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Archive for the ‘Video & Web 2.0 Convergence’ Category

Netbook Innovation: Dell + Litl + Boxee

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While my brain is unusually active on ideas, I rarely write them down. Back in May in my post The Dell Dilemma – I wrote about how Dell needs to innovate. At that time I had an idea to propose, I never got around to writing about it. The idea can be best expressed by the seeing what this Litl startup has done. Dell needs to innovate their PC and Notebook lineup to better compete with HP. John Gruber of Daring Fireball makes very good arguments on why PC companies need to out of the box innovation here and here – and gives example of what Litl has done.

For now, Dell is trying to mimic IBM and HP with the acquisition of Perot Systems to compete with them. I think that is, culturally, a much more difficult move for Dell, not to mention it is not their core competency.

Dell should learn from Litl or may be even acquire them and come out with dual function notebook or webbook.  I would, though, enhance the Litl platform in the following ways:

1. A Dual-Mode machine = PC + Media Player

2. Install a Android-based OS (or may be even Ubuntu Karmic!) – increase the PC functionality on the current design of Litl

3. Make it a dual boot OR rather a dual-mode machine by providing a “dock” that has the HDMI connections to the TV

4. When the machine is docked, it would work as a Entertainment Netbook (the SW would switch upon docking)

5. Bundle a nice remote with the package (and of course the Dock)

5. License Boxee software and have it pre-loaded on the Book

6. When Undocked – it works like a PC with support for Google Docs or Open Office

Future editions could bundle the Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook support to make it work like an e-Reader. The bottomline, though, is that Dell’s operational and supply chain expertise could bring down the cost of manufacturing and marketing and introduce a new category in the Computing Market.

Written by Ashu Joshi

December 17, 2009 at 11:03 am

Intel & WindRiver: A Different Reason on Why It Makes Absolute Sense!

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Intel is going to acquire Wind River – it is all over the news & blogosphere. Some articles make the claim, such as this one in WSJ , that this acquisition will be a threat to Microsoft. The article also claims the acquisition will lead to a new source of revenue – selling software! Even if that is true, it is too far out to have a significant shareholder value – let’s not forget the real cash cow is in selling Processors and all other silicon they make!

I think it finally gives Intel the software expertise and hence control to add value to its processors & chips, and to out-rival the competition.

Here is why:

There is a growing need to have low-level software (a.k.a. firmware), the right Operating System (OS) support and the software tools for the specialized processors (System on Chip – SOC) Intel i s building for the new markets it is entering – one such example is Intel CE 3100 (code-name Canmore) designed for video devices such as Set Top Boxes (STB) and TVs. Intel’s thrust is evident in articles, a sampling of which you can read here, here, here,  and here.

And in this market for specialized processors, Intel is competing head on with the likes of Broadcom, Marvell, and Qualcomm. This market is sensitive to pricing plus needs bundling of the low-level firmware.  The inability to provide the enabling software would lead to the Intel chips being not used in favor of the competition. Without Wind River – Intel has to more or less rely on partners to support expanding range of software that needs to run on the specialized processors such as Adobe FlashLite, Google Android, Windows Mobile and may be in future the the new Palm WebOS being launched with Palm Pre.

Let me state the obvious – the real money is in creating and selling a device that adds value the higher end of the software stack – the Applications & Services a consumer would use.  And let’s not forget in the era of Web 2.0 time to market and service velocity is a must! So if I am a CE company and I want to design a product, I want a Processor that allows me to get to adding value quickly instead of spending time on doing the nitty-gritty embedded stuff.

Having Wind River in its portfolio enables Intel to out-compete and provide the complete solution to build CE devices…

Written by Ashu Joshi

June 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Telecompetitor: DirecTV Proves Triple Play is NOT King!

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This is a fairly old post by Telecompetitor but I was prompted to go back to it upon reading this in the WSJ – DirecTV bucks recession. The WSJ post by Roger Cheng says:

There are longer-term fears that DirecTV’s lack of a physical line into homes will ultimately prove a hindrance as more people watch TV on the Web, a claim the company dismisses. For now, not having a physical infrastructure is considered an advantage.

The cable providers have to deal with losing market share in TV customers, while the telecom companies are losing traditional landline customers. DirecTV doesn’t have a legacy business, and only has to worry about TV, which is benefiting from more consumers staying home.

The cable providers and telcos offering video are threatened to some degree by online video. NetFlix has also reported increased subscriptions because of their streaming service. The MSOs are deploying metered broadband t counter the threat.

DirecTV and Dish Network may be a in a position to distinguish themselves by combining their DBS service with Video On Demand & Online Video over Broadband connections.  The bandwidth challenges being faced today are two-fold:

1. Cable Providers have a challenge with the amount of bandwidth available to them on their cable plants.

2. Metering on the DOCSIS (which uses a different frequency range compared to Broadcast in cable plants) by the MSOs or just plain lack of decent bandwidth

With a hybrid service offering described above DirecTV may be poised to be a bigger threat to the cable providers (and also to Telcos with Wired Video solutions)  and a great consumer platform!

Disclaimer: I do not have DirecTV or Dish service at my home, neither do I own stock as of this posting and I am not working on any project related to DirecTV and Dish Networks.

Written by Ashu Joshi

April 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

Enhancing TV Platforms with Digg & Bit.ly

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First things first, the credit for this post in some way should go to GigaOm’s Om Malik (reading his articles and posts from the days of Red Herring) and his tweet for the post on Digg vs. Bit.ly

A bit of context before I outline my idea on what Digg should do –

In the last 18 to 24 months, my role involved working with Service Providers to provide them with TV/Video Solutions (primarily for Telcos with IPTV on DSL Networks) all over the world and a common theme in many of these conversations & projects were the request/requirements for the following features:

  • Voting Systems (Mechanism to use the Remote Control to vote in shows e.g. selecting or scoring the couple in “Dancing with the Stars”)
  • Sharing (Mechanism to share opinions/thoughts/likes on shows in real-time with Friends & Family)
  • Rating (Mechanism to collect consumer watching stats)
  • Recommendation (Using meta-data collected and pushing recommendations back to the consumer)

Today’s (i.e. released in the last 12 months or so) TV-connected devices  especially Set Top Boxes (STBs) support Web 2.0 frameworks built into them allowing Video to converge the Web Services & Applications.

It is then natural to gravitate towards using de-facto and popular Web 2.0 services rather than inventing proprietary methods to address the above features. It makes business sense to use Digg or similar services for implementing the value-added services listed above.  Simply speaking use the Digg API and applications on the devices –  a Poll or Score widget can be overlaid on the video.  The remote is then used to “Digg” shows.

This certainly do-able,  I have personally implemented Twitter & Flickr Apps on couple of the platforms. The Twitter app was used to showcase how can consumers share what they are watching with their followers!  A further and more important point of evidence  is to look at the services being introduced by Verizon FiOS  – they recently announced widgets and a developer program. AT&T U-Verse powered by Microsoft Mediaroom is another example of making Digg and other web services available on the TV.

To the point being made by Om in his post – services such as Digg have to innovate by spreading to other platforms, and getting onto the TV platform may make sense!

Written by Ashu Joshi

April 1, 2009 at 2:08 am