The wireless industry is trying to radically improve mobile Web browsing by making it as much like the PC experience as possible. In a step in that direction, handset makers are bringing Flash multimedia player to more cellphones.
This week Adobe signed a deal with cellphone manufacturers Sony Ericsson, Nokia, LG, and Motorola to bring it’s Flash component to cell phones.
At the same time, some carriers are preloading advanced Web browsers, like Opera and Google’s Android, into handsets. Those browsers are good at reformatting Web pages designed for PCs to make them viewable on phones with 2.5-inch screens.
Right now most of the Websites don’t have mobile-only versions. That is a problem for wireless carriers that rely increasingly on advanced Web and multimedia services to power their growth.
Only about 14% of U.S. cellphone users accessed the Web at least once in February.
Also, making video from Websites work on cellphones is widely seen as a crucial component of the new shift. And, again, wider distribution of Flash is one significant step. For that Adobe is dropping its traditional licensing fees and making changes to its technology that simplifies its integration into mobile phones.
Beyond this, there are other major technical limitations, since most of the cellphones don’t have enough memory or processing power to support video applications.
Some in the industry say that cellphones won’t ever truly be able to duplicate the PC Web. Some Web services that are packed with content and features, like MySpace and Facebook, are best offered as specialized software applications that consumers can download on select devices.
Google’s ten design principles
Google has published a list of then things that make a design “Googley”, and therefore universal.
1. Focus on people –their lives, their work, their dreams.
2. Every millisecond counts.
3. Simplicity is powerful.
4. Engage beginners and attract experts.
5. Dare to innovate.
6. Design for the world.
7. Plan for today’s and tomorrow’s business.
8. Delight the eye without distracting the mind.
9. Be worthy of people’s trust.
10. Add a human touch.
AT&T Mobile TV launched: $30 for unlimited watching
AT&T has just launched its mobile television service in 58 markets, one year after Verizon’s V Cast Mobile TV. Both use MediaFLO technology. Packages start at $13 per month for four channels: CBS Mobile, Fox Mobile, NBC 2Go and NBC News 2Go. There is a $30 premium services, with includes unlimited TV watching with access to 150 simulcast or time-shifted programming from CNN, ESPN, Comedy Central and others. It only works with LG’s touch-screen Vu and Samsung’s Access.
The new 3G iPhone will be a game-changing
The new $199 3G iPhone that will come this summer could be a game-changing device. Being 3G, the higher speed data service could open up video streaming to your handset; it will allow good quality live newscasts or Video on demand.
However, there is a catch: data plans start around $100 month with Apple picking up about 25 % of the monthly revenue.
"A year ago it cost at least 18 cents to transmit a gig; we got it down to $0.10 six months ago", Move Networks CEO John Edwards said. It means that it's starting to approach the point where you can make the same money showing something on TV as showing it online. "At 5 cents per gig occurs "a tipping point where it's really economic for content owners."
Move, with customers like Fox and ABC among other U.S. networks, says that right now it's adding over 150,000 new clients (who download their plug-in) a day, and they expect 1 million a day when integrated with Microsoft.
DailyMotion.com jumps until becoming second
DailyMotion.com, the video sharing site based out of Paris, has grown to be a global powerhouse, second only to YouTube. They had 4.7 million unique streamers in April (YouTube did 53.5 in March) according to Comscore.
The U.S. operations manager Joy Marcus has explained that DailyMotion has a channel strategy, with contents organized around various interests and groups. She likens it to a cable operator who offers specific channels.
They offer a mix of professional content, contextual advertising, and paying top content producers (companies or individuals) through their MotionMaker program. DailyMotion monetizes their video content with banner advertising and in-video advertising.
Fora.tv gets more funding from venture capitalists
FORA.TV, a San Francisco start-up which organizes videos of symposiums and conferences from think tanks, universities and other institutions, and is referred by many as the C-SPAN of the Web, has closed another round of venture funding with $4 million from William Randolph Hearts III, Adobe Ventures and other investors.
Recently they have just redesigned the site to allow a greater degree of personalization. Proceeds of the funding will be used to expand audience and content.
Now traffic to the site is modest, but their audience is highly educated and influential. Big corporations seeking visibility are buying sponsorships on the site. Present sponsors include Pfizer and Chevron.
So called intelligent programming is finding a place on Web. The most successful in terms of traffic is TED Talks. A notable newcomer is BigThink. The bid daddy of them all, with some 400 hours of content is Charlie Rose., who is about to unveil a redesigned site which will make the clips much more shareable.
ABC NEWS will train students at five universities
Last month it was NBC, and now is ABC NEWS who will train students at five universities. ABC NEWS has entered into a partnership with Arizona State University, Syracuse University, the University of Florida, North Carolina, and Texas, with the goal of training and mentoring students. The news media will open multimedia bureaus in where students will have the chance to produce content for programs like “Good Morning America,” “World News with Charles Gibson,” and “Nightline.”
This is an innovative program conceived as a win-win proposition: the student journalists enjoy unparalleled opportunities by working with ABC, and the network receives smart, original content from young journalists.
MSNBC.com debuts its news laboratory
MSNBC.como has launched its news laboratory called NewsWare. It is a laboratory for games, tools and other innovation.
"With the launch of NewsWare, msnbc.com combines its existing tools such as podcasts, RSS feeds and mobile applications with the unveiling of its latest news-infused digital innovations including Spectra, NewsBlaster and NewsScroller, intended to excite the imagination of msnbc.com’s news exploring consumers," they say. Read the press release here.
WEBBY winner announced
Webby winners have been announced. The New York Times, The Onion, National Geographic were big winners. Here is the full list.
The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) has released a report about the increase of online video (11.5 billion videos viewed in March, according Comscore). Its title is “Zooming In on Online Video: A Development & Growth Guide for Newspaper Web Sites.” Here is the download link.
Main conclusion: everyone needs to jump on online video. “While still a small percentage of total and local online advertising, online video represents an enormous opportunity for newspapers to grow revenue and audience,” says the report.
“As competition heats up for online video mindshare, newspapers have an excellent opportunity to leverage their skills and content and capture an even larger share of online advertising spending.”
Local online video advertising was a $400 million business in 2007, according to Borrell Associates.
The survey shows that online video is not solely the domain of the Web department. Although online editors and producers are involved in shooting, editing and publishing video for the newspaper’s Web site, reporters and photographers are also heavily involved.
CBS buys CNET for $1.8 billion
CBS bought CNET Networks –that includes cnet.com, bnet.com, news.com, tv.com, gamespot.com, mp3.com and search.com, among others- for $1.8 billion in cash, a substantial 45 percent premium to where the stock closed on Wednesday.
During the dot-com boom, shares of CNET reached nearly $80 (now is $11.50), but the company’s fortunes have fallen since then, and it recently announced layoffs.
The acquisition makes CBS one of the 10 most popular Internet companies in the U.S.
“There are very few opportunities to acquire a profitable, growing, well-managed Internet company like CNET Networks,” said CBS Interactive in a press release.
CBS has picked up smaller Web properties in the last year or so, including Last.fm, a music Web site for which it paid $280 million. It also acquired Wallstrip, an irreverent financial Web program, and DotSpotter, a celebrity gossip site.
“There are very few opportunities to acquire a profitable, growing, well-managed Internet company like CNET Networks,” he said in a press release Thursday. “Together, CBS and CNET Networks will have significant additional exposure to the fastest-growing advertising sector and can accelerate our growth through a number of new content, promotion and advertising initiatives.”
AP Mobile News Network on your iPhone
AP has launched a pretty cool mobile venture: APNews.com. They call it Mobile News Network. This is a site easily accessible from an iPhone or other smartphone, and it features news, sport, entertainment, photos and even video.
A great data/map mashup
See the data/map mashup site of Cincinnati.com called CincyNavigator. Since it was launched, on September 2007, it spawned 570,000 page views, and increased the average user session from three minutes to five minutes.
It is however an interesting way of getting at the why of news or the trends. After all in a metro area of 2 million plus people, individual robberies and the like aren’t really interesting to everyone but if you can spot trends and provide analysis then that is useful to a lot of people.
It took nearly a year to put the site together. Experts consider it was well worth the work, with a simple interface and great data navigation.
Certainly it is a great idea when spotting robberies and crimes, showing how safe is any specific neighborhood.
ABC.com is upgrading its full-episode broadband player –only watchable in the U.S.-with new features like full-screen viewing, closed captioning and the ability to send and embed video.
The viewer also will have the option of choosing from standard or high definition. Users also can send links that can be posted elsewhere online, where they can launch cued to a particular scene mid-episode. Video on ABC.com also will be easier to sift through, with thumbnail images that offer a glimpse of the story line progression in each episode.
These new features, now in closed beta, are on the heels of Hulu.com’s successful launch with embeddable video. (By the way, Hulu has added new content partners: TV.com, TVGuide, BuddyTV.com, Flinxster.com, MyYearbook.com, Break.com and Zap2it.com).
ABC.com was the first full-episode player online when it launched in 2006, and as of April, it is the dominant one, with 8.9 million unique users.
ABC.com utilizes technology from Move Networks for its player.
Internet blog star Amanda Congdon is back
Popular videoblogger and former Rocketboom host Amanda Congdon is back, after a quick foray at ABC News. Now she is on SometimesDaily.com.
Amanda, 26, became an Internet sensation in 2006, when she introduced the concept of the video blog and got 200,000 viewers each day with its show Rocketboom. Then she joined ABC News to produce eccentric newscast but she clashed with the culture there and exited last fall.
“SometimesDaily.com is an interactive variety show that is embedded into my life,” she says. The show is produced by an independent production studio, Media Rights Capital. The goal is to build a fan base and advertiser interest around the videos, reinventing the vlog form as she pioneered it four years ago.
TV news still command a large audience
TV news isn’t dying, and it will remain an important source for years to come, even if more people ages 18-54 will get their news from the web and mobile platform in the next years.
A study conducted by market research firm Crawford, Johnson & Northcott concludes that Americans, including young people, are turning to TV in greater numbers than the web for elections news. The top three sources given by respondents ages 18-65 are broadcast networks news, cable TV news and local TV news.
“Rumors of the death of traditional television news have been greatly exaggerated. And it’s not just older people -- young adults are relying on television news, too,” said company president John Altenbern.
Netflix sells a device for instantly watching movies on TV sets
Netflix, who pioneered the DVD movie rentals by mail, is now offering its 8.2 million subscribers an option to watch movies on their television avoiding the post office.
Netflix has launched a $99 set-top box called Roku that allow customers to play 10,000 movies and TV episodes on their television instantly (most of them five years old), for no charge beyond their normal subscription fee.
This device is less than half of the cost of an $229 Apple TV, and jolts the emerging market for equipment that brings Internet video to TVs. Amazon.com offers similar product through TiVo video recorders. HP is planning to do so soon, too.