British supermarket giant Tesco may be showing off its rumoured own-brand tablet as early as next week, as it steps up the marketing drive of its content platform Blinkbox.
An invite sent out to UK press reads: “We’ve got something to show you. #LetsHudl.” Hudl, PCR-Online points out, was registered as a trademark earlier this year for use on a tablet device. The rumours so far suggest Tesco will be aiming for the cheap and cheerful market, with analysts telling us the company will use it to leverage its content service, Blinkbox – not dissimilar to Amazon’s approach with the Kindle Fire.
It’s expected the device will launch at around the £100 mark. Doing so would make it one of the cheapest ‘big’ brands on the British market. Whether buyers will flock to the brand is another question.
It’s expected Tesco will stuff the tablet with its own streaming services such as Blinkbox and Clubcard TV. Most think it will run on an unmodified version of Android.
According to PC Pro, which claims to have seen the specs, the Tesco tablet will sport two bog standard cameras, ship with GPS, Bluetooth, and the usual MEMS in an accelerometer and a gyroscope.
The device will reportedly feature a seven inch IPS panel at 1280×720, and under the bonnet will be a 1.6GHz quad core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB included storage and a slot for MicroSD.
If Tesco is indeed launching a tablet it’s a bold move by the retailer. Tesco recently announced it was to slash inventories of other electronics and focus on selling more traditional supermarket products.
Monday’s announcement will coincide with what Marketing Week calls a “nationwide in-store marketing blitz” for Blinkbox, including promotions across 500 stores offering discounts on drinks, snacks, DVDs, CDs, and videogames.
In tandem, Tesco plans a major radio, print, digital, outdoor ad, and “high profile” TV ad campaign to launch in October. Blinkbox’s marketing exec Kate Simon told MarketingWeek the scale of investment is “unprecedented”.
Blinkbox plans to differentiate itself from other streaming services such as Lovefilm, Netflix and Sky, touting, for example, its superior range of blockbuster films and TV shows compared to rivals.
The Video 3.5 HDD was built for video, so it can store up to roughly 480 hours of HD content. This makes it a contender for satellite and cable providers as well as surveillance system builders, the company says, and is designed to deliver good performance in three key areas, those being high capacity and streaming capability, reliability, and acoustics.
Seagate’s drive can support up to 16 simultaneous HD streams or 20 standard definition streams, and can manage 24×7 operation capabilities.
Because the drive will be sitting in places where acoustics are crucial to limit other audible distractions, Seagate says this HDD lets designers manufacture the very quietest home entertainment systems. The company claims the Video 3.5 HDD is near silent and runs below the range of audible sound for the human ear – at 2.3 decibels – so it’ll only bother your dog.
Additionally, Seagate says this drive has a 0.55 percent annual failure rate which means it can be out in the field longer than the competition, as well as being made for low power consumption and heat emissions.
Seagate marketing veep Scott Horn said in a statement that the company’s experience in the video market has ultimately led to this product. “We’ve combined our knowledge on heat, acoustics and power to deliver what we believe to be the most reliable DVR drive in the world,” Horn said.
Tesco is apparently gearing up to introduce a new free TV streaming service called Clubcard TV. The beta trial is only available to Tesco staff for the time being, but when it officially launches it will be available to card-carrying Clubcard members and Tesco says it will be “free forever”.
There will be no charges, no contracts nor subscription fees. Tesco says the service is basically “a thank you to our customers”. Clubcard TV is based on Blinkbox technology. Tesco bought 80 percent of Blinkbox in 2011, so the move is hardly surprising.
The service works in a similar way to Netflix, but unlike Neflix it is completely free and it doesn’t have nearly as much content. It will not offer the latest TV shows or movies. Although it is said to feature thousands of movies and TV shows, most of them are pretty old. At least there are some golden oldies, such as early Batman and Superman movies, along with some ancient British sitcoms.
While it might not be a proper Netflix competitor, at least it will be free and available to millions of Tesco shoppers.
Virgin has confirmed that it is in talks with American billionaire John Malone about a possible takeover of Virgin Media – that could lead to a bid within the week, threatening Rupert Murdoch’s leading BSkyB TV service.
A purchase will be a challenge to Rupert Murdoch’s monopoly on paid-for TV services in the UK with BSkyB. Liberty Media, a subsidiary of Liberty Global, owns a hefty chunk of cable TV in the United States, and has the financial clout to inject competition into the British market.
According to principal analyst at Ovum, Adrian Drury, said in the near term the UK will become a “slug fest” for the two global pay TV heavyweights – that is, John Malone and Rupert Murdoch. TV subscribers will not be the only segment up for grabs, as the action could also kick off a price war in fixed broadband and voice subscribers.
“Depending on how Malone might choose to leverage the Virgin Mobile asset,” Drury said, “it may also spill over in consumer mobile services”.
Malone’s involvement would bring business experience from cable operations in 13 major markets, Drury points out, as well as leverage across multiple territories with the major studios and sports federations. Liberty’s Horizon platform would also gain a foothold in the UK. However, Drury said competing with BSkyB will be “facing off against a jewel” – as it is one of the best run operations in the world, not to mention its technology platform strategy and exclusive content rights with HBO and contracts with Premiership football.
The UK is also an emerging territory for streaming content services, with the two big players being Netflix and Amazon’s Lovefilm. Both BSkyB and Virgin have been offering their own streaming packages, however, that has seen a battle between companies that offer streaming to getting the best licensing deals. As such, Ovum suggests, it will be a a test for Liberty’s vision of cable TV and web services.
“Also expect that there would be some collateral damage, potentially other UK telcos trying to solve their triple play pay-TV challenge, such as Talk Talk and BT,” Drury said.