March 30, 2006Yes, I read books too...
The Lincoln Lawyer is shortlisted for The British Book Awards
March 29, 2006BBC's iMP Dilemma
In this week's Media Guardian, Steve Hewlett described the debate surrounding BBC's Interactive Media Player rollout. iMP allows viewers to download BBC programmes and watch them on their computers. In the recent trials, programmes were available for a week after broadcast, and cost nothing.
Now BBC has to decide how to proceed, and a major part of the decision is whether to charge for downloads.
I think the probable outcome is that the first 7 days will be free, but any downloads after this will have to be paid for. And this would be fair. If BBC starts giving away free content, its scale means that the value of the whole sector is diminished - and not just the download sector, physical media as well. How can 2entertain sell Little Britain DVDs, for example, if they are widely and easily available for free?
And why should content be free anyway? The argument often used is that we've already paid a license fee, but that fee entitles us to watch the BBC's broadcast output. But that doesn't wash. Just because you've paid McDonalds for a burger, doesn't mean they're going to give you a coke for nothing.
For the sake of the whole industry, BBC must act like a commercial organisation this time.
March 24, 2006And so it begins...
So Universal has become the first UK distributor to announce a download-to-own service. At last, someone has made a move.
The service will be offered by Universal Pictures UK in association with DVD rental company Lovefilm and AOL from 10 April, and will initially feature around 30 titles including King Kong, Pride & Prejudice, Serenity and Nanny McPhee. For £19.99, film fans will be able to download two digital copies of the movie: one to watch on their laptop or desktop computer and one that can be transferred to a compatible portable device. They will also be sent a copy of the movie on DVD through the post.
Top marks to Universal for taking the plunge. The service isn't perfect: £19.99 might be a bit rich when you can buy DVDs for under a tenner at Tesco - you can't just buy a download on its own; and it's only Windows-compatible - so they won't play on video iPods or Macs. But these are issues that can sort themselves out over time.
The success of this - or any other - movie download service will be determined by the same combination of factors that has made iTunes so popular: a great range of titles, attractive pricing, ease of purchase and ease of consumption. This initiative has some way to go before it can tick all of these boxes but it's a great start and Universal deserve congratulations for having the courage to start the ball rolling.
Now the genie (or the Gorilla) is out of the bottle, those of us who have been watching this space can finally start to talk about what's happening instead of what might happen...
March 22, 2006Cool New People
These guys at MySpace know how to make you feel good, don't they? Apparently I was featured as one of MySpace's "Cool New People", leading a couple of my new friends - Hollie and Oh My, Majestic Outcry to get in touch.
It's a whole new world...
March 21, 2006How MySpace (might) change the world
5 days on MySpace, and I'm already starting to see how it could affect so many things
Music seems to be a natural fit. Every page has the option of adding tracks to a music profile that plays whenever anyone visits your site. So if you're a musician you can feature your own songs. But the clever part is that you can click "Add" on any track and it will appear on your own profile - so it's an amazing way to quickly spread the word virally.
MySpace is a weird place, though. It's like one of those first "grown-up" parties you went to when you were at school - where you came into contact with people who were different from you and your friends - and were both fascinated and horrified by them.
March 20, 2006BBC Radio 1 Musicubes
BBC Radio 1 is tapping into the online music culture that has led to the success of bands such as Arctic Monkeys with the launch of an interactive service allowing listeners to access the latest edition of their favourite shows.
The online service, which is called Musicubes, is accessible at www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/musicubes. Users can create a Musicube by entering the genre of music they prefer, such as hip hop, chart or indie.
The service will then offer online access to the latest editions of Radio 1 shows that feature the specified sort of content. They can also be shared with others via sites such as MySpace.com.
I've created my own Musicube. It's a cool (if fairly useless) concept, but my problem with it is that you have to be able to label your favourite music, which may be easy for DJs but not so easy for those of us who don't know our Grime from our Dirty House. This would be one for Pazen, I think.
Anyway, my cube is below...
March 17, 2006Hanging out with Macca
The dinner invitation is probably on its way.A bit of research in Charlotte Street
I met with Jenny and Paul at CSR International this morning to talk about a presentation I'll be giving to their staff on technology trends, followed by an excellent lunch in Charlotte Street.
For the record, they must be the best qualitative research consultancy in the UK, if not the world...
March 16, 2006My first day on MySpace
I've joined MySpace. My (fairly sparse) profile is here
Here is my first MySpace blog:
My first day on MySpace
Current mood: okay
Since most of the world seems to be on MySpace, I suppose it's time to see what the fuss is all about.
So this is going to be a blog about ... well, this. Being on MySpace.
Already, on Day 1, I've received an invitation from a band called Copperline to be their friend and listen to their music. Guys, I'm sure it's great, but unfortunately the music player crashed Windows Explorer. Ho Hum.
March 15, 2006IPTV and VoD: the great content adventure
Once in a while someone writes an article that is worth re-reading.
Alex Cameron's article in The Register is an excellent overview of the key players, the opportunities and the challenges in the development of IPTV and video on demand.Origami unfolded
So Microsoft revealed its much-anticipated Origami Project at CeBIT in Germany, and it largely confirmed the rumours that had been flying around the internet. Origami is a new platform of devices it calls Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPC). The UMPC is like a small Tablet PC with a 7-inch touch screen, and runs the full version of Windows XP. Devices will be manufactured by a number of manufacturers with an expected price range between $599 and $999.
March 13, 2006Good Computer, Bad Computer (1)
I spent much of Friday working on a client presentation with colleagues from Impaq. I did the right thing by saving changes as I went along, but I did the wrong thing by not bringing a power lead and relying on battery power.
We're all familiar with that moment when "45% of battery power and 2 hours left" suddenly becomes "You are low in battery power. Save your changes etc." and just as suddenly turns to "Going into Standby".
March 7, 2006Apple: Big Brother?
But here's a funny thing. When I looked yesterday, every review I saw was complaining about the decision to charge, or the price. When I checked back today, suddenly the reviews seem to be mostly good. Have I somehow stumbled on a differnt set of reviews, or is Apple doing a little bit of editing to make sure the debate doesn't take place in its store?
March 1, 2006Is Microsoft "doing an Apple"?
Apple has long used the technique of hyping forthcoming events to create a media frenzy prior to major announcements - or sometimes not so major announcements.
Now Microsoft is playing the same game, with the launch of a website for its Origami Project that will, apparently "change your life".
No more details, but a promise that we'll know more tomorrow (March 2nd). Can't wait.
I wonder if it'll be the long-awaited chip implant that delivers entertainment directly to the brain, cutting out the need for any hardware or physical media as long as you are within wireless range and have up-to-date permissions registered with the authorities. Rumour has it that one of the schemes under consideration by the law enforcement agencies is to stop criminals listening to their favourite music until they become good citizens...