Archive for January, 2011
“The problem was that no one wanted to type in the bar they were at,” Adam Cahan told us when we met with him last week to see his latest venture, IntoNow. He wasn’t talking about his startup. Instead, he was talking about Dodgeball, the location-based service that came well before Foursquare. That is, he was describing why Foursquare took off while Dodgeball didn’t, even though they had the same basic concept. GPS being built-in to smartphones changed everything, he said. “Now our industry is in the same place. We’re the GPS layer.”
What industry is that? So so-called media check-in space. (Though don’t use the word “check-in” around Cahan, he hates it.) More specifically, IntoNow is trying to own the tv engagement app space. And while competitors like GetGlue, Miso, TunerFish and others all beat IntoNow to market, they have a secret weapon: it’s called SoundPrint.
Just like GPS with location services, SoundPrint, a new technology created by IntoNow, allows you to automatically “check-in” to watching a show simply by hitting a button in the IntoNow app. How? It reads the sound waves and patterns of each television show (and a growing collection of movies as well) and matches it with a database they keep. Yep, it’s a lot like Soundhound or Shazam, but for video content.
And it’s amazing how well it works.
When I first got a demo from Cahan and co-founders Didier Hilhorst and Rob Johnson, I was amazed to the point where I was dumbfounded. You see, the first thing they demoed the app on was a live broadcast of a CNN show featuring Hillary Clinton talking. Within seconds, IntoNow picked up the exact name of the show. I wasn’t sure how this was possible since the same Clinton sound clip could be playing on a number of different shows. But there are a few keys to how SoundPrint works (most of which the team won’t go into since it’s their patented technology) — one key is to scan all live channels and bring in their audio footprint in realtime.
IntoNow knew the CNN show I was watching because their backend was also watching it. It was just a matter of lining up the audio. Which again, it did, in seconds.
But IntoNow works for much more than live TV. Their content catalog currently includes some 140 million minutes of broadcast TV. That’s roughly 266 years worth of video. And it’s growing more with each passing second. They’re monitoring 130 broadcast channels in realtime, 24 hours a day — all of which is stored and saved.
After a few more demos, I was mostly sold. But, of course, there’s always the possibility that a sneaky startup could try to get things perfectly aligned for a demo. I’m not suggesting anyone would stage something, but there could be ideal conditions (and/or shows) set up. So I took the app home to try it out for myself. It worked even better there.
I put on one show, hit the button on the IntoNow app, boom: 4 seconds later, it got it. I flipped the channel, same result. I tried it with a show I had DVR’d. Worked like a charm. I tried it with an older movie I was watching on Netflix. Perfect. I tried it with a live sporting event. Yep, it even worked with that.
Okay, so IntoNow has clearly built some impressive technology. But why enter this space? Because 62 percent of leisure time is spent watching TV. It’s the biggest single activity that people do after working and sleeping, Cahan says. And when they’re watching, increasingly, they’re interacting with the Internet in some way. Currently, much of that is surfing the web on a laptop or mobile device. So IntoNow set out to make a “companion experience” for TV and movie watching.
Once you “check-in” to whatever you’re watching, that info is sent out to your IntoNow social graph (and you have the option to share on Facebook or Twitter). From here, within the app, you can see what your friends are watching. And comment on any of those shows. You can also see what shows are popular at any given time. And there’s a way to discover new shows that will be based on your social and interest graphs.
The app also has indicators to let you know if a piece of content is currently airing. So if I see a friend is watching a certain episode of a show, I can see that it’s currently on live TV and I could flip over to it. Or, if it’s on Netflix, there will be a link to get to it from within the app.
So, what are the downsides? Well, first of all, IntoNow is iPhone-only for the time being. But the team says that Android support will be coming shortly. Secondly, due to some licensing and/or legal issues, they don’t have a big collection of newer films. This includes not only movies still in theaters, but also those just released on DVD. Again, the technology is based around what has been shown on television before, so newer stuff won’t be there, and they’re not indexing pay-per-view When I joked that they could send a team into theaters to record the sound of new films, Cahan did assure me that they’re thinking about ways to expand their content reach.
But again, they already have 140 million minutes worth of content. And everything I watched, IntoNow found.
In terms of how they monetize this idea, there are a number of possibilities. They could team up with some consumer electronic makers to build their system directly into hardware. Or they could do some potentially interesting stuff with the viewing data to disrupt something like Nielsen. They’ve also already built in a way for SoundPrint to detect commercials. So when it does, there’s a lot of potential there in terms of what IntoNow could do with advertisers within the app. “We’re also into this because we think there’s big business behind this,” Cahan says.
Not surprisingly, IntoNow has already received funding from Greylock Ventures and Redpoint Ventures — though they won’t disclose how much. Also not surprising is that those are two of the backers of Auditude, the video monetization startup which just raised a new round of funding and saw Cahan transition out as CEO earlier this month. A few of the IntoNow team members had been working there when they decided to spin this project off (though Auditude owns no part of IntoNow). The IntoNow team members also include veterans of Google, Microsoft, IDEO, MTV, and Stanford’s AI program.
As was the case with me, seeing is believing with IntoNow. So download the app and try it out yourselves.
A problem requiring a “silicon fix” is bad news in the chipset business, and sadly that’s what Intel is announcing. Its new Intel 6 Series chipset, Cougar Point, has been found to have a flaw, something to do with the SATA controller. Intel is indicating that the ports can “degrade over time,” leading to poor i/o performance down the road. All shipments have been stopped and a fix has been implemented for new deliveries, but it sounds like recalls will be starting soon for those with this ticking time bomb silicon within. It isn’t a critical problem right now, though, so if you own a Sandy Bridge Core i5 or Core i7 system keep computing with confidence while looking for a recall notice, but it is bad news for Intel’s bottom line: the company is advising a $300 million hit to revenue.
Intel finds Sandy Bridge chipset design flaw, shipments stopped and recalls beginning originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 31 Jan 2011 10:53:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Two-thirds of global marketing professionals report friction between IT and marketing for a variety of reasons, while the other third feels the departments are in sync, according to [pdf] a new survey from Alterian. Whether the conflict is a result of implementation issues (21%), budget (17%), prioritization (15%), or tool selection (13%), Alterian analysis indicates [...]<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/marketingcharts/~4/L6pn0HjILOo" height="1" width="1"/>
Shocker of shockers, folks: people do more than just watch TV when they’re watching TV. A study of over 8,000 willing individuals from Nielsen and Yahoo recently discovered that some 86 percent of mobile internet users tinker around on their devices while situated in front of the tube. It seems that Googling random facts, checking their Facebook news feed and seeing who has tweeted in the past 30 seconds were atop the list of activities to do while watching, but strangely, a full 20 percent confessed to search for more information about a commercial they recently saw. Hit the source link below (PDF) to be instantly bombarded with facts and figures, but first, refresh that TweetCaster feed. Ah, so much better.
Study shocker! Mobile users piddle around on the internet while watching TV originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 29 Jan 2011 07:19:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Yesterday, we compared the total career earnings of LeBron James and Alex Rodriguez, including salaries and endorsements. In 2010, those two athletes were the most compensated athletes among the major team sports in North America. But how do they compare to the highest-paid athletes in other sports?
As we can see below, despite his troubles in 2010, Tiger Woods was far-and-away the highest paid athlete of the past year. Of his $90.5 million in earnings, $70.0 million came from endorsements. That is down $22.0 million from 2009 and figures to drop even further in 2011.
LeBron James had the second-highest endorsement earnings in 2010 ($30.0 million).
Floyd Mayweather Jr. led the way with the $60.0 million in salary/winnings, but only took in $250K in endorsements. Alex Rodriguez was second with a $33.0 million salary, but fell behind several of the other athletes with just $4.0 million in endorsements.
The NHL had lowest top-earner of the group. Sidney Crosby salary of $9.0 million and endorsements of approximately $2.2 million has him well off the pace of the other athletes.
All data via SI.com
While Microsoft‘s online division remains a money pit, the gaming division is starting to make a lot of money for Microsoft. Last night the company reported $679 million in operating income giving it a trailing-four-quarter profit just over $1 billion.
Considering the company lost money for years on the Xbox (we’re only showing part of the money burn), this is great news for shareholders, and it provides a sliver of a reason for optimism about the online division. Maybe it too will get turned around some day.
UN: worldwide internet users hit two billion, cellphone subscriptions top five billion originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 28 Jan 2011 17:15:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
When it comes to broadband speeds, ISPs have a sales pitch, and you have Speedtest.net. Want a real-world test of actual bandwidth? Netflix has released how fast they can deliver HD streams to customers on each U.S. and Canadian ISP. UPDATE.
When a customer starts one of Netflix’s streaming movies, and it’s available in HD, Netflix attempts to throw 4800 kilobits per second into that screen—at least, by the time the movie is up and running. Your computer or set-top box doesn’t get the same exact connection every time, but the chart above is weighted to show you a broad average of speed available on each ISP. As Netflix explains:
As we use a number of CDNs, and our clients can adapt to changing network conditions by selecting the network path that’s currently giving them the best throughput, Netflix streaming performance ends up being an interesting way to measure sustained throughput available from a given ISP over time, and therefore the quality of Netflix streaming that ISP is providing to our subscribers. Obviously, this can vary by network technology (e.g. DSL, Cable), region, etc., but it’s a great high-level view of Netflix performance across a large number of individual streaming sessions.
It’s interesting stuff, and while most of us can’t switch between any of these ISPs, it is good to know what else is available out there, and how fast it really is for a service many of us actually use. The full-size chart is offered at Netflix’s blog post.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the newest smartphone processors out there, but if you’re confused about the difference between them, tech blog Tested has a great explainer on their strengths and weaknesses.
While processor isn’t necessarily one of the most important specs in choosing a phone, it can make a big difference if you’re planning on gaming or performing other processor-intensive tasks. Processors are more than just clock speeds: they can also influence your phone’s graphics, battery life, and even phone size. Tested explains the strengths and weaknesses behind each processor: The Hummingbird is great for video decoding and encoding as well as gaming, while the Snapdragon’s smaller size means it’s an ideal candidate for thinner phones. Nvidia’s Tegra 2 keeps up with the others as far as graphics processing, but really shines when it comes to battery performance. OMAP seems to be a bit behind right now, though they’ll be coming out with some good competitors in the near future.
It’s a very interesting read, and pretty informative if you feel lost when everyone starts dropping the Hummingbird or Snapdragon names. Like we’ve said before, it’s not the most important device spec for everyone, but this explainer should put some of your confusion to rest, and being informed is always a good thing. Hit the link to read the full article.
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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