The Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony

Yet another fantastic InFocus photo-set from the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

The Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony was never going to be an easy act to follow, but I tend to think that London performed admirably. With some utterly memorable moments from the Queen, Daniel Craig, Rowan Atkinson, and Kenneth Branagh, the ceremony far exceeded my expectations, and I walked away feeling thoroughly patriotic and proud.

As a testament to the instilled sense of excitement in the British populace, over one million spectators have lined the roads today for the men’s cycling road race. Out in my local town, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen as many people congregated there as I did today. A truly fantastic feeling.

For those of you that are interested, I’ll be posting photographs to Instagram (username: mattalexander) and Path throughout the Games.

Now TV Launches in the U.K.

Now TV

Aaron Souppouris:

As well as offering movies, the service will include access to live sports events including Barclays Premier and UEFA Champions League football, Test cricket, rugby, tennis, Masters golf, and more. The Sky Sports package will launch on Now TV before the end of the year. After the Sky Sports service goes live, Sky will add a further package including shows from Sky 1, Atlantic, Arts, and Living. The service launches for PC and Mac, and certain unspecified Android devices this week, with an iOS app due next month and support for further devices arriving “later this summer.”

During the quiet summer months, I’ve had a distinct yearning to cancel my current cable subscription in the United States. Spending all-too-much on a relatively ill-fitting service is becoming increasingly difficult to swallow, but my prized Fox Soccer and HBO subscriptions continue to meter my cord-cutting-desires. Such is the state of the American entertainment distribution landscape.

On the other hand, in the U.K., Sky is launching its Now TV service. Sporting swathes of digital content and impending agreements with various sporting events, I suspect that Now TV embodies all that I could ever truly need from a television package.

One of the most interesting things to derive from the modern streaming media marketplace is the tidal shift in consumer appetite. Rather than simply gorging upon any and all media that happens to be available at the time, users are becoming increasingly cognizant of their finite needs. Introspectively questioning the need for hundreds of channels and willfully whittling such a list down to the core requirements is an endeavor in rational intelligence — an element otherwise bereft from within the media industry.

Now TV, in many respects, serves as a poignant mirror reflecting such a shift. While I imagine such a service will not arrive on U.S. shores for years to come, it’s utterly fascinating to perceive such a movement in the state of consumption.

I’m excitedly looking forward to personally dabbling with Now TV over the course of the coming weeks.

For further information, the full press release is available from Sky.

The Nexus 7's Most Important Price

Nexus 7

Vlad Savov:

In beating Amazon to a broader international rollout with its media tablet, Google is laying an essentially uncontested claim to three important English-speaking markets. Last summer’s £89 fire sale of HP TouchPads was greeted with such a ravenous appetite that most stores sold out of the webOS slate within minutes. That suggests there’s a price point where buyers are no longer discerning about things like app ecosystems and future support, and simply feel compelled by a well known brand sold at a super low cost. The 8GB Nexus 7 costs double the TouchPad’s rock-bottom price in the UK, at £159, but that’s still far below any comparable device in the local market. Apple will sell you a second-gen iPad for £329, and you might be able to find a Motorola Xoom 2 Media Edition for around £280, but there’s no pesky Kindle Fire to put a crimp in Google’s plans.

Speaking with 70Decibels’ founder, Myke Hurley, yesterday afternoon, we both agreed that the true significance of Google’s announcements lied within its ambitious international expansion. Boasting a £159 price-point in the U.K., the Nexus 7 is in a strikingly strong position for its impending launch.

Regardless of Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s best efforts in the field, neither has a competent grasp of mass market mindshare outside of the United States. Google, on the other hand, is a household brand that is largely trusted by the average consumer. Preying upon the low-end of the marketplace whilst offering a competent media arsenal to support it, I cannot imagine that the Nexus 7 will fall upon deaf ears in such a market.

In many respects, the Nexus 7 marks the point at which the true Android experience will attain mass market recognition. Previously marred by poor skinning efforts by third party manufacturers, Google’s flagship Nexus line has often been overlooked in terms of sales and attention. With the Nexus 7, however, a vanilla version of Android will be available at a no-brainer price-point for the mass market.

Despite any outstanding issues concerning the app environment, the Nexus 7 is primarily focused upon the distribution of media — not a multi-faceted app or productivity experience. Insofar as a broad variety of film, television, and literature is available, the end-user remains happy, and Google is able to subsidize the cost of its tablet.

Although the Nexus 7 is certainly not a direct competitor for the iPad, I imagine that it will succeed in usurping a fair quantity of sales for the low-end of the market. Perhaps that’s not a recipe for immediate success, but it’s certainly something to be wary of moving forward.