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Jan 10, 2009

Palm did what Nokia, RIM, and Microsoft couldn’t: build a better experience than Apple

from Scobleizer -- Tech geek blogger by 

When I sat down at the beginning of the Palm Pre announcement press conference I was expecting to watch the death of a company. Palm? Give me a break. It would NEVER do anything interesting and Nokia, Microsoft, RIM, and expecially Apple were about to kick it into the deathbin of history.

I was wrong. WAY WAY WAY wrong.

Palm just did what Nokia and Microsoft and RIM couldn’t do: deliver a better experience than Steve Jobs did.

“Give me a break Scoble, you are drinking the shiny new object Koolaid,” I can hear you saying.

This is why I didn’t post a blog about it all day, even though everyone else did. I wanted to let the Koolaid wear off. I went back to the Palm booth again tonight just to make sure what I saw this morning was real.

I learned even more stuff that just blew me away.

From Palm? Give me a break!

Nokia’s devices that I saw last month just suddenly seem so lame.

Why? Well, when you look at the Nokia N97, which will be out at about the same time as the Palm Pre, you see that they also have a nice UI, but it falls apart when you click down into apps and try to do things. Palm doesn’t fall apart. Click down and you keep getting shocked.

Palm’s bet on social networking integration is a game changer. Click into a contact and you see people’s Facebook info and other info from their social networks. That is huge and not many people will get it.

Palm’s web browser is easier to get around than the iPhone’s is. Dave Winer will like some of the touches that were integrated here.

Are you surfing the web and alert comes up? Your web page doesn’t disappear. Really nice touch.

Are you a developer? Everything is based on standard webstuff. Javascript. Et al.

Cut, copy, and paste. Anymore to say?

How Apple centric is the new Palm team? Well, Chris McKillop is director of Software at Palm. He worked on the iPhone team (showed me pictures of me and my son buying iPhones at the Palo Alto store). One of the PR people at Palm did PR at Apple. Jonathan Rubinstein, who runs the Palm Pre team and led off the announcement, was a key person in development of the iPod and lots of people followed him from Apple to Palm, I heard from several people today.

Here’s some videos.

Peter Skillman, director of new product experience at Palm, shows the out of box experience and how the device’s size compares to the iPhone.
A piece of the announcement event today where they showed off some of Palm Pre’s web features.
Here’s another video of Peter showing off what he thinks the coolest things about the Pre are.

Anyway, the bottom line is Palm has a real winner here. It shows that you can never count a company out. Even one that looks like it’s already out of the game.

Vertical wall sourced from Palm by Photokit

Ed: Where's the recurring revenue? Will Sprint share? Apps share? Music share?

  • Match iPhone cool: Zoom/unzoom, touch accelerometer, Wi-Fi
  • Beat iPhone: contact integration, simpler Palm Pre apps, better camera, keyboard
  • Weakness: Sprint, music
  • Unknown: video, execution on delivery
Winner - iPhone and Palm
Loser- Nokia, Motorola, WinMob, RIM 

Engadget Integrates Photo Gallery with Blog Post

Ed: Engadget is a leading technology website. They have integrated their photo gallery into the body of their posts. Previously, most present the gallery in the sidebar and with content that does not reinforce the story.

The code is a hack job, with no platform nor scalability. Photokittm is going to be hot! (http://boomer.exitmercial.com). Stay tuned.

WiFi cameras are far from new -- over the past couple of years, we've seen P&S after P&S arrive with minimal functionality that would allow it to sync pictures with one specific online photo portal (or similar). Sony has stepped up the game for cameras to come with the Cyber-shot DSC-G3, which is the first of its kind to include a web browser for logging into pay-hotspots and uploading to practically any photo sharing site on the web. Popular Science got to handle one for a few weeks, and in the end, they were in love with the idea but hesitant to praise the execution. The T700-turned-wireless took satisfactory pictures, but the browser experience was less than awesome. You can hit the read link for all the dirty details, but unless you're willing to deal with "agonizingly" slow load times, you're probably better off waiting for the next revision. Or for some other company to whip out a bona fide competitor.

CES: Does the future of TV lie in gesture-based control?

from VentureBeat by 

Gesture control is one of the most exciting new technologies at the International Consumer Electronics Show this week.There are a variety of companies — inspired by the Nintendo Wii’s gesture control and the iPhone’s multi-touch screen — that are developing new ways to interact with gadgets. Hand, arm or figner gestures — like waving your arms around in circles to make something happen on the screen — are being used in everything from phones to game consoles.

But the TV may be a big market for these technologies. TV remote controls are getting so complex that consumers need a less-intimidating way to navigate through all of the data — movies, stored TV shows, music, and pictures — that they can access on their connected TV sets.

“Gesture control is going to be the next big thing in TV remote control,” said Paul Liao, chief technology officer of Panasonic’s North American division.

Panasonic has its own EZ Touch remote with touch screens on both ends of a remote where you swipe your fingers across a screen. That’s a pretty simple use of gestures. But it’s quite possible that these remotes don’t go far enough. Some radically different approaches are being tried by the companies in the videos below. These new technologies require the development of sensors, user interface software, and hardware for making sense of the data coming in from the sensors.

Here are videos I took that may show you the future of TV. Are you ready to say goodbye to the remote control? These three demos at CES show how to use gestures to control the TV. The first video shows the Hitachi TV that is connected to a Canesta 3-D depth camera, which senses a moving object. You can wave your hands around in front of the camera to make things happen on the TV, like changing the channel or navigating the menu...

Britney Spears Is Hiring An Online Media Manager

Want to manage Britney Spears’ online persona? She’s on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other sites, and somebody (not her of course) has to do all the hard work of posting and responding to content.

That’s where you come in. If you went to Harvard, that is. Brandcasting Unlimited, Britney’s online manager, posted the job listing below for “Britney Spears 2.0 Media Manager” yesterday on a Harvard-only private job board. Among the not-so-tough job requirements: you must be “addicted to social networks such as MySpace and Facebook.”...

Slot powered by PhotoKit

Jan 9, 2009


Ed: Agreed

  • Online and print evolve to different products.
  • Embrace online - don't find the inevitable trend.
  • Scale back print - improve productivity.
  • Integrate the cross marketing.


The Editors Weblog has been following the Integrated Newsroom trend for several years. Major papers around the world from the Guardian to the New York Times to Kuwait's Awan, and the Hindustan Times of India have merged print and online operations. But there are plenty of papers that haven't taken the integrated route. In the following article, Espen Egil Hansen, Editor-in-Chief of Verdens Gang (VG) Multimedia, Norway, shows that keeping print and digital teams separate at his paper have led to steady profits for both newsrooms. 
I am generally sceptical of the idea of one media house, one newsroom. When was the last time anyone won both the 100 meter dash and marathon during an Olympic game?

There are two fundamental issues that call for a greater degree of separation and specialization - what I like to call the model of focus.

First and foremost; newspaper and internet are by nature so diverse that they demand completely different working methods and organizations in order to succeed. This applies at all levels: in the editorial department, sales, distribution and management. To argue that "newspaper" and "online news" are the same because both are news, makes as much sense as saying that a roaring river and a glass of water are the same because both are water.

"The newspaper and the internet are by nature so diverse that they demand completely different working methods and organizations in order to succeed."

The strength of the online journalism is the possibility to develop the product minute by minute, interacting with the readers. Their experience and presence (the readers are where we aren't, they know what we don't) becomes an integrated part of the continuous journalistic working process. An article does not have a deadline, the readers submits comments, we ad links and so on.

The strengths of the newspaper are opposite. Towards deadline one search for the most exclusive story and the best possible angle on another story. These stories are then being thoroughly edited and presented on a limited space.
While internet by nature has its strength in that the users themselves can choose from a stream of information (the roaring river), the strength of the newspaper is its well edited presentations (the glass of water with a twist of lemon).

"The idea of integration is a threat both to the printed product and for the online news site."

Furthermore, the basic differences in business models, rate of development, distribution and so on are also so substantial that they in my opinion demands specialized organizations in order to succeed.

The second fundamental issue that calls for a greater degree of separation is that we are living in the middle of a media climate change! The glaciers (the traditional publishing houses) are melting, the storms (the competitors) are getting violent and coming from unexpected places, and the changing circumstances for life are such that ancient species must succumb to new ones (goodbye Tribune - hello Facebook)

Where we earlier had to cope with a certain number of newspaper and channels on TV and radio, we are now exposed to an infinite offer of information wherever we are. As I am writing this, on one of the first days of 2009, I am simultaneously following one of many Twitter-feeds reporting a new round of bombing in Gaza. The news agencies will report the same stories during the next hour, but without the nerve and credibility of someone who are in the midst of the falling bombs...

"As I am writing this I am simultaneously following one of many Twitter-feeds reporting a new round of bombing in Gaza."
In this entirely new media landscape, I believe the specialists will win. The ones that are best adapted and that are able to change fast enough. What until now has been regarded as the power of publishing houses - tradition, position, stability and financial security - is now turning to become a weakness. 

The idea of integration is in my opinion a threat both to the printed product and for the online news site. To the printed product because the integration in a way conceals a level of costs and way of working that is not sustainable in the long run. And the threat to the online site is that it will inherit the way of working, organizing and a level of cost that is not competitive in this market.

In the publishing house of VG we have, with success, chosen the model of focus. We have two companies, two boards, to editorial departments, to chief editors, two managing directors and so on. We cooperate where appropriate for both organizations (which means a lot), but at the same time we are free to choose whatever necessary in order to succeed on our own platform. We've made some tough choices. While down-sizing by 100 people in the print organization we hired 40 more online. No one was moved from print to online. With this model of focus we've achieved the number one position online and in the print market. Both editions have for the last couple of years been very profitable.

Our success is obviously not a guarantee for this model of focus being the best one in the years to come. Neither is our success with the model a guarantee that it will work in all other media houses, and markets. It makes greater sense to integrate if you're at a number two position (or lower), than if you are leading in the market. The current financial turmoil is accelerating the media climate change, and we must constantly evaluate whether our organization is optimal.

DOING MORE WITH LESS: The world's newspaper editors sound off on integrated newsrooms

In the run-up to the 16th World Editors Forum being held in Hyderabad, India March 22-25, 2009, the Editors Weblog is running a special series entitled "Doing More with Less." The series highlights major trends that editors-in-chief are using to steer their newsrooms through the difficult economic climate. This week, we looked at howThe Guardian and Finland's Kauppalehti have integrated their newsrooms. Below, editors from around the world share their own thoughts about INTEGRATED NEWSROOMS...

CLIP MySpace and Wall Street Journal contest to make World Economic Forum in Davos “a place for friends”?

from VentureBeat by Tam Vo

 MySpace has joined forces with the Wall Street Journal for“MySpace Journal,” a competition to send one lucky MySpace user to the World Economic Forumin Davos, Switzerland. The winner will be a “special correspondent” on behalf of the entire MySpace community and get to join the Davos press corps. If this sounds familiar, it’s because YouTube has a Davos contest too.

The World Economic Forum is an annual meeting that brings together political and business leaders, intellectuals and journalists to discuss pressing global issues like the environment and poverty — this year’s theme is aptly themed “Shaping the Post-Crisis World.”

Starting today, aspiring reporters can upload a video of themselves explaining why they deserve to attend the forum, as a response to one of three pre-selected questions — for example, “If you were given the opportunity to take one person (living or historical figure) to Davos in order to make an impact on the conference, who would it be and why?” Entrants must also keep their answer to 90 seconds or less, so I wonder if those crazy speed-talking college debate kids will have an advantage.

The winner will be selected by a panel of expert judges, including Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and MySpace co-founder and chief executive Chris DeWolfe. The prize includes an all-expenses paid trip to Davos, a press pass and “Congress and Media Centre access.” The MySpace community doesn’t get to vote, but users get to rate their favorites...

News Corp Siblings, Wall Street Journal and MySpace Partner For Davos -- Awkward! (NWS)

from Silicon Alley Insider by 

Ever since before News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal, the fear in that newsroom has been that the Australian mogul would drag the illustrious paper into the mud -- down where Rupe likes to play with Darva Conger from "Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire?," Bill O'Reilly and Tila Tequila, from the hormone-infested social network MySpace.

Don't look now, but here comes "MySpace Journal."

Fortunately for the Wall Street Journal's brand -- and unfortunately for the rest of us, giggling on the sidelines -- MySpace Journal is just a one-off partnership between the awkwardly-paired News Corp (NWS) siblings.

Though yes, it is a particularly goofy partnership -- one that will send one lucky MySpace user to the snooty World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he or she will be a "citizen journalist," blogging for the Wall Street Journal.

Reports CNET's Caroline McCarthy:

MySpace is now accepting video submissions in which entrants explain their reasons for wanting to attend and be a member of the Davos press corps. One winner, chosen by a panel of industry figureheads that includes pundit and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe, will receive an all-expenses paid trip, a coveted press pass, and a blog on MySpace that will also be syndicated to The Wall Street Journal's Web site.

Jan 8, 2009

CLIP @ CES: Online Video Exec: 'If We Don't Do Things Differently, The Industry Is Screwed'

from paidContent.org by 

imageOnline video viewing continues to surge, but the ad dollars flowing into the space still aren't scaling accordingly. Panelists at the Reinventing Advertising Conference @ CES trotted out well-worn reasons for that imbalance: lack of standard metrics; high volume of low-quality content; building the right amount of reach, etc. But Brian Terkelsen, EVP and managing director at MediaVest's connectivetissue, (pictured) avoided the hand-wringing and laid it on the line: "Advertisers aren't being aggressive enough in general—they helped grow TV to where it is now, so I think it's partly up to them to drive video. If we don't challenge the industry to do things differently, we're screwed."

BitGravity CEO Perry Wu said time was already up for many of the smaller online video development and distribution studios: "We work with hundreds of content companies and to be honest, many of them won't survive. Indie sites that have premium news or sports content and a targeted audience can prove that they're valuable to advertisers—but some of the broad, more generalized companies will have a harder time."

Even larger video publishers like cable networks are at a crossroads of sorts. Steve Ronson, A&E's EVP, Enterprises, said the company is struggling to figure out how to make enough money from porting its "premium on air content" to the Web. "Do we run outtakes? Show snippets? Do we run long form but not cream of the crop?" he said. On some levels it doesn't have a choice, since viewers clearly want to access their favorite shows online—but Ronson said getting it to the Web sans the "millions of dollars worth of TV ads" is a "troubling issue." He added that many networks were weighing the ad-supported vs. subscription model or some hybrid of the two. (And with brand advertisers cutting budgets across the board, that subscription model is looking more and more lucrative.)

The rest of our coverage is on our CES 2009 channel

Delete 10 Facebook friends, get a free Whopper

from Webware.com by 

(Credit: Burger King)

Facebook's developer platform has been used for a zillion marketing campaigns so far, but this one is actually dead-on hilarious.

Fast-food chain Burger King has created "Whopper Sacrifice," a Facebook app that will give you a coupon for a free hamburger if you delete 10 people from your friends list.

Burger King has put out some interesting campaigns as of late ("Whopper Virgin," "Subservient Chicken"), but this one piques our interest because of how gleefully it pokes fun at our social-networking obsessions. "Now is the time to put your fair-weather Web friendships to the test," the Whopper Sacrifice site explains. "Install Whopper Sacrifice on your Facebook profile, and we'll reward you with a free flame-broiled Whopper when you sacrifice ten of your friends.

The funniest part: The "sacrifices" show up in your activity feed. So it'll say, for example, "Caroline sacrificed Josh Lowensohn for a free Whopper." Unfortunately, you can't delete your whole friends list and eat free (however unhealthily) for a week. The promotion is limited to one coupon per Facebook account.

My Facebook friends had better appreciate the fact that I made a New Year's resolution to cut out red meat. Hint, hint.

BK's Whopper Sacrifice: Clever But Flawed


In the circle I run in, throwing one's associates through the front window of a public establishment would be considered uncouth. That's doubly true if the supposed gain from such an act is a sandwich. Triply so if said sandwich is "quick-serve," in the new parlance.

However I've gradually come to accept that my circle is rarified and a whole lot more couth than the general population, and so I'll agree with all the people saying Burger King's Whopper Sacrifice appon Facebook is very smart. The concept is simple. Creatives at Crispin Porter + Bogusky working on the BK account were remarking on the sheer number of distant acquaintances and in some cases complete strangers who had found their way onto their friend lists. They decided they could provide a service, and maybe a laugh or two, by giving Facebook users a way to cut the fat, so to speak. So they created an app that facilitated the removal of those fake friends, and then promised to pack the fat back on, in the form of a free Whopper offer for anyone who savages 10 of their so-called friends. The app's tagline: "You like your friends. But you love the Whopper."

As clever as I think this is, I see some problems with Whopper Sacrifice. First, when you off someone on your friend list, that person is told about it, as is your whole group of frineds. ("Jchn sacrificed John Whitmore for a free Whopper"). That's not true if you simply remove them the normal way. I know from many conversations that a lot of Facebook users live in fear that any fake friends removed from their friends list will somehow be told of the action. When I tell people that's not actually the case, they're always visibly relieved. If you tell the victim they've been deleted, as the BK app does, then you're creating a disincentive for decent-hearted people to delete them. However early use of the app suggests it'll be a hit. As of this writing, Whopper Sacrifice has been installed over 30,000 times, and 53,080 friends have been sacrificed. That's somewhere north of 5,000 free Whoppers.

Second, and this is the flip side of the "notice" coin, it strikes me there's potential for bullying here. The removal of any friend by Whopper Sacrifice will be broadcast to the news feed of the user doing the removing, and hence be read by any of his or her friends. Many of these will also be familiar with the victim. In other words, in the hands of mean-spirited social networkers (read: high schoolers) it could be a mechanism for cruetly and ostracization.

Ed: What do you think?

CLIP @ CES: Norwest's Chang: Things Could Get Scary For Facebook, Slide in '09

Despite all the predictions for slashed VC spending and stagnant growth in new media this year, clearly there is still money to be spent, as we'vealready seen a number of fundings in the past week. But some unlikely companies may be stretched thin this year, Norwest Venture Partners principal Tim Chang told us.

"I'm concerned about Facebook," Chang said, when I asked him about the companies that he'd be watching this year. "Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) isn't likely to renew its search-advertising contract—at least not at the same rate—and Facebook makes a significant amount of money from that deal. Imagine if you lost $300 million worth of revenue—how would you make it up? It's not going to come from advertising, even if they have other ad platforms." (That also begs the question of what will happen to MySpace when Google (NSDQ: GOOG) renegotiates its search deal—though the social net has been branching out beyond ad sales as well). But what about Facebook's newly booming virtual-goods business? Chang said that the social net has actually missed the boat on that revenue stream. "They didn't figure out the value in virtual goods until it was too late, and now third parties are doing it instead. That's money they've left on the table."

Meanwhile, Chang said widget-maker Slide, which closed a mammoth $50 million round last January, is the "poster child of the Web 2.0 bubble. And if Slide spends through that money and has to raise again—I'd hate to be in their shoes. The onus is on them to find a business model beyond just advertising right now."

Chang wasn't all doom and gloom, however—he said that social gaming startups and the gaming industry as a whole would likely see stable revenue streams (not just from advertising) and continued investment from VCs in 2009. "We invested in myYearbook because they're making really nice money on virtual goods and microtransactions. Social gaming site Zynga is another one—they're making something like $30 million to $40 million per year mostly from people buying Texas Hold 'Em chips on Facebook."

CLIP Yahoo brings Widgets to Samsung HDTVs at CES

Ed: Video buried on a PC page versus Browser on your TV.

At the Samsung press conference earlier today at CES 2009, Yahoo's involvement with Samsung's new HDTV line was revealed to be an integrated system of Widgets, based on a new Konfabulator engine. They went through it very briefly, but Flickr, news, finance, and other Yahoo services are fully available and integrated into an on-screen display, for use during usual TV watching. They call it Medi@ 2.0, a wholly buzz-oriented name, but you'll probably just call it "Yahoo TV" or "The Stocks." Here's a video of the interface in action — dramatized, it looks like, but a good indicator of what it should look like on your Samsung, should you choose to accept one. Head over to CrunchGear for a few more pictures.

Jan 6, 2009

eMail war between gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail

I've been having difficulty sending and receiving mail. Too many messages get lost. So I thought I would look into it. It's a silly war among gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail.

Gmail In Yahoo Spam Bucket

Here is a return message from gMail, sent to Yahoo's spam bucket.
Hi. This is the qmail-send program at yahoo.com. I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses. This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

savethebigcat@gmail.com does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try double-checking the recipient's email address for typos or unnecessary spaces. Learn more at http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=6596 Giving up on
Microsoft Live Mail in Gmail's Spam

Here is a lost message from Microsoft found in gMail's spam bucket.
Windows Live ID to me

Hello djcxxx@gmail.com,

Thank you for signing up for a Windows Live ID.

Use the e-mail address (djcxxx@gmail.com) and password you provided during sign-up to sign in at any site or service where you see the Windows Live ID logo.

This e-mail message contains important information on how to use your account, including what to do if you forget your password. Please save or print a copy so you can refer to it later.
Countless Lost / Misfiled / Not Working Messages

Yahoo has had problems - period. In particular, the problems seem more acute when using Google's Chrome browser. I've switched from Classic to Modern mode to work around the problem, wasting time.

Every so often, friends don't get my email. Occassionally, incoming mail goes into the spam bucket - including my own copies to myself. What a joke.

Ultimate Stupidity

Here is the ultimate farce. I sent email from my Yahoo account to my gMail account.

failure notice

From: "MAILER-DAEMON@yahoo.com"
Hi. This is the qmail-send program at yahoo.com.
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

<djcxxx@gmail.com>: failed after I sent the message.
Remote host said: 552-5.7.0 552-5.7.0 Please visit http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=6590
552 5.7.0 to review our attachment guidelines. 

Yahoo never sent the message to gmail. Further, Yahoo's own error message ends up in it's spam bucket. 

Too many games. Too many mistakes.

Switching to Facebook

I've asked important contacts to switch to Facebook and LinkedIn. I don't want to be the casualty in war among the giants.

Have you wasted similar time?

Report: Cloud-Based Email Cheapest Option for Most Companies

new report from Forrester presents a cost analysis of cloud-based email systems in enterprises, such as Google Apps or Yahoo!'s Zimbra. In the report, Forrester argues that cloud-based email services are cheaper than running email on-premise for all companies with less than 15,000 employees. What's more, Google Apps is significantly cheaper than both on-premise solutions and other cloud-based email services - even for very large enterprises. This could spell trouble for Microsoft, as we explain below...

Live: Phil Schiller’s MacWorld 2009 keynote

Themes seem clear. 

  1. Apple is more than Steve Jobs. 
  2. The Mac dominates the creative community - the 1984 crowd and core of 2009. 
  3. Music, photo, video, and gaming fans are moving to Apple. 
  4. It's a bad economy - wrong time to introduce radical changes. 
The Apple ship is steady and coming on strong with their core strategy.

Live blog: Macworld 2009 keynote

Posted by Tom Krazit

We're posting live updates from Macworld 2009 at San Francisco's Moscone Center, where Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller, is delivering the keynote speech.

Live: Phil Schiller’s MacWorld 2009 keynote
by Peter Ha on January 6, 2009

Welcome to our live coverage of Phil Schiller’s MacWorld 2009 keynote. We are hoping and praying that the server holds out so we’re not trying any special tricks this time - just good old fashioned blog posting. To see updates, please hit F5 or Command-R to refresh.

Apple's iWork Goes (Partly) Online

iwork_logo_dec08.pngApple today announced an online component to its iWork productivity suite. This, however, is not the rumored online version of iWork we were hoping for, as it only allows you to share documents online through iWork.com. After you share a document through the newly released iWork '08 desktop software, your friends and co-workers can comment and leave notes on your Keynote, Pages, or Numbers documents, though the documents themselves can't be edited online...

Join us for some live Macworld Keynote coverage

Tomorrow at 9AM PST, Apple will hold its keynote address at the Macworld Expo. Myself and Dean Takahashi will be on hand to bring you any announcements from the keynote as they unfold live.

As usual, we’ll have a page on VentureBeat set up with a FriendFeed room embedded in it. What should make this even more interesting for you who choose to watch on venturebeat.com is that FriendFeed now has a real-time component to the site, which will allow us to stream stuff to you without you having to refresh the page at all...

Missing From Macworld: Mac Mini, Steve Jobs Surprise (AAPL)

steve-jobs-hand-on-chin.jpgAs anticipated, Apple's (AAPL) last Macworld keynotewas a snoozefest. The company showed off some software and hardware updates. And the updates to iTunes -- more DRM-free songs, different price points, over-the-air downloads -- were a long time coming...

Report: Apple To Drop DRM, Hike Prices For Major-Label Songs

What will be the big news flash at Apple's final MacWorld Expo today? CNET says the company will announce that it's getting rid of DRM protection on iTunes Store music downloads. EMI already began offering higher-fidelity, DRM-free AAC files back in May 2007, after Steve Jobs said Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) would "embrace (DRM-free) in a heartbeat if the big four would license their music (that way) ... because DRMs haven't worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy"...

CLIP: Microsoft says Xbox 360 sales top 28 million to date, Xbox Live hits 17 million members

Microsoft said today that Xbox 360 sales have topped 28 million since the game console launched in 2005, allowing it to claim a solid second-place position in the game industry.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software company also said its Xbox Live player community has now grown to more than 17 million active members, up from 14 million before the holidays. Those members have increased their online spending more than 84 percent from a year ago. Since 2005, Microsoft said more than $1 billion has been spent on Xbox Live, with revenues fueled this season by a new user interface, dubbed The New Xbox Experience.

Microsoft said it has doubled its market share in some key territories. In places such as Japan, that doesn’t mean much since Microsoft’s position there is dead last. But it matters more in areas such as Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Sony is in third place with about 17 million consoles sold (pre-holidays).

The sales suggest a strong holiday showing for Microsoft, though it’s still far behind Nintendo’s Wii, which has sold more than 40 million units worldwide by various accounts. It also means that video game sales as a whole have likely held up well despite the economic turmoil. The strong year-end sales of Xbox 360s was probably helped by lower prices and new models, code named Jasper, that are said to be more reliable.

The company said that between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Xbox Live had its busiest week ever with more than 1.4 million concurrent members online. The company said that its new Netflix movie-streaming service on the Xbox 360 was one of the most popular new features.

Popular movies included The Dark Knight, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Iron Man, and Tropic Thunder. Popular arcade games (available for download) included A Kingdom for Keflings, Castle Crashers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Puzzle Arcade, and Worms. And popular game-related downloads included Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Gears of War 2, and Call of Duty 4.

Microsoft: We're Kicking Sony's Rear In Europe And Middle East, Too (MSFT)

Xbox360Big.jpgMicrosoft (MSFT) is now bragging that the Xbox 360's lead over the Sony (SNE) Playstation is over 8 million units worldwide.

That the Xbox is trouncing the PS3 in the US is an old story by now, but if Microsoft is to be believed, their console is doing better and better overseas as well:

Xbox 360 is experiencing record-setting sales around the globe, particularly in Japan and Europe, nearly doubling market share in these key territories. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) specifically, Xbox 360 has now sold more than 8 million units, extending its lead over the PS3 by more than 1 million units.

We think this will continue until Sony stops hoping the Blu-ray format will save its platform and instead cuts the PS3's price.

Of course, there's no mention by Microsoft of gaming's 800 pound gorilla, the Nintendo (NTDOY) Wii, which we can only assume continues to run circles around both the Xbox and PS3.


  • iPhone sold 10 million in 1 year. iPod Touch coming on strong. iTablet coming...
  • XBOX sold 28 million in 3 years. Nintendo is 40 million. 
  • Netbooks in low millions. 
  • PC's cracked a billion in use. 
  • Cell phones into mulltiple billions. Smartphones is hundreds of millions.
Specialty web access, portability, and control of the portal changes the web strategy for companies like Google, Live, Facebook, and Yahoo. 

CLIP: Picasa Finally Hits The Mac, Squares Off With iPhoto

by Jason Kincaid on January 5, 2009

Picasa, the popular free photo management software made by Google, has finally made its way to the Mac. The application has long been noticeably absent on the Macintosh - especially given the fact that it has been available for Linux (which typically lags behind Macs and Windows) since 2006. It’s also a direct competitor to Apple’s long running iPhoto product, which has come with all new Macs for years. So how does it stack up?

In my brief testing the application seems to be very snappy (much faster than iPhoto), though it lacks the sleek look of Apple’s products. Photos import quickly, effects are easy to find and apply, and most things are intuitive, though the folder browsing can be a little confusing. It might not be as pretty as iPhoto, but I won’t be surprised if power-users make the switch (or at least consider it).


YouTube still rules online video, U.S. viewing time leaps 40 percent

The number of videos viewed by Americans increased by 34 percent over the past year with 12.7 billion videos viewed in November 2008 versus 9.5 billion the previous November, according to the latest report from comScore Video Metrix. That means Americans spent a whopping 40 percent more time watching online videos over the course of the year, notes NewTeeVee.

Seventy seven percent of the U.S. internet audience watches online video — that’s a lot of couch potatoes surfing the internet with laptops balanced precariously on their knees (raise your hand if you’ve ever been burned by an overheating laptop).

ComScore reports that 146 million viewers tuned in to watch online videos in November 2008, which isn’t a huge spike from the 138 million in November 2007. However, in 2008, the average viewer watched 273 minutes of online video during the same month. That’s an increase of more than an hour in the past year (195 minutes in November 2007), or two and a half episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

While the average video was watched for 3.1 minutes, the average video on Hulu was watched for an impressive 11.9 minutes, longer than any other internet property in the top ten list. Hulu’s offering of premium TV shows and films is definitely a factor in keeping U.S. viewers watching longer, even with ads sprinkled sporadically throughout.

The top ten list of online video sites has subtly shifted over the course of the year. YouTube remains king of the castle, accounting for more than 98 percent of all videos watched on Google sites (Google’s market share is strong at 40.3 percent, up from 31.4 percent a year ago). YouTube attracted 97 million viewers, who watched 5.1 billion videos on the site. Please tell me you didn’t watch this one, in which the Jonas Brothers cover John Mayer’s “Gravity,” perhaps one of the worst things brought to you by the year 2008...

CLIP: JP Morgan Sees Long-Term Dominance For Performance-based Ads; Online Video Loses Luster


  • Online advertising is still growth market, but slower growth.
  • CPC is preferred to CPM
  • Embedded video ads can't predict views, nor actions - like event-oriented sites
  • Social network is horizontal - too many competitors delivering the same product

It's not surprising that during a downturn, the clear metrics and ROI offered by performance based ads are looking more attractive. But in his wide-ranging '09 outlook, JP Morgan analyst Imran Khan expects marketers to treasure performance-based ads even when the larger economy begins to grow again. So the market share gains that performance ads have achieved over the CPM-based model look pretty durable and mean continued struggles for display ads.

The report, Nothing But Net: Outlook for Global Internet Stocks in 2009 (PDF), predicts that the mostly performance-based U.S. search ad market will rise 10 percent in 2009 to nearly $16 billion. In contrast, display ads, which includes both performance and branded advertising, will grow only 6.3 percent to $8.4 billion this year.

Bearish online video: Khan expects the accelerated shift to performance ads having a dampening effect on the growth of online video ads. Even in a series of downward revisions, online video ad growth still seemed poised for healthy gains this year. For example, at the end of November, eMarketer forecast online video growth of 44.9 percent, which was still nearly half of the 81 percent growth rate the researcher predicted for 2008. Khan believes that online video is headed for a considerable slowdown because one, it's still reliant on the CPM model, as opposed to performance-based measurements like cost-per-click or cost-per-action based display. And unlike television, which still can count on advertisers to respond to CPMs, online video can't guarantee viewership for any specific video the way TV does in the upfront model. Plus, considering the unpredictability of popular videos, the uneven quality, and the continued battles over copyright, JP Morgan doesn't expect online video to have great prospects for the next few years. However, Khan is intrigued by Google's experiments with an e-commerce platform—i.e, performance-based model—for YouTube videos. For example, if a user watches a song featured in a music video, they can click on a link that lets them buy music directly Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and iTunes, with YouTube getting a cut of the revenue. More after the jump

Social nets need new approach: Looking at the projected slump in online ad sales for sites like Facebook and MySpace, JP Morgan strongly advises that online communities look for sources other than display for revenue. In particular, the report offers a few possible routes to profitability, including greater use of cost-per-action ads, lead gen, sales of virtual items, connecting to classifieds or e-commerce sites, and charging for premium membership, as LinkedIn and Classmates do.

Mobile looks good long-term:  But as for the near-term, the long-awaited explosion for mobile ads will simply have to wait for a better economic environment—not to mention better phones and technology, Khan says. although mobile phone penetration is high at 84 percent in the U.S., the mobile search market is in the early adoption stage. In Q108, only 15.6 percent of wireless subs were using mobile web, according to Nielsen Mobile data. Even within this small subset of mobile internet users, usage drastically trails that on PCs. Nielsen Online says that a PC online user visits more than 100 domains per month, whereas mobile web users visit 6.4 individual sites per month, on average.

M&As start slow, but gather steam in H209:  With last year's total deal count down by 20 percent, according to a report last week from DeSilva + Phillips (disclosure: one of our sponsors), JP Morgan anticipates continued coolness in the acquisitions area for at least the first six months of 2009. But things are likely to heat up in the second half of the year, assuming the economy begins to stabilize.

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