Daily 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:



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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More than 60% of Twitter users stop using the microblogging service a month after joining, according to Nielsen Online. “Twitter has enjoyed a nice ride over the last few months, but it will not be able to sustain its meteoric rise without establishing a higher level of user loyalty.” (Iwantmedia 4/29, http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20090428/tc_afp/usitcompanyinternettwitternielsen 4/28)


Bravo is tapping into the hottest social networks to help fans participate in The Real Housewives of New York City finale. On Tuesday, May 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, fans can utilize Twitter, Facebook Connect and live mobile chat integrations on BravoTV.com to interact directly with their favorite Housewives live and the ladies will respond in kind during the finale. (Cynopsis 4/29)


MTV is joining forces with both Facebook and Twitter for its new “The Alexa Chung Show.” The show will be similar in format to MTV’s former “TRL.” Audiences — whether on the set or watching from home — will be asked to tweet their reaction to guests while the show is on the air. (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118002926.html?categoryid=1009&cs=1 4/28)

IAC/InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller is stockpiling cash and says he aims to “spend it intelligently.” Speaking at the USA Today CEO Forum, he says Facebook is “the real deal.” However, “nobody can buy Facebook now.” Also, Web video will evolve “just like the movie business did.” (http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2009-04-28-diller-ceo-forum_N.htm 4/29)


Facebook is on a “clear path to be cash-flow positive next year,” says COO Sheryl Sandberg. One indication that 2009 is an important year: Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s 24-year-old founder and CEO, has committed to wearing a tie everyday to the office, she adds. (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aKLGItgfmt48 4/28)

With its new management team, News Corp.’s MySpace “looks more like a media and entertainment portal,” observers say. If MySpace comes to define itself that way, the site could incorporate social networking like Facebook, but with a focus on “consuming entertainment.” (http://www.thewrap.com/article/2736 4/28)


Network’s digital arms are beginning to get serious about monetizing their content. NBC.com will launch a series of targetable segments starting in Q2 2009 enabling advertisers to target groups of users using a menu style selection matching their target to NBC audience clusters or custom segments. The network also unveiled a whole new suite of ad delivery solutions and products geared toward attracting premium brand ad dollars. (Cynopsis 4/29)

One way to possibly track the spread of the swine flu is to look at where spikes in search activity around related terms is occurring. Google already does this with its Google Flu Trends, and has now extended that analysis on an experimental basis to Mexico with a site it just put up called Experimental Flu Trends For Mexico. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/29/searching-for-the-swine-flu/ 4/29)


The U.S. District Court for Massachusetts set aside a prior jury verdict against content delivery network Limelight, stating that Limelight doesn’t in fact infringe upon Akamai‘s CDN patents. Limelight hopes to reverse expenses of about $66 million saved for potential damages and interest in the case. Akamai promised to appeal the ruling. (Cynopsis 4/29)

Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Videos Viewed -March 2009
Property                   Videos (000)    Share (%) of Videos
Total Internet           14,468,345           100.0
Google Sites              5,919,530            40.9
Fox Interactive Media    437,098             3.0
Hulu                            380,102             2.6
Yahoo! Sites                334,724             2.3
Microsoft Sites             288,239             2.0
Viacom Digital             277,753             1.9
CBS Interactive            191,686             1.3
Turner Network            167,323             1.2
Disney Online               125,248             0.9
AOL LLC                       105,237             0.7
Source: comScore Video Metrix, Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks.  Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video

Top U.S. Online Video Properties by Unique Viewers – March 2009
Property                   Unique Viewers       Average Videos
(000)              per Viewer
Total Internet                149,410                96.8
Google Sites                  100,382                59.0
Fox Interactive Media       55,156                 7.9
Yahoo! Sites                    42,524                 7.9
Hulu                               41,564                 9.1
CBS Interactive               35,400                 5.4
Microsoft Sites                32,194                 9.0
Viacom Digital                 27,168                10.2
AOL LLC                          22,349                 4.7
Turner Network                19,644                 8.5
Disney Online                   12,965                 9.7
Source: comScore Video Metrix, Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks.  Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is said to have rejected a fresh round of funding that would have valued the company at $4 billion. Another source says that one potential investor submitted a term sheet for a valuation of around $2 billion. Facebook is declining to comment. (Iwantmedia 4/17, http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-10220845-36.html 4/16)


Time Warner’s bondholders have agreed to change the terms of their debt contracts, removing restrictions on a sale or spin-off of its beleaguered Internet unit AOL. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has said he is examining options for the future structure of AOL. (Iwantmedia 4/17, http://www.reuters.com/article/industryNews/idUSTRE53F73S20090416 4/16)

While eBay prepares to unload Skype via a sale or IPO next year, it is busy looking for new ways to make money off its 405 million global users. They already account for an estimated 8 percent class=”snap_preview_icon”> of international calls, and many of them are increasingly paying for SkypeOut calls to regular phones. Its revenues last year were $551 million, but it wants to get to $1 billion by 2011. To get there, it might have to start thinking local. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/17/a-new-business-model-for-skype-turning-phone-numbers-on-the-web-into-paid-ads/ 4/17)


Ashton Kutcher has surpassed CNN to become the first person with a million followers on Twitter. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/16/kutcher-plays-his-pied-piper-flute-and-gets-a-million-twitter-followers/ 4/16)


Not sure who else to add to that group email? Gmail Labs now has a useful “suggest more recipients” <!—->class=”snap_preview_icon”> feature that suggests contacts that you might want to include in a group email based on the people you’ve grouped together as email recipients in the past. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/17/gmail-now-suggests-extra-recipients-for-group-emails/ 4/17)

SUPER helpful.  Maybe now I won’t get yelled at for accidentally not inviting that person for cocktails.


Police are working with Craigslist to help track down the killer of masseuse Julissa Brisman, who was shot to death Tuesday in the Marriott Copley Place in Boston. Police believe that a gunman may be targeting escorts and masseuses who advertise on the classifieds site. (http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1165974 4/16)

Despite some early fumbling by the prosecution, a judge in Sweden handed down a guilty verdict class=”snap_preview_icon”> today in the case against The Pirate Bay class=”snap_preview_icon”>, the popular BitTorrent search site. The four founders, who still seem to think this is a big joke, each face one year of jail time and a $3.6 million fine. The site will continue to function for now as they appeal the decision. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/17/as-court-prepares-shackles-for-the-pirate-bay-other-torrent-sites-are-ready-to-replace-it/ 4/17)


The latest layer to be turned on in Google Maps is one for webcams. Just click on the “More” button on the top right of each map right next to the “Traffic” button. When you do that, it shows you thumbnails from different public Webcams around the world as tracked by Webcams.travel. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/16/google-maps-now-shows-views-from-webcams 4/16)

What if there was a Billboard Charts for the music people really listened to and talked about on the Web. We Are Hunted wants to be that definitive online music chart. The service monitors the most popular songs on iLike, BitTorrent, Last.fm, MySpace Music, and other Web music services, as well as discussions on Twitter, blogs, and press sites. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/16/forget-billboard-we-are-hunted-charts-the-music-people-are-listening-to-on-the-web/ 4/16)


About 34% of U.S. e-commerce can be attributed to Amazon, an analyst says. The value of all e-commerce activity on its platform is about $12.5 billion in the U.S., or a little more than a third of the $37 billion the Commerce Department reported in the last quarter of 2008. StorefrontBacktalk (4/16)

ESPN is set to kick off ESPNDB.com (the DB stands for database), a site it hopes will serve as a sports encyclopedia-archive-statistical compendium. Like Wikipedia, ESPNDB will feature some user-generated aspects. The site will be free and supported by advertising. (Iwantmedia 4/17, http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=104294 4/17)

NBC.com reached a milestone – its NBC Rewind streaming video player has delivered over one billion full episode streams, just 18 months since the launch of the player in October 2006. NBC also says its mobile website served 2.4 million video streams in Q1 2000 – more than the total number of streams served in all of 2008. (Cynopsis 4/17)

Continuing with its price cutting maneuvers, Yahoo announced it is shuttering video sharing service Jumpcut as of June 15, a company it acquired back in 2006 for its best-in-class photo editing tools. The company is also gearing up for another round of job cuts, according to a report in the NYTimes. Yahoo shed some 2,400 employees last year, beginning 2009 with some 13,600 staffers. (Cynopsis 4/17)

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg just posted a message on the company blog confirming the number of users for the social networking service that’s been floating around for some time now. The blog post, titled ‘200 Million Strong’, says the milestone will effectively be achieved today (no more speculation needed). (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/08/zuckerberg-welcomes-200-millionth-facebook-user-wants-to-know-how-it-affected-your-life 4/8)

That’s a whoooole lot of users considering of that 200 million, 100 million  sign on to their accounts every day.  Just in case there was every any question, Facebook = media company.


Facebook’s members may have initially reacted with horror at the new homepage redesign which introduces a Twitter-like stream as the main interface. But Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg thinks that advertisers are going to love it. In a speech today at a digital advertising conference, and a subsequent blog post, she preached the many benefits of the stream and even had some data to back it up. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/08/facebooks-sheryl-sandberg-preaches-that-the-stream-will-bring-us-closer-together 4/8)


Youtube is doing everything it can to turn the professionally-produced content on its site into a big source of revenues. Through its Content ID program, it digitally fingerprints the video libraries of 600 content partners and offers those media companies and video creators the option to place ads against any video that contains their copyrighted material. They also have the option to automatically take those videos down, but more than 90 percent opt for the additional ad revenues. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/08/youtube-quietly-rolls-out-adsense-for-video-to-claimed-copyrighted-content 4/8)


Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking at the Newspaper Association of America conference, says he foresees media services mixing professional content with user-generated material. Online newspapers, he adds, will be supported by subscriptions, micro-payments and advertising. (Iwantmedia 4/8, http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/04/07/schmidt-describes-future-media-still-driven-by-advertising/ 4/7)


To fight “misappropriation” of its content, the Associated Press plans to build its own online news aggregator. Local newspapers will be showcased. Importantly, participating news outlets will share advertising revenue, which is “different from the Google ecosystem.” (Iwantmedia 4/8, http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/apr2009/tc2009047_310532.htm 4/8)

Social networking features available on sites like Facebook will soon become part of many of Yahoo’s sites. The Yahoo home page, Flickr and the Internet company’s other products will add social media elements, including a common user profile, to tie the properties together. (Iwantmedia 4/8, http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSTRE53562820090407 4/7)


The new firm Twitter Partners aims to help brands and media companies harness the power of the microblogging site. Twitter Partners is being endorsed by Twitter itself, which is said to be taking an equity stake in the outfit. The firm helps “broker brands” onto Twitter. (Iwantmedia 4/8, http://www.nma.co.uk/Articles/42113/Twitter+backs+first+UK+ad+partner.html 4/8)

The Federal Communications Commission is beginning work on a national broadband plan, with the goal of ensuring that all U.S. consumers have access to services that are fast and affordable. The plan could guide “the future of telecommunications regulation and the Internet.” (Iwantmedia 4/8, http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2009-04-07-fcc-broadband-internet-service_N.htm 4/7)

CBS is launching MoneyWatch.com, a personal finance site supported by partnerships with LinkedIn and others. The site’s editorial talent will be featured as contributors on CBS News shows. Top editor Eric Schroenberg is a former managing editor of Money magazine. (Iwantmedia 4/8, http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=103634 4/7)


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CBS Interactive is also testing a 1080p- quality video gallery on the TV.com portal for folks with a fat pipe (3 Mbps or higher) and a fast processor. Currently there are only 4 video clips but they look amazing. Competitor Hulu upgraded its HD gallery last year to stream videos in 720p. (Cynopsis 3/13)

The video stumbled a bit on my end but indeed, AMAZING.  Hulu’s strategy on most things is that they won’t deliver a product until they can perfect it.  Who knows which strategy will win but this new online video battle between Hulu and tv.com is an interesting one.  But to be fair, and keepin’ it real, whose at #2 in the online video ranking wars?  It sure isn’t tv.com.


Conde Nast is entering a partnership to distribute video from sites such as Epicurious and Vogue.TV via Hulu, the online video hub. Hulu is selling advertising to accompany the Conde Nast content, while the partners agree to share the ad revenue. (Iwantmedia 3/13, http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=102059 3/13)


Maybe it is all the TV news mentions, but Twitter is seeing the growth in U.S visitors to its site accelerating. In February, 4 million people in the U.S. visited the site, up from 2.6 million the month before, according to the latest data from comScore. That represents a 55 percent month-over-month growth rate, compared to 33 percent growth in each of the two months prior. (ComScore has yet to release February figures for worldwide visitors, but for January that number is 6 million). (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/13/whoa-twitter-mania 3/13)


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will take to Oprah Winfrey‘s couch on Friday. Winfrey is expected to interview Zuckerberg and show a demo of her TV show’s new page on the social network. A “celebrity Facebook addict” might Skype in to talk up the service as well. (Iwantmedia 3/13, http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/03/12/oprah-to-interview-facebook-founder 3/12)

If Oprah is doing it, Facebook has achieved mainstream status officially.


New AOL chief Tim Armstrong: “I am looking forward to taking what I have learned at Google and seeing what I can bring to really help AOL.” He adds: Time Warner wants “the best outcome” for its Internet company. “That could take the form of different paths,” including a spin off. (Iwantmedia 3/13, http://kara.allthingsd.com/20090312/new-aol-chairman-and-ceo-and-about-to-be-ex-googler-tim-armstrong-speaks 3/12)

Twitter is driving much of its traffic to social networking, search, email and entertainment sites, according to an analysis by Hitwise. The data also shows that Twitter has more in common with social networks than search engines. Twitter is “a means of distributing content.” (Iwantmedia 3/13, http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=102076 3/13)

I think the only reason why Twitter isn’t recognized as a search engine for the moment is because their search functionality isn’t prominent enough yet.  Furthermore, most folks just haven’t figured out how to use the feature.  Once both of these things change, Twitter will become a more functional search engine ESPECIALLY for local news.  Hey LA Times, NY Times….integrate Twitter functionality now.  The deal will benefit both of you being that Twitter hasn’t figure out how to monetize and all y’all can think about is monetizing.  Perfect union.


Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner is developing a television series for rival Viacom’s Nickelodeon cable channel. “Glenn Martin, DDS,” a stop-motion animated series, will debut this summer. The effort will be the first TV series from Eisner’s Tornante company. (Iwantmedia 3/13, http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/content_display/news/cable-tv/e3iffcfe0c0b0255a5a8aecffcc5d1ceea1 3/12)

The WB.com has cast Jessica “LonelyGirl15” Rose in a new 18-episode web horror series entitled Blood Cell, per THR, about a woman racing against the clock to stop a psycho killer. (Cynopsis 3/13)

Overall online video usage dropped a bit over Feb. according to Nielsen Online as those with jobs went back to work and those without spent more time networking for leads (Cynopsis’ theory).  Streams were down by almost 15% during the month (which, to be fair, is a shorter one in terms of total days.) Meanwhile Hulu climbed over Yahoo! to reach the #2 spot in terms of total video streams. (Cynopsis 3/13)

Overall Online Video Usage (U.S.)
Jan-09         Feb-09    Percent Change
Unique Viewers (000)        135,617     127,613        -5.9%
Total Streams (000)     10,457,785   8,897,943      -14.9%
Streams per Viewer              77.1           69.7       -9.6%
Time per Viewer (min)         178.6          169.3       -5.2%
Source: Nielsen Online, VideoCensus, includes progressive downloads and excludes video advertising

Top Online Brands ranked by Video Streams for February 2009 (U.S.)
Video Brand                                            Total Streams (000) Unique Viewers (000)
YouTube                                                           5,158,727             88,136
Hulu                                                                    308,806              9,473
Yahoo!                                                                 250,425            24,085
Nickelodeon Kids and Family Network                         209,465              6,039
Fox Interactive Media                                             194,255            14,376
ABC.COM                                                              187,128             6,716
MSN/Windows Live                                                 162,900            12,198
Turner Sports and Entertainment Digital Network          125,067             5,961
MTV Networks Music                                               100,076             4,410
CNN Digital Network                                                  99,846             8,377
Source: Nielsen Online, VideoCensus, includes progressive downloads and excludes video advertising

African Americans are slowly but surely closing the so-called digital divide as internet usage grows among the community, according to an analysis from eMarketer. African American internet usage is expected to increase from 46.4% in 2008 to 56.4% in 2013, thanks in part to swift adoption and lifestyle changes from younger users. (Asian Americans remain the most connected demo, with 70.8% of the population now online, expected to increase to 78.9% in 2013.) (Cynopsis 3/13)

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Here’s a clean look at the upcoming Facebook homepage redesign that will go live next week. The new design will give users the ability to easily feed the news stream by friend type and network, and gives users a much easier way to post links, photos and videos. The news feed will also begin updating in real time without page refreshes. See more here. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also wrote a blog post summarizing the changes here. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/04/screen-shots-the-new-facebook-home-page 3/4)

I love the real-time update on the news feed.  Now I won’t need to refresh Facebook 5.000 times a day.  This will convince me that I don’t in fact have a social networking addition.  Sigh.  Dodged that bullet!


(Below) The only one I don’t really like is that company pages will become profiles much like MySpace enabled companies to have their own profiles.  Why would I want to be friends with CNN?  That feels wrong…  I mean.  I like CNN but I don’t like like CNN.  I can’t exactly see what it looks like from the photos but I guess I’ll wait till next week.

Facebook made a number of announcements today about changes to its home page, profile pages, and activity streams. Taken together, these represent a concerted response to the rise of Twitter as a real-time message broadcasting system that goes beyond members’ personal circle of friends. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/04/facebooks-response-to-twitter 3/4)

DVD-rental icon Blockbuster, which has faced a competitive onslaught from companies like Netflix, has hired a law firm to analyze a possible restructuring. The company said it brought on Kirkland & Ellis to aid in “ongoing finance and capital raising initiatives,” but that it was not planning on seeking bankruptcy protection. ClipSyndicate (3/3) , The Wall Street Journal (3/4) , Reuters (3/3) , The New York Times (3/3)


Following the larger open access distribution trend, CBS Sports is looking to expand traffic to their NCAA March Madness on demand product by again offering third-party sites access to free applications that feed live scores and other info from the games. CBS has exclusive rights to video of NCAA tourney games (offered in HD this year via Microsoft’s Silverlight platform) but rivals sites including ESPN.com and Yahoo! Sports will have access to the apps, along with the extended CBS Interactive family. The NCAA March Madness on Demand Developer Platform‘s selection of widgets are more sophisticated this year, including applications dedicated solely to brackets, live scoring, news or each of the Division I Men’s Basketball programs. CBS drew 4.8 million unique visitors on its March Madness On Demand site last year, delivering 4.9 million total hours of live streaming video. Video consumption jumped an astounding 81% compared to the 2007 tournament. (Cynopsis 3/4)

After months of rumors, Google Health finally launched last May, promising to store our medical records in a secure way that is more accessible, easier to understand, and useful than traditional paper records. Since there hasn’t been too much news about the service, which isn’t particularly surprising given the sensitive nature of the information involved. Today, Google has announced that it has launched a significant new feature, giving users the ability to share their medical records with designated family or close friends. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/04/google-health-now-lets-you-share-your-medical-history-with-loved-ones 3/4)


MySpace may be in deep trouble, but that isn’t stopping them from capitalizing on middle America (and Los Angeles), which still rampantly loves the site. You can now get a MySpace branded credit card and rack up points to download free music on the site. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/04/will-a-credit-card-solve-myspaces-woes-who-cares-get-free-music 3/4)

Proving that Myspace can figure out how to become just a bit more lame.  As someone who used to work in credit card marketing, I can tell you that co-branded cards usually don’t work.  Remember the Sony Citi card?  Yah, I didn’t think so…


The highly publicized Pirate Bay copyright infringement trial concluded yesterday in Stockholm with the site’s young defendants claiming that the P2P portal is simply an innocuous piece of internet infrastructure – a tool used to search for content uploaded by others. In closing statements on Monday, prosecutors asked the judge to issue one-year prison sentences to each defendant for enabling illegal copyright infringement. Industry lawyers weren’t that generous, pushing for the maximum penalty of 2 years. The final verdict is scheduled to be handed down on April 17. (Cynopsis 3/4)

Philippe Dauman, the chief executive officer of Viacom, has pronounced his company “very open” to initiatives such as TV Everywhere, Time Warner’s plan to make cable content available online to multichannel subscribers. “We think it has to be seamless to the consumer, and we’re working (with the distributors) on the consumer and technology side,” he said. Advertising Age (3/3)

(Below) Comcast and free Wi-Fi?  Never thought I’d live to see the day…

Comcast has begun testing free Wi-Fi hot spots at commuter rail stations in New Jersey. Separately, the country’s largest cable provider launched DOCSIS 3.0-powered broadband service in the San Francisco Bay area with download speeds of up to 50 Mbps. CED Magazine (3/2009) , Light Reading (3/3)

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Google saw healthy growth in the number of search queries on its core U.S. search engine in January, according to comScore qSearch numbers that came out last night. Google’s query growth rate was 38.4 percent, compared to January, 2008, outpacing the industry’s overall 28.6 percent growth in search queries. Any way you slice it, people are still doing more and more searches, which suggests that the search market is far from saturated. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/18/google-shows-healthy-january-growth-in-us-search-volume 2/18)


After trying to calm everyone down first, Mark Zuckerberg has now posted a new blog post stating that the company will revert to its previous ToS while they “resolve the issues that people have raised” (the post is being hammered right now so it’s going up and down). (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/17/facebook-backtracks-under-community-pressure-goes-back-to-old-tos-for-now 2/17)


CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ultimate goal is to turn Facebook into the world’s standardized communication — and marketing — platform, as ubiquitous and intuitive as the telephone but more interactive and indispensable. Facebook plans to “build one worldwide platform,” he says. (Iwantmedia 2/18, http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/16/technology/hempel_facebook.fortune/index.htm 2/16)


Hulu.com rose to No. 4 among unique visits to online video distributors in January, but, according to this analysis, its hold on that position is tenuous because it has only a two-year contract for the exclusive rights to play NBC and Fox shows (outside of the media giants’ own sites). If NBC Universal and News Corp. decide to distribute their content on a wider scale, Hulu will have to differentiate itself from its competitors based on quality and features, this writer says. Advertising Age (2/17)


Something is up at TV.com, the CBS-owned site that recently relaunched as a competitor to Hulu. Since last summer, when TV.com was owned by CNET and was still primarily a community hub, the site has featured content from NBC and News Corp through a partnership with Hulu. Now, only two months after TV.com relaunched as a CBS-supported direct competitor to the popular media portal, it looks like much (if not all) of the content served through Hulu is no longer working. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/17/did-hulu-just-pull-the-plug-on-its-deal-with-tvcom 2/17)


Boxee, the powerful software package that can convert computers, Apple TVs and other popular products into media centers, has just been kneecapped by major studio content owners. One of the product’s most popular features since its implementation last October has been the ability to watch Hulu’s entire catalog for free, on your TV. Today, Boxee has announced that Hulu will no longer be supported. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/18/content-owners-force-hulu-to-kill-boxee-support 2/18)


In another apparent coup for Microsoft’s Silverlight platform, CBS Interactive is adding an “HD quality” player for its comprehensive ad supported streaming of 2009 NCAA March Madness on Demand on CBSSports.com next month. Microsoft’s traditional Windows Media player will continue to serve the standard 550 kb/second feed while Silverlight will power enhanced video of up to 1.5 MB/second. CBS reported a 164% year-over-year growth in total unique visitors to NCAA March Madness on Demand in 2008 with 4.8 million total unique visitors and 81% year-over-year growth in total hours of live video and audio consumed. (Cynopsis 2/18)

In the landmark trail against Sweden’s The Pirate Bay prosecutors were forced to drop half of the charges against the site just two days into the proceedings. Prosecutors acknowledged that the site didn’t actually copy the files being uploaded by users and thus should no longer face charges of producing copyrighted material unlawfully. Both sides claimed victory of course – the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) issued a statement explaining that scaling back the charges will only simplify the case for the prosecution. (Cynopsis 2/18)

Twitter is starting to test ways to put its real-time search front and center. It is just bucket-testing the change right now with a few randomly selected users, so you might not see it. But you should expect it to be rolled out to everybody eventually. The search and trend features, which currently exist on a separate page, are being placed on the home page of the test accounts. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/18/twitter-moving-to-make-real-time-search-more-central 2/18)

SoundExchange, a group that collects royalties for music artists and recording companies, is agreeing to reduce rates for U.S. radio stations that also play songs online. Internet radio station operators had complained that the rates originally set could force them to shut down. (Iwantmedia 2/18, http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/090217/na_us_internet_radio_royalties.html 2/17)

President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion economic-stimulus package Tuesday. The package contains more than $7 billion for broadband deployment for unserved and underserved areas of the country. Broadcasting & Cable (2/17) , The Washington Post (2/18)

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