Another AOL Org Chart Shuffle: COO Partoll, Search Boss Kannapell Out

kim partollThis isn’t the long-rumored round of mass layoffs, but AOL boss Tim Armstrong did let go of two executives today: COO Kim Partoll is out, as is John Kannapell, SVP of search and local media.

Armstrong, who took over the Time Warner (TWX) unit earlier this year and is prepping it for a spinoff that’s supposed to happen by the end of 2009, doesn’t plan on replacing either executive, say people familiar with the matter. Instead, their work will be divvied up among other Armstrong lieutenants.

Partoll’s mobile responsibilities, for instance, will be given to new hire and former Yahoo (YHOO) exec Brad Garlinghouse, while Kannapell’s responsibilities will be handed to newish hire and former Google (GOOG) exec Jeff Levick. Armstrong himself will handle international duties, previously assigned to Partoll.

Kannapell’s departure isn’t a total shock, since he was listed as “acting head” of local during a reorg that Armstrong oversaw in June. But Partoll is a head-scratcher, since she was promoted to her new/old position during that same exec shuffle.

And what about those layoffs? Armstrong is almost certain to make some cuts at some point–and has told employees as much. But people familiar with the company say he hasn’t been focused on cost structure (i.e., cuts) until recently.

With MediaFLO Disappointing, Qualcomm Wants to Become a Mobile CDN

Qualcomm’s MediaFLO mobile television network hasn’t met the chipmaker’s expectations, according to COO Len Lauer, who spoke with me at the Mobilize 09 event last week in San Francisco. He said of Qualcomm’s FLO network for broadcasting mobile television, “We’re not where we need to be. We’re not meeting our expectations.”

He blamed the lack of success so far on the few  FLO-enabled devices available and the long wait for a nationwide network. While he was optimistic that FLO would be on more devices and noted that as of the DTV transition, Qualcomm had a nationwide network, he was also quick to portray the FLO network as more than a television delivery network. Yes, boys and girls, it’s a platform.

If mobile TV isn’t the right use for the separate network that Qualcomm has built at a cost of more than $800 million, Lauer thinks it might be used by carriers to help offload demand for video on the 3G and 4G networks, something I’ve mentioned as a possible strategy on how carriers can keep profiting on their mobile networks (GigaOM Pro, subscription required). “The reason we built this, and we’re starting to get more and more interest from network operators, is for network offload,” Lauer said. He said data usage on carrier networks is up by about 400 percent, more than half of which is streaming video, such as content from YouTube. Lauer said that they can help carriers use the FLO network to deliver broadcast or commonly accessed content to the handset and then cache parts of regularly accessed web sites on the device.

However, the FLO network may not be the only game in town for network offload. With this use case in mind, the GSM Association last week endorsed Integrated Mobile Broadband or IMB as one that might also work for offloading video, and one that’s likely to win more favor among carriers, according to telecommunications analyst Chetan Sharma. That’s because it uses spectrum the carriers already own and makes more efficient use of that spectrum for delivering video, as opposed to the FLO network, which is a completely different network operating on Qualcomm’s spectrum. IMB was also developed in conjunction with several carriers such as Vodafone, Telstra, T-Mobile, Orange and SingTel.


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mSpot Broadens Mobile Movie Service Beyond Sprint

Mobile entertainment company mSpot announced today at the GigaOM Mobilize 09 conference that it’s expanding its streaming movie service this fall beyond Sprint to AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, and will be available on more than 30 handsets.

mSpot allows users to stream full-length feature films (among other kinds of entertainment) across Wi-Fi, 3G or EDGE networks. We spoke with mSpot CEO and Co-founder Darren Tsui, who told us a little more about his service and gave us a little demo of it in action.

Cool Video Apps Abound in the Android Market

I had high hopes when I started scouring the Android Market for cool mobile video apps. After all, Android is known for being one of the most (if not the most) cutting-edge mobile platforms available today. And I was not disappointed — here’s what I found:

vlc remoteVLC Remote

This app, which is available in the Android Market as a free beta, is also available in both paid ($2.99) and free versions in the iPhone’s App Store. It lets you control the VLC Media Player software running on your Windows, Mac or Linux computer from your Android phone as if it were a remote control. (And, by the way, if you’re not using VLC for video playback on your computer, you should be. It’s one of the best media players around.) You just install the app on your phone and then download the setup utility, which allows the mobile software to talk to your computer’s desktop software. VLC Remote automatically finds VLC players on your home network for you and establishes the connection over your Wi-Fi network.

Qik

Qik seems to be turning into a staple in mobile video software. This free app, which I mentioned in my recent roundup of video apps in Nokia’s Ovi Store, is also available for the iPhone. Qik lets you stream live video from your Android-based phone to the web. I haven’t fully tested Qik’s Android version yet, but it was updated in August in order to iron out some of the bugs (such as inconsistent video performance) that were reported in the first iteration, an alpha released in June. 

Gmote

gmote_logoGmote is another app that allows you to use your Android-based phone as a remote control for your Windows, Mac or Linux-based computer. (At this rate, I may never get off my couch again.) You install the free app on your phone, then install the Gmote software on your computer. Like VLC Remote, it connects to your computer over your Wi-Fi network, and can also be configured to connect via your cellular data network if Wi-Fi is unavailable.) From your phone, you can browse a list of all the music and video files on your computer, and launch them remotely. Gmote worked almost instantly in my tests; one tap on the screen of my Android phone, and by the time I looked at my Vista-based laptop, my videos were playing. A beta feature allows you to play the files on your phone, too, but this seemed rather buggy to me, as it frequently told me that my Android phone did not have a player capable of playing back most of my video files. 

SPB TV

spb_tvSPB TV has plenty of promise, but one big drawback: You have to pay to get any of the features worth using. This mobile TV application offers access to an interesting mix of more than 100 TV channels, including C-SPAN, ABC News Now and Weather Plus; and a mix of local news stations, such as KNBC 4 Los Angeles, Fox 12 Oregon, Access Sarasota 12 and others from across the country; plus international stations from 17 more countries. You get an easy-to-read program guide, and a simple — if small — video player. Unfortunately, the free (or “Lite”) version offers the channel list and program guide only; if you want to watch any content, you have to pony up $10 for the full-featured application. I understand the need to charge for content, but with such an eclectic mix of stations (not to mention a teeny-tiny viewing window), I’m not sure I’m willing to pay.

These are just a few of the video apps available in the Android Market, which is growing quickly. That means we can expect more cool video tools added, and soon.

WordPress Mobile Edition Plugin is Pretty Slick

We were a bit behind in updating our blog to the latest version of Wordpress, so we spent some time today getting caught up.  As part of the upgrade we installed the Wordpress Mobile Edition plugin, which automatically creates a mobile version of your blog that is displayed to users visiting your site from smart phones and PDAs.  While I haven’t tested it on all devices, the plugin works quite well on my iPhone (screen shots below).  The plugin is worth a look.

Homepage on iPhone

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Post View Page on iPhone

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In-Stream Mobile Video Ads Now Know Where You Are

Geo-targeted mobile ads could be the most invasive technology we’ve ever seen. But of course they could also be really cool and useful. Now, location-aware ads are invading your streaming mobile video for the first time.

mdialogmDialog, a mobile video startup, announced today at Ad:Tech Chicago it has adopted Apple’s new HTTP adaptive bitrate streaming for the iPhone. The HTTP streaming technology — which we’ve covered in depth — stitches together chunks of the same video encoded at different bitrates. The primary purpose is to deliver video that adjusts to changing network strength without stopping to buffer. But a side benefit is that you can slot something else in the stream without interruption, either. And that means: mobile advertising opportunities.

mDialog is one of the first to experiment on the new platform, and so today it’s announced that it can now do in-stream geo-targeted dynamic video ad insertion using Akamai and DoubleClick. That means mid-roll video ads that know where you are. So, if you happen to be watching a video in an mDialog app on your iPhone, that app can ask Google Maps where exactly you’re located, and deliver in the middle of your stream an ad that’s targeted down to a one-quarter mile area.

We had been skeptical of mDialog’s focus on the iPhone in the past, but the flip side is the startup pushes forward these new possibilities. mDialog CEO Greg Philpott said he can envision mid-roll geo-targeting being used for attendees of a concert or sporting event, who are instructed to watch something on their phone and then get a version of an ad just for that event. Today it’s not a massive use case, but it’s definitely a sign of where things are headed.

P.S. If you’re interested in mobile stuff, you should definitely come to our GigaOM Network Mobilize Conference next week in San Francisco.


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Vid-Biz: NBC, Cable, Blu-ray

NBC Universal Goes to the Gas Pump; signs deal with Gas Station TV to put its local and national programming on TV screens at up to 1,000 gas stations. (Multichannel News)

Court Tosses Cable Subscriber Cap; Comcast and its ilk now have the green light to go above its 30 percent subscriber limit. (Broadcasting & Cable)

Blu-ray Disc Prices Have Fallen; new releases are 12 percent cheaper and library titles one-third less compared with 2008. (Video Business)

FASTHockey to Stream Hockey Canada Cup; games available for purchase on Hockey Canada or at the FASTHockey portal using the Highwinds CDN. (emailed release)

Watch Live TV on Your Android Phone; Spb TV makes over 100 international channels available on Android devices. (jkOnTheRun)


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