September 12, 2006

Step Right Up! [8:00 am]

I guess this is one way to deal with a controversy — bring in newbies who don’t have any preconceived expectations. But it does highlight a fundamental problem — how does one simultaneously balance exclusivity with the notion of social networking? Site Previously for Students Will Be Opened to Others

Facebook, the popular social networking Web site that has mainly focused on college students, is preparing to open its membership to everyone.

The move is meant to help the site expand, but it risks undercutting one of its attractions: it has been more exclusive and somewhat more protected than MySpace, its larger and more freewheeling rival.

[...] Facebook plans to expand its membership within a month. It had planned to open its doors wider today but postponed the decision after new features begun last week provoked protests among members who complained that the changes revealed too much personal information. The site quickly introduced new options that allowed users to control how information about them is displayed.

Facebook members create pages that often contain their telephone numbers, photographs, personal musings and comments left by friends. Unlike MySpace, which displays a member’s page to any other member, Facebook shows the full profile only to a user’s friends and to others in his or her “network” — a school or sometimes an employer. Others can see only limited information about a user.

Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said in an interview that the company needed to relax its membership rules in order to keep up with its existing members after they graduate from college and get jobs. While these users have always been allowed to remain members, new friends made by the members after graduation were not always eligible to join.

Also, some uses for Facebook: Roommates, the Online Version

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Here It Comes [7:46 am]

At least, the WaPo is sticking its neck out about the Apple rumors: Movie Downloads, Coming Soon to An IPod Near You - pdf

Apple founder Steve Jobs may try to revolutionize another industry: motion pictures. Today Apple plans to debut an online store for movies. The company has cloaked the event in secrecy, but a number of Hollywood sources have confirmed that Apple will begin selling movies from the Walt Disney Co. and Lionsgate Films for play on iPods, computers and perhaps televisions. Financial analysts expect the films to cost from $9.99 to $14.99 each.

Selling full-length movies over the Web has been an industry grail for half a decade — the profit margins would be high, as there are no manufacturing costs — but the effort has been thwarted by slow Internet connections, software glitches, studio concerns about piracy, a limited library of films and a collective yawn from consumers, who remain perfectly happy to drive to Blockbuster or open an envelope from Netflix containing an easy-to-use DVD at an affordable rental price.

[...] “If anybody could pull this off with movies, it has to be Apple,” said Tim Bajarin, president of technology research and consulting firm Creative Strategies Inc.

Apple’s key to success is the creation of an easy-to-use “ecosystem,” Bajarin says, that lets users find, buy and listen to music on a cool-looking device with just a couple of clicks.

I guess we’ll get to see. Note that I don’t hear much about last week’s Amazon move…yet.

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