Monday, March 28, 2011

Advertising on Podcast video

From Damion Huntoon:

According to a new report from Edison Research and the Association for Downloadable Media (ADM), podcast fans are a fantastic audience for advertisers to reach.

The study shows that podcast fans are generally well-off financially, they pay attention to ads in podcasts, they’re hard to reach with traditional advertising and they are 6 times as likely to “enjoy” the ads in podcasts as consumers of traditional media.

In this video Tom Webster of Edison Research presents the results of the recent ADM study of Podcast Consumers Attitudes.

From Still to Multimedia

An entry from Gina Hudson:

This is a news snippet that I ran across in one of my media sources that might prove interesting down the line.

"ThingLink, a provider of image interaction tools, and SoundCloud, an audio platform, announced a collaboration of technologies that enables anyone to add sound and music directly to their images. Users can link a SoundCloud waveform player to any photo or picture, connecting the picture and its viewer to sound effects, music, voice annotations, and narrations. By using ThingLink, users can also include links on the image to social networks, blogs, news and commerce websites, and email." (March 22

A gallery showing the "enhanced" images can be found at:

Who will get Warner Music Group?

It's fairly unusual for a big media company transaction to be conducted by auction.
Now, at least five buyer groups have been told that they're through to the second round.
Among those still in the bidding process for some or all of Warner Music Group (WMG) are several private investment groups, Sony Music, and BMG Music Publishing.  Sony already has about 28% market share (both music and publishing), which might trigger anti-trust review..

Source: "Will Sony Team With BMG to Buy Warner Music Group?All Access.

3-D on your phone?

Sprint and HTC unveiled the first "glasses-free 3-D smartphone" at a recent trade fair.  The device will run on Sprint's 4G network to help with the potentially bandwidth heavy 3-D video.  Why potentially?  Among other things, there's very little 3-D content designed for a cellphone's small screen.  Then, there's the issue of whether people want to watch (and pay for) such content.
But technology marches on.

Source: "CTIA: Can Sprint, HTC make 3D matter on the phone?" Connected Planet

"TV Everywhere" - The other issue

In the previous post I talked about the authentication issue behind "TV Everywhere."
This one addresses another aspect of IP rights and licensing - do the cable and DBS operators actually have the right to distribute programming of independent cable networks via alternative delivery systems?
Responding to Time Warner Cable's recent announcement that it will distribute 32 live channels through an iPad app that will only work in customer's homes, a number of networks (including Scripps Networks Interactive, Viacom, and Discovery) have questioned whether or not Time Warner has the right to do so. 
At issue is what rights are in current contracts - which are generally limited to "cable television" or "DBS service."  And it's not that unusual a debate - when new uses or distribution channels come along, there is often a lag in terms of writing them in contracts (one classic example is that when the old TV show WKRP originally licensed the music for the show, they only licensed it for TV - so the show wasn't available on DVD until they renegotiated music rights for that - and in some cases had to change songs when rights weren't available).  Does Time Warner have only the specific rights in the contract language with networks, or do they have the right to send the programming to "any device in the home" through a secure network (whether cable or WiFi).
The courts will eventually decide that issue.  But in the meantime, individuals retain their rights to time- and place-shift programming they legally access (through earlier court decisions regarding copyright's "Fair Use")

Source."New Cable Fight at Hand" Wall Street Journal online

Can Adobe make "TV Everywhere" real?

The biggest obstacle in getting commercial content online has been fear of the "free rider" (an economic term refering to those who can get the value of a good without paying for it).  That and piracy, anyway.
For the last year or so, cable networks, cable MSOs and DBS, have been touting their "Next Big Thing" - TV Everywhere.  At the heart of the concept is the idea that you can watch any programming you've paid for (through your cable or DBS subscription), on any screen (TV, computer, laptop, mobile), anywhere, and any time.  What's holding it up has been the problem of making sure that you've paid your subscription when you access content (and it's you, and not your friend in Utah).
Adobe recently announced "Adobe Pass," which they claim will provide a secure authentication system to provide access to content across a range of computer and mobile operating systems.  A benefit in that it promises to use a single user sign-in, and not require additional downloads or authentication with each device.
Such a system would help remove one roadblock to "TV Everywhere."  Now if they could only fix that piracy issue...

Source: "Adobe Pass Wants to Turn On TV Everywhere," Vidblog

Broadcast Nets continues decline; Cable Networds gain.

From the highs in the "good old days" of three networks, where they regularly had 90% of audiences, the broadcast networks have been losing audiences, first to Fox and independents, then to cable.  But the latest numbers are really bad.  A report from Turner Research, based on Nielsen data, shows significant drops in the last year, even from the previous bad numbers.  (The numbers below represent what is currently the broadest measure of TV viewing - live plus 7 days of time-shifted viewing over the last six months)
  • Fox, 4.6 million viewers (4 rating), down 6%
  • CBS, 3.9 million (3.4 rating), down 10%
  • ABC, 3.2 million (2.8 rating), down 10%
  • NBC, 3.19 million (2.8 rating), down 17%
  • Ad-supported cable, combined 18.5 rating, up 3%
Source: "Broadcast Losing Ground, Cable Gains," Media Daily News

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Radio Mergers & Acquisitions

In all the news about AOL/HuffPo and AT&T/T-Mobile, the report of the third largest radio operator, Cumulus Media, buying the second largest (Citadel Broadcasting) kind of slipped by. 
The combined company will have 572 stations in 120 markets (Citadel owns several in Knoxville).  I'd also interpret the fact that the valuation of the current deal ($2.4 billion) is very significantly higher than the $1 billion offer Cumulus made for Citadel last year is an indication of improving prospects for local radio.

Source: " Cumulus Agrees to Buy Citadel Broadcasting in Deal Valued at $2.4 Billion,"

"Direct to Torrent"

Paramount will be releasing "The Tunnel", a faux-documentary horror movie, direct to consumers through BitTorrent.  The torrent feed will include the full basic movie, and Paramount will simultaneously release a DVD with a batch of extras (including added footage, an alternate ending, and a "making of" documentary.
Paramount sees this as not so much supporting piracy, but exploiting a peer-to-peer, word of mouth, promotion scheme for the small budget film.  It's also consistent with its user-backed financing scheme, where the producers sold "frames" from the film (and shares in potential profits) to interested parties online.  (About 30K of the 135K frames were sold at a $1 a piece).

If nothing else, it's an interesting experiment in alternative financing and marketing.

Source: "Direct-to-Torrent: Paramount Releasing 'The Tunnel' over BitTorrent," Vidblog

The Lost(?) Art of Fantasy Futures

One of the things I remember from way back when, were the family trips to World Fairs and similar events.  Seems that every one had a couple of hyper-optimistic visions of "tomorrow," that explored the potential of then-current technologies.  And yes, I was geeky enough to be fascinated by "what-could-be", even as I was realistic enough to know that predicting the future of technology is tough.  (Just ask the 1950s president of IBM who predicted that world-wide demand for computers was 3).
There have been other visions buried in science fiction books and movies (i.e. the PanAm clipper service to space in Kubrick's 2001; and the always present & hyper-partisan news inserts in Starship Troopers), but these have become much less positive visions (Blade Runner, Matrix, the Fifth Element, for example) over the years.  And somewhere along the way the idea of World's Fair seems to have disappeared.
The point of all this is that Corning Glass seems to have hit a chord with their somewhat sappy video clip "A Day Made of Glass," which is nearing 10 million hits in less than 2 months on YouTube.  The point of most of it is not glass per se, but as glass as screens accessing an interconnected media/computing virtual universe.  It's somewhat sappy, but most of the glass surfaces displayed are either here, or are reasonable extrapolations from current R&D.  The interconnected multimedia networked computing implied may be a bit more of a reach - not because the technology is not possible, but in that it's implying a smoothly integrated set of operating systems and applications that is less likely to emerge in the short term. 
Anyway, it's worth a look, and I kinda like the return of sappy, over-optimistic visions of the future, after all of the dismal futures dominating modern media.

Study suggests boom in digital advertising.

A new study by BIA/Kelsey predicts that online advertising dollars will almost double over the next five years, rising to the point where it accounts for about one-quarter of all local spot ad revenues.  They suggest that as the economy improves and small and medium sized businesses come back into the advertising arena, they are increasingly drawn to the maturing digital advertising options (online, mobile, social media).
This, with the projected continued erosion of newspaper advertising revenues, will drive the rise of a dominant new advertising market.

Source:  "Local Online Ads to Hit $42 Billion by '15, Digital Dominates Future,"  Online Media Daily

Monday, March 21, 2011

AT&T to acquire T-Mobile

T-Mobile USA has been looking for a merger/purchase partner for a while - as #4 in wireless, it's not in a good long-term position to continue to finance periodic network upgrades.  Still, it seemed to be a surprise to industry analysts that the buyer looks to be AT&T (now #2 in the market)
The deal makes a lot of sense for AT&T - both it and T-Mobile use the same basic cell technology, so there shouldn't be any interface problems, and T-Mobile holds some 4G spectrum licenses in areas where AT&T is weak.  It should facilitate AT&T's "Long Term Evolution" build-out that will eventually cover 95% of the US population.
Because the combined subscribers will give AT&T a little more than half of all wireless customers in the U.S., the deal is sure to undergo intense regulatory and anti-trust scrutiny.  Already, critics are suggesting a number of reasons to reject the bid - mostly the same old anti-monopoly rhetoric about big, bad, Ma Bell.  But wireless is inherently different from the old wire-line - instead of local monopolies, wireless is locally competitive in all US markets.  And the old AT&T was never anti-innovation (that's how it achieved and maintained its dominant position in the old telephone marketplace). 
Still, as they say, interesting times...

Sources: "AT&T to Buy T-Mobile for $39 Billion", Information Week
"Meet The Old Ma, Same as The Old Ma," Information Week

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pew releases 2011 State of the News Media report

The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism has just released its "The State of the News Media" report for 2011.  Lots of good new information, with some added special reports examining aspects not heavily addressed in previous versions (local news over mobile, comparison of US newspaper industry with the rest of the world, the economics of community news. and a case study on new media and news in Seattle).  I'll post the basic study link below, and get to aspects of the report over time (I hope).

"The State of the News Media 2011," Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism

Cable, Interactive Media, most profitable.

Not all the financial news is bad. A new study by Ernst & Young on the media & entertainment sector reports average profit margins for various industries.  Over the 2006-2010 time frame, they report average profitability as:
  • Cable operators: 38%
  • Interactive media: 35%
  • Cable networks: 31%
  • Satellite TV: 27%
  • Publishing: 20%
  • TV broadcast 16%
  • Content production (games, film, TV): 12%
  • Music: 9%
Source: Ernst & Young press release

Local Broadcasters explore Mobile Apps

Local TV stations are putting out apps for mobile devices (tablets and smartphones), often in conjunction with a variety of technology and software vendors.  Many are proving to offer a new, albeit small, new revenue stream through ads, and the potential to develop new uses, such as running contests and providing news and weather alerts.

Source: "Stations' Mobile Apps Showing Promise," TVNewsCheck

"The State of Online Video" Video

ComScore has posted a video of its presentation on its latest "online video" research, on usage and the growth of revenues and how to monetize online video, at the OMMA Video conference.  You can access the video here (comScore "The State if Online Video")

More "Cord-Cutting" (Bumped with further update)

"Cord-cutting" seems to be the preferred buzzword describing the shifting of TV viewing from traditional media (broadcast, cable, DBS) to accessing programming online (IPTV).  New results from a continuing tracking study by Knowledge Networks show some interesting trends.
  • 35% of Americans 13-54 report watching streamed programming from a TV network
  • 5% report reducing or eliminating regular TV service in last year (17% of those who streamed network programming) - up from 3% (9%) in 2009.
In addition, Horowitz Associates released some related research on urban audiences.  Among results:
  • 31% of urban viewers watch TV content on alternative devices (laptops, etc.)
  • Of those, they report an average of 15% of viewing time on alternative platforms
  • There are ethnic differences: 41% of Asians watch on alternative devices weekly, as do 37% of Latinos and 36% of Blacks, while only 25% of Whites report watching video on alternative devices at least weekly.
  • 46% of US TV viewers report owning at least one video-enabled mobile device.
A recent release by Nielsen also reported a considerable increase in online video usage:
  • A modest (3%) growth in the number of unique viewers from last year
  • Significan increases over last year in terms of amount of viewing: total streams up 31.5%; streams per viewer up 27.5%;  and time spent watching online video (per viewer) up 44.5%
  • Netflix leads in time per viewer (11+ hours/month), while YouTube leads in total streams (8.5 billion in January 2011) and unique viewers (112 million)
These all support the notion of a shift in traditional TV viewing habits - particularly a shift from equating video entertainment with the traditional TV set and distributors.

Source: "Study Shows TV Streaming, Cord-Cutting Increasing" MediaDailyNews
             "Non-Traditional TV Viewing Surges," MediaDailyNews 
             "Laptops Boost Online Video Viewing: More Shows, More Time," Research Brief 

Nielsen Press Release "January 2011: Online Video Usage Up 45%"

Cable News Coverage of Crisis "Sucks"

Television critic Tim Goodman writes a highly critical review of the recent cable news outlets coverage of the Japan crisis.  But it's more than the typical rant, he offers a strong analysis of what he considers the three most obvious failings: A lack of planning, perspective, and focus that led to ill-informed and speculative coverage, and reporters resorting to stupid questions like "How scary has this been?"
It's worth a read.

"Analysis: TV Cable Coverage of Japan Crisis Is Lacking," Tim Goodman, the Hollywood Reporter.

Advertising up, except for print

A report from Kantar Media showed the overall US advertising economy grew by 6.5% in 2010, lead by large increases in spot TV and radio (largely a result of 2010 election spending).  Overall, TV gained 10.3%, Internet display advertising 9.9%, Outdoor (billboards, etc.) 9.6%, radio 7.6%, magazines 2.9%, and newspapers showed a decline of 3.5% (-3.5%).
In releasing the report, Kantar Media VP Jon Swallen noted that local newspaper ad spending had declined for 21 consecutive quarters (more than five years).  He also attributed a small increase in national newspaper ad spending (2.7%) as resulting from the Wall Street Journal's adding several new editions and initial forays into online "tablet" publishing.
He also noted that while ad spending in magazines rose slightly (2.9%), spending levels remain below their high in 2008.

Source: "Amid Ad Turnaround, Print Media Continues to Lose Ground," MediaDailyNews

More "Cord-cutting" (Updated)

"Cord-cutting" seems to be the preferred buzzword describing the shifting of TV viewing from traditional media (broadcast, cable, DBS) to accessing programming online (IPTV).  New results from a continuing tracking study by Knowledge Networks show some interesting trends.
  • 35% of Americans 13-54 report watching streamed programming from a TV network
  • 5% report reducing or eliminating regular TV service in last year (17% of those who streamed network programming) - up from 3% (9%) in 2009.
In addition, Horowitz Associates released some related research on urban audiences.  Among results:
  • 31% of urban viewers watch TV content on alternative devices (laptops, etc.)
  • Of those, they report an average of 15% of viewing time on alternative platforms
  • There are ethnic differences: 41% of Asians watch on alternative devices weekly, as do 37% of Latinos and 36% of Blacks, while only 25% of Whites report watching video on alternative devices at least weekly.
  • 46% of US TV viewers report owning at least one video-enabled mobile device.
    Source: "Study Shows TV Streaming, Cord-Cutting Increasing" MediaDailyNews
                 "Non-Traditional TV Viewing Surges," MediaDailyNews

    TV for iPad app

    Time Warner Cable has launched a new iPad app that extends its adoption of the "TV Everywhere" concept.  Initially, the app will offer access to 30 cable channels through a subscriber's home WiFi network.  TW indicated that over time, they will add capacity to access programming outside the home, to set a DVR to record programs, and to use the iPad as a remote control.
    Comcast had offered a similar iPad app last November allowing access to video-on-demand (VOD) programs, and plans to offer access to live programs later this year, and plans to offer an Android app accessing VOD later this month.

    Source: "Time Warner Cable Offers TV-Watching App,Online Media Daily

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    3D handheld gaming?

    From Andrew Starnes:

    Gaming is a very popular among today's youth and even some adults. The next phase in portable gaming technologically is right around the corner. The Nintendo 3DS will hit stores later on this year and if the software of this gaming system lives up to the hype, it will be an incredible device. The main problem, that this article points out, is will the 3D technology work correctly and can Nintendo make games effectively in 3D? I believe that Nintendo can accomplish this task because they have led revolutionary advances in gaming technology before. This 3D will be an incredible advancement for gaming abilities because it will not require gamers to use glasses that other systems currently use. This means it will be more user friendly for people because some people don't like how the glasses feel or their apparel appeal. If this gaming system is perfected, then I will think about getting one of these because the layout, graphics, and design really appeal to me. I know people that are really excited about this release and there is a lot of buzz online.

    Source: "Nintendo's 3-D Gadget Faces Software Hurdle." Wall Street Journal-Asia Technology

    TV's Changing Behavior- DVR Penetration and Use grows

    Revised projections from a Magna Global study suggests that both DVR (Digital Video Recorder) and VOD (Video on Demand) penetration in the US will reach 50% by 2016. 
    In the meantime, a recent Nielsen study suggested that DVR use added 2.3 ratings points to total day usage, and 7.9 ratings points for primetime programing (in DVR homes).  More importantly, it showed that DVR viewers did watch commercials on their DVRs.  Nielsen also reported that current DVR penetration varied by ethnicity (40.3% White, 35.4% Asian, 30.3% African-American, 29.8% Hispanic), and income.

    Source: "Play It Again, Sam," Research Brief form the Center for Media Research

    TV's Changing Consumer Behavior

    Dr. Elizabeth Hendrickson, a colleague here at UTK, passed along a link to this report on "How New Media is Changing TV."  Emphasizing the changes in how people watch TV (increased time-shifting, concurrent with other media) the study concludes that both programmers and advertisers need to rethink how they connect with audiences.

    Source: "How New Media is Changing TV: Shifts in Consumer Behavior (Part 1)," Social Times

    NYTimes to try again.

    After a series of disastrous attempts to milk NY Times content online, the New York Times announced plans to once again try to charge online readers for access to certain types of content.  This time, it proposes to use a metered model that will let users access a limited number of articles for free before being charged.  They estimate the cost for heavy users as around $20 a month, less than their Kindle Subscription rate.
    What's the prospect for success?  Well, in January, Bloomberg reported that after spending $40-$50 million on the system, they had fixed some 500 known glitches, "with 200 to go."  And, at $20/month, they'll need 2.5 million heavy users/months just to recoup initial investment.  The Times' past history with pay models suggests its unlikely to reach those levels.  So I'm not surprised that they also announced they'll start charging for its iPad and iPhone apps.

    Source: "NYT: All the News That's Fit to Mint," Media Daily News

    New approach for iTunes?

    Apple is said to be in talks with record companies about changing how iTunes customers can access and use music they've purchased.
    Apple is seeking licensing rights that would allow them to provide a permanent backup of music purchases, and allow downloads to multiple devices linked to the same iTunes account.
    iTunes, which became the top US music retailer in 2008, and accounts for about two-thirds of all digital downloads in the U.S., is facing increased competition from streaming services like Pandora, new Web-based services like Spotify, Rdio, and MOG.  They are also facing Amazon's shift to DRM-free downloads that do not place limits on how or where music is used by consumers. They argue that expanding digital rights might revive the recently stalled growth in digital downloads.

    Source: "Apple is Said to Negotiate to Allow Unlimited Downloads of Music Purchases" Bloomberg

    Where is the Living Room?

    A panel on "The Living Room Wars: Convergence or Chaos," held at OMMA Global, looked at the rise convergence and connected devices in terms of where and how video programming is consumed.  From the old days where the family TV set dominated the living room, to recent years where most homes had multiple TV sets in a variety of rooms, and the plethora of other devices (computers, video games, etc.) emerging in recent years, the ways in which video is sought and consumed is changing.
    Anthony Soohoo of CBS Interactive suggested that the really big change is still coming, as "last year is the first year that video went portable," and that portable video had the potential to impact audience uses as much as portable radios changed radio listening behaviors.  And the issue is not limited to where video is used, but also to whether video programming should be tailored to alternative experiences, to whether programmers need to rethink content.

    Source: "Where is the Living Room?", VidBlog

    Decline of Traditional TV?

    Damion Huntoon recommends this piece on the decline of TV -
    "Tech and the Decline of Traditional TV," Larry Magid, The Huffington Post.

    In search for new revenues, Discovery offers Archive

    Discovery Communications is making its footage archive, comprising more than 100,000 hours of content, available to external production companies.  It's new content licensing business,, is an early move in the shift from sales to licensing as the source of ongoing revenue streams.

    Source: "Discovery Offers Archive Via e-Commerce Site", MediaDailyNews

    In search of new revenue sources, U.K. lifts ban on product placement

    For more than 50 years, the U.K. has prohibited any form of paid brand integration or product placement on its airwaves.  They did so even as the rest of Europe was easing similar rules as stations, networks, and program producers sought new revenue streams in the increasingly competitive broadcasting markets.  But in this case, the pressure seems to be more a mandate from the EU towards standardization of  broadcast revenues than a quick money grab.  Although the current culture minister is quoted as saying that the product placement revenues are needed to keep U.K. program production firms competitive.  While lifting the band, Ofcom (the British version of the FCC) is still imposing strict limits on sponsorship, still banning it for alcohol and foods and drinks high in sugar, fat, or salt.

    Source: "U.K. Lifts Product Placement Ban," TVBlog

    AT&T's U-verse - Coming Soon?

    As I've mentioned a couple of times in class, you can see the thick AT&T U-verse cable being laid along the river-side edge of campus, on its way to the downtown telephone hub.
    It's a local reminder of U-Verse's rapid expansion, which surpassed 3 million TV customers in January.  Further promoting this expansion is the FCC's approval of a WiFi set-top-box for Pay TV, which means that you won't have to run your home computer network to all of your TVs, saving time and money.

    Source: "AT&T touts U-verse TV's fast growth, as WiFi set-top box approved," Connected Planet

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Network Neutrality & Congress - Status

    Congress has delayed a vote that would void the FCC's current Network Neutrality rules.
    So what's Network Neutrality and why would Congress try to circumvent the FCC?

    Well, Network Neutrality is one of those nice-sounding buzzwords that gets applied to a range of concepts, some with little or no real relation to either networks or neutrality.  In the current focus, it's all about whether ISPs and the people running the actual Internet infrastructure, can differentiate among users and uses, particularly with different pricing schemes.  To those pushing the policy, it's spun as keeping the Internet open and free (or at least at flat-rate pricing).  They proclaim that without Network Neutrality, you'll have a two-tier (or more) system where all the good stuff is only available at a premium.  The net industry, though, sees that the Net, with ever-increasing demand for bandwidth, is approaching capacity, and that in many cases, only a few users dominate data flows on the net (for example, Netflix accounts for 25% of all US Internet usage during evenings - alternatively, think about someone who's constantly downloading video on a shared system and slowing things for other users). The ISPs and backbone folks want to be able to either limit usage, or charge high-users more.  Another idea that's been floated as the network nears capacity, is to have a class of transmission that has priority, or guarantees a bandwidth (for example, to guarantee a data rate that would stream HD programming in real time).
    While both sides have their preferred metaphors, I like comparing this to mail - You have a basic system at one set price, but you can pay a little more for faster delivery or a variety of service guarantees.

    The real problem, though, is not the contrasting ideas or metaphors, but with the FCC's proposed rules - which mainly limit ISP and network operator's ability to control use and prices.  Data usage on the Internet doubles every few months, so there is a constant need for upgrades, and occasionally a need to limit usage at points between upgrades.  The FCC's rules limit systems ability to upgrade (and one study suggests will result in a loss of 700,000 jobs and a decline in service). 
    More importantly, this is the FCC's second set of Network Neutrality rules - the first was struck down by the Federal Courts on the argument that the FCC did not have the authority to impose that particular set of rules.  Then Congress got into the act, with a majority of both Senators and Representatives signing onto a letter basically telling the FCC to knock it off.  So does the FCC obey the Courts and the will of Congress? No - they basically reissue the rules that have already been declared void by both the Court and Congress (and without going through the mandated regulatory process this go-around, to boot).  So don't expect this set of rules to last too long either.

    Now, there are good arguments on both sides, for a number of issues under the "Network Neutrality" concept.  But, as with several other actions this government is taking with regard to the Internet - this action is not good for the Net or for users in the long run, although it may make some people feel good about doing something, at least until the real impacts are felt.

    Smartphone race tightens

    The latest report from Nielsen shows a tight race for among the top smartphone platforms:
    Android OS - 29%
    Apple iOS - 27%
    Blackberry OS - 27%
    The release of the iPhone for Verizon and the current price drops for the iPhone 3 may give Apple a boost, breaking the current tie with Blackberry.  But Android is leading by far globally, and as the number of apps available grows, it should maintain its lead.

    Source Online Media Daily "Android Pulls Ahead in U.S. Smartphone Share"

    Upgraded iPad

    Announced recently.  Adds camera, slightly faster processor and much faster video processing in a slimmer and lighter package.  With sound and video editting capabilities (and the ability to port out HD video), it offers some more flexibility, but still, it seems more an upgrade than significant improvement.  Still, it still leads the growing class of handhelds..