TechInk: Chromecast, Cord-Cutting, Streaming, Smartphones, and YouTube

/ Jul 26, 2013


TechInk is a weekly series that rounds up the important and interesting things you need to know when it comes to digital video tech, from new product launches (this was a big week for that) to product updates; the latest happenings in ad tech, analytics, and measurement; and, of course, research. At the end of the day, we just want you to be informed if some crazy guy walks up to you and says: “Hey! How many smartphones were shipped between Q1 and Q2 of 2013!?” Enjoy.

For those who have a home Wi-Fi network, but need a simpler way to get videos from their handheld devices to their HDTVs than a bundle of tangled and ridiculous cords, Google released the Chromecast on Wednesday. The simple, $35 USB-sized dongle plugs directly into the TV’s HDMI port. Once it’s connected to the same Wi-Fi network as a smartphone or tablet, users have the ability to essentially fling videos and other types of content from their smartphone and tablet to the TV. Chromecast currently features one-touch support for Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play content, and also offers access to the Chrome browser (this has created a little bit of an issue: it’s possible for users to go to Hulu’s website via the Chrome browser and watch Hulu content on their TVs, without having to pay for Hulu Plus, which obviously won’t sit well with Hulu’s owners. Google says it’s currently working on launching Hulu Plus app on Chromecast). When launched, Google was offering three-month free access to Netflix (regardless of if you were a new or existing subscriber). Unfortunately, that promotion is over as these devices are apparently selling like hot-cakes.

Speaking of too many cables, Mushroom Networks’ newest Streamer PRO can now stream live, HD video from any digital camera right to the web. It accommodates s-video, composite, HDMI, and a number of other inputs to broadcast live video over 3G and 4G networks.

YouTube has announced embeddable subscription buttons to allow users to subscribe without leaving the site wherever said buttons are embedded. This poses great new options for creators with blogs, since the embedding process is very similar to embedding iframe codes generated by YouTube. The appearance can either be set to default, full layout with the channel’s avatar, and/or the full layout in a dark theme. Before embedding, though, YouTube has three requirements: users cannot be promised rewards for clicking, buttons must be shown in full and need to be completely visible, and buttons cannot be used for click tracking.

OTT service provider Entone will incorporate LG’s Netcast into the forthcoming LG SP530 Media Player, meaning owners will have quick access to Netflix, VUDU, Hulu, and YouTube on their TVs. It promises to also deliver live TV — via over-the-air broadcasts or any authenticated PayTV service — through Entone’s FusionTV app and Magi line of media gateways. Set to be available by the end of the year, the boxes will go head-to-head with offerings like Roku and the Apple TV.

Roku investor BSkyB started selling its Now TV today for just £9.99 (including shipping). It’s the Roku 2X without Netflix, Lovefilm, ITV Player, and 4oD, but the company plans to subsidize that ridiculously low sales price by charging £9.99 for a 24-hour Sky Sports Day Pass or £8.99 per month for three months (£15 after) for Sky Movies. Other entertainment resources that appeared in the Netflix void include Now TV, iPlayer, Demand Five, Spotify, and Facebook.

Worldwide smartphone sales experienced 52.3% year-over-year growth rate according to International Data Corporation’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. Vendors shipped 156.2 million units in Q2 2012, 216.3 million units in Q1 2013, and 237.9 million units in Q2 2013 — meaning that even between the first two quarters of this year alone, sales increased by 10%. Samsung had a fairly amazing year, maintaining a 30.4% market share with year-over-year changes in Q2 pegged at 43.9% due to the success of their Galaxy S III phones and the release of the Galaxy S4. Apple, on the other hand, only secured 13.1% of the market share and posted 20.0% year-over-year growth, presumably as users await the release of the iPhone 5.

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