Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Gavin O'Malley, March 27, 2012, 12:22 PM
Xbox Live Adds HBO Go, Comcast VODGigaOm

So consumers can devote their computers entirely to tax business, Microsoft’s XBox Live is finally adding Comcast’s video-on-demand service, HBO Go, and MLB.tv.

“Both Comcast and HBO were among the first new content partners when Microsoft announced changes to its Xbox Live user interface and new content deals,” recalls GigaOm. “But they’re some of the last partners to come online as Microsoft has staggered updates of its various content partners’ software over the last several months.”

“It’s big news is my household because we own Xbox,” writes Forbes contributor Michael Humphrey. “If you own Boxee, or Apple TV, you’re probably shrugging right now.”

However, for Apple TV, Hulu, and other content platforms, Microsoft’s expansion into premium content could be cause for concern.

“HBO GO is arguably the best example of what the industry calls ‘Over The Top’ entertainment programming,” Humphrey adds. “Rather than toying with shows being available, then not available, then available again -- like you find on Hulu, Netflix and On Demand -- the cable channel lays all of its programming out there, often before it’s shown on cable.”

Microsoft’s popular gaming console already boasts apps from Verizon, Epix, Vevo, Vudu and YouTube.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the additional content is part of a larger push by Microsoft to use Xbox as a "trojan horse" -- using video games as a way to become the digital entertainment hub for families in the living room. Realizing its dream, the game console is now used more for watching movies and TV shows and listening to music online than playing video games online, LAT reported this week.

 “For Comcast, it represents an acknowledgment that the traditional pay TV model is dead,” suggests SlashGear. “Consumers don’t have only one source of entertainment on their flat-screen anymore. Comcast will join Verizon as a cable operator that allows existing subscribers to watch on-demand content without needing to hit the ‘input’ button after playing a round of Mass Effect 3.”


Read the whole story...
  • Gavin O'Malley, March 27, 2012, 12:42 PM
  • Is Google Readying Commenting System? Google is reportedly about to launch a new commenting system that will tie into the search giant’s Google+ platform, Web services and Web search. “The Google comment system, which will almost certainly rival that of Facebook, will have deep links to Google’s network of services and websites, indexing comments in Google Search, and most significantly, the system will be available for use on third party sites,” reports The New Web. Tech-WD blogger Saud Al-Hawawi reported yesterday that several new Google features that have yet to be announced were discussed at the Google event G-Saudi Arabia, including the new commenting platform. If and when Google does debut a new commenting system, one question is how it will affect services that are dedicated to providing a comment platform, like Disqus and Livefyre.  “They may struggle to compete against the likes of Facebook and Google down the line," since each enjoy "a well-established user-base,” TNW writes. Tech-WD also reported this week that Google+ will be rolling out vanity URLs, which several third party apps already offer. Read the whole story...
  • Siri Sees Selective Adoption Siri can perform a variety of tasks from searching for information to sending an email to scheduling meetings by voice. However, new research finds that few consumers make full use Apple’s virtual assistant. Indeed, while 87% of people who own Apple’s iPhone 4S use at least one Siri feature a month, most usage is across a relatively limited set of functions, reports The New York Times’ Digits blog, citing data from Parks Associates. For its research, the consulting group surveyed 482 owners of the iPhone 4S, the only device that currently carries the complete Siri service. “Users aren’t proving adventurous with their usage,” Digits writes. According to Parks Associates, most people are using Siri to making phone calls and send text-messages -- “a sign that Siri usage is mirroring how people use their phones more generally.” About a third of 4S owners use Siri to place phone calls, send text messages, or look up information daily or almost daily. By contrast, few 4S owners are using Siri to play music or schedule meetings. Respectively, 32% and 35% of 4S users said they had never used Siri to perform those actions. Email usage, meanwhile, is pretty split, with 30% saying they have never used Siri to send an email, while 26% say they use it to send email daily or almost daily, Digits reports.  
    Read the whole story...
  • Rovio Nabs Futuremark In the wake of Zynga dropping upwards of $200 million on OMGPOP, Angry Birds publisher Rovio Entertainment has acquired Futuremark Games Studio. With the fellow Finnish game development house, Rovio is said to be after new talent. “Rovio, which just launched its Angry Birds Space mobile game blockbuster, is buying the game-making division of benchmark software creator Futuremark,” reports VentureBeat. Regarding Futuremark, Mikael Hed, Rovio Entertainment’s chief executive, said: “They are an incredibly talented and experienced team, and we are thrilled to have them on board … Rovio’s success is founded on the excellence of our team, and Futuremark Games Studio is going to be a superb addition.” The deal will help Rovio make more games and allow Futuremark to focus on its professional benchmarking of 3D hardware and 3D games. The deal is the second acquisition for Rovio in the past year, after it bought the Kombo Animation Studio last summer, VB reports. Rovio is building entertainment, publishing, animation and retail arms and now has more than 300 people in Espoo and Tampere, Finland and Shanghai. Financial terms of this latest deal were not disclosed. Read the whole story...