Monthly Archives: June 2008

neil-young-at-suns-javaone.jpgWhen I met legendary rocker Neil Young recently, he was pretty disparaging about iTunes. It’s like all new digital media technologies, he said: great for convenience, but the sound quality sucks (since I have a tin ear when it comes to music, I’ll leave others to judge the validity of that comment. But Peter Gabriel, another musician who’s been working on new ideas for distributing digital music, certainly agrees.)

Young let slip that he is now talking to record companies about licensing an alternative digital platform that he has been working on – something , he claimed, of far higher quality that could provide an alternative to the privacy-prone download world, and perhaps even a new business model for music. Read more

M. Librero/R. Coburn, NAS DivisionI like the extra desktop space of having two monitors on my desk, but I am suffering screen-envy at what Nasa scientists can now feast their eyes on at Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

The 128-screen hyperwall-2, unveiled on Wednesday, is capable of rendering 250m-pixel graphics and is “the world’s highest resolution scientific visualisation and data exploration environment.” Read more

HabboThe most financially successful virtual worlds are not 3D and sophisticated, but flat and appealing to younger audiences.

Think Neopets, Webkinz, Club Penguin and Runescape, not Second Life. Read more

It’s going to be a couple more weeks before the 3G iPhone makes its way to the shelves of Apple stores, but thanks to analysts at iSuppli, we now have a decent idea of how much it costs Apple to make each new handset.

ISuppli’s “virtual teardown”* of the latest iPhone, which landed in my inbox today, puts the cost of an assembled 3G iPhone at $173. That’s 23 per cent lower than the best estimate of what it costs to make the existing 8GB iPhone. Read more

Moo business cardsMoo, the maker of cool calling-cards for the Web 2.0 generation, has had to turn a little square for its move into the business market.

Its new business cards, announced today, are more conventionally sized than the MiniCards it pioneered with up to 100 different photos on the reverse, selected by users from online photo galleries such as Flickr. Read more

Tweety PieTwitter, the service that wisely restricts blog posts to 140 characters or less, has completed its much-anticipated third-round VC funding.

That’s 139 characters, so I should stop right there. Except to tell you that Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, is now an investor, as is Spark Capital, the Boston VC firm, whose Bijan Sabet will take a perch on Twitter’s board. Read more

It looks as though Google is about to hand more ammunition to the critics who claim that it is fast gaining excessive power in the digital advertising industry.

A spokesperson for the company says that on Tuesday it will announce a new Web measurement tool to give advertisers a better idea of the true size of online audiences. This sort of information is badly needed – as we reported before, there are big disagreements over the way companies like comScore and Nielsen assess the size of a particular Website’s audience, and the row that has been raging over this issue has damaged what little credibility they had left. Read more

windows-xp.jpgWindows XP is not dead yet. With a week to go, the vibes are getting stronger that the unpopularity of Vista (deserved or not) will force Microsoft to back off from its plan to kill XP entirely.

There was a notable pause a few days ago when I asked Kevin Johnson, who runs the Windows division, whether XP would get a stay of execution (as anyone who knows the self-assured Johnson will attest, this in itself is out of character.) This is what he finally had to say, after careful consideration: Read more

Omidyar videoIt’s almost too Web 2.0 to be true.

Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, has invested in the video comment service Seesmic, announcing the news in what else but a video comment on Seesmic. Read more

The exodus of early Facebook executives continues. Six weeks after Facebook announced the departure of co-founder and technology guru Adam D’Angelo, the social network said on Thursday that Matt Cohler, one of Mark Zuckerberg’s first hires, is on his way out.

Well, not exactly. Cohler is leaving his position as VP of product development to become a general partner at Benchmark Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. But he will stay on at Facebook in an “advisory” capacity, whatever that means.  Read more

Technology is having a big influence on the Cannes Lions advertising festival this year – and not just because of the €220,000-a-week 132-foot yacht, which  lead sponsor Microsoft has parked in the middle of the bay.

The lines between TV spots and viral web videos are officially blurred by the inclusion of creative from any screen – from cinema to mobile phone – in this year’s Film Lions. Creatives from the offline world are getting to grips with digital tools, even if their companies’ structures and business models haven’t quite caught up. Read more

Bret Taylor, Dave Sifry - Technorati, Matt Colebourne, Loic Le MeurFree internet speech has a price,  the Supernova networking conference learnt today.

Comment and conversation on specific websites is being liberated by services that allow commenters to make their comments portable and aggregate them elsewhere. Read more

Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake, the husband-and-wife team behind Flickr, the photo-sharing site that sparked the Web 2.0 craze when it was bought by Yahoo in 2005, have decided to leave the struggling internet group.

I caught up with Stewart by email as he was rushing to catch a plane, and he confirmed the rumours. Meanwhile, Valleywag seems to have obtained a copy of Butterfield’s resignation letter (it’s a classic of the genre, best read in the voice of Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood).   Read more

Storm clouds are gathering over the advertising industry. But, this being Cannes, media folk are happy to ignore the rain and instead concentrate on the accompanying sound and light show. The strong Euro and economic gloom has not prevented the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival – run by GMG and Apax-owned Emap – from attracting thousands of delegates and 28,000 entries from 85 countries. That’s up 5.8 per cent compared to last year.

With even more parties promised this year, the ad world isn’t going to let anyone rain on its parade by pondering whether the cash blown on festivities can ever be recouped by the deals done between the Carlton terrace and the notorious Gutter bar.

Lightning has already struck twice for BBDO, the New York agency, for its “Voyeur” campaign for US TV network HBO. This huge video projection against the side of a New York apartment block, appearing to reveal the kitchen-sink dramas within, scooped a second Grand Prix in the Outdoor category, hot on the heels of yesterday’s Promotions gong. The talk of the Lower East Side prompted a million visits to promotional site and, in ad-speak, strengthened “super-fans’ engagement” with HBO. Read more

ff-download-day.jpgMozilla, the scrappy open-source software company, hoped to set a one-day software download record on Tuesday with the launch of Firefox 3, the latest copy of its popular web browser. The company even went so far as to set up a special web page to promote its Guinness Book of World Records bid.

But Mozilla’s hoped-for PR coup turned into something of a debacle as thousands of eager downloaders rushed the site. The result was an internet equivalent of the Cleveland Indians’ infamous “10 cent beer night ” in 1974, in which an inebriated mob of baseball fans - lured by the promise of all-you-can-drink 10 cent beers – laid waste to portions of Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Read more

More evidence to suggest that an internet advertising slowdown is taking hold in the US: figures from the IAB today point to overall growth of only 18 per cent in the first quarter of this year, a marked slowdown from 26 per cent in all of 2007 (and more than 30 per cent in each of the previous three years.)

Ever the optimists, the IAB and PwC, which puts the numbers together, expressed their habitual confidence in the secular shift of advertising online. Apparently this was “not so unexpected,” given the seasonally softer first quarter and “an overall economic slowdown.” Read more

Spore creatureJohn Riccitiello, Electronic Arts chief executive, seems more interested in playing his company’s new Spore game than closing a deal for rival Take-Two.

“I’ve created 10 creatures already,” he told the William Blair investors conference today. Read more

AMD photorealismAMD and Nvidia unveiled next-generation graphics chips today, with both claiming their uses would reach well beyond the traditional gaming audience.

AMD aimed high and fell short with its Cinema 2.0 event. It claimed its technology was responsible for a defining moment in graphics when films would extend seamlessly into interactive gaming experiences and games and their characters would achieve true photo-realism. Read more

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing.jpgAn alliance with Google might serve to deliver Yahoo from Microsoft’s clutches, at least for now, but is there a longer-term cost? There are at least three reasons why today’s deal could come back to haunt Jerry Yang.

Scale. If scale is essential for effective monetisation in the search business (the higher the volume of ads, the more efficient and liquid the market – the reason Microsoft gave for trying to buy Yahoo) then anything that increases Google’s scale even more – while reducing Yahoo’s – could tilt the balance still further in favour of the market leader. Read more

FriendFeedThe FriendFeeding frenzy currently consuming the Valley seems more like excitement about the possibilities of a new and multi-faceted service than the usual hype about the “next big thing”.

While some have described a service with 300,000 visitors as a challenge to Twitter (1.8m) or Facebook (32m) or even Google (600m+), the overstatements do point to how FriendFeed can be different things to different people. Read more