The Register Columnists


Contact Mail Follow RSS feed

TiVo dives into pile of cash, steely eyed investors don't blink

Analysis TiVo came out with its strongest set of figures this week, including underlying TiVo service subscribers, as well as bundling in the results of its patents settlements with Cisco and Motorola, and yet its enterprise value could not be lower, showing that investors still have no confidence in its long-term business. TiVo has …
Faultline, 03 Sep 2013

Cognitive Networks to bring creepy awareness to LG's smart TVs

A few weeks back, Cognitive Networks claimed it was about to cut deals with companies that shipped what amounted to 45 per cent of the smart TVs in the US. We have since been trying to work out market share combinations to identify those it had signed with. It made the task slightly easier this week by finally unveiling the …
Faultline, 02 Sep 2013
Flag of Republic of China

China: Forget running water, bumpkins. Have some lovely broadband

The Chinese government has pledged to provide nationwide broadband coverage by 2020, an ambitious goal which should see significant extra investment in all kinds of networks, both wired and wireless, in order to reach the country’s vast rural areas. This will almost certainly change the global supply ecosystem for all types …
Faultline, 30 Aug 2013

Google menaces Apple's 3-year-old toddler with its cheap stream tech

Comment For years in PCs, Apple was the R&D lab for the entire industry, and Microsoft would roll out similar operating system features long after Apple users had them as standard. As a result, Microsoft users would get a feature late. It would also usually be offered in a less adventurous manner – and while sometimes it was weaker …
Faultline, 29 Jul 2013

WTF? Comcast scores MORE sales from fewer vid customers

Analysis Comcast numbers were largely deemed good by its management team on their results call, with a few noticeable holes. Firstly, despite an increase in video revenues, Comcast in fact lost 60,000 video customers in the quarter, a number which appears to be rising. Secondly, there was a major revenue fall in NBC broadcasting. …
Faultline, 07 May 2013
The Register breaking news

AT LEAST two-thirds mobile traffic will be video by 2017 - Cisco report

Global cellular networks are reeling under remarkable growth rates that look like they will be sustained over the next five years, and this will be driven by video, says a recent report. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) report, with its quarterly update out this week, video accounted for over 50 per cent of …
Faultline, 11 Feb 2013
Apple TV Netflix screen

OpenTV slaps Netflix with patent lawsuit

Analysis Netflix has been hit by a patent infringement lawsuit by Open TV, now a subsidiary of Nagra, the Switzerland-based conditional access company, part of the Kudelski Group. It has not said what the patents are, but the filings at the US District Court for the District of Delaware show that they are all software patents. There …
Faultline, 21 Dec 2012
The Register breaking news

Microsoft-Netflix bid rumours feast on froth – and logic

Some of the big takeovers in the pay TV arena have taken analysts by surprise, but that will not be the case if, as looks increasingly likely, Microsoft tables a bid for Netflix. We all know where the rumour began, with the announcement early in October that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was standing down from his other big role …
Faultline, 03 Nov 2012
The Register breaking news

TiVo: Cisco and pals could owe us BILLIONS over DVR patents

Since 2004, Faultline has been championing the idea that someone must have invented the DVR, and that it is a genuine invention, not a set of software patents like the flimsy patents filed by Apple, which we do not believe will ever stand up to scrutiny. And if TiVo genuinely does own those patents, which the last three court …
Faultline, 22 Oct 2012
TalkTalk YouView set top box launch

TalkTalk's YouView: Why no Wi-Fi?

Better late than never has been a popular analyst response to the UK’s YouView hybrid connected TV platform, and it could equally well apply to the TalkTalk TV service re-launched on the back of that, just as BT Vision has been. It has got some things right, such as bundling the service free with broadband, and allowing …
Faultline, 07 Oct 2012
Barnes and Noble Nook HD+

Nook pulls on backpack, heads for Europe and flings with foreigners

There are a lot of Nooks in the US, maybe 10 million, maybe more, no one is quite certain as the company only releases revenues, which are up at around $192m a quarter for the Nook, not unit numbers. But at an average purchase price of $200 including media, that‘s about 4 million devices a year, since in first launched. But all …
Faultline, 01 Oct 2012

French firm snatches Italian set-top contract from Blighty's Amino

French digital video specialist Technicolor has snatched away a central set top contract from UK's Amino, the set top company that has so far blazed a trail in the hybrid Intel-based set top market. Technicolor has announced that it will supply the next generation set top for Telecom Italia‘s Cubovision. The MediaPlay range of …
Faultline, 17 Sep 2012

Thomson joins vid-streamers' rush for MPEG-DASH

Now that the web vid spec MPEG DASH has been published and interoperability testing is well underway, vendors are starting to put their cards on the table with serious deployments. One of the first to build DASH into products is Thomson Video Networks, which is now supporting it in its ViBE VS7000 multi-screen video platform, …
Faultline, 09 Sep 2012

France U-turns on public TV advertising

It might seem a no-brainer for the French government to revive prime time TV advertising on the France Television public channels, after all public finances are under relentless pressure, and the advertising ban was the controversial policy of the last government, brought in by Nicholas Sarkozy in January 2009. But the problem …
Faultline, 02 Sep 2012

Pay TV giant Hulu becomes victim of its own success

The latest rumour of Hulu CEO Jason Kilar’s imminent departure sounds like a good old silly season story designed to fill the void of empty news pages while people are on vacation. But the fact Hulu has been attracting such rumours while other big hitters in pay TV never seem to get them, itself provides a clue to a story of …
Faultline, 28 Aug 2012
The Register breaking news

Netflix puts end to fumbling, penetrates Scandinavia

For the first time in a while Netflix has said something that has not crashed its share price, and has lifted it instead: it plans to launch its online movie service in the fourth quarter in the four countries of Scandinavia – Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. It confirmed that the cost of doing so will mean that it makes a …
Faultline, 21 Aug 2012
The Register breaking news

AuthenTec sells out to Apple to the sound of 1,000 lawsuits

The $356m purchase of AuthenTec by Apple has not been universally welcomed. Not only are analysts and potential rivals trying to piece together the logic of the deal, but investors and, more importantly, class actions lawyers, are trying to work out if the 60 per cent trading premium that the deal is set at, was sufficiently …
Faultline, 04 Aug 2012
The Register breaking news

Netflix scores $1bn own goal after company shoots off mouth

A throwaway comment in the Netflix results (PDF) – suggesting that the Olympics will impact everyone's TV watching, including Netflix customers – has the company in PR trouble once again, with deeply suspicious investors, ready to jump at anything. After an innocuous set of results which looked like it had almost done enough to …
Faultline, 29 Jul 2012
The Register breaking news

Eurozone crisis hits pay TV: Punters pick broadband over telly

As Norway's GET cable company puts up a "for sale" sign, it demonstrates that the pay TV scene in Europe is starting to realise a home truth – and it may take something as big as the Eurozone crisis to prove it – that pay TV is NOT as resilient as broadband, which continues to grow in the Eurozone. You cannot apply for a job …
Faultline, 15 Jul 2012
The Register breaking news

Comcast makes up with Boxee after cable encryption spat

The proliferation of third-party aggregation devices to combine cable TV with internet content in the home is set to continue in the US following a landmark deal between Comcast and Boxee. This is significant because Comcast is the largest US multi-system operator – with 22.5 million pay TV customers – while Boxee is the most …
Faultline, 09 Jul 2012
The Register breaking news

TiVo plunges into Swedes after penetrating Virgin Media

The announcement that Com Hem of Sweden has cut a deal with TiVo this week shows how the TiVo strategy is rolling out in Europe and points to more and more deals being likely in the future. Expect it to drift outside of Europe soon, as well. Com Hem gives another 643,000 cable customers in Europe a chance to buy TiVo service. …
Faultline, 30 Jun 2012
Samsung PS64D8000

No one watches TV, Nielsen, and you know it

Even in the modern world where there is more pay TV, there are few, if any, sources of professional video where consumers can know that they will encounter little or no advertising. Pay TV networks such as Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable in the US – and Sky and Liberty Global in Europe – all carry the advertising which …
Faultline, 23 Jun 2012
The Register breaking news

FCC: Let's kill analogue early, fob diehards off with converter boxes

Opinion Every pay TV market has its idiosyncrasies, particularly for Multi System Operators (MSOs) such as Time Warner or Comcast in the US and Virgin Media in the UK. And in the US, one of these idiosyncrasies is the requirement that cable operators retransmit so called "must-carry" signals in both analogue and digital formats. This …
Faultline, 15 Jun 2012
The Register breaking news

Cisco vs TiVo DVR smackdown: Whose patent is it anyway?

Analysis It‘s hard to read a "TiVo is sued by someone" headline these days and get excited about it. Multiple courts, going up to the highest in the US, have backed TiVo‘s claims to its Time Warp and other patents, dating back to 2001, so how can it get its patents re-examined once again? But the US press got all excited this week …
Faultline, 13 Jun 2012
The Register breaking news

TiVo spits out monster 6-way Pace box for US eyes only

The fact that the very first product out of the relationship between TiVo and Pace is a six-tuner device means automatically that it‘s for use in the US – nowhere else has that kind of requirement yet. But in the US six tuners is becoming a requirement, and the TiVo Premiere being delivered at cable TV giant RCN already has …
Faultline, 27 May 2012
The Register breaking news

Dish Networks locks horns with broadcasters over ad skipping

In the latest episode of the US ad-skipping saga, Dish Networks is facing the wrath of broadcasters such as NBC and Fox, but winning praise from customers and no doubt causing a little churn among competitors. That at least is the intention of the Dish PVR ad skipping feature called Auto Hop, with the company gambling that the …
Faultline, 19 May 2012
The Register breaking news

Samsung buys US Spotify clone, hopes to bruise Apple's eco-system

You don‘t have to be a genius to know that mSpot, which has just been bought by Samsung Electronics in the US, is going to go through both a transformation and a huge international upsurge in usage, if it has, or can get, international music rights. Samsung has been talking about a rival to iTunes for some years, ever since …
Faultline, 13 May 2012
The Register breaking news

Web super-TV turns EXTREME sports fans into sofa-dwellers

Over-the-top content (OTT) – the online delivery of video and audio content that cuts out the ISP – has always seemed perfectly made for a global age where communities are widely distributed, and now we have the first pan European service for extreme or adventure sports enthusiasts. Branded Epic TV and funded by Finnish …
Faultline, 05 May 2012
The Register breaking news

Investors circle Barnes & Noble as it plans Nook spin-off

Barnes & Noble has had a troubled few years. Part of the problem is that it continues to be a tablet business with a chain of bookshops connected to it rather than the other way around – with the tablet and ebook reader business growing at a savage pace, while the bookshop dawdles. But it clearly needs a new owner, and to that …
Faultline, 29 Apr 2012
The Register breaking news

AOL slaps on 'online Nielsen ratings' to lure advertising fat cats

AOL hopes to steal a march on its online competitors in the US over the next few weeks, when it shows off its use of metrics – which are the closest Nielsen can get to comparing the results of online video based ad campaigns with TV campaigns. AOL has announced the use of this new model, which uses the Nielsen gross rating …
Faultline, 22 Apr 2012
The Register breaking news

Nordic region, Ireland adopt new 'connected telly' standard

Nordig, the parent broadcasting organisation for the Nordic countries, plus Ireland, has issued a new specification for broadcasting. It has dropped MHP as its interactive primary broadcasting protocol and adopting Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV). The standard is already taking off in Germany, France, the Netherlands and …
Faultline, 17 Apr 2012
The Register breaking news

Yahoo! enters! last! chance! saloon!

The lazy reaction to Yahoo!‘s latest attempt at revival is cynicism, but a closer examination suggests it is playing a mixed hand of cards as well as it can. As we all know Yahoo! lost the search wars to Google, as did a bunch of other vendors that appeared well placed at the time. One of them, Alta Vista, ended up being …
Faultline, 15 Apr 2012
The Register breaking news

US telly big boys open fire on 'cloud streaming' biz Aereo

The US "free to stream" service Aereo has, as expected, run into a hail of legal fire within one week of its unveiling, as major networks NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox waste no time responding to what they consider a threat to revenues. The broadcasters have requested a court injunction blocking Aereo’s service even before its first …
Faultline, 09 Mar 2012
The Register breaking news

Europe is a happy hunting ground for TiVo

After pioneering the DVR and trick-play functions over a decade ago, TiVo eventually ran out of steam, until reinventing itself as a vendor of hybrid software for integrating broadband and broadcast services from 2008. This meant it was no longer confined to its own boxes but could enter partnerships with set-top box vendors as …
Faultline, 04 Mar 2012
The Register breaking news

How Google and Apple exposed their Achilles heels this week

Analysis In the massive tussle between Apple and Google, it is easy to forget that neither giant (for all their successes) is infallible. They are almost unbeatable in their core markets – Apple in device design and user experience, Google in search, advertising and online software. But once they venture out of their comfort zones, …
Faultline, 19 Feb 2012

PlayStation Vita OS in your phone and telly - Sony's saviour?

Analysis Incoming Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai doesn't have too long to prove himself before shareholders get restive again. Of course, his big challenge is in the TV business*, but he has also spotted the chance to do, belatedly, what rival Samsung has been putting together for years – creating a true multiscreen apps and content platform by …
Faultline, 18 Feb 2012

Can Sony's new supremo make the sacrifices to save his biz?

Comment When Faultline first began following Sony in 2003, it was worth $36 billion on the stock market. At the time Apple was worth $9.8 billion and it was about to launch the iTunes Music Store. We said that Sony should buy Apple and put Steve Jobs in charge. Of course it was whimsical, Apple and Jobs in particular would never have …
Faultline, 05 Feb 2012
The Register breaking news

BT Vision throws Microsoft Mediaroom under a bus for Linux

UK hybrid TV service BT Vision plans to be the first customer to discard Microsoft's Mediaroom software, almost imminently, after at least a year-long effort to put in completely new software building blocks to rejuvenate the service. BT controversially refused to launch a fully-fledged IPTV service when it finally got Vision …
Faultline, 03 Feb 2012
The Register breaking news

Undervalued TiVo wins yet another legal battle

Analysis There is likely to (eventually) be a flurry of investment activity in TiVo over the coming weeks, as investors shake the tinsel and party poppers from their eyes and the depression on the markets that 2011 brought, and realize what an undervalued stock it has become. The shares spiked on January 3 as it announced that it had …
Faultline, 08 Jan 2012
The Register breaking news

Apple to conquer connected TVs? Steady on, lad

Analysis A very inward-looking report by Strategy Analytics, published last month, seems to ignore the entire Over the Top video market - and makes Apple an out-and-out winner with its $99 Apple TV device by taking 32 per cent of the Connected Home Device market in 2011. Let's just look at that. So Apple will win 32 per cent of the …
Faultline, 03 Jan 2012
The Register breaking news

Yahoo! and! Sony! tuck! into! interactive! multimedia! ads!

This week could go down as the dawn of the interactive multimedia advert era, as both Yahoo and Sony make very different plays in the field. Yahoo launched an advertising platform called "Living Ads" aimed at tablets, which combines print, online and TV type advertising on a single page, kicking off with a campaign for launch …
Faultline, 27 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

TiVo subscriptions go up – for the first time in 4 years

TiVo in the US has definitively turned the corner, increasing the number of Tivo subscribers in the quarter for the first time in four years, turning a 33,000 deficit last quarter into a 117,000 gain this quarter. This long awaited milestone was greeted in the current US investment market with a yawn, and no significant rise in …
Faultline, 26 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

Hey everybody! Microsoft's discovered social networking

Analysis Warren Buffett, the world's most famous investor, may have diluted his usual hostility to hi-tech stocks by betting more than $10 billion in IBM, but he remains averse to social networking companies (as well as to Apple) because he thinks it is "extremely difficult" to determine their value and understand their future plan. …
Faultline, 20 Nov 2011

Massive Chinese set-top box orders favour locals

The magnitude of China Telecom‘s set top plans – with 3.6 million set tops being ordered in a variety of programs – shows how Chinese companies are likely to dominate the set top industry in the coming years and months. The tender for this round of 2012 devices is just complete and will only take the giant operator through to …
Faultline, 13 Nov 2011
Broken CD with wrench

Google TV 2.0 is all bling and no kerching

It is easy to be rude about Google TV, but at the back of the mind is the feeling that one day, after successful tinkering, Google may get it right. Yet after initial hype and excitement around the launch, Google has struggled to recover from the dead weight of unfulfilled expectations that followed, and it will take something …
Faultline, 05 Nov 2011

Cheaper competition? Right, we're outta here

Last month chip maker Broadcom, with hardly a whimper, began disengaging from the smart TV and Blu-Ray player markets, despite having some high profile CE customers such as LG in this sector. Then around three weeks later in mid-October, Intel, with tail between its legs, also announced its withdrawal from the smart TV market …
Faultline, 30 Oct 2011

How to pipe live telly into your pocket with 4G

Mobile TV has had as many false starts as an Olympic 100m sprint final, but Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology could change all that. LTE is one of two contenders for 4G mobile networks, the other being Wimax, although some wags call WiFi a third. It is true though that the proliferation of hot spots both public and private …
Faultline, 30 Oct 2011
The Register breaking news

RIM's BBX has all the logic PlayBook should have had

RIM is a frustrating company right now. The massive outages that affected BlackBerry email users on three continents last week may have been a miracle of bad timing, just after the iPhone launch, but they were only the most publicised of a string of more avoidable mistakes which are leaving users and developers at the end of …
Faultline, 21 Oct 2011
Broken CD with wrench

Microsoft whips Apple with global Xbox TV deals

If the Xbox Live network was a cable operator it would be the largest such operator in the world, with 35 million customers, which is why Microsoft is turning the Xbox into an over-the-top TV delivery device – something it has dreamed of ever since it first made the Xbox one of its IPTV Mediaroom set-tops. Redmond announced …
Faultline, 13 Oct 2011
Cat 5 cable

Steelie Neelie stares down telcos over fibre sharing

Opinion Telco operators have a wonderful habit of neither listening nor being rational when local loop unbundling is ever mentioned. The reactions, spread across the European press, to the two consultations announced by Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, mostly accuse her of being mad and her ideas …
Faultline, 06 Oct 2011