Clean Tech Sets Q1 VC Record: IPOs Await

Clean technology investment has kept up its recession-beating pace so far this year. Will the front-running startups in the field find an exit? The cleantech sector shows continuing momentum — and that’s just what longtime VC investors need.

Q1 in the Cloud: It Was All About Big Vendors

When talking about cutting-edge topics like cloud computing and web infrastructure, it can be easy to let startups and niche vendors dominate the discussion. In the first quarter, however, the IT infrastructure market was all about the big boys.

Q4 Wrap-up: Ending 2009 on a Greentech High

What a year. Coasting on the momentum that propelled cleantech to the forefront of venture capital investment in Q3, the fourth quarter capped off a year that, when all was said and done, saw a total of $4.85 billion invested in the sector. However, as the GigaOM Pro team observes in the latest quarterly Green IT wrap-up, “Cleantech Was a Market Leader in Q4” (subscription required), some unease bubbled to the surface as the year drew to a close.
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Consumer Appetite for Online Video Shook Up Old-Media Landscape in Q4

In GigaOM Pro’s latest Connected Consumer quarterly wrap-up (sub required), we analyze how the world of NewTeeVee continued to shake the foundations of old media in Q4 2009. From the rapid growth of connected consumer electronics, the consumer’s ever-increasing appetites for online video, the socialization of online video (or is it videoization of social networks?), changes in the online video space sent ripples through the media landscape, causing big players like Comcast to make billion dollar hedges and smaller players continue to get funding.

On the connected devices front, device makers continued to widen their content rosters in Q4, with the belle of the ball being Netflix. In game consoles alone, the company nabbed Sony and, just after the close of 2009, Nintendo. The news was good news for Sony, whose beleaguered third generation console is piecing together what could be a nice comeback story in 2010.

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The Quarter in Mobile — Key Points I Missed

The last quarter of 2009 was breathtaking in terms of pace for the mobile market. Most of what happened, I either read about or covered in my writing. But somehow, I missed some key bits that I just picked up in the latest GigaOm Pro Quarterly Wrap-Up on Mobile (subscription required). In the 28 page PDF for example, I learned that Canadian and U.S. consumers account for 1.3 cellular connections per user on average. Here I thought I was in the minority with multiple handsets — then again, I’m still ahead of the curve with three phones, one USB stick for 3G and an Amazon Kindle. 😉

I also didn’t realize how much of a data disparity the iPhone caused during the last three months of 2009. Cellular carriers with an iPhone (s aapl)  on the network see 52 percent of their data traffic coming from smartphones. Those without an iPhone in the stable only see 4 percent of their data on smartphones. While I knew that iPhone users were data-driven consumers, I had no idea that the device drove data demand by more than ten-fold.

And what about 4G networks like WiMAX from Clearwire (s clwr)? I recall that the company secured more funding to build out its national WiMAX network, but I overlooked a key SEC company filing. Clearwire essentially has to make WiMAX work because it’s barred from switching over to LTE deployment until November, 2011. By that time, Verizon Wireless (s vz) will have dozens of LTE markets on-line, so WiMAX looks like an all or nothing deal right now.

Between these tidbits, the rising momentum of Android (s goog), cell plan battles and more people jumping onto social networks while mobile, the quarter left me out of breath. With new phone platforms and more powerful processors, it already looks like 2010 is picking up where 2009 left off!

NewNet Q4: Partnerships Set Stage for Growth

In the fourth quarter, the giants and the social supersites hooked up — Twitter’s real-time firehose went to Google and Microsoft, Facebook Connect scored Yahoo — while startups set the stage for what’s next — for instance OneRiot providing real-time ads to Digsby.

Q3: Best Quarter Ever for Cleantech, So What’s the Worry?

greenitlogoThanks to strong backing from the U.S. government, cleantech investing actually delivered a solid third quarter compared to the rest of the venture-backed sectors, including information technology and biotech. So what happens once the millions from the stimulus package dry up? The third-quarter wrap-up on Green IT from GigaOm Pro looks at what happened this quarter as stimulus funds rolled out, cleantech became the largest venture investment sector for the first time ever and talk of a bubble around the current darling of the space—smart grid—loomed large.

But the quarter wasn’t all about the smart grid. Battery companies — focused both on vehicles and consumer electronics — fared well, drawing attention from venture capitalists, the government and larger companies looking at batteries as a good business to be in. A123 Systems’ IPO was the big story in batteries this quarter, and it actually exceeded expectations. Lithium-ion batteries — the technology of choice for the upcoming generation of electric vehicles — have gained enough momentum to spark concerns about limited lithium resources.
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Data Consumption Powered the Mobile Space in Q3

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There’s no question that the recession has taken a serious toll on the mobile industry: Overall handset sales have declined, global growth is slowing and the low-margin prepaid segment is fueling much of whatever growth there is. But there are plenty signs of a resurgence, with mobile data — which has proven remarkably resilient over the last year — leading the way, as documented in our third-quarter wrap-up from GigaOM Pro (sub. required).

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GigaOM Pro on Q3: Online Video Taking Steps Toward Maturity

It will come as no surprise to NewTeeVee readers that online video is no longer niche. During the last three months, eMarketer predicted that half the U.S. population will be watching online video by next year. Meanwhile, Pew found that more Internet users are watching video online than are participating in social networking. And, for the first time ever, fee-based video is expected to generate more annual revenues than ad-based video in 2009. The third-quarter wrap-up from GigaOM Pro, our sister market research service, shows some of the ways this mainstreaming of the market has impacted industry players.

TV Everywhere is, well, everywhere
Fee-based video’s emergence as a viable business is positive news for the growing consortium of distributors pursuing fee-based solutions for delivering premium content online. The growing movement, coined “TV Everywhere,” is an effort to place premium online content behind a subscription wall. While the movement was initiated by the cable operators (specifically Time Warner Cable and Comcast), telcos and satellite operators are also now jumping onboard. Comcast was very active in the third quarter, building up its roster of content providers announcing partnerships with CBS, Starz, Discovery, HBO and Cinemax.

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This initiative could have serious implications for ad-based video sites such as Hulu. Hulu’s network owners are already exerting their influence on the company by imposing delayed windows on certain content and allowing just a limited number of episodes available at any given time. It is possible that the paid content revival may have significant implications for Hulu as it exists today.

Redbox and TiVo test limits in court
In the video rental market, Redbox, the kiosk DVD rental company, continues to make waves. Hollywood has taken issue with its low-cost $1 rental fee, claiming that it hurts video rental and sales revenues. Therefore, some studios have decided to impose restrictions on when Redbox receives new releases, delaying them to the company by 30 to 45 days. Redbox is fighting back, filing lawsuits against offending studios, including 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Home Entertainment.

TiVo also spent the summer in court battling DVR patent infringement. The company has filed suit against Dish, as well as AT&T and Verizon. A decision on the Dish case released in early September awarded TiVo a total of $200 million, far below the company’s claimed damages of $1 billion.

The future of the set-top box

The set-top box market continued to evolve in the third quarter as well. Brite-View introduced the low-cost CinemaCube set-top box, and Netgear released its Digital Entertainer Live, a scaled-down version of the Digital Entertainer Elite. Both of these products appear to be in reaction to the economic downturn and consumer demand for lower-cost products. Roku added more content to its set-top device, announcing partnerships with MLB.TV and blip.tv. However, Vudu’s efforts this quarter may be more telling for the future; the company is now bypassing the set-top box and integrating its service directly into the TV. The company had several new wins in the quarter, announcing its service will be included on Mitsubishi and LG TVs.

Despite the continuing difficult economic environment, the third quarter has been fairly positive for online video. Funding continues to flow into the market, with numerous financing deals being announced. Along with other factors, the funding environment indicates a growing interest in services that promote interactivity and the ability for users to deliver their content to any screen in their home. As online video has now reached a sizable portion of the mainstream audience, improving the user experience and access to content are becoming more critical business objectives for players throughout the space.

A more in-depth look at these trends and others is available in the latest Quarterly Wrap-ups in our five focus areas — NewNet, Mobile, Green IT, Connected Consumer, and Infrastructure. These quarterly reviews are available to GigaOM Pro subscribers, along with dozens of detailed research briefings and in-depth articles on specific topics in each of these areas. You can subscribe here.