Business intelligence company Experian Hitwise recently released the top 10 searched for brands in the UK. Top of the pile came internet giants Facebook, YouTube and eBay with four British brands showing; catalogue store Argos, fashion shop Next, news and media organisation the BBC and tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail.
According to Hitwise, around 2% of all searches in the UK were for “facebook”, and variants such as “facebook login” and “fb” made three of the top 10 searches overall.
While it’s not 100% clear from the press release how the data was gathered and what search engines were involved, the research suggests that lots of people use search engines in preference to the address bar, even when the web page is simply the brand plus .com or .co.uk. You can begin to see why there is so much money to be made from advertising in search: every time one of these people goes to a web site, they’re using Google, Bing or Yahoo to get there.
Frankly, the one that really amazes me is “google” at #7. People are using search to find a search engine? This doesn’t make sense and my only thought is that large numbers of people don’t know that it’s possible to reset their default search engine (or home page). Consequently, they’re using Bing to find Google instead of changing the settings in their web browser. Amazing. If anyone has any alternative thoughts, let me know in the comments.
Earlier in the week, Microsoft gave the Xbox a big push in the race for HDMI 1 with Steve Ballmer announcing Xbox TV and partnerships with over 40 content providers. Jeffrey Powers has already covered the main announcement on GNC but I wanted to add a little bit of UK spin.
In the UK, additional programming boxes such as the Roku, Boxee or Apple TV are very rare. Most of my friends would enjoy their gadgets and technology but I don’t know a single one of them who has an extra box. However, many of them would have a games console and there’s a fairly even spread of Xboxes, Playstations and Wiis. Consequently it’s no surprise that the race to provide on-demand content is taking place on the consoles.
Most people in the UK are using the availability of on-line TV to catch up with programmes they missed when they were originally broadcast. What typically happens is that you go into work and some says, “Did you see…..last night? It was brilliant” and you watch the programme through the various free on-line services. The BBC’s iPlayer is very popular.
Reviewing Microsoft’s press release, here are the organisations that will provide on-demand content available in the UK on the Xbox. I’ve ignored the standard social networking sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, but have added the organisation’s background so that non-UK residents can get a feel for what’s happening.
In terms of the numbers, the traditional terrestrial and satellite broadcasters have the greatest presence and there’s only one major UK broadcaster missing from the list, ITV, which is a conglomeration of regional broadcast companies.
LOVEFiLM is owned by Amazon, Crackle is a Sony property and blinkbox is 80% owned by Tesco, one of the UK’s leading supermarkets.
The challenge will be to get consumers to pay for the on-line film rentals. Here in the UK, there is lots of good free programming which was originally broadcast but is now on-line through the broadcaster’s portals via tools similar to iPlayer. It will be interesting to see how the paid-for market develops and if the games consoles are key to the transition. It’s certainly where the media companies need to be for the UK market.
I watch over a lot in the Over the Top Television space. Internet TV, IPTV, whatever you want to call it, it’s a great way to get watchable content without having a full cable lineup.
Last week, Steve Ballmer announced their TV initiative over XBox Live. Over 40 providers have signed up for this venture, including Comcast, HBO, BBC, Rodgers on Demand (Canada), Televisa (Mexico), and other countries including Germany and Italy (20 in all). Best part, if you already have an XBox 360, you have the hardware to do this.
“Today’s announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Combining the world’s leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless.” – Press Release
Add to conventional TV line-up the on-line video providers like Crackle, YouTube, Zune and more. Then there is audio content from Last.fm and iHeartRadio. Finally, Social networks like Twitter and Facebook to round off the service.
The Game System that Became More
Whereas companies like Roku that integrated smaller games like Angry Birds, XBox won’t have that problem. It’s a game system over a TV content distributor. You can play Gears of War, Tweet about it, then watch a video on how to play Gears of War (or another show).
Unified Dashboard in XBox Live
With the unified dashboard (looking similar to the Zune software), you can browse your shows, play the games, work your social networks and more. You will connect to the Comcast Xfinity service to get all that service has to offer.
Getting Rid of the Remote with Kinect
This might be the best part about the XBox TV. By using voice controls and your Kinect, you can gesture to a channel, play, pause and move on. It might get harry if you have more than one person wanting to watch different shows. Still, could you imagine a world without a remote control?
It won’t all be free, though.
Right now, to get HBO Go, you need to have a cable subscription with HBO. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon – especially with channels like HuluPlus. Of course, that is just like many of the OTT systems out there. Pay for a subscription and get the content.
Once again, there could be conflict if you have multiple family members where one wants to play a game and the other wants to watch a movie. So this might not replace a cable box or DVR just yet.
The Xbox Live TV service is expected to come out before the holiday season. The announcement comes before then so you can plan purchasing an XBox 360 or Kinect system for your loved ones to connect up quick. While the OTT solution is more pricey than a Roku or Apple TV, it does do more than just watch video, view pictures or listen to music. It also has some great game titles. It also has a new way to browse through your content.
The BBC is embracing the post-PC world with a reworked homepage at beta.bbc.co.uk. Here’s what it looks like on my TouchPad.
The black arrows on either side slide the screen through three other views. It’s a little bit reminiscent of how the BBC’s iPlayer displays programmes on my Bluray player, which isn’t entirely unsurprising. Some of the other features, such as setting your location, aren’t yet working but will be fixed before this version becomes the standard interface.
Compare this with the current mobile version of the site and you’ll see the change.
The BBC’s homepage was probably due for a refresh anyway, but I think it’s fairly telling that the new page is going to look the way it does. One can only assume that the BBC has stats on the web browsers being used to visit their site and they show the trend towards tablets and mobile devices. Is this the post-PC era with touch now driving the user interface, rather than keyboard and mouse?
This year’s BBC Reith lectures came to a close today with the last of three lectures on Securing Freedom, presented by Eliza Manningham-Buller. The name may mean nothing to you but she was the Director-General of Britain’s Security Service, aka MI5, between October 2002 and April 2007, and she reflects on 9/11, the wars in the Middle East and how the world has changed in the last ten years.
The three lectures are titled, “Terror“, “Security” and “Freedom” and a give a British perspective on the role of the intelligence services and the relationship with the US during a period both countries were under attack. If you are a seasoned spook-watcher, there’s probably not that much new, but I personally found it revealing and reassuring that the British Security Service is more measured and ethically-minded than the media would have us believe.
Baroness Manningham-Buller doesn’t shy away from controversy either, steadfastly refusing to accept torture as an intelligence tool, and suggesting that the US’ use of waterboarding was a “profound mistake”. You’ll have to listen to the podcasts to understand her reasoning.
The lectures are available as podcasts and also as transcripts for those who would prefer to read.
Sixty years of the BBC’s Reith Lectures archive have been made available as downloadable .mp3s, a fantastic resource for Renaissance geeks and lovers of 20th century history. The Reith Lectures are an annual short series of lectures on issues of the day pitched to the general public and given by respected individuals. They cover a wide range of topics but are touched by the era in which they were recorded. There’s usually four or five lectures in a series.
They’re named after Lord Reith, the first Director General of the BBC and started in 1948, continuing to this day. This year’s lectures on “Securing Freedom” will be given by Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese pro-democracy leader and Baroness Manningham-Buller, Director General of MI5 from 2002 to 2007. Last year’s were on “Scientific Horizons” and were presented by Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society. As you can see, these aren’t irrelevant boring lectures by dull academics.
Until now, if you didn’t catch the lectures when they were broadcast through the RSS feed, you had to use iPlayer to listen to the lectures and the on-line archive has been expanded right back to the start in 1948. Currently, they appear as three tranches, 1948-1975, 1976-2010 and this year’s, 2011.
Hopefully, the downloads aren’t restricted to the UK as there’s some very interesting content that’s worth listening to, some still relevant to today and other material that will help you in understanding previous decades and the impact they’ve had on today.
I think my broadband’s going to take a hammering this month…
Had a great meetup in California thanks to all that came out. I’m back in Texas for a few shows and have an absolutely fantastic view. I am contemplating a contest for an iPhone application design for Geek News Central if you are interested in participating let me know.