Apple’s upcoming “iTunes Replay” service is indeed in the works, but the company has yet to sign “cloud agreements” with at least four of the top-six film studios in Hollywood that are necessary in order to launch the service, CNET News reports. As such, the site calls earlier reports that suggested an imminent launch premature. Apple is reportedly working on a service that will allow iTunes users to stream and re-download movies purchased through iTunes. Such a service would require Apple to sign new licensing agreements with motion picture studios in order to secure the appropriate rights that would allow Apple to serve content from the cloud and to multiple devices. According to CNET News, negotiations for these rights could “drag on for months.” The report also mentions a possible hurdle for Apple: HBO. HBO has agreements in place that grant it exclusive digital distribution rights to new movies from three of the six major film studios — 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. — for a certain period of time. HBO’s deals have caused problems for streaming services in the past, and it looks like Apple could be the latest victim. More →
Apple is preparing to launch a new service that will allow iTunes users to re-download previously purchased music, movies and TV shows for free, AppAdvice reports. The service may also support some streaming functionality according to the report, though such functionality may be limited. In the past, iTunes users who lose content from their libraries were forced to either purchase the content again or essentially beg and plead with Apple customer service until they agreed to assist with free content restoration. This ridiculous practice is now in the process of coming to an end. AppAdvice claims to have confirmed the imminent launch of the iTunes Reply service with multiple sources, and such an offering has rumored to have been in the works from Apple for quite some time. According to the report, we can expect iTunes Replay to “go public in the coming weeks.” More →
Hulu has confirmed that it is considering a third subscription option that would allow users to stream ad-free TV shows and movies for a higher monthly fee. “We’re currently an ad supported service but are looking into the option of a higher priced ad-free option,” a Hulu representative stated from an official Twitter account. Hulu made several additional comments to the same effect on Friday from its customer support Twitter account. The move would be an interesting one; Hulu dropped the price of its Hulu Plus premium subscription service to $7.99 last November, presumably due at least in part to slower than expected consumer adoption. A new pricier plan in spite of the recent price drop, that could also potentially anger network partners, is a tough pill to swallow —especially as the company looks for a buyer.
Apple issued an update to its Apple TV product on Monday that will allow users to stream purchased high-definition TV shows directly from iTunes. Specifically, Apple says the update will enable:
- iTunes TV Shows: Purchase your favorite TV shows directly from the iTunes Store, and watch the shows you already own, commercial-free in HD.
- Vimeo: Browse and play videos from Vimeo, access your video inbox, and mark videos you want to watch later.
When Apple first launched the Apple TV, it only allowed users to rent movies and shows and there was not an option to purchase titles for permanent ownership. For users in the U.S., Apple has also rolled out preliminary iCloud support with this update, allowing users to re-download some purchased television shows, though movie support is not yet available. More →
Sony reported its fiscal first quarter results on Thursday and recorded a net loss of 15.5 billion Yen ($198.7 million). The company attributed the loss to the earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan in March, as well as a “stagnate” economy in the United States and Europe. Sony’s operating profits were 27.5 billion Yen ($330 million), down from the 67.02 billion Yen ($862) it reported during the same quarter last year. Operating revenue was 1.49 trillion Yen ($19.1 billion), down 10% from the 1.66 trillion ($21.3 billion) in revenue Sony reported in the first fiscal quarter of 2011. “We think we can be profitable at the current exchange rate levels,” Sony’s chief financial officer Masaru Kato said during a recent news conference. “We had almost no negative impact from the dollar, but the euro is still an issue for us.” Kato said that “TVs are one of the only remaining issues,” for the company and noted that Sony expects to sell 22 million televisions this year, down from the original projection of 27 million units. Kato said Sony’s supply chain was hit hard by the earthquake and impacted the company’s sales during the first quarter but that the supply channels have already bounced back.
Amazon and CBS have reached a licensing deal in which CBS will provide Amazon Prime subscribers with access to its television shows.The deal will add 2,000 TV episodes from popular shows such as The Tudors, Medium, Frasier, Cheers, Numb3rs, and the full Star Trek franchise to the Amazon Prime library, which already has more than 8,000 movies and TV shows. Amazon expects the content to be available during this summer and it confirmed that its Instant Video customers will also have access to the library. Read on for the full press release. More →
Research In Motion is currently working on a media box codenamed “BlackBerry Cyclone” that will launch later this fall, BlackBerry news site NerdBerry.net reports. The rumored media hub is said to be similar to Apple’s iOS-based Apple TV box, which connects to a television and plays streaming video content from iTunes. The BlackBerry Cyclone’s purported capabilities include Netflix streaming, YouTube streaming and streaming from media devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network. The unit will also reportedly feature an HDMI-out port. The move would be a peculiar one from RIM, as it does not have an iTunes competitor to speak of and even with the extremely popular multimedia market, the Apple TV has not been an overly successful device for Apple. The Cupertino-based company announced the million-unit milestone for its refreshed Apple TV late last year, but we haven’t heard much about it since that time. RIM is also in the midst of prepping its first QNX-powered smartphone for release in 2012, not to mention seven BlackBerry handsets due to launch later this year, so we would hope the bulk of its attention is focused on these infinitely more important products. More →
In an effort to fuel growth across the company, Sony’s CEO — Howard Stringer — has taken a 16% cut in his annual pay according to The Wall Street Journal. Stringer will take home $4.27 million for the fiscal year that ended March 30th, down from the $5.25 million he made last year. During Sony’s shareholder meeting on Tuesday, PlayStation head Kazuo Hirai said that the firm’s “most important task” was turning around its television business — an arm of Sony that has seen seven straight years of losses. Hirai named a number of ways the company could accomplish that task, including boosting the efficiency of operations, tweaking product strategies, and reducing costs. More →
The original Google TV products were met by lukewarm reviews at best, and according to Geek.com, the search giant is hard at work on its new Google TV 2.0 product. Developers have been joining Google’s new “Fishtank” program to get early access to tools that will allow them to create compelling new content for Google’s next attempt at entering our living rooms. Google TV 2.0 runs a barebones version of Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) and there are reportedly only 50 developers partaking in the initial Fishtank program. Fishtank includes an Intel CE4100 reference platform with a beta version of Google TV 2.0 preloaded, and a wireless keyboard. Intel’s Sodaville SoC, part of the CE4100 reference platform, also includes support for 3D gaming and Flash. Geek.com noticed a new “dual-view” feature that allows users to watch TV and use the OS at the same time; and the user interface has the same glowing-blue Tron-like effects as the tablet version of Honeycomb. Developers are said to be up in arms over the “Live TV” application on Google TV 2.0 — many want to interact with the TV interface directly, but Google isn’t allowing that just yet. Will it be enough for Google to tackle Apple TV? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, another shot of the box and a couple of UI images can be seen after the break. More →
We’ve been keeping our ears to the floor for news on what Microsoft has in store for the E3 trade show, which kicks off early next week, and we’re finally starting to hear some mumblings. According to winrumors, Microsoft is finalizing media partnerships and plans to debut a new Xbox LIVE subscription TV service — currently being called “Diamond” — during its press conference. Xbox LIVE Diamond should allow Xbox LIVE customers to watch streaming television provided by Microsoft’s content partners, although it’s currently unclear how much the subscription will cost. The Redmond-based company has also recently trademarked “Fusion Vault, “Fusion Genesis,” and “Fusion Sentient,” and it reportedly has a music and video discovery service dubbed “Ventura” in the works, too. We’ll be reporting from E3 next week in Los Angeles where we’re sure to hear plenty more. More →
According to new data from ABI Research, internet TV and and television services run by telecoms – such as Verizon or AT&T— are slowly eating away at cable TV’s market share. Cable TV subscriptions dropped from 72% in 2009 to 69% in 2010, and cable providers in North America and Western Europe saw the greatest subscriber losses. Despite the customer losses, the overall pay-TV market continues to grow — there were 11.3 million new pay-TV subscribers in Q1 2011, and that the total number of subscribers is expected to exceed 759 million by the end of this year. Cable TV is continuing to grow in Latin America, however, and penetration in Brazil is expected to reach 10% in 2011. “The emergency of digital TV in different pay-TV platforms begins to offer more choices to consumers,’ Khin Sandy Lynn, an ABI research analyst, said. “Digital terrestrial TV (DTT) channels and high definition (HDTV) channels are gaining popularity in pay-TV markets. ABI research expects that there will be more than 230 million high-definition TV subscriptions across different platforms at the end of 2011.” Hit the jump for the full release More →
Looks like the weekend’s going to start a bit early. Hulu’s subscription-based Hulu Plus service will launch for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 on Friday, and here’s the best part: it’s free for Xbox Live (Gold and Silver) users until May 6th. After that you’ll have to drop $7.99 per month to kick back and watch your favorite shows from ABC, Comedy Central, FOX, NBC, MTV, and others. Hulu’s even adding Kinect support, which means you’ll be able to play, pause, fast forward, or rewind whatever you’re watching with your voice or with a gesture. Hit the jump for the full release. More →
While most manufacturers are trying to find the sweet spot for tablets in the 7-inch to 10-inch range, Lenovo’s thinking bigger. The firm’s senior marketing specialist, Wiliam Cai, said that his company is working on a new 23-inch tablet designed for the home — with a focus similar to that of an all-in-one desktop — that could land later this year. “We think that there is potential for a 23-inch tablet,” Cai told TechRadar. “We’d have to take care of battery life and we are working to get the weight down.” Cai said such a device could be moved around the house, and possibly be used as a TV or with a full keyboard. That sounds more like a connected TV than a tablet to us, but we’re excited to see where Lenovo takes this idea. It’s unclear what sort of operating system Lenovo has in mind, but we’re guessing it’ll probably run Windows 7. More →