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Xbox 360 With Zune HD Integration (Fall Update Preview) – Fascinating Implications – Is This The Box I’m Looking For?

The TV on the Internet world has had a bunch of interesting announcements this week. We now know Apple TV is running IOS on the inside (TV Apps anyone?) and Hulu+ is coming to the Roku box. When will we get that ultimate box?

Does Microsoft have a chance with all in this?

Let’s cover the big issues (in my mind at least): Price, Netflix integration, Hulu+ integration, Movies to purchase/rent, Television to purchase/rent:

Roku: $69 and up – Netflix yes / Hulu yes / Movies yes (Amazon) / Television yes (Amazon)
Apple TV: $99 – Netflix yes / Hulu no / Movies yes / Television limited
Xbox: $199 and up – Netflix yes / Hulu yes / Movies yes / Television yes
Boxee Box: $249 – Netflix yes / Hulu yes / Movies yes / Television yes (free/paid)

We just don’t know enough about Google TV (yet) to include here.

Microsoft sent an Xbox with the Fall Update Preview Beta. Very nice integration. Haven’t been able to talk about it until today. BTW, here are Engadget’s thoughts.

Yes, Roku is cheaper but she doesn’t let me play Gears of War – nuff said.

I think Microsoft has something very cool here – but I’d love your thoughts. I got everything I want on this device (minus iPhone integration, of course) and don’t know or see how Apple can deliver on their Apple TV platform (or at least what we know of it today). Boxee is more expensive and does a lot less. Yes, I have some free Internet TV viewing options but there are ways to get that on the Xbox as well.

Embedded below is a video walkthrough of the Zune stuff on the new Xbox Fall Update Preview. More on that over at ZuneLuv.com.

Apple TV Take 2 – Not So Much – Choice

I’ve been chewing on the whole Apple TV take 2 thing for a few days now. Despite my Fanboy status, still completely and totally underwhelmed. Here’s why:

  • Netflix on demand but nobody else (Amazon, Vudu, etc.). I can get more choices cheaper with Roku (and won’t always pay $4.99 a stream). Heck there are $99 Blu-ray players with more functionality and you at least get a Blu-ray player (and $1.49 viewings from your local Redbox).
  • Speaking of cheaper with Roku, I can also get a lot more with that little box as well. Have you seen their continuing channel list? Throw in the possibilities Media Fly allows for and the Apple TV is 1/10th the box.
  • Of course I can’t get Hulu or anything like that with Roku but with the coming Boxee box (yes, twice as much) and the recent Plex Announcements (wow, didn’t see what coming), I will continue to watch Hulu on my big screen – despite what the EULAs say.
  • Missed opportunity. Apple TV should have her own app store – it’s as simple as that. Now, for those telling me “it’s coming” I simply ask – and where will those apps be stored – the cloud? Nope. Not in this release of the box.
  • The whole “amateur hour” dig really got to me. Instead of “people want to watch television and Hollywood Movies” (heaven forbid an Indie, Steve) how about “People want to watch what they want to watch and we’re gonna make it easy.

I know Ed Dale and others tell me this is just step 1 but I’m not seeing it. For a company who wants to “think different” it just smacks of a company rushing to get something on the shelves in time for Christmas.

Your take – fanboy or otherwise?

Weekend Roundup: Breaking Eggs Edition

As I’ve chewed on / had a few days to think about the Hulu Plus announcement, I am both amazed at what a bad idea it is, on some many levels. I guessed I’ve moved from questions to lethargy. I tweeted yesterday that I thought Hulu was trying to make an omelet without breaking eggs on this one and was failing miserably. Still feel that way.

Here are a few other thoughts from people smarter than me (although I’d love to hear from Boxee or Roku right now):

There is also a lot of talk online about how you have to pay for the higher level of access to the PS3 or Xbox versions while paying for the access but I’m pretty sure the zillion or so Xbox users watching Netflix on their gold accounts have gotten over that pretty quickly.

I’m frustrated because it is a very very very weak attempt at bridging the gap, almost so weak that one might ask if it was designed to fail. I’ve said from the beginning that I think Hulu was designed to fail since day one and although the Hulu Plus announcement did surprise me, I can’t help but wonder if I’m still right.

What do you think?

Google TV – What It Could Mean

I finally got my mind around Google TV and what it “means.”

And it is big.

First of all, it is real competition in the “Internet video on your television” space. With Apple TV admitting being nothing but a hobby and everyone else caring about their efforts with the same passion BP seems to care about plugging the leak, it’s easy to see why we’re getting nowhere in this space. I’ve written previously about the Roku box and Boxee’s plans but what really has happened in the last 6 months, year?

With Google taking this space seriously, we’re finally going to see some passion and growth past what we’re seeing right now. And, with their war chest, this nonsense with Hulu blocking Boxee type situations will be met with a legal war chest that can make things happen. Competition is a very good thing.

But, more importantly, we’ve got another issue at play that is even more vital.

Google in this space represents a true convergence box. This is the “old and new media playing together” dream we’ve had for years but have never seen delivered. I have in my basement plenty of boxes that put obscure Internet video on my screen and I have owned / seen / been briefed on / and have beta tested an equal amount of boxes that place nice with “old media” over the intertubes. The Xbox doesn’t do YouTube (let alone a decent Podcast option) and the Apple TV is as walled as a walled garden can get (even to the point of making it too weak to stream Flash well). When we talk about Tivo or traditional cable boxes, I just have to shudder. fILS and Twitter – silly – nothing else.

Boxee is the best hope in the underdog category (and I applaud Avner’s statements that they can work in a Google TV world) but even their approach to stuff puts a line between the two worlds. A new episode of Burn Notice goes right into my queue but the latest episode of The Totally Rad show does not. It’s just not “all coming together” the way it is supposed to … Yet. Roku is nice for what it does but the channels that aren’t there don’t appear to be coming.

At CES this year I got really nervous watching boxes from the “big names” designed (I believe purposely) to squash out the new media space. Sure, they were still lousy, but they were the only element seeing growth. And they might grow into something acceptable before we get our butts in gear.

Google TV can change this. The commercials speak of a world where the Web and Desperate Housewives can live in peaceful harmony and I’m betting my future that the box that let’s them is the box I want to get behind. Google has the war chest and moxie this space needs.

And they have my full support.

Do they have yours?

Oh yeah, their ownership of YouTube is key too :-).

The Rumors Of Podcasting’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated – But Her Maturity Is Sadly Ignored

Wizzard Media did 1.4 billion Podcast downloads in 2009 – up from 1.2 in 2008.

Video Podcast Network pioneers Revison3 did 1.5 billion minutes of video in 2009, up from less than 1 billion in 2008.

And the numbers keep going up.

Yes, there are some who prognosticate the death of Podcasting who say the numbers are going down or have reached their max. But, if you read the real numbers … the facts don’t lie.

But, we need to be honest here.

These new numbers aren’t from people getting that Podcasting religion. These are coming from iPads and televisions, apps and fan pages, streaming video embeds and on demand buttons. Many of our best audience members have never visited the iTunes Podcast Directory.

In short, people have no more of an idea that they’re getting Podcasting content than they are aware of the codec that delivered them. They got the content the wanted they way they wanted the content.

Oh, and it just worked …

It just worked.

I had lunch today with someone who used to spend 5 figures a month to deliver a small percentage of the media content he’s delivering today with S3. His bill last month was a “few hundred bucks.”

YouTube is now doing 2 billion view days as the standard.

I could go on and on – but I won’t.

If you view Podcasting as anything other than a single part of a multiple-part wonder, your future is bleak.

If you understand just how much we have matured and what you can do about it, you are going to do very well.

Thoughts?

My 2010 New Media Predictions

Beware a prognosticator who isn’t honest about past prognostication. How did I do with my 2009 predictions? I’m calling 4 out of 5.

    2009 Prediction #1 – Now that iPod finally has a competitor in the Zune, you’ll see advances this year in new media aggregation that can only come from stiff competition. Was wrong there, but I’d like to say this … iPod doesn’t yet have a competitor in the Zune. Technically, it’s a great device with a great infrastructure, but until Microsoft figures out the marketing and positioning, it’s is going to remain a great device that nobody knows about. And, until everyone “knows” about it, this prediction can’t come to pass.

    2009 Prediction #2 – The meme that “nobody will pay for content” will quietly die. Check. We’ve got multiple 6-figure Podcasts in Premiumcast.com. Hulu is trying the trial balloon of charging for content. Apple ads monthly subscriptions to the iPhone App Infrastructure. Is the concept “dead” yet – not quite – but she’s on life support.

    2009 Prediction #3 – “Cable cutting” will become cool. The New York Times is reporting on it. The Boxee Box is coming (quicker than I thought it would). As per my last post, YouTube wants to bring television to your television. Roku has an $80 option. Nuff said.

    2009 Prediction #4 – The general public will stop treating microblogging (Twitter) as a 24×7 chat room and find some very strong business uses for it. The biggest pleasant surprises of the year for me have included the incredible CoTweet.com web client and the book Socialnomics (Erik Qualman, author of the book, joined us on the most recent episode of Internet Marketing This Week). CoTweet is a management system for Twitter that makes her a darn effective crm system and Socialnomics will prove to you that this is all much more than what “the kids” are doing.

    2009 Prediction # 5- There will be no real competitor to the iPhone in 2009. Nuff said.

So, now, predictions for 2010 …

    There will be no real competitor to the iPhone in 2010. There are a number of reasons for this. The 2 biggest are the fact that Apple will make some big announcements next year (including iPhone on other networks and the tablet). These moves will get the press that any iPhone “competitor” can only dream of. The issue is that no phone company yet “gets” what makes the iPhone great. How stupid is AT&T to let this slip away from them?

    “App Stores” will become the goto model for everyone. App Stores are easy, sexy, and considered by many to be a “proven” model because of the success of the iPhone. The “proven” part is examined in a later prediction. All the phones are doing it, and we’ll be seeing it inside of other systems – ebook readers, OSs, cable systems, any connected device.

    We’ll see some desperate last gasps for relevancy from the cable companies. They are scared to death because the only thing that people really want from them – they no longer have a monopoly on. They will, out of fear, try to create monopolies – because this is all they know. It won’t work. It’s gonna be ugly. This one might take longer than 2010 – but we’ll see the rumblings of it this year. NBComcast anyone?

    Hulu 1/1/2010 will be dramatically different than Hulu 12/31/2010. And by dramatically different I mean way less free stuff (or way more commercials). I’ve said from day one that she ain’t sustainable and the “big media” companies aren’t going to stand for it much longer.

    The “App Economy” and easy distribution and product creation models will flood the economy with a bunch of great stuff at prices that can’t sustain businesses. It’s gonna be messy. I’m not looking forward to this one at all – but it is inevitable. The app economy has created a world where 99 cents is standard and anything over that is eyed with suspicion. Not good. The press continues to propagate the meme. Also not good. This can only bring more crap barely worth 99 cents and tech and content companies selling at a reduced rate hoping to make up for it in volume. Niche is not a volume game. It’s going to be ugly. Please don’t fall victim to this one – people will pay well for the right content, services, and software.

So, I leave the comments open hoping to hear/read what you think. #5 is the one that I think will impact us the most – but all are important issues.

Roku, Mediafly, and Easy Media Direct

This weekend I presented my www.easymediadirect.com vision at Stompernet Live 8.

I’ll get a clip or two up soon – but the vision is this: one source, for all media, on all platforms.

Paul, isn’t this what Podcasting is all about? Yes, it is, but Podcasting has yet to produce a few elements vital to such a vision.

Streaming: Yes, still think it is bad form but there are instances when we do need it. It’s part of both elements below.

A Television Set Top Box: I wrote about this issue a few posts back but it is plain and simple – no box yet (but one) even shows a remote chance of becoming the standard.

Reasonable DRM: By this I mean the leveraging of tech to enable new models of distribution not possible without the tech (while being completely transparent to the end user). For example – live streams and pay per view models.

So, by leveraging the strength of managed RSS (through companies such as Premiumcast), device independent distribution clients (such as Mediafly), and a reasonable set top box play (such as Roku), we have the chance to make this vision a reality.

And, finally, despite the cool geek factors at play here, we finally have a possibility for frictionless media delivery on a scale that can make this space profitable while giving our audience an infrastructure they deserve.

I’m pretty excited about it.

Would love your initial thoughts.