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Monday, November 13, 2006

Disney & Movie Downloads ... Liberty Media to Start Making Movies ... HD Projectors for the Home ... And More

- I recently saw a forecast from PriceWaterhouseCoopers in the Red Herring that said that only about $1 million in digital movie downloads would be sold in 2006 (can't find the link)... a number that Disney alone seems to have blown out of the water in less than three months. According to a recent Disney announcement, since September (when Disney movies were added to iTunes), the studio has sold 500,000 movies through Apple's iTunes Music Store. If we assume an average selling price of $9.99 per movie (on the low side), that's $5 million right there.

- Liberty Media is launching Overture Films, with a $500 million war chest and 70 employees, according to the LA Times. Overture will turn out 8 to 12 live-action movies a year, budgeted at $30 million or less.

- The Washington Post carries this review of high-definition digital projectors for the home, which cost $1500 to $2000. Peter Svensson seems impressed:

    ...The projectors give beautiful, saturated colors and the sheer size of the image was overwhelming. It's one thing to watch a clip of Shakira on a TV screen, a totally different one to watch her belly dance nearly life-size across your wall.

    It's also clear these projectors are a far cry from the ones we're used to seeing in conference rooms, which usually have a very visible "raster," or grid pattern of pixels. This pattern is hard to pick out in the Mitsubishi's output, and practically invisible on the Panasonic. The company said it has reduced pixilation by adapting technology from its digital cinema projectors, the kind that go into movie theaters to replace film projectors.

The big drawbacks, however: "...ambient light remains the Achilles' heel of projectors, hampering casual viewing. Another problem: To enjoy a big screen, you really need high-definition input. Regular TV doesn't cut it, and even DVDs look quite mushy blown up beyond three feet or so. You need high-definition TV programming or, even better, the new HD DVD or Blu-ray discs."

- The new trailer for next summer's `The Simpson's Movie' proudly anounces it will be 2-D (not 3-D).

- The NY Times has a piece this morning on Microsoft's Zune portable media player, which is available starting tomorrow. I love the Zune's ability to wirelessly share media from one device to another (though it doesn't yet support video, only photos and audio), but Michel Marriott of the Times wonders if that's enough to make it a hit:

    The question is whether the Zune’s singular innovation — the wireless sharing feature — is enough to distinguish it. [Sean] Wargo [of the Consumer Electronics Association] said the big draws for consumers generally are the extent of a player’s library of content and how easy it is to add and manage content on the device.

    But late last year, with social networking and community building becoming more popular, [J] Allard [of Microsoft] said “we thought the time was ripe” for a portable player that could share content and create communities around music.

In a review last week, David Pogue of the Times was underwhelmed by the Zune, writing:

    Competition is good and all. But what, exactly, is the point of the Zune? It seems like an awful lot of duplication — in a bigger, heavier form with fewer features — just to indulge Microsoft’s “we want some o’ that” envy. Wireless sharing is the one big new idea — and if the public seems to respond, Apple could always add that to the iPod.


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