Thursday, August 25, 2005  2005 the year of Phantom Fiber?Toronto’s Phantom Fiber Corp., a developer of mobile commerce and gaming software, has been going from strength to strength lately. The company recently announced a deal to provide its advanced wireless platform to London’s Aspinalls.com, the online presence of a bricks-and-mortar casino set up in the city’s swanky Mayfair district in 1962. Aspinalls.com, which holds a permit issued by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory in Quebec, will use Phantom Fiber’s platform to provide mobile wireless gaming worldwide to customers using such operating systems as Java’s J2ME, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile PocketPC Phone Edition and Smartphone series, Palm OS, Symbian, and RIM’s series 7000 Blackberry platform. Aspinalls.com’s customers will also be able to use the casino’s banking facility as well as register a new account while on the road, thanks to Phantom Fiber’s software.   Just a day after the Aspinalls.com announcement, Phantom Fiber released details of a five-year licencing agreement with New Media Lottery Services Inc. (NMLS) of Harrisonburg, VA. Under the terms of the deal, the Canadian firm will work with NMLS, which both helps create new lottery products and provides lottery management services to lotteries sanctioned by U.S. state governments, to provide mobile lottery terminals. In June, another Toronto-based firm, Parlay Entertainment, teamed up with NMLS to provide bingo gaming on the website of Rehab Lotteries of Ireland. (For some comment on Canada’s stance on mobile gaming by Phantom Fiber president and CEO Jeff Halloran, see the August 18 edition of Canadian NEW MEDIA.) World Entertainment wins Media5 bizOn to Canada’s West Coast, and a Nevada-incorporated company that now calls Vancouver home: World Entertainment Corp., which has entered into an agreement with Media5 LLC "for the purpose of developing and promoting bingo-related interactive mobile marketing, entertainment, and information services and products and in building and developing a community of mobile users," according to a press release. What that means is that World Entertainment and Media5 may work together on such projects as alerts and promotions, all manner of games and related material such as themes and ringtones, and user-to-user interaction such as chat and two-way messaging, among other potential offerings, all of which Media5 will provide hosting for.   Rainmaker fund pays out despite cloudsVancouver’s Rainmaker Income Fund announced a monthly cash distribution of $0.04 recently. The fund indirectly owns three separate operating units: the Rainmaker Limited Partnership, which provides post-production services for film, television and new media projects; the EP Canada Limited Partnership, which supplies payroll services to the Canadian film and television industry, and; Canada Film Capital Limited Partnership, which offers tax credit administration services and financing of tax credits for film and TV productions. In its earnings statement for the second quarter of 2005, its most recent earnings period, Rainmaker Income Fund announced that its revenue had decreased by more than 40% year-over-year, and that "results of operations continued to be below historical levels," according to a release.   Sarbakan to upgrade its spaceOnline video gaming firm Sarbakan of Montreal said it will sink $3 million into expansion and new hiring over the next five years. President and executive producer Guy Boucher said in a release that the firm needed certain new equipment, as well as more staff and space. To that end, Sarbakan will increase its workforce by 20% as well as expand the physical space it occupies. The company has designed online games for clients including Nestle, BF Goodrich, and Starwood Hotels, as well as such CD-ROM games as Arthur’s Camping Adventure and Nerf—Attack of the Kleptons. Sarbakan is also a registered Xbox games developer.   Bell and Universal make sweet musicBell Canada and Universal Music have launched a new partnership called Live @ The Orange Lounge, an offering the two firms bill as "an exclusive mix of technology and original live music content." A private studio located in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood, the Orange Lounge will play host to weekly sessions by participating Universal Music artists including Jann Arden, David Usher, Sarah Harmer, and the Cowboy Junkies, among others. The series will include exclusive looks at the recording process for each artist, as well as interviews and other material. Bell will distribute the content through its Sympatico, ExpressVu and Mobility product segments, and will also offer full-length digital music downloads as well as True Tones ringtones based on songs by the artists.   Musicrypt, Roadrunner and EMI Canada team upThe latest single by Canadian rockers Nickelback is being distributed via Musicrypt’s Digital Media Distribution System (DMDS), the band’s U.S. and Canadian labels announced. Roadrunner Records and EMI Music Canada will deliver the single, "Photograph," to Canadian broadcasters using the DMDS technology, including Corus Radio, Rogers Media Broadcasting, and Standard Radio. The song is on the group’s upcoming CD "All The Right Reasons," which will be released October 4.   Aliant speeds up DSL Following on from a similar Bell Canada Sympatico announcement we brought you in the August 18 edition of Canadian NEW MEDIA, Atlantic Canadian telco Aliant Inc. has upgraded its High Speed Ultra offering to a maximum of 5 Mbps downstream speed. The upstream data transfer speed remains the same at 640 Kbps, and the service includes Aliant’s anti-spyware, anti-virus, personal firewall and parental control services.   INTERNATIONAL   New media driving communications: survey New media is driving consumer spending on media, according to a new survey by Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS). The firm’s 19th annual Communications Industry Forecast states that a "New Media Order" is driving "fundamental changes across all four communications industry sectors" that VSS looks at: advertising, specialty media and marketing services, institutional end-user, and consumer end-user. In the five-year period ending 2009, VSS estimates that the communications sector will be the fourth-fastest-growing sector in the U.S. economy, and that the average user will spend 10 hours a day watching and interacting with various media forms. James Rutherford, the firm’s executive VP, said in a release that "during the past five years…we have seen a gradual shift of time spent away from advertising-based to consumer-supported media, as well as a steady transfer of spending away from traditional to new media advertising."   U.S. gaga over mobile gaming The U.S. market for mobile phone games has burgeoned by more than 70% so far this year, according to Ziff Davis Media’s annual "Digital Gaming In America" survey. Based on the answers provided by more than 1,500 households, Ziff Davis Media extrapolated that the number of Americans playing games on wireless phones has jumped to 27.9 million from 16.3 million in 2004. The average playing time per gaming session was 19 minutes, according to the survey, and respondents spent an average of US$13 on mobile phone games in the 60 days preceding their interview. Arcade games captured the lion’s share of users, with 57% of mobile phone gamers saying they’d played them, followed by card games (44%) and puzzles (37%). Of those who said they’d passed on mobile phone gaming, nearly half said they’d done so because of small screen size, while other common reasons for eschewing the technology included "a lack of desirable games" and "high costs."   Wired home group gains new blood The HomePlug Powerline Alliance, a consortium of electronics industry players based in San Ramon, CA, disclosed that Intel Corp., Cisco Systems Inc.’s Linksys division, and Motorola Inc. has joined the group’s sponsorship roster. The alliance’s mission is set up common standards for high-speed powerline networking; to that end, it is concentrating on three specific areas of technology by creating its own specifications: HomePlug 1.0+ AV, for in-home connectivity of audio-visual equipment and other media-capable electronics; HomePlug BPL, for to-the-home broadband-over-powerline Internet access, and; HomePlug Home Automation, for command-and-control applications within the home. Other HomePlug Powerline Alliance members include RadioShack Corp., Comcast Corp., Earthlink Inc., Sharp Electronics Corp., and Sony Corp.