Europe's online source of news, data & analysis for professionals involved in packaged media and new delivery technologies

News in Brief

SONY is phasing out the production and sales in Japan of its era-defining Walkman, the portable cassette tape music player it launched in 1979. Some 220 million cassette tapes were sold. Sony will keep manufacturing the Walkman overseas where sales "are not totally zero" in North America, Europe and Africa, a spokesperson said.

THE Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is actively encouraging the Japanese government to consider creating a ‘three-strikes’ policy against repeat copyright violators. A recent modification to Article 30 of Japan’s national Copyright Law now makes it illegal for Internet users to download copyrighted material without permission from copyright holders. The MPAA and other groups applauded this decision, but believe more can be done to make changes in the future.

SAMSUNG Electronics has launched 3D TV prescription glasses in a bid to induce more consumers to buy its latest flagship hardware. Buyers of the South Korean company’s 3D-enabled TVs can now have their 3D spectacles prescribed by eyewear specialists at designated local shops. So far Samsung is only selling the specs in South Korea. Consumers drop their prescription for the SSG-R2200 active shutter glass model to a Samsung or partner shop. It reportedly takes a week to collect them. Samsung said it plans to offer two kinds of 3D eyewear for adults and children.

DISPLAYSEARCH analysts expect Connected TVs to ship over 40 million units in 2010 with forecast of over 118 million in 2014 worldwide. The analysts believe that the connected TV market will split, with basic connected sets carrying enhanced services such as Hbb.TV, YouView and VuDu, while the smart TV segment will encompass configurable apps, sophisticated search and navigation engines, and advanced user interfaces.

NEW research from Parks Associates indicates the number of European households with a connected TV will grow from less than 4 million in 2009 to 47 million in 2014. The number of households with a connected Blu-ray player will jump from 5 million in 2010 to approximately 66 million in 2014.

LOOKING for ways to generate additional sales from films as DVD purchases are declining, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros and Walt Disney are in discussion with In Demand, a partnership of Cox Communications, Comcast and Time Warner – the largest US cable TV operators – to offer films for as much as $30 per showing soon after their cinema releases. Such a “premium” service that would let consumers watch films on TV without waiting as long as the typical three-to-four month DVD release window or cable companies’ $4 on-demand viewings

SINGAPOREAN studio Beach House Pictures and New Zealand production company NHNZ have joined forces with the Media Development Agency (MDA) of Singapore for a 3D factual television series. The as-yet untitled 10-part series will be the partnership's first 3D project, and the show will be distributed internationally through the MDA. NHNZ and Beach House Pictures have been developing 3D capabilities over the past year. Singaporean 3D post-production company Blackmagic Design will also work on the series.

UNIVERSAL’s smash hit musical Mamma Mia! has become the best selling DVD of all time in the UK with more than six million discs sold since its release in 2008, according to charts supplied by the British Video Association based on data from the Official Charts Company.

ACCORDING to a survey by the industry research firm NPD spanning three months, 75% of consumers 13+ did not download digital content on any platform at all. Some 15% downloaded content via a PC or Mac, 4% through a smartphone, and 2% via a connected Blu-ray Disc player or a digital video player, such as Apple TV or Roku. The remaining 6% downloaded content via a connected "game player," a category that covers the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii.

SEMICONDUCTOR industry market researcher iSuppli estimates consumer electronics equipment revenue in 2010 is projected to reach $259 billion, all but erasing the decline of the previous year when revenue fell by more than 3%. And in an ongoing sign of strength, revenue will continue to rise in the coming years, increasing by 6.7% in 2011 and by 7% in 2012. Expansion will slow to 1.2% in 2013, after which the market is projected to contract by 0.6% in 2014.

NETFLIX subscribers continue to prefer renting packaged media to streaming, according to research reported by Home Media Magazine. A survey of 1,200 respondents (including 49% Netflix subscribers) found that 80% used the service to rent DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies and stream content, compared with 11.3% who just rented discs and 8.7% who just streamed._ Also, 69.8% said they had used Hulu to stream a repurposed TV show, and 54.5% said they had rented or purchased a TV show or movie from iTunes, Amazon or a related service.

BEST BUY, the largest electronics retailer in the US, plans to greatly reduce the amount of floor space it devotes to DVDs this holiday season, using that space instead for netbooks and tablet PCs. Blu-ray players are now between $50 and $100 and Blu-ray discs are now falling below $20.

METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER studio is seeking approval from its creditors to file for bankruptcy protection against its $4bn debt. The studio is home to the James Bond and Pink Panther franchises. Under the proposals, MGM executives are offering its backers a 95% stake in the company in exchange for the outstanding debt. They proposed that Spyglass Entertainment, the company behind the latest Star Trek movie, take charge of the remaining 5% of the business. MGM reportedly rejected a $1.5bn offer from Time Warner.

TOSHIBA has introduced two new 3DTV models that can be viewed without the need of custom 3D glasses. Viewers of the $1,400 12-inch LCD TV must be within two feet of the viewing range, while there is a range up to three-feet with the $2,800 20-inch LCD TV. Furthermore, a required 40-degree viewing angle is optimal for ideal 3D vision. The model will be available in Japan only. Toshiba is already reportedly working on a 56-inch model.

IN 2013, according to ABI Research, market growth will start to accelerate, and shipments of 3D TV sets will approach 50 million in 2015.

UK PUBLIC broadcaster BBC and Japan’s NHK recently conducting the first ever Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV) broadcast. The transmission, a performance by a British band The Charlatans, took place over a special 24Gb/s internet connection to Tokyo. The camera used is one of only three in existence able to produce UHDTV video, which has a resolution of 7680 x 4320. The NHK viewers in Japan weren’t even able to experience the full quality of the broadcast, as the 103” prototype plasma display used was only able to accommodate a quarter of the resolution.

OPTODISC Technology and Infomedia, two second-tier Taiwan-based makers of blank DVD discs, have stepped into production of 25GB single-sided single-layer Blu-ray Disc (BD). Optodisc has a monthly production capacity of 10 million DVD discs in the formats of +R, -R, +RW, -RW and -RAM currently and has used the equipment to produce BD discs on a trial basis. Infomedia produces 1-4x BD-R and 1-2x BD-RE discs and so will Optodisc, according to DigiTimes sources.