Daily Marauder


IS PING THE MYSPACE MUSIC SLAYER? by Marauder

Is Ping the MySpace Music Slayer?


Since Apple’s Wednesday announcement of the social network for music, Ping, the service has been called a MySpace killer. At the core of the Apple fan boy or girl, is an ethos that Apple can and will continuously do it better than the next guy. This ethos has been built on the back of the company’s ability to blow away the smartphone marketplace with one swift punch to the balls called the iPhone. As I sit with my iPhone parked next to me and my MacBook Pro at my fingertips, I certainly classify as an Apple fan girl. In Ping’s case, the assumption that Apple always draws shotgun would be a mistake. In its current configuration, Ping is not and will not be a MySpace killer. Until some major problems are fixed, it will continue to live in the shadow cast by powerhouses like Pandora and MySpace.

If the principle challenge with the MySpace platform is hyper-personalization turning the site into the bedroom of an over-eager teenage girl, the problem with Ping is the insistence on an overly simple user interface. I may not need the many bells and whistles thrown at me on MySpace daily but I do need more features than Ping is offering.

Here are a few reasons why Ping won’t crush my MySpace usage anytime soon:


1) What Do I Care About Most?

Photo Credit: Micki Krimmel


It’s the Music Stupid.


Ping seems to think the answer to this question is the sharing of music. In actuality, I care most about the music itself. I sit writing this while listening to Arcade Fire’s new album on MySpace. Currently, this band doesn’t even exist on Ping. While I sit listening to The Suburbs in full, the band gets a “No Results” on Ping. Yes, yes. I know the service is still too new to accommodate the likes of indie rock but perhaps more should have been done to draw bands into the service before it was launched to the public. Mashable posted an interesting article on the challenges bands face in entering the Ping world vs. the ease at which bands enter their MySpace communities and post at will. The Ping user needs more of their favorite bands and the bands need an easier way to access the new platform.

Above the selection of bands, what I really want on a music page is…in short, music. I want to listen to full-length songs like I can on MySpace music. I can’t even find any music to listen to on Lady GaGa’s Ping page until I click over to the iTunes store. As we all know in the online world, and for those who don’t know, shortening the click-thru stream is necessary for lazy audiences everywhere to engage with your platform. Don’t make it more difficult for me to get to what I really want: the music. And once I’m finally there, I get a 30 second nugget rather than what I really want: the full song. Let’s see a side-by-side Ping to MySpace comparison:

Ping

MySpace


2) Follow?

Sir Steve Jobs attracted me to the platform with his promise that 160MM global iTunes users would be there waiting for me. I fire up the upgrade, click on the attractive Ping logo with the chat bubbles and find Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, and Rick Rubin staring back at me. Now, I love the GaGa as much as the next girl, but what about my actual friends? Where are they?

Apple promised a Facebook Connect feature allowing me to easily search for my Facebook friends. Not so much… If you haven’t seen the most recent press, Apple played a bit aggressively with Facebook and was denied access to the API. On Kara Swisher’s blog, All Things D, she spoke to Steve Jobs moments after the Apple announcements and was told by Jobs that Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to.” In essence, when Facebook’s API is called upon with over 100 million requests a day, Facebook requires a monetary agreement to handle the overload on their systems. Apple and Facebook could not come to an agreement on this and hence no Facebook for Ping.

Until this is resolved, I can only find my friends by entering in their email address one by one until I find someone. Suffice to say, this is the real “onerous” process and simply unmanageable by anyone who has a job. Yesterday, my friend from Berlin tracked me down so I officially have one real Ping friend. This is only one hiccup with the service but the most sizeable one. Until this one issue is resolved, Ping will have problems truly being a “social network for music” without connecting its 160MM worldwide users together.


3) What type of Music Defines You?

On the initial fire of the Ping community, you’re asked to pick a collection of music which will be used on your profile to define you to your friends. I don’t take this process lightly at all. Being someone who previously worked in the music industry, I take my collection and particular music taste very seriously. The user has the choice between a manual selection of music or an automatically pre-selected one chosen by an Apple algorithm. Being that this was an Apple interface, my expectation was that Apple would choose my taste better than I could possibly define my own. Yup, not the case.

Instead of looking at my music library, which would be the obvious choice, Ping seems to favor my purchased iTunes items, surfacing selections which may not be something I’d like to define my musical taste by. Selfish selection by Apple really. Imagine you buy Justin Bieber for your 12-year-old niece and all of a sudden it surfaces as your favorite music. Bieber fail. Manual entry is certainly a requirement.

**Please note: This would never happen on this MacBook of course. I wouldn’t allow this sort of download on my machine. Just sayin…


4) Sharing Begins & Ends in iTunes

Hey Apple, just want to let you know about these fantastic social networks known as Facebook and Twitter. You may have heard about them? Only about 500 MM users use the first one. Just thought I’d let you know, as you seem to care not for the likes of those little guys. You may have 160 MM worldwide users but before you get on that soapbox, Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook dominion holds down 500 MM globally. When I go to “like” something in Ping, I share that like with the Ping community alone. There are currently no sharing features with Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and with that list being the three primary social networks, seems Ping is lacking a little in the “social” department. Apple seems to be acting like a possessive boyfriend with this product rather than truly building a social experience for music.


5) News Feed Overload

After seeing a recommendation from Alexandra Petsavas, my favorite music supervisor who brilliantly filled an entire episode of The O.C. with Beck B sides, I decided to download a few tracks from the Canadian band, The Acorn. Now, my entire feed is filled with my love for The Acorn even though I downloaded a few tracks off of one album. I wish there could be more control in terms of what is surfaced and what isn’t. I don’t need every song purchase listed in my feed especially around the holidays when I decide that The Time Life Christmas CD’s are a must-have.


So is Ping the MySpace Killer? If you enjoy sitting in enclosed spaces talking to yourself about your favorite music, then yes, Ping wins.

Alright, I’m off. MySpace just threw me an “Are You Still Listening?” curve ball and I need to change this song.

“We’re sorry, the number you have reached is not in service at this time. Please check the number or try your call again.” Telephone Lady GaGa

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GAMING by Marauder

GAMING

Earlier Techcrunch broke the news on the upcoming launch of City Of Eternals, the first Flash MMOG from Ohai.I have the rough footage below of in game play, and will add a proper screencast shortly. This is a World of Warcraft style MMOG that’s free to play and Flash based. It’s also integrated with Facebook Connect to allow easy signup and, more importantly, you can play with your friends and see the real identity of other players. (Techcrunch11/10)



Although it’s not yet live to everyone, a new Xbox LIVE Dashboard Update that adds social networking integrations with Facebook, Twitter and last.fm is currently in preview mode to beta testers and will go live to the public in short order. (Mashable 11/11)

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WIRELESS by Marauder

WIRELESS

HTC‘s new Touch Cruise handset can evolve from a smartphone into a GPS-based navigation device and includes a new geotagging feature so users can tag photos from tracking data and audio clips, the cell phone maker said. The Windows Mobile 6.1-based TouchFLO device has QVGA resolution instead of full VGA, and HTC will market it in the U.S. as a dual-mode HSDPA phone. PC Magazine (1/22)

touch-cruise

By limiting his communications to senior staff and a small cadre of close friends, President Barack Obama will be able to retain his beloved BlackBerry, the White House said, meaning Obama will become the country’s first president who regularly uses e-mail. A spokesman said security — probably by way of heavier encryption — would be ratcheted up on the device. USA TODAY (1/22) , The New York Times (1/22) , MSNBC (1/22)

bb-obama

Music recommendation engine / social network Last.fm has launched an official, feature-rich application for the Android platform that enables users to stream radio stations (including personalized streaming radio), consult up-to-date concert information and also offers the ability to track users’ listening habits based on their Last.fm profile. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/01/23/lastfm-unveils-official-application-for-the-android-platform 1/23)

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ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA by Marauder

ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA

Yesterday, CBS sent out a press release touting the success of Last.fm’s month-old redesign, citing a 20 percent increase in unique visitors and a 36 percent increase in total minutes between June and July. Despite a few bugs on the day of launch, the redesign seems to be paying off. But why is CBS so keen on beating its chest when it comes to Last.fm? Ever since CBS bought Last.fm in May, 2007 for $280 million, it’s been under pressure to justify the purchase. At the time of the purchase, Last.fm was running neck-and-neck against social music network imeem and music radio service Pandora.. Today, imeem is killing Last.fm (see Google Trends for Websites chart above), and Pandora is still holding its own. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/15/lastfm-needs-more-than-a-redesign-to-catch-up-to-imeem 8/15)

Techcrunch received confirmation from AOL that the company has acquired Socialthing!, a lifestreaming service that competes with FriendFeed. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/14/confirmed-aol-acquires-lifestreaming-service-socialthing 8/14)

CBSNews.com and CNET.com will feature live, Web-exclusive specials anchored by Katie Couric each night following CBS’s prime time coverage of the 2008 Democratic and Republican national conventions. The Webcasts will be archived for on-demand viewing. (Iwantmedia 8/15, http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6587662.html 8/14)

Facebook’s controversial and widely-disdained Beacon service, which it originally introduced in November, has led to the company behind slapped with another class action lawsuit. The suit alleges that Facebook never sought user approval before collecting personal information, and was also keeping tabs on people who weren’t even signed up for Facebook. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/14/facebook-gets-slapped-with-another-lawsuit-over-beacon-wishes-it-could-opt-out 8/14)

After more than two months of testing, Google has finally turned on AdSense for Feeds. Formerly, these were FeedBurner ads. The acquired company has moved its advertising program over to Google’s system, and now any AdSense advertiser can tap into the Feedburner network. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/15/google-turns-on-adsense-for-feeds 8/15)

With the appointment of Frank Biondi, Jr. and John Chapple to Yahoo’s board of directors today, the last two slots on the board are now filled. Biondi, the former CEO of Viacom, and Chapple, the former CEO of Nextel, were both on Carl Icahn’s original alternate slate when he was still trying to replace the entire board. As part of his compromise with Yahoo, Icahn backed down from his proxy battle in return for three seats on the board. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/14/yahoo-rounds-out-its-board-with-former-ceos-from-nextel-and-viacom 8/14)

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DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD: MOONVES AND THE FUTURE OF CBS by Marauder

DIGITAL HOLLYWOOD: MOONVES AND THE FUTURE OF CBS

lmoonves.jpg


Today at Digital Hollywood in NYC, Steve Adler (Business Week Editor-in-Chief) interviewed Leslie Moonves, CEO of CBS. Summing up Moonves, the man definitely speaks his mind. At times, this prompted laughter and at other times general anxiety.


Favorite quote from the keynote: (In regards to American Idol) “I wish someone would kill that show. I would greatly appreciate it.” Well, OK. But only if I can take Paula Abdul out first.


The Highlights:


Shift of Advertising Dollars

  • 70% of CBS’ business is advertising
  • Conventional wisdom says that internet will draw ad $$ away from TV –> CBS has not seen internet advertising to be competitive but instead additive to TV ad revenue
  • In 2007, CBS saw online revenue of $200 million
  • Instead of TV, the first to see the hit in ad revenue will be radio & print


Acquisitions

  • In 2007, private equity was driving up the price of companies making acquisitions difficult. This year, the rules have changed leading to an open market for CBS to make some acquisitions.

univision.jpg

  • Univision represents a missed opportunity for CBS. Moonves described the company as a fit with CBS but overpriced at the time they had looked at it.

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  • When asked about Facebook, Moonves responded that the company is overpriced and not at their core business to be considered as an acquisition.

weather.jpg

  • Moonves is considering The Weather Channel as an acquisition. Sees it as a fit for CBS.


Digital Distribution

hulu.jpg

  • CBS offers its content across multiple platforms. They chose not to participate in Hulu because Moonves prefers to control the content and ad sales à Believe that CBS can distribute on its own to generate increased revenue in relation to a Hulu partnership
  • Moonves was careful to also say that CBS would continue to weigh the value of a partnership with Hulu (i.e. the wait and see game)

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  • March Madness on Demand (MMOD) offers all of the NCAA games online available to watch anytime.
  • MMOD began as a subscription model in year 1 generating $250K in revenue –> year 2: a free ad-supported model generating $4 million in revenue –> year 3: same model generating $10 million in revenue –> this year: same model with estimated revenue of $25 million. Pretty impressive. Good bye productive workforce.


WGA Strike

  • Moonves, while seemingly somewhat sensitive to the writers’ situation during the strike, commented that some of those writers will never make back the money lost during the strike. Seems a bit snarky no?
  • As a result of the strike, CBS will not be developing full pilots but instead will develop half pilots to reduce front end cost.


Content

  • When asked about his three favorite shows, Moonves responded several more than three. Here are the first three out of his mouth. Interesting that the top two compete with Showtime.


1.

sopranos3.jpg


2.

curb.jpg


3.

californication.jpg


Dexter on Showtime

dexter.jpg

  • Dexter watched by 1.4 million people on Showtime. When syndicated to CBS, Dexter now affords a viewer base of 6 -7 million.


Radio

  • CBS has sold several stations and changed the leadership at several others.
  • Moonves still sees radio as a strong industry. All CBS stations are now able to stream online.


Last.fm

lastfm.jpg

  • Online should not represent regurgitated TV content.
  • Last.fm wasn’t simply about putting the music online but about building a community around that music.

For the first 10 minutes of the keynote click the image below. You will find 2 more videos capturing the next 20 minutes here.





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