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News in Brief

POLICE in China, where DVD and other product piracy is rampant, are hunting down illegal copies of two new propaganda films made in honor of the nation's 60th anniversary. In a zeal not usually displayed regarding counterfeit foreign titles, authorities have warned that any copies of the historical epic "The Founding of a Republic" and the World War II-era drama "The Message" currently being sold are fakes and should be reported to police.

APPLE's iTunes App Store has hit yet another milestone: two billion apps downloaded since the Store hung out its digital shingle on July 11, 2008. The store's customers now include over 50 million iPhone and iPod touch owners worldwide - in 77 countries, to be exact. There are more than 85,000 apps created by 125,000 registered members of Apple’s iPhone Developer Program.

INTEL's CTO has predicted that by 2015 more than 12 billion devices will be capable of connecting to 500 billion hours of TV and video content. He said "TV is out of the box and off the wall...TV will remain at the centre of our lives and you will be able to watch what you want where you want." Speaking at Intel's Developer Forum in San Francisco, he said the success of TV was due to the growing number of ways to consume content.

PANASONIC has developed a 50-inch Full HD 3D compatible plasma display panel (PDP) and high-precision active shutter glasses that enable the viewing of theatre-quality, true-to-life 3D images in the living rooms. Aiming to bring full HD 3D TVs to the market in 2010, the company has stepped up its efforts in developing the related technology. Prototype full HD 3D TV and glasses will be displayed at CEATEC JAPAN 2009 to be held in October.

SKY has revealed that 3D TV will be offered to Sky pub subscribers before it is released to the domestic market. Speaking to The Publican, Sky Business’s managing director Iain Holden confirmed that 3D would go to pubs first and that they would enjoy a period of exclusivity ahead of other subscribers, although given the experimental nature of the technology he was unable to give an exact launch date.

BLOCKBUSTER in the US has turned to Sonic Solutions to incorporate software in a range of consumer electronics units to enable Blockbuster On Demand movies. Sonic’s Roxio CinemaNow software, which facilitates digital Video On Demand, will be added to TiVo digital video recorders, Samsung high definition TV sets, home entertainment systems, and Blu-ray Disc players plus some Motorola mobile phones.

JAPANESE manufacturer Toshiba said it will include a Blu-ray Disc drive in its new series of laptop computers, Qosmio X500, to be available Oct. 22. Carl Pinto, VP of product development for Toshiba America Information Systems’ digital products division, noted that gaming and high-definition content creation continue to drive high-performance PC demand, and said that Toshiba is committed to serving those markets.

CO-OPERATION has been announced between patent pool licensing administrator MPEG LA and Japanese patent pool administrator ULDAGE Inc. Under the terms of this co-operation, ULDAGE will offer MPEG LA's MPEG-2 Systems licence along with ULDAGE's ARIB (Association of Radio Industries and Businesses) licence to companies based in Japan that sell mobile TV handsets for Japan's One-Seg mobile terrestrial broadcasting service.

UK TELECOM operator BT said that it will double the reach of its high-speed broadband network to 24Mb per second for three-quarters of the nation’s users over the next two years. BT said it has already set up the technology, called ADSL 2+ for 40% of UK homes and businesses but will add to those numbers by early in 2011.

IN A RECENT SEC filing, Blockbuster identified 18% of its retail outlets it deemed unprofitable and announced plans to close up to 960 stores by the end of 2010 – 685 by the end of this year and the remaining 275 the year after – but the filing continues to say that up to 1,560 locations, or 22% of its total retail coverage, could end up falling the wayside.

STATISTICS from GfK reveal that sales of Blu-ray Disc players in the Benelux region since the start of 2009 are five times higher than the same period in 2008. In addition, more than €10.4 million has been spent on Blu-ray Discs since the start of the year. Half of all households in the region own a HDTV and more than 750,000 have a BD player.

THE ITALIAN Blu-ray Disc Promotion Group has announced the arrival of two new association members – Medusa and 01 Distribution. Both companies have a strong heritage in the Italian home entertainment industry. Medusa produces and distributes Italian and international movies, while 01 Distribution is the Italian distribution company owned by Rai Cinema.

MICROSOFT’s iPod challenger, called Zune HD, was launched this week in the US, priced at $289.99 for the 32GB player. The first mass-market device to feature the Organic LED (OLED) touch screen, the Zune HD offers high definition video playback and a built-in digital radio receiver. Owners can rent or buy film and television titles from the Zune Marketplace online store and Microsoft plans to connect Xbox owners to this service later this year.

COME November, Toshiba America Consumer Products will make its first Blu-ray Disc player available to the market. The BDX2000 provides Full HD 1080p digital output that, when coupled with a REGZA LCD TV, enables consumers to enjoy the superior quality of high-definition audio and video content. The price of this player will be have a suggested retail price of $249.99.

SUPERMARKET giant Tesco and Microsoft have signed a collaboration agreement to launch an online video service. Starting in the autumn, Tesco will allow customers in the UK who purchase certain home video titles from its stores to download digital versions of movies to their PCs in a 'virtual DVD' experience. These versions will provide consumers with extra network-connected features.

DESPITE the rise in sales of Blu-ray players, a fall in their prices and an increase in the number of high-definition movie titles, Blu-ray drives in PCs are not likely to replace DVD drives as the primary optical drive in PC systems at least through 2013, according to iSuppli. By 2013, BDs will be found in only 16.3% of PCs shipped, up from 3.6% this year.

THE US IPTV market will grow from over 5 million subscribers in 2009 to 15.5 million by 2013, according to a report by analysts Strategy Analytics. While IPTV holds less than a 5% share of total television households in 2009, the percentage will approach 13% in 2013.

SONY’s PlayStation 3 console now accounts for 10% of iPlayer viewers according to the BBC. Anthony Rose, head of Future Media and Technology online at BBC, said, "We’ll have to wait and see whether this holds up in the coming weeks, but this enthusiastic reception makes it clear that users do want iPlayer on their TV."

YOUTUBE will spend approximately $300 million on bandwidth in 2009 – meaning it won't be profitable, according to an analysis by Credit Suisse. According to the report that means YouTube still would not be profitable at the gross level this year, given their original 2009 revenue estimate of $240 million (a top-line increase of about 20% year on year).

UK-BASED replicator Wewow has announced the launch of a specialist, eco-friendly packaging arm - This new arm, the company said, will "showcase wewow's rapidly expanding range of bespoke, environmentally friendly packaging solutions for the optical media industry". The official launch is set to take place on 9 September 2009.