While not only about Zones, I've been thinking a lot about this stuff this week.
As always, maybe I was a bit alarmist early in the week.
ReplayTV, Inc. (or "Replay Networks, Inc" http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif
has ALWAYS stated they intended to get out of the manf. biz - publically, in their SEC filed documents. I expected that shortly after the Showstopper debuted. My *guess*? Replay "needed" to continue to build themselves as they didn't get enough support from other manf. Why? That's another thread...
So...is this week's annoucement that shocking? Not really. Sudden? Yes. Shocking? No.
I'm surprised about the advertising portion, though. Just as TiVo, Inc. is responsible for selling "advertising" (Network Showcases, etc.) on Phillips and Sony units I think ReplayTV, Inc. will still be responsible for securing decent network partners for Zones.
(but I think the plan is for manf. to SOLELY be responsible for selling the banner ads on Zones)
(I also think the plan would be for manf. to have their own Zones - PPV most likely for cable cos. - if they so desire - ie: "upsell" for Replay)
So...short answer? I think Zones will stay.
Plus...the functionality is already there. Other than a graphic artist cranking out an updated design for the "Travel Zone" every few months to keep it fresh and network costs, there's no ongoing cost for this.
But...do I think we'll now see any Zones that require human intervention (Talk Shows, Picks)? No. And, IMHO, that's too bad - because we've seen the limitations of using Guide data and many of us have seen what *real people* picking shows (ala TiVoLution Magazine, Network Solutions) can do.
Now...if I may go off on a semi-related tangent?
What about OTHER ads on Replay-branded boxes. Someone eles commented in another thread that the Replay-branded customers will probably be "sold" to Panasonic or someone so we'll be be brought into their fold. I don't know...
But...if NOT, I think Replay-branded people are in a good position.
We'll get less (or no) ads.
We'll get the most recent upgrades. (I can't see why not)
We'll get the upgrades quicker. (w/o another company signing off)
Okay, my two cents is spent...