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The idea of putting kiosks in retailers to burn music or movie discs on demand is one whose time may never come. I've heard a number of pitches for them over the years, almost all of which sounded far more promising than they proved to be in the marketplace. Still, companies keep trying. The latest is Nero, maker of a leading brand of disc-burning software, which expects to be powering movie-burning kiosks in major retailers this summer.
Continue reading Nero burns a new mission »
If Warner Music Group hired Jim Griffin just to provoke discussion about new business models, it's already gotten its money's worth. Portfolio.com started things off with a piece about Warner signing Griffin, a vocal critic of the major record labels' approach to file-sharing, to a three-year contract. He'll be the guy drawing up and selling Warner's plan to create the ultimate subscription-music service: for about $5 a month per subscriber, ISPs could enable their customers to download and share an unlimited number of MP3s. It's an idea Griffin has been floating for several years, and it meshes nicely with former Warner new-media guru Paul Vidich's unsuccessful campaign to include some form of free music in the price of Internet service. Among other observers, Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng liked the idea; TechCrunch's Michael Arrington did not. No, really. TechDirt's Mike Masnick gave it a thumbs down as well.
Continue reading Jim Griffin's Warner Music splash »
The ink was still drying on Comcast's press release this morning announcing a collaboration with BitTorrent Inc. on the touchy subject of network management when various groups for and against Net neutrality regulations started weighing in. The ones opposed to such rules typically said the collaboration proved government action was unnecessary; the ones who favored them argued that Comcast acted only because the FCC had launched an investigation into the cable company's interference with BitTorrent traffic.
BitTorrent President Ashwin Navin was asked his views on the need for neutrality rules this afternoon, but he refused to take the bait. Speaking at the Technology Policy Summit conference in Hollywood, Navin noted that Comcast wasn't the only ISP using that particular technique to interfere with BitTorrent uploads. "I feel good about our relationship with Comcast," he said. "The FCC has several other ISPs that it needs to be vigilent about.... It would be appropriate, responsible for the FCC to do what it needs to do to make sure the U.S. is a leader in broadband, not only in broadband technology but also broadband regulation."
Continue reading Comcast's BitTorrent conversion »
Here's one for the "Who Knew?" files: the news media's attention to the sub-prime fiasco rises and falls in step with its fascination with Britney Spears. Coincidence? I think not! I would not have noticed this linkage had it not been for Trendrr, a fascinating site that recently went live. An offshoot of Wiredset, a New York agency that specializes in promoting media through the Web, social networks and mobile carriers, Trendrr lets users assemble and compare data from a dozen sources (more to come soon), including Google News, Bit Torrent, eBay and YouTube. It also invites users to request new sources or submit their own. For example, you might want to gauge interest in a particular band by seeing how often people were posting videos of that act on YouTube. Or, if you were a studio, you could graf how often the trailer for your summer blockbuster was being played on MySpace.com vs. YouTube vs. DailyMotion. My examples don't do Trendrr justice, so click here to check out the site's most popular trend-mapping exercises. Then try creating some of your own. Depending on how embarrassing the results are, I may update this post later this week with the results of something I'm tracking on Trendrr: the number of times my newspaper, the NY Times and the Washington Post are cited on blogs, as measured by Google Blog Search.
Continue reading Trendrr: fun with numbers »
So much for the easy part. The Justice Department announced today that it would not seek to block the merger between satellite radio providers XM and Sirius. That leaves the deal's fate in the hands of the FCC, which has a decade-old rule prohibiting one company from owning both satellite-radio licenses. Opponents of media mergers will probably point to today's news as another instance of a Republican Justice Department giving short shrift to antitrust enforcement. To me, though, the decision was inescapable. I just can't see an antitrust problem here, no matter how many times the National Association of Broadcasters invites me to do the math.
Continue reading DOJ blesses XM-Sirius merger »
The folks at DivX and D-Link recently loaned me two pieces of hardware to help bridge the gap between the Internet and my TV set: a DivX Connected box and a pair of powerline adapters to turn my electrical wires into a branch of my home network. All the gear worked well and was surprisingly easy to set up (especially the powerline adapters, which were literally plug-and-play -- a first for any networking gear I've used). Yet as much as I enjoyed using the DivX device, it reminded me that closing the PC-TV gap isn't as simple as hooking up a smart set-top box. It's about finding a way to make computers and websites speak TV.
Continue reading From PC to TV via DivX Connected »
I have a column on latimes.com today about Jango and its effort to monetize what people do while listening to music (as opposed to selling the music itself). The company interested me because its approach strikes me as one of the foundations of the new music-industry business model. I skipped over one aspect of Jango's strategy, though, and that's its widget, which can be posted on blogs or MySpace pages (and, before too long, Facebook profiles). You can inspect the one I created after the jump. Although I recognize that it's a customer-acquisition tool, I have to confess that I don't understand why companies do stuff like this. In essence, Jango is paying to provide entertainment to other sites, rather than using entertainment to draw people to its own pages (where they can generate revenue). And the widget, which is just a jukebox, doesn't really sell the highly social Jango experience. Maybe it's just about getting some name recognition....
Continue reading Jango scales the royalties wall »
Any auction that brings in almost twice as much money as expected isn't likely to be considered a failure. That's the case with the FCC's recently completed auction of the 700 MHz airwaves, which raised about $19 billion. But the auction of these frequencies, which have been used for UHF TV signals, didn't live up to the hopes of many who make their living off teh Interwebs. That's because the sell-off apparently will not produce a new, national provider of broadband Internet access, even though the frequencies would be up to the task, technically speaking.
Continue reading Verizon, AT&T rule at 700 Mhz »
It's poor form to criticize a competitor's scoop, but I won't let that stop me. The Financial Times ran an attention-grabbing piece today about a "radical new business model" Apple was floating with the record labels: letting buyers of premium-priced iPods and iPhones download an unlimited amount of music from the iTunes store. Radical for Apple, perhaps, but not for the music industry, which (as the story points out) is already talking to Nokia about the very same approach.
Continue reading Apple iPods come with music? »
The speech MPAA chief Dan Glickman gave last week at ShoWest is like the gift that keeps on giving. In case you missed my two earlier posts on this topic, Glickman declared the MPAA's unambiguous opposition to Net neutrality regulations. Among other things, he warned that such rules would "impede our ability to respond to consumers in innovative ways" and interfere with ISPs' anti-piracy efforts. Today the Digital Freedom Campaign
-- a lobbying group backed by the Consumer Electronics Assn., several consumer advocates and other groups that often oppose Hollywood on copyright issues -- issued a statement inviting Glickman to take the same deregulatory approach to the rest of the MPAA's policy agenda in Washington. The studios, after all, have a history of pressing Congress and the FCC for regulations that would impede hardware and software makers' ability to respond to consumers in innovative ways, particularly when copyrighted programming was involved. For example, the "broadcast flag" rules sought by Hollywood would require home networks to include government-approved content-protection technology, and its approach to closing the "analog hole" would dictate how long a TiVo could store some of the programs it recorded. Here's the money graf from Digital Freedom spokeswoman Maura Corbett:
We suspect the big studios are rolling the Trojan Horse of “copyright
enforcement” to Congress to protect their business models from openness offered
by the Internet. But for now, let’s take them at their word – given MPAA’s
newfound aversion “government regulation”, we eagerly look forward to them
standing down on broadcast flag legislation, the analog hole bill, and other
initiatives to restrict consumers and limit new technologies.
Don't hold your breath, Maura!