FCC approves, publishes draft set top box rules

22 February 2016 by Steve Blum
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As expected, the Federal Communications Commission moved ahead last week with a plan to rewrite the rules for network operators – cable, telephone and satellite – that deliver television channels to consumers, requiring them to allow third parties such as consumer electronics manufacturers and software developers to access their programming streams. The shorthand way of explaining it is to say that the set top box market will be open to competition – anyone would be able to license the necessary technology, build a box and sell it to consumers.… More

Network ownership will no longer mean content control with new STB rules

16 February 2016 by Steve Blum
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It’ll all look the same.

Opening up the currently closed set top box market will disrupt, and perhaps kill, the network business models that rely on it. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission is set to launch a process that to write new rules requiring cable, satellite and other flavors of multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to give third party manufacturers direct access to their television transmission streams, including on-screen guide data. With all due respect for license limitations, such as recording rights, of course.… More

Smartphone sales grow as Chinese brands bag bigger global share

16 February 2015 by Steve Blum
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Chinese smartphones loom larger.

Trying to track shipment figures for any global consumer electronics product can be a tricky business – piecing together the puzzle requires access to many sources with many agendas – but that said, market research company TrendForce has spotted a significant trend: collectively, Chinese smartphone manufacturers grabbed a huge share of the worldwide market in 2014.

According to TrendForce, manufacturers shipped 1.2 billion smartphones last year, with Chinese companies accounting for 450 million, or 39% of the global total.… More

Don't expect consumer electronics to drive FTTH builds in 2015

4 January 2015 by Steve Blum

Don’t expect them to do your job for you. Not this year, anyway.

If there’s one new consumer electronics product on the horizon that’s going to drive demand for fiber to the home service, it’s advanced televisions of the 4K and 8K ultra high definition variety. The big players at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will be showcasing their latest ultra TVs, and several events and panel sessions are devoted to it.… More

Blackberry rolls a classic for executives of a certain age

21 December 2014 by Steve Blum
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Some form factors just work.

The hot, new innovation from Blackberry last week is a small phone with a small, physical keyboard. Sound familiar? If not, Blackberry is helpfully calling it the Classic.

There is no shortage of people – Barack Obama and Arianna Huffington included – who like the 1990s Blackberry look. It offers unique functionality and the company’s new management is happy to provide it.

When I look at new products that catch on quickly, there’s a question I always ask myself: is the success due to designers offering consumers a genuinely new benefit, a way of meeting either a preexisting or completely new need?… More

Cooking moves from the stovetop to the desktop

8 November 2014 by Steve Blum
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I was about to say that food is the new killer app for 3D printing, but maybe that’s not the best way to put it. It does look like a Mac Plus, though.

How about printing out your dinner? That’s what Natural Machines wants you to do with the Foodini, a 3D printer designed to handle food ingredients and turn out complex meals.

Assuming the Foodini works – which includes being easy to clean – it’s something that could find an eager market.… More

Wearables need network neutrality, of a sort, to thrive

19 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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Cord cutting is easy if you live in a signal rich environment. Or at least easier – anyone who has experienced the frustration of trying to make a mobile call from an interior room in a central business district hotel knows it isn’t a slam dunk. But once you move out into suburban and rural areas, reliable indoor phone and Internet service usually means keeping the wire. (And yes, I know, fixed wireless is a potential solution, but usually not – at least according to the FCC.… More

New Blackberry phone aimed at small share of small market

27 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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The Blackberry Passport was unveiled this week. It would be a great product, if it ran the Android OS. It’s physically unique in a useful way. The phablet form factor makes it possible to do work on it, in the classic document-centric sense. The physical keyboard will suit some people better than virtual ones, even though the layout is less than intuitive. And it’s rugged, which makes it attractive to a wide range of users, particularly people who work on their feet or outside.… More

CTIA leans in to the Apple punch

9 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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All eyes were on Cupertino this morning, even – or maybe particularly – eyes that had flown to Las Vegas with the intent of being briefly at the center of the mobile telecommunications universe. So CTIA made the smart move, and built its opening keynote session around Apple’s iPhone 6 and Apple Watch announcements this morning.

New CTIA president Meredith Attwell Baker made her rookie appearance, earnest enough but lacking the easy stage presence of her predecessors in the job, like FCC chair Tom Wheeler, who was next up on the stage.… More

Samsung makes stuff, and now stuff to connect its stuff

21 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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Another thing for the Internet of things.

Samsung has decided to take a different home automation route than Apple or Google. The announcement this week that it is acquiring SmartThings gives a hint that the Korean consumer electronic giant is looking, first and foremost, at creating an automation platform for its own vast array of products, rather than a web service business built around its smart phones. It might eventually do that too, but the decision to go with SmartThings, which relies on an in-home hub, shows a definite hardware-centric attitude.… More