Archive for the ‘Trends’ category

MSN Bets on Laziness

11-29-07

At the Consumer Technology Innovations conference in San Francisco yesterday, Joanne Bradford, Corporate Vice President & Chief Media Officer of Microsoft’s MSN, said the popularity of Facebook, MySpace and YouTube proves that web portals continue to be viable, despite the trend toward extreme individualism encapsulated in the expression “long tail.”

From CNET’s post about the conference:

For Bradford, who was interviewed on-stage at the conference by Wall Street Journal reporter Kevin Delaney, we’re in a new era where Web users want data and information filtered for them.

“People want you to do it for them,” she said. “They’re lazy. It’s a society of convenience.”

Fortunately, she suggested, MSN is here to help.

And in doing so, Bradford seemed to suggest, MSN is helping to create a dynamic where the most important and relevant information is presented to users, rather than relying on the long-tail to satisfy large numbers of users who want less popular information.

And by presenting the most important information in a way that is accessible and relevant, MSN is hoping it can benefit by similarly attracting top advertisers.

“The growth is still there,” she said. “Advertisers want the head. Advertisers will still pay 10x for the head instead of the tail.”

And from internetnews.com:

Asked if portals were “dying a slow death,” Bradford said quite the opposite. “Everything is looking more like a portal these days if you look at Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. I think there’s a reverse portal phenomenon going on where you stuff the tail back in the head and make it mean something.”

In other words, while a lot of social networking sites carry more personalized, user-generated and long tail content (referring to the theory of niche sites creating their own markets), they’re all trying to organize content like a portal does.

“People want things filtered for them and put together in a way that’s meaningful to their life, whether that’s around friends or items you want to buy,” said Bradford. “We really think people want you to do it [organize content] for them.” Bradford further claimed that most consumers don’t want to set up home pages, such as iGoogle, myYahoo or even feeds on Facebook. “There’s a great unanswered consumer need there,” she said, to automate the process of giving users the content they’re looking for.

To which I observe: Boy, that Microsoft culture sticks to its people like lint! Bradford’s head shot makes her look young and perky, but she already talks like an old-timer.

People are lazy?

People want things filtered for them?

MSN knows what’s “meaningful to (my) life?”

Really? (more…)

Verizon’s “Berlin Wall Moment”

11-28-07

In what was regarded as a surprise move, Verizon announced Tuesday it would give consumers more choice in what phones they can use on its network, perhaps hastening the day when Americans can buy the mobile device they want, then choose a carrier instead of having it chosen for them.

In its press release, Verizon said the “new choice” would not be available until the end of 2008, and described the process between now and then:

In early 2008, the company will publish the technical standards the development community will need to design products to interface with the Verizon Wireless network. Any device that meets the minimum technical standard will be activated on the network. Devices will be tested and approved in a $20 million state-of-the-art testing lab which received an additional investment this year to gear up for the anticipated new demand. Any application the customer chooses will be allowed on these devices.

The news has got everyone thinking about two companies not mentioned in the press release, Apple and Google. Apple, because the iPhone is such a sexy product but its appeal is weighed down by the required two-year AT&T/Cingular contract that comes with it; and Google because of its recent announcement of plans to create an open platform for a Linux phone that can run Google applications.

The commentary on Verizon’s move comes in two flavors: Laudatory, and intrigued conjecture. If anyone really doesn’t like it, they’re keeping it to themselves. Here are lots of samples:

“We’re seeing a sea change here. If you go back a year ago, there was absolutely no sign anyone was interested in pushing opening wireless networks,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president of the Media Access Project, a nonprofit telecommunications law firm. “This is like a Berlin Wall moment, where the pressure is too much for these guys.” (SF Chronicle)

Atlantic Monthly blogger Megan McArdle, a libertarian-leaning economist, agrees: (more…)

Red, Purple and Blue TV

11-14-07

Conservatives and liberals don’t just differ on political candidates. They prefer different TV shows, movies and videogames, according to a new survey by the Zogby Institute. USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center commissioned the study, and its director, Marty Kaplan, blogged about it at Huffington Post, concluding

(W)hen it comes to entertainment, conservatives are way more PC than liberals.

People on the right — and that characterization of them comes from their answers to 24 questions designed to reveal their political values — don’t like to consume entertainment that doesn’t reflect their worldview, and they feel that way about a lot of it. But people at the other end of the political spectrum are voracious in their entertainment consumption. They enjoy watching, reading and listening to plenty of stuff that runs counter to, even offends, their political values. Over 80 percent of liberals say they’re entertained by material that’s in bad taste, but over 40 percent of conservatives say they’re never entertained by it.

Conservatives don’t just love Fox News; they also prefer the Fox network, home of 24, but also smart-ass shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Generally, conservatives prefer action/adventure shows, business and sports programs. Liberals don’t like any of those genres much, but they enjoy comedies, drama, documentaries and arts programming — all of which turn off conservatives. Liberals and moderates both prefer NBC (so how come it’s usually third or fourth in the ratings?)

The liberal audience is 57 percent female, the conservative audience 57 percent male.

Moderates — “purples” — like Fox News, too; 27 percent of them watch it daily. They like police procedurals, game shows, other daytime programming and children’s shows. The survey checked out musical tastes, too. Moderates dig the rock ‘n roll, conservatives prefer classical, followed by country and rock, and liberals “enjoy almost every musical genre.”

Wired News reviewed the study for information on videogames. Conservatives “are not big fans of videogames, but when they do play, Madden NFL and Mario are their favorites.” Moderates, similarly, prefer Mario, Donkey Kong, and Madden. Liberals “tend to play more videogames than the other groups, with Mario and The Sims being particular favorites.”

So, Mario is one big winner in this survey.  The other across-the-board favorite?  Football. (more…)

Dolan Media, Reporting For Duty

11-09-07

With the Veteran’s Day weekend upon us, let’s do a surprise inspection of some of Dolan Media’s business and legal stories this week….

New Orleans City Business has a story about yet another lasting change to the city after Katrina: The inability of elderly residents to get back home. Reporter Richard A. Webster interviews Gordon Wadge, a local Catholic Charities official, about his mother, Gloria.

“We had some very emotional conversations,” Wadge said. “She told me, ‘I just want to come home and die in the house your father and I built.’”

Gloria Wadge’s home was undamaged but the circle of neighbors she depended on was shattered.

“There was an elderly couple she kept up with, but the husband died of a heart attack during the evacuation,” Wadge said. “Then there was the neighbor on the other side who came over for tea every day who was so traumatized by the storm that she moved across the lake to live with her daughter.

“And there was another neighbor across the street who was sick with cancer. I’m sure the stress of the storm accelerated that illness because he’s since deceased.”

For reasons like this, the numbers of New Orleans residents under 65 has dropped a staggering 63 percent, NOCB reports….

The impending long weekend has put two Long Island Business News editor in the mood for recreation. Publisher John Kominicki ponders a proposed year-round indoor skiing resort in Riverhead, and how that might help NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg attract more Euro-tourism….

Meanwhile, Associate Web Editor Henry Powderly II continues his LI wine tour, this time stopping at Roanoke Vineyards for a few helpings of jazz and rosé….

The Journal Record in Oklahoma City is hosting a dinner Nov. 29 to honor the “Best Dressed” Oklahomans…but the big buzz in OKC is about the NBA’s Seattle Supersonic’s owner announcing a move to “the Capital of the New Century,” which has upset the NBA commish. He’s mad at Seattle and Washington state officials for not building the Sonics a new home….

The Colorado Springs Business Journal has a feature about the, uh, breathtaking competition in the “vanity oxygen” industry. Reporter Joan Johnson writes:

Oxygen bars, which are popular at various athletic and social events, are facing competition from hand-held canister packs, which contain 25 breaths of 95 percent pure, enriched oxygen — more than four times the amount of oxygen found in ambient air.

Just as bottlers convinced consumers that it wasn’t ludicrous to pay $2 for a bottle of water, oxygen companies are betting that people will be willing to pay for a breath of fresh air.

Marketing canned or portable oxygen appears to have started in Asia, and grew out of the scuba industry. People were using small, supplemental oxygen tanks outside diving because of the air quality in major cities, said Kevin Berigan, president of Oxygen Plus Inc.

Berigan said that more than 11,000 7-Eleven stores in Japan began selling private-label oxygen about a year ago.

Bill Miller, creative director of Oxygen Plus, said that his company doesn’t claim its products have any medical benefits or can cure any ailments, but he said there are benefits for skiers, cyclists, hikers, partiers, spa goers, athletes and smog breathers.

But she also quotes a pulmonary specialist as saying the whole business is “a scam.”

I wonder if the next big thing will be bottled air from exotic locations like Maui…the North Pole…the Greek Islands….or Paris….

CUT TO: Casablanca Airport, Night

(A cloud of fog mixes with engine smoke.)

Ilsa: But what about us?

Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.

Ilsa: Oh Rick, I have a bottle of Paris right here. Want a hit?

Rick: Here’s looking at you, kid!