September, 2011

Facebook prepares to face down competition, in Washington

Lobbying It’s no secret that Facebook knows a lot about its users. Just how much can still startle, however, as is evident from perusing the database compiled by the web site Europe vs. Facebook (h/t Forbes). In Europe, every citizen in the EU has the right to access all the data a company has collected on him or her, and based on the personal Facebook dossiers provided to Europe vs. Facebook (PDF), the print outs can run to hundreds, even thousands of pages.

With last week’s announcements of the revamped news feed (now called the timeline) and the integration of Spotify and other media services into the Facebook platform, the social network will be collecting vast new quantities and categories of data on its users, more or less in real-time. Read More »

Face(book)ing the music

Cloud Facebook is rumored to be set to unveil major new media-related features at the f8 developer conference on Thursday, including partnerships with seven or eight leading music streaming services and the introduction of a music/movie/TV “ticker” to home pages that will let your friends know what you’re watching or listening to.

According to reports, a key element of the new streaming music integrations will be audio “bridging” between otherwise competing services. The idea is that, if you’re listening to Rdio, and a track goes up on your profile, a friend who uses MOG for music would be able to click on the track and listen to the same song even if they’ve never subscribed to Rdio.

It’s not clear from the reports exactly how that bridging will work, from either a technical or a rights perspective. Will competing streaming services need to have identical rights deals with the labels for a bridge to work? Will Facebook itself host and stream any music? How will conflicting DRMs and authentication systems be reconciled?  Read More »

Netflix and the cost of doing business

Licensing Netflix really, really doesn’t want you using both its streaming service and it’s DVD-by-mail service. As of this month, it costs subscribers 60 percent more to use both services than it used to, thanks to the company’s recent price changes. As of today, it’s a bigger pain in the ass as well.

In a post on the company blog Sunday night, CEO Reed Hastings announced yet more changes that will force subscribers who want both streaming and DVDS not only to maintain two, separately billed accounts, but manage them on two entirely separate web sites, one of which is not even branded Netflix anymore. To order a DVD, users must now log on to the newly christened Qwikster web site, while their streaming business will be transacted through the Netflix site at a different URL.

There’s more: Read More »

Why publishers should embrace Amazon’s Netflix for e-books plan

Copyright As a lover of used bookstores and delighted owner of many dusty old, out-of-print volumes plucked from $2 and 3-for$5, bins I hate to hear myself say this. But if I were a publisher I would leap at Amazon’s purported plans to offer Kindle users a Netflix-like subscription plan for e-books.

Traditionally, publishers have had only two bites at the apple: the hardcover/trade paperback window, followed by the mass market paperback release. E-books have introduced a new format but it has not yet created a new release window. Instead, the e-book release is wedged in awkwardly between or alongside the traditional windows, cannibalizing both. Read More »

Taking Hulu global

Deals The auction for Hulu has been nothing if not fluid, with bidders dropping in an out of the process and conflicting signals from the sellers as to how committed they are to selling. But with the deadline for offers fast approaching, the pool of serious bidders had boiled down to three, according to the Financial Times — Yahoo, Amazon and Dish Network — with each expected to enter a bid somewhere between $1.5 and $2.0 billion.

Until last night, that is. That’s when word broke of a possible last-minute mega-bid from Google — previously thought to have bowed out of the bidding — that could scramble the whole process yet again. Sources told Peter Kafka of AllThingsD that Google may be willing to put up “a couple billion dollars more” than the purported $1.5-$2.0 billion competing bids as part of “a different [proposed] acquisition, on a larger scale.” Read More »