Hulu’s international plans have been the subject of much speculation in recent months as Netflix begins its worldwide expansion. The video streaming service had finally made its first move. Hulu will be available to Japanese users later this year.
Fox just doesn't seem to get it. Around a week after Netflix's price hike sent irate customers into the arms of its competitors – like Hulu, which Fox has a stake in – the network announced, in a very customer UNfriendly move, that people who don't subscribe to cable, Dish Network or Hulu Plus would soon have to endure an eight-day delay between the time a show airs and the time it appears online. Customers didn't get angry, but they're just going to shrug their shoulders and go back to picking up Family Guy on P2P networks, anyways.
You probably know Netflix raised its prices. And, like everyone else, you're probably outraged at the death of $10 1 disc + streaming plan. But the $6 price hike doesn't have to be the end of the world.
For those of you who received a Boxee Box for the holidays and were disappointed to find out that both Vudu and Netflix aren't yet supported, don't despair, both are coming soon.
"We're sorry that Vudu and Netflix will not be available on the Boxee Box until January," Boxee's Avner Ronen wrote in a blog post. "I know many users will be upset. I am disappointed that we couldn't make it happen in time for the end of the year. However I'd ask that you put your faith in us. There are countless devices with access to these services available, but I'd like to think you chose Boxee because we offer something different, in our approach, in our commitment, in our passion, in the way we communicate (whether it's good stuff or bad), and in how quickly we move on the stuff that matters most to our users."
Ronen says that Vudu should be up and running by the end of next week, which the Boxee team hopes will be enough to pacify users until Netflix joins the fray at the end of the month. So why the delay?
"While both services are up and running in our offices on the Boxee Box, we need some more time to test each application to make sure they are ready for launch," Ronen explained.
So you're jetting off to a tropical island in uncharted waters. But how are you supposed to enjoy paradise when copyright laws put the international hammer down on Netflix? Winter travelers, meet your new best friends: Proxy and VPN services.
Citing un-named sources "with knowledge on the matter," Reuters is reporting that Hulu is busy developing a subscription service that it plans to roll out on several devices in the next month or two.
At least one of those devices will be Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console, which already features Netflix streaming, while one of the other sources said you can expect Hulu to release a version for Apple's iPad. Naturally, none of the companies supposedly involved had any comment.
While nothing has been confirmed, a move like this would hardly be surprising. It has been speculated for some time that Hulu would look to a subscription based model of some sort, though it remains to be seen how well something like this will be received.
"Many consumers already pay $100 or more monthly for TV, telephony, and high-speed Internet access and are unlikely to welcome an incremental fee merely to watch from the Internet some of the programs they already get," said Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media.
Not everyone share's Leigh's opinion, however.
"Many viewers are not going home to watch TV anymore. They've already been trained to believe TV is coming to them and demand is growing for this content in different forms and different business models," said Mike Vorhaus of media consultancy Frank N. Magid.
Would you pay for Hulu if it was integrated seamlessly into your Xbox 360, iPad, or other Internet-connected device?
If we'd been asked to come up with a name for Google's upcoming music retail web store, we would have shrugged our shoulders and muttered something like 'Google Music'. Turns out Google is just as straight forward and uncreative as us. TechCrunch did some digging around on Google's servers and found what appears to be a logo indicating the service would be called Google Music. The file has since disappeared.
Google demoed the web-based music store at Google I/O last month. It was shown off with the ability to do over the air downloads to Android phones. Google didn't really give any detail about the service, which is expected to roll out with the new web-based Android Market. We were skeptical that Google would be doing the actual sale of the music themselves, but would rather be a storefront, but this new evidence makes us think they might go toe to toe with Apple after all.
Apple is expected to launch a cloud-based music service at WWDC next week. So if Google wants to get people interested, they should get Google music ready to rollout soon.
Updated 5/06/10 12:30PST to reflect Seagate comments on pricing.
Yesterday Seagate announced their new FreeAgent GoFlex line of external drives, which is actually more interesting than it sounds. Instead of a standard 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA drive with a SATA-to-USB controller inside, a GoFlex drive wears its controller on the outside. The GoFlex drive is not much more than a hard drive with a minimal plastic sheath and a SATA port, into which the drive controller itself is plugged. This allows you to change out drive controllers when you upgrade your system, plug the bare drive directly into a dock (like the GoFlex Net network-storage device or GoFlex TV HD media player, or (hopefully) just plug it into your rig for SATA speed with no overhead.
The GoFlex has modular cables, so today's USB 2.0 drive can become tomorrow's USB 3.0 drive easily.
Market niches become filled after awhile. And when they do anxious manufacturers, hoping to wring a few more dollars out of their product, will look to expand their usability. Gaming consoles, while widely used, are still a niche product--they appeal to people who want to game. Once gamers have had their fill, what’s Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony to do? Teach their consoles a new trick is what. Make them devices that are equally at home with fraggers and media viewers by broadening their ability to stream media from the Internet.
True enough, Xbox, PlayStation, and the Wii already have such capabilities. But their repertoire is limited. What’s needed is a broader selection of media content, so that more people will be inclined to purchase. PlayStation users, for example, can watch the BBC and Weather Channel, while Xbox and Wii users can tap into Netflix. But what about regular TV? There the options are more limited.
Microsoft is hoping to rectify this. It's now in ‘secret’ negotiations with Disney to bring ESPN to the Xbox. Microsoft is taking the view that Xbox Live is more than a gaming community. It’s also a cable channel, with 20 million monthly subscribers, and 1 million daily users. (Numbers comparable to the Cartoon Network and TBS.) Microsoft already has an interactive game show, “1 vs. 100”. And it is looking to make itself a “bigger player” in film and television viewing.
There’s a definite logic to such moves by console makers. There are a lot more of us who watch TV than game. And gaming consoles, already present in many households, are reasonable platforms for streaming media from the Internet. But what happens if this new market focus supplants gaming? Right now console gamers are getting a lot of TLC from console makers. Should they no longer be the industry’s ‘golden child’, will console gamers be orphaned in favor of soap operas and reality TV?
Big wheels keep on turning, and product announcements keep on churning out of CES. This one: IOGEAR is announcing a Wireless HD Kit and a Solar Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit.
The Wireless HD Kit (GWAV8141K), IOGEAR tells us, will help “eliminate home theater clutter.” While it’s not clear how the Kit will help us “customize [our] living space”, it is clear it will let us stream video from a variety of sources, including Blu-ray/DVD players, DVR/set-top boxes, VHS players (VHS? Who still uses VHS?), computers, and media servers to home theater PCs or HDTVs. Inputs are: two HDMI ports, one composite port, one VGA port, and one component port. Outputs are: one HDMI port, one composite port, and one component port.
The Kit, touted as “Plug and Play”, will allow broadcasting of HD (1080p/60 Hz) content and digital audio to four separate HD/non-HD displays. (Package contents list suggests you only get one transmitter and one receiver in the Kit. Just guessing, but it looks like you’ve to pick up the other three receivers separately.) Customizing your living space isn’t going to come cheap--IOGEAR has attached a $899.95 price tag to the Kit. You’ll find it on store shelves in March.
The Solar Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kit (GBHFK231), does pretty much what its name says. It connects to any Bluetooth enabled cell phone, allowing communication through a built-in microphone and speaker. (You can also use a headset.) The Kit is Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR compliant. And it has an integrated solar panel to keep it charged. (It also can be charged via USB). IOGEAR’s asking price is $69.95, and is available now.