FCC's Sports Ruling, Hooters' Screen Wash, Norsat in Haiti, iPhone Losing Its App Lead?

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FCC's Sports Ruling, Hooters' Screen Wash, Norsat in Haiti, iPhone Losing Its App Lead?

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the wonderful sounds of silence. Hey everybody needs a break now and then:

Raise a beer, sports fans, Verizon says you've won: The Federal Communications Commission ruled last Wednesday that incumbent cable television providers that control unique, regional sports programming can no longer unilaterally refuse to provide access to that programming, including high-definition feeds, to competing providers. 

In a 4-1 decision, Verizon officials say, FCC commissioners concluded that withholding regional sports programming presumptively violates section 628 of the Cable Act and is anti-competitive: "The order, approved at Wednesday's open meeting, includes standstill language barring cable companies from cutting off access to programming during program renewal negotiations."

Verizon competes with Cablevision in the television market with its FiOS TV. It filed a program access complaint against Cablevision in July because the cable incumbent, in the words of Verizon officials, "continually denied Verizon access to high-definition versions of regional sports programming Cablevision controls in New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut."
Hey Cablevision, can you hear Verizon now?

Kathleen Grillo, Verizon senior vice president of Federal Regulatory Affairs, said "This is a big-time victory for television sports fans." So, see, it has to be true.
"The FCC's decision to make must-see regional sports programming, including high-definition feeds, presumptively available to competitors, puts viewers in the driver's seat," she added. "This ruling means that consumers will no longer have to stick with their incumbent cable provider in order to watch local teams in high definition."

Raising the level of journalistic inquiry a few notches, this reporter is investigating the news that Hooters Calendar and On The Go Girls  have announced today the launch of Hooters Calendar Sexy Screen Wash in the App Store. 
I know, you think the life of a freelance business technology journalist is all glamour and glitter, but friends, there are some things expense accounts just don't cover.
The announcement, Hooters says, demonstrates "the new ways in which successful brands are reaching consumers on today's smart phones."

Hooters Calendar Sexy Screen Wash is based on the popular Sexy Screen Wash applications from On The Go Girls, which have been downloaded by over one million users. The first edition of the new Hooters App features six women from the 2010 Hooters Calendar: Adrean Butler, Stephanie Le, Megan Brady, Brittany Smith, Claudia Gestro, and Priscilla Carey, for no-lifers to whom those names actually mean something. 
Users simply select the Hooters Calendar Girl of their choice, who then performs a virtual screen wash with a squeegee or feather duster. Hours of fun on a slow Saturday night, guys.

"We are thrilled to offer fans of Hooters Calendar such an innovative way to enjoy their favorite 2010 Hooters Swimsuit Calendar Girls on the iPhone and the iPod Touch," said Charles Melcher, publisher of the Hooters Calendar.

"Hooters Calendar is the ideal partner for Sexy Screen Wash," says Alan Johansen of On The Go Girls. "Their history of innovation, talented models, and worldwide appeal provides a compelling combination for iPhone and iPod Touch users." We're just quoting here, folks.

Hooters Calendar Sexy Screen Wash is available on the App Store.

On The Go Girls is a smart phone app publisher dedicated to "combining sex appeal with nerd appeal by bringing hot apps to the public." Nerds and techno sex appeal. Whoever would've thunk of that winning combination?

Norsat International, a vendor of satellite products, has announced that several of its portable satellite units, specifically its GLOBETrekker andNewsLink models, have been deployed in Haiti to offer immediate communications solutions on the ground.

Specifically, The Joint Enabling Capabilities Command's Joint Public Affairs Support Element, located in Suffolk, Virginia, which is an early entry capability that enables the joint force commander to "gain and maintain the initiative in the information domain," according to Norsat officials, is using Norsat's GLOBETrekker, a back-packable broadband satellite system to facilitate communications capabilities in Haiti. 
The GLOBETrekker features built-in intelligence to enable an operator to establish a reliable broadband link of up to 8Mbps) anywhere in the world, Norsat officials say, "especially in remote, harsh and hostile conditions."

In addition, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and the U.S. Navy have deployed their NewsLink portable satellite units to Haiti and will be used to support public affairs efforts. 
Norsat's NewsLink is a complete Ku-Band portable satellite terminal capable of broadcast quality MPEG-2 video of up to 10 Mbps, and offers simple setup and alignment and enables staff with minimal training to have the NewsLink up and transmitting "in just a matter of minutes," Norsat officials say.

At the onset, most of these systems will be used for public affairs and information-type applications. The systems will be generator powered and can last indefinitely due to the logistical strengths of the U.S. military.

Dr. Amiee Chan, President and CEO of Norsat, said while our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Haiti, "we are gratified to know that our GLOBETrekker and NewsLink portable satellite units have been deployed and are assisting in communications efforts, which is a top priority in the daunting task of disaster relief."
The systems, Chan says, are "durable, can withstand the harsh elements on the ground and are simple to use, making assembly quick and easy for the end user. Our staff remains on standby if additional units or support services are needed in the coming weeks."

The iPhone's massive lead in the total number of apps may no longer be translating into a similar advantage in the marketplace, according to a new analysis by Facebook mobile app store Mplayit.
"'How many apps?' is the wrong question," said Michael Powers, CEO and founder of Mplayit. "People just want to get the job done. It doesn't matter if there are 50 different to-do list apps on iPhone, because Android or BlackBerry just need a couple of good ones to make consumers happy."

Apple's iPhone has over 100,000 apps, while its closest competitors are eating dust -- there are about 20,000 Android apps and 4,500 on Blackberry App World. The case would seem to be closed for the time being.
Mplayit officials say they looked at the most popular application categories across platforms and "compiled the top apps in each category for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry." Their conclusion? There's "a great deal of similarity in the most popular apps in the most active categories, demonstrating that despite the big differences in the number of apps available by device, for the majority of consumers, there is less and less to choose between them."
Mplayit's app store on the Facebook platform offers mobile consumers a single destination for discovering apps for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Java phones. 
"To a customer, the app catalog is a key component of the smartphone experience.," said Powers, noting that Mplayit's cross-platform store on Facebook offers a place to directly compare what's available. "And we crowd-source our recommendations to expose popular apps that you don't find necessarily find in Top 20 charts."

Cross-platform apps did particularly well. Evernote registered among the top three of the most popular apps in the Lists and Notes category on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. 
Similarly, Pandora Radio is among the top three music apps on all three smartphone platforms. The analysis, Mplayit officials say, "showed that Barcode readers have recently shot to the top of the most sought after apps on all the three leading smartphone platforms." Currently, all of these platforms offer barcode tools from different vendors.

But of course, if you want it as an app, iPhone's got that.

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