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I Am (Now) a Twit September 29, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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The great Twitter experiment begins. 18 months late, according to most. Whatever, follow me at davidcard.

2 million users, a good third of whom appear to be in the IT industry or its related crumb-gatherers. Sigh. Don’t worry, I’ll still blog. I know what reach means. And we’ll probably even have comments under the new regime!

MySpace Music Launches at Midnight September 24, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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MySpace Music is scheduled to launch tonight. It’s an ad-supported free on-demand streaming service, with Amazon integrated as its download store, and some cool angles on sharing and discovery (including share-able playlists). MySpace has an interesting vision of artist stores — where you could buy ring tones, songs, merchandise, concert tickets, etc. but that’s still being fleshed out.

Since MySpace Music is a joint venture with all the big four labels, it will have a good catalog beefed up by the Orchard’s strength with indies. MySpace has a good track record in building a platform for indie artists, and delivers the audiences. And MySpace has already proven itself as a leading online site for music info, discovery, and listening.

Editors will program the front page and do some curating and promoting of celebrity and MySpace user playlists — MySpace hopes to be a path to amateur DJ stardom. Community curation and recommendation should play a part, too. JupiterResearch teen surveys show that 51% of the best teen music fans use social networks to find out about entertainment, and 35% use them to listen to music.

Finally, MySpace has a big ad sales force and is pushing the envelope on social marketing sponsorships, and starting to on targeting. It’s announcing with four premiere sponsors: McDonald’s, Toyota, State Farm and Sony Pictures.

It won’t have:
– For-pay on-demand subscriptions
– A radio-like offering
– Merchandise sales and ticketing (to come)
– Free downloads that run on your iPod (you can buy them from Amazon)
– Audio ads (I know, I know, they s*ck, but they’re probably necessary)
– A graceful way for indies or unsigned artists to get paid (they have to work through Amazon or the Orchard or someone else)

Jupiter has been saying for years that one of the promises of online music is the ability to blend discovery, listening, and retail experiences the way no other medium can. That’s a good vision, right? Too bad there hasn’t been any proven demand for it. Perhaps MySpace will tap that hidden demand — they’re in a very good position to do so. Online discovery, for example, can and should tap word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and influentials (rather than broadcast). That’s a natural for social networks, and MySpace will try to encourage playlist-sharing (so far not used by many), as it has successfully encouraged song-embedding on personal pages.

MySpace will make its money on ads — affiliate fees for downloads will be gravy, if they’re lucky. MySpace Music isn’t quite as rich an offering as Rhapsody or Napster (yet?) though it may appeal to aficionado audiences as well as younger fans. We’re more bullish on ad-supported services reaching mass markets, but still see a role for premium products for the most serious fans.

Billboard has the best story
TechCrunch has screenshots

Missing Potter September 24, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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This just isn’t the same. Actually, I’m using that story on the Bollywood Hari Puttar as a cheap excuse to berate the current teen bestseller list. Let’s see, the Twilight series promotes ultra traditional values: meek girls should settle down with manly vampires. And the latest in the Inheritance series, Brisingr, which I’m about a quarter of the way through, has “graduated” from a home-schooled teenager’s Deep Insights on responsibility and identity to scarily S&M-colored self-actualization.

Harry Potter might have been a thinly-disguised English public school jock with geek friends and gay teachers, but at least he was concerned with balancing friendship, teamwork, & individual responsibility while battling evil. Boy, I miss Brit kid lit.

Is Facebook Killing Apps & Widgets? September 23, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Of course not. But still. Count me among those who prefer the Facebook redesign. As a user. But as an apps/widget vendor, I can see why you’d hate it. More evidence that Facebook needs to support that piece of its ecosystem better. A long time ago, colleague Emily Riley suggested Facebook should experiment with an apps marketplace with bid-for-position placement a la paid search. And I’ve been saying that “monetize thyself” is a bug, not a feature.

Jupiter analysis on
– widget marketing (and Forrester’s take)
– social marketers’ plans for the various social networks
– social marketing budgets

SInce Everybody Else Opined on SanDisk’s slotMusic September 23, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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For some reason, people were writing about SanDisk’s slotMusic — a plan to distribute record albums (remember them?) via DRM-free MP3s on microSD cards. (Aspiring pundits should probably avoid publicly reminding readers they’ve forgotten the past.)

Here’s what physical distribution of media was supposed to do in the 20th century:

Enforce DRM & release windows
– Facilitate retail
– Force consumers to regularly upgrade
– Create a reasonably cost-effective value proposition for consumers with margins for retail and rights owners

DRM is dead. So here’s what physical distribution of media needs to do in the 21st:

– Save brick & mortar retail. Oops, too late
– Act as a back-up; slotMusic defeats the purpose if its pitch is a re-usable medium
– Create a reasonably cost-effective value proposition for consumers with margins for retail and rights owners. We haven’t seen pricing yet, so who knows?

SanDisk is fighting the good fight in devices, and they’re a real scrapper, but this dog don’t hunt.

Yahoo Starting Points and Front Doors September 18, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Yahoo folks remind me that “front doors” is an internal org chart thing, and they still think about starting points for Web entree: the homepage, Mail, mobile, and search. And they’re definitely focused on them in the near term.

Fair enough; and apologies to my readers for any confusion. The rest of my post still makes sense.

Yahoo Homepage Redesign: Yahoo’s Primary “Front Door” September 18, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Yahoo’s rolling out a beta version to random users of its redesigned homepage, the single most valuable piece of real estate on the Web. (At least until Google puts ads on the front page.) When Jupiter was briefed about the strategy a month and a half ago, we talked about a couple things:

– Yahoo has a notion about Internet starting points or “front doors.” In investor presos, it calls the homepage, MyYahoo, Mail, Search, and Mobile as those starting points. But in our more fine-grained discussion, UPDATED: we talked about the homepage, MyYahoo, the toolbar, and Yahoo Buzz are the near-term focus points.

– I asked explicitly about Mail (which opens with a news/content pane, two tickers, a Web search bar, a rich media ad unit and six other ad/promotion/text ad units). I got the feeling that Yahoo is re-thinking what kind of a starting point role mail should play, and that its current content launchpad role might not be the way to go.

– Yahoo’s always been correctly cautious about changing the homepage, and about integrating customization/personalization there. It can’t risk alienating or disorienting its homepage users, and it’s never gotten MyYahoo usage above 10-15%. (No one else has done better; widgets on social networks are the most promising customization technique we’ve seen.) Yahoo’s strategy to teach its mainstream users to customize the homepage feels like it will leverage Buzz as a promotional vehicle.

– Key to “opening up” the homepage will be Yahoo’s work with other serious companies. (This isn’t about widgets and apps done in garages.) Yahoo will be very careful about what modules can show Yahoo.com: think eBay, e-mail, and established social media feeds first. I could see Hulu potentially, and other MSM (esp. entertainment news) feeds. And the social feeds will certainly show up in Mail.

– Yahoo still believes in editors, as well they should. 50 things go into the front page Today module a day, and there are a number of “relevance” engines that power them: Buzz, an optimization technology Yahoo doesn’t talk much about, editors, and, eventually, some day, maybe, a social graph-tapping system TK.

I’d like to hear Yahoo say more about the other UPDATED front doors starting points, and how they work together. I’m a portals guy — hey, I used to be an AOL apologist — and I think portals are in serious trouble: under threat from social networks as comm’s and entertainment hubs, and decimated by Google.

TechCrunch’s take on the homepage redesign (and screenshots). A little more on the philosophy behind the redesign, from AllThingsD.

How to Make BillG Look Like a Saint, Part VII September 17, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Nathan Myhrvold, patent troll.

    Millionaire Nathan Myhrvold, renowned in the computer industry as a Renaissance man, has a less lofty message for tech companies these days: Pay up…Over the past few years, the former Microsoft Corp. executive has quietly amassed a trove of 20,000-plus patents and patent applications…In recent months Mr. Myhrvold’s firm, Intellectual Ventures, has secured payments in the range of $200 million to $400 million from companies including telecom giant Verizon Communications Inc. and networking-gear maker Cisco Systems Inc., according to people familiar with the situation. Verizon, for instance, disclosed in a July filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it plans to pay as much as $350 million for patent licenses and an equity stake in a patent-holding investment fund.

End of an Era, Part XII September 16, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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File this under “End of Era.” MTV is ending Total Request Live, one of the originators of “illusionary programming” (what Jupiter called entertainment where you fooled the audience it was in control, ie off-line UGC).

Best Buy to Acquire Napster September 15, 2008

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Yes, and Circuit City used to own MusicNow. I’m not sure I see what’s different about market conditions now versus then, other than it’s a few years later and the market has consolidated.

– I see why a music retailer would want an online play, but I don’t usually think of Best Buy as a music retailer.
– On-demand music services are a fairly complicated product for a minimum-wage clerk to sell, but Best Buy has more skills than some
– I suppose there might be some hardware/services combos in the works
– I’m more bullish about ads supporting this business in the long run than anything else right now, and this doesn’t play to any strengths there