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Motorola Mobility Announces Second-Quarter Financial Results

Motorola Mobility reported net revenues of $3.3 billion in the second quarter of 2011, up 28 percent from the second quarter of 2010. Mobile Devices net revenues in the second quarter were $2.4 billion, up 41 percent compared with the year-ago quarter. In Home news, net revenues in the second quarter were $907 million, up 2 percent compared with the year-ago quarter. Motorola Mobility maintained its leadership in key markets with set-top shipments up more than 10 percent as compared to the year-ago quarter.

Home highlights:

· Introduced Motorola Televation™, a broadband video device enabling consumers to watch live TV on a connected IP device anywhere around the home.

· Launched the Medios Xperience platform which enables operators to merge video content with social networking, games and web-based content, and deliver more interactive functionality with broadcast television and video-on-demand services.

· Selected by Time Warner Cable to develop a video gateway platform capable of delivering an advanced in-home entertainment experience and announced the DCX3600M, Motorola’s first video gateway device.

· Selected by ESPN to transition all programming for ESPN and ESPN-2 networks to an MPEG-4 HD format using Motorola’s video distribution solution.

More information on earnings can be found here.

Motorola Delivers RX48 to Telenet

While most people are at Mobile World Congress this week, Cable Congress 2011 is also taking place simultaneously in Luzern, Switzerland where Motorola Mobility announced that Telenet (a European cable provider) is the first European customer to migrate to the RX48 decoupled upstream module.
Although we can’t name any other operators publicly using the RX48, we do have over 20 trials and several field deployments already and many more coming on board. The addition of the RX48 module will enable Telenet to offer its end-users higher speeds at a much lower cost per channel.

Industry News Round-Up

Being on vacation this week, I’ll take this opportunity to do a round-up of industry news I’m just catching up on. Enjoy the review.

  • The FCC Raises the Broadband Bar: According to a report it issued today, the FCC now defines broadband speeds as a minimum of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
  • Comcast Frank is Leaving!: Frank Eliason (famous @ComcastCares tweeter) announced on the Comcast blog that he’s moving on to a new opportunity.
  • The SCTE gets a CTO: Daniel Howard, co-author of two early DOCSIS specifications, was hired this week to act as the first ever chief technology officer of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers.
  • Set-Top Shipments Up 9% in 2009: Yup. Despite the recession, set-top shipments continued to rise in 2009 according to IMS Research.
  • Tech Support Biz is Up: Parks Associates reports that demand for remote tech support services is on the rise, and projects the industry to generate $5 billion by 2014.

New Comcast Guide for Motorola Set-Tops

Comcast has begun rolling out its new A28 guide to Motorola set-tops across the country, and Scott McNulty has a demo video up over at the Comcast blog that shows off a lot of the new features. As it turns out, my area is one of those getting the A28 guide early (rumors are that most subs should have it by the middle of this year), so I tested out the new features and made notes on my favorite additions:

  • Updated search – A quick keyword search will pull up any name or topic occurrences over the next 14 days. I ran a search for Duke, and immediately found all of the upcoming Duke basketball games airing on multiple channels.
  • Skip ahead and back five minutes in VOD shows – VOD veterans know the frustration of having to scan through a program using Fast Forward or Rewind. And while there’s no official commercial skip function enabled, you can now skip instantly ahead or back five minutes in a show with a single click. Use the Page Up and Page Down remote keys. It works!
  • Mass delete function for DVR recordings – Want to get rid of some of the kids shows clogging up your DVR? You can now check off multiple programs and clear them all at once.
  • Remote DVR – I’ve been keeping an eye on the MyDVR page at Comcast.net, and sure enough, now that I have the A28 guide, the remote DVR scheduling feature is enabled. Comcast is syncing my TV listings now, and I should have full functionality within the next 24 hours. In other words, I’ll be able to set up new DVR recordings from anywhere using the Comcast portal.

Want more details on the new A28 guide features? Comcast has a new site up with the complete list.

On the Launch of Xfinity

Comcast made TV Everywhere official earlier this week with the launch of its Fancast Xfinity service. Not quite in time for Hanukkah, the online on-demand offering rolled out nationwide with content from AMC, A&E, CBS, HBO, and many others. If you subscribe to both Comcast high-speed Internet and digital cable, you can access on-demand television through Xfinity by downloading the Comcast Access software. The software is used for authentication and allows you to watch TV shows through the dedicated Fancast Xfinity portal.

While we only heard about Xfinity earlier this month, there are hints that the name may be used as a broader branding umbrella for Comcast’s expansion of digital services and ongoing efforts to extend bandwidth. Indeed, Xfinity sounds like an evolution of Project Infinity, which was launched at CES a couple of years ago as an initiative to greatly expand both HD and VOD content. The idea that Xfinity might refer to the extension of Project Infinity to new platforms certainly makes some sense. Meanwhile, the launch of Fancast Xfinity coincides with Comcast network upgrades and adjustments specifically designed to support greater broadband traffic. Comcast may try to link activities like its DOCSIS 3.0 rollouts and digital migration to new features like the online on-demand offering in consumer minds. Using some kind of unified branding like the Xfinity name would be one way to do that.

As a final note, don’t forget that several other pay-TV players have also announced their own plans to launch TV Everywhere services. Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and AT&T all have projects underway, though their supporting network architectures are vastly different, and even their authentication schemes promise to be varied. In one form or another, Motorola is working with each of these operators as they transition to the next generation of television.

Verizon Upgrades to IMG 1.7

Verizon IMG 1 dot 7 recommendations more like this

Verizon has a new update rolling out for its Interactive Media Guide. Announced on the Verizon at Home blog yesterday, the news hasn’t received much attention yet, but then again, the launch is a soft one, starting only in Texas and California markets. Kudos to Tracy Swedlow for reporting on the news first.

The FiOS guide update – IMG 1.7 – adds new program metadata,  on-screen purchasing options, recommendation features, and parental control shortcuts. The on-screen purchasing addition may be the most significant part of the update as far as Verizon is concerned. It gives subscribers the ability to impulse buy premium content like ESPN pay-per-view events. Sound familiar? It’s a lot like the Showtime EBIF app that was demoed everywhere at The Cable Show this year. It’s a lot easier to get people hand over cash when the product is right in front of them.

As for the other new features, Verizon is adding original air dates in the program info summaries, recommendation options include “Recommendations for You” and “More Like This,” and parental controls settings can be accessed without navigating away from the program already on screen. I’ve heard that there are other improvements under the hood as well, but more on that – and Motorola’s role in enabling them – another time.

Fancast and Comcast.net See Starz

wallestarz Comcast on-demand online fancast

Here’s a quick update from Comcast Voices, the Comcast blog, on the upcoming On Demand Online trial. Apparently the MSO has added the Starz network to its roster of on-demand content that will be made available on Fancast and Comcast.net. The premium movie channel will serve up 300 movies online, though all in standard-def to start. (HD content coming later.)

The Comcast blog offers one other interesting tidbit as well. In addition to streaming content, the new online service will include downloadable content in the future. I can’t help but wonder how the rights issues will be handled once content goes mobile, but Comcast clearly has something in the works.

Meanwhile, Comcast’s move to increase its online video stores (as well as the broader consumer rise in online video streaming) certainly suggests a reason the company has been so aggressive on the DOCSIS 3.0 front. All those IP video streams require significant bursts of downstream bandwidth.