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Gannett Local Channel December 19, 2002

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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I can understand why Gannett would want the digital channel, but not for this product. Gannett is asking cable operators such as Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications Inc. — as well as satellite providers EchoStar Communications Corp. and Hughes Electronics Corp. — to carry the new America Today channel in exchange for permission to continue rebroadcasting Gannett’s television stations over their cable systems.

That technique might work for satellite, but seems to flaunt must-carry rules. Perhaps Gannett’s forgiving fees?

The channel supposedly will be programmed on a grid, with a given city at the same time every day. This kind of offering cries out to be on-demand. It might be better suited for Internet rather than cable delivery, given that the audience will be so small. But Zatso tried that already, and failed. I doubt there will be much demand for the channel’s ad inventory, so the effort would be dependent on cable fees.

Can You Say TRON? December 18, 2002

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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I’m skeptical about a Japanese joint venture for a CE operating system described in this Dow Jones article The two Japanese consumer electronic giants aim to develop the operating system by next spring, a Matsushita spokesman said….Sony and Matsushita said they mainly plan to use the Linux-based software for audiovisual equipment. The two traditional rivals started talks on the pact this summer.

– Audiovisual equipment doesn’t need an “operating system” – ie., a full-blown runtime application environment, a file system, APIs, device & graphics libraries, etc. Those kind of devices might best use a stripped local runtime with an identification/handshake mechanism

– If the talks really just started this year, then nothing will ship next year unless it’s relabelled existing code, and even that’s a stretch.

– Japanese joint ventures rarely work – mainstream competition is so fierce “partners” usually put their worst people in them

AOL Day Blues December 3, 2002

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Boiled down, the “AOL Day” analyst briefing was a bust. This describes the all day session that was supposed to outline the strategy for turning around AOL, with particular focus on its broadband strategy.

The highlights:
– The story that was picked up was AOL’s announcement that 03 advertising revenues would be down another 40%-50%, due to the end of old contracts worth $500M.
– AOL will seriously market its bring-your-own-access package & maintain its $14.95 pricepoint. It announced no new telco or cable deals. If AOL markets aggressively to its installed base, it should have no trouble meeting its modest goals: “05 broadband penetration will not be double digit millions.”
– AOL reaffirmed its previous strategy to focus on community. I like this strategy, but it is difficult to market to new users.
– AOL said it would increase its focus on additional paid content and services, but announced no packages or pricing. No music or games service. No charging for IM or parental controls outside the AOL walled garden.
– AOL said it would use Time Warner content, but announced no tiered packages & did not commit to pull Time Warner content off the open Web.
– AOL announced it would launch a fixed price liquidation market, but try not to compete with eBay. It is “evaluating” classifieds markets where it has no strong partners (sounds like Real Estate to me).
– AOL hinted that it wanted to replicate “the MSO model” – I interpret that to mean it will pay royalties from its paid package to other content providers for exclusives.
– AOL gave some data tidbits: 4.1M users acces AOL monthly via broadband; 2.7M of them for over half of their session time; 2M of them pay AOL for narrowband access or BYOA; 650K of them pay AOL for broadband.