Newspapers face the greatest threats since the Depression. We all know the causes: the rising Internet readership, the collapse in advertising, the budget cuts that have made newsrooms smaller and papers thinner and offering less attractive...
This year, newspaper sites have had more than 72 million unique visitors a month, compared with 60 million in 2007, according to Nielsen.
Some say that the printed newspaper should become a premium product, and part of circulation must be taken down deliberately, especially outside an specific radius.
New businesses models are in need, no doubt. And the whole industry needs to be reivented. Your thoughts?
A promising start up of Arizona has created a fun kit of hardware to add to your iPhone 3GS called OWLE. This is a $99.95 camera mount, it has a microphone and 37 mm wide-angle that improves the quality of mobile video. It is available for pre-order en their site.
I forecast that this product will be a blockbuster. It is simple and effective. And it is a needed product. Have you tried to capture yourself on the iPhone for doing a vblog or just sending a video message? Little confession: I have spent some time looking around BestBuy, BH Photo Video and other specialized stores looking for a stabilizer for the iPhone. I got nothing.
The OWLE solves my problem, despite being a bit bulky. In addition, I don't like the idea of pre-ordering something. You sell it or not. The attached marketing to this launching is not fancy.
Check the video below to see how an easy video production can be done. Pretty decent quality and good sound quality.
Can't find anything good to watch? -asks a new video-start up called Rippol.com, which is in private beta.
This San Diego, Calif.-based company is trying to introduce users to online video content they don't know they'll like.
Their engineers use a combination of user action and feedback monitoring, friend relationship, and data mining from public sources like Twitter and blogs to make video recommendations (see the graphic above).
In other words, it is about creating a unique video aggregator start-up. Rippol.com will compete with Clicker, SetJam, Ffwd, and big ventures like TV.com, Fancast and others.
CNN.com has launched a new design layout, that "harnesses the full power of CNN and delivers it directly to web users in a stunning, visually charged online experience", according to their press release.
What can I say, except that they feature video as the centerpiece of the homepage? Let's refer better to the official announcement: "Through a full-scale, breakthrough design, the new CNN.com is uncluttered, visually bold and dramatically improves the consumer experience. In addition to showcasing CNN’s in-depth reporting, the site includes the launch of new features that make the site easier to browse and navigate, as well as a new opinion section, more integrated video and stunning photography. Adding new voices and a range of perspectives to CNN.com, the site will also feature deep content partnerships with Oprah.com, TED, People and EW magazines." And bla, bla, bla...
Windows 7 came out this week. After the debacle with Windows Vista, the operating system nobody liked, Microsoft wants to conclude the nightmare. And so it runs a campaign carrying the theme "I'm a PC and Windows 7 was my idea".
Many ads use a slogan, "1 billion = 7", suggesting that the billion people who use PCs helped bring forth the new operating system.
So far at least two-thirds of corporate computers were still running the nine years-old Windows XP. If you are either a corporate or home user what would you do?
Before you answer, the ugly truth: upgrading from Vista is easy, but upgrading from Windows XP involves a scary "clean install". It means, moving all your programs and files off the hard drive, installing Windows 7, then copying everything back on again. It's all-day hassle. Good luck.
Another insane Windows-style thing: there are five versions of Windows 7 -Starter, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate. Very cool.
And there is more. Believe it or not, Windows 7 doesn't come with an e-mail program. Also there is no software for reading PDF documents, managing photos, editing videos, maintaining a calendar, managing addresses, and chatting online. You are supposed to download these free apps yourself from a Microsoft Web site.
To add more confusion, Windows 7 installer will delete existing Vista copys of Windows Mail, Movie Maker, Calendar, Contact and Photo Gallery.
Of course, it still requires antivirus software. Windows 7 is still a Windows.
If I were you, I will remain with XP. And when getting a new computer, make the switch to a Mac. it is simple: XP at work, Mac at home.
Barnes & Noble unveiled this week the Nook, its e-book reader that will be available in their retail stores at the end of November (preorders are accepted at nook.com ).
This device, which will be sold for $259, manages to offer the same functionality as the Amazon's Kindle 2, a huge library of titles and a wireless downloads, via Wi-Fi or AT&T's 3G network.
But it has, in my view, four distinctive features:
-- First, the device runs a variation of the Google's Android operating system. And it supports many e-book formats, including PDF. It's the first Android-based eBook.
-- Second, Nook owners will be able to lend books to other users of Barnes & Noble Bookstores, whether they own a Nook, iPhone, Blackberry, or are just reading books on their PCs or Macs. The loans last for up to two weeks. So, naturally, people want they have always done, which is lend each other books.
-- Third, touch-screen technology. It comes with a color, touch-sensitive display.
-- Fourth, its retail support. You bring your Nook into any of 700 Barnes & Noble stores and you will be able to access customized content via its in-store free Wi-Fi browsing.
Add to all this, the company's digital store of over one million e-books, newspapers and magazines; and its sleek design.
It seems that competitor Kindle, which has dominated the e-reader market, will be forced to react, right?
And a last note. No doubt that the shift to digital from physical books will hurt traditional bookstores, even Barnes & Noble. Question is: does Barnes & Noble challenge its own store-based model?
At Amigot Corp we have developed many Flash-based platforms, because we like the compatibility of this technology. But what we don't like at all is the need for browser Flash plug-ins -with their continued updates. That creates us many problems when dealing both with non-technical customers and corporate networks firewall restrictions.
I don't believe future video will be Flash.
Luckily, some open source organizations like Mozilla, as well as Apple, Google, Microsoft are working to make Flash unnecesary.
So far the alternative is called HTML 5, which includes tags that let Web sites preset video, audio, and rich graphics without a plug-in technology like Flash. However, HTML 5 video quality is not so good. And it is not standard. It is going to take some time for anything to be standarized.
Google has been evangelizing the possibilities of HTML 5. It has developed a version of YouTube that, unlike the live version, can display video using HTML 5 technology rather than Flash. It also has been building hardware-accelerated 3-D graphics capabilities into its Chrome browser and has backed the WebGL spec.
Microsoft also has commited to participating more actively in the HTML 5 standards debate. In its case, it's a matter of wanting to see its own technology and tools, from Silverlight to Expression, gain market share.
Meanwhile, Apple has limited Adobe's mobile ambitions by refusing to allow Flash on the iPhone. Game makers have developed their apps using the iPhone-required language (Objective-C) without complain.
How Adobe is reacting? It seems that its vision involves empowerment on the server side and content management, as much as advances on the client side.
Some experts I talked to say Adobe's problem is that it's caught between the open source and the close source worlds. Flash code is mostly open, but no completely. And being in the middle of things can be dangerous.
Finally, if you want to see the best sample that uses HTML 5 video instead of Flash go to this pre-beta page of Dailymotion. You will test the quality there.
Do you read virtually online or you are a reader of physical books?
The trend is clear: more and more reading is done digitally. It caught my attention one story in the New York Times about the expansion of e-books into libraries.
About 5,400 public libraries in the United States now offer e-books, as well as downloadable audio books. The NYPL (New York Public Library), for example, has 18,300 e-book titles.
But this expansion is being slowed partly because most of these e-books cannot be read on iPhone or Amazon's Kindle. They are only compatible with computers and the Sony Reader. Another reason is that some publishing houses refrain from distributing its e-books to public libraries, because that business model is unclear to them.
Most digital books in libraries are treated like printed ones: only an e-book at a time can be borrowed (remotely), and you must wait for popular titles. After two to three weeks, the e-book automatically expires from a reader's account.
Venture capital investing might be bouncing back, but the latest numbers from Dow Jones VentureSource are a bit disapointing. VC invested $5.1 billion in 616 deals during Q3. That's down 38 percent from the $8.2 billion invested during the same period last year, a drop anyone would expect.
Looking closer at the numbers, a good news for our Internet industry. IT, or information technology, is the top spot when attracting money. Last year it was overshadowed by health care, but now leads the VC attention.
And within that IT umbrella, Web 2.0 investments not only are continuing but in fact they beat traditional software investments for the first time. VentursSource says Web 2.0 deals improved 11 percent from last year, for a total of $627 million in 86 deals.
On the other hand, investment into renowable energy, another industry that looked like the winner in terms of VC, fell 73 percent to $343 million.
I found a kind of Yahoo Answers site for Video that is definitely worth checking out. VideoWTF is about questions and answers about video production, video cameras, editing, publishing, etc.
The site is built by the people behind the open-source video player Miro., and it is complementary to Make Internet TV site launched in 2007. The tech architecture is interesting. It is using Stack Overflow, an open-source CMS that combines Wiki-like functionality with a collaborative Q&A approach. Anyone can post questions, provide answers, vote on both, and everything can be edited.
In my view, the Wiki-style approach is a good solution. Otherwise if you check forum pages you find a lot of outdated topics and answers. When the content can be edited and voted up, there are more chances to find useful things.
I love the way Amazon does business. I knew its CEO & Founder Jeff Bezos in Seattle in 1999, in one of my first trips to the U.S.. I was the Publisher of IBLNews.com, at that time based in Madrid, Spain. (By the way, please check our new redesigned IBLNews.com site; we just launched yesterday.)
I was invited along with a group of selected Spaniard journalists. I had no doubt that Jeff Bezos, son of a Cuban emigrant to U.S. and born in Alburquerque, would be the absolutely leading vendor in the Internet. Extremely focused guy, hyper talented hardworking, laughing all-the-time, he was then a rock-star... and he doesn't stop surprising us.
The latest: Amazon's same-day-delivery. Another step in its effort to bring instant gratification to its customers.
This service is called "Local Express Delivery Option". If an eligible item is ordered before 10am or 1pm (depending of the city) Amazon will have it delivered on the same day. To start out, the e-commerce giant is rolling out the service in seven cities: New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Baltimore, Las Vegas and Seattle.
In this era of Web 2.0, innovative companies and organizations are starting to use new collaboration software, customer communities and employee social networks. The goal is to capitalize on the intellectual and creative content of employees, as well as to engage customer conversations.
Let's say that you want to get feedback on ideas from employees around the world, or you want ideas on how to solve a company problem, or you want to figure out which employees have expertise in certain topics.
In this digital times, calling a meeting, releasing a memo or spaming employees with e-mail it seems to me a bit unefficient, right? Do we agree that is better to start a blog or wiki, a virtual community, run a survey or poll, and using other Web 2.0 tools?
Now, there are some new services I'm researching that are putting together all those tools. Take just three of them: Spigit, Jive Software and Crowcast.
They advertise themselves with fancy concepts -sometimes as a way to raise capital, truth be told. For example, Spigit.com, who has just raised another $10 million this month, is a networking tool for enterprise idea and innovation management. Nice. Jive Software, also a well-funded start-up, is Social Business Software. And Crowcast is Prediction Market Forecasting Solution.
My advice to our current and prospect clients: go step-by-step. Don't get crazy with this intelligence software. Jump into Web 2.0 scenario as-soon-as-you-can, and do it with the support of great consultant (guess who ;).
Yes, P2P (peer-to-peer) as a mechanism for video and application distribution has declined dramatically in the last two years. The headache of P2P has been largely replaced by streaming video tranks to sites like YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix.
And for downloads, sites like RapidShare and MegaUpload offer simple download hosting for files of all kinds, with premium and ad-supported accoounts.
A Google engineer, who happens to be an avid mountain biker, created this Google Street View's photo-device. It mapps trails, zoos, campuses, landmarks, golf courses, etc. going beyond Google's Street View car. Very cool.
Have you noticed that most cable, Internet, and local TV media outlets have the same stories with simlar designs? Certainly it expedits the road to commodization and uncertain future.
I like this quote, coming from ABC News President David Westin: "We have to go from a world in which we try to do a better job of covering the same news as everyone else to a world where we're bringing our audiences news that no one else is."
So the key, once again, is to differentiate the news product from competitors.
Another Citrix's GoToMeeting and Cisco's WebEx killer. Vivuvirtual video webcast and collaboration platform has received $3 million funding.
Vivu.tv lets you converse with hundreds of participants of a conference or training session, and track real-time tweets, with no downloading required. It is a $49-a-month service.
Unlike GoToMeeting, WebEx or DimDim, Vivu's user interface replicates the experience of being in a conference auditorium or training room; participants are shown in viewing screens located above the stream. That way you can start up a conversation by clicking on their box and typing in an instant message. Also it records every aspect of a webcast.
Update October 17: Browsing around I've just found this little wonder: TokBox.com. It's like Skype but bowser-based. It works pretty good with up to four people. Best of all, it is free!
Ooyala, the Mountain View Calif.-based video platform startup has raised additional $10 million. Its total funding reaches $20. The company says that has more than 500 customers, and it plans to expand into Europe next, as well as onto the iPhone and Android and Microsoft Silverlight.
Alongside its funding, Ooyala released a fact-sheet to the press with some fighting words abouts its competitors. Read it.
Q. Who are your biggest competitors?
A. The incumbent solutions we compete against most often are the homegrown implementations of video. There are over 10,000 of these in the top 100,000 Quantcast sites. Outside of that, we believe that Brightcove is next closest competitor.
Q. What do you think of the recent acquisition of the Feedroom by KIT Digital? What do you think the OVP landscape will look like by the end of 2010?
A. Like so many companies in the OVP space that were started in the late 90s or earlier part of this decade, the Feedroom stopped building technology and focused on building custom video solutions, which is not a business that can easily scale. As a result, their revenues were stunted and ultimately absorbed by KIT Digital. For 2010, I think many of the small providers like Delve Networks, Episodic.com, Twistage will fall by the way-side. Companies that already have some level of success but not very much technology, like Fliqz and Multicast, will be consolidated into a company that primarily provides professional services. Depending on what Brightcove’s investors plan to do, they may also be taken out in the next 6-12 months.
PermissionTV has renamed itself Visible Gains, after droping out of competition with Brightcove and ThePlatform. The company will focus on B2B marketing.
"Rather than focus on a media publishing model, we saw that marketers had an incredible need to create personalized forms of communication." (...) "In three to five years, every B2B company will have video."
Have you noticed that the Media increasingly encourage people to send photos and videos? CNN’s iReport is one of the most notorious examples. Now San Francisco-based start-up Fizwoz.com wants you to make money with the UGC, or User Generated Content, of News-Worthy events.
For participating in this market place, you need to download a free app for your smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry and Windows Mobile 6.0). Once at the scene of the breaking news, you capture a picture or a video and upload it directly to Fizwoz.com. There, you tag a price and put the content up for auction where Media outlets ideally buy your image or clip (with Fizwoz taking a cut).
The app itself verifies that content was indeed shot the phone’s camera.
I guess this initiative can work especially with celebrities’ news stories.
Do you write code alone? Most of Amigot’s programer do so, but some work in a different way. They do Pair Programming, a trend that is becoming more popular in some software design companies.
To me, this Pair Programming is a sort of buddy system. One person (the driver) does the coding, and the other person (the navigator) checks it, corrects it and offers suggestions as the software it’s being written.
The New York Times analyzed this trend last week. “Proponents believe it saves a company time and money. Bugs can be found more quickly, and the code is written more efficiently when two people create it simultaneously. In this case, two heads are definitely better than one.”
Are we tech people recession proof? Of course not. But we are doing better than other industries, and, once again, we can lead the U.S. and the World out of this Great Recession.
After a quiet year tech companies are stepping up their dealmaking, and risk-taking is making a comeback. In 21 days we have seen four major deals: eBay’s sale of Skype, Adobe’s purchase of Omniture, Dell’s acquisition of Perot Systems, and the last round of funding that values Twitter in $1 billion. In addition, there are IPOs, and VC investments are perking up, too. Meanwhile, credit markets are improving.
Business Week analyzes this issue: “All this activity is being driven by a central idea: The worst of the recession is over, and it’s time to prepare for better times. Economist and other experts say many corporation put off technology investments during the downturn and are likely to step up spending to generate the productiviy gains vital to the bottom line.”
No question about: technology increases productivity. We advice it to our current and prospect clients.
Economy.com predicts that tech spending in the U.S. will increase 4% in 2010, and 10 % in 2011, after dropping 10 % this year.
YouTube has quietly launched a feature that allows users to create a special URL for private videos and send it to 25 people who, if logged in, can view with just a click. "This should make it a lot easier for you technology-challenged relatives to watch that video of baby's first steps without having to share it with the whole world," YouTube's Blog explains.
Here is how to use it: Go to youtube.com/my_videos and click on Edit on any of your videos. Scroll down to "Broadcasting and Sharing Options", and on Privacy select the way of sharing video, including the option to generate a limited-access URL.
Brightcove CEO & Founder Jeremy Allaire attended this Thursday New York Video Meetup, world's largest organization of web video entrepreneurs. As member of this group I attended too. At the end of the seminar I had the opportunity to speak with Jeremy. Smart guy, hard-working entrepreneur, billionaire... and despite all this, a very approachable guy. I proposed him a project -top secret for now; sorry folks-, and immediately he gave me his business card.
During the seminar (see the clip below), Jeremy Allaire refused to comment on the rumor that Google is buying Brightcove, for $500-$700 Million. But he didn't deny talks with Google. My bet is that he will sell the company sooner or later... to Google or any big fish. After all, Brightcove is full of VC investors, who put over $100 Million, and who are waiting for the best offer. That is the nature of the Venture Capitalist business.
Beyond that, Jeremy shared his thoughts on the video landscape and the new trends shaping the industry, like advertising, premium content, distribution, monetization and marketing. The event generated interesting discussion and questions.
I guess we should consider "Digg" buttons part of any online marketing-mix strategy. As you know, these ubiquitous buttons on content sites allow users to recommend news stories by "digging" them. Similar buttons are found at the end of text articles to other news-sharing platforms like StumbleUpon and Reddit.
Let me put an example. Time.com's traffic has grown 41 percent in the last year, landing at 6.7 million unique users in July, as a result of the partnership with Digg.com.
In January, Time.com added a "smarter" Digg button that lists how many "diggs" a particular story has received. Then a few months later, at no cost to Time, Digg built a custom widget that ranks the five most digged stories on Time.com for that day.
Besides Time.com, Digg has built similar widgets for Newsweek.com, Wired.com, Telegraph.co.uk.
That sort of exposure is invaluable, considering that Digg reaches nearly 40 million users each month.
It is also worth to note that recently Time Inc. has embraced all forms of social media to build its base of visitors. For example, Time.com currently has 1.3 million followers on Twitter. Time's general manager says: "There's nothing better than people sampling and becoming loyalists."
New publishing features on Facebook's are being used by brands like Coca-Cola, and publishers such as The New York Times and Fortune. It is interesting to watch how they improve their brand using new features.
Another useful tip is to post updates frequently. Twitter rules now apply, and frequency of status updates must be high in order to stand out with your fans in the Facebook stream.
Third, take advantage of Facebook advertising, and set up a small advertising campaign. Fourth, use Facebook as a new portal for videos. And last, get your employees involved in word-of-mouth marketing of the page, making sure that you have them as fans. Encourage them to dive into the conversations to start a thriving community.
Don't forget that after all this social network users spend an average of 3 hours and 10 minutes on the site per-month.