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Published: March 3, 2008 at 03:40 PM GMT
Last Updated: March 3, 2008 at 03:40 PM GMT
Last week saw Google stumble, (due to its new "quality score" fix?) the stock markets flatline, and the Consumer Confidence Index at its 15 year low. Even Warren Buffet weighed in on the state of things, putting his stamp on an end to irrational exuberance. ABC rolled out a TiVo-killer, Comcast packed the seats for its FCC field hearing, and SAG cried foul over AFTRA backing away from a joint resolution. Next up: Will the Pellicano trial eclipse the Phil Spector mistrial?
Juxtapose these grim tidings with some glad ones: As Jack Myers was filing ongoing dispatches from the TED Conference (watch a few of its recent sessions HERE) - which purported to ask "The Big Questions," Google showed a little of its old self: The Do No Evil one, as it rolled out its Project CARE Initiative in San Francisco, providing homeless folks with permanent phone numbers and voicemail. Lest you wag your finger at this Audacity of Hope, think how much communication has been part of getting a job, finding an apartment, staying in touch with your loved ones.
The challenge we face over the next year is not merely how to navigate during an economic downturn, but how to ferret out the opportunities that have been hidden in plain sight; only when the Boom has been lowered have they become apparent. Take for example, the Academy Awards. The Media - from Tom Shales and LA Weekly's Nikke Finke, to Dick Cavett, and our very own Shelly Palmer - assaulted the telecast, and they were aided and abetted by its dismal ratings. But Integrated Media Measurement sleuthed that only 23.7% of Oscar viewers had seen any of the five nominated best pictures. That suggests that there is post-theatrical money to be made (and that, perhaps, these films should have gone wider). [Sidebar: Perhaps illustrating what New York Magazine has termed the Undulating Curve of Shifting Expectations, the Diablo Cody backlash has begun. Not that we condone this sort of thing, but doesn't SNL's Andy Samberg look like Angelica Huston as a 1970's Soviet shotputter?]
That Monday saw Comcast defending its "non-throttling" of traffic -- its broadband network practices, if you will -- at an FCC field visit at Harvard Law School. Unexpectedly, the crowd learned that the cable titan could count the MPAA, NBC, and Viacom among its allies. While it's not a shock that the MPAA would laser in on piracy, NBC and Viacom threaten to undermine their online audiences, in exchange for short-term strategic alliances. BusinessWeek provides a standard clinical account while Valleywag captures the more provocative nature of the event, reporting that it will need a do-over at Stanford, since there was a near riot.
For those who question our presidential primary process, Tuesday night was a vindication: MSNBC's telecast of the Democratic debate in Cleveland, Ohio was its highest rated show ever -- higher than Dateline's To Catch A Predator! -- with 7.8M viewers, 500,000 streams and 58M pageviews. It's easy to be dour as advertising dollars seem to be trending away from television, but the competition for both engagement and accountability is already incubating innovation. Even as buyers at the upcoming Upfronts are proceeding with caution, Lenovo's David Churbuck tells us all we need to know about GoogleTV. EMarketer surveys the explosion of online video, looking at a range of data from Nielsen Online, Zoomerang Market Research, and internally. While it suggests a robust future, Media Contacts and comScore file a joint report with nuance -- revealing a chasm between heavy and casual online video viewers: 841 minutes viewed monthly by the top 20%, 6 minutes by the bottom 20%. If anything, it's a marker that this industry's in its infancy.
While Google upgraded its version of Windows Office in the Sky, Microsoft is strongly hinting that it's about to get in the game. Silicon Alley Insider would rather see it buy Salesforce.com, than continuing fight on for Yahoo! GigaSpace's Chief Marketing Officer Geva distinguishes between cloud and utility computing, making a compelling case that IT is about to undergo a tectonic shift. That said, paidContent's Rafat Ali is dismissive of Yahoo!'s launch of Yahoo! Buzz and Open Search as derivative of Digg and Google, respectively, referencing BusinessWeek's Catherine Holahan assertion that what the beseiged portal needs right about now is "fresh ideas." Ali's colleague Staci D. Kramer tries to uncork Yahoo!'s Advertising Public Exchange (or APEX) here, but it's still largely under wraps. That said, advertising blog networks continue to be the flavor du jour with Glam landing $84.6M in venture capital and Technorati indicating an interest in doing likewise.
Let's not single out ABC for its decidedly retrograde response to disintermediation -- it's also rolling out Squeegees, the first of its online-only short-form sitcoms. While TechCrunch found it lame, I thought that it -- being that humor is wholly subjective -- deserved to find its audience. This is an inelegant comparison here, but consider once hapless iTunes. As of this week, it's the #2 music retailer, the Avis to Wal-Mart's Hertz.
While BusinessWeek split its coverage of TED between a participant, and a sour grapes non-attendee, many of us were able to view sessions as they were being posted, or at least learn about the presenters and their ambitious visions. While MIT's SENSEable City Lab has nothing to do with the event, it carried its spirit. Here's a video of Global Encounters. Using AT&T data, it visualizes the ebb and flow of Internet traffic as it courses between New York City and the rest of the world. It's something to behold.
This Year's Upfront Events -When Are They?
Find Out at JackMyers.com
Jack Myers Commentary From TED BusinessWeek.com Comments on TED are Misguided
Tablets out-shipped portable computers this year for the first time ever. There are more tablet models to choose from than ever before, which means there are tablets for everyone… including your kids! Two years ago, just 8 percent of kids had access to tablets; today, that number is 40 percent, and it's trending up.Read More
It is generally acknowledged that “engagement” is a good thing. It is better, at every level if your message (whatever form that takes) is not only “seen” (whatever that means) by a large number of people, but that a good number of those people choose to do something that approximates to actually reading it, hearing it or viewing it and furthermore that they indicate that they have done so in some way or other. The problem with the notion of engagement is that there are almost as many definitions as there are conferences on the subject.Read More