PS3 Phone Features Microsoft Operating System & Plays Nintendo Games

22 11 2007

“That’s right folks, wrap your minds around this — a phone that features Playstation buttons, has a Microsoft Windows operating system, and plays Nintendo games. Confused yet? How about the fact that the phone was made in “Koera” — No, that’s not a typo, that’s what is printed on the phone.”

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Microsoft responds to Blu-ray attacks

6 11 2007

In response to this week’s Blu-ray Disc Festival in Los Angeles, Kevin Collins, director in the Microsoft Consumer Media Technology Group, defended the company’s backing of the next-generation HD DVD format.

“The [Blu-ray] camp’s claims about Microsoft’s desire to have a format war are baseless,” Collins said. ”Microsoft has over 100 people working on HD DVD interactivity and we believe that HD DVD is the next-generation optical format.”

During a presentation to journalists and home theater enthusiasts at the Blu-ray Festival earlier in the week, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment worldwide president Mike Dunn intimated that the format war is being perpetuated by Microsoft in the hopes of confusing consumers so much they don’t support either format and ultimately buy their entertainment online. He didn’t mention the computer giant by name, but blasted “the orchestrated campaigns of confusion and anti-consumerism fueled by an 800-pound gorilla that would prefer to force us all into the practice of paying tolls for the right to exchange information and enjoy entertainment.”

Collins said Microsoft decided to join the HD DVD format two CES shows ago because the format’s replication costs were and still are the cheapest. He said there are only three plants in the world that can produce BD-50 discs, and those are all owned by Sony. He added that Microsoft’s predictions around costs and availability almost three years ago still hold true today.

Another feature that Microsoft liked was mandatory managed copy, which mandated that content authors allow customers to make legal copies of their HD DVD. At the time, Blu-Ray refused to do this, but has since changed their stance.

“AACS today is rapidly approaching the ‘final agreement’ that will start to make this available for customers, though I do not have a firm timeline on this,” Collins said. “The key fact is that Microsoft believed that a next-generation format should be ‘consumer friendly’ and at the time of the decision, only HD DVD supported this.”

Collins also said the interactive nature of HD DVD would play a big role in the format, since just having high-definition video was not going to be enough to convince customers to upgrade from DVD.

“HD DVD offers compelling features by mandating that there are three key hardware components (secondary video decoder, memory and networking),” Collins said. “These offer a lowest common denominator that allows studios like Warner Bros. to produce a title like 300 that has features that are not in the Blu-ray version.”

300 HD DVD exclusives include a strategy game, the ability to view and choose from the wallpapers and ring tones via the cell phone, picture-in-picture for the duration of the movie and the ability to have a community experience where users can share their favorite clips with other 300 HD DVD owners and rate those scenes.

Collins said Microsoft did not and will not bundle the HD DVD drive in Xbox 360 because the company believes that gamers are first and foremost gamers.

“If you look historically at the attach rates (i.e. the number of DVDs purchased per DVD player) you will see that game consoles have a single-digit attach rate, while dedicated DVD players have an attach rate in the mid-20s,” said Collins. ”Microsoft knew if we put in an HD DVD drive that we would have to raise costs and disenfranchise our customers (that are primarily gamers) as the unit would become too expensive.”

Collins said price has proven out in the game console business, as Wii is outselling both Xbox 360 and PS3, primarily due to price.

“The PS3 has yet to even come close to the sales estimates that Sony was telling everyone last year at this time,” said Collins. “If bundling an HD optical drive in a game console is such a smart idea, then why is the PS3 so far behind on sales targets?

“Another fact to look at is the amount of Xbox 360 HD DVD drives sold, compared to all Blu-Ray dedicated players. As of the latest NPD data, the Xbox HD DVD drive has outsold all combind Blu-Ray dedicated players by a substantial factor. While the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive is the best selling accessory over $100 for ALL game consoles, it only represents as single digit attach rate to Xbox 360.

“This proves the initial point that primarily, gamers are gamers, while there is a small percentage that also want to watch movies on it like they would a dedicated player.”

Microsoft Xbox research has shown that Xbox gamers spend more than 200 hours playing a game versus less than eight hours watching a movie on their consoles. Since customers can only do one thing on a game console at a time, they are either playing games or potentially watching movies.

“If you look at the introduction of the PSP, what was the biggest software sales for the PSP when it launched? It was UMD,” said Collins. “Who sells UMD discs today? Sony. Why? Because once there was compelling games for the PSP, consumers spent their time playing games on the device, the primary reason it was purchased in the first place.

“We believe that the PS3 will follow the same course and that this holiday, when compelling games come out, PS3 customers will be drawn to be playing more games. In fact, if you look at the recent press releases, execs in Hollywood have attributed the declining box office revenues to the “Halo effect,” where customers are staying at home playing Halo 3 instead of coming to the movie theater.

“Another proof point in this is the attach rate for Blu-Ray versus HD DVD. Including the PS3, Blu-ray has an attach rate slightly above one-to-one whereas HD DVD has an attach rate just below four-to-one. We believe that will improve for HD DVD with cheaper price points (such as the $169 HD DVD player at Sears for Black Friday) and more compelling games coming out for PS3 this holiday.”

New trailer for Ubisoft’s: Assassin’s Creed

2 11 2007

A new Assassin’s Creed’s trailer has been released.

 Check it out by clicking here

Gears of War: PC Review!

2 11 2007

Despite clunky controls, the gears keep turning.

Before a little game called Halo 3 debuted, it was Gears of War that sent Xbox 360 systems flying off store shelves. Its intense graphics, style, gritty story and unparalleled multiplayer made it a must-have game for all 360 owners. A year after its initial console release, the game makes its way to the PC, where more gamers can find out what the hype is all about.



See more screens from Gears of War …

The story takes place fourteen years after an event called Emergence Day, when a group of creatures called the Locust Horde burst from the ground and launch a full-scale invasion on an otherwise peaceful planet. After countless losses, the humans exercised a scorched earth policy and destroyed their own cities instead of letting the Horde control them. However, the aliens continue their relentless invasion, and every capable person is called to arms, including Marcus Fenix, a soldier imprisoned for dereliction of duty. Players take the role of Marcus to continue the fight.

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Say goodbye to Blockbuster movies…

2 11 2007

It looks like the bottom has finally fallen out of Blockbuster. After numerous failed attempts at attracting new customers, the company is finally spiraling out of control.

Sad as it is, the end is near for Blockbuster, and all that pressure it has been placing on Netflix will be lifted.

And in the end, Netflix will be left standing to fight another day.

Although Blockbuster tried everything it could to create a compelling reason for us to use the service, the company could not overcome its downfall. For years, it was hated by those people who saw it as a monolithic organization that enjoyed charging exorbitant late fees and had little or no care of what the customers wanted most. So when Netflix offered an entirely new service, the dynamics of the industry was inexorably changed, and Blockbuster was left playing catch up.

According to the company’s third-quarter results released Thursday, Blockbuster’s revenue slid 5.7 percent and the company harbored a net loss of $35 million. Worse, it has closed 526 stores in the past year, and the number of employees will be reduced to offset high overhead costs to the tune of $45 million. Blockbuster’s injured stock price continues to fall and was priced at $5.06 at Thursday’s close.

But if that’s not enough to signal defeat, Blockbuster Chairman Jim Keyes admitted that his company’s focus on Netflix was damaging and has decided to pull the plug on his demand for higher Total Access membership. Instead, he wants Blockbuster to focus on increasing overall membership.

Sorry, Jim, but I think you’re out of luck.

Much like the print media and retail stores refusing to change, Blockbuster has been a victim on an online company finding new and inventive ways of bringing a product to a customer. And due to its size and outdated corporate culture, there really is no salvation for Blockbuster at this point. Try as it might, the future of Blockbuster is bleak, at best.

Sure, the company still enjoys revenue that climb into the billions of dollars, but with an ever-increasing net loss and a public refusal to focus on Total Access–the area where Netflix continues to dominate–what is the impetus for us to jump on the Blockbuster bandwagon?

Simply put, Blockbuster is doomed. And while many of us have known it for a while now, it’s amazing to me that the chairman of the company admitted this in a not-so subtle way, as well.

For Blockbuster, there is currently no prospect for growth. Not only is it incapable of breaking the Netflix shell, the brick-and-mortar stores are failing, and there is little chance it will be able to capitalize on the future of movie rentals–downloading.

The way I see it, Blockbuster has two options: sell off the company as soon as possible or spend huge sums of cash on research and development and strategic partnerships with distribution companies to make downloading movies a viable alternative to Netflix.

But unfortunately, I simply don’t see this happening. I think Blockbuster will try to stay the course in the hopes it can find a way out. It won’t.

I’ll give it two years before this company goes under.

Sony will drop prices for its Blu-ray DVD player – Confirmed

2 11 2007

Sony Corp.’s Blu-ray DVD player will drop 20 percent or more in price this holiday season, the head of the company’s consumer electronics division said.The price for the high-definition movie player, which produces sharper images than traditional DVD machines, will decline to less than $400 from $499.99 now, Stan Glasgow, president of Sony Electronics, said Thursday. The Sony player and HD DVD, backed by Toshiba Corp., are vying to be the new home-entertainment standard.

New Entertainment Xbox – Microsoft unites with Toshiba

31 10 2007

Microsoft, according to insiders at Toshiba owner of the HD DVD patents, claim that Microsoft is working on a brand new Xbox that will incorporate not only a new HD DVD drive but a large hard drive and new entertainment software that is a spin off from its struggling media centre offering.

The device is being developed in response to the PS3 driving sales of games software and Blu-ray content in several countries. A recent Sony Brand Wave study conducted in five countries including the UK, Australia, France Germany and Spain revealed that a key reason that consumers are buying a PS3 is because it includes a Blu-ray player.

Recent GFK research reveals that the recently launched Xbox 360 HD DVD attach player is not selling well. Another factor that impacted early sales of the Xbox 360 was that Microsoft failed to include a HDMI port – omitted because Microsoft wanted to cut down the costs of the console in an effort to compete up against the PS3.

The new Xbox device, while allowing for extensive gaming capability, will be positioned as an entertainment hub that includes gaming and extensive wireless networking capability as well as 1080p playback. There is also talk of it including a dual HD TV tuner and EPG capability and a docking port for an MP3 player. For Toshiba, the device is critical if it is to be successful in beating Sony and the Blu-ray promoters.

Also being discussed is the development of an open standard docking port similar to the 17 pin iPod port. This would allow all manufacturers to use the same port for docking.  Read the rest of this entry »