Alliance seeks to make smart TVs more likeminded

Application development for smart TVs has been hampered by myriad proprietary platforms. But an alliance announced Wednesday by manufacturers LG Electronics and Philips seeks to create on open set of HTML-based standards.

Apple jumps to third place in worldwide mobile phone shipments

Apple’s huge iPhone sales numbers from its latest quarterly results helped it grow its mobile phone business by 128.4 percent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a new report. That makes it the third-largest mobile phone maker by volume.

MPEG LA ready to escalate codec war against Google, WebM

H.264 license holder MPEG LA says it’s ready to step up the fight against Google’s open-source WebM format. After threatening to form a patent pool to use against WebM, the group now says it has identified 12 companies with patents essential to the VP8 standard.

Why LG Is Enlisting In the Android Army

LG Electronics hopes to turn around profits in its mobile communications division by building 20 new Google Android devices by the end of this year. Last year, LGE was vocally committed to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform. My, how one year can change everything.

Why Buy a Standalone Box When Vudu Has Apps Already On the TV?

Take that, Boxee Box! Take that, Roku Player! Sure, those companies are adding lots of content to their broadband set-top boxes through channels or apps developed by third-party content partners. But while those guys are competing to get more apps delivered to the TV through a standalone box, Vudu has taken the approach a step further by getting those apps actually embedded onto the TV.

Vudu announced a number of partnerships with CE manufacturers today that will put its new app store into their Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray disc players over the coming year. Mitsubishi, Sanyo, Sharp, and Toshiba have settled on Vudu’s app store as their sole provider of streaming video and Internet services.

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Coming Soon to a Home Near You: 3DTVs, 3-D Cable Channels

Well how about that. We knew 3-D would be a big topic of discussion at CES this year, but with new 3-D capable HDTVs and new cable programming slated for release this year, it looks like 3-D could be the topic of the show.

Consumer electronics manufacturers say 3-D is finally ready for prime time, and are making big bets on the technology over the next few years. Top CE companies Sony (s SNE), Panasonic (s PC), LG Electronics and now Vizio will all be showing off 3DTVs at CES, following previous product launches by Mitsubishi, Philips and Sharp. While 3-D display market is still nascent, research firm DisplaySearch forecasts that it will grow from 0.7 million units and $902 million in revenues in 2008 to 196 million units and $22 billion in revenues in 2018.

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Skype Wants to Make Your TV More Social

Skype will soon be available on your TV set, thanks to TVs from LG and Panasonic with an integrated Skype client that will be coming out later this year. The plan to move video conferencing to the big screen makes sense.

MWC: Intel Takes on the Mobile Internet Device

After success with its low-power Atom processor in netbooks, Intel (s INTC) is embracing the mobile Internet device, with the chip giant expected to announce at this year’s Mobile World Congress a planned MID with LG Electronics that will include 3G voice capabilities. The MID will run on Intel’s Moorestown chipsets, and debut next year. Also at the show, Intel is announcing a partnership with wireless handset design firm Elektrobit, to offer a generic MID platform that will include some type of Atom chip — although not necessarily voice. Read More about MWC: Intel Takes on the Mobile Internet Device

How to Sync Calendars from Two Different Google Accounts Over-the-Air

nuevasyncA few days ago, I highlighted my experience with NuevaSync, a free beta service that shoots your Google Calendar and Contacts to a handset over-the-air. As I mentioned prior, I have two Google (s GOOG) accounts: a hosted Google Apps acouunt for GigaOM and one for personal needs. Although I’m happy to have any Calendar data sent to my iPhone for free without wires, I was bummed that I couldn’t get both my work and personal calendar events. NuevaSync only works with one Google account.

That’s just silly, I thought over the weekend. After all, I’m sharing calendars from both accounts with James, my family and my peers at work. That’s when I had my “A-ha!” moment. Why not share the two calendar accounts with each other? Essentially: I’ll simply share the calendar with myself. That sounded like an endless loop at first, but after thinking about it, I decided to dig a little deeper.

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Here Come Broadband TVs

broadband-plasma-hdtv-w-content Ever since I sat down with Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix (s NFLX), at our NewTeeVee Live conference this past November, I have a new-found appreciation for the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company and its plans to capture the video-over-broadband market. (Watch his conversation with Chris Albrecht and me, in which he talks about the broadband TVs, at the bottom of this post.) In his keynote, Hastings said:

We want to watch what we want, when we want, where we want, and discover the content how we want. So how well are we doing in the areas of “where,” “when,” “what” and “discoverability”? We’re about 15 percent of the way to “what you want,” 100 percent at “when you want,” 15 percent towards “where you want,” and 25 percent for “discover your want.” To get even farther we need a standard for connecting thousands of video web sites and many devices.

While the bulk of its business today comes from renting DVDs via snail mail, the company is preparing for the future and is signing up partners, such as set-top box maker Roku, that are embedding its Netflix on Demand service in their broadband devices. Netflix first introduced its instant streaming service for PCs in January 2007. Another of Netflix’s partners, LG Electronics (s LG), is going to announce a new range of “broadband HDTVs” that will essentially have a small tiny Linux-powered, Internet-friendly computer embedded in the back of the display and will be able to get video right off the Internet. Read More about Here Come Broadband TVs