Cable network operator and Internet service provider Comcast reportedly confirmed earlier this week that it would give its own video streaming service a huge advantage over rival services like Netflix. Showing blatant disregard for net neutrality principles, Comcast said this week that its video streaming service Xfinity will be exempt from the 250GB bandwidth cap it foists on subscribers, Raw Story reports. Movies and TV shows streamed using rival services such as Netflix and Hulu will still apply toward users’ monthly bandwidth caps. Microsoft announced earlier this week that Comcast’s Xfinity service was launching on its popular Xbox 360 video game and home entertainment console, and heavy users on Comcast’s network now have a clear reason to choose Xfinity over any of the dozens of rival streaming services supported by the Xbox. More →
New data from Nielsen suggests that console owners are using their Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii game consoles to stream video content more than ever before. “Streaming now represents a reported 14 percent of Xbox 360 time, 15 percent of PS3 time and 33 percent of Wii time,” Nielsen said Wednesday. The market research firm explained that the growth in time spent streaming was driven by services such as ESPN 3, Netflix, MLB Network and Hulu, but that time spent using consoles also increased overall. Console usage during the first half of 2011 jumped 7% from the same time period last year. Nielsen said gaming is the most popular activity on Xbox 360 (34% of usage), the PS3 is most used for DVD/Blu-ray viewing (22% of usage) and the Wii is used most for offline gaming (55% of usage). More →
In the mobile space there are leaders and followers, and our friends over at Novatel Wireless are clear leaders. The company’s MiFi devices set the market abuzz as people rushed to replace their older mobile broadband devices with portable mobile hotspots capable of connecting multiple devices to cellular data networks via Wi-Fi. Now, Novatel is extending its lead in the space by updating the AT&T MiFi 2372 with DLNA streaming media support. We’re big fans of making good gear even better, and by adding wireless media server capabilities to AT&T’s MiFi, that’s exactly what Novatel did. We tested the MiFi 2372’s new DLNA functionality and it indeed works exactly as expected — by simply connecting to the device over Wi-Fi, users can stream media stored on the MiFi’s microSD card to computers, smartphones, tablets, televisions or anything else that supports DLNA. We were able to stream movies, music and even browse photos from an iPhone, a laptop and an LCD TV as well. We had no problems whatsoever, and — surprisingly — battery life doesn’t seem to take too much of a hit. If you own an AT&T MiFi 2372 and haven’t updated the software yet, consider this your motivation. A video showcasing the MiFi’s DLNA capabilities follows below. More →
Skype announced Thursday that it will acquire mobile video software and service provider Qik. Unconfirmed rumors suggest the deal will be worth approximately $100 million. Qik specializes in mobile video broadcasting and video calling services, the latter being an area that Skype has been particularly interested in lately. Qik emerged among a group of similar services but broke out in 2010 thanks to carrier and manufacturer deals that helped net the service 4.4 million new subscribers over the course of the year. Qik’s bread and butter is currently the Android OS, though it also offers clients for other platforms including iOS and Symbian. “The Qik team has delivered exceptional video experiences for its mobile partners and millions of end users across a range of devices,” said Skype CEO Tony Bates in a statement. “Qik’s deep engineering capabilities and strong mobile relationships will be an impressive complementary fit with Skype.” Hit the break for Skype’s full press release. More →
Nothing sets diehard Apple fans’ hearts aflutter quite like an alleged email from Apple CEO Steve Jobs — and if you’re a diehard Apple fan, today is your lucky day. Mac Rumors reports that one of its forum members recently received a reply from Jobs in response to an AirPlay inquiry sent last week. In his email, the Apple fan asked Jobs if his company’s “seriously amazing” new AirPlay feature would ever become available for video in Safari and third-party apps. Jobs’ response, according to the report, was an affirmative: “Yep, hope to add these features to Airplay in 2011.” The authenticity of the email is anything but confirmed, but Jobs is known to reply to the odd email here and there so it’s entirely feasible that this is the real deal. More →
A bit of digging into a property list file included with Apple’s latest build of iTunes, version 10.1, may give us a hint as to what Apple might introduce in the near future. The plist file in question makes reference to “iTunes Live Stream,” an unannounced service that could find itself at the center of Apple’s announcement tomorrow. There is currently no solid information in terms of what iTunes Live Streaming might entail, but speculation ranges from live streaming of television programming to live user-generated audio and video streams. While nothing is known for sure, iTunes Live Streaming will likely be one of the first new services to make use of the $1 billion data center Apple is currently building.
Following Netgear’s announcement Tuesday that it would offer a $90 set top box powered by Roku’s software, it looks as though Roku is playing with alternative models in an effort to stay competitive. Roku gained notoriety in 2008 by providing an easy solution for streaming Netflix Watch Instantly video content to television sets. The company has since expended its product through partnerships that brought additional content from the likes of Amazon Video On Demand, MLB.TV and Hulu. With a growing content library and three new hardware products starting at just $59.99, Roku still finds in the precarious position of having to compete with the likes of Google, which recently launched Google TV, and Apple, which refreshed its Apple TV offering last month.
In an effort to combat the aforementioned giants, Roku is licensing out its software. The first taker, Netgear, announced the Netgear Roku Player NTV250 earlier this week, which is already available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, Fry’s, Amazon.com and Buy.com. Roku hopes that by letting larger hardware partners do the heavy lifting, it can spread its net as wide as possible and let the simplicity of its software carry partner offerings. There’s no question Roku has a great product, but Google has shown that it plans to be very aggressive with Google TV and Apple sold a quarter-million Apple TVs in just six weeks. Roku tells BGR that its business couldn’t be better right now but with competition like Apple and Google, Roku has its work cut out for it. More →
We knew it was coming, but that doesn’t make the arrival of Applidium’s VLC Media Player universal binary any less exciting. That’s right kids, your favorite multi-format video player for the iPad is now available for the iPhone and iPod touch as well. VLC Media Player lets users sync video content to a device via iTunes in a variety of formats not formally supported by iOS. In other words, users can break free of the multimedia chains that bind their iGear. It should be noted that the new VLC Media Player build is only available for the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and the two most recent iPod touch generations. Obviously, older hardware can’t hang with this multimedia powerhouse.
Amidst a rumor that Hulu may be rolling out is premium video service next week for testing, another rumor is surfacing that suggests the online video streaming company may be close to inking a deal with Sony. The deal could be announced as early as next week and would bring Hulu’s $9.99 monthly subscription service, dubbed Hulu Plus, to the PlayStation Network as a value-added service for PS3 owners. Late last month, a similar rumor was circulating that suggested Hulu was negotiating with Microsoft to bring Hulu to the XBOX 360. With its Hulu Plus service ready to roll out and console distribution in the works, Hulu is apparently trying to grab a bigger slice of the online entertainment market while the market is still ripe for the picking. The timing of this market grab is apropos as Hulu’s licensing agreements with its content providers is set to expire at the end of 2011. A revenue-generating distribution method on two of three major console platforms would be a valuable negotiating tool, no? More →
Happy EVO 4G Day Sprint lovers. Remember that whole thing about Qik video chat being $4.99/month, and then hours later it not being $4.99/month? Well, the folks from Qik have officially announced exactly what the free versus premium service offerings are for Qik streaming video. We’ve got the features matrix, a PR video, and the press release locked and loaded for you after the break. More →