Sky Store Introduce Content For Keeps

In a move which could shake up the traditional process in which new movie content is offered during its first public release phases, UK satellite broadcasters Sky have revealed an update to their ‘Sky Store‘ that now enables users of their set-top boxes the ability to purchase and keep films offered on their virtual shelves.

anchorman_2_sky_storeThe new feature, announced by BSkyB as having the service title ‘Buy & Keep’, is one which will be their first-ever transaction-based ‘download-to-own’ service, riding into the spotlight by officially ‘going live’ on the Sky Store yesterday on St George’s Day (23 April).

As well as the previous option of renting any movies on the digital storefront (which almost entirely included ‘new’ movies just past their theatrical exclusivity period and coming out on home release) Sky customers with internet connection will also be eligible to pay out a little extra for the right to purchase new films.

Wary of the ‘double/triple play’ era that most disc-based HD movies now go through, Sky have ensured that customers won’t feel as ripped off by their digital download prices by including a postal DVD copy along with any ‘Buy & Keep’ purchase for an HD digital download.

Like in the manner the Sky Store operated before their upgrade, almost all movies offered through ‘Buy & Keep’ are launched at the same time as DVD/Blu-ray release as a further move to not lose out on any customers, with the store also ensuring they carry some of the best-known content such as The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and The Wolf of Wall Street, amongst others, alongside plans to offer the soon-to-be freshly-released comedy sequel Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues beginning in their second week of operation.

Nicola Bamford, the director of Sky Store, summarised: “Our customers love to watch their favourite movies again and again, and with ‘Buy & Keep’ they get the benefit of being able to watch in minutes with the HD digital download, as well as receiving the original DVD in the post.”

While there is a wide-scale expansion and push planned for the promotion of their Sky Store service (joining platforms including smartphone/tablet computer and NOW TV/Roku/YouView support (storing content on a device’s hard drive rather than a Sky+ box)), including a move into selling ‘download-to-own’ TV show boxsets (currently available for free streaming to appropriate satellite TV subscribers), the developing service will have a great deal of potential in the digital download market, but satellite subscribers will just hope it doesn’t become too successful, lest they start having to wait even longer for a TV release of their favourite content…

AT&T Looking To Become $500 Million Netflix Rival

The broadband industry looks set to get a super-fast competitor staking a claim to market domination in the form of AT&T’s expanding ‘GigaPower’ brand, and a perfect compliment to such a statement of intent would most likely be a streaming service to showcase what can be done with such signals, and while that is indeed what the company have confirmed (in not so many words), this week the pair of semi-connected moves were announced in reverse order.

peter_chernin_excellentThe telecommunications giants have suggested that it will be an ambitious new service that they launch in an attempt to compete with the likes of Netflix, offering a subscription streaming platform in co-operation with ex-News Corporation president Peter Chernin to provide ‘over-the-top video services’.

While no firm details have been confirmed, it is believed that the partners (AT&T and media investment firm The Chernin Group) have committed around $500m to making such a service work.

Such funding for the proposed venture would be invested in supplying both ‘video-on-demand channels’ and generalized streaming services, with those in charge undecided as to whether they could try to make money from the subscription route a la Netflix, advertising in the manner of YouTube, or by letting consumers decide between the options as Hulu does.

Believed to be the next step in am AT&T/Chernin collaboration which first saw them attempt to make a joint purchase of Hulu, the interest in streaming from the two parties is clear, and may potentially head in the direction of The Chernin Group’s existing operations, namely following on from their stake in anime specialist site Crunchyroll by offering more niche video websites.

In a statement on the matter, Chernin summarised: “Consumers are increasingly viewing video content on their phones, tablets, computers, game consoles and connected TVs on mobile and broadband networks.”

With the potential to incorporate a video service into existing cable, telecommunications, or future giga-broadband deals, the AT&T and Chernin Group partnership could be one with a strong foundation given their financial clout, but will it be able to deliver where other aspiring Netflix-beaters have failed?

Amazon Tilt In Preference Of 3D Smartphone

In a move that would edge the world one step closer to Samsung’s proposed dream of augmented flexi-viewing of day-to-day life, rumours have emerged surrounding the first-ever Amazon smartphone.

amazon_in_3dSuch a product has been rumoured for a long time, with further rumours establishing the likelyhood that the screen of it will be 3D-capable, rumours which are now close to being confirmed, according to leaked reports by BGR.

The device, still yet to be confirmed by the online retail specialists, is one which is set to be able to utilise ‘unique gesture controls’, as opposed to a finger-based touchscreen (or the tried-and-apparently-now-slipping flexible screens). More literally on top of that fact, a key function of this currently hypothetical handset is reportedly to display ‘additional details’ if the device is tilted in a different direction, a feate believed to be accomplished via ‘retina-tracking technology’ embedded within four corner-based ‘front-facing cameras’ carrying sensors.

An example given is that labels are set to appear underneath app icons in order to offer a description of their function, whilst, tilting the device in a maps service can bring up a business’ Yelp ratings in an almost augmented-reality presentation format above the map location. For Amazon’s more in-house services, the innovation is thought to include integration of IMDb ratings and information on top of a title in Amazon’s video stores, and tilting to display alternative imagery on any product within Amazon’s main retail site.

Adding to the augmented reality side of the phone’s potential, it is thought that a further feature could be the ability to use the rear-facing camera as a means of ‘reading’ and interpreting written documents or general text on real-life objects into more legible computerised versions that can instantly be converted into a passage of text on-screen, in a similar manner to language translation services available around the internet.

However, the innovations could be at the cost of what consumers are now used to, with plans also reportedly featuring the potential removal of any touchscreen menu buttons, with tilting again the method of control in that area of the product, though innovation will again come in the movements triggering ’tiles’ to appear in ‘X-ray’ format overlaying the existing screen.

Whether or not such options will be available upon Amazon’s highly-anticipated announcement remains to be seen, though there could be an assumption that whatever released, unlike Apple’s recent slowing of innovative features, will at least be… something different…

AT&T Chomping At The Gigabit To Offer Improved Streaming

In a potential move to compete with Google‘s developing ‘Google Fiber’ super-fast internet service, American telecommunications giants AT&T are said to be proposing a ‘major expansion’ of their competing service, with designs on covering as much as 100 municipalities within 25 metropolitan areas across the country.

at&t_speed_demonstrationThe service from AT&T, known as GigaPower, carries a 1 gigabit/second speed cited as being 100 times more powerful than the national average, leading naturally to much more seamless downloads of content including videos and the capability for more connected devices to share the network signal with minimal impact on overall speed.

Whilst currently only operating this function in the Texan city of Austin (USA) and a commitment to expand to nearby city Dallas, AT&T are also in ‘advanced talks’ to propose roll-outs of GigaPower in two markets of the state of North Carolina, in the form of Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem.

Beyond that, AT&T claim further expansions of their ‘symmetrical’ service (designed to have equal download/upload speeds) will be dependent on discussions with relevant city officials and an assessment of local demand for such a service, though they will limit themselves to areas in which they have landline operations, primarily the south of the USA.

Looking to keep up with peak speeds of the most developed internet infrastructures in the world (including the regions of East Asia and Northern Europe), as well as increasing demand from both home and business sectors, will consumers soon be able enjoy a better quality of internet in the USA? If you are in any of AT&T’s future planned metropolitan markets (Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Worth, Greensboro, Jacksonville, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, St Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose) you could soon be in luck…

Lori Lee, AT&T’s ‘senior executive vice-president for home solutions & business’, summarised of the need for better-quality broadband: “We see this as where the world is going. We are about skating where the puck is going and not necessarily where it is today.”

Of course, should AT&T want to go even further with their ethos and target a little extra broadband power in anticipation of future demand, then you can be fairly sure their internal researchers could squeeze out an extra, say, 21% to bring a total speed of… what?

Apple Hint At New HQ While Samsung Receive More Vicious Cycle

Another part of the company that has been rumored for quite a while now, Apple’s planned new headquarters seems to be drawing closer to reality, and drawing a perfect circle on their ambitious designs.

apple_loop_circular_hqThe rounded project being proposed is for their planned ‘Campus 2′ building, located in the same Californian town as before (Cupertino (USA)), but with more of a technological and eco-friendly edge.

While Apple’s commitment to premium quality and prices to match has seen a number of their designs now commonly seen in everyday life, one will be one-of-a-kind, with new video footage outlining exactly what their design team (led by architect Norman Foster) want to see from their future new base, tipped to open in 2016.

The video reveals opinions from the team preparing the Campus 2 plans including Foster’s revelations that he was hand-picked by the late Steve Jobs for the architectural… job.

The concept models revealed also show off the unique features that won’t be as immediately visible as it’s shape, with an estimated 80% of the site in question set to be the interior ‘green space’ seen in the picture, complete with its own ‘native trees’ that complete a building designed to have no ‘net increase’ in greenhouse gas emissions, on what some might and probably will call a technicality considering the garden is not part of the construction itself.

In what is quite a turnaround for a company previously adorned with protesting ‘black cloud’ balloons, the outside of the building will be constructed entirely from ‘hand-crafted material’ whilst placing solar panels in numerous places.

While their commitment to environmental concerns in these areas will be applauded by almost all, the way they go about it can just as easily cause eye-rolling as well amongst others, especially if you are Samsung, who were on the receiving end of a full-page advertisement showcasing a field of solar panels complete with the attempted burn line “There are some things we want every company to copy,” a reference of course to the ongoing patent debates Apple are engaged in with Samsung.

But at the same time, Apple also announced a ‘free recycling programme’ within their stores starting on Earth Day yesterday (22 April), and pledged an increase in their ‘commitment to renewable energy’, so the world can’t be too mad at their provocation tactics…

HBO Go Ads Address Issue Of TV Embarassment

As far as marketing campaigns go, the main goal of promoting your product or service should be to genuinely relate to a target market and then use that as a building block towards promoting why what you are offering is useful.

hbo_go_awkward_momentsAnd it appears clear that HBO have identified a target market for their latest efforts in promoting the HBO Go streaming platform… teenagers. Although the HBO Go service is one that is available for free exclusively for any HBO premium cable subscriber, it appears as though they have felt the need to remind that demographic that such an option is already out there if they haven’t already seen it on their alternative viewing platforms.

Luckily, said adverts take a premise that many young viewers are probably thinking when they are caught up in similar situations.

The seven short commercials made by HBO showcase the awkward scenarios that can occur when a family watch their network together on the only TV in the house carrying the channel, using popular programming including Game of Thrones, Girls, True Blood, True Detective, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, in particular the parts containing subject matter you would rather hear on your own as a younger viewer than have parents chipping in with their opinions.

With the common tagline of being able to watch “Far, far away from your parents,” will the HBO Go commercials help to make teenager’s bedrooms an even more ‘sacred’ and restrictive location? All seven of them can be seen below: