Insider Reporter


Insider Report

news and views on broadcast and professional video/audio sectors, worldwide

w/e December 28, 2009 SCRI International, Inc © 1984 - 2009

INDEX

Technology News | Industry News | Company News |
Product News | People in the News | Research News

TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Mobile TV Market to Double by 2015

According to a new report by iSuppli, worldwide shipments of in-vehicle mobile television systems will more than double from 8 million in 2009 to 17 million in 2015. These include both embedded mobile TV devices as well as mobile television displayed on portable navigation devices.

The report contends that new mobile TV broadcast standards and the increased adoption of services on mobile phones and other consumer devices (if successful) will spur an increased rollout in the automotive space.

"Mobile television represents a lucrative growth opportunity for hardware makers and service providers. Car passengers will be able to take advantage of live television services in an increasing number of vehicles with embedded front and rear displays," said Richard Robinson, principal analyst, automotive electronics, for iSuppli.

Blu-ray Disc Association Announces Final 3D Specification

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) announced the finalization and release of the “Blu-ray 3DTM” specification. The specification, which represents the work of the leading Hollywood studios and consumer electronic and computer manufacturers, will enable the home entertainment industry to bring the 3D experience into consumers’ living rooms on Blu-ray Disc, the most capable high definition home entertainment platform.

“Throughout this year, movie goers have shown an overwhelming preference for 3D when presented with the option to see a theatrical release in either 3D or 2D,” said Victor Matsuda, chairman, BDA Global Promotions Committee. “We believe this demand for 3D content will carry over into the home now that we have, in Blu-ray Disc, a medium that can deliver a quality Full HD 3D experience to the living room.”

The “Blu-ray 3D” specification fully leverages the technical advantages of the Blu-ray Disc format to deliver unmatched picture quality as well as uniformity and compatibility across the full range of Blu-ray 3D products, both hardware and software. Notably, the specification allows every Blu-ray 3D player and movie to deliver Full HD 1080p resolution to each eye, thereby maintaining the industry leading image quality to which Blu-ray Disc viewers are accustomed. Moreover, the specification is display agnostic, meaning that Blu-ray 3D products will deliver the 3D image to any compatible 3D display, regardless of whether that display uses LCD, Plasma or other technology and regardless of what 3D technology the display uses to deliver the image to the viewer’s eyes.

“From a technological perspective, it is simply the best available platform for bringing 3D into the home,” said Benn Carr, chairman, BDA 3D Task Force. “The disc capacity and bit rates Blu-ray Disc provides enable us to deliver 3D in Full HD 1080p high definition resolution.”

The Blu-ray 3D specification is also designed to allow PS3 game consoles to play back Blu-ray 3D content in 3D. Additionally, the specification supports playback of 2D discs in forthcoming 3D players and can enable 2D playback of Blu-ray 3D discs on the large installed base of Blu-ray Disc players currently in homes around the world.

“In 2009 we saw Blu-ray firmly establish itself as the most rapidly adopted packaged media format ever introduced,” said Matsuda. “We think the broad and rapid acceptance Blu-ray Disc already enjoys with consumers will be a factor in accelerating the uptake of 3D in the home. In the meantime, existing players and libraries can continue to be fully enjoyed as consumers consider extending into 3D home entertainment.”

The Blu-ray 3D specification calls for encoding 3D video using the Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec, an extension to the ITU-T H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec currently supported by all Blu-ray Disc players. MPEG4-MVC compresses both left and right eye views with a typical 50% overhead compared to equivalent 2D content, and can provide full 1080p resolution backward compatibility with current 2D Blu-ray Disc players. The specification also incorporates enhanced graphic features for 3D. These features provide a new experience for users, enabling navigation using 3D graphic menus and displaying 3D subtitles positioned in 3D video.

The completed specification will be available shortly and provides individual manufacturers and content providers with the technical information and guidelines necessary to develop, announce and bring products to market pursuant to their own internal planning cycles and timetables.

Adoption of 3D in the Home Moves One Step Closer

In line with the BDA's announcement this month on the finalisation and release of their 'Blu-ray 3D' specification, a recent strategic 3D report from Futuresource Consulting shows an upsurge in the adoption of High Definition and Blu-ray hardware in 2010, strengthened by a clearly defined 3D roadmap.

Following the success of 3D in the cinema there is a major industry push to establish 3D in the home, says Jim Bottoms, Director, Futuresource, "and today's announcement by the BDA ensures a unified route forward. The quality and experience of High Definition via Blu-ray disc is unparalleled, and for those consumers not yet convinced by the HD experience, 3D will be another key selling point and a highly persuasive reason to upgrade. Our research shows that 3D-enabled BD players will be available in Q2 next year to support the major push on 3D TVs that will start at CES and build throughout the year. Further interest will be driven by owners of PS3 consoles, which will be able to play 'Blu-ray 3D' content.

At the beginning of this year many were concerned that consumers may retain their standard definition equipment in the light of a tightening economic environment. However, in line with Futuresource expectations, consumers have continued to upgrade to High Definition, encouraged by falling prices, growing awareness and the fact that home entertainment represents good value for money in tough economic times. Factor in the impact of a definitive 3D platform, coupled with the consistent advertising and education this will bring and we'll see the robustness of the packaged media business continue to surprise the industry, with its lifespan prolonged for some time to come.

Hollywood is currently releasing around 30 major 3D movie titles per annum, and indications are that this is going to double over the next 12 to 18 months. In the USA, titles such as Bolt and Ice Age have generated more than 50% of their theatrical revenues from the 3D version, and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic are demonstrating that they are prepared to pay a premium for 3D content. With many high profile 3D BD title releases planned from the middle of next year, the industry's eagerness to maximise the 3D in-home experience will go hand in hand with people's eagerness to consume the content.

Looking to the TV display market, manufacturers are already promoting 3D-ready sets and there is expected to be a major US push on these devices early in 2010," says Mike Fisher, Convergence & New Technologies Consultant, Futuresource. These TVs are a prerequisite to consumer adoption in much the same way as HD-Ready sets were used to seed the high definition market five years ago.

3D chipsets can be embedded into next gen hardware at relatively low cost. Combine this with an integrated consumer awareness programme and a coherent '3D-Ready' branding strategy, and there will be few obstacles to consumer adoption. Further, the determination of a number of leading hardware brands to carve an early position in the 3D TV and BD market will inevitably result in some attractive 3D bundling deals.

With the World Cup in June and July set to be shot in 3D, this will help to significantly raise the profile of the technology. Given the positive impact that this sporting festival always has on TV demand the retail trade is expected to put its full weight behind 3D very quickly.

Mobile-video apps set to double

Revenue from mobile-video applications will double worldwide over the next four years to $2.42 billion in 2013, with much of the growth taking place next year, according to Screen Digest. Revenue growth from mobile-video apps will exceed that of games applications sales, which will increase 40% by 2013 to $4 billion and mobile-music revenue, which will rise 25% to $4.56 billion, said Screen Digest, which is the parent of Monterey, Calif.-based research firm Adams Media Research.

Such growth will reflect a combination of the continuing popularity of Apple's iPhone and the expected surge in sales of Android phones. With more than a dozen phone models now running on Google's Android system, the percentage of applications downloaded to that platform will jump to 23% in 2014 from 11% this year, ABI Research said in a separate report last week.

"Companies such as Apple and Google have brought a much needed breath of fresh air to the mobile content industry by opening up the ecosystem, providing flexibility to developers and content providers, driving innovation and increasing consumer awareness," said Ronan de Renesse, senior analyst with Screen Digest.

Still, too much innovation might not be a good thing for applications developers because of all of the free apps expected to hit the market. Mobile-applications revenue will start to fall after 2013 on lower prices and more advertising-supported giveaways, according ABI. The drop in the average application price will occur even sooner, says Screen Digest.

"Falling prices combined with exponential mobile data growth will threaten the profitability of stand-alone mobile content services and data access," said de Renesse. "The successes of 2009 could become the nightmares of 2010."

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Disney for Apple TV online subscriptions?

ABC and CBS networks are considering joining a the proposed Apple TV online subscription venture first floated last month. ABC is a unit of the Walt Disney Company, which could also make two of its cable channels, ABC Family and the Disney Channel, available through the proposed service. The CBS Corporation owns half of the CW network, a smaller broadcaster that could also join.

The WSJ has reported that some other major TV companies, including News Corp and Turner Broadcasting, were more wary of the proposal.

Both CBS and Disney already have deals with Netflix to offer access to a range of shows to subscribers for a flat monthly fee on a PC. Netflix also has streaming-video deals with Starz Entertainment, MTV Networks, Showtime Networks, Discovery Communications and A&E.Apple TV initially floated a $30-per-month consumer subscription plan that would be advertising-free but is now said to be re-positioning with $2 to $4 per month for broadcast networks and $1 to $2 per month per subscriber for cable networks.

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COMPANY NEWS

JVC Kenwood Group and RealD Partner for 3D Business

3D technology leader RealD announced an agreement with JVC KENWOOD Holdings, Inc. to license multiple RealD technologies including the proprietary stereoscopic RealD Format. The RealD Format and other RealD 3D technologies will see integrated support in JVC 3D products including 3D LCD monitors.

"We are delighted to establish a partnership with RealD, a global leader in 3D technology for cinema, which will allow us to build on our solid track record of technological development for Hollywood and related markets," said Haruo Kawahara, Chairman, President and CEO of JVC KENWOOD Holdings, Inc. "We are confident this will lead to a dramatic increase in our 3D-imaging device business."

"Our partnership with JVC will give the market high-quality displays capable of delivering exceptional 3D visuals. We look forward to JVC leveraging RealD's three decades of 3D technology experience to capture the full capabilities of their unique 3D visualization products," added Michael V. Lewis, Chairman and CEO of RealD.

The RealD Format is a proprietary version of a side-by-side 3D format that multiplexes a left eye and right eye 3D image stream into a single channel for delivery of HD-quality 3D content to any 3D-enabled display type. The RealD Format uses a unique set of filters and other technologies making it compatible with today's HD infrastructure for high-quality 3D delivered via broadcast, packaged media or the Internet.

One of the product lines to integrate RealD 3D technology will be JVC's 3D LCD displays utilizing Xpol polarizer and passive circular polarized 3D eyewear. The company's distinctive high-quality 3D visual engine paired with RealD technology will allow the displays to deliver a natural flicker-free HD 3D experience.

Belden Acquires Telecast Fiber Systems

Telecast Fiber Systems has been acquired by Belden. Telecast’s co-founder Richard Cerny said: “This is a great step for Telecast and for our customers, as it combines the strengths of two of the most recognizable brands in video and audio communications.”

The purchase price was undisclosed. Both companies make cable and wiring products with a focus on the broadcast industry. Telecast specializes in fiber-optic systems. Belden has global manufacturing, sales and marketing locations.

Telecast co-founders Cerny and Gene Baker will be staying with the company.

Thomson’s Restructuring Plan is approved by all Creditor

Thomson S.A. announced that the committee of Thomson’s noteholders (Noteholders’ committee), which was convened today under the aegis of the Administrateur Judiciaire’s office, voted to approve the Restructuring Plan made public by Thomson on 9 December 2009. The Noteholders’ committee approved the Restructuring Plan at 98.8%.

All creditors’ committees (Suppliers, Lenders and Noteholders) have now approved the Restructuring Plan. Following this important milestone and consistent with the previously announced calendar, the Restructuring Plan will now be submitted for approval to the shareholders at the Ordinary and Extraordinary Shareholders’ Meeting to be convened on 27 January 2010 (First call: 19 January 2010). Thomson’s sauvegarde proceeding is expected to be concluded by February 2010.

XDC secures EUR 15.3 million growth capital

XDC, European a supplier of digital cinema distribution services, has taken a major step forward in order to execute its strategy to deploy and service more than 8,000 digital cinema screens across Europe by 2015.

XDC is the first company to have VPF digital cinema deployment agreements with all 6 major US film studios for a total of 8,000 digital screens in 22 European countries. VPFs (Virtual Print Fees) allow cinema exhibitors to invest in digitalisation with the financial support of the film studios, throughout XDC, deploying entity. XDC's VPF agreements make it the largest player in the roll-out of digital cinema in Europe.

As only 5% of the European movie screens have already been digitalized, digital cinema is expected to grow tremendously in the coming years, thanks to the VPF system and a strong market demand for 3D movies and alternative content.

Serge Plasch, CEO of XDC, stated: "Securing new funding in this challenging financial climate shows the market potential of XDC's technology and services. We are very proud that a new investor such as Gimv shares the vision with SRIW and our founding shareholders. With this funding, the company will be able to accelerate its network deployment and to expand its digital content services to the European cinema industry and beyond."

Qualcomm Reorganizes as COO Lauer Leaves

Qualcomm is realigning its business units following the resignation of Chief Operating Officer Len Lauer, who is leaving to become CEO of an unnamed company, the wireless technology vendor announced.

Lauer came to Qualcomm in 2006 from Sprint Nextel, where he was also chief operating officer. He had led Sprint's wireless division before the Sprint-Nextel merger in 2003 and was once president and CEO of Bell Atlantic-New Jersey. Some observers speculated on Thursday that Lauer would be taking over as CEO of Verizon Communications, going back to his roots in the carrier world. Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg has run the company since it was formed in 2000 through the mergers of several carriers, including Bell Atlantic.

Qualcomm said Lauer's resignation provided an opportunity to reorganize. The Qualcomm MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) Technologies group will now report to Steve Mollenkopf, who is president of the company's core CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) Technologies group. The MEMS organization is developing the Mirasol display technology for mobile devices, based on micro-electromechanical systems. In close cooperation with the MEMS group, the CDMA unit will work with handset makers to commercialize Mirasol, Qualcomm said.

Mirasol displays can provide good visibility in a variety of conditions, including bright sunlight, while consuming less power than conventional screens, according to Qualcomm. The displays reflect light using the same phenomenon that makes a butterfly's wings shimmer.

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PRODUCT NEWS

Apple to ship 5 megapixel iPhone - HD

Apple is said to be ready to ship 5 megapixel iPhone, and move 40 to 45 million iPhones total, during 2010. Taiwanese site Digitimes is reporting that OmniVision, the company who makes the CMOS image sensors that go inside the iPhone 3G and 3GS, is expecting to supply with 40 to 45 million cameras for iPhones during 2010. An unknown percentage of those will be 5 megapixel sensors, expected to go in the new iPhone that is expected to be announced on June 28th. Combine this with the rumour that the next iPhone will have NFC and we’re looking at one serious upgrade.

The iPhone 3GS today uses the Samsung S5PC100 application processor which can do 720p video recording and decoding. If the next iPhone has this new 5 megapixel sensor, which supports both 720p and 1080p video recording and decoding, then you’re looking at HD video possibly coming to an iPhone near you this summer.

RESEARCH NEWS

Global IPTV subs will grow to 83 million in 2013

A new MRG report, states that because the 2009 subscriber total exceeded the last forecast by 2 million, the new forecast indicates that global IPTV subscribers will grow from 28 million in 2009 to 83 million in 2013, a compound annual growth rate of 31%. The European region will continue to lead in IPTV deployments in 2013 with 48% share, followed by Asia, North America and Rest of World.

"Now that the economy seems to be improving, and Service Providers are still reporting solid growth, this Fall edition has adjusted the forecast accordingly," stated Jose Alvear, MRG IPTV Analyst. "This was done in response to the better-than-expected growth exhibited by the major Service Providers around the world in 2009."

Total service revenue for 2013 is projected at US$38 billion, also up sharply from the last forecast.

Mobile Internet Usage to surpass one billion by 2013

There were more than 450 million mobile Internet users worldwide in 2009, a number that is expected to more than double by the end of 2013.

Driven by the popularity and affordability of mobile phones, smartphones, and other wireless devices, IDC expects the number of mobile devices accessing the Internet to surpass the one billion mark over the next four years,

"The number of mobile devices with Internet access has simply exploded over the last several years," said John Gantz, chief research officer at IDC. "With a wealth of information and services available from almost anywhere, Internet-connected mobile devices are reshaping the way we go about our personal and professional lives. With an explosion in applications for mobile devices underway, the next several years will witness another sea change in the way users interact with the Internet and further blur the lines between personal and professional."

The most popular online activities of mobile Internet users are similar to those of other Internet users: using search engines, reading news and sports information, downloading music and videos, and sending/receiving email and instant messages. Over the next four years, IDC expects some of the fastest growing applications for mobile Internet users will be making online purchases, participating in online communities, and creating blogs. Accessing online business applications and corporate email systems will also grow rapidly as businesses move to empower their mobile workforce.

Highlights from IDC's Worldwide Digital Marketplace Model and Forecast (an IDC Database service) include the following:

  • More than 1.6 billion people – a little over a quarter of the world's population – used the Internet in 2009. By 2013, over 2.2 billion people – more than one third of the world's population – is expected to be using the Internet.
  • More than 1.6 billion devices worldwide were used to access the Internet in 2009, including PCs, mobile phones, and online videogame consoles. By 2013, the total number of devices accessing the Internet will increase to more than 2.7 billion.
  • China continues to have more Internet users than any other country, with 359 million in 2009. This number is expected to grow to 566 million by 2013. The United States had 261 million Internet users in 2009, a figure that will reach 280 million in 2013. India will have one of the fastest growing Internet populations, growing almost two-fold between 2009 and 2013.
  • Presently, the United States has far more total devices connected to the Internet than any other country. China, however, is the leader in the number of mobile online devices with almost 85 million mobile devices connected to the Internet in 2009. The number of Internet devices in India, both mobile and fixed, is expected to grow commensurate with the number of Internet users.
  • Worldwide, more than 624 million Internet users will make online purchases in 2009, totaling nearly $8 trillion (both business to business and business to consumer). By 2013, worldwide eCommerce transactions will be worth more than $16 trillion.
  • Worldwide spending on Internet advertising will total nearly $61 billion in 2009, which is slightly more than 10% of all ad spending across all media. This share is expected to reach almost 15%% by 2013 as Internet ad spending grows surpasses $100 billion worldwide.

    SCRI RESEARCH NEWS

    2009-2010 Broadcast Pro Video Marketplace Reports

    2009-2010 Broadcast Pro Video Marketplace Reports Series is now available. A total of 25 individual product reports as well as a macro industry overview and micro quantitative data analysis reports are available. Contact des_chas@scri.com for more information.

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