Category Archives: Consumer Electronics

Are you under TiVo’s StopWatch?


Putting his hand on the proverbial Bible, Todd Juenger, a VP at TiVo, swears blind that the digital video recording company is not archiving and selling inidivual subscriber’s data.

TiVo is, however, through its StopWatch initative offering ad agencies and television networks the opportunity to receive real time data concerning which programs TiVo subscribers are watching and which ads they are skipping.

Talking with the San Francisco Chronicle, Todd said that StopWatch only delivers a random, anonymous sampling of what their user base is watching.

Inherently as an advocate of the attention economy I find nothing wrong or alarming in what TiVo is doing. However, there is a slippery slope effect and it is up to users to determine their level of confidence in particular companies…do you trust companies like TiVo…will they continue to anonymise your data?


Venture Wrap: Wizen Up To Product Research


San Mateo start up, Wize, assists people find the best products in less time than if they were searching for them on generic search engines like Google.


How do they do this you may ask? They compile expert and user reviews and insert them into a scoring algorithm that outputs a Wize Rank – a single numerical score from 0 – 100 – that essentially uses the wisdom of crowds to alert consumers to products worthy of their attention.

Wize has raised $4million in  Series A financing from the Mayfield Fund and Bessemer Venture Partners. Michael Arrington covered this news recently in a post that was headed “Four Month Old Wize Gets $4m” – a number of folk have reacted to this heading with the WOTF knee jerker that the world of venture has gone all crazy again. I mean, how could a company that’s only been going for four months get $4 million in funding. So we yoicked around a bit and soon placated ourselves that Mayfield and Bessemer hadn’t gone nuts.

Wize’s CEO, Tom Patterson, had been an Entrepreneur in Residence at Mayfield, so this start up has been cooking for a while – it’s only been on the plate for 4 months, but the recipe is a tried and tested one. I’m a big fan of EiR’s and have been successfully running such a program over at NICTA for a few years now.

According to Raj Kapoor, managing director at Mayfield, “We started working with Tom as our Entrepreneur in Residence a year ago to revolutionize the product research space and zeroed in on Wize, as they have the most compelling proposition – giving the mass market consumer the simple answer on what product to buy when confronted with dozens of reviews and guides on the Net. By bringing together a breadth of data in an intuitive interface and simplifying the decision process, Wize will funamentally change the way users research products on the Web.”

Talking with the folk at Wize, I agree with their premise that while expert reviews are ideal for letting you know how a product compares to others in its category, user reviews are better at letting you know how a product performs over the long term in the real world.

Competition includes ViewScore, Nextag, Thefind and Shopping. Nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition. It will be interesting to see how the space pans out as consumers oscillate between the comfort zone of a generic search and honing in on the right products based on collective knowledge of what works in various product categories. More power to the consumer!

CBS: No More New Media


CBS Corp’s CEO,  Leslie Moonves, gave an insightful keynote at CES in Las Vegas in which he stated that there’s no such this as old or new media anymore…”There is just media.”

A great statement, but unfortunately there are still old and new media companies. Old media guys just don’t get the changes that are taking place around them at lightning speed and at some stage they’ll drop off the map and become defunct media companies, at which point we can truly drop the old/new media moniker.

In the meantime, CBS seems to have embraced all that it means to be at the media forefront. Firstly, they are taking a multi-faceted approach to playing in the digital space, developing some ideas entirely in house, and in other cases forming partnerships to bring ideas to life.

Secondly, CBS has formed some innovative relationships, including:

* with Electric Sheep, to build a Star Trek environment within Second Life

* with Sling Media, to develop a new app called Clip+Sling, which will allow audiences to share short segments of programming.

Leslie finished off by saying, “Anything is possible. Audiences know that, content people know that, and innovators in the digital space know that.”

Clip+Sling will give Slingbox owners the ability to clip and share content directly from either live or recorded television in a simple process via the SlingPlayer (desktop or mobile). They’ll then be able to share this content with friends, even if they aren’t Slingbox users. CBS will be participating in a beta trial to educate themselves on what their audiences want. Their take is that such new capabilities as Clip+Sling, as long as they are undertaken with due consideration for content owners, are worth pursuing.


Apple iPhone – this lawsuit’s no hoax, says Cisco


Yesterday we asked, tongue in cheek, if Apple was serious — launching iPhone, when this is a Cisco brand.

Cisco has responded by slapping an injunctive lawsuit on Apple seeking to revent Apple from copying their iPhone trademark.

“Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco’s iPhone name,” said Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel, Cisco. “There is no doubt that Apple’s new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission.

“Today’s iPhone is not tomorrow’s iPhone. The potential for convergence of the home phone, cell phone, work phone and PC is limitless, which is why it is so important for us to protect our brand,” Chandler concluded.

To be continued… 

Apple iPhone a Hoax


Ask Cisco – they got the rights to the iPhone brand in 2000 through the acquisition of Infogear and have been applying it to their Linksys VoIP range.

The Era of Instant Journalism


I recently did an interview for a financial publication on the state of blogging and its impact on business. One of the points I focused on was how bloggers have become far more influential as immediate news sources. Picking up on this point Andy Abramson has a great post about “Creative Video Blogging and the New Instant Journalism”.

Andy looks at CES, which is happening this week in Las Vegas, and postulates that it’s going to be the independent news sources, not the main stream media where a lot of the ‘breaking news’ and more interesting stories get told. With blogging, podcasting and video blogging from anywhere there’s an IP connection, we have entered an era of “Instant Journalism” and of “just in time” distribution of news content.

This is a point well made and Nicholas Carr calls this the “New Instantaneousness” – and says that Instant Journalists cannot be overly concerned with punctuation, grammar and spelling — they are all about getting the story out and so need to write as if pursued by a cheetah across the Serengeti.

Nice analogy, but from my point of view getting the message out does not mean getting it out sloppily. Firstly an iJournalist can hone his or her skills to ensure they minimalise their mistakes, and secondly, use a spell check function and get a colleague to read your posts and point out mistakes — you can always go back in later and edit.

Andy notes the initiative that Benjamin Higginbotham is bringing to CES – you can send Ben a video mail or skype voicemail of burning questions you have for manufacturers and he will get their answers and blast them out on his daily netcasts. Cool!