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Google Gears for Offline Web Apps May 31, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Google Gears — great name, btw — is an open-source browser plug-in aimed at making Web apps work offline. It’s a cool initiative, but it’s very, very beta and almost no one’s built anything with it yet. In the grand scheme of Google announcements, this is still a medium-scale deal, at best.

Gears comprises three applications and their accompanying APIs: a local server, a tiny database (SQLite, with Google’s full-text indexing), and a background synchronizer (browsers are pretty much single-threaded, so this might help connected performance, too, as well as run in the background.) A new version of Google’s RSS Reader is the first implementation. Gears will support Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, with Apple’s Safari still to come.

Scoble and TechCrunch explain it well, and the comments are intriguing. Michael Gartenberg had some deployment issues.

Note how neither Gmail nor any of Google’s “office” apps are supported yet. That said, this is clearly a Microsoft-like “platform” play, rendered in classic Google style. That is, no restrictions (open-source, even), mash-up friendly, broadly useful. However, that also means minimal support for developers, at least so far. Gears was announced at Google’s first real developers’ day. Slightly surprising, there are no Web services Gears is explicitly optimized for.

And, oddly, there’s no immediately obvious way to tie into Google’s ad networks. The truly unique innovation from Google in platforms is that it brings a revenue stream along for the ecosystem, something Microsoft’s still figuring out how to do well. Even though persistent Web apps would be an interesting advertising platform.

And, boy, does this bring back memories. Me and my old boss Dave Smith debating software platforms. Feels like 1995.

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Lucas: Hedge Fund Movie Investors = Suckers May 31, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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He may have forgotten how to make movies, but he still knows how to make money off movies:

    Film legend George Lucas has seen a lot of people think they can do well by investing in the movie business. The latest are the private-equity firms. “We call them the sucker of the moment,” he said in response to a question during the D conference.

He’s so right. Oooh, it gets better:

    Mr. Lucas opined that the latest crowd of investors may want to both make money and meet girls. He guaranteed that they will not do the former. As for the latter, there are a lot cheapers ways to do that, he suggested.

What Every 15-Year-Old Wants in His Bedroom May 30, 2007

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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Not what I’d call “social,” but still…

    Genevieve Bell, an Intel senior researcher and anthropologist who studies how different cultures view technology, says many designers haven’t caught up to the way PCs are increasingly used for entertainment and networking. “People are inherently quite social,” she says. “The challenge is, how do we make designs that echo that.”

Oh well, Microsoft’s making tables. UPDATED And colleague Michael Gartenberg calls it magic

Evaluating Internet Media Concentration the Way the Feds Do May 29, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Since the FTC is a-knocking on Google’s door, it seemed appropriate to take a look at a Herfindahl-Hirschman Index for the Internet. That’s the industry scorecard that is one of the tools used by both the FTC and DoJ when they evaluate industry concentration in merger analysis. A low HHI score can come from a market with many, many players, or from one where no one has dominant share.

A quick, back of the envelope HHI for US Internet ad spending market share in 2006 (see Figure 2) produces a score of a little over 1,000, which qualifies as “moderate concentration.” Using comScore traffic data on time-spent, you get an index in the 330 range, which is “not concentrated.” That spending market share score is up from the 650 range in 2004, when last we calculated it (see Figure 1). But Internet advertising still isn’t highly concentrated.

Recommendations I Wouldn’t Have Thought of May 29, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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This is an awe-inspiring recommendation from Amazon. The robots don’t lie. I’ll leave it to you to make the connection.

Buy The Dangerous Book for Boys and get SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea at an additional 5% off Amazon.com’s everyday low price.

Teaching the little scoundrels how to kill a man with a pencil or paperclip, I bet. Jack Bauer would be proud.

Facebook on Deck – if Not at Bat – in Platforms May 25, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Let’s see, the NY Times headline reads “Facebook Expands into MySpace Territory,” while TechCrunch says “Facebook Launches Facebook Platform; They are the Anti-MySpace.” TechCrunch is more correct.

In case you hadn’t noticed, MySpace has moved out of “MySpace territory” into Yahoo territory, folks. But Facebook’s architecture — and core vision — is way more suited to exploit the connections inherent in a real social network. MySpace is held together with rubber bands and duct tape, and doesn’t actually have a hard-wired network — Everybody Is in Your Extended Network!

But, who cares? That hasn’t stopped MySpace. It thrives on the nearly anarchic DIY ethos. Yeah, it’s screwed up a few times, but it’s recovered.

Facebook builds a potentially much more powerful communications infrastructure. And now it’s letting developers tap into it. Lots of question marks about just how well you can use that network and still allow users to control their privacy. I believe Facebook will err on the side of its users (it’s learned its lessons), but what will that mean for developers?

And one thing Google has taught us — even Microsoft — about the platform business, is that you’ve got to bring a revenue stream along for your ecosystem. Facebook says: “you’ve got the freedom to monetize the way you want.” In other words, “we’re not making enough money to share yet.” I’m sure they will, in time.

We’ll get you more than first thoughts after we’ve sat down with some Facebook execs.

Supporting the Internet Advertising Arms Race May 23, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Attention online publishers’ salesforces. Here are the slides you need for your next sales call. Yes, Jupiter surveys show adults spend as much time online as watching TV. Yes, adults under 35 spend more time online — in fact, 18 to 24 year-olds say they spend twice as much time online.

Needless to say, ad spending doesn’t quite match up with time spent. One problem with the argument: half that time online is spent in communications apps, which are less advertising-friendly. But heck, over 30% of TV viewing time is spent on DVDs or DVRs. Still, we’ve all got to learn how to do that integrated media/communications/marketing thing better. But you have your marching orders.

Succumbing to Hollywood-Style Hype May 23, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Well, it looked serious, though I said it wasn’t sustainable.

    During an investor conference call yesterday, Chief Executive August Busch IV said Bud.TV will “probably fade.” Data show the number of unique visitors to the site in March dropped 40% to 152,000 from the month earlier, according to comScore. Traffic to the site in April was so low it didn’t meet the threshold for measurability, the tracking service said.

Latest Music Phone Ads: Almost Getting It May 22, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I’m loving the Verizon “music hunter” ads — featuring Music ID that allows you to identify a song played, for instance, on the radio, where most people find new songs, with your phone and download it. Extra coolness points for using a Modest Mouse single. Not as good, but still kinda neat: Sprint’s ads where be-sunglassed young executive types must have Ciara, Joss Stone, and My Chemical Romance, so they download songs over the air. Negatives for less than hip artists.

However.

Big negatives: neither ad is easy to find online. Try Googling or Youtube searching.

And both are way too focused on OTA downloads. First, we’ve gotta teach Amuhricans to use their phones to play their existing digi music collections, then teach ’em buying, let alone OTA buying. Remember? That’s how iPods worked. Otherwise, guys, you can keep complaining about iPod stereotypes till you’re blue in the face.

Now, That’s a Tabloid May 21, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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In case you were wondering, one of the reasons I’m harsh on the free start-up tabs, is that we have real tabloids here. Much more entertaining. You’ll want to read all the grisly details.

    Jared Paul Stern – a rogue former freelancer for Page Six who was accused last year of trying to shake down billionaire Ron Burkle – is now threatening to sue the New York Post.
    The disgraced journalist, who was investigated for alleged extortion by the U.S. Attorney’s Office but never charged, included with a demand for money a four-page list of embarrassing allegations about his former colleagues that he is prepared to make public.