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US TV ownership down for first time in 20 years

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 3, 2011
The number of US homes owning television sets is falling for the first time in two decades, the Nielsen Co. said on Tuesday.

Nielsen estimated that 114.7 million US households, or 96.7 percent of US homes, will own television sets next year, down from the current 115.9 million, or 98.9 percent.

Nielsen said the last drop in TV ownership was in 1992.

It said there were several reasons for the decline, including the 2009 transition from analog to digital broadcasting, when some TV owners did not purchase new digital sets or convertor boxes.

Economic belt-tightening was also a factor, Nielsen said, with TV penetration declining among lower-income, rural homes.

Nielsen said a "small subset of younger, urban consumers" was going without paid television subscriptions, watching video on the Web.

"Long-term effects of this are unclear," Nielsen said.

"It's undetermined if this is also an economic issue, with these individuals entering the TV marketplace once they have the means, or the beginning of a larger shift to viewing online and on mobile devices," it said.

"Nielsen data demonstrates that consumers are viewing more video content across all platforms -- rather than replacing one medium with another," it added.

Nielsen's Pat McDonough said "the media marketplace continues to evolve and become more complex.

"Some consumers are clearly being driven by the economy to make choices on the media devices they purchase," McDonough said.

"Others are expanding their equipment to add more audio/video devices to their home," she said. "Still others may be deferring a TV purchase or replacing their TV with a computer."

earlier related report
Bing to be default search engine on BlackBerry
Washington (AFP) May 3, 2011 - Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer announced Tuesday that the US software giant's Bing search engine and maps would be the default service on BlackBerry devices.

Ballmer made the announcement during a surprise appearance at the three-day BlackBerry World developers conference being held by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) in Orlando, Florida.

Bing director Matt Dahlin said in a blog post that Bing will be the preferred search provider in the Web browser on BlackBerry devices and the default map application.

Bing will also be the search engine and map application on RIM's new BlackBerry Playbook, its touchscreen tablet computer rival to the iPad.

"We are excited to be working with RIM, an early leader in Internet-connected mobile devices, to help people make better decisions with Bing," Dahlin said.

Google dominates the Internet search market but Microsoft is mounting a challenge and they are battling over the rapidly growing smartphone market.

RIM has been facing stiff competition from Apple's iPhone and handsets running Google's Android software and the Canadian company lowered its quarterly earnings outlook last week on weaker BlackBerry sales.

Microsoft had been steadily losing its share of the mobile phone operating system market but Finland's Nokia announced in February that it planned to begin using Microsoft's Windows Phone platform for its smartphones.

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to reveal any of the terms of the agreement with RIM or whether it could pose any complications to the Redmond, Washington-based company's partnership with Nokia.




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Slim new BlackBerry models join smartphone wars
San Francisco (AFP) May 2, 2011
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) on Monday unveiled a pair of slim, powerful new handsets as their entries in the fiercely competitive smartphone arena. BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 models to hit the market mid-year will run on a new generation of the Canada-based firm's smartphone operating system. "The new BlackBerry Bold smartphones and BlackBerry 7 OS are inspired by millio ... read more

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