Friday, December 28, 2007

Wal-Mart cancels movie download service

From The Globe & Mail - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. quietly cancelled its online video download service less than a year after the site went live, a company spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Wal-Mart shut down the download site after Hewlett Packard Co. discontinued the technology that powered it, spokeswoman Amy Colella said in an e-mail. She added that it will not look for another technology partner.

HP spokesman Hector Marinez said the company decided to discontinue its video download-only merchant store services because the market for paid video downloads did not perform “as expected.” He noted that the Internet video business remains uncertain and is changing rapidly. | Read full article

Apple plans on-demand movie service

From The Globe & Mail - Apple Inc. is preparing to announce next month the long-rumoured launch of a movie rental service through its online iTunes Store, as well as a groundbreaking licensing deal of its anti-piracy technology — moves that could dramatically boost the appeal of digital movie distribution.

News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox is one of the first studios that has agreed to make its films available for rent digitally through iTunes, according to a Financial Times report Thursday that cited unnamed sources.

Apple also has agreed to license for the first time its copy-protection platform called FairPlay so the technology would be built into Fox DVD releases, allowing users to easily transfer the movies from the disc to a computer or an iPod for playback. | Read full article

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Recipe for Newspaper Survival in the Internet Age

From Slashdot - I've spent seven years working as a writer and editor for Slashdot's parent company. During this time I've been to at least a dozen mainstream journalists' and editors' conferences where the most-asked question was, "How do we adapt to the Internet?" You'd think, with all the smart people working for newspapers, that by now most of them would have figured out how to use the Internet effectively enough that it would produce a significant percentage of their profits. But they haven't. In this essay I will tell you why they've failed to adapt, and what they must do if they want to survive in a world where the Internet dominates the news business. | Read full article

ewmark Denies Craigslist Is Killing Newspapers

From Slashdot - Ian Lamont writes "Computerworld has an interview with Craig Newmark about the history of Craigslist and it's growth over the years (it's now expanding into foreign-language markets — it recently created several Spanish sites in Spanish cities). He also disputes the notion that Craigslist is responsible for dismantling newspapers' revenue models. Rather, he blames niche-classified sites like and Monster as well as newspapers' unrealistic profit expectations in the new media world: 'Newspapers are going after 10% to 30% profit margins for their businesses and that hurts them more than anything. A lot of things are happening on the Internet that never happened before because the Internet is a vehicle for everyone. The mass media is no longer only for the powerful, and that's a huge change for the entire newspaper and news industry." | Read full article

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bell Labs Is Gone. Academia Steps In.

From The New York Times - PAY me now, and pay me later.

That’s the new mind-set at some leading research universities in dealing with business — and the essence of an emerging model for how corporations can tap big brains on campus without having to pay their salaries.

Corporations have long been able to license intellectual property from universities, but these deals are cumbersome to negotiate and tend to work best when corporate researchers know exactly what they need to create.

They don’t always. Often, they explore scientific and technological frontiers without a map. After blue-sky thinking and random experimentation, they build new products without relying on neatly defined patents or published scientific papers — the bread-and-butter of academic knowledge production. | Read full article

Friday, December 7, 2007

In a New Merger, Evidence of How Much the Gaming World Has Changed

From The New York Times - As recently as three years ago, if you told a top game industry executive that your favorite genre was online PC games, you would almost invariably provoke a reaction akin to telling a television mogul that your favorite shows explain the migration patterns of obscure African fauna. In other words, you would get the verbal equivalent of a condescending pat on the head — “Oh, that’s nice” — while the executive looked around for someone with something more relevant to say.

And if you had dared suggest that an online fantasy game made by some guys in Orange County, Calif., would become a worldwide phenomenon by attracting more players in China than in the United States, you would have been laughed out of the room.

After all, it was not that long ago that cooperative online games were an afterthought in much of the business, an often-derided pimple on the behemoth that was the industry’s main focus: consoles like the Sony PlayStation 2 and the original Microsoft Xbox. The conventional wisdom was that only hard-core nerds would play online and that the big money was in pumping out sequel after sequel of barely distinguishable console sports games and flashy shoot-’em-up fare. | Read full article

Activision’s Chief Looks for Gaming’s Next Moves

From The New York Times - Guitar Hero III, a video game sweeping the nation like a Top 40 tune, lets players strum along on a toy plastic guitar to rock songs played on a television screen. It is attracting a wide audience: children, teenagers, 40-somethings, even the elderly.

But not the chief executive of Activision, its publisher.

“Someone asked me the other day what my favorite song is,” said Robert A. Kotick, who is 44 and not much of a game player. “I couldn’t think of one.”

Mr. Kotick will certainly have his hands full with other things. On Sunday, Activision announced that it would join forces with the Vivendi Games unit of Vivendi Universal, creating a company that will vie with Electronic Arts to be the largest video game publisher in the world. | Read full article

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Web Research Drives More Real-World Purchases

From The New York Times - E-commerce purchases are expected to grow a healthy but unspectacular 17 to 20 percent this holiday season over last year’s. But the Web’s influence over what people buy could be growing even faster.

ShopLocal, a Chicago-based firm that helps retailers use their sites to drive in-store sales, says that purchases researched online but made offline, in physical stores, are booming.

The company helps retailers like Home Depot, Best Buy and Target bring their advertising catalogs and circulars to their Web sites. For the last two years, ShopLocal has been measuring Internet-influenced purchases through a combination of surveys and measuring traffic to Web pages with coupons and other discounts that can only be used offline. | Read full article

Mobile Web: So Close Yet So Far

From The New York Times - ON the surface, the mobile Web is a happening place. There’s the iPhone in all its glory. More than 30 companies have signed up for the Open Handset Alliance from Google, which aims to bring the wide-open development environment of the Internet to mobile devices. Nokia, which owns nearly 40 percent of the world market for cellphones, is snapping up Web technology companies and has made an eye-popping $8.1 billion bid for Navteq, a digital mapping service. There are also the requisite start-ups chasing the market.

It all looks good, but the wireless communications business smacks of a soap opera, with disaster lurking like your next dropped call.

In 2000, the wireless application protocol was supposed to bring the Internet to the cellphone. Our hero turned out to be a flash in the pan. That was attributed to a lack of high-speed cellular data networks, so a frenzied and costly effort to build third-generation, or 3G, networks ensued. But at a recent conference, 3G was called “a failure” by Caroline Gabriel, an analyst at Rethink Research. She said data would make up only 12 percent of average revenue per user in 2007, far below the expected 50 percent. (The 12 percent figure does not include text messaging, but you don’t need a 3G network to send a text message.) | Read full article

Monday, November 19, 2007

Webisodes of ‘Lost’: Model Deal for Writers?

From The New York Times - On the picket lines, striking television and film writers adamantly claim that studios are refusing to pay for the use of writers’ scripts on the Internet.

But ABC Studios is doing just that. Over the next three months fans of the hit show “Lost” can go to to view weekly episodes of “Lost: Missing Pieces,” a series of new two- to three-minute shorts that reveal background information and previously undisclosed details about the stranded inhabitants of the show’s mysterious island.

The “Missing Pieces” episodes were produced under an agreement with the writers’ union that provides for much of what the writers say the studios have been refusing to offer. | Read full article

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Microsoft’s Plan to Be King of All Media

From The New York Times - In November 1994, I had breakfast with Nathan Myhrvold, then the chief technology officer of Microsoft. He talked about how the soon-to-be-introduced MSN online service would best America Online. Central to his thinking was that MSN would give publishers a higher percentage of the per-minute fee for using the service. This would draw more content and thus more users to Microsoft and allow it to earn a smaller fee on a larger block of minutes.

This strategy was misguided for so many reasons. Most notably, the open standard of the Internet allowed publishers to reach out directly to users, without MSN or AOL as the tollbooth. | Read full article

NBC brings Web series "Quarterlife" to TV network

From Yahoo - NBC on Friday said it will begin airing the highly touted Web series "Quarterlife" on its television network early next year, making the program the first to originate online and then move to a major U.S. broadcaster.

The deal with "Quarterlife" creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, Emmy-winning producers of shows "thirtysomething" and "My So-Called Life," comes as a strike by screenwriters against Hollywood's studios nears the end of a second week. | Read full article

In Korea, a Boot Camp Cure for Web Obsession

Sign me up!

From The New York Times - MOKCHEON, South Korea — The compound — part boot camp, part rehab center — resembles programs around the world for troubled youths. Drill instructors drive young men through military-style obstacle courses, counselors lead group sessions, and there are even therapeutic workshops on pottery and drumming.

But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace.

They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea and possibly the world, to be cured. | Read full story

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Is Wikipedia Planning a Facebook Competitor?

From Center Networks - Matthew Buckland out of South Africa has an interesting recap of a presentation by Jimmy Wales last evening. In his recap, Matthew wonders if Wales is planning a competitor to Facebook based on the slides that were shown. The slides were supposed to be about a new search product but Buckland saw it another way. He notes, "the screenshot that Wales briefly showed the audience looked very much like a Facebook profile page, than a search page. In fact it looked pretty much identical to a Facebook profile page. Could this mean Wales is developing a social networking, Facebook competitor too? Could it be some kind of search/social networking hybrid?"

With Wikipedia in the Top 10 of all trafficked sites and most likely larger than Facebook worldwide, a social network by Wikipedia could prove a serious competitor. Built on top of the network already in place on Wikipedia. | Read full article

Beatles Catalog to Finally Go Digital in ’08

From The New York Times - Clues to when the Beatles’ catalog would finally arrive online have been trickling out in bits and pieces for the past year. Now, Paul McCartney tells Billboard that he’s “pretty sure” the band’s music would go digital in 2008. Still, he didn’t offer a hint as to what part of 2008 the music would be accessible on the internet. McCartney attributed the holdup to contractual red-tape in part, as well as the desire to time the release just right: “The whole thing is primed, ready to go—there’s just maybe one little sticking point left, and I think it’s being cleared up as we speak, so it shouldn’t be too long. It’s down to fine-tuning...” | Read full story

Tim Berners-Lee Warns of ‘Walled Gardens’ for Mobile Internet

From The New York Times - There may be all kinds of technology issues, business plan problems and potential failures to address before the mobile Internet becomes a success. But for Tim Berners-Lee there's really only one issue.

On the opening day of Mobile Internet World in Boston, the man credited with inventing the World Wide Web told a packed hall that the mobile Internet needs to be fully and completely the Internet, nothing more and nothing less. It needs to be free of central control, universal, and embodied in open standards.

"The Web is an open platform on which you build other things," he said. "That's how you get this innovation. The Web is universal: you can run it on any hardware, on any operating system, it can be used by people of different languages...It's a sandbox where people can [play and] exercise their creativity. It's very important to keep the Web universal as we merge the Internet with mobile." | Read full story

Romancing the robot

From The Globe And Mail - This month, artificial intelligence expert David Levy released Love + Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships. In the book, he predicts that by 2050, men and women will be enjoying physical and emotional bonds with extremely lifelike, apparently conscious and remarkably suave robots.

Using examples of human-robot interactions from around the world, Dr. Levy - who won the 1997 Loebner Prize for developing conversational software and who earned his PhD with his thesis "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners" - explains why he thinks artificial beings will soon become a source of real companionship and the object of human desire.

In conversation, Dr. Levy explains how machines will make superior lovers and why men should be nervous, but his wife should not. | Read full article

Apple Notes: Finding Clues About Movie Rentals

From The New York Times - Where do you look for hints about what Apple is doing next? In bits of text woven into Apple software. Evan DiBiase, an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon, poked around the most recent release of iTunes and found some new phrases added like “rental-content,” “source-rental-info” and “supportsRentals.”

The conclusion? Apple is preparing to offer movie rentals through iTunes, something that might well help boost the utility of the Apple TV box. This move has been rumored for some time and other clues have been found. | Read full article

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Skype 2.0 beta for Linux adds video chat, works with webcam on Asus Eee PC

From Ars Technica - Skype has released a new beta version for Linux that finally adds long-awaited support for video chat, the single most requested feature for Skype on Linux. The Skype 2.0 beta, which is available for download from Skype's web site, includes a number of other minor feature improvements in addition to the new video functionality. You can check out the release notes for an overview.

The Skype 2.0 beta requires Qt 4.2.1, D-Bus 1.0, at least 20MB of free disk space, and a video card driver with Xv support. Packages are available in DEB and RPM formats for several distributions. A tarball with a generic binary is also available. | Read full article

Bebo's Anti-Hulu Pitch: We Play Your Video, You Keep The $

From Silicone Alley Insider - CBS and Viacom have yet to join up with Hulu, the NBC/Fox JV. But they're happy to get their stuff on Bebo, the raucous social network that has 40 million users and a dominant foothold in the UK.

At the rollout of Bebo's "Open Media" platform today at the Bryant Park hotel, Bebo's bizdev director Ziv Navoth was able to concisely explain his company's appeal to new content partners: "Come to Bebo; you keep 100% of the ad revenue yourself," he said. "We're not interested in taking a cut." | Read full article

Wall St. Journal to End Fee for Web

From The New York Times - Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of the News Corporation, said today that he intended to make access to The Wall Street Journal’s Web site free, trading subscription fees for anticipated ad revenue.

“We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having one million, having at least 10 million-15 million in every corner of the earth,” Mr. Murdoch said, referring to The Journal’s online readership.

The News Corporation has signed an agreement to acquire Dow Jones & Company, and the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. A special shareholders meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13 in New York. | Read full article

Monday, November 5, 2007

File-sharing is good for Big Music

From The Globe And Mail - Earlier today, Industry Canada, a ministry of the federal government, released a surprising study of peer-to-peer file-sharing on the music industry.

The study is called The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music: A Study for Industry Canada, and was written by Birgitte Andersen and Marion Frenz, of the Department of Management at the University of London in England.

Its conclusion: P2P file-sharing does not put downward pressure on purchasing music, as the music industry has insisted for years. In fact, it does just the opposite: It tends to increase music purchasing.

What? | Read full article

MySpace hones targeting of online advertising

From The Globe And Mail - News Corp. has taken the next big step in the move toward commercializing social networks Monday by expanding MySpace's advertising platform, allowing advertisers to deliver precision-targeted banner ads based on user-created data.

Advertisers can now pinpoint exactly who they want to reach, based on data collected from users' personal profiles, the groups they join and the messages they post for their friends. For a studio looking to promote its latest vampire film, the technology represents the difference between advertising to movie fans en masse and reaching the 205 members of the Doomed Moviethon Horror Review group and others like it more directly. | Read full article

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Google to unveil 'Android' phone software

From CNET - Google is ready to unveil a suite of software for mobile phones based on open-source technology, backed by some of the largest wireless industry companies in the world.

The company is expected to hold a press conference on Monday to unveil the project, which is expected to incorporate software from the Linux world into a mobile platform code-named Android that's designed to run on phones, according to sources familiar with Google's plans. A software development kit for what's being called "a complete mobile-phone software stack" is believed to be in the works and will be released relatively soon thereafter, the sources said. It's not exactly clear what kind of software will come as part of that stack, but it's said to include everything you need to run a phone. | Read full article

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Computer That Works With Google, Not Microsoft

I believe that we need only a fraction of the computing power we are purchasing. What we need is better, more stable and secure software. And we don't need expensive operating systems. So when I stumbled across this short article on, I knew I had to post it in case someone else finds this as interesting as I do. Only $200, and a WalMart, no less.

From The New York Times - Advocates of Linux, the free open-source operating system, like to say that buying a standard-issue computer involves a Microsoft Tax, because you have no choice but to pay for Windows. New versions of Linux and inexpensive hardware like the new Everex gPC TC2502 make that tax avoidable.

This computer has a 1.5-gigahertz Via processor, 512 megabytes of memory and an 80-gigabyte hard drive. What makes it stand out, however, is GOS, a version of Linux specially made to run Google applications like GMail and Google Documents. It also runs OpenOffice, an open-source office suite that can handle Microsoft Word documents, and some multimedia applications. | Read full article

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Facing Competition, iTunes Revs Up Its Film Section

From The New York Times - When Edward Burns’s latest romantic comedy, “Purple Violets,” had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, it drew positive reviews, but only lukewarm offers from movie distributors.

Mr. Burns, the director of indie favorites like “The Brothers McMullen” and “She’s the One,” but whose latest movies have not done as well, knew from experience how that story would end, he said: “Not enough money to market the film, not a wide-enough release to even make a dent in the moviegoing public’s consciousness.” | Read full article

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Networks Start to Offer TV on the Web

From The New York Times - Music and TV were lazily paddling their canoes down Prosperity Creek when Music suddenly heard a deafening roar ahead. “Help! What’s happening?” cried Music — but it was too late. The canoe tumbled over the Internet Falls, knocking Music upside-down into the churning vortex.

TV, following at a short distance, was determined to avoid Music’s fate. “I shall go with the current and not fight it,” vowed TV. And with only seconds to spare, TV threw every shred of brainpower and muscle into avoiding its doom.

End of Chapter 1.

Now, nobody knows how that story will turn out. But everybody knows that fewer people are watching network TV with every passing year. This year, the networks have mounted their first counterattack. In addition to short mini-videos for the short-attention-span generation, they’re putting full-length free on-demand episodes online. ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW are all in the game, with surprisingly pleasant results. | Read full article

Monday, October 22, 2007

How Many Site Hits? Depends Who’s Counting

From The New York Times - How many people visited, the online home of Vogue and W magazines, last month? Was it 421,000, or, more optimistically, 497,000? Or was the real number more than three times higher, perhaps 1.8 million?
Skip to next paragraph

The answer — which may be any, or none, of the above — is a critical one for Condé Nast, which owns the site, and for companies like Ralph Lauren, which pay to advertise there. Condé Nast’s internal count (1.8 million) was much higher than the tally by ComScore (421,000) or Nielsen/NetRatings (497,000), whose numbers are used to help set advertising rates, and the discrepancies have created a good deal of friction. | Read full article

As Apple Gains PC Market Share, Jobs Talks of a Decade of Upgrades

From The New York Times - It may have dropped the word “computer” from its name, but Apple is certainly selling plenty of Macs.

Driven in part by what analysts call a halo effect from the iPod and the iPhone, the market share of the company’s personal computers is surging.

Two research firms that track the computer market said last week that Apple would move into third place in the United States behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell on Monday, when it reports product shipments in the fiscal fourth quarter as part of its earnings announcement. | Read full article

Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web

From The New York Times - Several major research libraries have rebuffed offers from Google and Microsoft to scan their books into computer databases, saying they are put off by restrictions these companies want to place on the new digital collections.

The research libraries, including a large consortium in the Boston area, are instead signing on with the Open Content Alliance, a nonprofit effort aimed at making their materials broadly available.

Libraries that agree to work with Google must agree to a set of terms, which include making the material unavailable to other commercial search services. Microsoft places a similar restriction on the books it converts to electronic form. The Open Content Alliance, by contrast, is making the material available to any search service. | Read full article

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I Want My Web TV

From The New York Times - LAST month, CBS started EyeLab, a production studio that creates short clips of the television network’s shows for online viewers. Even though CBS was offering many episodes in their entireties on its site and on services like iTunes, the blog called EyeLab “a small step backward.” Quincy Smith, the president of CBS Interactive, told The Wall Street Journal that, according to network research, less than a third of CBS’s Web audience expressed an interest in watching full-length episodes online.

That may be changing — and more quickly than many people had thought. This week, two research organizations, TNS and the Conference Board, issued a report indicating that the number of people who watch TV shows online has doubled in the last year. Close to 16 percent of American households now watch some programs online (

This month, soon after the introduction of EyeLab, Chris Albrecht of the blog NewTeeVee asked whether putting full-length shows online was a “waste of time.” His readers answered with a resounding no, three-quarters of them indicating an interest in full-length shows ( This week, Mr. Albrecht wrote that the Conference Board/TNS data “bodes well for networks putting their shows online and the advertisers who pay to reach audiences.” | Read full article

Friday, October 19, 2007

What I Meant to Say Was Semantic Web

From The New York Times - One great way to start a fight in a crowded Silicon Valley cocktail party (and there are a lot of them these days) is to mention Web 3.0.

There is no easy consensus about how to define what is meant by Web 3.0, but it is generally seen as a reference to the semantic Web. While it is not that much more precise a phrase, the semantic Web refers to technology to make using the Internet better by understanding the meaning of what people are doing, not just the way pages link to each other.

Amid the new Silicon Valley gold rush under way, a lot of entrepreneurs seem to believe that to define something is to own it. And Web 3.0 seems like a great thing to own.

So companies are bubbling up all over the place that claim to be building part of the semantic Web. Some are building voice recognition systems to use while browsing the Internet on a cell phone. Some want to challenge Google head on with a better search engine. | Read full article

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reason to exclaim?

From The Globe And Mail - For the first time in months — if not years — investors in Yahoo! Inc. have at least a few reasons to believe that the exclamation mark in the company's name isn't out of place.

In its latest quarterly report, released late on Tuesday, the search engine and online-entertainment company turned in a financial performance that was better than many investors and analysts had expected.

Unfortunately for Yahoo, that's not saying very much. | Read full article

Publishing is no longer just about the portal

Here's an interesting NY Times quote from the head of AOL that articulates the company's direction:

"Instead, they envision a network of loosely confederated Web sites, services, blogs and widgets that operate under a variety of names.

'Publishing is no longer just about the portal,” Mr. Falco explained in a conversation earlier this month. “We are going to be in as many different places as possible.'"

Read the article for the full story

The Fear Bubble

From The New York Times - Brad Stone and Matt Richtel write today on the front page of The Times about the surging values of Internet companies, a trend that evokes the madness of the late 1990s. The values might be mad, but this is a very different world now.

This is a bubble inflated by fear. The last one exploded from greed.

In 1995, people woke up, saw the Netscape browser, said, “This is going to change everything,” and started the world’s biggest land grab. They raised billions of dollars for grand schemes to reinvent entire industries — Webvan, VerticalNet, Homestore, and so on. Meanwhile, hoping to cash in on the revolution, investors bid up the prices of the flimsiest shells of companies to astronomical levels. | Read full article

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Watching TV on the laptop--and on the cheap

From The New York Times - I know this may sound crazy, but I don't have a television.

This isn't a problem, except when I get glimpses of what I might be missing, like when the New York Mets choked and it was all anybody could talk about in the office that day.

I also happened to catch some episodes of Animal Planet's Meerkat Manor on a public hospital TV recently. I was captivated by the story of matriarch meerkat "Flower" and her tragic death from a cobra bite while saving her pups in the Kalahari desert. I just had to watch the next episode to see which of her daughters would win the power struggle to succeed her. But how could I do that without cable or even a TV? | Read full article

People Do Watch Commercials

From The New York Times - Nielsen’s hotly anticipated commercial ratings landed with a thud on Tuesday, and network executives and media buyers quickly analyzed the premiere week numbers that most of this season’s advertisements were bought and sold based on.

And the spreadsheets contained… hold your breath… no big surprises, according to Alan Wurtzel, the president for research at NBC Universal.

“It was literally a confirmation of what we expected to see,” Mr. Wurtzel said. | Read full article

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Apple Backs Down on Premium Prices for Unprotected Music

From The New York Times - Apple these days may well have market clout, but it is not bigger than the market.

Today, Apple dropped the price of music downloads that are not protected by copy restrictions from $1.29 to 99 cents.

In April, Apple introduced iTunes Plus, offering songs from EMI with better sound quality and no copy protection. It attempted to create a premium price tier for songs, although full albums were priced the same as its regular downloads, which limit the number of devices on which they can be played. | Read full article

Google Takes Step on Video Copyrights

From The New York Times - Google is seeking to put an end to the copyright wars over online video.

On Monday, the company unveiled a long-anticipated system that, if effective, would allow media companies to prevent their clips from being uploaded to YouTube without permission.

Whether the system will work well enough to satisfy media companies who have been irked by the proliferation of unauthorized copyrighted clips on YouTube is not yet clear. But if successful, the system, which Google is offering to all media companies, could usher in a détente between them and Google. | Read full article

Bill Gates Presents the One (Really Big) Ringy Dingy

From The New York Times - For Cisco, Nortel, Avaya and the other companies that make telecommunications equipment, this Tuesday is a sort of D-Day.

That day, Bill Gates plans to introduce Microsoft’s invasion into their business, with a new line of software for what the company calls “unified communications.” That means it is meant to integrate all the ways that people talk to each other: voice, video, instant messaging and more elaborate forms of online collaboration.

If it is successful, this software will accelerate the shift of communications from specialized devices and networks onto Internet-based networks, desktop PCs and microprocessor-based servers. And that, in turn, could challenge the economics of the remarkably profitable telecommunications industry. | Read full article

Monday, October 15, 2007

P.&G., the Pioneer of Mixing Soap and Drama, Adds a Web Installment

From The New York Times - Can young Ashley find success and happiness in the big city? Will the dashing Eric win her heart? Can she make consumers buy more Tide detergent?

Stay tuned. Or logged on.

The company that brought soap operas to radio, then television, Procter & Gamble, is trying the same strategy online with “Crescent Heights,” a new show intended to reach young viewers where they watch the most — their PCs and cellphones. | Read full article

Friday, October 12, 2007

Growth in Broadband Slows Dramatically

From Live Science - The number of Americans with broadband Internet access rose 40 percent between 2005 and 2006, but only 12 percent between 2006 and 2007—although certain segments of the population did much better than that.

The figures, gathered by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in Washington, DC, showed that 47 percent of American adults had high-speed Internet access at the start of 2007, up from 42 percent in 2006, and 30 percent in 2005. | Read full article

TV on the Web Embraced by Viewers and Advertisers

From Live Science - If you don’t watch TV shows on your computer, it's probably only a matter time before you do. And the networks would love for you to do so, since your eyeballs are worth as much as 40 percent more when they’re parked in front of a computer than in front of a TV.

Today, 18 percent of the nation's online population watches TV shows on their computers.

That's double the rate of last year, and the figure is expected to double next year, said James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. McQuivey notes that the online population is about two thirds of the total U.S. population. | Read full article

Google, Mozilla and the Open-Source Phone

From The New York Times - There is a lot we don’t know about Google’s cellphone effort, but this much seems clear from the many reports: Google isn’t making a phone, it is developing an open-source cellphone operating system. Google will, no doubt build some proprietary applications that run on it, find manufacturers and cut deals with carriers to deliver a shiny package to consumers.

Another interesting fact: Mike Schroepfer, the vice president for engineering of the Mozilla Foundation, announced that the group is working on a mobile version of its open-source Firefox browser. | Read full article

Electronic Arts to Add 2 Video Game Studios to Its Stable

From The New York Times - Seeking to fill gaps in its product lineup, the video game publisher Electronic Arts said Thursday that it would acquire two software studios from Elevation Partners in a deal worth $860 million, the largest in its history.

The studios, BioWare Corporation and Pandemic Studios, are known for their action, adventure and role-playing games. Elevation owns their parent, VG Holding.

Electronic Arts, the world’s No. 1 video game publisher, is known for blockbusters like the Sims and Madden NFL, but it has at times had less than 10 percent of the lucrative market for role-playing, action and adventure games. | Read full article

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Google Hints at Social Network Plan

From The New York Times - Just days ago, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive was warning that social networking may be a fad.

Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, is far less dismissive.

“People don’t appreciate how many page views on the Internet are in social networks,” Mr. Schmidt told a group of reporters at the end of its Zeitgeist conference, a two-day gathering of an eclectic mix of Google partners, competitors, social activists and politicians.

Social networks, he said, account for an “enormous proportion” of Internet usage, he added. “It is very real. It’s a very real phenomenon.” | Read full article

ABC Reshapes the Evening News for the Web

From The New York Times - Huddled with a producer in an editing suite on a recent Friday afternoon, the ABC News correspondent Bill Blakemore enthusiastically helped put the finishing touches on a video account of his recent trip to Greenland to see the effects of global warming.

The segment did not look like a normal network news report: It showed Mr. Blakemore riding a sled across Greenland’s ice sheet and casually addressing the camera while wearing a black North Face parka and sunglasses. | Read full article

Pandora Will Rock Radio As We Know It

From Portfolio - Tim Westergren, chief strategy officer and founder of Pandora, stopped by Portfolio yesterday and talked to our staff about the future of his online radio company. He's working to eventually take Pandora public and describes its growth as linear, with half a million new users each month, capturing a total of .2% of radio listeners in the U.S. Pandora sets itself apart from other internet radio sites by allowing users to personalize their own radio stations through a 'music genome' that analyzes songs for rhythm, lyrics, genre, etc. and then feeds similar songs into the user's play list.

Though this is a great way to discover new artists and appreciate ones you never thought you would, as one Portfolio staffer pointed out, play lists can tend to sound homogeneous sometimes. But Westergren assures that there are ways of mixing up one's radio selection. "The secret sauce is that people interact a lot with Pandora."

Users can give a recommended tune a thumb up or a thumb down, and they can also learn how their play list was selected for them. To expand on the user interaction the company right now is considering ways to incorporate into the site elements of online social-networking. | Read full article

Here Are the Answers to Your Craigslist Questions

From The New York Times - Last week, you submitted lots and lots of questions for Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster, the founder and CEO, respectively, of Craigslist. They couldn’t answer every question but I think you’ll agree they’ve given us a lot of good answers, time, and ideas. I was particularly intrigued by Jim’s statement that investigative journalism has actually been damaged by newspapers’ past financial prosperity. While I don’t quite buy his argument, I see the logic behind it. Another topic for another day. Thanks to Craig, Jim, and all of you for participating. | Read full article

Blu-ray vs. HD DVD: War without end

From The New York Times - What if somebody started a format war and nobody came?

That was the question posed at the opening session of the DisplaySearch's 5th Annual HDTV Conference here. The much-hyped battle between opposing next-generation packaged media formats HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc still has no clear winner. Each of the panelists onhand to hash out the question of which side will prevail predictably had an agenda--to explain why his camp will win. | Read full article

Internet Company to Let Consumers Profit From Posted Videos

From The New York Times - Blinkx, an Internet video search company based in London, will allow consumers to make money from the videos they show on their own blogs, social network sites or home pages if they agree to embed advertising in the videos.

By combining two Internet trends — social networking and online video — with a moneymaking opportunity, Blinkx hopes to better compete with YouTube, the market-leading video-sharing service owned by Google, said the founder and chief executive of Blinkx, Suranga Chandratillake. | Read full article

IAB Issues Final Word On Rich Media Impressions

From Online Media Daily - THE INTERACTIVE ADVERTISING BUREAU ON Wednesday released final guidelines on the measurement of rich online media to better gauge the level at which ad impressions are counted in rich online application environments supported by AJAX and JSON technologies.

"It's critical that there's consistency in how impressions are counted on pages using AJAX," said Sheryl Draizen, senior vice president and general manager of the IAB. | Read full article

GPhone Buzz Hits Frenzy After Google's Jaiku Deal

From Online Media Daily - GOOGLE'S LATEST ACQUISITION PUTS IT deeper into SMS territory. The search giant announced that it acquired Helsinki-based Jaiku, a company that lets users keep track of their friends' activities via short SMS and Web messages.

Like Twitter, the service is accessible via mobile phone and posts the instant messages to a central Web site. Users can also choose to send messages to other Web sites, blogs and mobile phones, or connect with established instant messaging services like AOL's AIM and Yahoo Instant Messenger, among others. | Read full article

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Next Leap for Linux

From The New York Times - LINUX runs the Google servers that manage billions of searches each day. It also runs the TiVo digital video recorder, the Motorola Razr cellphone and countless other electronic devices.

But why would anyone want to use Linux, an open-source operating system, to run a PC? “For a lot of people,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, “Linux is a political idea — an idea of freedom. They don’t want to be tied to Microsoft or Apple. They want choice. To them it’s a greater cause.”

That’s not the most compelling reason for consumers. There is the price: Linux is free, or nearly so. | Read full article

In Facebook, Investing in a Theory

From The New York Times - The Facebook frenzy is spreading.

Thousands of software developers are creating features for Facebook, the rapidly growing social network, many hoping to strike it rich alongside Facebook’s own employees.

Facebook, based in Palo Alto, Calif., opened its service to outside developers this spring, inviting them to create tools for the site and to try to profit from them. Since then, more than 4,000 “applications” have flooded onto the site, spicing it up with games or whimsical programs called widgets that let you turn your friends into virtual zombies and more practical tools that let users display images of their favorite books, music, movies and wine on their profile pages.

The wave of attention from users and developers has sent estimates of Facebook’s value soaring into the dot-com stratosphere. Last month, there were reports that Microsoft was considering a $500 million investment that would value the three-year-old company at up to $15 billion. | Read full article

Will Facebook’s Developers Defect to Other Platforms?

From The New York Times - Today I wrote about the rush of developers to write for the Facebook platform, and their inflated hopes of riches.

Facebook is sure to have competition in the business of allowing third parties to participate, and make money, on its service. Google is reportedly planning to open social network Orkut and perhaps Gmail to developers. So are social networks like Bebo, hi5 and Tagged, each popular with different Internet communities. | Read full article

Whyville Delivers Top Metrics For Virgin, Penguin Books, UT

From Online Media Daily - MARKETER BUZZ AROUND SUCH ADULT-FACING virtual worlds as Second Life has cooled, but brands like Virgin Records, Penguin Books and even the University of Texas Health Science Center have found success reaching tweens in Numedeon's Whyville.

The Pasadena-based virtual world--with a reported 2.4 million active users ages 8-15 (about 70% of whom are registered members)--allows kids to chat, play games and earn virtual currency called "clams"--and spend those clams on furniture for their virtual houses and accessories for their avatars, among other things. | Read full article

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Laptop With a Mission Widens Its Audience

From The New York Times - In November, you’ll be able to buy a new laptop that’s spillproof, rainproof, dustproof and drop-proof. It’s fanless, it’s silent and it weighs 3.2 pounds. One battery charge will power six hours of heavy activity, or 24 hours of reading. The laptop has a built-in video camera, microphone, memory-card slot, graphics tablet, game-pad controllers and a screen that rotates into a tablet configuration.

And this laptop will cost $200.

The computer, if you hadn’t already guessed, is the fabled “$100 laptop” that’s been igniting hype and controversy for three years. It’s an effort by One Laptop Per Child ( to develop a very low-cost, high-potential, extremely rugged computer for the two billion educationally underserved children in poor countries. | Read full article

Monday, September 24, 2007

A pay wall falls, and the Web is watching

From The Globe And Mail - They are among the world's most influential newspapers when it comes to setting the news agenda. But a push by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to abandon their subscription websites may now influence a broad - and irreversible shift - across the newspaper industry itself.

The Times officially walked away from its subscription model last week, deciding it could make more money by making all of its content available free of charge online - including its vast digital archive that users have paid to access in the past. | Read full article

Friday, September 21, 2007

Google as Portal, With a Twist

From The New York Times - We should be past the debate of a few years ago about whether Google wants to be a “portal”—in the sense that Yahoo and AOL offer sections after sections about various topics. After all, for many sites Google is an even bigger front door than their own home pages.

Still, when Google’s blog announced the company had created a page about the Australian elections, it seemed like an odd move for a site that mostly waits for its users to say what they are interested in. But Google’s Australian election page offers an interesting new take on what a portal can be.

It’s not a collection of content, but rather a collection of tools that display content. One item is a customization of Google maps that lets viewers explore candidates, district boundaries and so on. Another is a series of official collections of commercials and other videos posted by the major campaigns. | Read full article

Why Portals Are So Over at AOL

From The New York Times - ... In a world of search, social networks and other forms of browsing, portals don’t serve the same function they once did. (See this quick take on Google’s approach to portals.) If you look at the breakdown of the traffic on Yahoo or AOL, you’ll see that by far the largest number of page views is on their e-mail services. The various content sections, news, movies and so on, are still huge but they are losing share of mind to smaller sites.

For advertisers, that want to bring their messages to the broadest possible audience, the home pages of portals have been the best option. In a fragmented world, however, Mr. Falco & Co. realize that to offer advertisers reach, they need to add a network of smaller sites to AOL’s own properties. And so they are putting the company’s existing advertising business—built on its unit and other acquisitions—in the spotlight. (I still wonder whether they are undercutting AOL’s successful efforts to build new specialized sites like Engadget or TMZ.) | Read full article

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Film Still Popular Among the Pros

From The New York Times - Photojournalist Chris Usher usually relies on digital technology. When he wants something special, though, he reaches for a film camera.

''I shoot just as much digital as the next guy out of necessity,'' Usher said. ''I use film probably a third of the time, on personal projects 100 percent of the time. There's a richness and a depth of field that becomes more prevalent when you're shooting film as opposed to digital. It has a tangible feel to it.''

Even as the digital revolution is transforming photography, more than two-thirds of professional photographers in a survey released Wednesday said they still prefer using film for certain tasks, praising its ability to add an almost organic quality to pictures. | Read full article

Google Program Enlists Mini-Sites as Selling Tool for Advertisers

From The New York Times - Google is seizing on the popularity of widgets — small online tools that function like mini-Web sites — for its latest push into advertising.

The online giant will announce today a Gadget Ads program that will provide tools for advertisers to run widget ads in Google’s AdSense network.

Marketers can use space within these display ads on Google’s network to show videos, offer chats with celebrities, play host to games or other activities. If consumers like the widget ad, they can save it onto their desktops or on their profile pages online on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

The new widget ads represent a more aggressive push by Google to attract big brand advertisers who like flashy ad units rather than the simple text ads commonly run in Google’s ad network. | Read full article

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site

From The New York Times - The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight Tuesday night.

The move comes two years to the day after The Times began the subscription program, TimesSelect, which has charged $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month, for online access to the work of its columnists and to the newspaper’s archives. TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to The Times and to some students and educators.

In addition to opening the entire site to all readers, The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some will be free. | Read full article

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Want to 'converse' with advertisers? Me neither

From The New York Times - I admit it; I'm cynical when it comes to advertising and marketing. I believe that the sole purpose of advertising is to convince me to part with my well-earned and limited supply of money and persuade me that I want things that I don't really need.

So, it was with some skepticism that I covered the Conversational Marketing Summit hosted by Federated Media at San Francisco's Presidio on Wednesday. The notion is that instead of bombarding consumers with generic messages whose success rate are hard to measure, companies can use the Internet to deliver targeted messages that consumers will want to hear, can learn from customers through interactive features and can entertain them with funny videos. Federated Media connects the many blogs--including BoingBoing, Digg and Techdirt--in its network to advertisers who are seeking that audience. | Read full article

Set-top box makers still waiting for customers

From The New York Times - Sounds like a raw deal, and it's a situation similar to when you buy a set-top box that downloads movies via the Web: You invest a significant amount of money when you buy the box, then whenever you want to watch a movie, you have to pay again. It's one of the reasons that, so far, the few companies to introduce standalone products in this space, such as Akimbo and MovieBeam, have called it quits, or at the very least no longer exist in their original incarnations.

Now the makers of a more evolved version of the Internet-based video download box hope they can change things. | Read full article

Show Series to Originate on MySpace

From The New York Times - Hollywood has been dipping its toe in original online content. Two seasoned producers are about to take a full plunge.

Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick — who have made films like “Blood Diamond” and “The Last Samurai” and whose ABC series “Thirtysomething” helped to define television drama in the 1980s — have made a deal with MySpace, the online social network owned by the News Corporation, to produce an original Web series called “Quarterlife.” | Read full article

What Is Yahoo Mash?

From The New York Times - Yesterday I received an automated e-mail from a Yahoo PR representative saying that he had set up a profile for me on Yahoo’s new service, Yahoo Mash. “It’s good to be loved,” the e-mail said.

But it’s no fun to be teased. I followed the link to, which bounced me to a username/password page, titled Yahoo Guesthouse, where my Yahoo login information did not work. I pointed this out to the Yahoo PR rep, and he replied cryptically over e-mail:

“Yeah, I jumped the gun on inviting you. Not yet open to the public… Soon…” | Read full article

Web Video’s Audience Likes 2.7 Minutes at a Time

From The New York Times - The Miss Teen USA candidate from South Carolina has problems with the Q&A portion of the program. And that zombie kid likes turtles.

Now this programming break: Get back to work!

ComScore, which measures consumer Internet habits, reported today that 75 percent of Internet users in the United States watch an average of three hours of online video a month. The average online video duration was 2.7 minutes (which, if you do the math, is a couple of videos a day, many of which no doubt scrape the bottom of the blender of content). | Read full article

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Graying of the Web

From The New York Times - Older people are sticky.

That is the latest view from Silicon Valley. Technology investors and entrepreneurs, long obsessed with connecting to teenagers and 20-somethings, are starting a host of new social networking sites aimed at baby boomers and graying computer users.

The sites have names like Eons, Rezoom, Multiply, Maya’s Mom, Boomj, and Boomertown. They look like Facebook — with wrinkles.

And they are seeking to capitalize on what investors say may be a profitable characteristic of older Internet users: they are less likely than youngsters to flit from one trendy site to the next. | Read full article

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Activating Through Video: Not By Overlay Alone

From Video Insider - WHEN YOUTUBE RECENTLY ANNOUNCED ITS overlay ad model, forgoing the pre-roll and choosing instead to embrace an opt-in video overlay, it occurred to me that they'd forgotten that advertising in broadband video doesn't have to be a necessary evil if it's done right.

Hearing their argument that research showed a dramatic roll-off in viewing when consumers were presented with :30 and :15 pre-rolls led me to wonder whether or not ANY of the pre-rolls were any good to begin with -- or just versions of TV :30's and :15's that weren't created for the online medium. Did they forget that their medium is not the message, but in this case, the message is the message? | Read full article

eCrush & OTX: Teens Learn About New TV Shows From TV, Not the Internet

From Online Media Daily - WHATEVER TEENS ARE DISCUSSING ON their social networks, it isn't the new fall TV season.

That's the conclusion of research conducted by Hearst Magazines Digital Media's own teen social networking site eCRUSH, in conjunction with OTX, the Online Testing exchange.

The "Teen Topix" study, which surveyed 750 13- to-17-year-olds across the country about their TV viewing behavior and preferences, found that most teens (51%) still learn about new TV shows the old-fashioned way: from on-air ads and promos. | Read full article

Online Video Viewers Looking For News Clips

From Research Brief - A new study by, Inc., reports that that the majority of consumers are viewing video online, at 62 percent of survey respondents. These viewers are not just young adults viewing user-generated videos, says the report, but, in fact, 69 percent are ages 35 and older with a preference for viewing news clips online.

Lynda Clarizio, president of, says "The Internet is still seen first and foremost as an information resource. With news clips remaining the most popular type of streamed content... (but) we may see a shift in usage toward recreation; these latest figures... hint at that trend." | Read full article

Monday, September 10, 2007

Warner Shifts Web Course, Shouldering Video Costs

From The New York Times - In the race to become a major supplier of original video programming to the Web, Warner Brothers has decided to reverse its direction.

The studio, part of Time Warner, plans today to introduce 24 Web productions in a range of formats including minimovies, games and episodic television shows. | Read full article

Saturday, September 8, 2007

High-Speed Video Store in the Living Room

Fascinating business model. It's almost the kind of VOD box I would go for. Almost.

From The New York Times - If you had to make a master list of all the world’s problems, “limited access to movies” probably wouldn’t appear until Page 273,996.

Truth is, life is teeming with opportunities to see movies: movie theaters, video stores, DVD-by-mail services, TV movie channels, pay-per-view, video-on-demand, Xbox 360, iTunes, Internet downloads, hotel rooms, airplanes and so on.

But according to the team at Vudu, all of those outlets are flawed.

Video stores: you have to drive back and forth, and the movie you want might be out of stock. Netflix and Blockbuster by mail: you have to wait a day or two for each movie to arrive. Pay-per-view, video-on-demand, Xbox, iTunes and hotel rooms: puny movie selections. Internet downloads: they arrive on your computer, not your TV.

Vudu’s new $400 movie box, to be available at month’s end, has none of those problems. It’s a little black box (about 7 by 9 by 2 inches) that connects to your TV and to the Internet through a high-speed link — and it comes darned close to putting a video store in your house. Its built-in hard drive permits your choice of 5,000 movies to begin playing instantaneously. There’s no computer involved, no waiting and no monthly fee. | Read full article

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Online Ads Trump Radio in 2008

From Media Research - Ben Macklin, eMarketer senior analyst and author of a new report, Radio Trends, concludes that "Traditional radio is rapidly being subsumed into a new, broader sector called 'audio'" that will include Internet radio, satellite radio, podcasting, high-definition radio and mobile audio services.

The study, reported for EMarketer, shows Online ad spending transactions through 2007 and 2008 will exceed that being spent on traditional radio. | Read full article

Viral Campaigns Falling Short, Says JupiterResearch

From Online Media Daily - VIRAL MARKETING CAMPAIGNS ARE MOSTLY ineffective, reports JupiterResearch, which found that only 15% of viral campaigns in the past year achieved the goal of prompting consumers to promote the marketer's message.

In a new report, "Viral Marketing: Bringing the Message to the Masses," the researcher also found that the most popular technique used to stimulate viral behavior was targeting of influentials. But, JupiterResearch added, viral marketers plan to decrease use of this tactic by 55% within the next year. | Read full article

Analog TV in Countdown to Oblivion

From Live Science - The old TV with the "rabbit ear" antennae that brought us Howdy Doody and the original Star Trek episodes has a date with the Grim Reaper. After Feb. 19, 2009, it will only display static.

That’s because old TVs relied on analog technology, and the U.S. Government has mandated that analog TV broadcasting will cease after that date. | Read full article

Music Business Pioneer Says IPod Will Soon Be Obsolete

From The Wired Blog - The man who bet his professional life on the future success of rap music has finally come forward to offer his vision of the future of music business in an iPod age. Legendary producer and record label executive Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Slayer, Johnny Cash, Run DMC, Jay-Z) told The New York Times that the future is not iTunes serving á la carte songs to your iPod, but music labels offering every song on the planet, anywhere, via subscription.

Rubin said, "You'd pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come anywhere you'd like. In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cellphone, from your computer, from your television. Anywhere. The iPod will be obsolete, but there would be a Walkman-like device you could plug into speakers at home." | Read full article

Mary Meeker's YouTube Math

From Silicon Valley Insider - Morgan Stanley's Internet analyst Mary Meeker was a good deal more optimistic than we were about the revenue impact of YouTube's new overlay ads. Specifically, Mary concluded that the overlays could immediately add $4.8 billion of gross revenue and $720 million of net revenue to Google's annual results. This compared to the tiny $12 million to $360 million of gross revenue that we projected.

Well, we were baffled at how Mary could be so amazingly bullish, so, on a tip from a reader, we checked her numbers. And it seems Mary may soon be revising her estimates. Why? Because, in advertising lingo, "CPM" means "Cost Per Thousand" not "Cost Per One." When Mary updates her model to divide by 1,000, her numbers will look a bit different.

What happens to Mary's estimates when you do the math right? Well, that $4.8 billion of gross revenue becomes $4.8 million, and the $720 million of net revenue becomes $720 thousand. So if, as Mary suggests, Google can float ads on top of 20 million streams a month, secure a $20 CPM, and keep 15% of the gross revenue, the overall impact will actually be, as we suggested yesterday, immaterial. | Read full article

NBC in Deal With Amazon to Sell Shows on the Web

From The New York Times - NBC Universal significantly deepened its relationship with Amazon’s digital video download service after a dispute with Apple over the pricing of television shows on iTunes.

The media conglomerate, part of General Electric, said yesterday that Amazon had agreed to give it something that Apple would not: greater flexibility in the pricing and packaging of video downloads. As a result, NBC Universal said it had agreed to sell a wide variety of television programming on Amazon’s fledgling Unbox download service, including the drama “Heroes” and the comedies “The Office” and “30 Rock.” Episodes will be available on Unbox the day after they are shown. | Read full articles

Yahoo to Buy Behavioral Ad Network

From The New York Times - Yahoo said Tuesday that it would buy BlueLithium, an advertising network that specializes in targeting ads to users based on what Web sites they have visited, for $300 million.

The deal will build on Yahoo’s growing efforts to become a broker and seller of ads across the Web. The company began those efforts with deals to sell ads on the Web sites of a consortium of newspapers, as well as on eBay and It followed with the acquisition of Right Media, an auction marketplace, where publishers sell advertising space in real time. | Read full article

Sir Howard’s Download Mess

From The New York Times - If there was ever a measure of how little traction Howard Stringer is having as chief executive of Sony, it is the company’s comical inability to have a coherent approach to delivering content online to its wide range of digital devices.

The consumer electronics market today, after all, is one that Sony’s sprawling corporate structure was designed for. Cellphones, game consoles, TVs, portable players and computers (all of which Sony makes) are linking in ever more complex ways with video and music (which Sony also makes). | Read full article

A Global Vision From the New Man at EA Sports

From The New York Times - EA Sports is one of the most powerful, lucrative brands in the video game business. That’s not enough for Peter Moore.

Two months ago Mr. Moore stunned the game world with the announcement that he would step down as head of Microsoft’s games operation to be president of the sports division at Electronic Arts, the No. 1 game publisher. He started his new job yesterday, and today in a presentation to journalists at the company’s headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., he is to share his vision for moving EA Sports beyond video games to a global sports and entertainment enterprise. | Read full article

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Yahoo-Microsoft Chatter Rises Again

From The New York Times - School kids aren’t the only ones returning from vacation. Dog-eared speculation about a potential deal between Yahoo and Microsoft is back as well.

Rumors flew about a possible transaction between the two companies in May, after various reports suggested that Microsoft was considering a joint venture with Yahoo, an acquisition of Yahoo’s search business or an outright merger. The chatter largely died down for the summer (except for a brief flare-up in June when Yahoo’s chief executive Terry Semel resigned). Now, an analyst’s report has given new life to the speculation. | Read full article

Fake Steve on NBC/iTunes - "A boring rant"

From Fake Steve - In the interest of keeping items brief I've cut the previous post and put the boring stuff here. Enjoy. Or don't enjoy, as the case may be. Skip over it. Whatever.

It's not just Disney and ABC that are out of touch. Look at the management team at NBC Universal. Look at the GE board of directors. Do these people scare the living shit out of you? They sure scare the hell out of me. They're all buffed and polished and about a hundred and fourteen years old. They look like cadavers who've been done up by the world's best funeral home makeup artist. A lot of them are just GE lifers who did time in plastics and then airplane engines and then somehow got dropped into the TV group. | Read full article

Why I believe Facebook's days are numbered

From The Globe And Mail - After Facebook, what?

The delicious riddle of Facebook's future is part parlour game, part billion-dollar question. It might just be me, but I'm hearing more grumbling than raving about the site these days. For people who joined earlier in the year, the novelty has worn off. The rush of long-lost acquaintances clamouring for renewed “friendship” has petered out. After all, one can only have gone to grade school with so many people.

There's also the fact that the only thing with tastes more fickle than a teenager is the media. In this corner, anyway, Facebook got so overexposed so quickly that we're getting loath to raise it again, what with readers' groans echoing pre-emptively in our ears. | Read full article

Google Shift on Handling of News

From The New York Times - Google is playing host to articles from four news agencies, including The Associated Press, the company said Friday, setting the stage for it to generate advertising revenue from Google News.

The news agencies — the Press Association of Britain, Canadian Press, Agence France-Presse and The A.P. — now have their articles featured with the organizations’ own brands on Google News. The companies have agreed to license news feeds to Google. | Read full article

Do the Mash (Even if You Don’t Know All the Steps)

From The New York Times - POP music has its mash-ups that combine tunes and vocals from different songs. YouTube viewers do it, too, mixing together segments from various music videos.

Now mash-ups are poised to hit the mainstream, and to spread well beyond music. Yahoo, I.B.M., Microsoft and others are creating systems to let ordinary people who’ve never been near a Java class create useful computer applications by combining, or “mashing up,” different online information sources.

If the technology catches on, many of us may become part-time programmers, instead of waiting for the people in information technology to help. | Read full article

Whiting Out the Ads, but at What Cost?

From The New York Times - MORE white space.

I sent an e-mail message to a friend telling him about Adblock Plus, an easy-to-use free addition to the Firefox Internet browser that deletes advertisements from Web sites. That subject line of his reply summed it up quite nicely.

What happens when the advertisements are wiped clean from a Web site? There is a contented feeling similar to what happens when you watch a recorded half-hour network TV show on DVD in 22 minutes, or when a blizzard hits Times Square and for a few hours, the streets are quiet and unhurried, until the plows come to clear away all that white space. | Read full article

Software via the Internet: Microsoft in ‘Cloud’ Computing

From The New York Times - The empire is preparing to strike back — again.

In 1995, Microsoft added a free Web browser to its operating system in an attempt to fend off new rivals, an effort ultimately blocked by the courts.

This week, it plans to turn that strategy upside down, making available free software that connects its Windows operating system to software services delivered on the Internet, a practice increasingly referred to as “cloud” computing. The initiative is part of an effort to connect Windows more seamlessly to a growing array of Internet services. | Read full article

Joost Acquires OnTheToob

From NewTeeVee - Back in July we wrote about the phenomenon of independent developers contributing much-needed features to Joost, such as a frequently updated programming guide and a browser-based interface built in Flash.

Well, one such project, Hal Schechner’s OnTheTube — the programming guide that helps Joost beta testers create customized channels and RSS feeds out of Joost’s some 238 channels and 10,298 programs — has been acquired by Joost, according to the blog JoostTeam (which is not affiliated with Joost, the company). | Read full article

Sony Bets Big on Video Downloads

From NewTeeVee - It’s an understatement to say the commercial viability of paid video downloads is a crapshoot, but that doesn’t stop new entrants from placing expensive bets, hoping that they will hit the jackpot. Apple (AAPL), Vuze, BitTorrent, Blockbuster, Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) — these are some of the existing players that Sony (SNE), the newest entrant, will have to contend with in the near future.

Undaunted, Sony, under the aegis of its CEO & Chairman Howard Stringer, has developed a new strategy to revive its rapidly declining fortunes. The Wall Street Journal reports (citing unnamed sources) that the new video download strategy revolves around PlayStation, PlayStation Portable and other Sony brands, such as Bravia televisions. The news of such service had first surfaced in December 2006. | Read full article

Mobile TV among highlights at Berlin consumer electronics show

From - Mobile TV and 3-D TV are among the consumer products being pushed at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

The show, which runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5, bills itself as one of the largest such shows in the world. This year, it included 1,212 exhibiters from 32 countries. | Read full article

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Alive in Baghdad: Can Citizen Journalism Done Right Pay the Bills?

From NewTeeVee - Alive in Baghdad is arguably the best-positioned citizen news video outfit in the world. It boasts not only an on-the-ground team shooting unfiltered interviews in a highly relevant place like Iraq, but constructive goodwill from videobloggers and video startups like and Next New Networks, and even acknowledgment from the mainstream media. It won six prizes, including best vlog, at the inaugural Vloggies awards last year, was recently featured on Good Morning America, and landed on the page-view mine of the YouTube homepage today. | Read full article

Apple Rumors — Day 1

From The New York Times - Apple is announcing a big event at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 5.

This is really short notice. It leaves us only 167 hours to wallow in rumors.

What do we have so far? | Read full article

The Wait Is Over! News Corp./NBC’s NewSite has a Name.

From The New York Times - They didn’t take any of your suggestions.

The online video venture between News Corp. and NBC Universal - the long awaited challenger to YouTube announced back in March - will be called | Read full article

German universities embrace Linux

From CNET/New York Times - A German state has signed a major contract with Novell for the supply of Linux server and desktop products to 33 universities.

North Rhine-Westphalia has selected Novell for the supply of its IT infrastructure. Novell already supports 300,000 students in the states of Bavaria and Thuringia; the new deal will add another 560,000 students and thousands of employees. It's not clear how many of the students actually will use the desktop Linux software.| Read full article

Nokia to Introduce Digital Music Service

From The New York Times - In the same converted 19th-century fish market where Apple announced the European introduction of its iTunes music store three years ago, Nokia said on Wednesday that it would soon introduce its own digital music service, along with an easier-to-use Apple-style mobile interface and an Apple-style touchscreen handset.

The Nokia Music Store, to open this year, will let users download songs from the Internet to their computers or directly to mobile phones over wireless networks, which Apple’s recently released iPhone cannot do. | Read full article

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chicago scraps citywide Wi-Fi network

From - An ambitious plan to blanket the city with wireless broadband internet will be shelved because it is too costly and too few residents would use it, Chicago officials said Tuesday.

"We realized — after much consideration — that we needed to re-evaluate our approach to provide universal and affordable access to high-speed internet as part of the city's broader digital inclusion efforts," Chicago's chief information officer, Hardik Bhatt, said in a statement. | Read full article

Monday, August 27, 2007

Music industry caps fees for Net radio stations

From The Globe And Mail - A music industry group Thursday said it would cap “per channel” fees for major Internet radio companies streaming music on multiple channels.

SoundExchange, which collects royalties from Webcasters and distributes them to artists and record labels, said it would limit fees — at $50,000 (U.S.) a year — for online radio station companies that offer more than 100 channels to customers.

A panel of three copyright judges earlier this year mandated that Webcasters had to pay higher royalty fees and a $500 fee “per station or channel” streamed, regardless of the total number of channels. | Read full article

Fighting click fraud: Is it really down for the count?

From The Globe And Mail - It's hard to determine who's right and who's wrong when it comes to calculating the amount of click fraud on the Internet. Search engine companies like Google and Yahoo, which make billions worldwide from online ad sales, maintain that everything is under control, yet reports from independent researchers tell a different story.

And the stakes in the PR war are soaring.

Online advertising revenue in Canada is expected to grow to $1.34-billion this year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada. But as the market continues to expand and businesses increasingly turn to the Internet to promote products and services, the number of online fraudsters is also growing, according to Click Forensics Inc., an independent click fraud reporting service. | Read full article

Skype blames Windows for outage

From The Globe And Mail - At last, the folks at Skype have provided us with a half-decent explanation of what happened when the peer-to-peer telephone service went dark for almost two full days last week. Unfortunately for Skype, it's not a very favourable one. The company does its best to blame the service outage on Microsoft, saying the disruption was triggered by a massive wave of restarts by users whose computers had downloaded routine updates from Microsoft:

"The disruption was triggered by a massive restart of our users’ computers across the globe within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update," says a post on the company's blog. "The high number of restarts affected Skype’s network resources." | Read full article

The funny papers migrate

From The Globe And Mail - Newspaper comics have been getting thin recently. There are fewer good new ones and the draughtsmanship of many is getting downright awful.

But according to a report from the Times of London this week, comics — especially old ones — are getting a new lease on life with cellphones. According to the story, publishers want to attract readers by sending strips as picture messages. They’re even trying to figure out how to embellish the comics with sound. | Read full article

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Playboy goes back to school with website

Editor's note: The best line is "Executives declined to say how much they've invested in Playboy U, saying only that the effort is "sizable" and that the advertising-supported online community may ultimately bring in revenue." Can anyone show me a content site with ads that is actually turning a profit or can be described as lucrative?

From The Globe And Mail - Playboy is heading back to school to boost the bottom line. Riding a wave of renewed popularity among consumers around the globe, Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire is set to launch a sexy social networking site dedicated solely to college students, its latest online venture as it tries to reinvigorate its stagnant finances.

The launch of Playboy U, which has similar features to those found on Facebook, comes as Playboy's 54-year-old magazine continues to lose money and readers. | Read full article

YouTube to carry ‘overlay' ads

From The Globe And Mail - Video advertising is coming to YouTube, but it won't be the type common at sites elsewhere.

Starting Wednesday, the popular video-sharing site plans to feature semitransparent “overlay” ads at the bottom of selected video clips. The ad disappears after about 10 seconds if the viewer does nothing; the featured clip automatically pauses if the viewer clicks on the overlay to launch the full pitch. | Read full article

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Online Ad Platform Launches For Community Newspapers

From Online Media Daily - WHEN IT COMES TO HYPER-LOCAL media, the undisputed champs are community newspapers. Now, three associations representing more than 500 community papers have signed on to roll out a new online display and classified ad platform,, developed by Kaesu, Inc., a three-year old firm based in Budd Lake, NJ. The Mid-Atlantic Community Newspaper Association, the Free Community Papers of New England and the Independent Free Papers of America still need to get their individual members on board, but Kaesu cofounder Joe Nicastro said that more than 50 papers are already participating. | Read full article

Phone Companies Grabbed Most of New Broadband Subscribers Last Quarter

From Research Brief - According to a new study by Leichtman Research Group, the nineteen largest cable and telephone providers in the US, representing about 94% of the market acquired over 1.7 million net additional high-speed Internet subscribers in the second quarter of 2007. The top broadband providers now account for nearly 58 million subscribers, with cable companies having 31.5 million, and telephone companies over 26.4 million. | Read full article

YouTube Launches InVideo Ad Platform

From Online Media Daily - GOOGLE'S YOUTUBE UNVEILED A NEW ad model, offering advertisers like New Line Cinema and BMW the option to run rich media and video ads within both professional and user-generated content.

The YouTube InVideo Ads are semi-transparent overlays that appear in the bottom 20% of the video player. The rich media animations show up 15 seconds after the chosen content begins, with the overlay lasting up to 10 seconds. The overlays also have interactive functionality, allowing users to click through to an advertiser's linked URL--or to launch a new player within the original window that will run a video ad and bring the user back to the content at any time). | Read full story

Bebo Teams With Microsoft For IM

From Online Media Daily - SEEKING A YOUNG AND VIBRANT audience for its Windows Live Web services, Microsoft plans to launch an instant-messaging service on social network Bebo this fall.

Going one step further, Bebo and Windows Live will be synchronized to allow users of other services to exchange contact information and communicate. | Read full story

GenieKnows Unveils Game-Focused Search Site

From Online Media Daily - HALIFAX-BASED IT INTERACTIVE SERVICES, PARENT company of the brand of vertical search engines, announced the launch of, a game-focused search portal. will provide searchers with game-related information--including reviews, blogs, discussion groups and how-to guides, as well as a search engine with algorithms tweaked to find the most game-relevant information. | Read full story

Braun Apple

From SpiekerBlog - Braun collectors like myself have known for a long time where some of the ideas came from that led to the perforated-aluminium-look of some Apple computers. I took a few photographs of my world receiver T1000 from 1962 (!). Radii and perforations look almost identical to the ones on a MacBook Pro or a MacPro, 45 years later. | Read full article

Free Newspapers Lead Way Online in Europe

From MediaShift - As big newspapers struggle with shifting business models, a new breed of free newspapers have have found their niche in many parts of the world. According to the Newspaper Innovation blog, 36 million free papers are distributed daily in 49 countries. As newspaper subscriptions lag, advertisers turn to these papers that have a captive audience of commuters desperate for a way to while away their time. | Read full article

Google Conquers the Stars After Fully Invading Earth

From Gizmodo - After taking over planet Earth Google is all over the stars like James T. Kirk on blonde alien chicks: they just added a new option to watch the skies in Google Earth. | Read full article

Charmr: Solving human problems with design

From Jeffrey Veen - This week in Washington DC, my former colleagues at Adaptive Path are holding their annual User Experience Week conference. Part of me is a little sad - this is the first one I've ever missed and was quite a labor of love when I was still with them. But another part of me is proud and inspired by what they've been showing these last few days.

In particular, they unveiled the Charmr project: A 9-week research and prototyping effort inspired by an “Open Letter to Steve Jobs” posted by Amy Tenderich on her Diabetes Mine blog. In that letter, Amy points out that far more design effort seems to be going into devices that entertain rather than equipment that keeps people alive. | Read full article

The Great Advertising Share Shift: Google Sucks Life Out Of Old Media

From Internet Outsider - ... U.S. advertising revenue at all 19 companies increased 8% year over year in Q2, to $13.8 billion ($55 billion annualized). The online portion of this pie grew from $3 billion to $4.2 billion (23% share to 30% share). The offline portion, meanwhile, shrank from $9.9 billion to $9.6 billion (77% share to 70% share). The online companies, in other words, picked up 7 percentage points of market share in a single year. | Read full article

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Offline Shopping Never Had It This Good

From New Tee Vee - The fullest incarnation of Web video has arrived, in both the best and worst sense, with cool applications of technology and crass commercialism all wrapped into one package. It’s called SeenON! Shopisodes, and it’s a custom Web video player that helpfully directs us mid-stream to details about what anything in the foreground or background is, and how to buy it. | Read full article

MTV, RealNetworks Challenge Apple Music

From The New York Times - Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks and digital media company RealNetworks announced Tuesday a digital music joint venture that will compete with Apple's dominant trinity of the iTunes store, iPod player and iPhone.

MTV will merge its Urge music service into the Rhapsody offering from RealNetworks Inc. The new offering will be accessible on computers and music players and integrated with Verizon Wireless's VCast multimedia service for cell phones. | Read full article

Paramount to Drop Blu-Ray HD DVDs

From The New York Times - Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. will offer next-generation DVDs in the HD DVD format and drop support for Blu-ray, further complicating the race between the competing technologies.

Monday's announcement affects the upcoming DVD releases of the blockbusters ''Shrek the Third'' and ''Transformers,'' along with movies distributed by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films. | Read full article

A Fourth Way to Deliver TV to the Home

From The New York Times - One of the most covert startups in Silicon Valley, the temporarily named Building B, is lifting its head up today to announce a round of funding. Though executives at the Belmont, Calif., company still aren’t saying much about their plans, they appear to have sizable ambitions: Building B is aiming to bring both television and other media content, restyled for the Internet age, into your living room in competition with your cable, satellite or telco’s IPTV service. | Read full article

Ad Growth for AOL Called Vital to a Remake

From The New York Times - Just over a year ago, AOL unveiled a radical plan to remake itself into a business built on advertising from one driven by Internet access subscriptions.

To a great extent, AOL had little choice in the matter. Customers were rapidly deserting its once-lucrative dial-up access service, and retaining them was costly.

... But a precipitous slowdown in advertising growth has raised new questions about AOL’s transformation plans. | Read full article

The Web Way to Magazine Ad Sales

From The New York Times - THE September issue of Vogue arrives on newsstands today, clocking in at a record 727 advertising pages. That “extra-extra large!” size, as the cover proudly proclaims, is more than 100 pages fatter than last year and seems to provide evidence of a healthy appetite for print advertising in the fashion industry.

Most of those pages were sold with the added value of an Internet feature that Vogue is introducing today: a broadband channel that aims to serve as both an entertainment destination and a shopping Web site. | Read full article

Coming Soon: Web Video in High Definition

From The New York Times - Video on the Web is going high-def.

Today Adobe, the San Jose software maker, will announce that it is integrating a standard format for high definition video into the newest version of its immensely popular Flash video player. Flash players currently sit on 98 percent of all desktop computers and hundreds of millions of portable and handheld devices. Sites like YouTube, and favor Flash over competing players like Apple’s QuickTime and Microsoft’s Windows Media, since Flash is relatively easy to develop for and videos play directly in the browser. | Read full article

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