Content and services

Google Voice nothing new

Google has announced a new service called Voice, which is supposedly a break through because you can give people one number and calls can then be routed wherever you like--home phone, cell phone, office phone, etc. It's a wonderful idea that VoIP telephone providers have been offering for years. Design Nine has used this kind of phone system for more than three years.

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Beginning of the end for Twitter?

Michael Jackson's death crashed Twitter and several other online services, demonstrating the popularity of these things. But Twitter may be about to peak, as one company prepares to sell Twitter followers to advertisers.

Email--not all it's cracked up to be

There are two kinds of spam--the obnoxious stuff that is clearly junk, and then what I call "legitimate" spam, although the word "legitimate" is probably not the right word to describe it.

Every morning, I have to wade through a bunch of email from legitimate firms offering legitimate services--business seminars, webinars, conferences, deals on their products. All real stuff, but also stuff I'm rarely interested in.

Google Squared still has rough edges

Google Squared is an odd little Google experiment that the company just released, probably to try to counter the even odder Wolfram Alpha search tool.

Each tool is different from each other, and each tool tries to apply analysis to search requests, as opposed to the "old fashioned" search that just dumps a list of unfiltered results in your lap.

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Hulu Desktop is the future of "TV"

I downloaded and installed Hulu Desktop this weekend, and I have seen the future of TV. The folks that designed this paid careful attention to the user interface, and the overall look and feel of this software is terrific. It is easy to browse, and you can drill down quickly into a specific area (e.g. Movie Trailers, TV Shows). I have a feeling the designers spent a lot of time looking at the iTunes Store and Apple's Cover Flow interface, because there are not only similarities, but improvements.

Will the iPhone save Sirius XM?

Sirius XM has released screen shots of its iPhone app for the radio service. The iPhone software will be free, but there will be a $3/month fee to listen to a select group of Sirius XM channels. In other words, for a very modest $36/year, you get Sirius XM on your phone.

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Disintermediation: Who loses in the TV wars?

Hulu continues to push the envelope. The popular streaming video site has a lot of TV shows on it, and it just released a Macintosh application so that you can watch TV shows on Hulu without the bother of using a Web browser. It means a better viewing experience with higher quality.

Nielsen: 2000% increase in video delivered by the Internet

A new report by Nielsen says time spent watching video online has increased in the past five years by 2,000%. And the number of people watching video online is increasing by 10% per year, meaning in about seven years, everyone will be watching video on the Internet. TV is dead, dead, dead.

The YouTube problem

A recent report says YouTube is losing more than a million dollars a day. Even for Google, that eventually adds up to a lot of money. Since Google acquired YouTube, the advertising giant has begun including advertisements on YouTube pages as well as embedding ads in some videos. But the huge cost of dishing out video to the world is still much higher than the ad revenue earned.

I think there is a longer term problem that will eventually force YouTube to change direction or even fade away: YouTube fatigue.

Facebook lowers college grades

A new study by Ohio State suggests a link between Facebook use and lower grades in college. The study found a link between the amount of time spent of Facebook, with a correlation between amount of time spent and lower scores (more time, lower grades). The study also found that students who did not use Facebook at all tended to spend more time studying and had higher GPAs.

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Good-bye to the video store

I finally signed up for Netflix, largely because the local Blockbuster has fewer and fewer movies these days. And I'm not the only one that has noticed that the video store chain seems ill. Despite the fact that Blockbuster claims it does not have late fees, the company continues to annoy customers by simply billing your credit card for the full retail value of a late movie.

Is TV doing "fine"

Ed Dreistadt reports on a New York Times article that says that TV is doing "fine," despite the fact that other old media like newspapers are dropping like flies. As Ed notes, some of us are not so sure. I'm regularly bumping into people that are telling me they hardly watch TV anymore. They get news online, and they can download most TV shows and watch them whenever they want. And of course, a lot of what we used to watch on TV can be accessed as short snippets on YouTube or the network sites.

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Twitter coupons

Amelia Brazell tells the story of sending a Twitter message to someone about the curative effects of an over the counter cold remedy called Zicam. A bit later, she received via Twitter a coupon for Zicam.

It's an interesting example of how new communications tools are changing advertising. A simple Twitter search by the Zicam folks allowed them to identify an individual customer and then at virtually no cost, send that customer a coupon. Try that with TV, radio, or magazine advertising.

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Will the Kindle rekindle the newspaper?

Amazon has released its updated version of the Kindle, the portable book reader. The original Kindle was ugly, heavy, and had too many sharp edges. The updated Kindle has been slimmed down and smoothed. It has longer battery life, and much better graphics (still black and white, though). This new version may actually catch on.

The newspaper really is dead

Here is a clever analysis of the financial woes of the New York Times. It turns out the Times, which is mired in red ink, would do much better financially if they gave most of their subscribers an ebook and let their readers download the paper every day.

Data doomsday, or the datapocalypse

A blogger named Jason Scott, among other online writers and discussion groups, has been talking about a new problem--over-hyped Web services and Web sites that have failed financially and are shutting down without giving users of those services or sites an adequate opportunity to make copies of blogs, pictures, and other materials posted to those sites. It is likely to be a growing problem as the economy slumps and many poorly thought out "Web 2.0" business plans fail.

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Knowledge Democracy:

Sharp drops in online advertising predicted

Ars Technical has an article that reviews several signals that suggest the boomtown days of online advertising are about to come to an end. The sharp drop in the sales of high end electronics is bringing a related drop in advertising for those devices, but the article suggests the bigger driver in online ads is a maturing of the marketplace, where businesses are finally figuring out just what an online ad is worth with respect to click throughs and sales.

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The year that newspapers died, part two

2008 will likely be remembered as the year of the tipping point for newspapers. A new study by the Pew Foundation indicates that more people now get their news from the Internet than from newspapers, a sharp increase over 2007. 59% of young people (under 30) use the Internet as their main source of news and information, a figure that has doubled in the past year.

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Knowledge Democracy:

Revenue share model works for iPhone software

I have long advocated a revenue share model for community broadband, in which a single community-owned digital infrastructure is made available to private sector providers to deliver services like voice, video, and Internet access to customers. Service providers would pay a share of their revenue to the network to cover the cost of build out and maintenance.

Critics of this approach argue that it is too "risky," and "unproven," although it has worked successfully for years in other countries.

Mobile phones driving social networking, the Web

A new report says that mobile phones are playing a bigger role in Web use, especially with social networking sites. Users are updating their social network information directly from their cellphones, adding commentary, pictures, and video with their phones. The iPhone and other iPhone competitors have much improved Web browsers, allowing fast and easy access to social networking Web sites, and the integrated cameras make it easy to upload multimedia content.


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