IBM just announced that it has acquired WebDialogs, Inc., a privately-held vendor of Web conferencing and communications services.
Those of you who use Skype regularly will know the WebDialogs brand "Unyte," which provides real-time collaboration sessions via the Skype service.
WebDialogs offers online meeting and collaboration services that combine Web and audio conferencing into a single, easy-to-use experience, and requires no support from your IT department (it's SaaS).
WebDialog's service capability will be integrated into IBM's Lotus Notes and Sametime software.
More details here.
Remembering that Google paid a whopping $1.65 billionaroonis for the online boob toob that is YouTube, one couldn't help but wonder if they were ever going to invent an ad format that might allow them to get some of those roonis back.
Wait no more.
The New York Times, along with a gazillion other blogs (including, now, this one), has reported that...gasp...Google announced a new type of video ad, one that was both unobtrusive and also keeps users in the driver's seat.
Envision this...you're watching your favorite bulldog skateboarding video on YouTube, and out of nowhere, a small overlay ad appears at the bottom of the video about 15 seconds after you start watching it.
"Wanna try the new Purina Bulldog chow? Click here."
At which point, the viewer can ignore Purina and continue watching the bulldog skateboarding on down the street.
Then the countdown begins...
10....9....8....7...(bulldog hits the half pipe)....6....5...4...3...2....1...
And, if you do nothing, the ad disappears.
And, if you instead opt to stop watching said skateboarding bulldog and click on over to the ad?
The YouTube video pauses, the ad begins to play, and after the ad ends you can resume watching your video.
It's opt-in people. Opt-in advertising for the Intertubes...err, YouTube.
Wow. And methought the Googleites would come up with some kind of forced pre- or mid-roll unit.
As Scott Karp points out in Publishing 2.0, "now we're going to find out what people REALLY think of video ads."
I'm long on video advertising online -- it's an idea whose time should have come a long time ago.
But it clearly needed someone with the heft of a YouTube to get others to agree on a common format.
We'll see if this is the one that suits the Grand Media Plan in the sky, but it seems to be off to a roaring good start.
The YouTube video ad format allows for targetability against user demographics (including age and gender), location, day part, and content genre, and can be bought via a standard CPM.
Take a gander at one of the new ads here.
And remember, if you want your skateboarding bulldog videos to continue to be served up gratis, don't forget to click.
Technorati Tags: advertising, google, online video, skateboarding bulldog, youtube
If you follow this blog with any regularity (the blogging kind of regularity), you know I'm a huge fan of the Geico cavemen.
Everybody else thinks a new TV show about the cavemen is silly, but for me it's Must See Jurassic Age TV.
So it was with a stroke of serendipity that I stumbled across some kind of "Sponsored by" Facebookvertisement this afternoon reminding me to go back and visit the Geico caveman hipster pad called the "Caveman Crib."
First off, if you've never visited the Cavemans Crib, you must go.
If you have visited it, know they've made some updates to apartment 1231 (Hint: The landing page interface is an iPhone...Yeah, baby, Geico Caveman iPhone love).
I was just this very day wondering out loud to myself about how Facebook could use its sticky front page real estate to get more advertisers involved, and then the Geico Caveman show up with their best clubs a swingin'.
I'm sure the Geico Gekko ain't happy about the Cavemens' newfound Facebook celebrity, but that's Darwinian natural advertising selection at its best.
We'll see come ABC's fall TV line up whether or not the Caveman comedy series survives its Mendelian genetic evolution.
Technorati Tags: advertising, facebook, geico
Facebook hopes you never use your desktop or browser email client again.
Or so it seems.
In a post on the Facebook blog
yesterday, Luke tells us you can now send messages to people on Facebook and
to people not on Facebook.
The idea seems to be that you will likely want to continue to communicate with Facebook holdouts -- you know, the ones you invite to be your friend over and over again, to no avail.
Luke informs us that you can invite friends to events and groups through such existing email addresses, and that they can even RSVP.
But if they wish to see your Wall posts or get in on the discussion boards, they'll have to stop holding out and join Facebook. (Uh, if you don't know what the Wall is, you're probably a Facebook holdout)
C'mon, join up. All
kids are doing it.
Meanwhile, back at the Adobe ranch, Adobe has announced the latest version of Adobe Flash Player 9, codenamed "Moviestar."
According to a post
over at Read/WriteWeb, this new version of Flash includes H.264 standard video support. Which I bet you
didn't even know you'd been waiting on!
This is the same standard deployed on Blue-Ray and HD-DVD high def video players, i.e., a very high quality digital (signal, stream, what?)
Adobe says this new technology will enable "the delivery of HD television quality and premium audio content."
Of course, there's no ignoring the significant penetration of the Flash video player (which Adobe claims is now 98.7%) -- it helped grow online video penetration via the YouTube, making the online video experience less buffery and more consumable.
Me, I'll be downloading the Adobe Flash 9 beta
shortly to take it for a test spin.
If I'm not back in five minutes, just rest easy in knowing I got caught up in a maelstrom of high-definition ones and zeroes in the Matrix, and that all is well in the world.[Read More
(I need to make a phone call.)
Well, Skype's Heartbeat blog finally told us overnight what went wrong with the Skype network: Microsoft.
As Villu Arak explains in his blog posting, "the disruption was triggered by a massive restart of our users' computers across the globe within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through the Windows Update."
Arak goes on to explain that the "high number of restarts affected Skype's network resources, causing a flood of log-in requests" and which, "combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact.
So there you go. Microsoft sneezes, Skype catches cold.
(Psst....I need to make a phone call.)
Om Malik wonders whenceforth was eBay's senior management, suggesting that "Ebay and Skype management are happy to talk to the press when delivering the good news, but in this crisis situation, the silence was deafening."
He points out no statements were given out by Ebay CEO Meg Whitman, nor Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, "leaving their PR agency and the blog to keep people informed."
Though Malik suggests this led to more rumors and innuendo than might have been warranted, I'm not so sure.
I don't have any problem myself being communicated to via a blog. In many cases, I would actually prefer it.
(Psst..Hey, I really need to make a phone call!)
A blog allows a company to explain what's going on in more detail, which can be particularly important for something involving technology, where more ink may very well be required to explain in full.
The problem in the case of the Skype outage seemed to be there were no real facts or details behind the outage because nobody at Skype knew what the ---- was going on.
Arak's posting indicated on August 17, at 1100 GMT, "As Europe has woken up to a new day and Asia is entering the evening hours...We're on the road to recovery."
Great, will you be serving coffee and donuts?
Or how about this one at 0700 the same day: "My client is now occasionally bringing in stacks of unread multichats. Hope yours too."
Hope? Hope's a little town in Arkansas.
(Is anybody listening!?!?! I really need to make a frickin' phone call!)
It's with no small irony that we discover that Skype's "road to recovery" winds all the way across the continent and directly through the streets of Redmond, Washington.
I wonder if they still have any phone booths there.
Could I possibly bother you for a quarter?
I really, really need to make a phone call.
Technorati Tags: skype, voip
I woke up today after my post-Elvis 30th anniversary celebration expecting that all would be well again in the world of Skype, only to discover a rash of continuing headlines about a continuing outage.
The New York Time's Brad Stone catches us up here,
explaining that some 220 million Skype users around the world (many of them small businesses who had given up their landlines) are phoneless.
eBay (Skype's owner) lost $1B in market cap yesterday.
Folks like Om Malik are reporting how development teams
scattered around the globe who depend on Skype are being impacted.
Me, I have a backup...it's called Vonage. Woo woo, woo woo woo.
Here's hoping my Time Warner Roadrunner cable stays up and running.
My only question is, what does this bode for the future of online television a la Joost???
Will Joost turn the Internet equivalent of the Emergency Broadcast System into a 24 hour miniseries event?
Tune in next time to find out....that is, if you can.[Read More
IBM and Sun announced a few moments ago that IBM will distribute the Sun Solaris Operating Systems and Solaris Subscriptions for select x86-based IBM System x servers and BladeCenter servers.
This announcement builds on IBM's longstanding partnership with Sun and its work supporting Java.
As our VP, Systems and Technology Group, Bill Zeitler just indicated on the teleconference announcing this move, he expects this announcement will lead to an expanded relationship between IBM and Sun.
Then the inevitable question about AIX and Linux was just raised on the call by one of the participants.
Zeitler responds: "I don't see a single operating system as being the choice. Customers make choices. Markets make choices. Responsible vendors respond to those customer environments.
He then added, "We wil still continue with our AIX investments, but just pragmatically, there are a lot of Solaris customers who are loyal to it as well. So I think this is a reinforcement to our commitment to interoperability in the marketplace, and I think that customers will react strongly to it."
Technorati Tags: aix, linux, systems_and_technology, solaris
What happens when you pick up your phone and your phone says it doesn't recognize you, so therefore you can't make a call?
They just posted that they're having problems with their log-in service, and the "engineering team has determined that it's a software issue" and they expect it to be resolved within 12 to 24 hours.
In the interim, Skype has disabled all further downloads of Skype.
But they encourage users to keep their Skype client running so that you can be automagically be logged in when the system is back up and running.
So is that kind of like leaving your phone off the hook and waiting for the busy signal to turn back into a dial tone?
Okay, I'll follow the instructions. I'm watching my little Skype desktop icon tray currently is spinning round and round and round...It's spinning so fast, it's actually kind of pretty and...almost...mesmerizing.
You're getting dizzy, very dizzy....you can do without your Internet telephone for 12 to 24 hours. Can't you?
There's no VoIP reply at all.
But that's okay, because you're getting dizzy, very very dizzy....
Technorati Tags: outage, skype, voip
There's all kinds of speculation as to what today's teleconference with Sun's CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, and our own Bill Zeitler (senior VP for IBM's Systems and Technology Group), is all about.
The Register's Ashlee Vance wonders whether Sun will ditch its middleware in favor of WebSphere on Solaris, or whether perhaps IBM is giving up on AIX.
Others ponder whether IBM is ready to support Solaris on our Intel-based System x and BladeCenter systems.
Me, I just work here, they don't tell me nothin'. So I will be tuned in like the rest of ya.
Here's all the skinny on the teleconference, which suggests is open only to press and analysts, but for which Sun is offering up a live audio stream.
Bat time for the announcement is 2:15 P.M. Eastern, 11:15 A.M. Pacific. There will be a Q&A after the initial remarks.
Technorati Tags: ibm, sun_microsystems
Today is the 30th anniversary of the passing of Elvis Presley.
My mom is probably one of the world's biggest Elvis fans. The room I grew up in is now a virtual shrine to Elvis, covered with plates and pillows and other memorabilia celebrating his memory.
The last time my mom saw Elvis perform was in Fort Worth, Texas. The tickets were $10.00.
The first time she saw him was in the early 1950s at the Texarkana Municipal Auditorium, a venue visited frequently by Elvis, as well as other up and coming performers like Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison, as part of their satellite shows in and around the Louisiana Hayride shows they often performed in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Mom, along with her cousin Alice Faye, went to the show at the Texarkana Municipal whenever he came to town, and amazingly, she said they always got to sit in the front row.
Elvis got to noticing them, they were such frequent visitors, so, as my mom relates, at one point he invited them to come visit backstage, which then became a regular occurrence. Mom explained the he would always write "Elvis" on their arms (Remembering this is the early 1950s, Elvis wasn't quite yet a household name, but he was certainly working on it).
Yes, she says, he wore blue suede shoes. And an orange jacket, she remembers. "He was a wild dresser back then."
You can view some of those early Elvis tour dates here.
What strikes one immediately is the volume of shows Elvis was performing at that point of his career. Shows night after night, city after city, month after month.
At the last show in Fort Worth, my mom put my dad to work in an effort to get one of his famous scarves, to no avail.
She explained how her now deceased brother Harold Lee got hold of one of Elvis' belts after one of those Texarkana shows, but to this day, nobody in the family seems to know what happened to it.
That's okay, my mom has her memories of the early Elvis writing on her arm.
And I've got her stories to relate.
And the whole world continues to enjoy the impact of his music and career. (Read this story from the U.K.'s Telegraph that imagines "What if Elvis Presley had never been born?)
May he continue to rest in peace.
Technorati Tags: elvis_presley
Way back when, back in the Jurassic Web age and about the time I started working for Big Blue, some of our researchers used the IBM invented Scanning Tunneling Microscope and some electron re-arranging tools to built a nano version of the IBM logo.
Those wacky Picasso wannabes, they've put some of those master works on display via these here Intertubes.
Sorry, no audio tour headphones are available.
Meanwhile, on the Borg front, our Computational Biology Center at the T.J. Watson Labs (no relation, but boy do I wish), along with the National Center for Biomedical Computing at Columbia University, today announced a call for participation at its yearly workshop for the assessment of methods for reverse engineering of biological circuits.
Yeah, you heard me right.
There are several specific challenges, which you can read more about here.
Me, I'm thinking about taking on the Yeast Protein-Protein Sub-network challenge, although the Genome-Scale Network Challenge sounds pretty interesting as well.
Of course, my protein analyzer may be busy that weekend. But that shouldn't those others of you out there interested in taking one on.
You can learn more on the DREAM project wiki.
Technorati Tags: digital_art, ibm, ibm_research, nanotech
Do you hate to give presentations?
Would you prefer the guillotine to running a PowerPoint from the front of a packed hotel suite?
Then Brett Tabke's got a blog post just for you, chock full of presentation tips, tricks, and other hassle-free suggestions of how to keep your colleagues, peers, and other various and sundry audience members awake during your pitch.
And somebody else likes 'em, for the post has been "Dugg" some 1,122 times.
I used to have a deathly fear of public speaking myself.
But over time, after watching folks like Lou Gerstner, John Patrick, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, and a host of others, I got over it (Gerstner's 1999 pitch to Internet World NY at the Javitts Center still gives me chills.)
Although I don't do much of it anymore (except for remote presentations and the odd face-to-face), I've gone from fearing public speaking to hating it to actually enjoying it.
But as with anything else worth learning to do well, practice is absolutely key.
That, and envisioning everyone in the room sitting there in their birthday suits.
Note to Universities Everywhere: Don't let those kids out of college without public speaking classes!
Period. End of sentence.
Somehow, I managed to get through college without taking such a class (although I did study theatre...though I would argue that cultivates a different kind of public speaking skill).
I would have been much better off, much earlier in my career, if I'd cultivated some of those skills in college.
The Net is this: If you can't present your ideas, they probably aren't very good.
Because if you can't communicate them well, it doesn't matter how good they are.
Technorati Tags: ibm, public speaking
the shark...I went out to check my mail at lunch and lo and behold, there was the new copy of Newsweek
with a cover story entitled "The Facebook Effect."
Not only has the shark been jumped...it's circling in the waters, has totally tipped and is now well beyond anyone's hyperbolic control.
The Newsweek lead? "Facebook grows up."
I don't think I'd hand them their degree just yet...at least, not until Zuckerberg has cashed in for at least a few billion. Then
you can hand them their parchment.
Speaking of getting jumped, does Google have any kind of social networking play beyond Orkut? Ought not search just become an integral component to the emerging social digital media platform?[Read More
I wanted to send a shout out to the entire Lotus Notes and Domino development team.
The eGA announcement
for Lotus Notes 8 and Domino 8 was posted earlier today.
Our Notes user experience guru Mary Beth Raven also sends her gracious thanks
to all the folks out there who, through their participation in her well-traveled blog,
helped to shape the Notes 8 release in the spirit of Web 2.0 and beyond.
Ed Brill provides some color on the announcement here
(including some thoughts he'll soon share on subcapacity server licensing, by customer demand).
Also on the subject of Lotus, if you're interested in submitting sessions for Lotusphere 2008, the "call for sessions" pages are now live.
Is it just me, or has Facebook jumped the shark, passed the tipping point, gone completely out of viral social networking control?
100,000 new users per day and counting.
Quick, somebody get them a McDonald's "100,000+ Burgers Served" sign and fast! And yes, I would like some ketchup with those fries.
I'll be the first to admit, though I joined the Facebook party a couple of years ago, I mostly stood in the corner and didn't pay much attention to the whole scene.
Not because I wasn't interested, but because there were all kinds of other tools to check out, social networking and otherwise, and LinkedIn seemed good enough for my purposes.
No more. Over the last couple of weeks somebody seems to have put their foot on the Facebook accelerator in a big way.
Even as Web 2.0 hip has IBM has become, Facebook has largely been operating at our margins.
Again, not because we're not interested -- we've just been preoccupied with trying to grow our business and, you know, help our customers.
But recently, Facebook has jumped the shark even around Big Blue in a big way.
I get (or now send) invites for new IBM Facebook friends almost daily, and have seen some really useful groups sprouting up that give me instantaneous access to some really cool and smart constituencies via Facebook groups, inside IBM and out.
Yeah yeah, I know, wake up and smell the coffee.
But like I said, when I first joined the Facebook partay it was kind of like showing up at a lame-o prom with a really bad band and a punch with no kick in it.
I suspect the network effect kicked in, oh, I don't know, about the time they opened up their API and created a platform as opposed to just a social network.
This is all good, and again, better late than never.
However, some recent stories would suggest Facebook users may not be taking their privacy seriously enough.
CNET's Caroline McCarthy reported yesterday that IT security firm Sophos conducted a recent Facebook ID Probe, whereby they tested how much personal information people would reveal to a new made-up Facebook friend named "Freddi Staur."
Not to be confused with the Freddy from "Friday the 13th" series, although, with friends like Freddi, who needs enemies, much less a good attorney who specializes in identity theft.
Uh, just about everyone, it seems.
Out of the 41 percent of those surveyed who accepted Freddi's Facebook friend invite, 72 percent provided at least one email address and 84 percent gave their full date of birth.
To a complete and utter stranger. Tell me, would you walk up to a complete stranger at 57th street and Madison in front of the IBM building in New York City and give them your birthday and phone number?
I didn't think so.
And yet, in the same survey, 23 percent provided a phone number and 26 percent provided an IM screen name.
Hey, why not go ahead and hand over your bank's routing number while you're at it?
I'm all about Facebook jumping the shark and going completely viral, but Facebook users, and Internet denizens en generale need to wake up to the grim realities of how their personal information can be used against them and for ill gotten gains.
Sorry to break the bad news, but you can't be friends with everybody. Nor should you want to.
Technorati Tags: facebook, online privacy, social networking
My worst fear is starting to come true: Mobile videoconferencing.
Over the weekend, some geeks put together an iPhone video conferencing application for the C-4 developer conference.
Never mind it required a convoluted mirror device (the iPhone's camera is on the back of the unit), or that it's not something going into production anytime soon.
It's the principle of the thing that matters.
Do you really want anyone to know where you anytime they want? Because that's what the mobile videoconferencing capability will bring you.
No matter where in the world you are, there you will be -- with your (Insert choice here):
f) person you're not supposed to be with.
Even if you're not doing something you doing shouldn't be, do you really want anybody to be able to give you a call and see you while you're (Insert choice here):
a) playing golf (unless it's a really renowned course which none of your friends have played, in which case this choice is OK)
b) shaving while driving
c) putting on makeup while driving
d) skiing down a black slope in Jackson Hole
No, some technologies are just better left unrealized.
Just yesterday, I was paired up with a couple of 13 year-old chaps at my local golf course.
They were pretty good little golfers, especially for only being 13.
That is, when they weren't talking on their cell phones.
I'm not a purist, mind you. You want to bring your cell phone to the golf course so you can check in with the significant other to confirm dinner plans, no problemo.
Just make it short and fast, and don't keep the ringer on when I'm trying to putt.
But I can just see the mobile videoconferencing thing now: "Dad, can you help me read this putt? I'm on the 5th at Torrey Pines South and I'm not sure if the wind's coming into play."
It's Torrey Pines, the answer is yes, now give me that mobile video phone so I can throw it over the cliff!
I won't even get into the privacy implications of mobile videoconferencing (Just to say they're probably not good).
Entertainment franchises (sports, concerts, etc.) will find themselves faced with the dilemma of banning (or worse, checking) phones at the door.
About the only ones who will make out good on this situation are the telcos and the tech vendors like Apple.
If you want to get ahold of me, just give me a shout on the Crackberry.
But no pictures, please.[Read More]
Well, apparently John Daly did need a little more practice (although I loved that he swung for the green on 10 as he kicked off Friday's round), and it was Tiger who could have kicked back at the casino earlier in the week.
Tiger's 63 on Friday was a marvel to watch on replay on the DVR, and my breathing about stopped on 18 when he missed that final putt to shoot the first ever 62 in a major. I don't think I've ever seen a putt sink that far into the hole before doing the horseshoe dance back out the other side.
At the Circle C golf course here in Austin this morning, I joked with the golf professional before teeing off myself that this would probably the most boring final round of a P.G.A. Championship ever.
That might have been the case had it not been for Kansan Woody Austin, a 43 year-old journeyman whose heart is pinned to his golf bag, and South Afrikaner mainstay Ernie Els.
Both gave it their best, and made it a more interesting final round to watch, but others' best compared to Tiger's just doesn't cut it, and Tiger went on to win at minus 8 (272).
13 majors for Tiger and counting.
Five more to go before matching Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors.[Read More]
I love John Daly. I can't help it.
The guy's so unassuming, he's the same age as I am, he's golf's Everyman, and instead of playing a practice round for this week's P.G.A. Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the temperature has been hovering in the high 90s, Daly instead went to the air conditioned confines of a casino to give away more of his golf winnings on the slot machines.
Then, yesterday, he goes out to shoot a three-under-par 67, only two shots behind leader Graeme Storm.
When asked about his success at the casino by the New York Times, Daly explained that he "did good the first day" but "didn't too good the other day." (In the casino, not the golf course.)
He did just fine yesterday. (On the golf course, not the casino.)
We'll see if he keeps up the big mo', but at least for a few moments yesterday, we could all remember with great sentimentality his 1991 Cinderalla win of the P.G.A. Championship at Crooked Stick.
If not, I guess there's always the waiting slot machines.
But I'd much rather watch Daly making the rounds on Sunday at Southern Hills.[Read More
IBM announced today a new offering that will allow pharmaceutical companies to create electronic certificates of authenticity -- or an "ePedigree" -- for every drug that passes through a supply chain.
This offering will allow all participants in such a chain -- manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, hospitals -- secure, on demand access to historical data on individual bottles or packages of medicine.
Underlying this new offering is WebSphere's RFID Information Center
(RFIDIC), which was designed to manage and aggregate product serial numbers, enabling a manufacturer to track the product through the entire chain.
AP has a deeper dive here,
or you can read the full press release here.
Consolidation continues in the online video and movie downloading space with Blockbuster's announced me-too acquisition
of Movielink LLC.
First, Netflix forced Blockbuster's hand to provide mail-order movie rentals, the synergy with which Blockbuster's brick-and-mortar outlets gives it a competitive upper hand ("Okay, I'll drive down to the Blockbuster if I really have to.
Then, Netflix began to allow online viewing of around 1,000 of its movies and TV series in January of this year.
So Blockbuster swings back, this time intending to let its customers use the Movielink site to download movies.
Interestingly, this comes on the heels of a reported loss for Blockbuster last quarter, but NewTeeVee's take
is that it takes money to make money: "With Blockbuster's ability to leverage its store network, online assets, and marketing expertise, Blockbuster should be able to grow the market for digitally-delivered entertainment content, and we believe that's good news for consumers and content providers alike."
Assuming Blockbuster/Movielink grows a much
longer tail, I could be very hip to that program.
Assuming also, of course, I don't want to watch movies on my Mac (Movielink is all Microsoft DRM, all the time).
If you're a Machead and interested in following any liveblogging of the Apple Mac announcement today, you can check out Engadget's coverage here
, Gizmodo's here
, MacObserver's here.
Wow. The earth is flattening, and it looks like I may get to read Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd again. Finally!So says
the New York Post, which reported earlier today that "after much internal debate" (I bet that's
an understatement), publisher Arthur Sulzberger has allegedly made the decision to end the subscription-only TimesSelect service, where several of the Times' best columnists have been toiling away in paid content obscurity since 2005.
Is it a coincidence this debate is transpiring the week after Rupert Murdoch successfully sealed his deal for Dow Jones and its marquee brand, The Wall Street Journal, the online version of which could very likely move from a paid-subscription (one of the few successful such properties) model to an ad-supported one?
Or, the same day that the Financial Times is reporting
that the rapid growth of the online advertising sector is expected to overtake U.S. newspaper advertising by 2011? (With online advertising expected to reach $62B U.S. by that year, while newspaper advertising is expected to shrink to $60B)?
Seems awfully suspicious to me, but for those fans of ad-supported content, the CPM stars are starting to come into alignment.
Me, it was never that I was too cheap to pay for TimesSelect, even though I am.
What it really was was that there was so
much other great content out there that was either free or ad-supported, that I wasn't ever compelled to fork over the $7.95/month or $50-something a year, even
for two of my favorite columnists.
If this news about TimesSelect bears out to be true, might the online paid content cookie start to crumble like dominos rolling down San Francisco's Lombard Street?
Watch this ad space!
This comes under the memo heading of "While I was away..."
First, I spent most of the last week "nlogging." That's a new Web 2.0 euphemism that I'm introducing. It stands for "not blogging." I would have used "nblogging," but that just doesn't roll off the tongue quite the same way.
Anyhoo, while I was out, Forrester analyst and blogger his-own-self, Peter Kim,
placed me on his Top 20 Marketer Blogs list.
Except, it seems, I was named number 21...on a "Top 20 List."
Is that kind of like being number eleven on David Letterman's "Top 10" list?
Regardless, it's perfectly fine by me. King + Ace = 21 and Blackjack.
Thanks, Peter, for the props, and for putting your list together. It's nice to see the analyst community coming around to some of the new media marketing voices out there in the b'sphere.
Speaking of new media voices, also while I was out, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs' infamous and anonymous blogger was unmasked over the weekend by the old media.
The New York Time's shoe leather reporter Brad Stone did the unmasking,
and the Forbes' Daniel Lyons' confessional post
Next stop: Donny Deutsch's marketing hipster TV show "The Big Idea" and a book deal about an anonymous blogger who cleverly writes a blog imitating a big time tech CEO with the end purpose of going on Donny Deutsch's marketing hipster TV show "The Big Idea" and getting a book deal.
Also while I was out...Saturday night, Barry Bonds tied Hank Aaron's home run record of 755 during a game against San Diego.
Did anyone else notice the PSA spot just a few minutes before Bonds took his last at-bat of the game against the Padres Saturday night? The one with the Venus de Milo crumbling apart as the voiceover talked about the perils of steroid use?
The media plan alone deserves an Effie.
Home run, totally out of the park and into the parking lot.
The key, bottom-of-the-ninth, 2 outs and bases loaded question being: Will there be anyone there to pick up the ball, or will the deafening silence of the crowd continue on?[Read More
Great new study
out from eMarketer that made me LOL on consumer electronics.
The average American owns an estimated 25 consumer electronics, and will spend another $1,200 this year acquiring more.
Yet we're ever more perplexed by our gadgets than ever.
I call it the flashing VCR syndrome (you know, when you used to own an actual VCR, the clock was always flashing because you didn't know how to program it?)
Guilty as charged. Actually, I try to learn how to work a lot of these gadgets myself, because I suspect I'm way above average in terms of both spend and usage.
I'm a confirmed electronics junkie.
So I get madder than ---- when I buy something that's supposed to work as promised (like the iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard
that I ordered last week that was supposed to allow me to do remote keyboard entry into my Blackberry, and which Friday afternoon I was ready to commit consumer electronics frustration hare kare over when I couldn't get it to work) and it doesn't work.
We marketers are apparently to blame. We sell you all on this stuff by "hyping [our] complex technology" but clearly don't do a very good job of explaining it all.
I think IBM is guilty as charged, also. That's not for want of trying.
You'd be surprised at the endless conversations we have about how to best position and relate the business value of our products, as well as their feature/functionality. But of course, everybody has an opinion about how to best go about doing so, and the best ones don't always win.
I suggest we develop a new science, one called "user-centric marketing." We envision Dilbert in our minds-eye as we go about developing a new product or service, and unless we think Dilbert can explain the product effectively and sell it to his inept management staff, then the product can't get a GA date.
Meanwhile, some other tidbits from the study:
Implications for Manufacturers and Marketers
- $1.9B: The amount spent on online advertising by consumer-electronics makers in the U.S. last year (that included display, paid search, and rich media ads)
- 77%: The percent of people who researched electronics purchases online before buying (the same percentage for which later made their purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. Online/Offline retail synergy, anybody? Mobile marketing opportunity, perhaps?
- 65%: Percent of households in the U.S. that have broadband Internet access by end of 2007 (And expected to reach 90% by 2011)
- 91%: Percent of consumers who thought it important for online retailers to have complete product information (But keep an eye on that online channel play: Only 55% said they would go directly to the manufacturer's site if it wasn't available at an online store...I have data that would suggest the number is much higher, however, for B2B purchases).
- 83%: Percent of "advocates" who recommended a recent electronics purchase to a friend (Read Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" to better understand the impact of human-to-human influence)
There are huge implications of this study for both manufacturers and marketers.
Number one, make your products easier to use.
That's one of the best sales tools known to mankind. Remember, if Dilbert can explain it to his boss, you're well on your way to a high usability quotient, which means more Dilbert pellets for everyone.Number two, clearly communicate the value of and key benefits to using your product or service.
Increasingly, this means ensuring the online experience takes full and intelligent advantage of the interactive experience that only two-way communications can provide. Put that boring data sheet in the drawer, and head back to the drawing board to figure out how you can bring that product to life.
Remember, 77% of those folks are researching their purchases online first. It doesn't matter one whit where they're making the purchase, but it matters greatly what's most influencing those purchases (both your Web site and online retailers' sites are critical).Number three, identify how you can better leverage and tap into the power of social networking to help your customers help one another.
You don't have to have all the answers. The real power behind social media lies in finding intelligent ways to empower your customers via your own Website so that they can converse with one another. Derivative benefits: Savings in online tech support, as well as the positive halo such an experience creates for your brand.Finally, try to create some synergies between the on- and offline experience.
What can you do to better facilitate in-store comparison shopping using mobile devices? What is your couponing or related merchandising strategy that compels the online shopper to visit your store (how about allowing the online consumer to create an in-person interview with a sales specialist in their area [think Apple genius for consumer retail] live and in person?
Again, the purchase may or may not be made online...but it most certainly will be influenced by the online experience.
Who has time to walk through all those Big Box electronics retail stories, anyhow?
Well, maybe Dilbert, but he's a cartoon character.[Read More
I'm not an email addict. I swear. What, just because I bought a Bluetooth keyboard for my Blackberry so I could type faster?
But a new AOL survey
suggests otherwise in their third annual "Email Addiction" research study.
The more mobile the devices, the more addicted we become.
AOL interviewed 4,025 respondents 13 years and older in 20 cities around the country to measure email usage.
Portable devices have nearly doubled since 2004, and people are now checking email around the clock (about five times a day on average...to which I say, is that ALL??!)
59% of those with portable devices are using them to check email every time a new message arrives.
Well, duh. Of course we are. It might be important!
43% with portable devices say they keep the device nearby when they are sleeping to listen for incoming mail.
That one I'm not even close to being guilty of. Anyhow, I'm a pretty sound sleeper. They'd have to take some electrodes or something and buzz me
instead of the device before I'd ever wake up.
And a full 15% describe themselves as "addicted to email."
Now, on to the Top 10 addicted cities:
3) New York
4) San Francisco
6) Los Angeles
For those of you reading this post on your Blackberries or Treos who are in those cities where there is NOT a substantial amount of public transportation, please put the device down and concentrate on the road ahead.
You can read this post later.
As for me, I'll be sure to keep an eye on my Blackberry next week while I'm on vacation, but promise only to check it after every third buzz.
I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm addicted or anything.[Read More
Lord have mercy, the world must be coming to an end.
John C. Dvorak (or, for you TWIT fans out there, www.dvorak.org/blog), longtime PC Magazine columnist and personal computing and technology pundit, has started to use a Mac.
Dvorak reports that he can't see much of a difference between Macs and PCs.
I refer him to the recent Apple TV commercials
to get a good sense of the differences.
But I've gotta run. I have to go install a Microsoft security patch.[Read More
TechCrunch brings forth a thoughtful analysis
of the iPhone v. Blackberry to the corporate cubicle, posing the question is the grass really greener on the iPhone side of the fence?
Or, as I like to put it, WWDD (What would Dilbert do?)
Not really, seems to be the answer. No great surprise pour moi.
Quote: "It [the iPhone] lacks too many vital features to replace the Blackberry as the corporate weapon of choice."
Like, oh, you know, intelligent push email that arrives on your doorstep like the morning newspaper used to.
Or synchronizing with your Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange server realtime so you don't miss that meeting to discuss why your Web servers were out of commission for five hours yesterday (see previous post).
Or the fact that the Blackberry has nifty keyboard shortcuts that help you get from here to there pronto.
Yah, I'm definitely feeling better about my decision to get the $99 Pearl Blackberry, and, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, will tomorrow be keeping an eye out for UPS guy so I can geek out with a Bluetooth keyboard for the Pearl that cost me more than the phone itself.
Still and all, that adds up to only around $215 total -- about $284 less than the cheapest iPhone.
It's okay, Pearl. You're cool to me.
APCMag's Dan Warne is reporting
that Qantas' new Airbus A380s to be introduced in August 2008 are going to have laptop power in every seat, as well as wireless Internet throughout the entire plane (Does that include the pilot and the co-pilot??)
Personally, I've never had the opportunity to fly to Australia, but I would suspect 14+ hours is TOO long to be disconnected. I can hardly stand being wireless-less long enough to go down to the 7-11, much less to fly halfway around the planet.
Now that I have a Crackberry Pearl, it's even worse. I can hardly stand to be disconnected at all. Why should I be?
It's an always-on, always-connected world, bay-bay. You get disconnected for even a few minutes, you might miss the whole ballgame.
In fact, I'm already thinking about the best ways I can stay connected while on vacation next week. Is my Crackberry up to the harsh sun, surf, and salty conditions of the Redneck Riviera that constitutes the South Texas beach? Only time, and a few remote wireless emails back to the office, can tell.
Maybe for next year's vacation, I'll just hop on a plane to Sydney just so I can see if I can surf my way around the globe.
In the meantime, it'd be great if I could just get a bag of peanuts.
P.S. Speaking of being disconnected, I was coming back from NY to Austin on Sunday on JetBlue, and guess which was the ONLY channel their in-seat DirectTV network didn't have. You guessed it, the one carrying the British Open (ABC).
Directly before take-off, my good friend Ed was sending me instant message updates to keep me up to date as Sergio Garcia approached the 18 hole. He got me right up to the point where Sergio missed that crucial putt on 18, and all I knew upon takeoff was that Serge and Padraig Harrington were heading into a 4-hole playoff.
I found out mid-flight via an ESPN scoreboard what had transpired after the fact, but it just wasn't the same. That would have been a perfect time to have had in-flight wireless access.[Read More
I was really looking forward to the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate last night.
It seemed like it could be a perfect combination. Old media meets the new.
Detente on the great stage of digital media convergence. The best of breed, where the candidates would be forced to listen to the people, then speak directly back to them.
One-to-many, and many-to-one.
It was not to be.
Start with the depixellation of demoing YouTube-sized videos on the massive audience video screens. The impact of the questioners' often very personal and intimate questions was lost in 1080p translation.
Second, it was clearly a 21st Century user-generated media format crammed into a 20th Century Q&A debate format, whereby the candidates were forced to issue 1-minute sound byte responses to detailed and yes, even sometimes seemingly biased, questions.
For Heaven's sake, I don't necessarily want hours of Lincoln-Douglas style debating, but on the other hand, let the candidates answer the ---- questions with some substance.
Per Jeff Jarvis' post earlier on the topic, let the people ask and
choose the questions. Create an online voting system whereby We the People get to choose what questions the candidates must answer, not
the CNN editorial staff.
Finally, instead of the usual politico talking heads, bring in some mere mortal commentators who can, from a laypersons' perspective. help summarize what We the People heard and try and discern who seemed the most responsive to the questions, who had the most intelligent and thoughtful responses, who fell flat on their face, etc.
If I wanted to hear what CNN's political commentators had to say, much as I respect them, I can tune into "The Situation Room" any night of the week.
The user-generated media are just that, and that's what the traditional mass media still don't understand.
Which is why I suspect the continental digital divide between YouTube and CNN will continue long into the 2008 election campaign season and perhaps even beyond.[Read More