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 »

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 »

How Apple could disrupt the TV business

Digital Living Room With the news last week that Apple is pulling the plug on 99-cent TV show rentals through Apple TV, the tech media has again been ablaze with speculation about how Apple might still do unto the TV business as it has the music and mobile phone businesses, complete with a reappearance of the zombie rumor that it will introduce an App Store-enabled Apple HDTV set sometime next year.

As I noted in my last post, however, the TV business has thus-far proved remarkably resistant to disruption, the sine qua non for Apple to invest seriously in the market. The networks and cable operators successfully resisted Google TV’s bid to disaggregate the TV bundle with search technology, as well as Apple’s efforts to drive down the price of  accessing TV content on Apple TV. As I noted yesterday, I’m skeptical that Apple’s introducing a different form factor — a 42-inch display  instead of Read More »

Apple still searching for a way to disrupt the TV business

Online Video The TV business is proving remarkably resistant to disruption. Google tried it, with Google TV, which met with disaster (Google is getting ready to try again, this time in Europe). Apple has tried it more than once but has yet to find a way to disrupt the TV content value chain to its own advantage.

Apple’s most recent bid — 99 cent TV show rentals through Apple TV set-tops — has proved a bust. On Friday, while most Apple-watchers were still buzzing about Steve Jobs’ decision to step down as CEO, the company quietly announced that its nine-month experiment with low-cost rentals would end. Read More »