Friday, March 06, 2009

Facebook & Twitter: marriage or make-overs?

This is from Sarah Lacey in Business Week.

Sure, Facebook investor and board member Peter Thiel can try to damp enthusiasm for Twitter by saying Facebook is eyeing lots of acquisitions. But there's a reason Facebook was hungry enough for Twitter that it offered $500 million in stock and cash to a company with a small staff and no revenue—in the middle of a recession.

And there's a reason Twitter didn't take it. Twitter knows it's just getting started, and it is the closest thing to an eventual threat. It would have been like Facebook taking Viacom up on its $750 million offer or accepting $1 billion from Yahoo! back in 2006.

When I last spoke to Twitter founder and CEO Evan Williams, he coyly told me he was nowhere near done building out Twitter as a service or a business and that he has a clear vision for both. He's not going into a lot of detail, but I can tell you it has a lot to do with the real-time news feed that Twitter has become; there's also a lot of potential in the way Twitter lets you search for information on the Web in real time—not at some fixed point in the Web's recent past.

How to sort out the Google Book Settlement: print

So while there is a large direct-mail effort, a dedicated Web site about the settlement in 36 languages ( and an online strategy of the kind you would expect from Google, the bulk of the legal notice spending — about $7 million of a total of $8 million — is going to newspapers, magazines, even poetry journals, with at least one ad in each country. These efforts make this among the largest print legal-notice campaigns in history.

That Google is in the position of paying for so many print ads “is hilarious — it is the ultimate irony,” said Robert Klonoff, dean of Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., and the author of a recent law review article titled “Making Class Actions Work: The Untapped Potential of the Internet.”

From the NYT.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What will the book P2P torrent be called? Treasure Island?

Of course. Inc. plans to release a program Wednesday for reading electronic books on Apple Inc.'s iPhone, extending Amazon's sales of digital books to devices beyond its Kindle e-book reader.

Amazon's software application, which can be downloaded free of charge, allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to read books or periodicals purchased on the Web or through their dedicated Kindle device, usually for $9.99. Using a service that Amazon calls whispersync, the program keeps track of a readers' latest page in any given book across both a Kindle and iPhone.

"There are times when you're going to be in a place where you happen to have your iPhone but not your Kindle," said Ian Freed, an Amazon vice president. "If I get stuck in line at the grocery store, I can pick up where I was reading with my iPhone."

From the WSJ.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Google and newspapers

...with Google dropping its newspaper ad sales effort, it seems to be going to the other extreme: it finally started putting advertisements on Google News. For years, whenever angry newspaper insiders would complain about how Google News was somehow "profiting" off of their hard work, people would respond that Google didn't even put any advertisements on its news search engine. However, now that this has changed, pretty much everyone is expecting lawsuits to follow.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Spotify: some numbers and what they might mean

Spotify is go.

Let’s generously assume that only 95% of the 800,000 are free: compared to those users being 9.99 paid subscribers, that’s a shortfall of just under 100 million euros annual subscription revenue that needs to be made up in advertising. I admit the comparison is a bit disingenuous given the explicit tactic of deploying a free tier to promote the service. But Spotify must be careful not to expect to convert the majority of those to paid subscriptions. They’ve cast their net among free music fans and they’ve reeled in a nice catch of freeloaders who love their music but predominately won’t pay to stream it. Charging for must-have added functionality, such as mobile, might be an avenue, but Last.FM, Pandora, imeem etc have all set the standard of mobile support being free. So charging for mobile would arguably be as damaging to their growth potential as if they’d only launched with a premium offering.

From Mark Mulligan's Music Industry blog.

Endowment mortgages for newspapers?

Another of the end of newspapers pieces, but interesting.
As long as internet neutrality, what I call internet liberty, isn't crushed, the demise of the traditional newspaper holds out the possibility of a press that more closely reflects the interests of the ordinary people, instead of the urban business classes.

So the endowment model is in my view actually much less likely to make the reporters beholden to special interests. Once the money is in the endowment, the donor's leverage is much reduced. Of course, if you were actively trying to increase the endowment, you might be tempted not to make waves . . . But presumably that would not be the normal state of affairs for all endowed journalists. It should be a 501 c 4 endowment rather than c3, i.e., the kind that allows partisan political activity.

The main problem with the endowment model is that an endowment has to be just enormous to generate enough money to accomplish anything.

From Informed Comment

Video games and the apocalypse: the truth, finally

Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?

Average Face

... an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Among those Facebook users with 500 friends, these numbers are somewhat higher, but not hugely so. Men leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men communicate with ten, women with 16.

What mainly goes up, therefore, is not the core network but the number of casual contacts that people track more passively. This corroborates Dr Marsden’s ideas about core networks, since even those Facebook users with the most friends communicate only with a relatively small number of them.

Put differently, people who are members of online social networks are not so much “networking” as they are “broadcasting their lives to an outer tier of acquaintances who aren’t necessarily inside the Dunbar circle,” says Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a polling organisation. Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently. But they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever.

From the Economist.