Technology News Bits9/05/2011 12:01 AM Eastern
CNN Acquires iPad App Developer Zite
ATLANTA — CNN has acquired technology company
Zite, a developer of a news app for Apple’s
iPad that provides a personalized “magazine-like”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Last month,
blog site TechVibes reported that CNN was in talks to
acquire Zite for $20 million to $25 million.
San Francisco-based Zite -— which has fewer than 10 employees — will become
a wholly owned subsidiary of CNN.
The Zite application, available for free on the iPad, provides news content
from a variety of sources across the Web tailored for individual users by analyzing
In March 2011, Zite received a cease-and-desist letter from a group of media
companies —- including Time Warner Inc. (parent of CNN), The Washington
Post, the Associated Press, Dow Jones and Getty Images — asserting that
the startup was “misappropriating” their intellectual property.
Zite “responded immediately” to the cease-and-desist notification, according
to a CNN spokeswoman, and “hasn’t heard any concerns from those publishers”
since. Zite changed the app to link to news stories from those companies
rather than presenting them in “reading mode” directly within the app.
“Zite represents the next generation of content discovery and personalized
publishing, and CNN wants to help lead in that space,” CNN Digital general
manager K.C. Estenson said in announcing the deal.
Zite competes with Flipboard, another iPad app designed to deliver customized
news content by analyzing links shared by users on Facebook and Twitter.
CEO Mark Johnson will continue to run the startup’s day-to-day operations
out of San Francisco, reporting to Estenson. Zite founder Ali Davar will remain
with the company as executive director and Mike Klass will continue to lead
Zite’s technology R&D as chief technology officer.
Zite is based in San Francisco with offices in Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada. The company was founded in 2005 as a part-time research project
by students at the University of British Columbia; the current incarnation of
Zite began in 2010.
MobiTV Files for $75 Million IPO
EMERYVILLE, CALIF. — Mobile-video provider
MobiTV, which cites Comcast, Apple, Hulu
and Netflix as among its competitors,
hopes to raise up to $75 million through an
initial public offering.
MobiTV delivers more than 220 channels
of video — including 75 live channels
— across mobile devices, tablets, personal computers and other Internetenabled
MobiTV said video content aggregators such as Amazon, Hulu and Netflix
indirectly compete with it in the mobile space, while pay TV providers such as
Comcast and DirecTV also offer competitive services. It also noted that Apple,
Google and Microsoft may seek to expand into mobile video, according to MobiTV’s
S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
MobiTV’s customers include each of the major U.S. wireless carriers — AT&T,
Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless — as well as other U.S. and international
wireless carriers and service providers. In 2010, MobiTV delivered more than
3,000 live events and streamed 1.4 billion minutes of video (up from 264 million
minutes in 2007).
MobiTV, which was founded in 2000, is unprofi table. Revenue for 2010 was
$66.8 million with a net loss of $15.2 million, according to its filing. In the
first half of 2011, MobiTV generated $37.0 million in sales with a net loss
of $8.2 million. The company had an accumulated deficit of approximately
$116.3 million as of June 30, 2011.
The company’s solutions have been deployed on more than 375 different
types of mobile devices, including those based on Google Android, Apple iOS,
BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. MobiTV licenses content from major TV studios,
including ABC, CBS, Disney, ESPN, Fox, MTV Networks and NBC.
Rovi Takes on Adobe, Microsoft With Streaming DivX Video Push
SANTA CLARA, CALIF. — Rovi will go head to head with the giants in the Internetvideo
streaming world, Adobe Systems and Microsoft, with DivX Plus Streaming,
an adaptive bit-rate streaming solution.
Rovi obtained the DivX product line and technology
— originally designed for file-based video
playback — through its $720 million acquisition of
Sonic Solutions, which closed earlier this year.
“We’re definitely going to go up against Adobe
and [Microsoft] Silverlight,” Rovi executive vice president of products
Corey Ferengul said. “What we’re seeing is an interest in a broader set of
According to Rovi, the DivX Plus Streaming format already provides enhanced
capabilities unavailable with other streaming solutions, including support
for subtitles, multiple-language audio tracks, DTS Audio, 1080p HD and
trick-play features (fast forward, rewind, pause and resume).
In addition, the company claims DivX Plus Streaming offers more dynamic
resolution scaling as bandwidth fluctuates because it uses a single serverbased
file for playback instead of breaking up video into small chunks. “We
have a handful of improvements on quality so you get more of a DVD-like experience,”
Rovi plans future enhancements for the streaming format, including adding
on-screen menus. “Today that’s very difficult to do in the streaming world, because
you have to essentially create a whole separate application,” Ferengul
To date, more than 500 million HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc players, smartphones,
game consoles, PCs and cable set-top boxes have been certifi ed for DivX.
An unknown percentage of those devices would be able to support the
DivX streaming format, depending on whether they’re Internet-connected,
Study: Only 13% of U.S. Consumers Plan to Buy TVs in Next 12 Months
EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. — Just 13% of American
consumers who haven’t purchased a
TV set in the past quarter plan to do so
within the next 12 months, according to a
survey by research firm IHS iSuppli.
That’s down sharply from 32% in the
first quarter of 2011. The 83% of respondents
who said they do not intend to buy
a new TV set within the next 12 months
compares with 66% who said the same
during Q1 2011.
“The latest survey indicates a tremendous
shift in preferences among an increasingly cautious buying public, unnerved
by the continuing gloom of the economy,” IHS iSuppli analyst Riddhi Patel said.
“The findings suggest a growing willingness among U.S. consumers to suspend
— if not totally abandon — their ongoing love affair with the television.”
About 4% of consumers in the most recent IHS iSuppli study said they received
televisions as a gift, up from 2% in the first quarter of 2011.
Overall, HDTVs featuring liquid crystal display (LCD) technology continued
to dominate TV purchases during the second quarter, at 86%. Plasma TVs accounted
for the remainder.
In terms of screen size, IHS iSuppli found a slight increase in buyers opting
for 50-inch and larger sets. However, 38% bought TVs in the under-30-
inch range, mainly for reasons of price, an unusually high percentage, the
research firm found.
The survey by IHS iSuppli randomly polled more than 45,000 U.S. households
with a margin of error of 1.6%.
Canoe Realigns Senior Management Team
NEW YORK — Canoe Ventures CEO Kathy Timko has
restructured the advanced-advertising company’s
management team, moving Arthur Orduña into a
new role as chief product officer and promoting
Joel Hassell to chief technology officer.
Timko, previously chief operating officer, assumed
CEO responsibilities in July with the announcement
that David Verklin would leave Canoe.
Canoe now has six organizations, each headed
by a manager who reports directly to Timko.
As chief product officer, Orduña — formerly Canoe’s
CTO — is responsible for product strategy,
product development and business development.
Reporting to him will be product general managers with full profi t-and-loss responsibility.
Vicki Lins continues as chief marketing officer, overseeing marketing and
communications, and adding affiliate marketing in support of the programming
networks Canoe has enabled for advanced services.
John Redpath continues as general counsel, overseeing legal and regulatory
matters, and Neil Schaffer remains chief financial officer, with expanded responsibilities
for corporate administration and planning. Jim Turner, senior vice president
of sales and distribution, will also oversee network and agency relations.