Why Texas Instruments and iRobot are working together

The chips that power today’s smartphones and tablets are expanding to robots as Texas Instruments and iRobot announced a new partnership on Monday. TI’s OMAP platform will be used by Roomba-maker, iRobot, to help develop new robotic technologies. Here’s why, and what to expect.

Intel’s next big wireless play: It’s not smartphones

Intel’s wireless ambitions go beyond smartphones and tablets. It’s set its sights on the guts of the mobile network as well. By embracing a new network design concept called Cloud-RAN, Intel believes it can reshape wireless networks to make the best use of its chips.

A Mobile Ecosystem Slowly Grows Around Home Energy

The broadband-enabled smart energy home finally started to make some initial headway as the new year ushered in 2011, and if the news trickling out from the massive wireless conference Mobile World Congress this week, is any indicator, this trend will only continue throughout the year.

Cheap(er) Ways to Stay Entertained During the Downturn

The year of hope and change is certainly off to a grim start in the tech world. Last week alone saw layoff announcements from stalwarts like Intel and Microsoft, as well as Web 2.0 companies like Digg, just to name a few. If you’ve lost your job or had your salary frozen and are seriously tightening your belt, the (slightly) good news is that there are more options than ever to keep yourself entertained during these economic end times.

A few months ago, I defended the value of cable, writing that $70 a month wasn’t a bad deal for what you get. But as your wallet gets lighter, you may not want to spend $840 a year for service. Before you fire off a comment saying “Just watch Hulu!” yes, that is a good idea. Between Hulu and the network sites like ABC.com and CBS.com, you can watch just about any program you like for free. But then you’re watching on a small laptop screen while that big TV sits there, idle. You bought the big TV; you should use it.

boxee-video-browsing-screenshotIf you’re a bit more tech savvy, you can connect your PC to your TV, and if you’re a Mac Mini or Apple TV user, you can install Boxee, the free open-source media center, on either. It’ll allow you to watch Hulu, Joost and CBS (among others) on your big TV. Read More about Cheap(er) Ways to Stay Entertained During the Downturn

Did All These Fledgling Video Startups Not Get the Memo About the Crappy Economy?

With the global economy in tatters, what are entrepreneurs to do? Stop believing in themselves? Never! Still, we at NewTeeVee are amazed by the unwavering flow of company launches that find their way into our inboxes. Especially in light of the utter instability of the media industry, why are so many people jumping into the online video biz now?

In recent days I’ve chatted with newly launched startups Clipgarden, a portal for paid training videos; Gawkk, a video feed reader; and Hitviews, a studio that matches brands and web stars. Meanwhile, this week my colleague Chris Albrecht profiled the launches of ZDONK, an online film financing community, and First on Mars, a premium video content aggregator.

So let’s look at those five companies that all happened to poke their heads up in the middle of this nuclear winter. Interestingly, all five are execution plays rather than original ideas or breakthrough technology. Read More about Did All These Fledgling Video Startups Not Get the Memo About the Crappy Economy?

CBS: Live Sports Online is “Additive”

Time to eat crow. My Crimson Tide lost to the Florida Gators over the weekend. While it was a heartbreaker, the enormity of this game gave me the opportunity to contact Jason Kint, senior vice president and general manager at CBSSports.com, to see how well it performed online.

CBS (s cbs) remains tight-lipped about exactly how many people tuned in to watch the game online on Saturday. Kint said that the number was small, but for a big game like the SEC Championship, which was going to be on television, CBS doesn’t need them to be big. “It’s not cannibalistic, it’s additive,” Kint said. “Most people are going to watch it on TV, and the online audience then is entirely additive. SEC Championship is a small number, but it’s incremental.”

While the number of people who logged on may not have been huge, the time they spent online was (at least in terms of other online video). According to Kint, the average time spent per viewer watching the Alabama vs. Florida game was “north of 60 minutes.”

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ARM Says Browser Drives the Mobile Web

A lot of talk has been devoted to mobile operating systems lately, with Windows Mobile, Symbian, LiMo and Android getting the lion’s share of the attention. But if you consider that the mobile phone will soon be a place to make calls and access the web through cloud services, then the operating system is less significant and the browser becomes the king.

Or so says Bob Morris, head of mobile marketing for ARM Holdings, which designs the cores for many of the mobile chips that act as the brains of mobile phones. He says that browsers are the new application framework, which is why ARM is paying close attention to how their cores work with specific browsers rather than only the OS. To that end, ARM has inked a partnership with Mozilla and other vendors to build a Linux-based mobile computing device designed for web surfing on the go. Mozilla is planning a yet-to-be launched mobile browser.

So while the former CEO of Vodafone, Arun Sarin, was pushing for fewer mobile operating systems at the GSM World Congress and CTIA trade shows earlier this year, Morris believes the increasing number of services accessed through a web site such as Facebook or Gmail are what chip vendors and device makers needs to pay attention to. Browsers, plus the right downloads such as Flash or Silverlight, will drive the consumer experience more than the OS.

This trend of mobile web adoption has enhanced the profile and importance of ARM, which designs the cores of most mobile processors that serve as the brains of cell phones. ARM cores are also the basis for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips, Texas Instrument’s OMAP3 chips and Nvidia’s Tegra chipset, all of which are designed for faster computing at lower power for mobile phones.

The iPhone Makes Semiconductors Fun Again!

For a while there, covering the chip industry was like covering a race run by a rabbit and a cheetah. AMD was the rabbit, while Intel — with its much larger market cap and greater profits — was the cheetah. Evey now and then the rabbit would fool you into thinking he was going to pull ahead, but we all knew who was going to win. In the past few years, however, two things have brought more runners and more diversity to the course: a challenge to the x86 architecture, and the iPhone.

I could probably find a way to credit the iPhone for changing the furniture industry if I tried hard enough (it could be the new Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game for tech journalists.) But in this case the iPhone pushed the real Internet — as opposed to a carrier-defined portal — out to mobile consumers and showed them how compelling such access could be. That made clear to carriers that data usage, which was already on the rise, could become a huge revenue booster if consumers were given the right type of devices. Which prompted chip makers to see gold in the form of the 33.2 million high-end handsets sold around the world. Read More about The iPhone Makes Semiconductors Fun Again!

AMD Already Missed the MID Boat

OK, so AMD refuses to comment on rumors that it plans to introduce a low-power chip aimed at the mobile Internet device market, where it would compete with Intel’s Atom chipset and offerings from several other rivals. And it refuses to claim a block diagram floated by eeepcnews.de as its plans for such a chip.

I was kind of hoping AMD might stay out of this MID market opportunity and focus on its core CPU business and getting its promising graphics processor and CPU platform off the ground instead of chasing Intel, Nvidia, Via, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments and their hopes for a pocket PC market. Plus, AMD’s been here and done that — back in 2002, when it purchased Alchemy Semiconductor and its line of MIPS-based, low-power personal device chips. That deal was a response to Intel’s Xscale assault, and AMD turned around and sold the Alchemy line in 2005. Read More about AMD Already Missed the MID Boat