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Let the Price Wars Begin – er – Continue November 30, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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I got a snailmail flyer from Wal-Mart (!) last night. The exclamation point is because I live in the East Village; the nearest Wal-Mart is in New Jersey. The flyer also promoted the online store (where prices were lower but products out of stock this morning.) Some highlights:

– Creative Zen Xtro 30GB MP3 player $188.54
– Rave-MP AMP 256MB MP3 player $49.72
– Prominent promotion of Wal-Mart digital download compatibility, 88-cent singles, and gift cards

Who will deliver 2GB with a useful UI for $100, and when? Next Xmas?

My new favorite thing: Janus-or-similar portable rentals plus 2GB for $100 and a $15/month subscription service. Think of it: 30 of your favorite must-have albums with you at all time, plus 10 others that you’re renting and have in heavy rotation. Commuter, exerciser, listener-at-work bliss!

Suing Smart November 24, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Now this is a good way to sue pirates.

Assuming he’s guilty, this clown is a great target:

– He’s in the industry. (An actor, even!)
– He sent movies to an organized piracy ring
– He got access to the movies because he’s in the industry (voting on Oscar screeners)

The deterrent effect on casual consumer piracy may be a bit muted because the case is so obviously “criminal”, but the PR should be all good.

Slow-Dancing Dinosaur November 23, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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I predicted/recommended Rather’s retirement a few months ago. You could look it up.

Role-Playing at the Big Three November 18, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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There’s always plenty of talk about AOL’s business looking more like Yahoo’s or Microsoft‘s, but how about this? It seems Yahoo will effectively be doing the UI for SBC’s on-demand video, which it seems will be powered by Microsoft infrastructure software.

I’ll repeat my usual caveats about “partnership” deals. “Partnerships” are just about meaningless unless two of the following apply:

– Money changes hands
– Product ships
– The deal is exclusive for each company

Welcome to the 21st Century November 17, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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My colleague, Eric, discovers the joys of Firefox.

Hey, Eric, you can download different search modules (like IMDB, Amazon, Dictionary, or Joe‘s cool NY Public Library one). And control-f gives you a toolbar at the bottom instead of hovering inappropriately, and highlights your find term onscreen. And there’s a function module that lets you hide objects (useful for avoiding analyst/bloggers’ photos.)

And…skins.

Heck, it’s almost as good as Safari.

Sadly, there won’t be a mass consumer migration anytime soon. 50% of consumers don’t re-set their home page. And we’ll probably see tabbed browsing in IE in, oh, 2006 or 2007, along with the alpha of Longhorn. (If you have to, Avant can add it to IE now.)

An Aussie Microserf says they don’t need no stinkin’ features.

FDA, WSJ Do Semiotics November 16, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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I’m just going to run excerpts without commentary from this Wall Street Journal story. Curious readers will make their own judgements. Emphasis mine.

The ads “make representations about sexual activity in men who take Viagra,” the FDA wrote. As evidence, the regulatory agency pointed to the pairing of provocative narration, such as “the guy who wanted to spend the entire honeymoon indoors” with an image of the man “gazing at black bra, panties and negligee in store window.”

…In its letter to Pfizer, the FDA took particular exception to the implied claim that Viagra “will provide a return to a previous level of sexual desire and activity.” The letter said the FDA wasn’t aware of data supporting that contention and asked Pfizer to submit the proof, if it exists.

…Levitra has managed to be cleverly oblique. Its early ads featured a man with graying temples throwing a football through a tire swing. More recently, the brand has relied on a sultry, 44-year-old actress wearing a loose man’s dress shirtadvertising short-hand for a woman who recently has had sex — to talk about the drug’s benefits.

Ads for Cialis, meanwhile, feature love birds cooing and a couple in side-by-side bathtubs holding hands. The ads haven’t triggered FDA action.

The “Wild Thing” spots were intended to help set Viagra apart in an increasingly crowded field. There are some signs they aren’t scoring as well as earlier Viagra spots, such as those featuring a smiling guy named Bob whose officemates can’t figure out why he seems so happy.

Hollywood Aspirations? November 15, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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The new product-placement films Amazon is front-paging this holiday (brought to you by the same folks at Fallon Worldwide/RSA responsible for BMW Films) have all the earmarks of a real Hollywood production. The first 8 minute film, Portrait, credits four writers (only 3 in the IMDB listing), two scripters, two exec producers, and two producers. I hope they’ve all got a piece of the back-end.

Marketwatch: Don’t Underestimate Syndication November 15, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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Alan will no doubt crow that Dow Jones’ proposed acquisition of Marketwatch is a further sign that advertising trumps consumer-paid content online. But 58% of Marketwatch’s 2Q revenue came from syndication, compared to 40% from advertising. Syndication is outgrowing advertising, too, although that’s due to Marketwatch buying Pinnacor. Its syndication business is a nice fit with Dow Jones’.

Marketwatch partners? The CBS deal expires next October; it probably won’t be renewed. Thomson Financial is a Dow Jones competitor, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that one live on. Pearson (the Financial Times, the Economist) and Dow Jones are also competitors that occasionally dance together.

Underdog November 11, 2004

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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The Journal reports that the first server running Microsoft’s new search offering is named “Underdog.” I can’t resist recalling one of my all-time favorites:

UNDERDOG THEME SONG
(written by W. Watts Biggers)

There’s no need to fear! Underdog is here!

When criminals in this world appear
And break the laws that they should fear
And frighten all who see or hear
The cry goes up both far and near
For Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

When in this world the headlines read
Of those whose hearts are filled with greed
Who rob and steal from those who need
To right this wrong with blinding speed
Goes Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!

Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
Fighting all who rob or plunder
Underdog. Underdog!

underdog.jpg

Looks Like I May Have to Sign Up for Cable After All November 11, 2004

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
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The Journal reports that Blockbuster is offering to buy Hollywood Video. It tried five years ago but backed off under FTC pressure. The FTC and Wall Street – who may be puzzled with Blockbuster’s renewed interest in physical rentals and stores – will no doubt scrutinize this proposal.

Kim’s Video is just too much of a hassle.