will report to Marc Whitten, chief product officer for IEB. This announcement follows the acquisition of Krikorian’s company, id8 Group R2 Studios (R2 Studios).
“We are thrilled to have Blake join the Xbox team,” Whitten said. “He’s a proven innovator and well-respected leader in both the media and technology industries, having created simple, elegant products that have transformed the way people engage with and consume content. We look forward to his contribution to our team as Xbox continues to evolve and transform the games and entertainment landscape.”
“I am excited to join Microsoft and be a part of the Xbox team. As a 10-year Xbox LIVE subscriber, I have seen firsthand how Xbox has delighted us by reinventing how consumers experience games and entertainment,” Krikorian said. “I look forward to helping the team define the future of entertainment and contribute to the next decade of continued innovation.”
Krikorian most recently founded R2 Studios. Before that he served as the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sling Media Inc., inventors of the Emmy® award-winning Slingbox®, which is now owned by EchoStar Corp. Krikorian served on the board of Amazon.com Inc. and also co-founded the Philips Mobile Computing Group where he co-led the team that created the award-winning Velo 1 handheld PC running Windows CE. He has received numerous lifetime achievement awards including the Lifetime Technology Leadership Award from Broadcasting & Cable, as well as the TechFellow Award for Disruptive Innovation from TechCrunch, Founders Fund and NEA.
Microsoft has acquired id8 Group R2 Studios [Neowin.net, Jan 10, 2013]
… Microsoft apparently was the winner in the race to acquire R2 Studios with Google and Apple both reportedly also interested in buying the company. R2 Studios’ only product was a $99 Android app, R2 Control For Creston, which allows users to remotely control devices such as security systems, lighting and more on an Android smartphone or tablet.
This move could be a signal that Microsoft’s next version of the Xbox console will have some kind of expanded remote control features. The company has already launched Xbox SmartGlass apps for Windows 8, iOS and Android device owners for use as a “second screen” experience for some Xbox 360 games and media.
Slingbox® Inventor And Crestron Collaborate To Bring Android™ OS Support To The Crestron Platform [Crestron press release, May 17, 2011]
R2 Control App For Android™ is Now Available
Slingbox® inventor, Blake Krikorian and Crestron today announced the release of the R2™ Control™ for Crestron, a software app that turns virtually any Android™ smartphone or tablet into a fully-functional Crestron touch panel for residential and commercial applications. Utilizing the R2 app and Crestron processors, customers can now control AV, lighting, thermostats, security systems, and thousands of other products via their Android device from anywhere in the world.
R2 was initially unveiled at the Crestron booth at CEDIA Expo last September. Since then, R2 conducted a seven month private beta test program consisting of hundreds of residential, commercial and government Crestron-authorized integrators from around the world. The input from this beta team helped R2 achieve a sophisticated solution compatible with a multitude of Android devices.
R2 was developed by id8 Group Productions, a product development and technology lab. Co-founder and inventor of Emmy award-winning Slingbox, Blake Krikorian founded id8 Group Holdings (parent company of id8 Group Productions) in 1999. R2 is the first product developed by id8 Group since Slingbox expanded in 2004 to form Sling Media®, Inc. Sling Media was subsequently acquired by Echostar Corporation in 2007.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with an innovator like Blake and officially support Android,” says Fred Bargetzi, Crestron VP of Technology. “The R2 control app for Android is the latest development in our ongoing open-standards platform which also includes integration with iOS, MAC OSX and Windows.”
Krikorian initially conceived of R2 for his own use. “In addition to being able to control aspects of my home via Crestron remote controls and iOS devices, I really wanted to be able to use my new Android-based phone,” says Krikorian. “I desired a software platform that allowed me to further optimize the home control experience for general purpose smartphones and tablets, beyond the industry’s current state of the art. R2 and Android provides the flexibility to do just that.”
R2 Key Features
- Communicates with Crestron 2-Series and 3-Series™ control systems via WiFi and cellular network
- Controls multiple systems/homes from one Android device
- Uses the same Crestron development tools to create projects for R2. R2 touch panel projects are created using the existing and familiar development tools such as SIMPL Windows, VTPro-e®, D3 Pro® and System Builder.
- Compatible with Crestron Mobile Pro®/Mobile Pro G™ apps: runs projects created for iOS devices
- Quick access: ability to disable screen unlock requirement; Device’s built-in proximity sensor can automatically wake device
- Automatic project UI scaling: resizes Mobile Pro and Mobile Pro G projects to the native resolution of any Android device
- Visual, haptic and audible feedback: provides clear confirmation of key presses
- Optimized performance for Android: takes advantage of Android’s multitasking and flexibility to deliver an experience optimized for home and building control
- Support for multiple and custom resolutions: in addition to R2’s built-in UI display scalar, an upcoming VTPro-e add-on (coming soon) enables developers to optionally create pixel-perfect projects for any screen size.
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For 40 years Crestron has been the world’s leading manufacturer of advanced control and automation systems, innovating technology and reinventing the way people live and work. Providing integrated solutions to control audio, video, lighting, computer, IP and environmental systems, Crestron streamlines technology, improving the quality of life for people in corporate conference rooms, hotels, classrooms, auditoriums, and in their homes.