Archive for August, 2006|Monthly archive page

Target shipment of Sony PS3 may be halved

On the heels of yesterday’s announcement Sony and Matsushita, have suspended shipments of the blue laser diodes that drive both high-def disc formats, DigiTimes is reporting that Sony may be restating their 4 million unit estimate down to 2 million, thanks to troubles with Blu-ray diodes, their GPUs, and lousy Cell yields.  According to sources in Taiwan’s game console manufacturing industry, Sony’s OEM makers in China and Japan are still preparing for volume production of the PS3 and there is a short supply of blue laser diodes, a key component of Blu-ray Disc (BD) pick-up heads, and cell processors

Target shipment of Sony PS3 may be halved

PSFK: Disappearing Electronics

The folks over at PSFK have an interesting observation regarding consumer electronics.  I think their observation is correct:

“The shrinking of technology has meant that we’re no longer forced to show off technology. Our TVs are on wheels and can come out when we feel like moving the projector from its cubby hole is too much of an effort, speakers are beginning to look like pictures. Our desktops have become laptops filed away in the magazine basket. Our music player is the ubiquitous little white box and the stacks of CDs and DVDs are quickly disappearing to storage (before they end up in recycling).”

What do you think?? 

 PSFK: Disappearing Electronics

Starbucks friends & family giveaway gets out of control

According to a company press release, Starbucks is discontinuing a “free iced coffee” campaign that they send via e-mail to employees in the Southeast US.  Recipients were instructed to share with friends and family.  “Unfortunately, it has been redistributed beyond the original intent and modified beyond Starbucks control. Effective immediately, this offer will no longer be valid at any Starbucks locations.”

Hmmm, if anything could have been predictably “viral”, it would have been a free drink at Starbucks. 

Laser Shortage to Stall High-Def Disc War?

<via SlashDot>

“DigiTimes reports that several major vendors, including Sony and Matsushita, have suspended shipments of the blue laser diodes that drive both high-def disc formats. The rumored laser shortage could result in shipment delays for new models of Blu-ray and HD DVD players and drives past the upcoming holiday season, cooling the next-gen DVD format war until 2007.”

Because avatars need phones, too

<via Springwise>

In what seems like a weekly occurence, another brand has popped up in Second Life. This time it’s Telus, Canada’s second largest telco, who opened a virtual store last week.  Telus is both the first major Canadian corporation, and the first major telecommunications company to enter SL. Unlike Aloft Hotel and American Apparel‘s store, which are both located on privately owned islands, Telus set up shop in a downtown area on SL’s mainland (visit location).

According to 3pointD, the telco’s foray into Second Life was initiated by a Telus advertising manager. Sparkle Dale, as she’s known in Second Life, has a personal passion for gaming and metaverses and saw an opportunity to extend her employer’s brand into a new realm.

The store was designed along the lines of flagship stores in Toronto and Montreal and features phones that are modelled and named after actual Samsung and Motorola models. While integration with Skype, other voice over IP systems and real life mobile phones would of course be an exciting way to merge virtual and real worlds, Telus’s SL phones currently only let users shoot off busy messages to other citizens. The phones are on sale for a few hundred Linden Dollars, which is the equivalent of a few US dollars.

Website: http://www.telus.ca and http://secondlife.com

Scion Drives into Second Life

This one is a bit dated as I have not been posting for a couple of weeks…

<via Springwise>

Scion just became first automaker to run a campaign in Second Life, releasing virtual cars in the popular metaverse. Toyota’s progressive brand announced the initiative at the Second Life Community Convention in San Francisco.While a real-world version of the boxy Scion xB was driven around a parking lot near the convention center, silver virtual models were dropped at various points in Second Life for residents to drive. A full launch will follow in October, when SL citizens will be able to customize Scion models. Makes sense, considering Scion already lets buyers do a fair amount of customization on real-world cars. For images of Scion’s launch in Second Life, see intellagirl’s coverage of the event. (Thanks to Cyrus Huffhines at Millions of Us for lending us an xB!)”

For more on brands entering Second Life, check out previous coverage of Aloft Hotels and American Apparel. The later has sold over 2,000 items of clothing in SL (source: AdAge), and offers virtual shoppers a 15% discount if they buy the same piece of clothing in the real world.

Who’s next? Continuing the trend of using SL as platform for testing designs, Adidas Reebok is planning a Second Life project that will let SL residents give feedback on sneaker models and colors.  And as I reported back in June, engineers at Amazon are working on building a bridge between Amazon and Second Life (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is an investor in Linden Lab, which created Second Life).

Can the PS3 Save Sony?

 PlayStation 3 logo

Wired has an excellent article on Sony which covers in great detail, the company’s uncertain future and daring strategic gamble focused on the PS3. 

The bottom line – Sony has lost its way and is standing at a precipice.  It’s betting the company on the PS3; a daring strategy which pits them against Microsoft, not just in video games, but across the entire panoply of home electronics, which Microsoft is determined to control through software.

Sony is a great example of what happens when a company stops listening and responding to the needs of their customers.  Sony’s biggest successes have been as a personal hardware company, coming up with nifty gadgets that delight consumers, but in recent decades, it has pushed a plethora of proprietary standards that the world has consistently rejected.   In Sony’s current struggle, it is more focused on beating Microsoft than it is on creating great gadgets that customers want.  As a result, the PS3 is bloated with expensive, proprietary technology, which has delayed the product’s launch, much to the dissappointment of loyal gamers.  More importantly, nothing in all that technology indicates that the PS3 will be fun for the customer who shells out a whopping $600 for a console.  The Wired article makes the following observation:

“At the root of Sony’s precarious position – not just in the industry, but with gamers at large – is the company’s overweening ambition. The PS3 is all about power. Sony has said curiously little about whether this amped-up Linux über-computer will actually be fun to play. Meanwhile, Nintendo wowed everyone at this year’s E3 with the Wii, a console you can play simply by waving a wand at the screen. And Microsoft has upped the fun quotient by making it easy to play with all your buddies online.”

SpiralFrog, Universal in free music download deal

SPoral Frog

The BBC is reporting that Universal Music, the world’s largest music company, has agreed to back a new venture that will allow consumers to download songs for free and instead rely on advertising for its revenues.

Available from a new music site called SpiralFrog, the deal will allow users in the USA and Canada to listen to Universal’s music, which Reuters’ news site reveals is paid for by targeted advertising, but no details of possible community or playlist sharing features of the SpiralFrog service.

The clueless, digital music business has been going through lots of growing pains over the last few years, but in the end, moving from closed, proprietery models, controlled by the supplier, to a free and open system where the consumer is in control is inevitable.  As with virtually everthing these days, the power has shifted to the consumer.  Digital piracy continues to flourish, despite high profile prosecutions from the RIAA, and the Russian music site AllofMP3.com continues to operate providing anything you want, DRM-free, at a fraction of iTunes costs. 

As Ryan Block over at Engadget said in his blog,

“It’s a step in the right direction, but what do you think the odds are that Universal is still going to require DRM even on free downloads? Now, DRM-free costless downloads with ads, that’s fine, but when is someone just going to offer what we really want: straight up DRM-free media downloads? We’re willing to freaking pay for it, you know? And we’re sure a lot of other people out there are willing to, as well.”

The iTunes model was a great innovation, bringing simplicity and legitimacy to the digital music business; however, the restrictions it imposes are not what the customer wants and, in the end, the customer always wins! 

Music Artists Discover Second Life

MySpace.com started as a place for established and aspiring artists to make themselves heard through Social Networking.  Now that there are literally thousands of acts crowding the pages of Myspace.com, a number of well known veterans like Duran Duran and Suzanne Vega are establishing outposts in Second Life. 

Artists are creating avatars and using the game’s audio-streaming features to play “live” concerts on stages made of polygons. Whether this approach (and Second Life itself for that matter) catches on or just remains a novelty is yet to be seen, but with nearly 400,000 members, Second Life is considered by some record companies to be a good venue to reach fans.

Wired has a fairly detailed article on this evolution here: Second Life Rocks (Literally)

Photo Credit: Virtual U2 in “Second Life”  –  DarkDharma Daguerre

GlucoPhone: A Cellphone for Diabetics

glucophone.JPG

Digital Health Monitoring continues to work its way into the Consumer Electronics landscape.  Here is a new cellphone, from the folks at HealthPia, that can manage your diabetes easily and conveniently. This phone, which is essentially a cellphone and glucometer, will measure blood sugar levels, record and send results to yourself and others and even manage your meal plans. The system uses custom software along with an LG UX5000, VX5200, or LX350 and a Glucopack. 

Product Page [HealthPia]
Via

The End of the Music Store

Chris Anderson (author of “The Long Tail” and Wired bigwig) highlights news that Tower Records is on the way out.

Chris writes,

The once-proud Tower Records is now edging closer to the rocks, according to continued reports. The chain has been struggling with mounting debt, and major labels were recently forced to freeze shipments following various non-payments.

This is symptomatic of the failure of the entire music industry, from labels to retailers, to sense and respond to the disruptive shift that was Digital Music. 

Several months back, Piers Fawlkes over at PSFK commented on the closing of several large chains in Britain saying,

The concept of the mega-music store in its current form comes from a pre-digital era: pile it high, twist the arms of record companies to pay for placement, limit stock. The digital music revolution came and went and HMVs and Virgin Megastores remained largely unchanged.

The Long Tail: The end of the mass-market record store?

(Screencap taken from the Day of the Longtail video)

Dell battery recall prompts inquiry into all Sony laptop batteries

CIMG3042-1200.jpgAs you may have heard, Dell is scrambling to recall 4.1 million laptop batteries after comfirming that there was really something wrong with them.  Interestingly, the batteries are made by Sony and are not unlike batteries used in Apple, HP & Sony laptops. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission acknowledged on Tuesday that the batteries “are not unique to just the Dell notebook computers,” and have launched a review of all Sony laptop cells manufactured between April 2004 and June of this year. Some manufacturers, like Apple, claim to be looking into the matter on their own, while others — namely HP — have publicly distanced themselves from the affair by stating that “It’s a Dell issue.”

You may recall that Apple had a similar battery problem and launched an exchange program for MacBook Pros sold from February to May of this year.  It’s possible that your Sony or HP are next to go up in flames?  Chances are slim, but until the issue is resolved, I wouldn’t keep that laptop of yours running 24/7.

Microsoft Invites You to Create XBOX Games

Microsoft To Enable User-Created Xbox 360 Games<via Gamasutra>

Perhaps its because it costs nearly $40Million to produce a game for Xbox or maybe they are finally understanding the power of Social Media, but Microsoft has made a very interesting announcement about game content creation.  Starting on August 20, Microsoft are making available the tools for people to create videogames for the Xbox 360

XNA Game Studio Express will be available for free to anyone with a Windows XP-based PC, and will provide them with what’s described as “Microsoft’s next-generation platform for game development.” In addition, by joining a “creators club” for an annual subscription fee of $99, users will be able to build, test and share their games on Xbox 360, as well as access a wealth of materials to help speed the game development progress.
Microsoft already has 10 US universities, including the University of Southern California and Southern Methodist University, who will include XNA Game Studio Express and Xbox 360 development in their curriculum.

Microsoft executive Peter Moore said “It’s our first step of creating a YouTube for videogames.”

In an official statement related to this major announcement, Microsoft suggested that the new product “…will democratize game development by delivering the necessary tools to hobbyists, students, indie developers and studios alike to help them bring their creative game ideas to life while nurturing game development talent, collaboration and sharing that will benefit the entire industry.”

More details on the pregram can be found here

The Global Electronics Waste Problem

The Global Electronic Waste Problem

FastCompany has put together a powerful slideshow which details the amount of electronics waste discarded each year.  More importantly, the slideshow discusses the health risks generated by this waste.   In light of this data, blue chip companies are stumbling over each other to “Go Green”

It’s Starting to Look Like the Jetsons

Biosensor Illustration

“Soon, mothers will routinely test their children at home for the flu. Doctors will screen patients for cancer and begin discussing treatment based on the immediate results. Farmers will scrutinize the health of animals, and soldiers and environmental inspectors will test the safety of air and water, without time-consuming trips to the lab.

This is the data-rich future that Dow Corning is helping create via an alliance with Genencor International. They have to make a powerful portable biosensor that–unlike today’s unwieldy equipment–will be easy to use and flexible, capable of performing multiple diagnostic tests.

Kevin Ryan, Dow’s biosensor leader, expects the first device, aimed at veterinarians, to be available in a couple of years. Sensors for human use and food inspection need FDA approval, which could take several years. The promise, though, is real: life-saving data without the wait.”

Click here for more on how this will work.

<via FastCompany>

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