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Microsoft eyes leap back into TV: sources

In New York, USA, Microsoft Corporation is about to back into TV game, but this time MS may aim at cable, satellite and phone companies.

Microsoft has held talks with TV networks to create a new subscription based TV services on its Xbox gaming console that rival efforts by Google Inc, Apple and Netflix Inc.

Microsoft Corporation’s latest explorations after investments in MSNBC and WebTV come as efforts to redefine living room entertainment have accelerated in the past year with technology companies seeking to offer lower cost alternatives to pricey pay TV subscriptions

There is one scenario under consideration by MS is to create a new TV service on its Xbox gaming console that would establish a virtual cable operator, the service will charge a monthly fee for access through the Xbox to networks like ABC, Fox, NBC, CBS, ESPN or CNN according to two sources familiar with plans.

There are other options which include allowing the cable subscribers to use the Xbox to watch shows with more interactive functions, you could use its features for instance messages with friends over the console while you are viewing your favorite shows.

The company also exploring the possibility of creating programming packages for users to setting up a bundle of sports or children shows, in addition, it could sell more individual channels like HBO or Showtime directly to subscribers, it has already Walt Disney channel and ESPN on the Xbox live online service.

They are saying that a service may not arrive for 12 months but early discussions have been productive. Microsoft declined to comment, the people involved in the talks asked not to be identified as the discussions were confidential.

Microsoft’s plans come as the pay television industry are moving to allay investor concerns that users are fleeing expensive subscription packages for cheaper online services operated by companies like Netflix inc and Hulu and both will charge around $8 per month for the streamed shows and movies, the phenomenon is called cord cutting.

The problem is that so called over the top services could undermine the lucrative cable TV industry whose dual revenue stream model has made pay TV one of the most resilient sectors during the economic recession.

Cable networks like ESPN are paid carriage fees by pay TV operators and also earn revenue from advertisers, but programmers have said that they would welcome new types of competition to the cable and satellite companies.

Microsoft has long held aspiration to be a major player in the TV business and has previously invested in MSNBC and interactive television initiatives including Web TV and MSN TV set top box software, MS latest plans include offering interactive features to engage viewers through social media, interactive advertisement and gesture technology by which you can change channels and fast forward through shows by waving your arms or speaking instructions.

Free news Applications from CNN

After the launch of CNN’s application for the iPhone and iPad touch in the US in the year 2009, CNN has now come out to announce the release of the international version of the CNN App on its stores. Available for free to its users outside the United States, the international version is purpose built and designed to provide a “Visually-driven news experience” for the iPhone and the iPod touch users who have demanded for convenience and accessibility. The previous release was well received by users for its immense interface and vast amount of content.

How it works

The International version has a similarity to the original app. A big difference between the two however, is the price. While U.S customers pay $2 for the CNN application, customers outside the U.S can download the international version for free.  When you first launch the application, you are presented with a list on new stories. There is a thin scrollable toolbar at the top of the screen that lets you choose from a long list of categories. The list includes World, Crime, Entertainment, Health travel, Technology and living just to mention but a few. You can further scroll through the list of stories in each category and tap into one to read more.

The screen orientation is flexible from landscape to portrait.

“My CNN Personalization”

The application allows its users to customize their news experience from time to time. You can choose specific news and subjects and follow them so that you can get automatic regular updates when you launch the app later on, on the news and alerts. You can also save the news for offline reading or future use.

Depending on your geographical location, the app will frequently update you on regional news.

There is also the iReport option which connects you to CNN’s news community which is generally generated and updated by its users. With this option, you can browse, download and upload your own stories and clips. Users can also share stories through Twitter, Facebook or e-mails by using the application.

Word from CNN

According to Luis Gump, CNN’s President of mobile, the decision to offer the application for free was not easy. “If only you knew the amount of time that had gone into this particular topic… We looked at it from different perspective and we consulted with our international team.”

He further added, “CNN’s new app will offer our international audience a fantastic mobile experience for our iPhone and iPod users by delivering new feature and user-friendly designs… CNN is completely dedicated and ready to meet the needs of consumers and this application will be an important contribution to that effort.”

Gump also said that in the course of time, a paid version of the application with added functions could be introduced. The app will only offer regional news and access to videos of late breaking news will be disabled.

For Nick Wrenn, Vice president of Digital services for CNN International. “Our users, understand that the world is a highly connected place. Our main aim with the CNN App is to meet their needs, putting relevant news analysis, video and images right at their fingertips. While at it, we will try to relay the news in a form that is relevant and easy to understand.”

Android Devices to be New Platform Of MobiTV

MobiTV, Inc. is a global television and digital radio service provider for cell phone users. The MobiTV service is available in US through Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T Mobility, Alltel, and several other regional carriers; and in Canada through Bell Canada, Rogers and TELUS Mobility. MobiTV is not live broadcast TV, but it provides primarily pre-loaded video clips for download (streaming), but for the FIFA 2010 World Cup, ESPN Mobile TV via MobiTV offers live match broadcasts depending on your carrier.

The company claims more than 7 million subscribers and offers video clips of many popular channels such as MSNBC, ABC News Now, CNN, Fox News, Fox Sports, ESPN Mobile TV, NBC Mobile, CNBC, CSPAN, Discovery Channel, TLC, The company has raised more than $100 million from investor’s including Redpoint Ventures, Mehlo Ventures, Oak Investment Partners and Sorrento Ventures. MobiTV has also earned revenues by developing applications for Apple iPhone, and has made many top-grossing applications for the same. MobiTV’s program is the second highest revenue generating iPhone application in Apple’s store, gaining in popularity since World Cup began two weeks ago.

MobiTV’s Chief Executive officer Charlie Nooney said in an interview “We are very much in the acceleration phase, and our pipeline is extraordinarily Android heavy”. MobiTV is now targeting Android Phones which jumped to 9.6 percent of the global Smartphone market in the first quarter, from 1.5 percent last year. Android Operating System is a Google’s product and is used on phones sold by many manufacturers including Motorola, HTC, and Samsung. The main reason for MobiTV’s success is that its services are supported by most of the top selling mobile phones. It faces competition from FloTV, the world’s largest phone-chip maker, but FloTV has failed to attract people because its services are not supported by many phones.

Users of MobiTV on iPhone have to pay $10 per month for live news about the world and sports. It also gives the access to 200 shows on demand. MobiTV shares revenue from every download done. Nooney said “We have more than 10 million subscribers and we are planning a drastic increase in the same upon launching are services on Android.”

After great response on iPhone, MobiTV is very positive for its success on Android phones. Android is Google’s operating system for mobile devices based on ARM architecture. It is a competitor for Symbian Platform phones, Apples iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Windows Phone. Since there are good number of Android Phones lined up to be launched this year.

Some of them are:

1.       HTC EVO 4G – Brought out in collaboration with US mobile carrier Sprint.

2.       Samsung Galaxy S l9000 – Its amazing piece of machinery and Samsung’s customised version of Android 2.1

3.       Sony Xperia X10 – Its the first Android phone by Sony

4.       Dell Aero – Claims to be the lightest Android Phone

5.       HTC Desire – Another featured pack mobile by HTC balancing cost and features.

With these new phones and technologies coming up one thing is for sure that customers will get similar features among all the phone models and their will be a good chance for them to get the best value for money deal.

A News Medium Twist to the Twitter Tale

While Twitter is conventionally perceived to be a Social Networking Site, there might be much more to it that what it seems. The analysis by group of Korean researchers states that the structure and usage of Twitter is more closely associated to a traditional news media unit. This analysis has given a new dimension to the way Twitter is sought after. You may think of it as easy to publish news site where anyone and everyone may be a reporter, only that the news dispatched should maintain the 140 character limit.

On Friday, Haewoon Kwak a member of the research team that conducted the research presented their report in the WWW2010 conference held in Raleigh in North Carolina. In the report, Kwak stated a number of ways in which Twitter differed from the other networking websites. He also described in details the mathematical studies performed by his team in order to highlight on how people easily share their information in a unique manner on Twitter as compared to the other socializing websites. According to the report, the team gathered the information regarding 41.7 million unique user profiles. The team then pulled out 106 million Twitter tweets and then closely followed about 4,262 trending topics that were identified using the hash tags.

With most of the social networking sites, it is observed that the user needs to acquire permission from the other user in order to interact with them or view their updates. On the contrary, Twitter allows you to follow ‘tweets’ from other users even without having to get their permission, if the tweets are set as public by the user. As Kwak pointed out, this trait of Twitter is more similar to the RSS subscription as seen in blogs. This observation was the fountainhead of their research. It led the research team to ponder over whether Twitter was more closely linked to the news medium as opposed to a social network.

As the team went on with their research, the stats supported their idea. It was observed that out of the huge number of following that was happening on Twitter, merely a 22 percent was reciprocal. This number happened to be way too low as compared to the archetypal sites with a social media format viz. Flickr – with a 68 percent and the famous Cyworld – with a 77 percent.

Also, as seen with any variation of media, which includes the news units, Twitter also has its extremely popular or the ‘Star’ Users. A few users stand out with a whooping number of followers as compared to the others.

Even the nature of messages on Twitter is similar to that of a news bulletins. This comes across even more strongly as the users now post their tweets under the title of “What’s Happening?” It was also observed that pretty often, tweets contained citations of ‘breaking news’ events even before they featured on leading news channels like CNN. Statistically, both almost cut even.

This research has brought up an interesting introspection of the Twitter service and Twitter is showing signs of supporting the research findings with the decision to start adverts in their search results.

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Call Now: +1 833-522-1003
Call Now: +1 833-522-1003