The Android-based device will plug into a display’s HDMI port so that it can run applications or access files stored remotely. It will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities and is aimed at users who do most of their computing on the Web.
Ophelia can turn any screen or display into a PC, gaming machine or a TV set-top box, said Jeff McNaught, executive director of cloud client computing at Dell. Users will be able to download apps, movies and TV shows from the Google Play store, McNaught said. Users will also be able to run Android games or stream movies from Hulu or Netflix.
It is meant to be an inexpensive alternative to tablets and PCs, McNaught said. However, users need to be close to a TV screen, display or projector with an HDMI port to use it.
The company is working on a keyboard-like technology for users to type when Ophelia is docked to a screen, he said.
Dell will demonstrate Ophelia on 19-inch and 55-inch screens at next week’s Citrix Synergy conference in Los Angeles. It was introduced in January at the International CES show.
The firm is in its ascendancy, and is blowing the ink dry on a deal with Disney and getting ready to show the much anticipated Arrested Development Series Four.
While Lovefilm told us that it does not provide subtitles on the films and TV shows it provides, Netflix, its main rival, has improved the subtitles feature on the PS3, making it easier for the hard of hearing to make their selection.
“The first thing you will notice an updated design that is more consistent with the Netflix player on the Web as well as our mobile and tablet applications,” said Chris Jaffe, director of product innovation at Netflix.
“The key feature in this update is the ability to easily manage your audio and subtitles selections. You can now do that directly in the player on the PS3, without having to return to the browse experience.”
The PS3 app now has the same audio and subtitles feature as the Xbox version. It’s going to prove handy for the hard of hearing, and Jaffe said that users will be able to select the Audio and Subtitles settings while they’re watching a movie. PS3 Blu-ray remote control users can just press the Subtitles button.
This is 2013 and nothing happens without someone adding something “social” to it. This update to the Netflix PS3 app also makes sharing whatever title you are watching easier.
There are some playback improvements including “trickplay” mode – a fast-forward or rewind option, and a 10 second skip back button.
“The updated Netflix player experience is available now on PS3 and will be coming soon to select Smart TVs and Blu-ray players,” said Jaffe.
Amazon.com has updated its mobile app store to include support for its Chinese customers, a potential signal that the U.S. company may be preparing to sell its Kindle e-readers and tablets in the country.
The update effectively launches a new version of Amazon’s app store built in the Chinese language. The store comes in the form of an Android app, and the company has been promoting it since this past weekend.
The arrival of the new store comes just months after Amazon launched its Kindle e-book service in China last December. Both are key platforms for bringing content to the company’s Kindle devices in the U.S. market. But in China, Amazon has yet to start selling its tablet and e-reader hardware, and its local offices have been mum on a future release date. The company on Monday did not immediately respond for comment.
Despite the absence of official sales, the Chinese market is showing some “pent-up demand” for Amazon’s e-readers, said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting. Research data from last year showed that Chinese consumers were increasingly buying the e-readers from overseas markets, he added.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets could also sell well in the country, Natkin said. Apple currently dominates the nation’s tablet sector, but the company largely focuses on the higher-end market. Amazon’s Kindle Fire products, which start at $159, could appeal to many consumers wanting a lower-priced device from a well-known brand, he added.
Lenovo became the country’s second-largest tablet vendor after Apple, with a 14% market share, by its focus on budget tablets, according to analysts.
Though a big name in the U.S., Amazon is, however, a small player in China’s e-commerce market. It faces fierce competition from the local rivals, including Alibaba Group’s Taobao sites and 360buy, another major online shopping mall. Both Taobao and 360buy also sell e-books.
China’s market is also already saturated with local app stores, some of which are operated by handset makers and telecom operators. Amazon’s new Chinese app store has been designed to include more local products. Software from Chinese social networking site Sina Weibo and video-sharing hub Youku Tudou are listed, but U.S. apps including Netflix and Twitter are not.
Citing three unnamed sources, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Amazon is planning to launch the set-top box this fall. However, the report doesn’t say how much the box will cost or how it will stand out from other devices like Apple TV and Roku.
It’s obvious why Amazon would want to launch its own TV box. Existing set-top boxes and game consoles don’t put Amazon’s services front and center, or they don’t offer Amazon video at all.
With its own product, Amazon can steer people toward its Prime Instant Video service and its a la carte video offerings.
Bloomberg claims that Amazon will likely allow competing video services such as Netflix and Hulu on the device, just as it does on the Kindle Fire. Still, Amazon’s own services will get more prominent billing.
But does the world need another cheap set-top box? That depends on what Amazon can bring to the table.
Just to speculate a bit, the company could offer tablet-to-TV streaming similar to Apple’s AirPlay–a feature not found on most competing devices–and it could extend its FreeTime service A to the television to highlight kid-friendly content.
Perhaps Amazon could also dabble in gaming by offering a controller that works with games from its own Appstore for Android.
Most of all, Amazon could undercut the competition on price, just as it did with the Kindle Fire. If the company can offer a sub-$50 set-top box with solid features and a simple interface, it could be a big hit.
Skype, which was acquired by Microsoft Corp in 2011, allows its users to communicate via voice, video or chat over the Internet, by-passing traditional telephone networks. The service has hundreds of millions of users across the globe.
The announcement comes a day after BlackBerry said its new Q10 smartphone will be available in Canada on May 1, and in the United States before the end of May. The Q10, which comes with the physical keyboard that many of BlackBerry’s core fan base cherish, is the second device to be powered by the company’s new BB10 operating system.
Skype will be available on the Q10 on launch day. Users of the existing Z10 touchscreen device will have to wait a few weeks more to get Skype, after a software upgrade on the operating system, BlackBerry said.
A smaller app base than Apple’s iOS and Google Inc’s Android platforms has been one of the biggest criticisms of the new BlackBerry system. It has yet to offer some big-name apps like Netflix and Instagram.
Amazon announced the arrival of 14 homegrown TV shows today as it looks to take on Netflix with original programming.
Amazon has done things slightly differently than its new rival Netflix. The firm has unleashed 14 pilot episodes on its website that can be streamed in the US for free and in the UK via Lovefilm. Users can give their feedback on the shows, and the most popular shows will be made into a full series.
From what we can see, Amazon seems to have a pilot show to suit all tastes. There’s a selection of kids shows including the brilliant sounding Teeny Tiny Dogs and Annebots, which apparently follows a pint-sized scientist around the world.
Technology fans might enthuse over the pilot of Betas, which follows the story of four friends who think they’ve cracked the code for Silicon Valley success, like the idea of Onion News Empire, a show about Onion News Network journalists who will do anything to stay on top.
Other pilot shows available to watch include Zombieland, Dark Minions and Alpha House, for those looking for something similar to Netflix’s popular House of Cards series.
Amazon’s scheme is great for budding TV critics, as once you have watched a pilot you can leave feedback on the Amazon website. We just hope the scheme doesn’t get overrun by trolls.
Amazon hasn’t said when we can expect some of these pilots to be turned into full series, or whether customers will have to pay to view them.
The move will be a blow to Silverlight, the technology Microsoft once aimed as a replacement for Adobe Flash, but that has languished since Silverlight 5 shipped in December 2011. Because Microsoft has never publicly committed to a Silverlight 6, many believe the platform has met its maker.
Netflix tacitly acknowledged as much in a blog post Monday by Anthony Park, director of engineering, and Mark Watson, director of streaming standards. “Since Microsoft announced the end of life of Silverlight 5 in 2021, we need to find a replacement some time within the next eight years,” Park and Watson wrote.
As the two noted, Microsoft has said it will support the Silverlight 5 browser plug-in until Oct. 12, 2021.
Netflix is one of the largest licensees of Silverlight, and among the few major services that still rely on it. Although the technology was used by NBC to stream the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2010 Winter Olympics, the network switched to Google-owned YouTube to provide the streaming infrastructure for last year’s London Games.
Park and Watson defended the switch to HTML5 with well-worn arguments, including distrust of plug-ins on security grounds, but they also pointed out that browsers, even on the desktop, are shifting to a no-plug-in model.
Microsoft, for example, has banned plug-ins from Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) on Windows RT, the scaled-down edition aimed at tablets, and on the “Modern” user interface (UI), formerly known as “Metro,” on Windows 8. Mozilla’s Firefox, while not going that far, now automatically blocks all plug-insexcept for Adobe’s Flash Player, making the user “click-to-play” a plug-in.
Some users, especially those running Macs, have also criticized Silverlight for hogging their machines’ processors, slowing other tasks to a crawl or making their systems overheat.
“Moving to HTML5 is important to someone like Netflix, which wants to be as platform agnostic as possible,” said Mike McGuire, an analyst with Gartner. “HTML5 has matured to the point where most in the industry are moving to it.”
Netflix’s shift from Silverlight to HTML5, said McGuire, is proof of that maturation.
On demand music service Spotify said it is kicking off its first advertising campaign, focusing on U.S. television to hook additional listeners.
Spotify is spending more than $10 million on commercials that will debut during the new season of “The Voice,” a talent show for singers on NBC.
The commercials, created by the advertising agency Droga5, include a concert-goer crowd surfing in an endless sea of people and a guy dancing at a party.
When Spotify was founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, the music service depended heavily on its integration with Facebook. Users needed a Facebook account to access Spotify though that is no longer the case.
With more 20 million active users – including 5 million subscribers who pay to listen the service ad-free and on different mobile devices – Spotify is seeking to gain share as competition from other streaming music services like intensifies. Pandora has about almost 68 million active listeners.
Meanwhile on Monday, Business Insider reported that Spotify is looking to expand to a video on-demand service similar to that of Netflix’s, citing two unnamed sources.
Spotify CEO Ek said in an interview with CNET that it is something it will not be doing anytime soon. “I won’t rule it out because we’re a company that looks at what we’re doing incredibly long term. But right now, we’re all focused on music.”
Netflix Inc surprised Wall Street on Wednesday with a quarterly profit after the video subscription service added nearly 4 million customers in the United States and abroad, sending its shares soaring.
The dominant U.S. video rental company had warned three months ago that it expected a loss for the October to December period as it paid startup costs for an aggressive expansion into Scandinavia and other foreign markets.
Netflix beat that guidance by reporting $8 million in net income for the fourth quarter, or 13 cents per share. Revenue rose to $945 million. The company also forecast it will add 1.7 million members in the first three months of 2013, though it forecasts net income to be “relatively flat” due to declining profit from the DVD business and higher global operating costs.
Shares of the company surged 34 percent after Netflix released its results, reaching $138.14 in after-hours trading, after closing at $103.26.
“They did surprisingly well with subscriber growth and profitability,” Lazard Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett said. “It was a very good quarter.”
Netflix said it added 2.1 million customers during the quarter to its U.S. streaming business, its largest segment, for a total of 27.2 million at the end of 2012.
In international markets, the company gained 1.8 million subscribers. The total Netflix subscriber base for Latin America, Canada and parts of Europe reached 6.1 million.
The holiday season was “particularly strong, driven by consumers buying new electronic devices, including tablets and smart TVs” that offer Netflix’s service, CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells said in a letter to investors.
The price, which matches Netflix’s charge for unlimited streaming from its bigger library of movies and TV shows, includes four one-night DVD rentals per month from Redbox kiosks. Streaming and DVD-by-mail packages start at $16 on Netflix.
Redbox parent Coinstar Inc and joint venture partner Verizon Communications Inc will begin selling subscriptions to “Redbox Instant by Verizon” later this month, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday.
Coinstar shares gained 4.3 percent at $53.00 in afternoon trading on Nasdaq. Netflix jumped 6.7 percent after a Morgan Stanley analyst raised his price target, citing the company’s strong portfolio of content after last week’s agreement for first-run Walt Disney Co movies.
Coinstar and Verizon formed a joint venture in February to sell video services in a market that is dominated by Netflix but also has several new entrants, including Amazon.com Inc’s Prime, Hulu Plus and HBO Go.
Redbox Instant subscribers will have access to movies from Viacom Inc’s Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate Entertainment and MGM through a deal with the Epix premium cable channel, as well as films from Time Warner Inc’s Warner Bros. That includes recent hits such as teen death match drama, “The Hunger Games,” and Tom Cruise action sequel, “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.”
Customers will be able to stream the films to certain Internet-connected TVs, phones and tablets.
While Redbox Instant will offer a smaller library than Netflix, the new service contains enough content from major Hollywood studios to make it an attractive alternative, said B. Riley & Co. analyst Eric Wold.
Prime typically costs $79 a year in the United States for free two-day shipping, free video streaming and access to Amazon’s Kindle e-book lending library. The company is now offering the service for $7.99 a month on its website, which works out to $95.88 a year, but at that rate it can be purchased strictly on a month-to-month basis.
The monthly option is more comparable to Netflix’s streaming video subscription, which also costs $7.99 a month but does not come with free shipping and an e-book library. Another streaming rival, Hulu, also charges $7.99 a month.
An Amazon spokesman said the monthly Prime option was a test and declined to comment further.
Netflix and Hulu offer greater video selection than Amazon, though Amazon is spending hundreds of millions of dollars buying more content from Hollywood and TV studios.
“As Amazon continues to add movie and TV content to Prime, we see it likely adding more competitive pressure to the legacy online video services,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at R.W. Baird, wrote in a note to investors on Tuesday.
Amazon’s new monthly Prime option coincides with the holiday shopping season, giving shoppers a way to use the two-day shipping service for gifts without the annual obligation, Sebastian noted.
Here is some news that many are going to find a bit amusing. Minecraft on the Xbox 360 is getting more hours of play than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or FIFA 13. Worldwide activity for the Xbox 360 version of Minecraft is king when it comes to hours played.
With this news, Minecraft for Xbox 360 becomes the first Xbox Live Arcade title to take the top spot. While no one is talking exact numbers, we know that the Xbox 360 version of the game has sold over 4 million copies.
Some of the recent activity is due to the release of the latest patch, which provided an upgrade that has spurred many who had not been playing the game to come back as a result. Those that have returned to the game have found the new upgrade has made its return quite an experience.
Netflix said on Tuesday it added 1.2 million new customers to its on-demand TV and movie streaming service in the United States during the July to September period, for a total of 25.1 million.
“Subscriber numbers were lower than expected, and the guidance for full year (customers) was lower than expected too,” said Arvind Bhatia, an analyst at Sterne, Agee & Leach. “The streaming numbers don’t look that great.”
Netflix projected its U.S. membership base in the fourth quarter would reach as high as 27.1 million.
That would fall short of CEO Reed Hastings’ earlier forecast made six months ago that the company would add 7 million new U.S. streaming customers this year. To reach that goal, year-end subscribers would need to hit 28.7 million.
Quarterly profit beat Wall Street expectations. The company posted third-quarter earnings of 13 cents per share, or $8 million. Analysts on average had expected 4 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue reached $905 million, Netflix said.
A year ago, Netflix reported $1.16 in earnings per share and revenue of $822 million.
Since it launched in May, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition has sat comfortably atop Microsoft’s Xbox Live sales charts. That continued success adds up, as developer 4J Studios confirmed on Twitter this weekend that its console adaptation of Mojang’s blockbuster hit has tallied more than 4 million sales.
The game hit its first million sold within five days of appearing on Xbox Live Arcade, and became the service’s best-selling title of all time with 2 million sold in under a month. Despite that success, the Xbox 360 Edition of Minecraft still has a ways to go to catch up to its PC progenitor. In August, Mojang said the original edition of the game had surpassed sales of 7 million.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition sells for 1,600 Microsoft points ($20). The console edition of the game was developed by 4J Studios, which has made a name for itself bringing other games to Microsoft’s download service. Previously, the studio handled the Xbox Live Arcade ports for Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, and Perfect Dark.
Robert Boyd, one half of Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness 3 developer Zeboyd Games, has told Edge that Microsoft should merge Xbox Live’s Arcade and Indie Games categories.
“I’d like to see [XBLIG] kind of merge into XBLA,” Boyd commented. “Keep Indie Games free to everyone but if you have a really good game, you could submit it to Microsoft for it to be upgraded to an XBLA title. Right now, becoming an XBLA developer is fairly difficult for a small team, so reducing the barrier of entry to XBLA could only help Microsoft, I think.”
Boyd finds that Xbox Live Indie Games has serious discoverability issues because of the low barrier to entry. Some developers could use a route to Xbox Live Arcade, a route previously provided by Microsoft’s Dream Build Play indie development contest.
“Early on, several winnders and nominees got on, but after Dust won, I can’t think of anything else. Most of the winners ended up just being released on XBLIG,” Boyd said.
“Far more indie games are released on Steam than XBLA, and yet Steam is tremendously successful. I think opening up XBLA a bit – but not completely – would only help.”