Archive for the 'News' Category

60 seconds or less…

Breaking down hot topics in technology, media and marketing for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • File under, “Really?!”  A charity auction for an internship at the Huffington Post has collected bids as high as $13,000. What’s worse…college grads so desperate for a job that they’ll pay five figures for one, or media companies trying to make their margins by selling internships?
  • Entrepreneurs, fear not! After meeting with more than a dozen Boston-area VCs, Tech Journal South reports that venture funds have available cash to invest, are actively looking for new deals and don’t expect the rest of the year to be as bad as the first quarter.  
  • The Wall Street Journal issues “Social Media Rules of Conduct” for its staffers. Among the rules? Editor approval is required before “friending” sources in Facebook or twitter.  Check out the entire list here.
  • What did you do by the time you were 25? Did you start a company that has generated 200 million users? Were you named one of the The World’s Most Influential People by Time Magazine? Were you ranked one of the richest people in America by Forbes, with a net worth of $1.5 billion? Had you made $240 million off of Microsoft? Well Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who turned 25 yesterday, has checked all those times of his list. I know, it hurts.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

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60 seconds or less…

A new weekly feature breaking down technology, b2b and general marketing news for your reading pleasure… in 60 seconds or less.

  • Twitter has rolled out a new update to its website that includes real-time search, trending topics and a slightly improved user interface. Will Twitter 2.0 be less buggy than the original? Magic 8 Ball says, “Reply hazy, try again.”  
  • According to a recent study, personality may be a more effective prediction tool for media usage than demographics. For instance, sarcastic folks who balk at rules are 60% more likely to be high consumers of media. Can’t wait to see those direct mail/email lists – “Sarcasm & Rule Breaker List, $425 CPM”.
  • Hot or not? Forecasts for mobile ad growth have been reduced, thanks to the current economic climate. But it’s still one of the faster growing ad segments, expected to grow 36% year over year.
  • A slew of recent surveys indicate that the slump’s not as bad as we might think in the tech sector. Among the data, Mass High Tech says 44% off the nearly 700 New England tech companies surveyed  have no plans for staffing changes (up from 35.4% in Q4).
  • First, TheFunded shook up the VC world with its blatantly honest reviews of firms. Now it’s changing the model for start-up incubators with TheFunded Founder Institute, free from on-site meetings and alternative stock compensation plans.
  • Looks like we’re safe, at least for one more Sunday. Does anyone else find it ridiculous that the Boston Globe union was so unwilling to compromise on the lifetime job guarantee issue? Talk about an antiquated mentality.

— Posted by Melissa Coyle

The Game Changer: The RIAA Owns the Sandbox

In a landmark trial, a Minnesota woman had the guts to stand up against the RIAA, and lost. The NY Times is reporting that she has been slammed with a $222,000 fine (odd number right?) for 24 songs she made available on Kazaa.

Am I frustrated about the outcome of this trial? Of course. Do I think the RIAA is a crock? Absolutely. But what really “grinds my gears” is the definition of stealing that was used. I posted a story on my twitter page yesterday from Ars Technica, that noted Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG’s testimony where she defined song stealing as:

“When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song.” Making “a copy” of a purchased song is just “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy’,” she said.

 

The operative phrase in that quote is ‘makes a copy of a song, FOR HIMSELF”. A large amount of my frustration comes from the notion that people are expected to “rent” songs that they pay for. As the content owner, I expect to freely do what I want with my music – the three screen philosophy – I want a cd for the car, burned version for iTunes, and a file on my iPod. I paid for it, its mine, “stealing” from yourself is possibly the most ludicrous philosophy I have ever heard. What Pariser is saying is that the record label owns the album you just purchased; they are just nice enough to let you pay to “borrow” it for a while.

 

What’s worse, the odds seemed stacked against the defendant as the Times article points out – the judge set up the record labels for a slam dunk by saying they –

“…did not have to prove that songs on Ms. Thomas’s computer had actually been transmitted to others online. Rather, the act of making them available could be viewed as infringement.”

I am in no way defending her use of Kazaa, as she was most likely stealing music off of the P2P network, but isn’t it the legal system’s job to prove, not just assume? Its crazy I know….

Because of this trial, and the many settlements that have come before it, the RIAA has essentially become the big guy on the playground who used to shake kids down for lunch money, or a better spot in the 4 Square line. I hope that next time someone stands up to these bullies the RIAA, the fight is fair. The association is just delaying the inevitable anyway… eventually, all music will be free.

Point/CounterPoint

 

 

Point: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

After shafting 270,000 of his most loyal customers and sending his stock prices plummeting a whopping $7.60 – Steve Jobs makes a lame attempt to stop the slide by offering to compensate iPhone users with a lousy $100. Imagine, you stood on line all night to grasp the coveted iPhone, only to have your entire being taken over by gremlins and spending every waking moment demonstrating your new phone to everyone you meet. If you have been carrying an iPhone for any period of time, you kow what I am talking about. You might as well have three-headed triplets in a grocery store for how much time and energy you’ve spent selling Mr. Job’s newest gizmo to every idiot that happens to see you use it.

Forget the business meeting. Forget the groceries, forget everything. For the privilege of spending half your life selling Mr. Job’s product for him – you get to pay him a whopping $500 and deal with less-than-stellar service. So he starts to feel a little bad that he is now selling the iPhone at a steep discount to all those ripe prospects you’ve helped him win over, so he magnanimously offers to throw you $100. So now you are just out $200 more than those guys who didn’t wait on line and spend their summer vacations giving live demos on the beach.

Where’s the outrage on behalf of those loyal early-adopters? If you think about it, they are the ones that built our great technology industry. I respect their courage and panache in this “me-too” world that waits to find out what’s cool. In fact, the early adopters ARE the “pioneers of cool”.

Mr. Jobs’ basic problem is that he forgot that he isn’t particularly cool, his products are a little cool, but it’s his devoted customers that are WAY cool.

I think someone might be a little big for his ibritches.

-Alison Moore


Counter-Point: I want to be THAT guy

I suppose it is a bit unorthodox to prove (or attempt to prove) your Managing Director wrong, but what the heck – what’s one more ding in your yearly review right?

First of all, you’ve gotta pay to play the game.

 

No gadget buff will disagree, being an early adopter is expensive, and many find it a point of pride to make an investment in the latest technology. This is why I, for one, am amazed at the amount of backlash caused by this price cut (That means you Matt Lauer!). While, yes, it did come fairly quickly, no one can argue that a price drop wasn’t on the horizon. Early adopters should know better than anyone that there is probably no market with a faster price drop and turn-over rate than the cell phone industry. As CrunchGear put it,

“Take a look at the RAZR. When it first came out, you paid $500 for it and now they give them away with a Big Gulps at 7-Eleven.”

 

And the same goes for the iPhone. There is no way the device could stay at $600 forever.

Second, exclusivity is key.

 

Admit it, being THAT guy (or gal) is kind of fun. I hate to say it “feeds the ego”, but in a way it does. You become part of the club, in this case, possibly the most exclusive one to date, the iPhone club. You knew the service would stink, you knew you would have to wait in line, but still, you put up the $600 or more (if you broke your old cell phone contract) to buy the “Jesus Phone”.

Some buyers may be upset because their “exclusive” group is going to get a whole lot bigger.

Third, “pioneers of cool” are product evangelists.

True early adopters welcome the opportunity to provide off-the-cuff product reviews wherever they go, that’s part of the reason why they pay exorbant prices for newly released tech. They then become the authority to their circle of friends, and get satisfaction knowing they “spread the gospel of Jobs” throughout their network.

So, to the upset early iPhone customers, I say, ”Stop Whining!” Now everyone’s invited to the party – deal with it. You still have one more iPhone than this guy.

Oh, and one more thing….

 “If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you’ll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon.” — Steve Jobs from his iPhone open letter

…pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

— Posted by Andrew Soucy

The Game Changer: My Prayers Have Been Answered

 

Today, Apple released the second most anticipated product of 2007, the Phoneless iPhone iPod Touch, the device I have really been waiting for. Full touchy iPhone-esque screen, thin-as-nano size and WiFi (yeah WiFi!) for YouTube, surfing the web and iTunes Mobile this thing is amazing. Now, you can have all your songs, video, movies – even contacts and email, all on one device without the pricy phone bill for sub-par service.

And the best part? It’s not too cost prohibitive at $299 for 8 gb and $399 for 16 gb respectively (always worth the extra $100 for twice the storage).

Talk about a game changer. The iPod Touch makes those lusting over an iPhone able to obtain the same looks and most of the great functionality at a fraction of the cost. I’m sure people won’t miss the dropped calls.

Oh yeah, and the house that Steve built also dropped some new mini’s and shuffles on us, as well as an “iPod Classic”, which is basically the same iPod in new skin and more storage. An odd move in my opinion, but to each their own. Check out Gizmodo’s full run-down here.

So consider me in line, on board, or whatever. I’m just left with one question….26” Vizio or iPod Touch? Decisions, decisions.

The Game Changer: A Pirate’s Life for Disney

I am resisting the urge to comment on the goings on
at Ford these past few days as I promised I wouldn’t do a car post for a while (about time for my own Auto Biz blog I think). Check out the stories here and here if you are interested.

Some big news from Google-Tube this week, it seems Disney could be making some bank off more pirates than the ones played by Jonny Depp and Co.YouTube has struck a deal with Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co. to being testing their video fingerprint technology, in an effort to prevent further lawsuits, like the $1billion in damages Viacom wanted because of reposts of popular MTV and Comedy Central shows on the site. The video ID technology recognizes copyrighted content that is uploaded to YouTube, giving the media giants two options; they can either remove the site, or opt-in to a revenue share program via advertising dollars.

Making money off piracy you say? Unheard of.

But, a fantastic idea, especially for Disney. Imagine the PR fall out the house that Mickey built would endure for suing a 13 year old uploading The Lion King or quality Disney Channel re-runs like Boy Meets World (what ever happened to Topanga anyway?).

As the guys over at CrunchGear said, “everybody wins” and I agree. Kudos to YouTube for figuring out a way to leave the lawyers at home, and actually monetize illegally posted content.

One Bad Apple

Steve Jobs is many things: master showman, spinmeister, cheerleader, visionary, God of Silicon Valley, and icon not simply of the computer industry, but of the media and entertainment arena as well. He’s also a master manipulator and his DRM Manifesto “Thoughts on Music” issued today on the Apple site was vintage Jobs: it was eloquent, convincing and just slightly salesy. Curiously timed, the underpinnings of his open letter posting are pretty simple — the best defense is a strong offense. Jobs takes a jab at the Norwegian Consumer Council and the Dutch Consumer Ombudsman, last week the latter joined the June 2006 complaint filed by the former against Apple, alleging that Apple is violating Norwegian consumer law through its exclusive link between Apple’s iPod and iTunes music store because Norwegian iPod owners are prevented from playing songs bought from competing online services or listening to iTunes songs on rival MP3 players.

In his Tuesday posting, Jobs said Apple can’t risk opening up the iTunes store to other portable players as long as DRM technology remains in place. This does not sound like a man who is concerned that wannabe rival players like Microsoft’s Zune or those from SanDisk (whose stock was pummeled last week due to thinning of its flash memory margins). But, let’s be real – this is the posting of a man with a silver tongue (keyboard?) who is trying to deflect the heat of Apple’s proprietary position in online music. Many of his critics fully believe that DRM could work just fine if Jobs and Apple would cooperate. Teflon Steve got nicked a few weeks back when the options backdating flu bit a few folks in Cupertino. Let’s see if the Goodship Apple starts to take on some more water after this latest issue heats up.


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