QuickLinks - Market
Issue no. 246 - 29 September 2002
- Yahoo launches video game service
In its latest move to generate revenue outside online advertising, Internet portal Yahoo! launched a fee-based service that lets users download and play video games on demand.
Issue no. 245 - 15 September 2002
- Game over for web-based cheaters
Blizzard Entertainment has dropped more than 14,000 players from the online version of its Warcraft III game after catching them cheating.
- IM giants told to work it out
Six top financial institutions have met privately with AOL Time Warner, Microsoft, IBM and other leading corporate instant messaging providers and urged them to build communications networks that interoperate. For the Wall Street firms, a lack of IM interoperability has been a source of increasing frustration and a possible pinch on profits.
- Porn company offers to buy Napster
Private Media Group, a publicly traded adult entertainment site based in Spain, has made an offer to acquire the assets of defunct song-swapping site Napster. Private Media said it plans to use the Napster trademark to offer millions of adults worldwide the ability to swap adult-oriented content for free and to also gain access to "top quality" content at a reasonable price. Private Media claims to own the largest library of adult-oriented content in the world, with global copyrights to the content.
Issue no. 244 - 7 September 2002
- Bertelsmann untangles itself from the web
German group Bertelsmann is to become the latest media giant to retreat from the internet as it looks to sell its online book retailer Bol.com and pull the plug on the Napster music service. The company is in talks to sell the Bol.com network of sites to e-tailing giant Amazon. see also Gütersloh goes off line (Guardian) and Bertelsmann may dump Web units (News.com).
- FR - Cyberpreuve accuse La Poste de «stratégie de contrefaçon»
La Poste a annoncé le lancement pour novembre 2002 d'un service de lettre recommandée électronique. Un tel service est déjà proposé par la société Cyberpreuve, via son site Lettrerecommandée.com, depuis début 2001. Cyberpreuve accuse La Poste de mener «une stratégie de contrefaçon».
- Subscription music sites hit sour note
Free music-swapping services continue to attract millions of new users despite the recording industry's legal efforts to shutter them, and few consumers are even aware of the handful of pay sites that have emerged over the last year. That's unlikely to change -- unless the new sites begin to offer compelling, innovative features that set them apart from the free networks, consumers and analysts say.
Issue no. 243 - 31 August 2002
- A New Model for AOL May Influence Cable's Future
(New York Times)
The agreement between AOL Time Warner and Comcast for AT&T Comcast cable television to distribute the America Online Internet service could now create the same kind of era-defining shift in cable television that satellites did. And for the media industry, the big question is which sorts of companies can benefit most from this transition - the companies that operate the cable systems, or the ones that provide the "content."
- Online gaming war heats up
Microsoft and Sony announced fresh price cuts for their video games consoles in Europe, adding fuel to an already contentious battle for market share.
Issue no. 242 - 30 July 2002
- Bertelsmann to review operations
Bertelsmann, the German media group, plans a fundamental review of its publishing, entertainment and media operations following the abrupt departure of Thomas Middelhoff, its chief executive. Gunter Thielen, the new chairman and chief executive, has ordered the review following a sharp fall in the profitability of units including Random House and the BMG music operations. Random House, BMG and DirectGroup, Bertelsmann's book club business, have all incurred significant losses in the past year. It is understood that Bertelsmann could reconsider its ownership of several US operations including Napster, the internet music service, and US magazines at Gruner Jahr, its magazine publishing arm.
- Bertelsmann's Middelhoff forced out
Thomas Middelhoff, the chief executive of Bertelsmann, a privately-held German media conglomerate, has been forced out after a boardroom battle. The board disagreed with his plan to take the company public by 2005. Following the departure of Jean-Marie Messier from Vivendi and Bob Pittman from AOL Time Warner, Mr Middelhoff’s ouster is further proof that the much-vaunted convergence between old media and the Internet has yet to pay off.
- Hotmail policy drives users to tears
As part of a series of new storage policies aimed at driving more people toward its paid services, Microsoft has instituted a plan to delete sent Hotmail messages that are more than 30 days old.
- Napster Future Seen Bleak After Bertelsmann Move
Napster just lost a good friend and its biggest supporter at the parent company that's been keeping it afloat. With the resignation of Thomas Middelhoff as chief executive of Bertelsmann AG, the future looks even bleaker for the debt-riddled and lawsuit-plagued music file swapping company.
Issue no. 241 - 24 July 2002
- AOL Absorbed by the Media Giant It Took Over
AOL Time Warner Inc. is being genetically reverse-engineered to bear Time Warner markers. It is a remarkable arc for AOL. In a little over a decade, the company has gone from just another Internet service provider to a chest-beating goliath with a stock price lofty enough to fuel the takeover of a massive media company, back to an Internet service provider with declining advertising revenue and slowing growth in subscriptions.
- FR - Vivendi to break up Canal Plus pay TV
Vivendi Universal is dumping the loss-making overseas operations of its Canal Plus pay TV subsidiary as it bids to stave off a multibillion pound credit crunch. The French-American media giant is to sell off the foreign units of Canal Plus, including the underperforming Telepiu in Italy and TV services in Spain and Poland.
- US - WorldCom files for bankruptcy protection
WorldCom on Sunday filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the largest U.S. insolvency after the long-distance telephone and data services company buckled under a $3.85 billion accounting scandal and a mountain of "junk-rated" debt. see also WorldCom’s bankruptcy mess (Economist)
Issue no. 240 - 14 July 2002
- Multiplayer Game Servers Provide Worlds of Fun
(New York Times)
Although online games have been around for decades, these are definitely boom years. So-called massively multiplayer online games - those capable of supporting thousands of players at once - are one of the fastest-growing segments of the $10.8 billion electronic game industry.
- The trees fight back - Should old media embrace blogging?
Back in the mists of early Internet history, online publishing was going to wrest power from the inky fingers of old media groups and put it in the hands of ordinary people. Well, it never happened. Yet just when old media began to feel smug again about its old-fashioned paper-based products, weblogging (known as blogging) happened. The question for the big media world is whether to embrace the phenomenon that, in part, claims to undermine it.
Issue no. 239 - 30 June 2002
- US - WorldCom - The scandal that nobody saw coming
It took a routine internal audit to uncover one of the biggest suspected corporate frauds ever perpetrated. But just why billions of dollars of suspect costs had gone unnoticed before is something that will hang over WorldCom, its auditors Arthur Andersen, and some of Wall Street's most prominent banks for a long time to come. The scandal that could sink one of the world's biggest telecommunications companies came to a head last weekend, after an internal auditor employed by WorldCom had discovered something strange, according to the company.
- Video games set for record sales
The video games industry is on track for a record year in 2002, with global sales projected to increase by 12 percent to $31bn (£20bn), according to a new report by research firm Informa Media Group. Meanwhile, sales in the nascent categories of online, mobile phone and interactive television games is expected to double this year and are expected to rise to 54 percent by 2010, the group added.
Issue no. 236 - 8 June 2002
- TiVo Town or Sonicblue City?
The battle is not yet fierce, but the warning signs are clear. There's a new product war on the horizon, one that could make the Cola War and the Browser War look like mere playground scuffles. Call it the DVR War, the battle over which company -- TiVo or Sonicblue, the maker of the ReplayTV - will come to dominate the future of digital video recorders, and, perhaps, the future of TV.
- DE - Deutsche Post verabschiedet sich von Online-Plänen
Die Deutsche Post wird wegen der schwierigen Marktlage ihr Online-Geschäft aufgeben oder neu ordnen. Die Deutsche Post Signtrust werde aufgelöst. Dies bedeutet einen herben Rückschlag für die digitale Signatur, denn damit verschwindet eines der größten bei der Regulierungsbehörde akkreditierten Trustcenter für qualifizierte Signaturen.siehe auch Deutschland verspielt Vorsprung bei digitaler Signatur.
- Europe - Broadband competition 'a myth'
Broadband take-up is increasing rapidly in Europe but it remains in the hands of a few dominant telecoms companies. According to analyst firm IDC, the rise of high-speed internet services is down to aggressive marketing campaigns from incumbent operators such as BT rather than a competitive environment.
- Game publishers not rushing online
Online gaming via consoles may well revolutionize the game industry and the Internet - just don’t hold your breath.
- Online Game Players Don't Want to Pay - Report
Less than 10 percent of those who play video games online would be willing to pay a fee for the privilege, according to a survey, causing a potential setback to the ambitious plans for subscription services being developed by game makers.
- UK - Working the web: BBC
TV licence fees pay for it, so is the BBC's website worth the £60m spent on it every year?
- US - Army lures youths with video games
The U.S. Army, realizing that American youth would rather play video games than do push-ups in the mud, was set to unveil games designed to appeal to a media-saturated, tech-bombarded generation.
- World Cup wins over the web
Time differences could make this the web's best World Cup, with fans going online to get news, pictures and - for the first time - video clips while at work or on the move, rather than waiting for the evening's TV roundups. But the web will not be the only new media offering, and will have to compete with SMS messages to mobile phones and other news sources.
- Yahoo shuts European auction sites
Internet company Yahoo will close down its unprofitable auction sites in six European countries within the next few months, and rely instead on a marketing deal with rival online auction company, Ebay.
Issue no. 235 - 20 May 2002
- Bertelsmann buys Napster's assets for $8m
Bertelsmann, the German media group, in a surprise move will acquire the assets of Napster, the online music swapping service. It will pay $8m for the brand and products and also waive $85m worth of loans to Napster, which will file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. see also Napster nears bankruptcy filing as Fanning quits (FT).
- RealNames Going Under, Keywords And All
RealNames, one of the firms that pioneered the keyword approach to Internet addressing, will go out of business and as a result thousands of Internet keywords will go dark before the end of June. Triggering the shutdown was a decision by Microsoft, which allows keywords to resolve in its popular Internet Explorer Web browser, not to renew its exclusive contract with RealNames.
- UK - Freeserve deal sees NTL open broadband network
NTL became the first UK cable company to open its broadband network to rival internet service providers in a deal with Freeserve, the France Telecom-controlled ISP. Freeserve customers, who use standard internet access via phone lines, will be free to buy much faster access from NTL provided they swap their BT accounts for cable telephony.
Issue no. 234 - 11 May 2002
- Deutschland - KirchPayTV beantragt Insolvenz
Die KirchPayTV hat beim Amtsgericht München Antrag auf Eröffnung eines Insolvenzverfahrens gestellt. Der Pay-TV-Anbieter Premiere sendet ohne Einschränkungen weiter.
- USA - Jupiter Analyst, RIAA Trade Barbs Over P2P Findings
The industry group representing the five major music labels this week blasted a Jupiter Media Metrix report on peer-to-peer file sharing, issuing its own data to "refute" Jupiter's conclusion that Internet song-swapping, on balance, is good for the music industry.
Issue no. 233 - 4 May 2002
- E-Publishing-Revolte in der Wissenschaft
Immer mehr Wissenschaftler reagieren mit "zivilem Ungehorsam" auf die restriktiven Praktiken zahlreicher Fachverlage, die von Autoren verstärkt die Abtretung aller Rechte und satte Gebühren von den auf Publikationen angewiesenen Forschern verlangen.
- France - Vivendi considers purge of internet activities
Jean-Marie Messier, chief executive of Vivendi Universal, is contemplating a purge of the French media group's cash-burning internet activities that could lead to it abandoning the Vizzavi portal it co-owns with Vodafone.
- Korea - Govt Backs Net Gaming Industry
The Korean government has earmarked an additional $14 million in support of the nation's growing Internet gaming industry, its latest direct investment in Korea's online development. Korea's Ministry of Information and Communication has earmarked $11 million toward the further development of Net gaming technologies, including 3-D game engines. A further $3 million will support the training of online game specialists, a project to combat online game addiction and industry regulatory support
- Nintendo to unveil GameCube online service
Video game company Nintendo, the only console maker without a strategy for online game play, will unveil plans for Internet-based services for the GameCube at a key industry trade show later this month, an industry source.
- Porn 'dinosaurs' being killed off by the internet
Uncensored pornography cheaply available on the internet is seriously damaging the sales of America's best known soft porn magazines such as Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler and Screw.
- UK - Final curtain comes down on ITV Digital
The death knell for ITV Digital sounded on the morning of 1 May when the pay-TV company's premium channels started to be taken off the air. ITV Digital's 1.2m customers lost their subscription service after Nick Dargan, the administrator, admitted he had been unable to find a buyer for the company's assets. see also Sad day for staff as digital dream is over and Editorial comment: ITV monkeys (FT).
- UK - FT.com to charge users
The Financial Times has announced details of a subscription service for its FT.com Web site, which it expects to break-even by the end of this year. The newspaper will charge £75 a year for full access to its five-year news database, a new search engine and archives of the widely read daily financial comment Lex.
Issue no. 232 - 28 April 2002
- UK - ITV Digital faces final whistle
The last rites were read over ITV Digital yesterday when administrators to the ailing pay TV business admitted it had finally run out of cash and would be broken up unless a last-minute buyer came forward. The expected collapse is likely to trigger a £500m legal claim by the Football League, which is owed £178.5m by ITV Digital in settlement of a three-year broadcasting contract. see alos UK - ITV Digital for immediate sale (FT), Jowell defends digital plans (Guardian)
The culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, has sought to play down the impact of ITV Digital's collapse, insisting that digital terrestrial TV will continue and giving no indication she expects the target date for analogue TV switch-off to change. Ms Jowell said today the demise of ITV Digital was "a failure of a company, not of a technology", in a statement to the House of Commons. see Tessa Jowell's Commons speech on ITV Digital.
- USA - AOL struggles with broadband plan
(Wall Street Journal)
AOL Time Warner, whose online service is struggling to hold on to customers who want high-speed Internet access, is rethinking its cornerstone strategy of promoting such broadband access nationwide. The move calls into doubt one of the main goals of the merger that brought the Internet and media colossus into existence.
- USA - VeriSign Lays Off 350; Posts Loss
Internet addressing giant VeriSign Inc. yesterday laid off 350 employees, about 10 percent of its workforce, in a restructuring move prompted in part by disappointing first-quarter financial results.
Issue no. 231 - 14 April 2002
- Luxembourg - Cegecom launches voice and ADSL services
Local loop competition at last for ADSL services. The operator allows the user to perform the installation himself, a major cost saver on installation costs.. Customers can subscribe directly to Cegecom or keep their EPT subscription and have called routed automatically to Cegecom network.
- Microsoft abandons Hailstorm platform
Microsoft has abandoned its Hailstorm or "My Services" platform because of privacy and security risks inherent in centralized storage of personal information. Additionally, Microsoft was unable to find partner companies that were willing to use the Hailstorm system for collecting information on consumers. Now, Microsoft plans to sell Hailstorm to individual companies, allowing decentralized building of "data centers." see also Microsoft Has Shelved Its Internet 'Persona' Service (New York Times), Microsoft Puts Hailstorm's 'My Services' on Hold (Newsfactor) and Microsoft ends .Net linchpin (MSNBC).
- Penthouse bankruptcy looms
Thirty seven years after it was launched in London as a raunchy competitor to Playboy, Penthouse magazine's survival is up in the air. The rapid spread of internet porn and of porn movies on video and DVD have sent the magazine's circulation into a tailspin, from five million copies a month at its peak to just 650,000.
- Rising Costs of Free Web E-Mail
For all their imperfections, free e-mail services have become hugely popular for the obvious reason that they cost nothing. That main reason for sticking with the free mailers is quickly vanishing, though, as Yahoo and Hotmail, the two largest free e-mail services, have started to not-so-gently nudge users to pay for "premium" features.
- USA - Authors Guild Urges Members To Drop Amazon Links
The Authors Guild wants members to remove links from their Web sites to Amazon.com, claiming the online retailer's used book service is hurting authors and publishers. The Authors Guild said Amazon.com tries to divert potential new book buyers into its used-book marketplace with ads for second-hand books accompanying each title's entry on the site. see also previous complaint (Authors Guild), Wired and New York Times.
Issue no. 230 - 7 April 2002
- Europe - Level media playing field
Editorial comment. Q: What is the link between David Beckham's pay and a reclusive Bavarian media mogul? A: They are symptoms of a crisis in the worlds of broadcasting and sport that is threatening to ruin football clubs and TV providers alike - and to redraw the map of media ownership in Europe.
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