More Blockbuster Stores Closing – Dish Network—the No. 2 satellite TV service who owns the Blockbuster video stores—plans to close 300 more stores over the next few weeks, leaving the rental chain with 500 stores. The remaining stores may start selling smartphones and wireless subscriptions. Competition from Netflix’s disc-by-mail service and the constant shift to streaming online video is responsible. At its peak Blockbuster had more than 4000 locations.
Online Sales Shift for Consumer Electronics – A new IBM study shows that consumers are most inclined to switch from making their purchases in-store to online shopping when CE products and luxury goods are involved. The survey covered 26,000 shoppers in 14 countries across eight non-grocery product categories. While brick-and-mortar stores are still the predominant shopping channel, consumers are becoming more open to buying both online and in-store, depending on their needs at the time of purchase.
HD Radio Gets More Automaker Support – More OEM sound systems with HD Radio are coming from more automakers in the coming year, based on the Detroit International Auto Show. Chevrolet, Kia, Lexus, Jeep and Infiniti are now on board and Lexus offers subscription-free traffic and weather data services via HD Radio. More than 80 models now have HD Radio as standard equipment and it will be available in 160 vehicle models by the end of 2013. More than 2150 stations now broadcast HD Radio signals, with many broadcasting up to three digital programs simultaneously (many with few or no commercials), creating another 1400 stations only heard on HD Radio. And there is no subscription charge.(Again, HD does not stand for High Definition.)
Whole Home Audio – Several companies are trying to make controlled playback of audio in every room simpler and more affordable. Among them is Pure, with their Jongo multi-room music system. They have a wireless adapter transforming any speakers into networked speakers with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, They have two speakers: a small wireless one which can be taken anywhere in the house or on the go (only $229), and a larger wired stereo speaker. There is also a smartphone app for controlling the whole home system.
DLNA Replacement for Bluetooth in Home Audio – Qualcomm’s Skifta unit has partnered with Tymphany speakers to replace the rather crude Bluetooth technology as the default protocol for wireless audio that has a more fitting approach for networked entertainment. Skita’s technology is based on DLNA, and owners of the new speakers will be able to control playback with the company’s mobile apps. Tymphany has been an original design manufacturer for many other brands, but will sell the new devices under its own name in retail stores this year. DLNA can connect to online content sources, and allows the streaming of music from drives connected to your home router or from the Internet.