Some students are taking advantage of professors who post their lectures online by not showing up to class, and taking notes from the clips. Man, had I been able to do this, it might have only taken me nine years to graduate.
Archives for January 2006
So, as a public service,one of the things that the Mediacratic was going to do was provide all of the top download lists of the big boy sites. Peoplewhole thing comparing the top video downloads of all of the big-boy sites: iTunes; AOL; Google & Yahoo! It would be in interesting compare and contrast, and perhapsprovide some insight to how the various sites’ strategies were panning out.
Well, not so much. iTunes has top tens. (The most recent eps of Lost, The Office and Battlestar Galactica.) (And oh my gods, how amazing was that latest ep of Battlestar? How they were able to have a major major victory against the Cylons and yet things are even more frac–, oh, right, the point.) But that’s pretty much it. AOL has “What’s Hot,” but there really isn’t a ranking. Yahoo! has a “Popular” section, but it’s based on searches, not downloads. And Google, well, who know what the hell is going on there?
It’s not a secret that popularity breeds popularity. People are interested in what other people are interested in. That’s why record stores and video stores have always have top sales and new release sections. So it’s a bit baffling that, except for iTunes, of course, none of these video download sites do.
The Los Angeles Times has an interesting profile of the head of Google Video Store, Jennifer Feiken (though we could have done without the tidbit about her height increasing when she wears high-heeled boots — seriously, it’s 2006, people). While I found myself mildly interested in Feiken’s journey from the cutting room floor (an aborted role in Hairspray) to Silicon Valley, I was more interested in how Google will work its way into the brave new world of the new media.
Google has made a lot of bold moves in the media world, most notably with its Google Book Search/Print/Publish initiative (what is it, anyway?). And it’s not an overstatement to say they own the search engine world right now. Aggregating and cataloguing data is what they do best — it remains to be seen if they’re up to the task of selling content to the user. Our initial analysis indicates that Google has a long way to go — hiring an entertainment industry insider is a good first step, but this may be the time that Google needs to leverage other skills even more. First up: make it usable.
LAT describes Google’s initiative as an “online bazaar” and indicates that established media companies are facing the project with skepticism.
The service got a rocky start last week. It was launched three days late because of technical problems, and some users complained about glitches and a shortage of popular TV programming. For example, there were only one episode of CBS’ popular show “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and fewer than a dozen music videos from Sony BMG Music Entertainment — two of Google’s major media partners.
Google also faces challenges from existing partnerships established by its competition, not to mention the fact that iTunes has set the bar very high:
The other day, I noted that Verizon’s V Cast music service doesn’t play nice with iTunes. In fact, it doesn’t play at all. While I’m sure that announcing a partnership with Microsoft (or any other exclusive, proprietary deal between a small number of companies) makes for great press conferences, it doesn’t play in Peoria. In this coming year, we are going to see more services and devices than the average person will be able to fathom. In fact, the average person missed your press conference and only wants Stuff To Work.
The dream, as described at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, is to allow devices like TVs, computers and audio receivers to share audio and video around the home, with a single remote control running the show.
Since everyone knows the dream — let’s call it a goal — surely new products are being developed to fulfill it. Or not.
At CES, tech heavyweights such as Intel, Panasonic, Samsung and Sharp all showed off networking systems, but none of those systems are designed to work together. The resulting problems are similar to miscommunication between people who speak the same language but different dialects — sometimes they might understand each other perfectly well, but at other times they might not.
This isn’t an easy problem to solve, but if you look to stereo components of the past, you can see that a receiver from Sony managed to work just fine with a DVD player from Panasonic. They live peacefully together in the same dwelling. That’s how the new home entertainment network needs to be. Consumers want cool, definitely, but they also want cool that works straight out of the box. . .with all the other cool stuff they’ve bought.
Apparent winners in this high-stakes game will emerge quickly, but if the needs of the consumer aren’t addressed early in the process, there will be more expensive failures than successes. And, like the iTunes store proved, consumers will flock to the technology that works for them.
This Newsweek article hits on the exact issues we’ve been talking about. Specifically:
While the New TV motto is “Anything you want, any time, on any device,” these initial forays come with more caveats than a Trump prenup. Through Google’s new video-download service announced last Friday, CBS sells the Las Vegas version of “CSI” for $1.99 but not the Miami and New York versions. Lots of content is available only on one service “Welcome Back, Kotter” fans must use AOL’s In2TV. As for the “any time” vow, it turns out that some services, like Vongo (the online version of the Starz premium cable movie channel), puts an expiration date on films you download, as if they were milk cartons. Once the date arrives, the movies vanish from your hard drive. Also, the “on any device” promise needs a bit of work. When you buy a TV show from iTunes, it works on the video iPod. Buy it anywhere else, it probably doesn’t. Google lets anyone sell videos on its service, and leaves it up to the producer to decide whether to lock down the content and limit where you can play, and also how much and whether to charge money. “Charlie Rose” episodes are streamed free on the day after they’re on the air, and downloadable for a buck afterward. But they aren’t copy-protected and can be played on iPods. NBA games, however, cost $3.95 and don’t work on iPods.
If this is ever going to catch on someone really needs to sort all of this out.
Season Five of 24 starts this evening, but what you may or may not know is that there is a prequel floating around out there. It was originally an extra to the Season Four DVD, but — horror of horrors, somebody has ripped and posted it.
I haven’t seen it yet, but it looks like it might be another car commercial as well, so downloader beware.
How do you know the world is spinning faster? When the magazine industry starts thinking new paradigm. The Time corporation announced layoffs as a way to beef up its online presence (this is how things are done in the corporate world). Now Hatchette Filipacchi Media U.S. has institutionalized its web and electronics operations with the announcement of a new V.P.
The publisher named Marta Wohrle as VP-director of digital media, responsible for the development of 16 Web sites, four mobile applications, digital editions for all Hachette titles, joint ventures in new media, video-on-demand and new media acquisitions.
Looking to the future is the goal, and Hatchette will be increasing web staff and implementing cross-platform strategies — none announced as of yet, but Wohrle probably hasn’t had time to pick out her office furniture, much less cross-platform anything. Though we remain curious about the idea of video-on-demand. So intriguing.
“Migrating our assets to new digital platforms will require new strategies for creating content. As content is increasingly conceived for multiple platforms, we may, at times need to form new partnerships. We’ll need to develop the skills and systems that enable print- and screen-based resources to be shared and vigorous cross-promotion to be fostered,” he [Jack Kliger, president-CEO of Hachette] said.
Although magazine publishers were among the first to recognize the power — and threat — the Internet presented, Mr. Guelton said every magazine publisher now understands that the question is not whether to have a digital strategy, but how fast to execute it.
“The bigger difficulty for us is to truly understand and accept and implement the idea that we are not defined by paper or by a distribution form,” he said. “We are as magazines defined by content, editors and a relationship with marketers.”
This is certainly the right thinking, but, as we’ve learned, it’s all about the execution. The publisher is behind magazines as diverse as Woman’s Day, Elle, and Road & Track. Good products, but we’re going to offer a bit of useful advice: strong web presences begin at home. Finding the Hatchette (much less Hatchette U.S. operations) home page was an exercise in ingenuity. If they can’t find you, they won’t come.
Verizon customers who upgraded to the company’s new music service discovered a big oops: their cell phones can’t play MP3s acquired from anyone but the company’s V Cast Music Store. Verizon says this was an unintentional error and is working to fix the problem. But this problem highlights another issue facing the communications giant:
The new V Cast Music store does, however, weigh in definitively on one side of the music download industry by employing the newest version of the Windows Media Player from Microsoft Corp., which doesn’t work with Apple Computer Inc.’s Macintosh operating system or iTunes software.
The audience being targeted by V Cast is already using iTunes for music and more. By choosing a Windows-based format, Verizon is asking consumers to make a choice that might backfire on V Cast. Consumers who have purchased music via iTunes — and given the store’s blockbuster success, there are many — aren’t going to repurchase items just to listen to music on their cellphones.
This isn’t a Beta versus VHS issue. Content providers cannot afford to embrace one operating system/format over another. Consumers have made it clear that they want their technology to be as flexible as possible. Companies that force choices on consumers will learn what the music industry discovered the hard way: people aren’t buying the “we know best” approach.
As for the MP3 problem, there’s no way to say this nicely: it was sloppy work by Verizon. The MP3 format is mature and skipping compatibility testing shows that Verizon either doesn’t understand the business it’s entered or needs to implement better software development procedures. This blunder puts the burden on the consumer: they must go to one of the company’s stores to receive a software upgrade. Why not provide a downloadable link on the V Cast website and send a text message to all service subscribers?
Now Verizon faces two challenges: recovering from this stumble while convincing consumers that excluding the world’s most popular music service was a good move.
I’m making an effort to pull together a complete set of links for all of the major new new media players. One of the things I’ve noticed in my very cursory research is most of the big names haven’t done a very good job of integrating the various media types they’re offering.
For example, Yahoo Music isn’t connected with Yahoo TV. For that matter, Yahoo TV doesn’t appear to have any programming available yet (or maybe I’m just missing it).
Google Video is a clunky extension of the traditional Google interface. One of the complaints I’m starting to hear about Google is that they haven’t done a very good job of integrating the various services that they offer (AdWords, AdSense, Analytics, etc.). Each system seems to have it’s own separate interface and there’s no such thing as a common login. They’re going to have to do a lot better than this if they’re serious about competing against iTunes.
Needless to say, no one but Apple has anything resembling a seamless end-to-end digital media solution.
I used to be bothered by the fact that iTunes was a standalone application. Now that I’m starting to get a glimpse of the alternative, I can see the advantages of doing things the Apple way.
The Motley Fool on Google Video. Notes that selection is still slim and prices are surprisingly high. Also points out that the fastest growing video download site online is YouTube.