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Promotional Singles May 28, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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The CNET headline reads “Pepsi’s iTunes promotion goes flat.” And an Apple flak is quoted as saying they hoped for more than the claimed 5 million digital songs redeemed from Pepsi bottle tops.

This is silly. Let me tell you, heads would have rolled at Pepsi if the company really had to cough up royalties for 100 million downloads. This ain’t like coupons, which are used by CPGs to make quarterly sales figures. This was pure branding for Pepsi, and for Apple, too, if they’d admit it.

As Niki points out, and as I did in a research report, promotional singles are a great thing, both for branding and building digital music awareness. We’ll see if they actually lead to jukebox platform proliferation.

We will be digging into this topic at Plug.IN, and in a future report this year.

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One UI Does Not Fit All May 26, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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To see the full-screen trailers of The Incredibles and Alexander, Apple is making you use iTunes, rather than its QuickTime player. (It uses QuickTime for the full screen version of Spider-Man II or Sky Captain.) After you view the trailer with iTunes, you end up at the iTunes store’s new trailers section. However, most of the trailers housed there drive you to QuickTime, rather than iTunes, as the media player.

I don’t believe that one UI fits all. Neither does Apple, usually. There’s good reasons that the UIs for QuickTime, iTunes, Safari, the iPod, and OS X are different, and tuned to the functions and medium they’re focused on. A browser is about browsing and searching. It accomodates viewing short media like music clips and trailers via plug-ins just fine. Music lends itself to playlists, sorting by artist, album, or genre, and, when portable, one-thumb scrolling and manipulation. Etc., etc.

The iTunes video experience exposes some flaws of the single UI approach. It’s probably just an implementation glitch, but with QuickTime you can skip ahead or back in the trailer; you can’t with iTunes. Tivo, who is very good at creating a TV UI, falls flat with its music and photo features. Microsoft’s Media Center implementations – both portable and TV screen versions – are similarly challenged, though Microsoft, for once, is not crippling them with too many Windows conventions.

Homeric Words of Wisdom May 23, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Tonight, Homer Simpson says, as the little guy unseats Big Media:

“Instead of one big-shot controlling all the media, now there’s a thousand freaks Xeroxing their worthless opinions.”

Mr. Burns later offers homage to Rupert Murdoch – straight to the camera. I laughed aloud at both lines.

Cable-only Playoffs May 23, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Thoughtful NYTimes analysis by Richard Sandomir on pros and cons of putting NBA playoffs on broadcast vs. cable nets.

I’m torn myself. On the one hand, broadcast networks optimize the value of event programming to the largest audience. On the other, cable feeds the true fans more efficiently.

What Google Should Do Next May 23, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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Try this on for size. This should be Google’s next consumer service. Call it MyGweb or GFiles or something.

The Google Toolbar would have a Save As button. You’d click it, and the page you were on would be saved into your gigabyte (I guess it’s not terabyte ) of online storage. You could apply labels to the page, a la Gmail. This file would be quite complementary to Gmail, Blogger, and Groups.

Conceivably, there are copyright issues, but if it’s personal storage, there shouldn’t be.

I’m still figuring out whether I like Gmail’s labels better than folders. I think I still prefer folders, but that may be because I’m used to them. Folders let the user create hierarchical taxonomies. (Google doesn’t like taxonomies or hierarchies, at least not for the user to see. Except in News.) On the other hand, labels let you apply multiple categories to the same document. The only way I’ve been able to re-create that effect in my personal filing system is by creating different folders full of aliases. That’s an inelegant solution, at best.

More Than a Search Engine? May 19, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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I think Danny is on to something. In his ClickZ column, he worries that history might repeat as companies try to be “more than a search engine”:

…this inattention to search also caused the search engines, ahem, portals, to take their eyes off the search ball. Into that space came Google. Its founders previously said they had no real interest in joining with any of the established portals. It was clear those companies weren’t focused on search…

…I’ve generally thought it unlikely we’ll get a “new” Google in the near future. It didn’t seem the major players (Google included) would make those old portal mistakes again and neglect search. But events of the past weeks make me wonder anew.

Maybe the established companies will be able to juggle all those balls in the air: portal features, search, media sales, without dropping any. Perhaps the circle will turn again, and a new Google really will emerge.

He’s also smart to point out that it’s a mistake to mix key-word contextual ad revenues in with paid listings revenues. That’s why, in our forecasts and analysis, we don’t.

Niki already blogged on Danny’s column. (I guess Search Engine Watch posts earlier than ClickZ.) I kind of disagree with one of Niki’s points. Google isn’t really a media company yet, and the nerds still are making most of the decisions.

If they were a media company, Google News would be better. What they are is an algorithm company that now has an ad network, and will soon have a network of email users.

More Proof Entertainment Isn’t Business May 17, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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A couple of charming quotes in the NY Times story on Dreamworks potentially taking its animation group public. Both are from co-founder David Geffen:

“If it isn’t as big as we had hoped,” he added, “it’s successful and it’s made all three of us happy.”

…”This venture is going to go on for the foreseeable future. I care. Steven cares. Jeffrey cares. People do things sometimes because they believe in them. It satisfies things you may not understand.”

I’m glad you’re all happy, and you all care. Remind me not to invest.

Media is a Good Business May 11, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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In a story on NBC Universal, the Journal prints a chart of big media company revenues. I have stuck on my cube wall a chart from Fortune dated Sept 2001. Compare revenues:



Then Now
Time Warner $44B $40B
Disney $27B $27B
Viacom $26B $27B
News Corp. $15B $19B
Vivendi (NBC) $16B $13B

Ouch.

PS In a dark twist of irony, that Fortune story is called “Messier takes on the media titans.” Guess he lost.

PPS How come neither story counts Sony or Bertelsmann?

No Fear, No Webs on First May 7, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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MLB and Universal backed down.

More Wisdom on TV Ads May 5, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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More sensible talk about commercial TV, courtesy Wall Street Journal interview with Joseph Abruzzese, Discovery’s ad chief.

On shifting ad dollars from broadcast to cable:

… I don’t think there’s going to be a 40% shift of dollars, but there could be a 10% shift [to cable]. A 10% shift could be a billion dollars. A billion dollars is 10% [to the broadcast networks], but in cable, because it’s smaller, it’s a 17% shift, a 17% increase in dollars for cable.

And

WSJ: What can cable offer that broadcast can’t? Does it matter that your audiences are smaller?

Mr. Abruzzese: I think we offer a little more integration in our products. When you look at what Home Depot has done on “Trading Spaces,” or what Procter & Gamble has done on a lot of shows using the Swiffer — we do a lot of that. It’s helped a lot.