We seemed to have skipped a step when it came to video calling. We went from the family's landline to personal mobile phones, which finally got smart enough for new services like Skype or FaceTime to use as a platform. Finnish startup, TellyBean thinks, however, that somewhere in the middle of this progression that could still hit a large market, especially with the mismatch of how young people connect compared how to you connect with your older relatives. For younger people far away, the basic method of communication for a longer call is Skype, but it's tough to get your older relatives up to the technical level required to run and Skype for a call.
There's some sort of cruel inefficiency in the world when good TV shows get canceled only to be replaced by some mindless nonsense. Instead of just signing another internet petition the next time a show got canceled, Stockholm-based Reupp is organizing fans as a lobbying group to come together and support their show creators.
With this mission in mind, they've put together a crowdfunding mechanism to allow fans to pool together their money to donate to the producers or creators of the show. Founder and CEO John Noren explains that the point of it is to send money where it makes the most sense. He says in their research they've come across too much bureaucracy from Hollywood's side, and rather than negotiating with network executives themselves it makes sense to become a lobbying power under a creator or producer that can point to the Reupp campaign and lobby on its behalf.
With Ikea's new Uppleva TV system launching in Italy, France, Germany, Poland and Sweden sometime this week, we decided to wrap our heads around what they're offering. Their offering looks well designed, and you can tell Ikea has worked hard to make the TV and furniture concept into a complete system. While smart TV's are not unique, this will likely open TV web browsing and apps to a new market.
This integration seems a long time coming; I mean it's 2012 and we're just now starting to seriously mix technology with furniture. After this initial launch, the Swedish retailer will target additional stores and territories in Europe in the fall, eventually reaching the U.S. market in 2013.
A new Estonian company to watch is Pult.io. In a nutshell, the service provides users an easy way to control any internet enabled screen through a smartphone without any cryptic setup issues. The company has recently gotten some hype at the TechCrunch Baltics event in Riga, and also joined Seedcamp earlier this month.
The most refreshing thing about Pult happens even before you start streaming anything. Rather than setting up an account and waiting for a confirmation email, Pult skips all of that nonsense; just by going to Pult.io on your TV or computer's browser generates a random four letter code. You then go to Pult.io in your smartphone's browser and then plug in the code. Just by doing that the two devices are linked, even if they're not on the same network, and the webapp gives you control to several streaming and content services.
Everyone wants Angry Birds and after invading almost all sorts of mobile and other computing platforms it is now coming to TVs this summer. (after the movie, Rio) The announcement comes as Roku, the maker of set-top boxes mentioned partnering with Rovio early last week.
Fuugo is a new kind of television product created by Axel Technologies, a company based in Turku. You can't really call Axel Technologies a startup as it has been registered way back in 1988. However, Fuugo is a very interesting concept that requires more analysis into it. Fuugo claims to be the next generation TV application for mobile and handheld devices.
Intervisio, a Finnish cross-media production firm, has licensed its Emmy-awarded Staraoke TV show to Cartoon Network. Staraoke is a combination of a karaoke-type interactive game and a talent TV-show for children. It will be a new primetime show for Cartoon Network.
Cartoon Network will produce altogether 78 episodes of the show, consisting of local series of 13 episodes for each the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Poland. The production is due to start now in March in London, where Cartoon Network will bring the participating children and their parents. The first show is supposed to air in the fall this year in the UK.
In Finland Staraoke starts its ninth season in fall 2009, and the program has been broadcasted also in Sweden and Hungary. The new deal is in essence the biggest single TV format licensing deal in Finland - there have not been too many of them. Intervisio and Cartoon Network will also co-operate on licensing and merchandising the Staraoke brand with products like music CDs, karaoke DVDs, road shows, and mobile content. The firms are also negotiating with game publishers, and discussing an online game with the Staraoke developer, Finnish game firm Housemarque.
Press release (.doc)
When I first heard about the service I was sure it would be 100% illegal in Finland. I've learned that the opposite is true. It is true because in theory each user has up to four terabytes of memory (whether they decide to pay for all of that is another thing), which means that the programs will be recorded separately to each user. Therefore assuming one has paid her TV license she is entitled to watch any TV show apart from the paid content. We have also heard that next year TVkaista will add even more channels to its current offering.
The founders build the first version by themselves and now they outsource some redevelopment work to a Finnish PHP house Brain Alliance. The new TVkaista is build on Zend framework. The recording technology and the back end will stay the same. The look and feel and the all new player will be build by WWW². The first updated version will have a new layout as well as whole new front end. New Amazon.com-like recommendation features are coming, but rather iteratively along the road instead of all at once: We should see a new feature coming out every month or so. New features will include 1) seeing what your friends have been watching (via social network like profiles), 2) a Watching List where you can choose what you want to watch from the past programs up to two weeks, 3) Favorites which gives you an easy way to follow a weekly series and finally 4) Saved Programs which enables you to save up to 10 programs to the memory which can be watched beyond the two week limit that you have in your watching list.
TVkaista was able to buy the extensive redesign, since unlike many other startups they are making money from the get-go instead of just burning it. TVkaista has already several thousand users and based on the current pricing, already 1000 users will add up to 120,000 euro a year -a hefty sum for a two year old startup with only a few employees. Since they are already making profit, they would not necessarily need third party investors, but they still have a few Finnish ones what we have heard.
TVkaista was jointly found by Pasi Lahtinen and Fredrik Husberg. Fredrik is also currently TVkaista's CEO. In the past the duo worked in telecommunications industry and thus the idea of TVkaista is a natural next step for them in filling a clear void in the market. TVKaista was set up in 2006 and the first commercial version was launched in the beginning of 2008. One of the major commercial implication is how the platform was build: The platform back end enables a quick set up and replication of the concept, which is ideal for a quick expansion to other countries once the service is fully up and running in one country.
Recently TVkaista opened up the service to iPhone, thus making it possible to watch the programs via wireless WLAN networks and 3G. Along with the easy to use service in a desktop browser, this is another reason why we expect the service to spread like wild fire in the Nordics just like TiVo did in the US market.
We are happy to be able to let our readers try the TVkaista service free of charge for two weeks. To get that, you need to go here. Then type 'arcticstartup' to the field that says 'maksukoodi' and you are set for two whole weeks. Enjoy!
The beta version of new TVkaista will be online in 7 days and new TVkaista should go public sometime in December 2008.