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Unlimited Download TV Service

synctvLet’s see, I slept for 7 hours; it’s a new day and an announcement of yet another start up in the internet video space.  This seems like a daily ritual. 

The newest is Sync TV, a spin off from consumer electronics company Pioneer, which launched a beta download service.

The audio and video quality of the TV shows is comparable or superior to the same show on DVD.  SyncTV will provide HD programming across some of the different channels and will also have programming available in discreet 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus, giving you the “home theater” experience.  They allow you a great deal of flexibility in how you play back the TV shows you download. You can play back shows on up to five ‘home’ devices which mean PCs/Macs now and other home entertainment devices in the future (read portable players). 

That’s the good news.  The bad news is yet another DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology for the consumer to try and get their head around.  Sync TV is using an open-standard DRM called Marlin.  Yet another group of top electronics manufacturers joining forces to develop a standard for content management and protection.  Marlin is also referred to as “OMArlin” because it supposedly bridges between the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM v.2.0 and the Marlin DRM standards.  Does anyone care, outside the companies involved?  Not really.  Consumers might agree that content protection is a good idea but, they just want to play their stuff on all their devices. And they want everything to be cheaper, too. 

It’s another set of companies trying to protect what they see as their intellectual property and make money. You could make the claim as the same motive as Microsoft, Apple, RealNetworks and others in the DRM struggle.  The marketing spin tries to convince us that DRM is intended to make it easy for us to buy content and share it, without being encumbered by content protection schemes.   But, adding Marlin to this mix will be yet another failed attempt to create a DRM “standard”.   

What I do find interesting with Sync TV and all the regulatory noise about bundled programming, is the fact that users can subscribe a-la-carte for a variety of programs they want to watch. Each channel costs about $2 each per month, and currently there are four subscription channels available. Showtime is the foundation partner with promise of more.  

The Sync TV launch underscores the two worlds that now exist–the heavily regulated telecoms and broadcasting sectors and the almost entirely unregulated internet channel.  

Where do you think most of the innovation is?

rogerpollockI’m following up on a previous post about David Oringulph (Legend Homes) doing an interview in the Oregonian where he states:  There’s really nothing wrong with the housing market from the standpoint of economics….”. 

I really took an exception to his line of thinking and was in complete disagreement of his “feel sorry for me” attitude.   And as if helping prove my point… 

Fast forward 45 days and now the “big-box” builder Roger Pollock (Buena Vista Homes – pictured right) is sending out letters to past clients who bought a home from his company about the MEGA house auction planned for December 15-16th, to the likes the Portland Metro area has never seen.  Sure this type of action is the norm in Las Vegas or the burbs of Phoenix, but here in River City? 

This may well be the largest riches-to-rags story on the planet.  In the Fall of 2006 Buena Vista Homes was hailed (largely self-promotion) as the largest home builder in Oregon having “pulled down” 303 permits in the first 10months.  In addition, “Builder Magazine” named Buena Vista the fastest growing builder in the United States with an amazing growth rate of 162.47 percent. Now we’re seeing the “signs” of over building and developers are panicked to sell anything maybe David Oringulph would like to retract his “the media is the problem” statement? 

Then came “THE LETTER”pollock_letter  Imagine getting a letter from Roger Pollock telling you they have decided to auction the remaining homes in your cul-d-sac and the starting bid is going to be $189k less than what you just paid 6 months ago.  WTF?!! 

Is there no shame from these predatory builders?  How do they ignore customer service, relationships with past clients, further driving prices down and exacerbate the home bubble mentality in an already bleeding market?  This is going to be fascinating to watch.

UPDATE (DEC 17th): Auction sold 141 homes at a total of $65 million in sales over the 2-day period.  Average per home is nearly $461K.  None of the Bend homes were auctioned.  So, is Pollock a Marketing Genius or were people drawn-to-the-light?  

And does he really know how to party like a “Rock Star”?    

itunes cardsI don’t know about you, but I’m bummed over the end of the Starbucks and iTunes music promotion which ended last month.  The promotion ran October 2nd and ended November 7th to be exact, but every time I go to Starbucks I can’t help but look for the little “redeem-me-now” credit sized cards. Maybe I’m in a need deprivation state of mind?   

I remember first learning about the promotion where I get a free, new song every day in Starbucks. It made my morning stop so much more pleasant.  The first artist was Dylan and included other greats such as Gloria Estefan, Dave Matthews, John Mayer and many more.  Personally, I thought this was a great combination of two awesome products, coffee and music, brought to me by folks who know how to pamper my whims and do it so well, “Bucks” and “Mac”.  I don’t have an exact count on the total number of artists, but I collected 31 of those little redeemable cards and punched in 100’s of alpha-numerical characters to obtain the music goods.  How many did you collect?

But, don’t worry about my Apple/Starbuck-withdrawal-syndrome (ASWS).  I continue to frequent the place and now find myself trying to resist the urge to buy a CD every time I get a latte!  Maybe that was the intent…everytime I sip a latte I think of a song?!

 Hey don’t forget — you have until the end of December to redeem all those Song-of-the-Day cards.

Give A Computer A Cookie

SafeLike the famous book “Give A Mouse A Cookie…” by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Illustrator Felicia Bond, “cookies” are often used by advertisers and Web analytic firms on most all web sites.   They place “tracking cookies” on your computer.  And like the book, the mouse will “ask for a glass of milk…” you can sure bet those web advertisers and analytic firms will be asking you for something. 

In most cases they don’t even let you know that they’ve ask!  Let me explain.  On the web, a “cookie” is a small text file that contains a string of alphanumeric characters. The tracking cookies tell companies what you are doing online, even though they don’t typically record your name or other personably identifiable information. The cookies are used by companies to try and match ads to a user’s interests or in the above mouse example they will “ask for a glass of milk”. 

There are two types of cookies used on most websites: a persistent cookie and a session cookie. A persistent cookie gets entered by your Web browser into the “Cookies” folder on your computer and remains in this “Cookies” folder after you close your browser. Persistent cookies may be used by your browser on subsequent visits to the site. A session cookie is held temporarily in your computer’s memory and disappears after you close your browser or shut off your computer. There are websites that use Web beacons (also called “clear GIFs” or “pixel tags”) in conjunction with cookies. Web beacons are small strings of code that are placed in a Web page. For example, if you arrive at website by clicking on a banner ad for a product or service, a session cookie may be used. This cookie will contain an identification number for the ad that you clicked on, or will contain an identification number for the site that you were visiting when you clicked on the banner ad. 

Most web sites tell you nothing upfront about tracking cookies, or how to get rid of these tracking cookies assuming that you want too.  Cookies are used all over the Web, but in most cases, their presence is only disclosed deep inside privacy policies.  When was the last time you read a privacy policy? 

Some of the more reputable web sites want you to know how to get rid of these tracking cookies or opt out of the cookies set by any ad-placement or analytic contractor they might use and will provide the information.  For example, here is a link to a page where you can opt out of the cookies set by an ad-placement or analytics contractor of Omniture

 I’d prefer a totally opt-in system, but, as far as I know, the ad industry doesn’t have a practical one yet and not enough consumers have complained about tracking cookies to make an impact for the industry to change. If you want to clean out all tracking cookies from all your Web sites the following links take you where you can download three programs that can help clean out tracking cookies: 

 I’ve used some of these applications and been satisfied with the results, but give them a try and let me know your results. You can also change the preferences or settings in your Web browser to control cookies. In some cases, you can choose to accept cookies from the primary site, but block them from third parties. In others, you can block cookies from specific advertisers, or clear out all cookies. 

Not all cookies are tracking cookies. Like a lot of Web sites, they may place cookies on your computer, in addition to any placed by advertisers. But they aren’t “tracking cookies.” They merely do things like save your registration information, if you choose to register. They do not tell the companies what you do or where you go online. 

I’ll take warm milk with my cookies, thank you.

November is an important month in the global mobile business.  First off, Apple launched its iPhone in the UK, Germany and France, after a successful launch in the US. Google put a line in the sand on the mobile space with the release of Android and the formation of the Open Handset Alliance.

According to a report from Informa Telecoms & Media , worldwide mobile penetration hit 50 percent. The report states there are 3.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. At the end of September there were mobile networks operating in 224 countries, which is up from 192 countries in 1997 and 35 in 1987. Even though there are now an estimated 3.3 billion mobile subscriptions activated currently, its important to note that some countries have a mobile penetration rate of more than 100 percent, meaning some users have more than one subscription.

And in related mobile news, Apple plans to release a developer kit for the iPhone in February.  That is notable since they have routinely controlled access to many of their products, but now will welcome software written by outside programmers.

Wand Waving My iPhone Remote

iphoneOdds are that as a developer you went to college, earned a degree to specialize in something and avoid a career serving up burgers and fries at the local grill. But now day’s developers are spending most of their week developing mobile applications for the fast-food giants.  That’s ironic! 

According to Adweek, consumers are facing mobile advertising saturation and a growing number of brands are turning to mobile developers to create interactive wireless services and tools in lieu of conventional mobile media buys.  Advertisers are investing in “branded utility”–i.e., services they believe enable their customers to perform tasks, rather than interrupt the mobile experience. 

And speaking of branded utility, AppleInsider reports that Apple filed a series of patents for sensor layouts, mobile sensors and compliant conductors, together indicating they are working on a multi-touch device that recognizes more intricate gestures–e.g., grabbing or swiping motions with one or more fingers–and selectively disables input depending on context. In the patent, Apple explained that pressure-sensitive technology could recognize rolling, tilting, or twisting motions for manipulating content in 3D. And because the touch controls need not be flat, the technology would enable more unique and ergonomic device designs. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the day where I can twirl and whirling my iPhone to buy a burger and then roll that perfect 300 bowling game!

Blog World and New Media Expo

Sorry about the delayed post on this, but I was flying home late last Friday night and there was a little gal coughing the entire 3 hour flight in my row…needless to say I contracted whatever she was spreading into the air.  Ugh!!  Anyway here is my delayed post on Blog World.

Summary:

A bunch of bloggers getting together sounds like “geekfest” and this conference delivered.  It’s dedicated to promoting the blogging industry and “new media”. This was a first for an industry-wide exhibition, and BlogWorld featured more than 50 seminars, panel discussions and keynotes from a who’s who of personalities.   The conference was for the serious blogger, podcaster, or vlogger who want to increase readership, improving functionality of blogs, but most important were the discussions and examples of new business models leveraging affiliate or ad/promotion programs.   

Blogging Statistics – Level Set

  • Over 12 million American adults currently maintain a blog.
  • More than 147 million Americans use the Internet.
  • Over 57 million Americans read blogs.
  • 1.7 million American adults list making money as one of the reasons they blog.
  • 89% of companies surveyed say they think blogs will be more important in the next five years.
  • 9% of internet users say they have created blogs.
  • 6% of the entire US adult population has created a blog.
  • Technorati is currently tracking over 70 million blogs — over120 thousand blogs are created every day.
  • There are over 1.4 million new blog posts every day–22 of the 100 most popular websites in the world are blogs.
  • 37% of blog readers began reading blogs in 2005 or 2006.
  • 51% of blog readers shop online.
  • Blog readers average 23 hours online each week.

 Blog statistic info/source: HERE. 

Conference Details:

The conference had a lot of exhibitors that provided product services to bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters. Another way to view this is a tradeshow catering to individuals and businesses that tie at least some of their efforts to the process of communication and commerce through the internet.  Exhibitors included: Blog publishing software, RSS services, Broadband ISP’s, Wi-Fi services, Podcasting services, Advertising networks, News readers, Aggregators, Badges, Widgets and Plug-ins, Web hosting companies, Blog designers, Affiliate program partners, recording hardware/software, and more. 

I thought about blogging a blogging conference, but there was no time to post.   Conferences (at least the good ones) are about action and events. And when formal events (like panels or keynotes) aren’t in progress, there are numerous informal conversations, exhibits to visit, etc.   I can’t write, talk, and listen at the same time. 

The event started with an opening keynote which was a Q&A between Ed Sussman from FastCompany.com (also Inc.com) and Matt Mullenweg who is the founding developer of WordPress. This was not very dynamic. The speakers sitting down in leather chairs and had the energy of The Actor’s Studio. It was interesting, but wasn’t the best morning kick-off for a long day packed full of sessions.  Ed asked the questions and Matt provided answers and weaved in a “state of the union” on the blogging industry (both content & software) and where things are heading.  Matt had several interesting comments, and the key points were: WordPress will ALWAYS be an open source project.WordPress is working an “auto-update” feature (ala Firefox) that lets you update your blog through a single button click when you log in to your admin section. 

Overall I found the sessions to be very interesting and the exhibits had many ideas on how to add to a blog and earn affiliate or ad banner revenue/cash. 

Notable Sessions:

  1. Blogging 101 – by Andy Wibbels.  Great presentation.  Discussed how 73% of journalists are looking for expertise from blogs.  Discussed how the unexpected connection changes your life, your perception.  Kind of exciting, but also a bit creepy.  Mention that 1/3 of all blogs are in Japanese.  We’re missing a lot of good insight due to language.  Discussed multiple streams of blogging income:  Contextual text ads (Google Adsense); Impression based ads (Tribal Fusion); Traditional Affiliate Programs (Amazon Assoc., Commission Junction); Contextual Widgets (Chitika.com); Paid Reviews (payperpost.com) and other branded schwags and RSS “tip jars”.  He also mentioned several blogging search engines: Blogpulse, BlogCatalog, IceRocket, BlogDigger.  I really liked Andy’s analogy of “Why are people on-line?”  a. Fun/Entertainment, b. Utility/Get Info (What’s that rash?), c. Community.  This was a similar theme in other speaker’s presentations as well and needs to be constantly referenced to make sure we are serving our customer.
  2. Good to Great: Blogging & Profit Potential – by Jim Kukral.  Jim has made more $500K blogging.  He is a jedi master so’s to speak.  Deliver a great presentation, with topics covering how blogs are making money and that everyone should be tapping into the money with online videos.  Like his “MarkCubanCallMe” blog idea.  Never spoke with Cuban, but generated a lot of views.  Jim discussed that the majority of blogs do not make money.  It’s a lot of work and with out setting a goal or serving a targeted niche or solve a problem you will not succeed.  He worked thru the mechanics of click-thru payments.  Jims view is that people got to the internet to have fun or get a problem solved.  That if you have a passion and can be an expert then you will do well producing quality content.  Described how problogger.net bought a home on blogging revenue.  Referenced one of the most successful blogs is by Tim Carver “askthebuilder.com”.  Think of it as a how to blog.  He discussed how no one is doing video on blogs.  Very small numbers today and that Google are doing a lot to drive video search.  Jim stated buy a $100 flip video camera and solve problems for people.  A secret to success.
  3. Building an Online Community – by Wendy Persall and David Nalle.  Wendy runs Emomsathome.com and David runs blogcritics.org  Discussion around content for the clicks and building a blog so that people don’t leave.  Meaning sometimes the affiliate or ad’s will redirect a reader away from your site and it might be more advantageous to run direct ads on your site so they stay and read more content or ads.
  4. Social Media vs. Pay-per-Click – by Jalali Hartman.  Played an interesting video “EPIC 2014” by museum of media history. Basically states to watch out for Google world domination.  Jalali talked about a project Wardancethemovie.com and how “movements” attract much larger and passionate members than a movie can.  He discussed the viral content elements of the project and type of tricks he used.  He mentioned an example of a movement on the Colbert for President on Facebook groups was generating 120 users join requests per second during the first 24 hours.  When people would post comments to The Wall they wouldn’t show up for hours.
  5. Using Social Media to Drive Traffic to your Blog – by Robyn Tippins and Larry Bailin.  Great presentation and primarily a Q&A session.  Robyn is super knowledgeable.  Works for Yahoo.  I met with her after the session and learned that she did some work for ISN while back.  I learned several techniques on how to cross reference/link for maximum exposure of a blog.  Mybloglog is a gold nugget.
  6. The Web 10.0 – by Thomas Frey (DaVinci Institute).  This was a futuristic discussion and Thomas pushed the level of understanding of what the net/blogs will become.  Basically his presentation is about the net being group into 3 categories:  Education, Global Systems, Techno-Nation.  Depressing to learn that in 1970 30% of all college graduates lived in the U.S., but today it’s 14%.  The most educated country in the world is Canada.  He discussed how future of education would evolve.  The Techno-nation area discussed economic borderlines of the world will not be drawn between countries, but around economic domains.  Virtual countries and no land involved.  With borderless economies it’s caused countries to lose control of commerce.  Lastly he discussed how search will become increasingly more complicated and an even bigger business opportunity with taste, texture, reflectivity, smell being some of the attributes.
  7. Social Media – by Chris Heuer and Marshal Kirkpatrick spoke on the Social Media landscape. An interesting discussion group and the Q&A session were good.  The main point is that Social Media enables us to tear down the walls between each other. It opens all of us up to one another and it allows us all to connect with the community around us and bond with it. In the end the Social Media Landscape is up to us and what we make of it.  Chris answered the “What is Social Media?” question by: “Its evergreen & persistent, it creates more opportunities to be found, puts a human face on your business, builds trust in the market and allows you to co-create with your customers.” Thinking about this statement it’s very true and we apply it every day to our Social Media usage whether we realize it or not.

I didn’t conduct in-depth research, but did listen to several brief demonstrations in the exhibit area.  Some of the notables are: 

  • Ligit: I’m going to use this site!
  • AdaptiveBlue: If you like movies, books, and music and blog about them often this site would be a great addition to your blog and a great way for you to make a little money as well.
  • SezWho: This is interesting but to be truthful, I need to play with it more before I totally understand it.BlogCatalog: Great site.  I’m just putting it here in case you haven’t been introduced yet.
  • WooMail: These guys hit me up while I was outside on break and were not part of the show. I know nothing about them other than its e-mail but I’m going to have a look. 

Summary:

Putting all this data and learning’s about blogs/Internet into good use:

  1. Focus on building relationships between businesses, bloggers & readers
  2. You will not succeed unless you focus on the things you have passion
  3. Commenting on Blogs to increase visibility and credibility.  Not something routinely done today.
  4. Always provide value by offering substantive material.
  5. Further the conversation in comments and be inviting/friendly so as to promote community and the sharing of ideas.
  6. Experiment with affiliate programs and continue to leverage any viral element.