BT Vision and Miramax sign on demand movie deal


BT and Miramax today announced a licensing agreement that will bring films from the leading independent studio to BT Vision customers in the UK.

The agreement gives BT Vision Unlimited subscribers instant access to a range of films from the Miramax collection, which has received 284 Academy Award nominations and won 68 Oscars.

The films available will include: Academy Award Best Picture winner Chicago; Pulp Fiction, the modern classic directed by Quentin Tarantino, as well as Kill Bill 1 and 2; nine-Academy Award winner The English Patient; Good Will Hunting, written by and starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck; The Talented Mr Ripley, starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law; The Aviator, directed by Martin Scorsese; and the first three instalments of the horror franchise, Scream.

BT Vision subscribers will be able to access the Miramax films in a unique Miramax-branded environment, in the BT Vision Film area.

Marc Watson, CEO, BT Vision, said: “Movies are very popular with Vision customers – they watch well over two million films on demand every month. This deal will give our customers the chance to see a broad range of Miramax’s independent, ground-breaking and crowd-pleasing films and will further strengthen our position as the UK’s best on demand television provider.”

Mike Lang, CEO of Miramax, said: “Partnering with BT Vision – an exciting company with a strong digital model and reach – is another important step for Miramax as digital channels continue to open up around the world. We remain laser-focused on finding new ways to make the unmatched mix of Miramax films easily accessible – and for BT Vision subscribers, we have for the first time jointly developed a special Miramax branded environment that will make finding and viewing Miramax films as easy as possible.”

BT’s broadband and digital TV service, BT Vision gives customers up to 50 Freeview television channels, lets them pause, record and rewind live TV and offers catch up and on demand content.

BT Vision customers will get Miramax movies included in the Unlimited option, which for £12.50 a month gives unlimited access to on-demand content with Vision Kids, Film Club, TV, Sport & Music as well as free ESPN and optional Sky Sports 1 and 2. The price includes BT’s Vision+ digital TV box, 70 Freeview channels and catch-up TV from the last seven days, including BBC iPlayer.




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Apple Store to open at Harrods


An Apple Store is reportedly coming to Harrords, one of the world’s largest department stores, sources inside the company have revealed.

It might seem like an odd move at first but in many ways this could be a match made in heaven, given the luxury appeal of Apple’s wide range of products and Harrods’ status as one of the capital’s key tourist attractions – especially for those visitors with serious disposable income.

The tipsters claim that Harrods, which already houses over 330 departments across five acres of floorspace, will soon make room for an official Apple Store unit, making it another high-profile location where the Cupertino-based giant has made its retail presence.

The store will go hand-in-hand with the renowned décor and architecture of Harrods. It will be smaller than Apple’s flagship stores, but larger than those present within retail chains Best Buy and Target in the US.

An exact timeframe hasn’t been provided for the grand opening but it is expected to happen later this year, possibly in time for the launch of the next generation iPhone.
















Nissan unveils self-healing iPhone case


Nissan, the company better known as an automobile manufacturer, has announced an iPhone case that actually repairs itself from damage.

Featuring the same flexible polyrotaxane coating as the Scratch Schield paint technology used in some Nissan vehicles, the prototype case ‘self-heals’ thanks to unique chemical structure that automatically reacts to changes to return the surface to its original state.

Superficial scratches generally take about an hour to ‘heal’, while deeper blemishes can take up to a week.

The case itself is constructed from ABS plastic, which is commonly used in the auto industry and is stronger than conventional plastic.

Bob Laishley, overseas programme director for Nissan Europe, said: “The Scratch Shield iPhone case is a great example of us taking a Nissan automotive technology that has had a huge impact for our customers, and then shifting the boundaries to apply it to another everyday product.

“We like to think laterally by taking the great innovations we’ve got from an automotive point of view, and looking at how they could be applied to improve everyday issues.”

The case will be trialled with journalists and industry members, with a retail release on the cards if it’s well received.


LG seals Android patent deal with Microsoft


Microsoft has agreed a patent licensing agreement with LG that will see the US company make money from every Android device the Korean electronics-maker shifts.

LG will pay Microsoft a ‘tax’ for each and every Android device it sells in the US, becoming the latest major Android manufacturer to do so after HTC, Acer and Samsung signed similar deals in the past.

The exact terms of the arrangement, particularly the fee and whether it applies worldwide, are unclear at this point. But even still, it means that Microsoft now has a stake in nearly three-quarters of all Android devices sold stateside.

The software giant announced in a statement: “Together with our 10 previous agreements with Android and Chrome OS device manufacturers, including HTC, Samsung and Acer, this agreement with LG means that more than 70 per cent of all Android smartphones sold in the US are now receiving coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio.”

Microsoft’s strategy to leverage its patents portfolio by offering licensing deals rather than becoming embroiled in expensive, and doubtless damaging, lawsuits is in stark contrast to that of Apple’s, which has waged a ceaseless legal war to have its rivals products banned over patent violations.

However, Microsoft has other motives for playing fair, as it relies on those very Android manufacturers to produce devices for its own Windows Phone operating system. It’s a very strange world indeed.

Britons missing out on £1.8 million a year by not shopping around for home broadband


People in the UK are missing out on substantial savings as a result of not shopping around for home broadband. Research on behalf of Post Office shows that in total, households across the country are ignoring £1.8m of savings a year by sticking with old tariffs.

On average, broadband users are paying £26.88 per month for broadband access which is well above good value deals on the market place. What’s more, almost three quarters of people (73%) with home broadband are paying for line rental in addition to the basic cost of access, which can be avoided with good value package deals.

Savvy customers who have done the sums and changed providers say that they have saved an average of £120 a year, almost enough to pay for the annual car tax or TV license.

Despite the ease of switching provider, more than a quarter of people (26%) haven’t reviewed their broadband tariff for a year or more, or can’t even remember when they last checked it.
A quarter of respondents (24%) couldn’t pinpoint how much they pay for their broadband access at all, which applied to basic access as well as line rental charges.

Two in five admit they have been on the same plan for more than two years or can’t remember the last time they switched.

Hugh Stacey, Head of Post Office Telecoms, said: “Household budgets are getting tighter so there’s never been a better time to review your home broadband deal and shop around to save money. We’ve seen from this research that average savings when switching to better value deals enable people to cover the cost of other bills in the house, so it’s really worth doing.”

Post Office is currently offering customers £50 off when they switch to any of its HomePhone® or Broadband packages4. The offer is valid whether taking HomePhone or Broadband on their own or as a package and means customers can make great new year savings.

Customers who take HomePhone will benefit from making an additional saving of more than £50 on line rental compared with BT’s Unlimited Evening and Weekend packages or TalkTalk’s Evening and Weekend Package5 representing another great reason to make the switch. HomePhone customers are not tied to a minimum term contract and receive inclusive calls to UK mobiles and 40 international countries at the weekend as well as inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines.

And until 31st March 2012, customers can get a new line installed free of charge (normally £112.34). Furthermore, there are no charges for having paper bills, no penalties for not paying by direct debit and the price is the same wherever you live.

Smartphones drive huge New Year’s Eve data surge


Smartphones and Facebook helped to drive a massive 500% surge in New Year’s Eve handset data in just 12-months, according to mobile firm Three.

The amount of data Three’s smartphone customers used on New Year’s Eve leapt from 14 terabytes (TBs) in 2010 to a massive 80TBs in 2011.
To put it in perspective, it’s the equivalent of almost 21m MP3 tracks, or roughly 118,000 DVD movies, downloaded onto smartphones in the UK in just 24-hours.
The trend continued through New Year’s Day, with 74TBs used compared to 14TBs the year before.
Facebook was one of the most popular services as people rung in the New Year, with a 20% jump in traffic between midnight and 1am.
Three expects smartphone adoption among customers to reach almost 100% this year, as more and more people realise their capabilities.
Traditional mobile traffic grew too, but this growth was hugely outstripped by data. SMS levels grew from 36m on New Year’s Eve 2010, to 46m this year, while calls went from 19m last year to 21m.
Three’s Marketing Director Thomas Malleschitz, said: “It’s a phenomenal amount of growth and shows just how much smartphones are changing the way our customers communicate. This kind of demand vindicates Three’s focus on building a network designed for the internet.
“It also shows just how important data bundles are becoming – and of course the value of plans which offer genuinely All-you-can-eat handset data allowances.”


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RIM axes two new handsets

Rumours are swirling that RIM, maker of the BlackBerry phones, has cancelled two of the three planned handsets that it was to introduce this year – including one showcasing its new BlackBerry 10 operating system.
Rumours are swirling that RIM, maker of the BlackBerry phones, has cancelled two of the three planned handsets that it was to introduce this year – including one showcasing its new BlackBerry 10 operating system.
The company is also reported to be struggling to get its key BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) services to run on the new OS.
The only device which presently runs BB10, originally known as QNX, is the PlayBook tablet. That was released in April 2011 but does not yet run BES for email and calendars or BBM, despite promises from RIM that software updates were imminent to enable those services.
Online reports suggest that the company has decided against making Milan, a touchscreen phone with a slide-out keyboard. Further suggestions say that it has also scrapped a model known as Colt, first mooted last August, which would follow the classic BlackBerry shape by having a full integrated QWERTY keyboard beneath a 3in screen. That would leave only the London model running BB10 which has only been glimpsed through concept photos, and which would be a pure touchscreen phone.
The culling of the new models in favour of a single touchscreen device could leave RIM in a precarious position. In December, RIM’s chief executives said that the new QNX-based devices would be delayed to late in 2012. But RIM has also said that it sees QNX – the same OS that runs its PlayBook tablet – as key to its future development.
Uncertainty over its position has seen RIM’s share price collapse from a high of nearly $70 (£45) in February 2011 to $14.50 now, barely valuing the company at as much as its physical assets. 

Data from smartphone sales suggests that RIM is losing share in former key countries such as the US, while building it in Europe and various Asian countries.

But RIM saw a year-on-year fall in the number of handsets shipped in the three months to the end of November 2011, from 14.2m to 14.1m, even as the world smartphone market has been growing, and for the current quarter to the end of February it forecast that it would ship between 11m and 12m handsets, a substantial fall compared to the same period a year ago when it shipped 14.9m handsets.
That has made it increasingly important that RIM has an updated OS to compete with Apple’s iPhone and the broadening range of Android phones, as well as the rising threat from Nokia with its revamped line using Microsoft’s Windows Phone software.