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More Signs of the IT Apocalypse December 9, 2005

Posted by David Card in Site Technologies.
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Uh oh. Last time it was a three-fer that drove irrational IT exuberance: Y2K, ERP, and that thing called the Internet. Now we’ve got Internet 2.0 and Sarbanes-Oxley. If there’s a trifecta on the horizon, better put your money in a little box under your bed.

    A new tech sector has sprung up to provide that software. Virtually every computer and software maker is eager to tap one of the few high-growth markets in technology — the best thing to happen in the sector since the Y2K panic caused thousands of big businesses to remake their computer rooms in 1998 and 1999. Storage companies like EMC Corp. stress the need to save audit-related materials for seven years. Security experts like RSA Security Inc. and Computer Associates International Inc. argue that companies can’t prevent deficiencies if they can’t pinpoint who is using the systems. A host of private companies have shifted their business models to promote their software as a cure for compliance woes.
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Entertaining Assets? December 9, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Interesting juxtaposition of acquisition stories. Electronic Arts will pay $680 million for Jamdat, a maker of mobile games sold mostly through Verizon, Sprint, and Cingular. Jamdat is quite profitable, ($6.6 million net off of $55 million in revenues for the nine months), and growing fast, but is dependent on one carrier for 30% of revenues and two others for over 20% each.

Meanwhile, Viacom’s Paramount may be joining NBC Universal in bidding for the live-action unit of Hollywood studio Dreamworks SKG. It’s Hollywood accounting, so who knows what Dreamworks’ revenues really look like, but it’s acknowledged to be losing money and has perhaps “several hundred million” in debt. Its chief asset, aside from a very modest movie catalog (60 titles; animation — i.e. Shrek — isn’t part of the deal), is Steven Spielberg, but his contract is tenuous. Dreamworks is reportedly asking for $1 billion.

Don’t ask me to explain this stuff. Today I’m just linking. I’ll reiterate my observation that EA is one of the few disciplined companies in the entertainment business.

UPDATED: see my colleague Thomas Husson’s take on Jamdat.

Psst…Keep this Under Your Hat, but, Hey, Young People Use the Online December 6, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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    You have just entered the world of what you might call Generation @.

Or not. What you’ve really entered is the clueless world of BusinessWeek, in its breathless — make that “hyperventilating” — cover story on “The MySpace Generation.”

Two thirds of the stats in the story are on teens, but B-week can only round up four college students (three of whom are 20) to interview. It spends as many pages on a tiny 2001 street-team network buzzing the Dallas music scene (Dallas? not Austin?) as it does on the 24-million monthly-UV behemoth MySpace has become. When pressed for an example of a metaphorical one-hit wonder, B-week furrows its brow and comes up with the Baha Men, circa 2000.

I loved this:

    With 20 million of its members logging on in October, MySpace now draws so much traffic that it accounted for 10% of all advertisements viewed online in the month.

Indeed, according to comScore Media Metrix, MySpace generated an astounding 3% of all the page views viewed in October. But 10% of the ads? I doubt it.

And if it did, let’s see, US Internet ad spending will be about $11.9 billion this year. Say $1 billion a month. Young adults and teens are hard to reach, so should command above-average CPMs. MySpace should have generated well over $100 million in October! News Corp. way underpaid! Either that or MySpace is way undercharging. (MySpace parent Intermix had $12 million Q2 ad sales across its whole network, which also includes FlowGo.)

InterWeb 2.0, nothing. Heck, it’s 1998 all over again.

Gee, It’s Been a While Since We Heard a New AOL Rumor December 6, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I wonder if anyone cares anymore. The Journal has Microsoft and AOL doing a deal on AdCenter and a joint ad sales force (but with no money changing hands??), with Google presumably jilted, though it says the AOL-Google contract runs well into 2006! The Times says talks are still on with both Google and Microsoft about everything (except IM, but including Google driving more traffic to AOL sites — from where? certainly not search!), and that decisions are within two weeks! No word from the NY Post, which has been breaking this “stuff” lately!

The Times also quotes Jordan Rohan, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets:

    “Parsons has done a masterful job of making it look like AOL was for sale when I don’t think it was,” he said. “The most likely outcome is simply an improvement in the terms AOL gets from Google.”

Bad Press Weekend for Wikipedia December 5, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Wikipedia may lack many things — an army of paid fact-checkers, professional editors — but it’s got ethos to spare. One thing our own ethos of blogging doesn’t allow for is for me to correct a colleague’s typo. Oh well, you get what you pay for. Everybody can use professional editors.

I’m eager to see how the wisdom of Wikipedia’s crowds can come up with a working solution to bad postings, maliciously intended or otherwise. Losing anonymity would be a shame, and I doubt an eBay rating scheme by itself will do the trick. Larry Lessig’s “sue the bastards” approach seems a bit unwieldy, as well.

    Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Stanford and an expert in the laws of cyberspace, said that contrary to popular belief, true defamation was easily pursued through the courts because almost everything on the Internet was traceable and subpoenas were not that hard to obtain. (For real anonymity, he advised, use a pay phone.)

    “People will be defamed,” he said. “But that’s the way free speech is. Think about the gossip world. It spreads. There’s no way to correct it, period. Wikipedia is not immune from that kind of maliciousness, but it is, relative to other features of life, more easily corrected.”

Diplomacy As a Continuation of War December 5, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Fairly banal interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger in the Journal today. But there are a couple of fun bits. One, on how to convince theater chains to compress the theatrical box office window in favor of DVD sales:

    “…We’ll have a conversation with theater owners to see whether we can move them more peacefully. But I think in the end, it’s going to have to be more by force than through negotiation or diplomacy.”

Real Launches Rhapsody.com and “Web Services” December 5, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Today, RealNetworks is rolling out a Web-based version of its industry-leading music service, Rhapsody.com, and the first steps in an initiative to enable music content Web services. I played with Rhapsody.com over the weekend on a Mac — yes a Mac — and it does a great job of mimicking the on-demand streaming features of the full subscription service. It’s streaming only. No downloads tethered either to a computer or a device, and no jukebox. It delivered graceful and snappy on-demand and radio performance, and the same deep, rich content that surrounds the music in the real Rhapsody. (MusicNow, prevously owned by Circuit City and recently acquired by AOL, is another on-demand service that at least in theory can support Macs.)

I’m a big believer in free trials (paid content conversions multiply by six, for those who use ’em), but Rhapsody 25 is only a pale imitation of the Rhapsody experience. A real, week-long trial to full on-demand streaming and radio would be a much better way to acquire new customers, if perhaps more expensive to implement. But Rhapsody.com makes it that much easier to try out some features.

Rhapsody Web Services are the first step towards real music-based Web services. Right now, they’re links and RSS text feeds of Rhapsody music content. No real music yet. No SDK, or APIs yet. But the initiative is intriguing, and early adopters are supposed to include MSN, Comcast, and the Rollingstone.com site that Real runs.

This combo of a Web product and the potential for Web services is the same spin AOL is putting on its MusicNow acquisition, which replaces a pretty robust but out-of-date product from MusicNet that has several hundred thousand subscribers. AOL said it could move faster, and integrate music more widely into its other offerings, if it went Web-based. Seems like Microsoft is going the same route with Rhapsody.

Big Opening? Maybe Not December 2, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I continue to love Rotten Tomatoes, a site that, among other movie content, aggregates reviews. This weekend’s only big opening is MTV Productions/Paramount’s “Aeon Flux”, which the studios chose not to screen for reviewers. RT’s commentary, which usually tallies the percentage of positive reviews in its Tomatometer, includes the following historical Tomatometer scores:

Recent Films Not Screened For Critics:
———————————————-
5% — In the Mix (2005)
8% — The Fog (2005)
24% — Cry_Wolf (2005)
0% — King’s Ransom (2005)
14% — Cursed (2005)

“Aeon” has been mercilessly promoted in theatrical trailers and, recently, on TV. It’s got ads all over Rotten Tomatoes, of course. Twenty-one percent of heavy moviegoers tabbed crummy movies as a reason they cut back this year, although that was a lower percentage than blamed the cost of going out (30%).

It’s That Time of Year Again: Predictions December 1, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Not mine (yet). But, if there is any doubt remaining that the consumer Internet (and the related stuff they used to call new media) is way more important than enterprise IT in terms of industry change and technological innovation…just look at Gartner’s first batch of predictions.

Only one of them is huge, and it’s about consumer telephony. (Though colleague Joe Laszlo reminds me that landlines have been declining for years.) As for the chance to prevent death, well, I’ll just leave that one be.

Gartner’s Six IT Trends:

– By 2008, 10 percent of companies will require employee-purchased notebooks.
– By 2010, 30 percent of U.S. homes will use only cellular or Internet telephony.
– The job market for IT specialists will shrink 40 percent by 2010.
– Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) service providers will capture $11 billion of insurance revenue by 2008.
– A 50 percent growth in healthcare software investment could enable clinicians to cut the level of preventable deaths in half by 2013.
– Through 2008, investigation of new technologies will slow as discretionary budgets divert to regulatory compliance.

Zzzzzzzzzzzz