Daily Marauder

TECHNOLOGY by Marauder


And so it begins: Random House has switched off Kindle Text-to-speech by default, angering educators and advocates for the blind in the process. Forty titles have been shut down including books by Stephen King and Toni Morrison. (http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/05/15/random-house-shuts-down-kindle-text-to-speech-for-their-titles 5/15)

Kindle time

Techcrunch has gotten their hands on the COOL-ER, a new Ebook reader coming out in two weeks that’s sporting a (relatively) low $250 price tag and a case that looks like an over-sized iPod Nano (it’s also coming in 8 Applesque colors). Interead, the small startup that built Cool-er, is obviously trying to bring Ebooks to a new market, shunning some of the features seen on the Kindle in favor of a lower price-point and a broader appeal. And it just might work. (http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/05/15/video-our-full-walkthrough-of-the-color-coated-cool-er-ebook-reader 5/15)


In an effort to boost its slumping PC sales, Hewlett-Packard began offering consumer desktops equipped with touch-screen controls. The units accounted for 400,000 of the company’s PC sales last year, a fraction of the 54 million traditional desktops and laptops HP sold, so the firm is expanding its touch-screen effort into the commercial market with installations at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Detroit’s Palace of Auburn Hills arena. The Wall Street Journal (5/15)

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, left, and H-P’s Stephen DeWitt test a touch-screen PC at O’Hare Airport in March.


LG’s new BD390, which includes integrated Wi-Fi, is “probably the best all-around Blu-ray player there is at the moment,” according to this review. The system comes with Netflix, YouTube and CinemaNow on board, and, unlike other players, has made installation and setup a job that just about anyone can handle. Gizmodo (5/15)

Dell has introduced the 22-inch P2210, the 19-inch E190S and the 17-inch E170S monitors, all of which meet or exceed current energy-saving standards. The displays’ price points are $240, $130 and $110, respectively, for the P2210, the E190S and the E170S. Electronista (5/14)

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MISC by Marauder
April 7, 2009, 7:10 PM
Filed under: MISC | Tags: , , , , , , ,


Movie rental company Blockbuster says the risk that it may not complete financing deals raises “substantial doubt” about its ability to continue as a going concern. The Dallas-based Blockbuster is struggling amid the rising popularity of DVD-by-mail services like Netflix. (Iwantmedia 4/07, http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Blockbuster-may-not-be-able-apf-14864522.html 4/6)

Turner-owned TruTV has signed on as a promotional partner for a pair of upcoming theatricals from Universal Pictures: the Russell Crowe-driven “State of Play” and “Land of the Lost,” which stars Will Ferrell. The deal involves TruTV running 90-second sneak peaks of “State of Play” this Sunday as well as two weeks of custom promos for “Land of the Lost,” beginning in May. Variety (4/6)

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Increasingly iconic online video-rental firm Netflix has announced that it has crossed the 2-billion-delivery mark. The company, founded in 1999, has more than 10 million subscribers and ships about 2 million discs every day. Reuters (4/2)


Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is defensive of the company’s “TV Everywhere” premise. The industry “can’t just blow up the revenue structure” that cable operators and programmers have come to rely upon by continuing to stream shows free online to people who don’t pay. (Iwantmedia 4/3, http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/time-warner-ceo-you-cant/story.aspx?guid=%7B5D0E3B69-73D0-408D-AA5E-2DA7BE4EB96B%7D 4/2)

(Below)  It’s a VERY interesting discussion.  In fact, I think this discussion regarding the online subscription model without commercials vs. the free ad-supported model is the most interesting discussion in the digital distribution world these days.  Here’s the thing.  I think that most people won’t pay for content unless that content is connected to a television screen.  If content is provided on a monthly basis for online, that content needs to be easily connected to a television environment which these days is still narrowed to the tech elite.  As the connections from online to the television increase in simplicity and allowance, I think this model will make a whole lot more sense.  But unfortunately, the revenue structure can blow up.  In fact, it already has.  Now, it’s a question of what that revenue structure will become as the pieces come back together.  The race to making money is one of that I find most interesting and the most critical to content providers.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman says that there is unlikely to be a negative consumer backlash against the Time Warner-led “TV Everywhere” plan. “People are used to paying for video subscriptions. They’re used to paying for broadband service, so there’s nothing new there.” (Iwantmedia 4/3, http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Viacom-CEO-sees-no-backlash/story.aspx?guid=%7B52C63A77%2D6EED%2D45EB%2D85D6%2D5A39F02B4139%7D 4/2)

Disney CEO Bob Iger has reservations about walling off online content on a subscription basis, particularly content from broadcasters like ABC, which he notes is free over the air and depends on advertising. Such a move “could be viewed as anti-consumer.” (Iwantmedia 4/3, http://www.smartmoney.com/news/ON/?story=ON-20090402-000767-1047 4/2)

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone appeared on The Colbert Report last night. In case you haven’t seen it already, the video is embedded above. Stone describes Twitter as “The messaging system that we didn’t know we needed until we had it.” To which Colbert responds: “That sounds like the answer to a problem we didn’t have until I invented the answer.” (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/03/biz-stone-plays-it-cool-on-colbert/ 4/3)


Digg may have 19 million unique visitors and nearly 85 million pageviews (Comscore worldwide, Feb ‘09), but one thing it’s never had is a decent search engine. There’s no rhyme or reason to the ordering of results. A lot of stuff just seems to disappear. And the filters are overly complicated.  That’ll change in the near future, the company noted in a blog post today. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/02/digg-to-finally-fix-search-see-the-screenshot/ 4/2)

The new Digg toolbar product called DiggBar launched yesterday. If you want to try it out immediately, just add “digg.com/” before any URL at all (the image above is using the techcrunch domain).  The toolbar is made for the new Twitter generation, which has a desperate need for very short URLs to fit in the tiny space allotted per message. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/02/diggs-toolbar-is-here-go-shorten-those-urls/ 4/2)

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Google, which has nearly $16 billion in cash and securities in its coffers, is seen as unlikely to be out of the deal market for long. The increasing popularity of Twitter is raising speculation that Google may see a need to co-opt the service to protect its own search business. (Iwantmedia 3/24, http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE52N0B120090324 3/24)


CBSSports.com‘s March Madness traffic numbers continued to climb over the weekend as an aggregate 5.6 million unique visitors consumed a total of 6.5 million hours of video throughout the first four days of the tournament – y/y increases of 65% and 71% respectively. (Cynopsis 3/24)


Netflix is taking advantage of the Facebook Connect service to allow subscribers to the movie-rental service to share their ratings and movie queues with social-network contacts. Those who opt in to the service will have their movie ratings posted on their Facebook profile pages, with those ratings linking back to the Netflix site. Reuters (3/24)

YouTube is giving Lionsgate two rich-media units and exclusivity on its home page to advertise the upcoming horror film, “The Haunting in Connecticut.” The Lionsgate ad is said to be part of a $500,000 buy that includes search and display across Google’s network. (Iwantmedia 3/24, http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=135449 3/23)


Showtime is demoing the iTV Marketing App it has been using to market its Pay TV service to Dish Network subscribers at the Cable Show next month. Utilizing a platform-agnostic series of updatable templates, the application allows users to sample Showtime programming then sign up for the service directly from the remote. (With call-in customers costing operators and an average of $8 per call, this one should be a no-brainer.)  Showtime estimates it has added 100,000 subs from Dish since deploying the app two years ago. (Cynopsis 3/24)

Apple’s move to include HD video titles at its iTunes Store could pose a threat to video providers, according to this report, which suggests that audiences are getting more comfortable with viewing programming over a variety of gateways. Apple’s challenge could be especially strong because it sells current TV episodes and — since it does not stream video — lacks the bandwidth-quality issues faced by Web-based providers. xchange (3/20)

MTV Network’s Atom.com premiered Nick’s Big Show, a weekly six-episode mockumentary directed by Luke and Jeremy Jackson (Highway 61). It stars up-and-coming comedian Nick Thune. (Cynopsis 3/24)


Popular media and BitTorrent client Vuze released a new media streaming/downloading update allowing users to convert and play HD video on a variety of devices including the iPhone, iPod, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Drag-and-drop videos from your Vuze Library to the device of your choice from the Sidebar section then use iTunes or the PS3 or Xbox 360 interface to access the titles. The software automatically converts the video the proper format. (Cynopsis 3/24)

Twitter has started to advertise a number of applications using the small box on profile pages that it first introduced earlier this month. Before today Twitter had reserved the space for links to its own services like Search, but now they are advertising a number of sites and apps, including Tweetie, a popular iPhone client. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/23/twitter-opens-the-revenue-faucet-starts-serving-ads/ 3/23)


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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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In the “foreseeable future,” Netflix is “likely” to offer its video-streaming service separate from its rent-by-mail offering, according to Barry McCarthy, the company’s chief financial officer. Netflix subscribers now can use a number of devices — not just a PC — to stream Netflix movies and TV shows, including the popular “Watch Instantly” content. Reuters (2/25)


After the uproar that ensued when Facebook tried to change its terms of service a couple weeks ago, along with its subsequent backpedaling and public assurances that users own their data, the company is trying a different tack. It is inviting users to comment and contribute on proposed changes to its terms of service. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/26/facebook-opens-up-its-terms-of-service-to-input-from-users 2/26)

U2 has Comcast – The Allmans have Onstream Media. The digital media services platform announced a deal to webcast the Allman Brothers Band‘s 40th anniversary, 15-day concert series beginning on Mar. 9 live from the Beacon Theater in New York via Moogis.com on a pay-per-view basis. All 15 shows can be viewed live or via archive for $125. (Cynopsis 2/26)


A super-secret Digg toolbar has been spotted in the wild. We tracked down a beta tester who gave us the skinny on its features. The toolbar lets you Digg or Bury the page you are on, and shows how many Diggs it has already received. There are also links to show related pages, as well as more pages from the same source voted highly by the Digg community or marked as up and coming. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/26/digg-is-working-on-a-toolbar-to-go-after-stumbleupon-tinyurl-and-all-the-rest 2/26)


Faced with a tough economy, Google is working harder to make money off more of its properties. The Internet giant is extending its AdWords program to searches on Google News, delivering text ads on the search results page, just as it has long done with Web search results. (Iwantmedia 2/26, http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10172410-93.html 2/25)

Tomorrow’s Cloud Computing Roundtable is sold out. For those of you who can’t join, Techcrunch will be live-streaming the event. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/26/cloud-computing-roundtable-sold-out-but-it-will-be-streamed 2/26)


Alaska Airlines has announced that they’ve started testing Row 44’s satellite-based Wi-Fi service on a handful of Boeing 737-700s. The first trial flight will take place between Seattle and San Jose (leaves Seattle at 2:20 PT today and returns on Flight 329 from San Jose back to Seattle) and the service will be free for 60 days. After today that aircraft will shift routes. Pricing hasn’t been set, but I’d imagine it’s close to what VA or AA is charging for Aircell’s Gogo service. (

http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/02/26/alaska-airlines-starts-testing-satellite-based-wi-fi-services 2/26)


The two behemoths of the web are at each others’ throats again. European Union regulators said yesterday they have accepted a request from Google to join in on antitrust proceedings launched in Jan. to investigate Microsoft’s dominance in the web browser market. Google continues to criticize Microsoft’s practice of bundling Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system, claiming it is stifling innovation for users. (Cynopsis 2/26)

The PGA finally gets its roar back this week with the return of Tiger Woods at the Accenture Match Play Championship and Turner Sports’ PGAtour.com is there to provide online users with a variety of content including hole-by-hole video coverage of Tiger’s rounds. (Cynopsis 2/26)

(Below) If only ever company was this innovative…

Procter & Gamble is summoning top execs from Google, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to its Cincinnati headquarters March 9 for a so-called Digital Night. The consumer goods giant is being hush-hush about the event. A P&G spokeswoman says: “It is about learning.” (

Iwantmedia 2/26, http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=134879 2/25)

Social app maker RockYou, which introduced a new feature earlier this month to add IAB-compliant video ads units to products, also began testing content distribution services with Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst Media guaranteeing impressions within its apps, per NewTeeVee. RockYou was able to demonstrate 1.8 million impressions in a single day for Katalyst’s special Fashion Week episode of Blah Girls. (Cynopsis 2/26)

Internet advertising could fall by 5% in the first quarter of 2009, the first contraction in online ad spending since the dotcom bubble burst in 2001, according to market research group IDC. Also, the U.S. Internet ad market could get worse before the situation improves. (Iwantmedia 2/26, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123558776209174437.html 2/25)

Some 48% of respondents of a new survey from We Media/Zogby Interactive cite the Internet as their primary source of news and information. Among 18-29-year-olds, the number is 55%. In addition, Web sites are now “more trusted” news sources than newspapers, television or radio. (Iwantmedia 2/26, http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/agency/e3i195c363ab252f976cb7ec76fade882cc 2/25)

The simple e-mail newsletter is leading the way in showing how to make money online. The most noted success story is DailyCandy, purchased by Comcast for a reported $125 million last fall. Thrillist, with annual sales of up to $10 million, is launching in its 10th city, Philadelphia. (Iwantmedia 2/26, http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2009/tc20090224_035701.htm 2/25)

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Downloading movies is kind of a fool’s game. You have the movie on disk, but now what? Well, it seems Apple is thinking about adding streaming to the next version of iTunes and, presumably, offering cheaper streaming prices for those so inclined. (http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/02/12/itunes-might-get-streaming-with-acceptable-prices-for-same 2/12)


Borrowing a model from the sporting world, CBS.com is launching a fantasy league for the newest season of Survivor offering the winners a free trip to Brazil. Registered players are randomly assigned a tribe, in which they win points and compete for the top spot on the Leaderboard. Players are able to trade any or all of their Survivor team members and are awarded points based on their team members’ performance in certain categories. (Cynopsis 2/12)


When TV networks and programmers pay for a search-ad link with Google to promote a new show, the likelihood that people actually will tune in to the show goes up 25%, according to the Internet search giant. The likelihood goes up 20% for an existing show, Google said. MediaPost Communications (2/11)

This past December we reported on how Facebook was coming up on Blogger to steal its top spot among social media sites when measured by total unique visitors worldwide.  Now, it appears as though Facebook has finally done it. Data from comScore, which unfortunately goes only through December 2008, shows how Facebook’s visitors (221 million) basically matched Blogger’s (225.5 million) by the end of the year. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/12/looks-like-facebook-just-took-the-top-spot-among-social-media-sites 2/12)


Brett Brewer, the co-founder of MySpace‘s parent company before it was sold to News Corp., says the global battle against Facebook is over. Facebook, he predicts, will come to dominate MySpace in worldwide user numbers. “There’s a fundamental shift going on.” (Iwantmedia 2/12, http://business.smh.com.au/business/facebook-tipped-to-outshine-myspace-20090211-84qt.html 2/12)

Trying to differentiate itself from rival Netflix, Blockbuster is launching a pilot program to expand its Total Access online movie rental service to include video games. So in addition to movie titles to choose from, select Total Access subscribers will have access to game titles for a number of platforms including the Nintendo Wii, PS2, PS3, Xbox and Xbox 360. (Cynopsis 2/12)

Consider it a sign of the times when internet company Google acquires the buildings and premises of a mill site from a paper, packaging and forest products company that caters to the print industry. (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/12/google-buys-a-paper-mill 2/12)


Horror maestro Stephen King was on hand Monday to help launch the Kindle 2, reserving a novella exclusively for the device. Now legal thriller specialist John Grisham is close to signing an e-book deal with Bertelsmann AG’s Random House publishing arm to make all 22 of his books available in all e-book formats, reports the WSJ. Amazon’s Kindle has driven two-thirds of all e-book sales thus far, according to estimates. (Cynopsis 2/12)

Cyber-crooks are setting traps on the popular news-sharing Web site Digg. Criminals pose as Digg members and then entice readers with links to “scintillating” online celebrity videos. Those that follow the links are prompted to download software, which turns out to be malware. (Iwantmedia 2/12, http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20090211/tc_afp/usitinternetdiggpanda 2/10)

Increased video consumption will contribute to the overall doubling of Mobile Data Traffic every year through 2013, according Cisco‘s annual Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, updated this week. Almost 64% of the world’s mobile traffic will be video by 2013. The proliferation of netbooks and high-end handsets will be key drivers of traffic; a single laptop can generate as much traffic as 450 basic-feature phones, and a high-end handset such as an iPhone or Blackberry device creates as much traffic as 30 basic-feature phones. (Cynopsis 2/12)

IP Traffic 2006-2012
2008   2009    2010    2011     2012       2013       CAGR
Application (TB per month) ’08-’13
Audio                              3,612   7,996   16,930  35,486   74,503    154,988   112%
Video                             13,062 38,681 107,714 274,820 650,310 1,390,548  154%
P2P                                 6,714 15,851  33,784   69,856 134,224   220,829   101%
Data                               9,680  22,547  48,984 102,054 217,282   417,847   112%
Source: Cisco 2009

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