Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Not-for-profit announcement EUROPRIX Multimedia Awards submission extended

Due to the large amount of enthusiastic requests from young digital media whiz-kids across Europe, you still have the opportunity to enter the continent's premier multimedia awards! But get on the a move now! If you want to associate yourself with the best of the best in European multimedia, you have until July 31, 2009 to enter! Free registration for first-time participants!

All you have to do is to click on http://www.blogger.com/www.europrix.org, complete the registration process and you could fulfil all your hopes and dreams of recognition and success.

The digital media scene is increasingly competitive. Companies are begging for new ideas, fresh content and sparkling technical innovations. Get to the head of the pack by entering the EUROPRIX Multimedia Awards.

Nominees will receive a host of benefits, including:
+ An all-expenses-paid trip to the EUROPRIX Multimedia Festival in Graz,
Austria in November 2009
+ Presentation of their project in the EUROPRIX yearbook
+ Unique networking and promotion opportunities throughout Europe
+ Cutting-edge software packages

Take the chance to submit your project for free to the EUROPRIX Awards at:

ICNM-International Center for New Media
Moosstrasse 43a, A-5020 Salzburg
http://www.icnm.net/ - office@europrix.org T +43.662.630.408-0 F

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not-for-profit announcement The 3rd Nokia Ubimedia MindTrek Awards Competition is ON

Call for participation in the 3rd Nokia Ubimedia MindTrek Awards Competition, September 30th – October 2nd, 2009, Tampere, Finland

Award Sum: 7.000 Euros
Competition deadline: August 7th Award

The purpose of the competition is to encourage makers of digital media to generate ideas and develop new and innovative ubimedia products & services. The entries are expected to take a stand on the following questions, for example:

* How does ubiquitous computing affect media environments?
* What are intelligent media environments like?
* What will the location- and context-aware media services of the future be like?

A few other examples are:
* Pervasive and ubiquitous games
* Ambient installations
* Artistic works related to ubiquitous media and computation
* Business models
* Ambient and ubiquitous media technology
* Ubiquitous and ambient media services, devices, and environments
* Context aware, sensing, and interfaces for ubiquitous computation
* Ergonomics, human-computer interaction designs, and product prototypes
* Software, hardware and middleware framework demonstrations
* Ambient television
* etc.

The total award sum for the Nokia Ubimedia MindTrek Award is 7 000€.
The sum can be awarded to one entry, divided between several entries or not awarded at all if the award criteria set by the jury are not fulfilled.

All ubimedia, ubiquitous, pervasive, or ambient products or product and service concepts which have been finalized during the previous year after 1st January 2008 are eligible to take part in the competition.

Competition deadline is August 7th, 2009. How to participate?
Please check out the website for rules, entry forms, jury formation and actual information.

Further Information:
Nokia Ubimedia MindTrek Awards Competition: ubiaward (AT) mindtrek.org
Or in urgent matters the competition chairs:
Artur Lugmayr, artur.lugmayr (AT) tut.fi, Tel.: +358 40 821 0558
Cai Melakoski, cai.melakoski (AT) tamk.fi, Tel.: +358 50 555 6581
Kirsi Lindfors, kirsi.lindfors (AT) hermia.fi, Tel.: +358 40 820 4608

Monday, June 22, 2009

Not-for-profit announcement EUROPRIX: last call for submissions

EUROPRIX Multimedia Awards, the European contest for young digital media designers: less than 2 weeks to go - participation is free for the first time participants!

There's no more time to waste! Use this opportunity and register your project until June 30, 2009! http://www.europrix.org/

It will bring you international recognition, exposure, business opportunities, peer support networks and fantastic opportunities await those who take the chance. Find out how good you really are and have your work judged by an international jury of multimedia experts.

The 9 Categories:
- Online / Web Projects
- Offline Projects / Interactive DVD
- Mobile Applications
- Games
- Interactive Computer Graphics
- Interactive Installations
- Interactive TV
- Content Tools & Interface Design
- Digital Video & Animations
- Special Award for the project with the best business potential.

Nominees will receive a host of benefits, including:
+ An all-expenses-paid trip to the EUROPRIX Multimedia
Festival in Graz, Austria in November 2009
+ Presentation of their project in the EUROPRIX yearbook
+ Unique networking and promotion opportunities throughout Europe
+ Cutting-edge software packages

Enter your project to the EUROPRIX Multimedia Awards, Europe's premier competition for young professionals and students. The EUROPRIX honours outstanding digital media works and offers additionally a special award for the project with the best business potential.

Take the chance to submit your project for free to the EUROPRIX Awards at: http://www.europrix.org

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BPN 1355 FTMH - UPC lowers internet tariffs

Since Monday UPC in the Netherlands has lowered its internet tariffs drastically. Since it completed its Fiberpower (fibre to the corner) and offers speeds up to 120Mbps, UPC is technically ready to compete with KPN and other ISPs in the fibre networks. The only real difference is that UPC for the time being will compete with FttH networks, while UPC has fibre networks to the corner. The last mile will be a coax link. Another technical difference is that the FttH fibre networks connect subscribers one-to-one to the network, while UPC links a series of subscribers to the head station; with more subscribers on the line the speed will slow down.

Now UPC starts to compete in the market by lowering the tariffs. The new internet subscriptions have six flavours. The cheapest one with a download speed of 5Mbps and an upload speed of 0,5 Mbps will cost 18 euro. For the fastest speed of 120Mbps download speed and 10Mbps a subscriber will pay 70 euro. The other four intermediary speeds are:
- 25Mbps (down)/1,5Mbps (up): 25 euro;
- 30Mbps (down)/3Mbps (up): 30 euro;
- 60Mbps (down)/6Mbps: 40 euro;
- 90Mbps (down)/6Mbps: 50 euro.

UPC starts the marketing campaign by inviting subscribers to change throughout its area. Yesterday I received an offer to pay the same money for a triple play subscription, while the internet speed was raised from 10Mbps to 30Mbps. For 46 euro I would receive 30Mbps, digital TV with DVR with a standard package of radio and TV as well as an unlimited telephony package; mind you the comparable KPN offer would cost me 65 euro. The offer of UPC is good for two weeks.

It is a first shot in the competition to come. There are already areas with fibre coverage. But soon large areas like in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Almere will be operational. In Almere for example no less than 75.000 homes will have been passed in the fibre network by the end of 2009. A majority of these households still have a subscription to UPC cable, because of the television distribution; only a minority have a triple play subscription. KPN so far is the only provider which can offer a triple play subscription on fibre. Other ISPs have indicated to follow, but have not published their offer and are not canvassing. But also KPN starts to mingle into the fight as it now has a 6 months offer of its silver package of 80 euro (50Mbps download; 5 Mbps upload; > 70 TV-channels; unlimited telephony; free installation) for the price of a bronze package of 65 euro (30Mbps download; 3 Mbps upload; > 50 TV-channels; unlimited telephony; free installation). But this is only a temporary offer with no sight on the price going up or staying the same as the offer.

The Netherlands will go into the holiday mode soon, roughly within two weeks. After the holiday in September the real fight will engage. I guess that the offers will get better by that time. So I will not even consider the UPC offer yet. But it is nice to see that the old cable monopolist is fighting against the incumbent telco. It means competition and lower prices.

Blog Posting Number: 1355

Tags: ,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

BPN 1354 Pirate Party in EU Parliament

The European elections are over and the results known. Of the 375 million voters only 36 percent showed up. Traditional parties as Christians, socialists and liberals all went down by a lack to have a real program or a real campaigning candidate. Many an extremist party got a seat. One thing is clear: Barosso will remain as chairperson of the European Commission as his Christian party is still the largest one in the European Parliament. That will be another four years of weak government.

Interesting is the entrance of a representative of the Swedish Pirate Party in the European Parliament. The party, which was founded in 2006 by Rudy Falkvinge, won 7.4 percent of the votes and picked up one seat of the 18 available to the Swedes. The party will send Stockholm-born deputy chairman and computer developer Christian Engström, 49 to Brussels to take his seat as an MEP in the autumn. Mr Engstrom does thank his seat also partly to the high-profile copyright case against the Pirate Bay file-sharing site last April. The Bay has asked for a re-trial because of alleged bias from the trial judge.

The party has in its mision three goals: to “fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens’ rights to privacy are respected”. In practice this means all non-commercial copying of files and software to be legal, P2P file-sharing to be stimulated and the life of artistic copyright to be no more than five years, a far cry from the EU parliament’s proposed extension from 50 to 70 years. With its demands the party is quite extreme from other parties and governments in Europe. In France a three-strikes policy is to be introduced. In the UK such a policy is not unlikely, but technical measures such as broadband throtting remains also possible.

The Pirate Party is not just a one day fly. It has come up fast in three years and has affiliates in 22 countries (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States). In this election the European affiliates did not help much as the elections are organised according to country and not for the European Union as a whole. But in future the the party might grow in other European countries. The victory of one seta in the EU Parliament will undoubted ly be a sign for the national Swedish elections. Last time the party stumbled over a threshold of 4 percent. In the EU electrions they easily went over it with 7.4 percent. In the national elections next year the party should be able to grab more than one seat.

Blog Posting Number: 1354

Tags: , ,

Saturday, June 06, 2009

BNP 1353 A changing e-Book world (2)

It is not only e-readers, where you see changes. Also in the distribution of e-books things are moving. Google will soon offer a program for publishers to offer the digital versions of their books. But also the e-book veteran, the Project Gutenberg, will increase its offer.

Google has a long standing tradition with publishers. In 2004 it launched its book search service, in which copyrighted books could be read online. Google was heavily attacked by authors and publishers. Yet it made 1,5 copyright free books available in the public domain through its site. Google is launching a download service in which publishers can set their own price on the book; this in contrast to Amazon, which offers books in Mobipocket format and optionally on its own e-reader Kindle.
Details about the service still have to be published. No word on the format, except for the guarantee that a book must be readable on an e-reader, on PC or a mobile phone. It is rumoured that the e-books will be transformed to HTML. There is also no word on whether Google will have its own e-reader produced (with android software).
Also the veteran of the electronic book, the Project Gutenberg, is shifting gear and making eyes to mobile phones. The first goal of Project Gutenberg was simply to reach totals of estimated audiences of 1.5% of the world population, or the total of 100 million people. With the advent of mobile phone access the project management is now setting its goal at 15 percent of the world population or 1 billion. Given that there are approximately 4.5 billion mobile phones now in service around the world that means that the project with its offer could reach just over one-fifth of all mobile phone users to accomplish this goal.

Given the estimated 4.5 billion mobile phones for which eBooks could be made, presuming they can all display plain eBooks, and the extremely slow rise in Kindle sales as compared to the iPod, iPhone, Blackberry Curve, and all the others, Project Gutenberg could reach more readers than Kindle and Sony combined. This attempt to reach these mobile phones has to include books in many more languages than English.

This means that Project Gutenberg will have to be more multi-lingual, if Project Gutenberg is to reach anyone beyond the number of people comfortable enough with English to read the eBooks on the mobile phones. There are already well over a thousand book titles in French, followed by lesser numbers in German and the other more popular languages, but not nearly enough to really offer a library in these languages.

Project Gutenberg especially aims at the smart phones and iPhones in particular. With iTunes as a shop it has a software and content distributor in one. Various iPhone applications for eBooks have appeared in the iTunes appl shop such as Plucker, the defacto mobile eBook reader format for Project Gutenberg, houses over 20,000 free eBooks. Another eText reader for the iPhone is Eucalyptus.

Blog Posting Number: 1353

tags: e-books, content

Friday, June 05, 2009

BPN 1352 A changing e-reader world (1)

Something is changing in the e-reader scene. Plastic Logic e-book reader has now 3G. And even more newsworthy is the acquisition of E-Ink by PVI. What is going on in this world?

The news of Plastic Logic is not really breaking news. But after Kindle and the iLiad using 3G, it will mean that the business e-readers are going to compete on a plain level. The question will be of course whether Plastic Logic will make a special deal with a telecom provider like Kindle did with Sprint. The deal with Sprint has limited Kindle geographically to the States. Whether Plastic Logic will make an exclusive bundled deal with a telecom operator is not known. With such a deal you win some customers, but also loose some. It is like with the iPhone and T-Telecom. They have a worldwide deal for a half year exclusivity. And of course they sell the iPhone to Apple tifosi, but not to other people who do not like T-Telecom (yes T-Telecom there are people who do not like the bundled deals; it means no competition).

But the fact that Plastic Logis is going to have 3G, means that there will be competition in the market. iLiad was the first one with a telecom facility, followed by Kindle. Then iRex Technologies came back with the iRex 1000 series, of which the model 1000SW is equipped with a large screen and wireless. The Kindle is equipped with 3G and now Plastic Logic will be part of the competition with a large screen and 3G. So mark 2010 for the launch of Plastic Logic.

Really breaking news is the agreement of Prime View International (PVI) to acquire E Ink. PVI is a Taiwanees leading small and medium display provider and the world’s highest volume supplier of ePaper display modules. The production company is acquiring the laboratory company of digital paper. So research and production will now be in the hand of PVI.

I am wondering whether this is smart. In the first place the acquisition sum of 215 million US dollar is not impressive for an innovative company and certainly not for a market which will grow to over 20 million e-readers units by 2012. Secondly, PVI has now the research facility and the e-reader production facility in one hand, which will hinder the diversification of the product development. PVI and E-Ink worked already close for some years. PVI acquired the ePaper business of Philips Electronics and partnered with E Ink to provide displays for electronic books including the SONY Reader and the Amazon Kindle 2 and Kindle DX.

Yet in the past twelve months E-Ink customers have announced many exciting digital paper devices. Oprah Winfrey endorsed Amazon’s Kindle on live television calling it “her favorite gadget”. Subsequently Amazon’s Kindle 2 has proven highly popular and the Kindle DX enters the eTextbook and eNewspaper space with a large 9.7” screen. SONY launched a new PRS-700 Reader with integrated touch screen. Chinese astronauts brought the Hanwan N510 eBook into outer space on a recent Shenzhou 7 mission. PVI, Epson, LG Display, PolymerVision, Hewlett-Packard and Plastic Logic demonstrated flexible active matrix displays using E Ink Vizplex imaging film. E Ink Corporation teamed with Esquire Magazine and Ford Corporation on the first ePaper animated magazine cover. In May 2009, Verizon announced the Samsung Alias 2 cellphone, with a changeable keypad made with E Ink Vizplex imaging film.

Blog Posting Number: 1352


Thursday, June 04, 2009

BPN 1351 European Elections start in Holland

Today the European elections start in the Netherlands and the UK. In the Netherlands 13 million people can vote; they do not have to vote like in Belgium. The Netherlands is not famous for a record showing of voters. Fourty percent of 13 million is already a lot. It is interesting to see tomorrow morning what the percentage will be. (As we are not using voting machines any longer, as they can be tampered with theoretically, we are again centuries back to the red pencil!).

I have voted already early in the morning. The party choice was not easy. On the one hand we have the Europe haters, who will join the European parliament to frustrate any European initiative. They basically want to collect votes against the present Dutch cabinet, which is pretty weak. On the other hand we have the traditional parties of Christians, socialists and liberals. New parties this time around, are the parties not rooted in the Dutch political system, but parties which profile themselves as European parties such as Newropeans and Libertas. Those parties are not represented in all 27 countries, but in a few countries only. The Newropeans for example are represented in Germany and France. Interestingly enough they also have linked up with the Pirate Party from Sweden, a political party based on intellectual property. The Newropeans agree with the principles of the Pirate Party: disagreement with the present copyright rules, against DRM technologies and elimination of blank media tax.

My vote is clear. I am in favour of Europe and will not vote on the parties which want to frustrate any European initiative. I am not favouring the new European parties as they have hardly presented and promoted themselves. In the Netherlands, only Mr Reinder Rustema was active promoting the Newropeans and as Obama did he did it on internet. He teaches media at Amsterdam University and has indicated to agree with the principles of the Pirate Party. I have resorted to a social liberal party.

After voting, I have set myself to some administrative chores: filling out the financial forms and timesheets of the project Scienar, subsidised by the European Commission. The main objective of Scienar is to stimulate the creativity of artists by means of the creation of innovative scientific scenarios, based on scientific models. In particular, the project intends to create an environment, constituted by three scientific scenarios, concerning: the theory of relativity, symetries and geometry. The project has just opened its website.

Blog Posting Number: 1351


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

BPN 1350 Back to the future (2): AOL Time Warner

The AOL and Time Warner separation of last week is no real news after eight years. But when the merger was announced everyone saw advantages. So did I. In fact I went back into my writing of 2001 and I must say, that I went with the stream and pointed to advantages of the two companies: the content factory and the advertisement hold. When the merger was announced in 2000, I was writing a white paper with Professor Paul Rutten for the Dutch research institute TNO. The white paper was intended to start canvassing publishers for assignments. We saw the movement towards content factories and pointed to this merger, to the Walt Disney and Pixar merger as well as the merger of Telefonica and Van der Ende Entertainment, which has been undone also in the past years.

When all the talk about mergers came up, it looked good. The landscape would be rearranged dramatically. AOL was a veteran online consumer company, which would bring along its host of subscribers, while Time Warner was an analogue publisher of radio, television and print, which possessed a large copyright library. Both companies had a lot to offer to each other. In fact it could form its own complete integrated content cycle from market research to content development, multi-platform marketing and distribution. This was expressed in the fabulous merger sum of $147 billion.

But it all turned out differently. AOL lost many of its dial up subscribers to broadband services. It once had 26,7 million subscribers and at the point of separation has 6,3 million subscribers left. Also the process of digitising analogue content has proven to be more difficult than expected. Technically it has not been a problem, but organisationally and marketingwise it has been. Publishing companies are famous for forming islands in an organisation, which are defended for content and copyright. So, exchanging and marketing content for the digital market has never worked in AOL Time Warner.

What is going to become of the demerger of AOL and Time Warner. The press release says “The separation will be another critical step in the reshaping of Time Warner that we started at the beginning of last year, enabling us to focus to an even greater degree on our core content businesses. The separation will also provide both companies with greater operational and strategic flexibility. We believe AOL will then have a better opportunity to achieve its full potential as a leading independent Internet company.”
“After the proposed separation is complete, AOL will compete as a standalone company – focused on growing its Web brands and services, which currently reach more than 107 million domestic unique visitors a month, as well as its advertising business, which operates the leading online display network that reaches more than 91% of the domestic online audience. AOL will also continue to operate one of the largest Internet access subscription services in the U.S.”

The press release is very optimistic and of course both parties have to be with an AOL stock market offering in the near future. But to me it sounds like Time Warner is happy to be able to continue like they did before the merger in 2001. In the meantime AOL is depicted as the best online service in the US world, which, of course, it is not. Even Google was glad to get rid of its 5 percent stock holding it had in AOL.

Will the stock market be interested in buying AOL stock? Or would AOL be better off by being bought by a company. Google has excluded itself already by selling the 5 percent interest in shares. Is AOL then prey for Yahoo or even Microsoft? Yahoo could use the company to shape it up and start a world expansion program. And Microsoft could use AOL is a testing service for its new products.

Blog Posting Number: 1350

Tags: ,

Monday, June 01, 2009

BPN 1349 Back to the future (1): Atari

These are strange times: the French video game publisher Infogrames will rebrand the company as Atari and the veteran online company AOL and book and magazine publisher Times Warner look like they will disassociate. This is going back to the future of the nineties: the Atari era was over and content factories were the forecasted money spinners.

It is strange to see the French video game publisher Infogrames going back to the name of Atari. Of course the holding company of Infogrames is Atari. But Atari was ‘old hat’ by the mid nineties.

Infogrames has a long history as games developer and publisher. It was started in 1983 by the French whiz kid Bruno Bonnell together with Christophe Sapet and Thomas Schmider and grew by acquisitions from 1996 to 2002. In 1997 it acquired Philips Media and its CD-I game heritage and sold out the stock Philips had built up in expectation of the world success of CD-I, that never came.

And by 2002 the company published the game Enter the Matrix, based on the movies of the Matrix. It was also the time that Infogrames holding company, IESA bought Atari and branded it Atari Interactive.

In 2009 Infogrames is making another business turn and is branded Atari. What a move! Will it work? To start with the last question: going back to such a classic name will that work at all. We have a comparable situation with Commodore. Some years ago the name of Commodore was bought by computer builder Tulip, who started to build modern variations of the famous Commodore 64 to be linked up to TV and including a joystick. It did not appeal and in 2004 the brand was sold to Yeahronimo, an online music shop, and used for music devices. These devices flopped in the market as did the online music shop. The only thing visible of Commodore at present is the logo on the facade of an office at Baarn, next to highway A1 in The Netherlands. The owners saw more of judges than of consumers over the years, fighting in court bankruptcies.

What will be the fate of Infogrames as Atari. Will they become the new jaguar under the game consoles or will Infogrames continue to sell games, but now under the brand Atari. Changing the brand name looks like a trade trick for a company in bad weather. Atari was the name for the excellent hardware, which was bundled with games. As Infogrames is not selling game consoles, it will use the name Atari for selling games. This coupled with the historical lack of name recognition of the present game generation, it looks like the newly branded company Atari will even faster meet its fate: bankruptcy.

Blog Posting Number: 1349