Monthly Archives: January 2007

European consumer protection organizations join forces against iTunes

Heise: In the dispute surrounding the EULA for Apple’s iTunes store, European consumer protectionist organizations have agreed to join forces. Organizations from Finland, Norway, and France have come together with the German Association of Consumer Protectionists (vzbv) to fight for “a more consumer friendly licensing agreement for iTunes in all of Europe.”

The consumer ombudsmen in Finland and Norway have drawn up a catalog of joint demands for the iTunes store in collaboration with French consumer protectionist organization “UFC que choisir” and the German vzbv.

The consumer protectionist organizations are mainly concerned about the interoperability of titles purchased, better contractual terms, and liability rules.

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In-car technology drives forward

BBC: In-car technology, or telematics, is a thriving business in the United States. At the recent CES technology show in Vegas they showed-off dashboard TV screens to watch whilst you waited for a parking space.

But other technology aims to make sure that you don’t even have to wait. Big city car parks are often full, so one US satellite radio station is aiming to stream information about space availability directly into the cockpit.

“There are hundreds of different parking garages spread across the United States where the garage owner has computer technology to tell them which spaces are empty or full,” said David Butler of XM Satellite Radio. “We are tapping into that information and sending it to your navigation system. The map will tell you where the parking garages are located, and how many empty spaces they have.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is at the core of many in-car streaming information systems. One US device that relies on the technology is able to warn drivers about hidden speed cameras. It compares the location of the vehicle with a database of known camera co-ordinates.

European drivers are already familiar with the idea, but the next step is to deliver more detailed knowledge about a car’s environment to the person behind the steering wheel.

“There are lots of kinds of visual information that we see happening in the future,” said Dave Marsh of manufacturing company Cobra Navigation.

“Things such as school zones, railway crossings, dangerous intersections, blackspots, those kinds of things. In the future those kinds of things will be detected by this kind of detector.”

You can also expect to see a lot more portable navigation units that are integrated with many other features in the car, from the CD player to Bluetooth devices. One snap-in, snap-out screen controls them all.

“With portable on-demand we’re able to have the full functionality of an AM/FM CD, Bluetooth, iPod capability, as well as a portable navigation system that we can take with us at any given point,” said Ed Meenan of Eclipse.

Probably the most important slot on your dashboard at the moment is the cigarette lighter and charger, but it is about to be joined by a USB port.

Sync is a new joint initiative by Microsoft and Ford. Once your gadgets are connected by USB or Bluetooth, the system phonetically reads all the information in your gadget’s database, which you can quickly access by simply talking to it using the latest voice recognition technology.

Of course you can scrap the radio altogether and just rely on a petrol pump for your music – there are pumps that allow downloads into your car via wi-fi.

So now you can pump and play songs at the same time.

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New vlog for DJs includes free AV downloads and tutorials

http://www.djsounds.com/ a video blog for the DJ community, has caught our attention recently.

It features video profiles of both top-name and up-and-coming DJs and event reports from the international dance and club scenes.

A ‘Tips and Tricks’ section features exclusive “how to” videos, where users can lean the art of DJ-ing from some well-known names.

Supporting the VJ (Video Jockey) artist, http://www.djsounds.com/ also features a library of AV loops, which anyone can download, for no cost, free from royalties, rights or copyright.

The site uses standard RSS feeds, so visitors can be notified of new DJ profiles, event reports, tutorials or loops.

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Zune heading for Europe at Christmas time?

TechDigest: Originally reported to be coming to Europe in 2008, Microsoft could be bringing forward the European release date for its Zune music player.

Zune for Europe in Christmas 20007?Microsoft’s Zune marketing director, Jason Reindorp, said that Zune sales were going well – having captured 10.2% market share amongst 30GB capacity players – and said that rollout to the European market is being considered in time for the holiday season this year.

Apparently the company is planning some market research in Europe first to see if the player will be well received, and if any changes to software and marketing need to be made.

No official announcement on a Zune release date has been made yet.

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China adds 67 million mobile phone subscribers in 2006

DigiTimes:  There were 461.08 million subscribers of mobile communication services in China as of the end December; an increase of 17.20% for the whole of 2006 by 67.68 million subscribers, according to statistics from China’s Ministry of Information Industry.

The number of mobile subscribers in China at the end of December grew by 6.05 million from a month earlier. Also at the end of December, there were there 367.81 million subscribers of fixed telecommunication networks in China.

Last month, mobile phone subscribers in China sent 40.55 billion short messages, averaging 2.86 short messages per phone number a day.

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Galileo ‘hindering’ phone sat nav roll-out

ZDNet: Europe’s upcoming satellite constellation, Galileo, is becoming a barrier to the integration of satellite navigation into European handsets, a mobile operator claimed last week.

According to O2, operators and manufacturers remain uncertain over the deployment schedule for Galileo and the likely quality of its signal.

Although the mobile industry wants to put some form of global navigation satellite system (GNSS) functionality into phones, some companies within it are hesitant about which system to use.

The only GNSS currently in action is GPS, the American system designed and run by the US military. Already familiar to many people as the technology behind vehicle satellite navigation and fleet tracking, a server-assisted version called assisted GPS or A-GPS — which promises quicker location-finding — is set to be used in handsets around the world.

However, Galileo — which should be fully operational by the end of 2008 — will supposedly provide greater accuracy, leaving some in the industry wondering whether they should invest in compatibility with GPS, Galileo or both (a path that appears to have been taken by the UK-based chipset manufacturer CSR). This indecision, said O2, is slowing things down.

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German market for game consoles grew by 11 percent in 2006

Heise: Last year, sales of game consoles amounted to 428 million euros in Germany. According to Media Control GfK International, that figure is 11 percent greater than the 386 million in sales the previous year. The number of items sold even grew by around 20 percent to 12.5 million. Puzzles were especially popular in 2006.

Compared to other game consoles, Nintendo DS grew very quickly from 4.85 percent of total sales in 2005 to around 16 percent in 2006. PlayStation 2 was still the top seller with about 47 percent of the market in 2006, though its share did fall by around 6 percent. (…)

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Universal and Sony stall Zune sharing

Cliczune: There is a lot of testing going on at Zunerama and ZuneThoughts about songs that can or cannot be shared when purchased or acquired through the ZunePass. Both sites are coming with numbers of around 40% of songs that “can’t” be shared from Zune to Zune. This is an important number considering that on of the key highlight of the Zune marketing is based on sharing and Wifi. Indeed, the Wireless device inside the Zune can only be used for sharing.

We wanted to know from what record label those artists are associated with. We were surprised to find that Universal, who signed an aggressive deal with Microsoft by grabbing a royalty for each Zune sold, does have a lot of artists cut in the “Zune sharing prohibited” list. Sony Music is also limiting the Zune sharing for a few of their artists.
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Motorola announces 3,500 job cuts as profits slump

Yahoo: Motorola Inc., the world’s second-largest mobile phone maker, announced 3,500 job cuts after reporting a sharp fall in earnings due to an industry price war.The US company’s revenues surged by 17 percent to a record 11.8 billion dollars (9.11 billion euro) in the fourth quarter through December, thanks to robust worldwide demand for the latest cellphones. Motorola shipped a record 65.7 million handsets in the three-month period, up 47 percent from the same quarter of 2005.

But its net profits slumped 48 percent to 624 million dollars (482 million euro), as the company was forced to slash prices to keep up with competition for share of a market that is dominated by Finland’s Nokia.

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“Micro Memo”: a mic for the iPod Nano

Crave: OK, so it may not be the “iKaraoke,” but we like this iPod microphone anyway. Mostly, we admit, because of the way the “Micro Memo” looks–it reminds us of a beefeater guarding Buckingham Palace*. The mic can record up to 51 hours (in low mode) on an 8GB Nano, but Newlaunches warns that the audio is saved in large WAV formats. Its movable arm can be positioned appropriately when needed, before returning to stand at attention.

Mic

* Note by AE: Apparently, the author is confusing Beefeaters with Guards

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‘Dolby Volume’ fixes inconsistent audio levels at home

TG Daily: Dolby promises to automatically control the volume of your TV. 

Dolby Volume technology will first be built into flat-panel television sets and will process digital audio signals to dynamically raise and lower levels, the company said. Incoming PCM audio is processed “psycho-acoustically” and PCM audio is exported.

According to Dolby engineers, Dolby Volume will work with all audio signals and won’t care about bitrates or sampling rates. In addition, the processing does not impact the audio signal.

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Suzuki shows off home theatre concept car

BornRich:Suzuki has unveiled its XL7 Flix concept car which is meant for movie-buffs. The concept offers ultimate mobile movie experience with an in-vehicle movie system.

Suzuki's XL7

The roadster features a clamshell roof which opens up to reveal a maximum-size moonroof that serves as a 40-inch movie screen. The car’s front roof panel vents, gives way to a high-density digital projection system to display a movie of your choice, anytime, anywhere from the side of a building, onto a billboard or almost any wall.

The Flix concept is also equipped with a next-generation, high-definition DVD player with integrated hard drive for maximum AV storage, a professional THX/SDS-theater quality sound system, pivoting quarter window speakers and red door/floor strip lighting to complete a professional theater like experience. The interiors of the car are equally fascinating with four individual bucket seats that pivot 180 degrees to view the elevated giant screen.

Suzuki's XL7

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