Reuters announces ClearChannel’s new Net strategy. In short: catch up. Let’s parse what they’re doing:
-Simulcast stations…this was announced a little while back I think, and was to be expected)
-Create concert programming (a la Sessions@AOL) & monetize via sponsorships & video ads….what’s nice here is that they don’t pay for the talent save for production costs. I think they can have more success given the number of artists going through their radio stations and their concert/promotion business.
-"It may begin offering subscription online radio services, the ability to buy songs digitally or in CD format, or even ringtones directly from their Web sites."…Note that CC already has a very nice subscription online radio business via their Premier Radio property that sells subs to their top talk radio personalities’ shows/sites. In terms of the latter two, they’re kind of a yawner as others have been doing this for a while. I wonder who they’ll use to provide the back-end. A key question is the branding. Is CC simply going to be a conduit to existing retail stores like iTunes or MSN, or are they going to try to private label their own digital music/ringtone store? The latter could imply vertical integration that may make some label folks nervous (i.e. if ClearChannel is getting into the business of selling/distributing recorded music, what’s to stop them from moving upstream to take a piece of the action by signing artists?).
-"Perhaps most surprising of all, Clear Channel also plans to make some of its live morning shows available for downloading, commonly known as "Podcasting."…This makes sense as it will appeal to the types of folks that have been tuning radio out, but I wonder if they’ll include copyright music as part of the Podcasts (since this is currently not licensed under the DMCA, or license the music from the labels), or if they’ll stick to talk only.
There is a good deal of distance between ClearChannel and the two front-runner digital music properties, Yahoo & AOL. But ClearChannel can take long strides by virtue of the tens of millions of consumers they reach every week, and they have a very capable leader in Evan Harrison. Game on.
Update: I jinxed things. Today is cold and swirling rain/snow. Boo.
Basically Moviebank is a video vending machine. They recently announced their deal with Duane Reade. You can use a credit card or their membership card and their prices are kinda comparable to Blockbuster with some twists ($0.99 for 6 hours, 2.50 – $3.50, for a 24-hr period…Blockbuster charges on the high end of the range but lets you keep it for a much longer time with no late fees). The machine supports both DVDs & VHS. Not sure how many titles or availability. You’ll see from the picture that it takes up quite a bit of space (since it stores the physical discs in the machine). There wasn’t much interest in the machine when I saw it, though it wasn’t exactly a movie night. It wasn’t quite compelling enough for me to try, though I was curious. I wasn’t too impressed by the look of the machine though:
1. It takes up way too much space. I wonder why they felt the need to support VHS. I mean if people are willing to try out a movie rental ATM, chances are they have a DVD player.
2. The pricing seems odd. I could rent a movie at 6 pm on a Friday night (prime time for rental stores), and return it by 11 and only be charged $0.99 vs. the $4-5 I’d have dropped at Blockbuster.
3. The pictures don’t do it justice but, it didn’t look that gleaming in the dimly lit Duane Reade.
That’s not to say that the concept of renting movies from a kiosk doesn’t make sense (at least until VOD titles arrive en masse). I think it could, as long as it’s properly executed.
I walked by a Blockbuster today and it made me think…what is going to become of this real estate? Sure is a lot of prime square footage that could be collapsed to the size of a kiosk.
Whole Foods’ Union Square branch is now open for business! We just went and checked it out. 3 levels with the 3rd being a ‘picnic area’. Everything was gleaming. It was crowded — people were exploring the layout of the place and so the traffic flow wasn’t as smooth as it’ll be in a few weeks. The food looked great. Whole Foods has figured out how to create a really warm, inviting environment. It has something to do with the lighting, the color palette and a whole lot more. But they manage to make the produce seem richer, the meat tastier, the fish fresher…and you feel healthy, and hungry, just walking around.
I did feel guilty walking past the farmers’ market (Greenmarket) with my Whole Foods bags. Howver I’m not going to stop shopping there. In fact I picked up these bratwursts there the other day that were delicious. I like the authenticity of it — you can smell the farm and the ground on their clothes and in their products, and I like that.
We’ve been doing Fresh Direct but I’m guessing we may stop now (it was fine but the produce was hit or miss), especially since Whole Foods is about equivalent in terms of price.
John Battelle blogs about Yahoo’s newly launched Tech Buzz Game. It’s their version of an idea futures market. You start out with $10 K of play money and buy the ‘stocks’ of stuff according to category. For instance, the Radio market has the following stocks: AM/FM, HD Radio, NetRadio, Podcast, Sirius and XM.
I love the concept of futures markets because it’s all about the Wisdom of Crowds, though this not really an idea futures market in so much that it is more a measure of the relative buzz or goodwill of an idea or product (futures markets have deterministic outcomes that people bet on)…going back to the Radio market, Podcast, at $19.07, is worth more than 12x AM/FM radio ($1.52), yet the latter is a $20 Billion business in the US versus a Podcasting market worth perhaps tens to hundreds of thousands.
If nothing else, it’s an interesting barometer of how certain services/products/ideas stack up against their peers. For Digital Music services, iTunes at $30 is worth about double Yahoo!Music. Napster, Rhapsody, eMusic, Virgin & Walmart are laggards trading at a few bucks. Strangely, Pressplay is listed. Hmm.
The most useful may be the Rumor Mill Market, where various rumors, like a Google Calendar, are traded. (the market is bullish on the calendar btw)
I made the switch; I got a Powerbook! Got it about a week ago. I needed a computer after I had to turn my work computer in. I got my iPod in early ’04 but had my eye on a Mac ever since I saw Steve Jobs speak at the unveiling of the iTMS. It seemed so elegant and simple, and different from the black, Windows clones out there. And I must confess that identity had something to do with it. While I am decidedly not a hipster nor do I aspire to be one, but perhaps something in me wanted to somehow be a part of the digerati that populate the cafes of the Flatiron district, SoMA, Harvard Square and Santa Monica working on their iBooks, listening to iTunes, and sipping their iLattes.
I had the opportunity to get one for work, but decided to go for the Thinkpad T40 instead. It was fine. I had more problems with Windows XP, Outlook and Exchange server than the hardware per se. Towards the end, I would often have to hard re-boot the computer or kill applications like Outlook that would hang. Ugh.
Now that I’ve started a New Chapter, I figured it would be the perfect time to learn a new OS and generally start over. I was hesitant. Would I miss the shortcuts and skills that I’d honed during my decade of using Windows? What about the 1-button mouse?
At any rate, about a week into it, I’m happy to report that, well, I’m very happy with the switch and am looking forward to my iLife after the PC. Some details:
-I’ve run various applications simultaneously and the OS has yet to freeze or otherwise hang. Any apps that have hung can be quit easily.
-I bought the Powerbook at the Apple store in Palo Alto, CA. The staff there were knowledgeable and eager. I got the low end 15 in. I found the price to be comparable (if not a bit higher) to similar Thinkpads, which made it easier to justify. They’re giving away Epson printers with purchases of computers, so I got one (even though I have an HP that is working fine so far) — but hey, it’s free so I could even give one of them away. The buying experience was a good one.
-I’d experienced Apple’s legendary attention to detail w/ my iPod, and the Powerbook didn’t disappoint. Case in point: when you sleep the computer, it has a purple/lavender light that glows in and out, as if the computer is breathing. I love it!
-I got MS Office for Mac. I haven’t really used Excel or Powerpoint yet so can’t comment there. I like Entourage quite a bit from a UE standpoint.
-My biggest beef is the difficulty in migrating from Outlook to Entourage (and/or iCal/Mail/Address Book). There are programs that enable this, but it ought to be much easier, and free. I like Entourage otherwise though. LOVE the calendar — it is gorgeous!
-I was able to free up a cable that my iPod had to use (for Windows, you need an adapter to connect the docking station to a power supply and to your PC’s USB port; for Mac, the firewire will synch your iPod AND charge the battery). Not only that but, for some reason connecting it directly to the Mac was able to charge its battery up all the way. Previously it would not get past the halfway mark. Weird.
-I thought I might have a problem connecting to my Verizon DSL using PPoE but it worked very smoothly. I was able to connect it to my HP all-in-one printer, and Canon digital cameras using the CD-ROMs that came with them. Even cooler, the built-in Bluetooth was great as I was finally able to access the photos that I’d taken with my new mobile phone!
-I used the wireless mouse that I’d bought for my Thinkpad, and it has two buttons, so I’m okay there. Only thing is that I need to use one of the USB ports for it.
-I wasn’t that impressed with Safari. I used it for a few days but found it to be slow and missed the tabbed browsing that Firefox had, so I was glad to see that Firefox had a Mac version, which I then downloaded.
-All in all, I think I’m adjusting quite well and am happy. I miss some shortcuts, especially when it comes to filling out forms (tab, shift-tab, etc.), but these are outweighed by the rest of my experience so far.
A good article in the NYT about How the iPod Ran Circles Around the Walkman. One main point is that the promised synergy of marrying content to distribution never materialized. Worse, it hindered the Company’s efforts — i.e. instead of 1+1 = 3, 1+1=1.5. As the author puts it:
"At Sony, having both digital players and music in the same corporate
family has actually been detrimental to its hardware interests. The
music label directed the hardware group to make copying impossible, to
the extent that until recently, customers could not enjoy on their
Walkmans the music from their own legally bought CD’s that they had
encoded in MP3 format."
Also, having the content business has not led to an increase in negotiating clout. Almost to the contrary, it makes other content entities want to opt for a solution or format that doesn’t have ties to one of them. Witness Hollywood’s reluctance to fully adopt Sony’s Blu-Ray format over Toshiba’s HD-DVD…then there’s Atrac-3, Mini-Disc, DVD-Audio….
The AOL-Time Warner marriage got off to a rocky start with the Time Warner content folks barely speaking to the AOL folks, forget about the Time Warner cable. Although they’ve done better the last two years in terms of integrating content throughout AOL, I’m sure most would agree that it was an ill-fated decision, at least on TW’s part.
I wonder if Comcast shareholders dodged a bullet in having Disney reject their management’s bid?
So my Sunday afternoon hypothesis is that it’s tough, if not impossible, to truly extract synergies out of content/distribution marriages unless the cultural differences between the two (opposing) camps can be sufficiently bridged. And even then, it doesn’t necessarily lead to increased bargaining clout. What counter-examples are out there?
It would make a good dissertation topic, no?
NPR’s Justice Talking show are looking for (knowledgeable) folks to join their studio audience for their show on P2P File Sharing. If you’re in the Philly area on April 5th, check it out.
[from the producer]
Join the studio audience of National Public Radio’s award-winning public affairs debate show, Justice Talking. Host Margot Adler leads the nation’s top advocates in informative, entertaining debate on today’s headline issues, with questions from the audience.
Tuesday, April 5 National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street,
Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
5 – 6:30 pm
Dean Garfield, Vice President and Director, Legal Affairs, Worldwide Anti-Piracy Motion Picture Association of America
Kembrew McLeod, intellectual property and culture scholar, Professor of Communication Studies, University of Iowa
Although the recording industry claims progress with its controversial legal campaign against file swappers, its optimism may clash with evidence that peer-to-peer file sharing is at an all-time high. How far can the entertainment industry go to safeguard its ownership interests in music, movies and other digital content? Has itunes taken the zing out of Morpheus and Kaaza?
To reserve seats, visit www.justicetalking.org/joinaudience.asp , or call 215-573-8919.
Can’t make it to the taping? Visit us online at www.justicetalking.org, where you can submit a comment or question that might make it on the air.
Justice Talking is produced at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center. The show airs on over 100 public radio stations nationwide, and internationally via NPR Worldwide, Armed Forces Network and Sirius Satellite Radio. Tune in to the sound of democracy.