July 16, 2007

Speculation Based on a Patent Application [2:19 pm]

Rolling Stone asks the question, Is Apple Planning to Out-Zune Competitors With Wireless iPod? (pdf), based on patent application #20070161402: Media data exchange, transfer or delivery for portable electronic devices.

Abstract: Methods and systems that facilitate data delivery to electronic devices are disclosed. One aspect pertains to data delivery to electronic devices that are portable, such as, mobile devices. In one embodiment, one mobile device discovers another mobile device within its vicinity. The mobile devices can then wirelessly transmit data from one mobile device to the other. The mobile devices, or their users, can control, request or influence the particular data content being delivered.

Rolling Stone’s best line:

This sounds like the technology that Microsoft’s Zune utterly failed to get anybody interested in last year, but — no surprise — Apple does it right: While Microsoft hobbled Zune’s wireless capability with strict limits on song sharing, Apple’s technology allows users to peruse the catalogs and playlists of nearby devices and pick tracks to download.

See also Apple patenting Zune-like sharing, wireless buying.Of course, it’s just an application….

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Instant DVDs [1:51 pm]

For News Buffs, World Events on Instant DVDs

In a seller’s ideal world, the product is paid for first, then manufactured and shipped. The sellers of television on DVD are trying to create that world: ABC Television, Amazon.com and a subsidiary, CustomFlix Labs, a DVD manufacturer, announced Thursday that they were going to make shows from the archives of ABC News available on demand.

So when a history buff wants to buy a DVD about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, they will order it on Amazon.com or ABC.com, pay for it, then wait two or three days for delivery. The DVD will be copied from digital files stored at CustomFlix only when the order has been placed, and the seller incurs none of the costs of inventory and warehousing.

The market potential for on-demand DVD sales is considerable. [...]

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Playing Games (Badly) With Anonymity [1:48 pm]

Or, is it “baldly?” The Hand That Controls the Sock Puppet Could Get Slapped

On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog — or the chief executive of a Fortune 500 company.

Or so thought John Mackey, the chief executive of Whole Foods Market, who used a fictional identity on the Yahoo message boards for nearly eight years to assail competition and promote his supermarket chain’s stock, according to documents released last week by the Federal Trade Commission.

[...] “We have the most protected, covered, cautious and public relations-barricaded generation of leaders in history,” said Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, a professor of corporate governance at Yale. Today’s tightly controlled, artfully packaged executives, he said, “want to release and spout off, and they somehow think this is a forum where they’ll be held less accountable.”

But in many cases, that promise of anonymity is an illusion. Recently caught promoting themselves or their causes have been a handful of chief executives and political operatives, a critic for a major magazine, as well as dozens of lesser-known bloggers, authors and entrepreneurs who sneak changes onto their own entries on Wikipedia or the reviews of their books on Amazon.com.

This digital-age deception has a name, “sock-puppeting,” and a precise definition — the act of creating a fake online identity to praise, defend or create the illusion of support for one’s self, allies or company.

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Just Like On TV [1:45 pm]

Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man? The cellphone knows: When the Trill of a Cellphone Brings the Clang of Prison Doors

Examining cellphone data is a technique that has moved from being a masterful surprise in trials to being a standard tool in the investigative arsenal of the police and prosecutors, with records routinely provided by cellphone companies in response to subpoenas. Its use in prosecutions is often challenged, for privacy reasons and for technical reasons, especially when the data comes during the morning or evening rush, when circuits are crowded and calls can be redirected to other towers. But it is often allowed and is used by both prosecutors and defense attorneys to buttress their cases.

“It’s one of the most important developments in technology in the courtroom in the last five years,” said Mark J. Geragos, a Los Angeles defense lawyer known for his celebrity clients, who challenged cell tower data while defending Scott Peterson, a Modesto, Calif., fertilizer salesman sentenced to death in 2005 for killing his pregnant wife, Laci.

Many people know that cellphones can be used as global positioning devices in real time. Yet few are aware that phone companies keep records from transmitters for months or longer that can be used to trace approximately where a caller was at the time a crime was committed.

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Contract Negotiations, Business Models and Digital Distribution [11:23 am]

Writers Guild readies for key negotiationspdf

[The Writer's Guild's David] Young’s first go-round will be unusually complex and volatile compared with past contract talks. Hollywood is grappling with the rise of digital distribution and entertainment on the Internet that promises opportunity for new revenue as well as threat in the form of electronic piracy.

“Clearly, this is a seminal and critical negotiation for us,” Young said. “When writers think that their possible income is going to depend 20 years from now on what happens in these negotiations, the stakes and the anxiety level are exponentially increased.”

Guild leaders have vowed to secure fair pay for members across all new media. Studios, however, have balked at setting pay rates until business models are more firmly established.

Instead, they proposed a study, an idea the union has already rejected. Studio executives favor overhauling the entire system of residuals, the fees actors, writers and directors get when movies and TV shows are reused, saying pay formulas don’t reflect economic reality.

Related, insofar as business model development: Chief of Universal Finds Success at the Back of the Pack

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Chasing/Attracting Content Online [11:20 am]

Sony offers a big break for Internet video starspdf

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. is trying to attract Web-video auteurs with a pitch straight out of central casting: We’re gonna make you a star, baby.

Sony today is relaunching the video-sharing site it bought last year, changing the name from Grouper to Crackle.

But the movie and TV studio is trying to separate Crackle from YouTube and the other amateur-video sites by dangling cash, a chance to perform stand-up at the Improv or a possible Oscar nomination in front of those who submit clips.

Online video is entering a new phase: The media companies that snapped up video start-ups over the last few years are now touting the possibility of the “big break” to attract more polished submissions than pratfalls and pet tricks.

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OT: Tough Talk from Moyers [10:16 am]

It was wrenching, but a worthwhile Moyers show this weekend: Bill Moyers Journal; Tough Talk on Impeachment.

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Going His Own Way [8:43 am]

He followed through: Newspaper gives away Prince CDs

“It’s direct marketing and I don’t have to be in the speculation business of the record industry which is going through a lot of tumultuous times right now,” said the Minneapolis musician when asked why he was giving the CD away.

“Prince has done this because he makes most of his money these days as a performing artist,” the Mail on Sunday’s editor, Peter Wright, told BBC Five Live.

[...] Paul Quirk, co-chairman of the [Entertainment Retailers Association ], said the decision “beggars belief”.

“The Artist formerly known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores,” said Mr Quirk, referring to a period in the 1990s when Prince famously stopped using his name in favour of a symbol.

However, music chain HMV has decided to stock Sunday’s Mail, even though chief executive Simon Fox previously called the giveaway “absolutely nuts”.

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