Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting It Right –The Las Vegas Sun

Yesterday at the USC Convergent Media Conference, we heard from Rob Curley, CEO and Executive Editor of the group behind the Las Vegas Sun online edition.
   The Sun is an online newspaper that seems to be making a success of online journalism. They’ve won all the big journalism awards, grown their audience 8-fold, and driven pageviews of big stories from around 2500 to over 250,000. They’re attracting advertising buys from major national advertisers, and expect to cover all operating costs and generate a profit next year. (The online Sun actually supports the print edition more than the other way around – and Curley noted that the only reason they’re still doing the print edition is that it’s a requirement of an old Joint Operating Agreement.)
   So what’s the secret of their success? Actually, it’s not much of a secret – it’s paying attention to what their readers want and use, and exploiting the potential of digital media to do things to add value to the content they produce, and to add value of news for their readers. To paraphrase a couple of Curley’s comments; they challenged and moved away from traditional attitudes still permeating the industry – that they knew what readers needed more than readers did, and the corollary belief that readers were basically stupid. For traditional news organizations to move online successfully, he added, they needed to be willing to do new things in new ways, and they had to treat online editions as if it was their sole livelihood, rather than something to play around with.
  So how did Curley and the Las Vegas Sun do those things? There were a number of basic strategies they followed:
  • Identify niches and focus reporting and resources there. For them, they noted that other local news media weren’t doing much sports coverage of local high school sports or UNLV – and that there was a lot of local interest in UFC/MMA. So that became the focus of their sports coverage. There was also a lot of interest in local politics and crime, and their competition took a regional approach to their reporting. So the LVS went hyperlocal with their coverage. 
  • Take advantage of digital technology. One thing you can do online is to add intelligence, integrate information, and personalize presentation. So on politics and crime reporting, stories are reported via zip codes. In fact, every item of content is tagged with a location, and the LVS gives readers the option of using their main site, or a entry page that is customized for their neighborhood. In covering high school sports, all of the info and stats don’t appear just in stories, but are added to a ongoing database. That database is used to automatically create separate web pages for each high school, each high school sports team, and each player. They also link to public databases with geographic information systems, so the local pages automatically create real-time maps of stories, crime reports, housing prices & sales, etc. 
  • The two items above are part of the strategy of understanding the ecosystems – what competitors are doing and what they aren’t, what the technology is capable of and how it allows you to experiment with doing new things in new ways; and probably most critically – understanding what your audiences want, and how they actually use media. 
  • The LV Sun does the last by using media analytics – a lot. There is continuous real-time tracking of story use, they monitor local social media and Twitter feeds to see what people are talking about, and track search engine use to see what information people want. For example, they found that most of the interest in their high school sports coverage centered on 8 (of about 30) high schools – so that’s where they focused their in-depth coverage. They also experiment a lot – for example, trying different formatting strategies (things like selecting photos or editing video in conjunction with stories, or giving access to a larger range of photos through slideshow features, and posting raw video footage). 
  • Curley’s final recommendation for digital journalists – don’t be afraid to go against your gut. And don’t treat your audience as passive – what drives a lot of the success of online ventures is based on incorporating ways to engage your audience and build communities.
A lot of the audience of journalists and journalism professors here at the conference thought that these ideas were revolutionary and innovative. They are, in the specific ways Curley has applied the concepts, and in the sense that they go against some of the old dictates of journalism.  However, the basic concepts are well-known basic economic, business, and marketing strategy principles – find something that people want that you can provide better or cheaper than your competition, and provide it in ways that they find useful and that adds experience. But it’s nice to see that at least some in the industry are learning, and that their success may encourage others to rethink what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it.

at the Convergence & Society: Journalism, Sustainability & Media Generation conference.


I’m attending this conference at the U of South Carolina, and hearing some interesting ideas from scholars, professionals and non-profits about how they’re using the net and the idea of “convergent journalism” to reach audiences.
  I’m also here to present a paper that I haven’t quite finished writing yet, on “Content through clouds and streams: Implications for media sustainability and regeneration.”  The thrust is that several trends in the last year or so have contributed to the rise of a new way for people to access, consume, and share media content.  In short, I’ll be talking about how the rise of connected media devices, mobile and personal media devices have combined with development and use of cloud and streaming technologies to support and encourage a shift in audience media consumption habits and attitudes.  To be specific, a shift from passive habitual use, to early efforts to assert some control over use (that were based on owning copies of content), to an emerging model that is emphasizing active choice and control over media consumption, only through an emphasis on access across devices and conditions rather than owning copies.
  I’ll be talking about some of the implications of the shift, in terms of sustainability (not having to make all those physical copies), the opportunities such a system offers for innovation – in adding value to particular aspects and exploiting added market potential, which might regenerate traditional media.  There’s some other related implications for reforming intellectual property approaches, enhancing access for content of more limited interests, etc. 
   I hope it’ll turn out to be as interesting as I think.

Follow the conference at #sjconf on Twitter

Thursday, October 27, 2011

TV Comes to Flipboard

Blog post submitted by Molly McCurdy;

In this ever growing society of media consumers, Flipboard is the answer to our prayers. Created in 2010 for Apple's I Pad tablet by Mike McCue and Evan Doll, Flipboard revolutionizes the way we see social media to date. Flipboard takes clips of websites and social media outlets and lays them out in a magazine format for the user to see. The user can then use the touch screen to "flip" through social media outlets and websites that have partnered with Flipboard.

There has been speculation for months about television and flim coming to Flipboard and the rumors are true. Comedy Central's The Colbert Report appeared Wednesday as the first show to be on the app. However, the show is not in full, you can access clips from recent shows and tweets from the show and Colbert's Twitter account. CEO Mike McCue said in an interview this Summer that Flipboard will have video for the app by the end of the year. The company is also in the final stages of releasing their I Phone app.

Source -  The Colbert Report Comes to Flipboard,  
Mashable


(edited to correct my typo on Molly's name - sorry about that.  BJB)

Social TV – Cultivating Engagement & Intermedia Strategies


These days, it seems like there’s a new “Next Big Thing” on the media front every few months.  In 2011, the idea of “Social TV” peaked, building upon an awareness that viewers were using social media and Twitter to comment on and discuss programs, and its potential to generate buzz about TV programs. 
   Fans using technology to find one another and share thoughts and comments with one another.  For example, there was a email-list for Star Trek Fans back in the 1980s, and the alt. section of Usenet newsgroups was home to hundreds, if not thousands, of program-focused locations for fans to share thoughts and materials.  With the rise of the Web, many of these groups ported over to websites.  It also contributed to an explosion of original fan fiction and fan art.  Social media and the rise of a variety of content-sharing sites (like YouTube) provided new mechanisms for sharing, and social media and microblogging sites (like Twitter) enabled new channels for sharing thoughts and comments.
   What is new in 2011 is the rise of mobile devices and the growth of multitasking during media uses.  People are increasing using a variety of connected digital devices when watching TV, enabling viewers to communicate in real time while watching programs.
  Another change in recent years is the growing recognition from TV program producers and programmers of the power of fan communities to generate interest in, and support for, programs.  Thus was born another buzzword for media producers – “engagement” – the idea that by fostering interest and interaction, they can turn at least some of the audience from mere viewers to an engaged and committed community of fans.  It’s a significant shift from viewing audiences as passive receptors for commercials attracted by programs, to an active and engaged fan audience for the program – one that will follow the program brand across media channels and outlets.   And the birth of a new buzzword – “intermedia strategy.”
  In this increasingly converged, competitive, connected media environment, media content is no longer limited to distribution on a single channel.  In this environment, content producers can utilize multiple distribution channels to distribute their content (programs).  Moreover, content producers can move from creating programs, to creating a content brand that can be used to create stories and content across media channels and platforms, and exploiting all the ways that value of content and programming can be extracted.
   Invoking an “intermedia strategy” means that content producers enable and support engagement with audience members across and between media channels, with content from one platform and source affecting content from the other, and across platforms.  It's a strategy and perspective that looks to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the new media environment, and more active and interested audiences who have increasing control over how, where, and when they access and consume media content.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Tablet Revolution and News

A new study from the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism looks at the impact of tablet diffusion on the future of news (mostly from a reader perspective)
  The results of a national survey suggest that 11% of U.S. adults currently own a tablet device, and that device is not just sitting in a drawer.  77% of tablet owners report "daily" usage, and use averages 90 minutes a day.  When asked what activities they use their tablets for "at least daily", web browsing/searching was listed most (67%.), followed by email (54% and getting news (53%).  Other regular activities were social media use (39%), gaming (30%), reading books (17%) and watching movies or videos (13%).
  The study also suggests that tablet use is encouraging changes in news consumption habits . Looking at those who report using their tablets for news on a regular basis, 33% say tablet use encouraged them to go to new sources for news, and 42% report regularly reading in-depth articles and analyses, and 30% report spending more time consuming news (only 4% reported less news use).  They also reported preferring to use their tablets for news, over computer desktops, print publications, or television as sources for news.
Other major findings:
  • revenue potential for news on tablet may be limited - only 14% reported paying directly for news access
  • substitution is already occurring - tablets are replacing news from desktops (80%), print newspapers & magazines (59%) and TV (57%).
  • incidental reading is prevalent - tablet users report regularly reading or viewing news reports beyond what they were looking for.
  • Tablet news users share and talk about the news - 85% report talking with others about news stories they read on their tablets, and 41% report sharing news through email or social media
It's a pretty thorough report, and I'll likely be posting on some of the non-news findings later.  Head to the Pew site or download the report for much more detail on the attitudes and behaviors of tablet owners and regular users of tablets for news consumption.

Source -  The Tablet Revolution: How People Use Tablets and What It Means for the Future of News, Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Full Report in PDF

Netflix Really Regrets...

The reaction to Netflix's announced (then retracted) split of its streaming and DVD by mail services, combined with price increases, continues to impact Netflix, hard.
Netflix's third quarter reports indicated that subscription levels had dropped by 800,000 (down 3.25%).  The number was higher than expected, and Netflix indicated that they expect to continue to lose subscribers as a result of the price increases.  The report also indicated that Netflix expects business losses to continue throughout 2012 as a result of start-up costs related to its expansion into Ireland and the UK.  As a result Netflix stock prices have lost two-thirds of their value since peaking at $298.73 on July 13, 2011.

Source - Netflix drops most since 2004, Bloomberg.com News

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TV production jobs currently on the rise.

Blog post submitted by Chelsey Hallett -

  It might be hard to believe, but getting a job in TV is actually looking up these days. So how can this possibly be true after years of professors saying, “It’s unlikely you will get a job in this major”? Well it all boils down to the improving state of the economy. Thanks to the break down of networks and increasing number of cable stations, TV is branching out all across the company. You do not have to live in California or a big network city anymore to have a job in TV. Due to the addition of cable stations, there have been a great deal more TV job opportunities. Many of these opportunities have been created due to increase in pilots.
  “A record-setting 169 pilots were shot last year, according to Film L.A. The increase was fueled by a cable boom: For the first time, more than half the pilots were for cable networks,” said Tim Molloy, editor of Reuters.
  But what has this “cable boom” done for the large networks? California, the heart of the TV world, is especially taking a tumble due to the expansion. Major network shows are losing airtime due to smaller comedy and reality shows making a big hit with viewers. Not only is this a problem but there seems to be a recess in the “drama” that their shows bring and is shown in their decrease of pilots. These newer types of shows are what current viewers want to see and this is definitely affecting California.
   But even though the opportunities for TV jobs are starting to rise, there are still not as many available as there were years ago. This is largely due to the change in variety of entertainment. Video games and audio books are newer forms of electronic entertainment that are overshadowing television. However, TV will always be a necessity but this does not come with the promise of an abundance of jobs.

Source -  Jobs: TV is booming, unless you work in L.A.,  Reuters (via Yahoo.com)

New Revs for old Media - Affiliate online stores

Post submitted by Brittney Dougherty (slight editting, BJB):

Finding new ways to keep readers interesting in print and web media has been a concern for media companies for some years now. It’s difficult to offer consumers something that they can’t get anywhere else. Garden & Gun has found a way to do just that.
   First of all, an online store is one step in the right direction to connecting with readers. The store has typical fare for the readers including koozies, shirts, hats and totes. On October 13, they added a new line called G&G exclusives. They worked with eight different designers to “craft a selection of exclusive goods.” Associate publisher Jessica Hundhausen says it was an exciting project.
   “Not only do we offer readers something special they won’t find anywhere else, it allowed us to collaborate with some of the best creative teams in the business…Our readers continually tell us they want more from Garden & Gun, this collection and the revitalized online store do just that,” she says.
   The Southern magazine has created a new way to keep readers interested in the magazine while simultaneously bringing in a new revenue source. Some of the items are upwards of $1,000. The Moore & Giles Gray Leather Campaign Chair is $1,200 and there is even a boat that costs $24,000. This creative and novel idea will surely keep Garden & Gun, as well as its readers, happy.

Source: “Garden & Gun Launches a New E-Commerce Platform with G&G Exclusives”   Magazine.org

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Microsoft finalizes Skype deal

Post submitted by Betsey Poore (some editing by BJB)

  The deal first announced in May 2011 is not final - Microsoft has completed its acquisition of VolP service Skype.
  Skype has gone through several ownership changes since it was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis.  It was acquired by eBay in 2005, and then it was sold to Silver Lake in 2009. Skype will now become a new business division within Microsoft. Skype CEO Tony Bates will become the president of that division.
Microsoft and Skype were waiting for regulatory approvals in several markets, primarily in Europe. The EU had previously fined Microsoft for antitrust behavior in January of 2009, prompting a close look at the Skype deal. “Together, we will be able to accelerate Skype’s goal to reach 1 billion users daily,” Bates said. Skype currently has more than 663 million users, with 170 million paying for a monthly subscription.
  Now, Microsoft’s biggest challenge is to come up with a business plan that will make Skype profitable.

Source - Microsoft's Acquisition of Skype Is Now OfficialMashable.com

Facebook challenged on profiling preteens


Post submitted by Molly McCurdy (edited and elaboration by BJB) -

  Facebook is a convenient way to stay in touch with friends and has become a pivotal advertising tool for companies; but what you may not know is that all of your personal information is packaged up into a profile, which is then marketed to advertisers.   When Facebook was initially created in 2004 as a social networking site for college students, the user had to have a college email address to register and open a page. In 2006, Facebook allowed anyone with an email address to register, although its terms stated that users must be 13 or older.  Now, seven years later, the website has transformed into an advertising powerhouse with users of all ages participating. But in a generation where cyber bullying and online predators are a serious problem, where is the age limit for Facebook users?
   The 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act prohibited any website from collecting personal information from a child under the age of 13 without parental consent - thus Facebook's choice of 13 as its lower age limit.  However, it's a soft limit, and can be bypassed.  Also, there is no prohibition against parents registering their kids on Facebook.  A Consumer Reports study last May estimated that more than 7.5 million U.S. Facebook users were under the age of 13; and 5 million were under 10. Moreover, their study found that most of their use was unsupervised by parents. Other studies indicate that about three-quarters of parents report occasionally monitoring their kids' social media accounts - but 80% of kids report using privacy settings to block at least some content from parents' view.. In any case, it's pretty clear that parents aren't always supervising and monitoring their kids' use of Facebook (or other social media sites).  Critics aren't only concerned with privacy and data collection - there are also charges that Facebook provides no increased security precautions for minors, and dioes not block advertising to kids..
   Within weeks of Consumer Reports releasing their article, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that they would challenge the COPPA law. A New York Times Magazine piece speculated that it is not certain why they want children’s membership so badly but brand loyalty does come into play - “The younger the child, the greater the opportunity to build brand loyalty that might transcend the next social-media trend. And crucially, signing up kids early can accustom them to “sharing” with the big audiences that are at their small fingertips.”
   Facebook provides a "free service", but like many media, operating costs are offset by advertising and marketing revenues.  When you create an account on Facebook you are providing personal information about yourself that goes into a “personal profile” if you will. You enter your; age, hometown, activities, “likes”, your friends, where you vacation etc. This enables the ads to be highly targeted, including targeting kids.  The more connected you are with the site, the more “likes” you post, the more personalized your ads will be on the side of the page. Some find the targeted marketing helpful, and appreciate the advertisements. For others, the concept of Facebook marketing you for profit is simply outrageous. But kids are considered special, and there is greater concern about the influence of advertising and marketing directed towards young people.  It doesn't help when a Facebook's sales chief notes that friend referrals are a potent form of online advertising, giving Facebook even greater incentives to track kids' online behavior.  Lisa Wirthman, in a Denver Post Op-ed, stated that “Parents need to pull back the curtain and understand that Facebook has no motivation to make its site safer for minors when restricting data collection from kids directly contradicts its business model.”
   Whether Facebook is directly violating COPPA is open to debate - Facebook correctly states that to get an account, you must either state you are 13 or older, or have a parent register you.  If you lie about either, Facebook can close the account, and they do, when they are notified of the situation.  Critics argue that this kind of reactive enforcement isn't enough, and that the law should be interpreted as requiring parental permission to be collected for each separate Facebook session.  They also suggest that Facebook should actively screen questionable accounts, or at least make privacy settings for kids default to the "no marketing of info" setting.
    Whatever interpretation wins in court, Facebook faces a PR issue with how they handle kids, and their personal information and behaviors, in the system.

Sources - That Facebook friend might be 10 years old, and other troubling newsConsumer Reports
Facebook and Your TeenagerDenver Post
Why Facebook Is After Your Kids, NY Times Magazine

The Pace of Change (Wireless)

Post submitted by Whitney Wilson (edited-BJB) -

  Product cycles are short, in the phone business.  Cellphone manufacturers roll that new, improved phone out every 3-4 months. While good for their marketing, it can create problems for the wireless company - particularly if their branded flagship product seems outdated 3 months into a 2 year contract.  Columnist and senior writer for CNET Robert Cheng commented,
“The Bionic was supposed to be positioned as Verizon Wireless' flagship 4G LTE smartphone--the first with a dual-core processor--when it launched in early September. But its reign barely lasted a month, and following several recent announcements, it may not even rank as the third-best Android phone in Verizon's lineup by November.” 
These Wireless providers work furiously to provide users with the newest technology, but then around three months time at the very least, this “edgy” technology is outmoded. It burns consumers out on trying to be up to date with their technology not to mention it is wasteful in terms of engineering and advertising. Cheng continued:
“But the rate at which these new super smartphones are emerging is dizzying. That run of phones doesn't even include the wave of devices hitting the market with the other major carriers. People often hold off purchasing new phones so they can see what's coming ahead; with such a steady flow of new products, they may end up paralyzed with indecision.” 
  When carriers promote and advertise a new product they want instant gratification that they can visibly see in spiking sales, but Cheng advises that it is better to be patient because the amount of new technology can be overwhelming and this is particularly true around the holidays.
  Carriers should slow down and focus on either one or maybe several products and give them time to hit the market and give consumers a chance to process the new technology. This helps consumers to be able to make more sound decisions rather than making smartphone, and a newer technology coming out recently after. Maybe coming out with a new product or several new products every 2nd quarter would be better for sales, and it would definitely be better on consumer’s minds and pocket books.

Source - Android super smartphones: Too much of a good thing?  CNET News

Recharging AND Going Green All In One

Post submitted by Whitney Wilson -

  Nousal Energy Systems is proposing a new kind of charger that charges electronics with by using the sun. It can charge items such as digital cameras, cell phones, mp3s, mp4s, radios and much more. It is made of a High efficiency Silicon monocrystalline cell encapsulated in temperate glass high transparency. In short, these materials make up the solar panel that is able to soak up the energy to charge these electrical devices. It also has a plastic covering that protects it from the UV rays so it does not wear out quickly (it comes equipped with a two year warranty).Basically the only danger is that once out in the sun if the glass becomes too hot it can be somewhat hazardous.
  Although the Solar Charger has environmental benefits, It also has its inconveniences. The time it takes to charge a device depends on the kind of battery it is and most importantly, the weather! Also, it can only charge one device at a time. It is a unique device so that should not be surprising. This device will have an effect on the world of media because with the growing concern of “going green” this is a great way to not feel guilty about staying current with technology because charging technological devices will no longer leave a carbon footprint on the world. It is a product that people will feel confident, and a sense of good will about buying. There is so much emphasis on how to save the environment, conserve energy, and people can do both of these by tapping into the resources that the world is already equipped them with i.e. solar power.
  Even though the Solar Charger is relatively new and not much is known about it here, I think that this is a huge step in the process of going green for the technological industry because if this business can make a solar powered phone charger, the next invention following may be a solar powered cellular device. It is apparent that there are some unresolved issues with this product, such as what to do in a period where there is not enough sun to be able to fully charge devices. But as with every innovative technology there will be bugs that will hopefully eventually be worked out. The catch is, this device is not available in the United States yet, but if the expansion of the market continues as is, it will soon make it to the states. The Solar Charger is primarily available in Europe, some parts of Africa, and a single location in Asia. This only goes to show that the market for this product is growing, and that the products uniqueness is something that is catching on around the world and will probably eventually make it here.

Source -  ¿QuĂ© es el Cargador Solar Universal? Nousol.com

BJB Note - Small solar chargers are fairly widely available, and a boon for journalists, hikers, and travelers that may find themselves without a functioning plug nearby to charge all their gadgets.  Prices have been falling lately due to increased production of the solar film used in these devices.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"The Beast That Ate the News Cycle"

Owen Brennan has an interesting post at The Weekly Standard Blog, suggesting that the prevalence of video cameras and the rise of video-sharing sites like YouTube is having an impact on journalism.
  It wasn't all that long ago that broadcast network news informed the nation and big city papers set the news agenda.  They were the gatekeepers, determining what was news, and how that news was presented to the public.  Then came cable networks, the internet, digital cameras, video-sharing, and social media - all of which chipped away at the role of gatekeepers and the traditional production process of journalism.  Brennan suggests that the New York Times still serves as a primary gatekeeper, determining and driving much of the news cycle - at least among the legacy media and for political coverage.
  Brennan argues that as broadcast journalism came to dominate as a source for news, and news organizations faced expanded competition from newer news delivery systems, having good video became a priority.
"Instead of clipping an article out of The New York Times or sending around a link to the big story, executive producers and assignment editors can now click on a video and say, “Here, go do that.”"  
  Since reporters and cameramen can't be everywhere, and digital video camera quality improved, often that source of video came from "amateurs."  But perhaps the biggest problem for traditional media was that they didn't control that channel; once posted on video-sharing, social media, or micro-blogging sites, everyone had access - in ways that bypassed the traditional gatekeepers.  Access to, and use of, those services have become more ubiquitous than traditional media.  Research suggests 180 million people in the U.S. watch online videos regularly (more than 85% of total U.S. audience) while the top cable news programs rarely draw more than 3.5 million viewers.  Online video has arrived, and media are struggling to decide how to use it.
  The influence of online video, Brennan suggests, goes beyond traditional journalism.  In the last few years, amateur video distributed online has created problems for many politicians and candidates.  Online video has been accepted as a mainstream source for news and information.
So, the question for 2012 is, “Will the organizations, activists and candidates who want to defeat Obama be able to harness the power of online video to drive the news cycle and shape the debate?”  (In 2008) YouTube was only a couple of years old during that election cycle, (yet) “Obama stole the show” with online video.
  Brennan concludes that
Online video will be driving the news cycle in the run up to the November 2012.. . .  (M)ainstream media will broadcast the best videos being produced about the battle on the campaign trail.
  The videos may be new, but for candidates and politicians, the most problematic are likely to be the use of older videos to remind voters of what candidates actually said, rather than the revisionist histories presented by campaigns (and often, traditional news outlets).

Source: The Beast That Ate the News CycleThe Weekly Standard

Wireless Industry, FCC, Address Billing Shock

  Hoping to preempt a move by the FCC to further regulate billing practices, the trade group representing wireless carriers (CTIA) have introduced a set of guidelines aimed at providing customers with warning notices as they near monthly limits, or other unexpected charges such as international roaming fees.  The joint announcement from CTIA and the FCC indicated that the voluntary guidelines should make it easier for customers to monitor and control their usage.  The FCC added that they will keep their billing practice proceedings open, until they see how effective the voluntary guidelines are.
  Under the CTIA initiative, wireless carriers are to provide alert systems for at least 2 of the four different billing areas (voice, text, data, roaming) within the next 12 months, and have alert systems in place for all four billing areas within 18 months.

Source - U.S. wireless initiative stalls new FCC billing rulesTelecomEngine

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Amazon Establishes Digital Publishing House

  After coming to dominate traditional book sales, Amazon has been a key driver in the growth of eBooks, initially working with publishers to consider digital sales, then producing the Kindle eReader, which undercut the limited competition at the time with a reader that offered better performance and a cheaper price.  Amazon has continued with innovative marketing, creating free eReader apps for most platforms, and making arrangements to offer Project Gutenberg's growing collection of public domain works (including many great works of literature) for free.  All these factors have combined to drive eBook sales to the point where Amazon now sells more eBooks that printed books.
  Amazon hasn't stopped there, however.  Instead of limiting its offerings to works from traditional publishers, Amazon created a system for self-publishing - authors could post their work on the Kindle marketplace, bypassing the traditional middlemen of agents and publishers (and their cuts).  This has caused some disruption, with some very successful authors deciding to publish themselves (see this post).
  Amazon's now taken the next step, and established it's own publishing house, announcing that it will publish more than one hundred titles this fall, in both print and digital versions.  It's already had one success with The Hangman's Daughter.  Originally published in German, Amazon bought the rights, had it translated, and has now sold 250,000 digital copies.  Traditional publishers claim that Amazon is actively recruiting top authors, and offering the full range of services and support that agents, publishers, and critics provide.  As such, Amazon is competing directly with the traditional publishing industry.
  While most publishers approached for a story in the NY Times refused to comment on the record, Dennis Loy Johnson of  independent publisher Melville House quipped “Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do."  Agent and e-publisher Richard Curtis elaborated - “Everyone’s afraid of Amazon.  If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out."
    Amazon's impact on publishing may not be over, either.  There was talk, surrounding Amazon's launch of it's Kindle Fire tablet, that Amazon was trying to establish what would amount to a book subscription service offering Kindle readers access to a wide range of titles for an annual fee (or as part of Amazon Prime).  If realized, such a service could have significant impacts on reading habits and book purchasing.
  Amazon executive Russell Grandinetti responded this way - “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader... Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity..”
  The risk is faced by the traditional gatekeepers (publishers, distributors) who used their position to dictate terms, particularly with non-established authors, and grab a larger share of value.  They've lost their control over access to book publishing and the traditional business model that was based on it.  The opportunity is for anyone who can find a way to add value to the author's work.  And there is a lot of opportunity for that, for Amazon, for publishers, and other entrepreneurs as well.

PS - Amazon launched its science fiction, fantasy, and horror imprint, 47 North, last week.  Among scheduled releases are works (and series) from a number of top genre writers, including Dave Duncan, B V Larson, Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, and Stephen Leather.  The 47 North imprint will join Amazon Publishing's other imprints - AmazonEncore, AmazonCrossing, Powered by Amazon, Montlake Romance, and Thomas & Mercer..

Sources - Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of DealNYTimes, posted at CNBC
Amazon's Announcement of 47 North Sci Fi Imprint, e-reads blog
Amazon Publishing website

Edited to include postscript and added sources (19 Oct. 2011)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cox Develops Targeted Promos with Conductor

Post submitted by Caitlin Rogers -


Cable provider Cox Communications has agreed to begin using Visible World’s Conductor product, which will allow for a more customized and targeted marketing strategy. So far, Cox has created several promos with Conductor and may eventually sell the idea to advertisers. In the beginning, Cox will only be tailoring its promos to cable zone levels, but in the future the hope is that they can be customized for individual households.
 With audiences often feeling bombarded by the amount of advertising they see on a daily basis, Mark Greatrex, senior VP and CMO of Cox, thinks that products like Conductor might help ease some of the ill-will. “Consumers want to see relevant and timely advertising that speaks to their lifestyle and needs,” he said.
 Products like Conductor are emerging at just the right time. With the growing popularity of services such as DVR, On-Demand, and online streaming, most people tend to fast-forward through commercials or avoid them entirely. This is bad news for both the advertising industry and the media that rely on advertising revenue. However, if ads start becoming more customized, there’s a good chance that consumers will be able to connect with them on a more personal level and will thus pay more attention.

Source:Cox to Use Visible World Product to Target Promos,” Broadcasting & Cable

Comcast Introduces Themed Packages with MyTV Choice

Post submitted by Caitlin Rogers -

  Comcast’s MyTV Choice service has made them the first company to offer themed cable packages. MyTV Choice allows customers to choose from up to 4 different packages (Kids, News & Info, Entertainment & Lifestyle, and Movies) according to their specific interests. Comcast Spokeswoman Kristen L. Roberts states that “MyTV Choice allows consumers to create a tailored video product built around genres that appeal to them.” Customers can also still order a standard package; the themes just offer another option so that those who are interested in fewer channels don’t have to pay as much. Currently MyTV Choice is being tested in Connecticut.
  MyTV Choice represents a move towards a more a la carte-type system that many cable companies are considering. Most people actually watch only a handful of the hundreds of channels they pay for on a regular basis. Themed cable packages like those in MyTV Choice will serve as a way for people to customize their viewing experience and thus feel like they are getting more value out of what they pay for.

Added thoughts (BJB) - 
This is an opening move in the unbundling of cable and other multichannel video services.  In the early days, bundling various mixes of cable channels was a way to push early audience numbers up and push demand for cable advertising.  Now, the bundles are getting so big and expensive (and the services have to pay for content on a per-household basis), that you'll likely see more unbundling to come.

Steve Jobs - Digital Maverick, Marketing Traditionalist

Post submitted by Richard Graves (slightly edited) -

  Steve Jobs' passing has occasioned various looks back at the man and his impact. One in Advertising Age looked at the late Steve Job's strategy for marketing and advertising.
  While Jobs pioneered the possibilities of digital technology, he never wavered from reliance on advertising in traditional media such as television, newspapers and magazines. The successes of his advertising campaigns and products show that even the man who most embodies the digital age did not believe that digital technology makes traditional media obsolete for reaching people. Given the man's accomplishments with his strategies, his views toward advertising should help people vested in traditional media sleep better at night.

Source -  Steve Jobs Was Digital Maverick but Marketing Traditionalist, Advertising Age Digital

Wal-Mart now using Facebook to give local deals

Post contributed by Chelsea Taylor (edited):

Wal-Mart has announced a new plan to use its fan page on Facebook to promote localized information about its stores.  The company hopes to target a new generation of customers who use a lot of social media by allowing fans of their current fan page to become fans of their local Wal-mart store.  Customer feedback from fans on their main Facebook site indicated that people wanted to know about things that are more relevant to their location. 
The current fan page has general information about products available at Wal-marts all across the nation.  Creating separate sites for local stores will allow consumers to choose to follow local stores for more focused info on local products and special sales..  They would also be able to offer special deals for fans.
In the future, Wal-Mart plans on continuing to use social media to gather information about what consumer preferences and tastes, and offer highly targeted coupons or sales to help bring customers in.
Currently Wal-mart has over 3500 locations, and almost 9.5 million Facebook fans.

Sources - Walmart Makes Big Facebook Push: Offers 'Rollback' Price AlertsPCWorld
Walmart to localize offers for Facebook fans,  Google News 


edited - had to add some content after hitting the publish button by error - BJBates

Mobile, social media changing retailing

Story idea contributed by Richard Graves:

The convergence of social media, e-commerce, and mobile technologies seem to be changing how people shop.  Analysts at CIT Group, a financial services and consulting firm for small and medium-sized retailers, note that stores and friends often use social media to share information about sales and product introductions, and that search and price comparison apps allow shoppers to comparison shop as they walk through stores.  New apps are beginning to allow marketers to geographically target ads and coupons - letting stores reach out to shoppers as they near, or more effectively target their marketing to local neighborhoods.
  Mobile retailing and pricing apps are no longer used just when traveling - but for accessing information for local shopping needs.  As both stores and shoppers gain experience with the technologies' capabilities, look for mobile to have even more impact on shopping habits and retailing.

Source - Social media, technology changing retailing, finance expert saysFurnitureToday

Data Plan Dance: The end of unlimited?

Editted post from Whitney Wilson -

  Verizon has joined the ranks of mobile carriers shifting to tiered data plans for their smart phones and tablets.  While the unlimited data caps were not proving to be an unsound decision economically at that point, the rising use of online video threatens to swamp carriers' current network capacity.  As 4G deployment expands, network capacity will rise - but will it rise as fast as subscriber data demands?
  While there is understandable uncertainty from users (who often aren't sure how much data they regularly download), the shift to tiered plans is unlikely to burden most subscribers - their current data use falls below the basic 2 Gb tier.  Further, most smartphones and tablets also can access WiFi, and data accessed that way does not count towards the tier limit.  Shifting from unlimited to use-based pricing is likely to depress data use (in the cellular system), as users start monitoring their data use until they have a better sense of their general levels of use, and see what it takes to pass that tier limit.  Online use patterns, particularly  those requiring large files, may shift to WiFi as long as it remains unmetered.  Although most people do not completely understand how the tier system works and exactly how much use they are allotted, it is said that a hefty number of people have converted to AT&T, as its data plans generally cost less. 
  Regardless of if a consumer decided to go with AT&T or Verizon, their data would no longer be unlimited. The question is who has the better deal for what is being offered.   The wireless providers are trying to make a rational decision on what is best for their business, so consumers will just have to learn to watch their data usage and cope accordingly by staying economically intelligent.

Friday, October 14, 2011

WTF(CC)? - FCC hires Best Buy Geek Squad.

  The NY Times has reported that the FCC, unimpressed by the current penetration rate of broadband access (at 68%) have contracted with the Geek Squad & Microsoft to teach us poor dopes how to use the Internet.
The story cited three reasons for our dismal performance: 1, the cost of computers and Internet access; 2, not knowing how to use a computer; and 3, "not understanding why the Internet is relevant."  Research does support #1 as a reason, but not the other two - what competent research shows is that the other main reasons for not subscribing to broadband access is lack of availability where people want to use it, or that people's online activities don't need the higher capacity (and higher cost) of broadband.
  Well, hiring the Geek Squad certainly isn't going to help much with reason 1 (particularly after the FCC raises online access fees to cover the cost of the contract).  I suppose the Geek Squad could help with claimed reasons #2 and #3, but do they need to? 
  A May 2011 report by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project (a highly competent source of much research on Internet and online uses) reports that roughly 80% of American adults currently use the Internet, and that level has been fairly constant since 2007.  Internet use is widespread, with only two demographic groups reporting less than 63% adoption rates (those over 65, and those with less than High School education).  And I just have to wonder how effective the Geek Squad will be with those two groups.  Further, a long history of Pew studies also shows that Americans know the relevance of the Internet, as they report growing and regular use of an expanding range of online activities.
  So let's say that maybe we still need to help ramp up Internet use and adoption of broadband access.  The FCC's announced plan is that the Geek Squad will partner with service organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, Goodwill, and 4-H in 20 cities to offer courses in basic computer literacy.  After a brief thought as to how helpful 4-H will be in cities (after all, it's aimed at rural and farming families), consider this statistic (again from Pew) - about 90% of pre-teens and 95% of teens already use the internet regularly.  Geek Squad reps in Boys and Girls Clubs are likely to find that the kids know more about how to use the Internet and what they can use it for than they do.  Moreover  that age group is also very likely to own multiple devices connectable to the Internet (cellphones 75%, computers 70%, and game consoles 80%).  American youth don't need courses in computer literacy.  If anybody does, it's the elderly - but how many hang around the Boys and Girls Clubs?  The effort seems misdirected (at best).
  Anyway, a lack of computer literacy really hasn't been a problem for a decade or more.  If there is a problem, it's much more likely to be lack of access (or affordable access), or lack of interest (lack of appropriately valued content or services). Microsoft's efforts are more credible and helpful, as they're emphasizing job-search training through schools and libraries. 
  If the FCC and the government want to help promote Internet and broadband use, they'd likely be much more successful if they subsidized access (or even allowed Internet Service Providers to engage in a bit of cross-subsidization), or encouraged getting a wider variety of content and services online.  As it is, all the plan does is amply illustrate the level of ignorance and lack of common sense at the FCC (and the NY Times for buying the story).  That, or the lengths they'll go to in order to manufacture a 'crisis' to address - as an excuse to raid the Universal Service Fund and TV spectrum so that they can reward their friends.

Sources - A 'Contrived' Broadband Crisis, Indeed. Pet Putman's HDTVexpert.com
F.C.C. Expanding Efforts to Connect More Americans to Broadband, NY Times

Engaged TV viewing

A recently released Nielsen study suggests owners of mobile devices increasingly use them while watching TV.  Tablet and smartphone owners lead the way, with about 40% of each reporting daily simultaneous use, and only about 12% indicating they never use those devices while watching TV.  As one might expect, owners of eReaders report lower simultaneous use (reading does tend to require more attention) - still, more than half reported some use of eReaders while watching TV (14% report daily use, 45% report never using).
 The most reported uses are for checking email during programs and commercials.  Interestingly, reported usage is fairly consistent near 60%, for both men and women, for tablet and smartphone owners, and whether during programs or commercials.  Surfing for unrelated info and visiting social media sites are the next most reported, followed by checking sports scores.  Use to look up information related to the program or commercial trailed was less common (about 30% for program info, and only 15-20% for ad-related information). 
While the report generally suggests that multitasking on mobile devices while watching TV is becoming more common and widespread, the fact that social media use and programming related use weren't nearly as common suggests the goal of developing a connected viewing experience and social TV still has a way to go.

Sources - What TV viewers are doing on their tablets, smartphonesLost Remote.
Nielsen press release

edited - added link to earlier "social TV" post. 

Hulu pulled from Auction

Hulu's owners, led by Disney (ABC) and News Corp. (Fox), has cancelled the proposed auction of the online video service.  Offers for Hulu in the first round of bidding did not reach anticipated levels - at least not without conditions that would essentially commit Disney, Comcast/NBC and News Corp. to continue to provide their programming to the service for years to come.  Comcast/NBC no longer participates in management decisions at Hulu, as a condition of their merger approval.

Source - News Corp., Disney pull Hulu from auction blockFierceCable

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Spectrum Spat Continues - Will the Real Squatter Please Stand Up?

  The TV spectrum take-back plan in the latest Obama "jobs" bill is on hold, as a result of the Senate declining to bring the bill to a vote.  In the meantime, the various players are expressing their opinions vociferously, and occasionally with strong language.
  In a recent editorial, the head of CTIA (a wireless operator trade group), accused LPTV (low power television) operators as being "squatters" on the spectrum.  Holding licenses from the FCC, LPTV operators clearly aren't squatters in the normal sense, although they could easily be described as second class citizens, as their licenses and channel assignments are conditional on not interfering with new or existing full power stations.
  The choice of the "squatter" label may be particularly problematic for the wireless group.  As several representatives from the Coalition for Free TV (a LPTV trade group) pointed out, several recent studies have alleged that wireless operators have plenty of spectrum, but are just not using it (for a variety of reasons).  Squatters would seem to be a better description for an industry that is sitting on unused spectrum while demanding more.
  LPTV operator Rod Payne spoke of his church-affiliated station -
"I am not a squatter. I am a public service-oriented broadcaster that uses the airwaves entrusted to our station to provide broadcast opportunities to greatly underserved groups of the American public. The fact that like many in this industry, I do not generate enormous revenue, but instead provide information, encouragement and dialogue that is being over-looked in a misguided attempt to generate a minuscule amount of revenue for this nation. Allow us and countless others in our industry, to use the spectrum that has been entrusted to us in new ways and we will provide much of the populace with communication avenues the wireless industry can only dream of."
Source - LPTV group tells CTIA to use mirror to see squatter, rbr.com

Budget cuts threaten college radio

More than 350 college radio stations participated in a campaign Tuesday to challenge a growing trend of colleges and universities selling or transferring their FM educational licenses to non-student organizations.  In May, Rice University sold its student station, tower, and license for $9.5 million, and a deal is pending in Nashville for Vanderbilt University's student station (reported at $3.35 million).
In most cases, stations are being bought by local NPR affiliates or religious broadcasters, as licenses are restricted to noncommercial uses.  Student programming is typically moved online, or to secondary HD channels.

There have been previous rounds of student station sell-offs, primarily in sectors where colleges of universities held commercial radio or television licenses, whose higher values prompted sell-offs as a fund-raising mechanism.

Source -  College radio stations fear budget cuts could silence them, USA Today

By Any Other Name - Perceptions of 'Web Series'

Jeremiah McMillan, writing in the Online Video Insider blog, wonders if labeling your video project a 'Web series' is a good idea.  How is the term perceived by those in the mainline TV production and programming business?
With the explosion of online video hosting, distribution, and use by audiences, and the lowered production costs of digital video, many aspiring writers and producers seem to be embracing the idea of producing "Web series" as a means of getting noticed or generating buzz about their projects.  The Web is fast becoming an effective incubator for TV, game, and other multimedia content development.  The Web is also rapidly becoming an effective platform for promotional activities (trailers, sample episodes, etc.).  And the Web is not only a platform for hosting and distributing content (for whatever purpose), it is also a platform that allows feedback and discussions with consumers, and facilitates the building of audience fan base that has the potential to engage in crowdsourcing of support, both in terms of financing and promotion (through sharing and recommendation of content).  The Web allows a 'Web series' to be many things, and to be used for many purposes.  How it's perceived is likely to be based less on the label applied or its appearance on the Web, but whether the use of the Web is appropriate and effective for your purposes.
McMillan ends his piece with a cautionary note -

But remember: An independent Web series is like any other content being developed or pitched for film or TV.  It's about the content. It's about the story. A good story transcends platforms.
Source - Using The 'Web Series'? Redefining The Push Toward Original Series For Multiple PlatformsOnline Video Insider

Will the Evening News Become TMZ?

That's the question posed by Wayne Friedman in a post on the TV Watch blog, and the title of a talk that TMZ creator Harvey Levin at the National Press Club..  Also a very scary proposition for old-line journalists.
So what's behind the headline? For one thing, research showing a decline in traditional original reporting in favor of chatter, talk and debate about news, "horse race" reporting in politics, and a wide range of soft news stories - all backed by theories predicting that competition pushes news coverage to stories that come fast and cheap, that competition pushes aspects that can be differentiated, and continued audience demand for stories with drama, conflict, or voyeuristic glimpses of the rich and famous (or even the nearly rich and famous).
So maybe the question is not so absurd, in an era where a NY Times report lists TMZ/TMZ.com as of of the ten most influential news organizations (ahead of the LA Times, ABC, CBS, Fox, and Time magazine), where the head of CBS News bemoans the lack of real investigative news (just what is 60 Minutes up to these days?), and advertisers flock to the viewers of entertainment news who find its form of storytelling more engaging, and perhaps more powerful, than straight news reporting..
Can journalism and news organizations survive, and even prosper, by becoming TMZ? 
Programs and organizations might, but I think that the bright line not to be crossed for news and journalism is credibility. A program or organization can certainly be commercially successful with a focus on entertainment, gossip, and wild exaggeration (just take TMZ, the cable channel E, and the National Enquirer for example).  But the label of news and the profession of journalism needs to maintain certain standards for people to view it as credible, reliable, and news.  The news media have enough trouble remaining credible and respectable today, without embracing the TMZ philosophy.and throwing away whatever trust audiences have in news organizations.

Source - Will the Evening News Become TMZ?  TV Watch

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just Because It's Cool - Webcam on Mt. Everest

As part of the "Everest Share 2011" research project, a scientific team from Italy has installed a Live Webcam directed at the peak of Mt. Everest.

The special camera was designed to handle extreme temperatures (down to -30 C), and sits near the top of Kala Patthar (5675 meters tall).  It's powered by solar cells, and uses a wireless link to reach the Ev-K2-CNR Pyramid Laboratory/Observatory below (at 5050 meters high).  The camera takes high resolution photos every 5 minutes during local daylight hours.

You can access the webcam feed at
www.evk2cnr.org/WebCams/PyramidOne/everest-webcam.html

Source - Live Webcam of Mt Everest is simply stunning, Broadcast Newsroom

Ad Projections - TV still Top, but Internet Overtakes Newspapers

Analysts at Zenith Optimedia predict continued modest gains in ad expenditures in the U.S. for the next few years, with total ad spending up 2.2% this year and rising to 3.5% growth in 2013.  However, ad revenue growth in the U.S. will lag behind global averages (above 5% per year), and revenue growth is not uniform across media and industries.  In the TV field, they see 12% growth for advertising in cable TV, but ad dollars falling 2% for broadcast networks and 4% for syndication. The TV spot market will be particularly volatile, they suggest, with the added demand from political advertising and the Summer Olympics pushing ad revenues up 8% in 2012 (after 4% in 2011 and then falling to 2% in 2013).
Looking across industries, the forecast calls for continued decline in ad revenues for the Newspaper industry and for Magazine advertising revenue to stay near current levels.  All other major advertising media will show some growth, lead by online advertising (16.2 % in 2012 and 17.3% in 2013.  Between this level of growth and the continuing fall in Newspapers, they predict that Internet Advertising will overtake Newspaper advertising in 2013, making it the second largest advertising sector.
Advertising Expenditure By Medium (US$ Million, Current Prices Currency Conversion At 2010 Average Rates);  And Share Of Total Adspend

2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
Newspapers
96,973
23.0%
95,416
21.5%
92,802
20.2%
91,911
19.0%
91,334
17.9%
Magazines
43,633
10.5
43,741
9.8
43,224
9.4
43,060
8.9
42,909
8.4
Television
160,199
38.4
176,826
39.8
184,929
40.2
196,182
40.5
207,056
40.5
Radio
31,778
7.6
32,169
7.2
32,899
7.1
33,906
7.0
35,117
6.9
Cinema
2,107
0.5
2,315
0.5
2,423
0.5
2,564
0.5
2,718
0.5
Outdoor
27,774
6.7
29,917
6.7
31,503
6.8
33,357
6.9
35,122
6.9
Internet
54,683
13.1
64,026
14.4
72,531
15.8
83,457
17.2
96,392
18.9
Total *
417,147

444,410

460,311

484,436

510,648

Source: ZenithOptimedia, October 2011
All segments of Internet advertising are growing rapidly, but the biggest boom is likely to be driven by the increasing use of video ads and social media.-
Streaming video ads are growing extremely quickly, thanks to the emergence of do-it-yourself tools that have allowed local advertisers to enter the market. In most developed markets, social media sites are near the top of the list of most-popular websites, and they are often way ahead of their rivals in time spent by users.
Internet Advertising By Type (US$ Million, Current Prices Currency Conversion At 2010 Average Rates)
Ad Type
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
Display
$18,349
$21,875
$25,282
$29,713
$35,218
Classified
9,911
10,950
11,990
13,078
14,246
Paid search
26,423
31,202
35,259
40,666
46,928
Total
54,683
64,026
72,531
83,457
96,392
Source: ZenithOptimedia, October 2011


In general, the report suggests that the response of the advertising market in recent years is similar to how it responded to earlier stock market crises, with lowered growth until economic recovery.  The extended nature of the current economic turmoil is extending that period, resulting in contractions in predicted growth rates in the near term rather than triggering a collapse.  While the US is experiencing slower growth rates, it remains the dominant advertising market at more than three times the size of the second largest (Japan), and due to that size differential, it will remain the largest advertising market for a while.  Similarly, the TV ad market dominates the U.S.advertising market, and is likely to do so for some time, although the Internet sector looks to challenge TV for supremacy down the road.

Sources - Television Still the Big Bucks Leader in Ad Spend Through 2013, Research Brief
Zenith Optimedia press release

How Tablets and Clouds may drive Hard Drive Demand

The rise of mobile devices (particularly tablets), particularly when combined with Cloud and streaming services, were supposed to be bad for the hard-drive (HDD) business.  After all, mobile devices shifted to flash memory for its size, weight, and power consumption advantages (Flash is smaller, lighter, and less of a drain on batteries).  Cloud services and widespread broadband access meant that people could store content in the Cloud rather than locally with every access device, reducing the need for add-on HDD media storage.  Streaming was supposed to substitute access for ownership, meaning there was no real need to have users store all of the content they were consuming.  While these shifts may yet come to fruition, in the short term it seems that demand for storage continues, and hard-disk drives remain the least expensive large capacity storage option.


Three factors should continue to drive demand for HDD drives.  First, both streaming and Cloud services require continued expansion of their storage capacity, to handle the increased needs for media content storage on the front end.  The growth of mobile and tablets are expected to drive increased demand for media content - and the large data files they require.
Finally, while tablets, Clouds and streaming may well shift consumer attitudes from ownership to access (and reduce perceived need for personal offline storage), that shift will take a while.  In the meantime, Clouds are new enough that many users will feel a need for back-up storage locally.  In addition, broadband speeds for many aren't sufficient for realtime HD-video streaming, so many consumers prefer streaming to local storage prior to watching.  And many of us old folks still believe in "ownership" as a means of assuring access - particularly with the current copyright system built on trying to limit access.  As for the potential of tablets as replacements for desktops - demand for local data storage is likely to overwhelm device capacity, meaning that tablet users will need to supplant desktop storage with networked storage.  So, even if consumer demand for data storage devices takes a bit of a hit, consumer demand for high-capacity local storage should remain high for some time to come.  Even if tablets come to replace desktops.
In the meantime, HDD price per capacity continues to fall, and remains significantly lower than any other data storage option.  Until existing (or some new) data storage technology can beat HDD price/capacity levels, the continually expanding demand for data storage should continue to benefit.

Source -  It's All About Content: Why Tablets Help Hard DrivesAllThingsD

Netflix reverses DVD-only split

Netflix, in blog post from CEO Reed Hastings, announced a halt to its plan to separate its streaming and DVD subscription services.  After three weeks of negative reaction from subscribers, and a 25% drop in its stock price, Netflix shelved its Qwikster plans  And in doing so perhaps avoided the biggest marketing blunder since New Coke
What's not being changed, however, are the new pricing plans announced over the summer - plans that would reflect a 60% price increase for about half of Netflix subscribers.  Dropping the plan to split may not be enough to stop the continuing decline, particularly as other streaming and DVD rental services bulk up their offerings.

Source -  Qwikster is Gonester: Netflix Kills Its DVD-Only Business Before Launch  AllThingsD

Thursday, October 6, 2011

No iPhone 5 - So is the iPhone 4S a Dud?

From Molly McCurdy -

  The much-anticipated Apple press conference regarding the iPhone 4S release has some Apple enthusiast feeling let down from the latest invention from the technology powerhouse.
   Bloggers have been speculating what the next generation iPhone would entail since the iPhone 4 was released in June 2010. Apple is infamous for not only creating cutting edge technology before their competitors, but each new iPhone released has externally looked more advanced then the last model.    According to CNN.com, the rumor mill said the iPhone 4S would have a bigger screen and a “teardrop” shaped back, but no such luck. The iPhone 4S in fact uses the same shell as the iPhone4 and the innovations on the iPhone 4S are essentially invisible: A faster processor, better camera and a "humble virtual assistant" called Siri that operates on voice commands.
   However not everyone agrees with this; notorious tech blog, Boy Genious, says ”The design of the original iPhone 4 is not only an engineering feat but a design masterpiece, and there’s no reason why we should expect a brand new case for every phone Apple releases.” (BGR.com )
   Another point of contention for Apple lovers was the “lame” delivery from Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, who took over for the previous CEO Steve Jobs on August 24th of this year. This was the first time Cook has given a presentation and he did not have the same charismatic and enthusiastic demeanor that Jobs was famous for. The company dragged out the presentation leaving the announcement about the iPhone 4S for the end, causing some to speculate that they had nothing of substance to announce.
CNN.com reported, "There's nothing wrong with a company coming out with an incremental improvement, but with a big news conference comes the expectation of something big," Jeff Kagan, a technology analyst, told CNNMoney's David Goldman. "This wasn't big."      


Sources -
Five reasons people are calling the iPhone 4S a dud, CNNTech
The iPhone 5 Failboard: How Everyone Got It Wrong, Gawker
Apple's Rise to Greatness,  BGR.com

Bloomberg Gets Gas

From Ashton Davis -

Most individuals have to go to a gas station to pump gas for their vehicles, right? In New York, Gas Station TV, which delivers content and advertising on gas pump screens, announced that it plans to deliver Bloomberg Television business news content to viewers at the pump. The Bloomberg industry will create a certain amount of custom settings for the Gas Station Television’s audience. The Gas Station Television has an estimated 27 million viewers that see their content on the gas pump screens on a monthly basis. Individuals have to pump gas, so what better way to present content and advertising then when they have to be at a certain location. A majority of analysts believe the content and advertisement will be a good supplemental audience for Bloomberg Television and will be a strategic addition in Bloomberg TV's current efforts at expanding its reach and impact.

Source -  Gas Station TV to show Bloomberg TV content, BtoB Media Business

Slightly edited for style and focus.  And I couldn't resist adding the title.  Ben Bates 

Mobile continues to gain ground

Two recent reports show continued growth in the mobile sector.
  eMarketer forecasts suggest the mobile ad  revenues will be up 65% this year, reaching $1.23 billion.  The mobile advertising sector, which includes display ads, messaging- based campaigns and promotions, and search engine placements, is expected to be in the neighborhood of $4.4 billion by 2015.
  Currently, messaging-based formats are the primary mobile ad campaign strategy,, but the eMarketer researchers predict that spending on banners and rich media will pull even with search revenues next year and bypass spending on messaging campaigns.  By 2015, they expect spending on search strategies will dominate mobile advertising revenues. The study also forecasts continued rapid growth in video ads for mobile.



  The other report, from online use trackers comScore, showed that almost half of America's 112 million mobile phone users currently report regularly using their devices to access media content (beyond voice and text).  comScore Senior VP and senior mobile analyst Mark Donovan, presenting the report at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's MMX conference, stated that the emergence of smartphones have been a key factor driving mobile media consumption, but that tablets are affecting consumer behaviors at an even faster pace.
  The report indicates that conventional computer systems still account for 93% of all Web traffic, but that mobile devices account for about two-thirds of all non-PC Web access.  Donovan suggested that the rapid growth in mobile Web access is affecting Web publishing efforts, citing comScore metrics showing that top publishers are getting a significant, and growing, portion of their Web traffic through mobile devices.  As examples, he indicated that 7.6% of NY Times online use came from mobile devices (USA Today had 10% and the LA Times 11.2%).
  Other online services are benefiting even more.  The music streaming service Pandora gets more than half (at 52%) of its traffic through mobile devices.  Mobile use is also increasing both the amount of use and the time spent on services from social networking (traffic up 12.5%, time spent almost tripled), and mobile use boosts traffic to online mapping services by 56.8%, and increases time on site more than nine-fold
  Donovan suggested that mobile adoption and use is nearly several of the standard measures for reaching "critical mass," and that tablets in particular are likely to be "game-changers" driving shifts in media consumption patterns.

Sources-
Forecast: U.S. mobile ad spending to reach $1.23B in 2011FierceMobileContent
Smartphones, Mobile Internet Set Stage for Increased Mobile Ad Spend, eMarketer press release