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Category: Roku

Logitech Revue with Google TV has more returns than sales

Logitech Revue with Google TV

So far, Logitech's bet on Google TV has been a bust.

The computer, video game and TV accessory maker has had more of its Revue set-top boxes running Google TV returned than sold and kept.

In response, Logitech is dropping the price of the Revue from $250 to $99 in a move "to accelerate adoption of Google TV platform in order to develop a large installed base for our products over time" the company said in a statement. When the Revue first launched last October, it sold for $299.

Logitech said that upcoming changes to Google TV should also make the platform and the Revue more attractive to consumers. Among the changes expected is an updated user interface and a new apps marketplace.

Evidently, hiring Kevin Bacon as a pitchman for the Revue didn't help sales either. Logitech has removed from its YouTube page ads that feature Bacon playing a fan of his who uses Google TV to connect to the Internet and find Bacon-related content online.

Now at $99, the Revue matches Apple TV's price as well as the new Roku 2. The Roku 2 and Apple TV are about the size of a hockey puck, while the Revue is about the size of a standard cable box and uses a full-size wireless keyboard or smart phone app to find content.

But negative sales numbers for the Revue wasn't the only problem for Logitech, based in Switzerland.

The company posted a $45 million operating loss at the end of its first fiscal quarter and also announced this week that its president and chief executive, Gerald P. Quindlen, is stepping down, replaced by Chairman Guerrino De Luca on an acting basis as the company looks for a new long-term CEO.

De Luca previously ran Logitech from 1998 to 2008 as president and CEO.

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Roku 2 comes in 3 flavors, plays Angry Birds with Wii-like remote

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: The Logitech Revue with Google TV set-top box and keyboard. Credit: Logitech

Roku 2 comes in 3 flavors, plays Angry Birds with Wii-like remote

Roku2_hand

Roku has sold more than 1 million of its TV set-top boxes, with the main attraction being Netflix streaming. But with the new Roku 2 device, the Saratoga, Calif., company is betting on another hugely popular item for its killer app -- Angry Birds.

The Rovio-built game has been sold more than 200 million times across different smartphones and tablets, and Roku is hoping it'll cause more consumers to pick up a Roku 2, which was released on Tuesday in three different models and price points, ranging from $59.99 to $99.99.

So, how does one play Angry Birds on a little black box (that looks a lot like the Apple TV) that fits in the palm of a hand? With a bluetooth motion-sensing remote (that works a lot like the Nintendo Wii remote).

Roku2_remote_rf_motion2 The top-of-the-line version of the Roku 2, known as the Roku 2 XS, sells for $100 and includes the motion control remote and a copy of Angry Birds already downloaded and ready to play, as well as USB and ethernet ports not available on the cheaper models.

The $79.99 Roku 2 XD's bragging right is the ability to play 1080p full-high-definition video, which its more expensive sibling can do too.

And then there is the $59.99 Roku 2 HD, which is limited to playing back 720p resolution video.

All three of the boxes use an Internet connection to tap into Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora Internet radio, Vimeo and nearly 300 other "channels," the company said on its website.

But the big news here is still casual gaming, said Anthony Wood, Roku's CEO, in a blog post.

"Angry Birds is just the beginning," Wood said. "Between now and Christmas you'll see the games selection on Roku grow dramatically. My goal is to grow Roku into a major low-cost family oriented gaming platform, with games in the $5 range rather than $30 range.

"Just like Netflix is shaking up the video world, and Pandora is shaking up radio, Angry Birds and their friends are shaking up the gaming establishment. We're trying to help as best we can."

Rumors have been circulating for months that the next version of the Apple TV could add games too. It'll also be interesting to see how the Boxee Box responds to casual gaming on the Roku.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Images: (Top) The Roku 2 and (bottom) the Roku 2's motion-sensing remote. Credit: Roku

Apple unlimited music downloads: the last step before streaming?

Itunes Apple is in talks with record companies to allow users to download music tracks they buy on iTunes to any iTunes-enabled device, Bloomberg reported Friday. That would presumably mean any song you buy for your iPhone could then be downloaded multiple times (for no extra cost) to your iPad, your Mac or your PC.

In many ways this move is exactly in line with what other media publishers have already started to do -- let users pay once, and use anywhere.  That way, users can forget whether they first bought a book or television show for a specific device, and just watch it whenever and wherever they want.

Apple, which now controls a huge chunk of the music business through iTunes, also wants to get to that place of ultimate convenience, and has been moving in that direction for some time.

The company has already got AirPlay, which lets users play songs from any iTunes device through an Apple TV.  And this week Apple said the new version of its iOS operating system will enable users to play music and video stored on one device on the screen of a second device, over WiFi.

If and when Apple gets the music industry to agree to repeated downloads, there's no longer any real barrier to cloud-based, streaming music -- where listeners won't have to wait for downloads, because they'll be able to immediately play any song in their online music collection.

The e-book industy has largely pioneered this approach:  If you buy an Amazon e-book, you can download it to your Kindle, your PC, and any smartphone or tablet with the Kindle app installed.  The same is true for books bought through Google. Even Apple's iBookStore allows users to sync their books between the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

This is increasingly also the case with movies and TV shows, where services like Netflix allow users with monthly subscriptions to watch movies and TV on any Netflix-enabled device, whether that's a Roku box or a TiVo, an iPad, an iPhone, Windows Phones and soon, Android.  You can watch these movies and films as many times as you want.

Though newspaper and magazine publishers are a little further behind the game, they''ll all be multiplatform soon too.  The for-pay Wall Street Journal, already on the iPad, was early in releasing an Android app, and magazine publisher Condé Nast has said Android additions are on the way too.

When it comes to ease of accessing content you've bought online, the only real holdout is the music industry. 

On the league-leading iTunes system, users have long been frustrated with their inability to keep all their purchased music in one central place.  The result is often a set of Apple devices -- a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad, say -- all with different fragments of your music collection.  That collection, incidentally, does not reside on a remote server, but on your own devices -- so if you've been downloading music from Apple for years on a series of devices, it becomes a confusing jumble. 

That's why Bloomberg's report makes sense:  Apple doesn't like clutter.  What they like is allowing people to easily buy things, and be able to access them without friction -- the better to get people to buy even more.

The remaining question may be:  If the record companies jump on board with this model, will they let users who bought songs through Apple listen to the songs on non-Apple devices? 

Or would that be too easy...

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MP3tunes digital music locker comes to Roku box

Roku MP3tunes, a cloud-based digital music storage service, said it had signed a deal to be an application for the Roku device, which lets television viewers access Internet-based entertainment without a cable subscription.

Based in Saratoga, Calif., Roku has sold more than 700,000 devices, priced from $80 to $130, that attach to standard TV sets. Using an Internet connection, the device pulls in a number of applications to the TV, including Netflix's Instant Watch movies, Pandora Internet radio, Amazon's Video on Demand and live Major League Baseball games via MLB.tv.

On Tuesday, MP3tunes joins the queue, letting users access their digital music collection on their TVs. Here's how it works: Users upload their music collection to MP3tunes' servers in San Diego. Once uploaded, they can access their music files from any Web browser, Android or iPhone, and now the Roku.

Why play music on your TV? It turns out that many people do just that, especially if the TV is hooked up to a surround-sound system.

MP3tunes, founded by Michael Robertson, lets Roku users upload up to 10 gigabytes of music -- the equivalent of more than 2,000 digital songs -- free. The company makes money when users spring for more storage -- $40 a year will pay for a 50-gigabyte "locker," $200 pays for 200 gigabytes.

-- Alex Pham
twitter.com/alexpham

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