Cisco: Set-tops on death row

De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco’s Video & Collaboration Group, predicts that Internet TVs and other consumer IP devices will be powerful and ubiquitous enough within about 10 years to receive any pay-TV service directly — eliminating the need for service providers to deploy set-top boxes.

This would be especially true with multi-room, multi-device home pay TV servers. And what of Cisco’s main set-top rival?

Google is said to be actively looking to sell or spin off Motorola Mobility’s Home division, having selected Barclays Capital to explore a potential sale.

It’s a tough business, but t wouldn’t be too surprising to see Google put the rest of Motorola Mobility on the block, minus the  patents, of course.


Google working on Maps for iOS

Publicly, Google has been cagey about whether it will provide Google Maps for iOS devices as an app, beyond saying that it wants to provide its maps to users on any device they use. On Tuesday in Tokyo, Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, said the company had made no move to submit a Google Maps app for the iPhone.

But Google does intend to build a Google Maps app for iOS, according to people who have been involved in an effort to create the app.

What Schmidt said earlier does of course, hold true. It is Apple’s decision whether to let a revamped Google Maps in the app store. On one hand, doing so might steal usage away from its own Maps application, usage that it needs to help improve its maps. On the other hand, the dictum against competing functionality is long dead, and Apple allows other mapping and mavigation apps in the app store so it seems Apple would more likely approve a new Google Maps app than not. Hopefully, it would not turn into another prolonged decision like the one that delayed Google Voice for iOS for so long.

Looxcie’s digital deke

When hands-free video pioneer Looxcie announced that it was going to open up its Looxcie Live software to smartphone video, it seemed like another proverbial pivot wherein a hardware company dumps its atoms. Looxcie is still not only continuing to produce devices, though, but that remains its main revenue stream.

Looxcie will look to capture more revenue in addition to higher resolution when it releases the Looxcie HD Explore, which it will kee . While it is the largest of the Looxcies to date and drops the integrated Blutooth (as it would look quite unmanageable danging off one’s ear), it adds 1080p video recording and integrated Wi-Fi, starting at $279. Looxcie seems to be straddling two hot spaces — social video sharing services such as those from Color or Socialcam and the “POV” camcorder market. Companies such as GoPro and Contour have helped build that market for those who sek to capture their scenic outdoors activities. But recently Sony stepped into the market with its Action Cam, which is $269 with Wi-Fi and under $200 without it.

Still, there are a few advantages to Looxcie’s approach. The product has an easily detachable battery and, of course, can continue to stream va smartphone cellualar connections, and its battery is easily detachable and can be replaced with different add-on modeules. Also, because it is looking to a broader market than just extreme sports brag clip collectors, Looxcie opted to go with a moderately wide angle instead of the pronounced fisheye lens like most of its competitors. Those who want the fisheye effect, however, can use an add-on lens to create a wider angle.

The hands-free imaging space continues more diverse attention. This IndieGoGo campaign seemed to offer a pretty promising, low-riced device and had a $15,000 funding goal. But that can be a stretch for many products, much less those outside the Kickstarter

Reconciling the Windows brand

There’s not much said here that couldn’t have been said for previous versions of Windws, e.g., a window to the backoffice, a window to the future. But Windows 8, from a more literal interface perspective, is actually the version where the name Windows makes the least sense.

Connecting newsprint to the Internet

This seems like a well-dome implementation, but the idea didn’t go over so well the last time there was a major effort behind it.

On Apple’s new iPods

Apple does not seem to be too concerned by the new economic disparity facing the new iPod touch. In fact, this will be the first time that Apple has offered the iPod touch in six hues. That’s not so unusual for a mature product line, but it has been something that Apple has tended to confine to the lower-end product and a move that indicates confidence in healthy sales volumes.

My latest Switched On column talks about the changes to Apple’s iPod lineup.

On Slacker and Nokia Music

[A}s digital music has come to be delivered through broadband pipes, it has blasted through the walls dividing discrete modes of obtaining entertainment and opened up new ways of obtaining and enjoying songs virtually anywhere.

This was my first column for In the Boombox, where I will be an occasional contributor.

Microsoft Courier reclaimed

Engadget reports that a team of Microsoft developers have been working on Project Austin, a note-taking app for Courier presented a fascinating environment for visual project-based brainstorming and organization. Folding screens make much more sense when the system software has been built for it from the ground up. However, even when I wrote about Courier’s potential, I noted that most of the magic was in the software, offering “The iPad’s blank slate might make it possible to create something like Courier as an app.”

As the Engadget post notes, that came to pass.  However, it cites Fifty-Three, Inc.’s Paper, which is merely a nicely executed and well-received drawing app, and not Taposé, the real attempt to implement the Courier on the iPad that has received a lukewarm reception. Windows 8 would strongly benefit from something that combined the intuitiveness of the touch interface with the power of the PC. Project Austin, which takes advantage of Windows 8’s capabilities,  has much potential to be such a showcase app. Even untethered from what would have no doubt been a pricey device, though, it’s unclear how large the target market is for apps such as Project Austin or Taposé. And that, of course, was what would have killed the Courier, regardless of how it delivered its message.

Not every crowdfunded watch gets $10 million

On the other hand, some do pretty well even if they’re not smartwatches. But if you like the idea of watches colored to reflect various causes, there’s a better-looking alternative.

Double Robotics raises $250K for telepresence robot

I’m still not necessarily convinced that hardware startups are hot, but this cross between a Galileo and Segway is. It would be even cooler if it could find its own charger like a Roomba, It’s also $2,000, which is $200 less than the MakerBot Replicator 2 tackling fabrication. Between those two products and further musing on the potential for warp drive, it’s been a good week for technology holy grails.