Telstra to roll out ‘T-Box’, its own set-top box
TELSTRA could be launching a personal video recorder (PVR) and set-top box, likely to be called the T-box, as early as December.
The device is part of a bid to shift Telstra’s entertainment, news and sport content offered under the BigPond brand from people’s computers to their televisions.
How many/much things can we subscribe too
why not one box, and then subscribe to the channels (the old debate)
NAB, Visa ends wrestling with cash | Australian IT
NAB, Visa ends wrestling with cash
Sumo Salad chain.
technology that allows customers simply to hold their credit or debit card up to a contactless payment reader to pay for lunch.
The cards, issued by National Australia Bank, are embedded with Visa’s chip-based payment technology called payWave.
According to NAB and Visa, more than 500 merchants in Melbourne will start using the technology and thousands more are set to sign up before the holiday period.
For purchases under $100, hungry patrons need not sign or enter their PIN, hastening the transaction process.
Customers are not charged extra fees for using the service.
Crackdown on fake software | Australian IT
MICROSOFT has cracked down on Australians who sell counterfeit software on internet auction sites, and the investigations have resulted in settlements with 10 local sellers for copyright infringement.
Microsoft’s outside counsel sent a letter of demand to each of the sellers, outlining the right to claim for copyright infringement.
All the sellers admitted they had infringed copyright and agreed to settle. Microsoft said it was paid more than $38,000 in damages.
AMD debuts US$99 quad-core CPU
AMD debuts US$99 quad-core CPU
AMD has a pair of Athlon II X4 processors in the launch tube: the 2.6GHz model 620 for US$99 and the 2.8GHz 630 for US$122
‘Facebook for the dead’: catchy or creepy? – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
‘Facebook for the dead’: catchy or creepy?
The site, FromBeyond2u.com, allows the living to upload videos, photographs and important messages, as part of a virtual “time capsule”.
Mr Ingham says they saw a need for the unique service to allow people to prepare a proper goodbye or mend past wrongs if they need to.
“The number one aim of the site is to keep in touch with loved ones, today, tomorrow and beyond and to create everlasting love,” Mr Ingham told ABC News Online.
“Predominantly it’s a cache of memoirs of your loved ones – times you spent with your children, the first day at school – and these can be continually added to the site to be shared with them when you pass away.
“You can also leave farewell messages, you can leave ongoing messages into the future so you can leave messages for birthdays and random messages.”
Humans could become immortal cyborgs with super powers within 20 years, a respected scientist has predicted.
American inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil says that technologies are growing at such a rapid rate that we could replace all our organs — and even our blood cells — with robotic replacements.
“I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogramme our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing,” Mr Kerzweil wrote in The Sun.
“Then nanotechnology will let us live forever.
“Ultimately, nanobots will replace blood cells and do their work thousands of times more effectively.”
The author, who Forbes magazine once named “the ultimate thinking machine”, said humans would be able to pull off amazing physical and mental feats with the aid of mechanical upgrades.
“Within 25 years we will be able to do an Olympic sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath, or go scuba-diving for four hours without oxygen,” Mr Kurzweil said.
“Nanotechnology will extend our mental capacities to such an extent we will be able to write books within minutes.”
“Heart-attack victims – who haven’t taken advantage of widely available bionic hearts – will calmly drive to the doctors for a minor operation as their blood bots keep them alive.”
And while Mr Kurzweil’s futuristic world sounds mind-boggling in itself, he also predicts that virtual reality computers will be in-built into our brains to offer an unparalleled world of escapism.
“If we want to go into virtual-reality mode, nanobots will shut down brain signals and take us wherever we want to go,” he said.
“Virtual sex will become commonplace.
And in our daily lives, hologram like figures will pop in our brain to explain what is happening.”
The NSW government is legislating to move notorious pedophile Dennis Ferguson out of public housing in Sydney because the safety of children is paramount, Premier Nathan Rees says.
Mr Ferguson, who served 14 years in jail in Queensland for the abduction and sexual assault of three children, has a legally unbreakable five-year lease on the townhouse in Ryde.
But neighbours have been angrily campaigning for him to be moved since they found out two weeks ago that he was living there.
State cabinet decided on Tuesday night to introduce legislation to allow the government to cancel Mr Ferguson’s lease.
“The ministers found a path through this minefield which was endorsed at an extraordinary cabinet meeting last night,” Mr Rees said in a statement on Wednesday morning.
“We will introduce legislation today to give the government the powers it needs in extreme cases like this,” he said.
“The safety of children and the community is paramount. This is a proportionate response to what we hope will be a one-off situation.
“However, if we need to move further, we will.”
Urging the opposition to support the legislation, Mr Rees said the government needed to move quickly.
Mr Ferguson has temporarily moved out of the Ryde townhouse, but has insisted he is entitled to return whenever he likes.
He was released from jail in 2003 and was run out of several Queensland communities before moving to NSW this year.
Housing Minister David Borger will introduce legislation in parliament on Wednesday to amend the Housing Act 2001 to allow the cancellation of a lease by his department.
Five Queensland police officers allegedly involved in naked romps through Brisbane on Sunday have been stood down.
Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said on Wednesday it was “probable” the officers would be disciplined, but it was also “possible” they could face charges.
The charges could include wilful exposure, public nuisance or the criminal charge of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, Mr Atkinson told ABC radio.
The Ethical Standards Command will investigate reports of the highly-trained Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) officers allegedly running naked around a police vehicle while stopped at several sets of traffic lights in Brisbane during a buck’s party, which had also involved a river cruise with strippers.
The latest scandal for the Queensland police came to light after a member of the public reported an incident of naked men running around a small bus at traffic lights.
A number plate check revealed it was a police vehicle, apparently authorised for use by a police sergeant.
A sergeant from the Metropolitan North district, an acting sergeant from Operational Support Command and three senior constables from Operational Support Command will work in Brisbane-based non-operational roles outside the command while the investigation is finalised.
Intel’s focus is changing from “the personal computer” to “personal computing”, which encompasses a “continuum” of devices ranging from large to small around each person, the company’s CEO, Paul Otellini, has announced.
“This is a profound shift for Intel, moving from a PC focus, to making all computing personal,” Otellini said.
“If I look forward out, say, 5 years or so, I can easily see the point where Intel ships more SOC devices per year than standard microprocessors.”
SOC is an acronym for “system on a chip”, describing a chip that includes the functions of various chips traditionally found on a PC motherboard and its expansion cards.
A major part of Intel’s push will be smaller and more power-efficient Atom-based motherboards. Otellini showed its upcoming SOC motherboards, with next year’s Moorestown board due to be half the size of the current board, with 50 times lower standby power consumption, while the year after will bring a board that’s only a third the size of a credit card — easily small enough to fit a full x86 PC into the smallest phones.
The appstore concept is fast spreading to PCs, with Intel launching its own iPhone-style appstore concept.As a chipmaker, Intel’s probably the last company you’d expect to launch an iPhone-style appstore, but given Intel’s claim that Atom-based netbooks are bigger than the iPhone or Nintendo Wii, it makes more sense.
In fact, Intel itself won’t be releasing app stores, but it is providing an app store infrastructure for hardware makers to launch their own.
ASUS, Dell and Acer are the first companies to announce they will launch one. ASUS’ will be called the Eee App store.
Where manufacturers ship both Windows and Linux-based netbooks, the app store will include apps that work on both. And if they ship mobile phones using Atom CPUs, they can publish mobile apps on there too.
iiNet eyeing acquisitions
Internet service provider iiNet this week said it was looking for acquisitions to quickly boost the size of the company.
“The focus for iiNet in the 2010 full year will be to continue to enhance customer service, improve brand recognition, and launch new content, whilst looking for value-creating acquisition opportunities to build further scale,” iiNet managing director Michael Malone said in the company’s 2009 annual report, which was released yesterday.
Malone said iiNet wanted to grow its market share of fixed broadband customers in Australia from the current level of eight per cent to around 15 per cent as quickly as possible. “This is necessary in order to achieve the required scale to compete effectively in the future,” Malone said.
“We climbed from six per cent at the end of the last financial year to eight per cent at 30 June, 2009 through organic customer growth of iiNet and Westnet.”
iiNet acquired internet service provider Westnet in 2008. Malone said iiNet’s balance sheet was very strong, with gearing of only seven per cent at June 2009, and a debt financing facility of $60 million.
“We are well placed to take advantage of the right opportunities that present themselves over the next few years,” he said.
The company booked an annual net profit of $25.6 million for the 2008/09 financial year — 29 per cent rise on the prior year’s result. Shares in iiNet were two cents higher at $2.12 on Tuesday.
Pipe’s Guam cable carries first packets
Last month, Pipe Network’s PPC-1 cable from Sydney to Guam carried its first light. This time, tests run with early customer, Internode, has seen the cable carry its first data packets.
Pipe Network’s PPC-1 fibre optic cable, set to be launched on 8 October, has sent its first packets to the US, according to a statement by Pipe Networks and internet service provider, Internode.
“PPC-1 has successfully demonstrated its performance by allowing Internode to send internet protocol (IP) packets end-to-end between Australia and the USA via Guam,” Internode managing director Simon Hackett said in a statement.
Under the tests, the packets would have had done a round trip from Sydney to the western Pacific island Guam and on to San Jose before returning to Sydney via the same path. The PPC-1 cable itself runs for 6900 kilometres along the seabed between Sydney and Guam.
The new cable travels a slightly further distance to the US than the currently used Southern Cross Cable, which runs to the US west coast via Hawaii, while Internode’s other cable, the Australia Japan Cable (AJC), also runs to a hub in Guam.
While the PPC-1 cable suffers slightly higher latency levels — the lag time as data travels between two points — Internode’s managing director Simon Hackett has positioned its value as a redundant path should either Southern Cross or AJC fail.
The ISP, along with Telikom PNG and iiNet key supplier Tyco Telecommunications, stepped in to save the cable last December after finance for the project was withdrawn by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
Seagate ships the world’s fastest largest hard drive
P55 motherboard friendly to boot.
Seagate has just started shipping the Barracuda XT, the first 3.5-inch 7200RPM two Terabyte desktop hard disk drive that has a 6Gbps SATA interface for all your faster than SATA-II needs.
The HDD announcement was timed to coincide with the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this week, primarily due to the fact that the SATA 6Gbps interface can be found on some of Intel’s latest P55 motherboards unveiled a few weeks back.
This marks the second two TB Seagate drive, with the low power drawing 5900RPM Barracuda LP having been announced in April. Western Digital beat Seagate to the punch in the high end capacity stakes with its first two TB drive back in January.
The Barracuda XT is backward compatible with the SATA 3Gbps and SATA 1.5Gbps standards, to accommodate those who need more disk space but might not want to fully upgrade their systems yet.
Seagate is expecting its latest Barracuda drive to be used in high performance, high-end gaming rigs first and then also small business servers.
We had no UK specific prices at press time, but as a point of reference the Barracuda XT is selling for $299 in the US.
First there was an alleged Toys R Us ad, and now we’ve caught wind of what’s claimed to be a Best Buy spot showing the Nintendo Wii getting that long-desired $50 price drop, down just below the two Benjamin mark. Easily Photoshopped image? You betcha, so we’ll just have to play wait-and-see as the evidence seems to mount up — it’s been a long time coming, after all, we wouldn’t be that surprised given the oncoming holiday season and the recent downward trend in demand.
World’s nastiest trojan fools AV software
One of the world’s nastiest password-stealing trojans evades detection by the majority PCs running anti-virus programs, according to a study that examined 10,000 machines.
Zeus, a stealthy piece of malware that sits on a PC and waits for users to log in to bank websites, is detected just 23 per cent of time by AV programs, according to the study (PDF) released by security firm Trusteer. Even AV programs with up-to-date malware signatures were unable to identify the infection a majority of the time, the authors said.
Zeus, which also goes by the name Zbot and PRG, escapes detection using sophisticated techniques such as root-kit technology, the Trusteer report said. The company is able to detect it by examining the fingerprint Zeus leaves when it penetrates an infected PC’s browser process.
A recent report estimated that Zeus is the No. 1 trojan, with 3.6 million infections in the US alone, or about 1 per cent of the installed base of PCs. Trusteer’s study, which found Zeus accounted for 44 per cent of the banking malware infections, was consistent with that finding. After sneaking onto a PC, it sits quietly in the background until a user logs on to a financial website. It then sends the login credentials to a remote server in real time, sometimes by use of instant messaging programs.
Of Zeus-infected machines, about 31 per cent don’t run AV at all and 14 percent run AV that’s out of date. The remaining 55 per cent had AV programs that were up to date. ®
Apple sends iPhones into ‘Coma Mode’
Complaints about Apple’s new iPhone OS 3.1 are flooding the web, with one poster calling it “the buggiest update that Apple has yet released for the iPhone.”
The problems being reported are legion. They include iPhones becoming totally unresponsive, dropped calls, poor battery life, difficulties with Wi-Fi connections, failed Microsoft Exchange syncing, dead GPS service, loss of signal after syncing, tethering no longer working in “legally” unlocked phones outside the US, and more.
It should, of course, be noted that on some message boards there’s an “everything’s fine with mine” post for every complaint – and we’ve experienced no problems with OS 3.1 on our iPhone 3GS – but the sheer volume of problems being reported can’t be ignored.
Reports vary, but they have one common thread: that the iPhone chooses to simply disregard all input and needs to be fully rebooted before it will work again. Users report seemingly random occurences, sometimes when the phone has been put to sleep, sometimes when it’s locked, and sometimes just whenever it feel like it.
A blogger at the Detroit News provided a detailed description of his attempted – and unsuccessful – workarounds, and a poster in an Apple thread entitled “Mysterious random total shut downs following 3.1 update” described how he reset his iPhone to factory settings, restored it, set Autolock to Off, deleted his email account, and removed all third party apps – all to no avail.
That poster also tried to downgrade his iPhone OS to version 3.0 – but, unfortunately, Apple’s iTunes doesn’t provide that option. One tech-savvy user, however, has posted a YouTube video of how he used the Mac OS X Terminal to restore iPhone OS 3.0 from an iPhone running the iPhone 3.1 beta.
Finally, as of Thursday morning in a decidedly unscientific poll on Phones Review, 70 per cent of respondents had answered the question “Is your Apple iPhone useless after 3.1 update?” with “Yes and I am so ticked off.”
Even those lucky enough to have their iPhone remain functional after the OS 3.1 update are expressing frustration. On the Apple discussion boards alone, there are threads devoted to problems making and receiving calls even when a strong signal is available, reduced battery life, flaky Wi-Fi, and disabling of tethering in unlocked phones outside of the US.
Other users have reported a loss of signal after syncing (YouTube video), and a multitude of problems reported on MacInTouch, Macworld, and iPhone Chat, including problems with GPS service, the ability to restore, and many, many other problems.
And there’s also a thread on the Apple discussion boards and a series of posts on DSLReports about the inability to sync with Microsoft Exchange on iPhone 3G phones that have been upgraded to OS 3.1. This frustration, however, involves the new hardware encryption in the iPhone 3GS, and AppleInsider has a comprehensive article explaining the problem and providing a server-side workaround for iPhone 3G users.
Keen to forget the PR nightmare that was Vista, Microsoft may have committed yet another blunder: Windows XP users will not be able to upgrade to Windows 7 without a totally clean install.
The great Microsoft migration begins again this year, as millions of Windows users pledge to keep up with the latest and greatest and embrace the power of 7. Except if you’re an XP user. Based on the latest Net applications market share data – that’s probably most of us, 71.7% of desktops to be exact.
But according to a Computerworld report, the Microsoft gods may have surrendered convenience for profit, giving XP users no choice but to create a fresh new install – hardly the way to get Microsoft users back on side with the OS giant. That report concludes the dire: that XP users should buy a new PC to get Windows 7, rather than endure a hair pulling upgrade of sorts.
Ironically, those using Vista, the same OS that instigated the Microsoft hate-a-thon from day one, are free to upgrade to Windows 7 without hassle. Yes, all 18.8% of you out there: you should be counting yourselves lucky. You are the chosen ones.
Regardless of Vista’s virtues and even our good reviews of the product, the public image of Vista has been toxic. So it’s surprising to learn then, that Microsoft, for the second time, have left XP users to stagnate in a state of cryogenic freeze.
Twitter rejects ads to focus on paid accounts
Twitter has no plans to put advertisements on the popular microblogging site this year, co-founder Biz Stone said on Tuesday, amid a growing push for the 2-year-old internet sensation to begin making money.
Stone, who said Twitter was “pretty good right now” with regards to funding, stressed the company’s immediate focus was on building out features ranging from an improved search functions to paid-for commercial accounts.
“Any kind of approach toward advertising is going to be awhile … We’re not thinking about that just yet,” Stone said at the 140: Twitter Conference in Los Angeles.
Privately held Twitter — known for its 140-character, stream-of-consciousness blogs — has received plenty of venture funding, but Stone declined to disclose the amounts or valuation.
TechCrunch recently reported that a new round of funding would value Twitter at $US1 billion.
Still in its infancy, the fledgling company has rapidly become a cultural phenomenon, but Twitter and other social networking websites have yet to show investors how they will start earning a profit.
To that end, Stone said Twitter aims to offer premium features for commercial account users this year.
“We wanted to show people that we’re here to stay and here we are making money,” Stone said.
Those features, which could debut in test form, are envisioned as for-pay features and potentially could include “light analytics” tools that allow commercial users to gather data on their followers, he said.
Voice chat coming to Facebook
Look out, Facebook users: Here comes voice chat.
Sometime in the next few weeks, the social network’s tens of millions of users will begin to be able to have high-quality voice conversations, even as its third-party developers are able to start including voice in their applications.
The new technology is not being offered by Facebook itself, however. Instead, it’s from Vivox, a Boston-based company that provides the integrated voice service for virtual worlds like Second Life and EVE Online, and which already has more than 15 million users worldwide.
The service, which is currently in beta, will allow Facebook users to have high-fidelity conversations with anyone on their friends list. Each user, however, will have to download Vivox’s plug-in. But once installed, the service works almost seamlessly with Facebook, and is intended for everything from one-to-one chat to large group discussions.
Further, even non-Facebook users will be able to participate, as Vivox plans to offer free dial-in numbers that will allow anyone to call into an existing conversation, much as is possible today with call-in phone conferences.
Vivox the company is making its technology available to any third-party Facebook application developer, meaning that almost any app, from games to utilities, can have a voice component.
For now, it’s not clear how many of Facebook’s users will choose to adopt Vivox’s technology, and for the time being, at least, Facebook is not involved in any way in promoting the new service. But while some people may decide that they don’t want to use a tool that requires a plug-in, many others may well find that it’s worth the trouble in order to be able to easily start a conversation that rivals, or even betters, phone call quality.
One person who may be an early adopter is Charlene Li, a well-known social media consultant, and the co-author of the book Groundswell.
Another social media expert, Gnomedex organizer Chris Pirillo, was even more effusive about the potential for a full-fledged Facebook voice chart system.
“It is about time,” Pirillo said. “I guarantee you this is going to bite into Skype.”
For Pirillo, the Vivox system will provide a valuable incentive for Facebook users to streamline their friends lists since it’s likely that they won’t want to be getting voice chat invites from people they’ve friended but might know only peripherally.
Great for retailers
To Li, giving third-party Facebook developers the ability to integrate voice chat into their applications may mean a big victory for retailers. She pointed out that a company like Overstock.com may find it extremely valuable to put out a Facebook app with voice built-in–without having to build the voice system themselves–because it would give people a way to quickly and easily chat with their friends about products they see.
“Retailers don’t have to put in chat themselves,” Li said. “They can just put in Facebook chat. That’s where it starts getting very interesting.”
And to Pirillo, the ability for Facebook friends to have a voice chat during, say, a game of Scrabble, is a very “smart” innovation that means users can streamline the number of different tools they’re running simultaneously.
To be sure, Vivox’s offering is not the first to make voice possible for Facebook users, though it may well be the most seamless.
Other options have included Equals’ Party Line, which offers group chat for up to five people, and, of course, a work-around like Skype.
There are millions of people who play social games from developers like Zynga, Playfish, and others, and together the segment makes up one of the largest on the social network. But because social gaming is largely asynchronous–meaning users don’t have to be online at the same time to enjoy playing games against each other–voice chat may not present as much utility.
“For social games, I don’t see a strong need for (voice chat) yet,” said Siqi Chen, the CEO of Social Business, a leading Facebook social games developer. “I do see a shift for more synchronous game play over time, but it hasn’t really been happening for most games.”
In part, Chen said, that’s because among friends who like to play games together, it’s fairly uncommon to be online at the same time. In addition, social games are built around short play sessions.
For now, it’s also too early to tell just how much of a game-changer any new voice chat system will be. But based on Vivox’s track record, it is certainly one of the few companies well-positioned to jump headlong into a community as large as that of Facebook.
And to Pirillo, adding a seamless voice chat system is a natural, and just one step on the path toward where we may well be going in the near future: fully functional video chatting across the entire social network.
“Is it revolutionary? No,” Pirillo said of Vivox’s offering. “Is it evolutionary? Absolutely.”
While you may not immediately notice Chrome’s increased speed, it will be tough to pass by the new Chrome Tab page, which now sports a new, cleaner layout of your most recently visited and bookmarked websites. It takes out the right hand sidebar and extends your most visited websites across the entire browser tab.
There are a few other updates of note. First is more HTML5 support, specifically the , , and the tags, which help embed video and audio without the need for Flash (here’s a taste of what’s to come). Another big one is Chrome Themes, which were available in the development and beta releases but now make their official debut.
Adult Film Maker Wants Porn on PlayStation 3Vivid’s Steve Hirsch said that he is planning to push for downloadable adult entertainment on consoles, starting with the PlayStation Network.
“As long as age verification is in place that (Sony) feels comfortable with, we see no reason why adults shouldn’t be allowed to access adult movies on the PlayStation 3,” Hirsch said.
Hirsch said that Vivid, the world’s largest adult video production company, has not yet discussed the matter with Sony, but it is currently drafting a request to the PlayStation maker.
Hirsch explained that the reason Vivid has decided to approach Sony now is because high-def adult movies on demand are now available for the console in Japan.
He added that if he is successful with Sony, he would look to the other consoles as well, although the Wii “seems to skew a little young.”
Supermarket ad trials: your shopping trolley knows what you want
In a move that brings new meaning to the expression “taking the thinking out of shopping”, advertising will be delivered directly to supermarket trolleys based on a shopper’s in-store behaviour and purchasing history.
A live trial of the technology will begin in two supermarkets in November after several advertisers signed up to have their product messages beamed to small screens on trolleys as shoppers move around stores.
Media Cart trolleys are fitted with a GPS navigation system that alerts the store’s database when a shopper moves into a particular area, triggering an appropriate ad.
A milk ad, for example, could be beamed to the screen as a trolley moves into the store’s chilled dairy area. Alternatively, as soon as a product is put through the trolley’s self scanner an ad for a rival product could be served up.
The system also has the ability to read and deliver shopping lists to the trolley by inserting a loyalty card that will also tell the customer in which order to shop in the aisles.
Media Cart managing director Brian Paterson said that, during the average 25-minute shop, customers could expect about eight minutes of ads, each one no more than 10 seconds long.
He said that, in US trials, participating store sales rose by 10 per cent while sales of featured products rose by 30 to 40 per cent.
Apart from the coffee brand Lavazza, Mr Paterson would not divulge the names of the eight companies participating in the six-month trial other than to say a large soft drinks company and breakfast cereal manufacturer were among them.
“There is no other media that can show an ad to a shopper and then record if they buy that product,” Mr Paterson said.
Media Cart has signed a deal with researcher TNS to analyse the data from the 50 to 100 trolleys that will operate in the Doonside, NSW and Hawker, ACT Super IGA stores.
TNS director Chris Kirby said the data had the potential to “turn the retail world upside down” as brands could determine what types of ads work best in stores.
Marketers call the decision, made in front of the product as it sits on the aisle, the moment of truth. Research consistently shows that 70 per cent of decisions are made in that split second.
The system’s ability to change the messages on screens could lend itself to last-minute deals to shift unwanted stock. For example, if the store had a cooker full of barbecued chickens that were unsold it could target shoppers with a special deal, leaving those who have flagged they are vegetarians.
Media Cart hopes to roll out the system midway through the trial. It has held talks with Coles and Woolworths but they are holding back until they see the results of the trial, Mr Paterson said.
David Gaines chief executive officer of media agency Maxus said the trolleys could make shoppers more “sticky” to those stores.
“You could say they are taking the thinking out of the shopping,” he said. “You are definitely saving them time by taking the shopping list off them.”
Research from the US trial showed that, even though older shoppers were the most resistant to using the system in the first place, they were the most reluctant to let the trolleys go once the trial had ended, Paterson said.
“They were quite annoyed as they saw that it saved them time and money.”
End of the iPod era
This month, Apple released an upgrade to its iPod line. But amid the hype surrounding its careful marketing and intentional secrecy about the content of the launch.
are seeing the twilight of the stand-alone digital music player (DMP), a product category little more than 10 years old.
That does not mean digital music players will vanish. Quite the opposite: the sector is still growing. Increasingly, though, the products have some sort of connectivity — whether wi-fi, mobile phone, Bluetooth or all three.
signs the stand-alone player is in decline are all around. The first, and most obvious, was Apple’s announcement in its latest quarterly results that iPod sales fell year-on-year for the first time since the product’s launch in October 2001. As the iPod dominates the market for DMPs, any drop in its sales indicates a fall in the market.
Next is the news that in the last week of August, Sony’s Walkman DMPs outsold the iPod in Japan for the first time in four years. But that was against a background where sales of DMPs fell by 13.5 per cent for the fifth month in a row; and Sony forecast that it would sell 6.7 million units in the year to March 2010 — compared to 7 million sold the previous year.
A forecast by In-Stat (in-stat.com), a consumer-analysis company, suggests the market for stand-alone DMPs peaked in value last year at $21.8 billion and “will slow considerably over the next five years”. It believes the market’s growth fell below 10 per cent at the end of 2008 for the first time since the Saehan MPMan player, able to store 32MB of data, went on sale in 1998. Shortly after, Diamond Multimedia started selling the Rio PMP300.
That, in turn, carries serious risks for the music industry, which has surfed along on the iPod boom, warns the vice-president of global media practice at analysis company Forrester Research, Mark Mulligan. Digital music downloads have been driven by DMP sales growth.
“There’s a really, really important point that we have been trying to hammer home to the record labels for some months, which is: what happens to music sales as device sales start to slow?” he says.
“Apple is 75-80 per cent of the music download market. Its fortunes are explicitly tied to iPod sales. And even before the last quarter, if you do a simple calculation — assuming a two-year replacement cycle for each iPod, and calculate the installed base — then you discover that the installed base of iPods stopped growing in 2007.” Mulligan puts the total installed base about 110 million at the end of 2008.
He explains that 2005 was the “lift-off” year for iPod sales and for the installed base to grow beyond that would require a “massive” sales surge — which is not happening. Instead, people are turning to the iPod Touch and iPhone.
But the music industry has had a troubled relationship with DMPs.
In 1998, the first reaction of the Recording Industry Association of America, representing US record labels, to the Rio was to sue Diamond Multimedia because it could be used to play illicit copies of music.
The next was to ignore it: in 1998, Nick Raymonde, then the A&R director at BMG Music, one of the biggest music companies, said in an interview that MP3 “is not a particularly good format, technically” and “I don’t really see a lot of kids walking around with MP3 players yet”. He’s probably seeing it now.
The iPod’s arrival, with its click-wheel access to huge numbers of songs, galvanised the market. But now that market has matured — or become saturated. It is no longer enough simply to play music. Connectivity is the key.
According to consumer devices analyst for In-Stat, Stephanie Ethier, the total market for personal media players (a category that includes wi-fi-enabled devices such as the iPod Touch and Sony’s new X-series Walkman) will grow from 200 million in 2007 to 245 million in 2012 — but of that, 21 per cent, or 52 million, will have wi-fi. That means 193 million sold without, a fall compared with 2007’s sales.
Apple recognised that with its launch in September 2007 of the iPod Touch. Since its launch, the iPod Touch has sold 18.6 million units — compared with 26.4 million units of the iPhone, launched three months earlier.
Connectivity, though, means the complexities of the device — and the need for good user interface design — are suddenly much higher. Wi-fi means email and web browsing become possible, if not obligatory, and the idea that you might be able to do even more with the device — as the iPhone and iPod Touch have demonstrated through Apple’s online App Store — raises the bar.
With the iPod — increasingly key to Apple’s growth — now glimpsing its end, will last week’s product launches have been enough?
Sat nav apps could be heading for a dead end
Strict new road rules relating to the use of mobile phones by drivers are threatening to kill the burgeoning market in apps and services that enable smartphones to be used as satellite navigation systems.
The legal changes will affect iPhones that use apps made by TomTom, Navigon and Sygic; Nokia phones using its Ovi Maps; Telstra phones using its Whereis Navigator GPS service and any other service or software that enables a mobile phone to be used as an in-car navigation device.
Victoria will roll out the new rules, which will limit drivers’ use of mobile phones and satellite navigation devices, on November 9.
A spokesperson for VicRoads, the Victorian Government’s roads and traffic authority, said that under the laws – as applied in Victoria – it would be illegal for drivers to navigate using a mobile that doubles as a satellite navigation device.
“A phone will only be allowed to be used for its primary purpose,” the spokeswoman said in a telephone interview. “If it’s a phone, it’s a phone.”
The rules are part of the Australian Road Rule 8th Amendment Package, a set of road and traffic laws that were approved by all state and territory Road Ministers in February.
The iPhone voice-activated, turn-by-turn navigation apps produced by TomTom and Navigon sell for $99.99. The Sygic app costs $79.99.
All are sold through Apple’s online App Store but none warn prospective buyers about the coming changes to the road rules, which could dramatically lower their utility.
TomTom’s app was launched last month and is already the Australian Apple App Store’s biggest grossing app.
The company plans to begin selling a bespoke car kit to cradle the TomTom-enabled phone from next month.
TomTom Australian marketing manager Chris Kearney said that the new Victorian laws would not stop the sale of the app.
“What we are seeing just reinforces our safety message around [the fact that] you must use a mounted device [the car kit] in a car and not interact with the device whilst you are driving,” he said. “Essentially, it’s about using the device in a correct manner.”
The basic Nokia Ovi Maps service is free with the voice-guided car navigation service as part of a premium service.
Telstra’s Whereis Navigator is a subscription satellite navigation service.
“Telstra is planning for the introduction of the new road rules in Victoria and we are currently in discussions with VicRoads,” a Telstra spokeswoman said in an email.
“Telstra will communicate directly with its customers should these changes affect the way in which Whereis Navigator can be used.”
The new laws prohibit a driver from even holding a mobile phone, cradling one on their shoulder or resting it on their laps – even if the phone is not in use.
Drivers will only be able to use mobile phones if they are placed in purpose-made cradles and operation is entirely hands-free.
Those caught breaking the new Victorian laws face a $234 fine and the loss of three demerit points.
VicRoads says research has shown that a driver is four times more likely to crash while using a mobile phone.
In Victoria, the act of driving while using a mobile ranks among the state’s top three driving offences.
A spokeswoman for the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority said the RTA was “still working through practical issues” and was unable to say when the harmonised laws would come into effect in NSW.
“NSW road rules are based on the Australian Road Rules to ensure uniformity with road rules elsewhere in Australia,” she said in an emailed statement.
“States and territories are not compelled to implement Australian Road Rules.”