QuickLinks - Market
QuickLinks - Market
Issue no. 335 - 20 March 2005
- UK games industry 'needs support'
The video games industry in the UK is looking healthy but could do with more government support, according to a report by analysts Screen Digest.More software and games are being sold overseas than are imported, a good sign for the economy, said the report. It shows the interactive entertainment industry is doing financially better than film and television industries. The rising cost of making games has meant many studios have closed however, sending talent overseas. see also Interview with ELSPA's Roger Bennett (OfcomWatch).
Issue no. 333 - 2 March 2005
- PL - Battle Waged in Poland Over Control of a Telecom
(New York Times)
A dispute between major French and German companies over the ownership of a Polish mobile telephone company has led to new managers being barred from the building, and the loser in the dispute is demanding Polish prosecutors protect its interest. The loser in the Polish courts so far is the French company, Vivendi Universal. Vivendi said that it had filed a complaint under a 1989 agreement between Poland and France aimed at encouraging bilateral investment. Vivendi said Deutsche Telekom and Elektrim, a Polish utility, had conspired to take its stake in the telephone company, Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa, or P.T.C.
Issue no. 330 - 30 January 2005
- UK - Games firms 'face tough future'
UK video game firms face a testing time as they prepare for the next round of games consoles, the industry warns. Fred Hasson, head of Tiga, which represents independent developers, said that more UK firms would go under due to greater risks in making new titles. Three leading UK video game companies also predicted that more firms would close as they struggled to adapt. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are expected to release new consoles in the next 18 months. The new machines will all have much greater processing and graphical power which will have a huge impact on development of next generation games.
Issue no. 328 - 4 January 2005
- XXX, on a small screen near you
Playboy Enterprises has targeted the iPod Photo music player as a distribution channel for its soft-porn empire. The publisher has released iBod, a free download for iPod Photo users. The company billed it as the first wedge in a campaign to court mobile audiences, who increasingly tote photo-ready cell phones, MP3 players and other devices. However, the latest push for mobility promises to broach potentially incendiary issues over viewing titillating content in public.
Issue no. 326 - 5 December 2004
- IN - Mobile gaming takes off in India
Gaming on the move is one of the fastest-growing activities among the tech-savvy in India, says a report. In October, mobile phone users grew by 1.4 million to 44.9 million, overtaking the number of landlines, said the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Analysts say cheap rates and a huge youth market is driving the market.
Issue no. 325 - 28 November 2004
- UK - Music sees record album sales
UK record companies are celebrating their best ever year for album sales, with a record 237 million sold in the 12 months to September. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) trade body said albums by the likes of Keane and The Streets had helped drive a 3% rise compared with last year. It also said sales of single tracks were up thanks to the availability of legal download services.
Issue no. 322 - 17 October 2004
- New Google Service May Strain Old Ties in Bookselling
(New York Times)
Google Print, the new search engine that allows consumers to search the content of books online, could help touch off an important shift in the balance of power between companies that produce books and those that sell them. The new service would allow users of Google's main search engine to search simultaneously billions of Web pages and the texts of hundreds of thousands of books for information on a given subject. They search works by looking for words or phrases in the scanned digital images of the pages of books that publishers have provided to Google. For each book found, a user would see several pages of the book with the phrase or subject of the search highlighted. The page would also offer links to several online retailers, where the book could be bought. Publishers do not pay to participate in the program; rather, Google would make money from the service by selling advertising on the search pages, and it would share those revenues with the publishing companies.
Issue no. 320 - 25 September 2004
- Laptop D.J.'s Have a Feast
(The New York Times)
Plenty of music available online is not just free but also easily available, legal and - most important - worth hearing.
- Tracking device
Rip&Burn magazine that not only reviews albums but also tells readers which tracks are worth downloading so they don't need to buy the entire album. The magazine's editor Tom Dunmore is convinced the 16 to 30-year-old 'iPod generation' will push the 'stagnant' album market into irretrievable decline while reinvigorating the single track market, albeit through MP3 files rather than CDs.
Issue no. 318 - 5 September 2004
- U.S. telecom pain is world's gain
(Intenational Herald Tribune)
Billions of dollars worth of global telecommunications networks bought or built under U.S. direction and used to transport much of the world's Internet traffic now belong to Chinese, Indian and other non-U.S. companies that snapped them up for a small fraction of their original cost less than four years after the telecom bubble burst. The shift in the balance of power has both political and economic consequences.
- DE - Germans shun violent video games
Germans' reluctance to play violent video games and to spend much in a subdued consumer climate are proving stubborn obstacles to the growth of Europe's least-developed games market.
Issue no. 317 - 22 August 2004
- Google's IPO rollercoaster
After a series of mistakes and unforeseen problems, Google got its widely watched share offering back on track this week. But it has had to cut the price sharply, lopping billions off the company?s implied value. Were the internet-search firm's founders just a bit too greedy? Google makes most of its money from so-called sponsored links - discreet ads that come up with any search - and can do so because of its lead in search traffic and technology. But that lead is under threat.
Issue no. 316 - 1 August 2004
- Boom time for digital jukeboxes
Mobile music players are set to become the must-have gadget for music fans. A report predicts that people will buy more than 10 million players this year to listen to music while on the move. The buying frenzy is being driven by the success of Apple's iPod and the reams of copycat gadgets aiming to cash in on its popularity. The study by London-based Informa Media predicts that more than 21 million mobile music players will be in use around the world by the end of 2004.
- Give It Away and They'll Buy It
You can pay $25 for Lawrence Lessig's new book. Or you can download it for free. What's the catch? None, according to Lessig, who convinced Penguin Books that releasing Free Culture online actually would increase sales of hardcover copies. Which may be true: there have been more than 180,000 downloads and Penguin is on its third printing.
- US - Cybertourists in Boston
by Charles Cooper. When the Democrats extended credentials to bloggers to cover the party's national convention in Boston, I was left pleasantly stunned. With all the pageantry and the circus-like atmospherics that make up an American political convention, you couldn't ask for a better backdrop to show off blogging's potential. All the more disappointing, then, to report back that blogging blew its big chance in Beantown. Most of the blogging entries I have read ranged from the insufferably pedantic to the sublimely mediocre.
Issue no. 314 - 24 June 2004
- AOL quits enterprise IM game
America Online will no longer offer its instant-messenger software for businesses, t as the so-called enterprise IM segment appears better suited to more established applications vendors.
- Europe launch for Apple's iTunes
Apple's pioneering online music service iTunes has launched in the UK, Germany and France, offering more than 700,000 songs for 79p or 0.99 euros each. ITunes has proved enormously popular in the US, with about 85 million songs downloaded since launch in April 2003. see also Coke song site reacts to iTunes and Online 'penny jukebox' launched.
- Yahoo e-mail battles Google's Gmail
Internet giant Yahoo! is fortifying its free e-mail service with 25 times more storage and freeing up millions of previously claimed e-mail addresses in an effort to thwart a looming threat from its increasingly disruptive rival Google. All of Yahoo's free e-mail accounts will be upgraded to 100 megabytes, a move spurred by Google's plans to offer 1,000 megabytes of free storage through its Gmail service.
Issue no. 310 - 16 May 2004
- Microsoft refines image after EU ruling
(International Herald Tribune)
As Microsoft prepares its response to an adverse ruling from European antitrust regulators, the software powerhouse is stepping up efforts to portray itself as every consumer's best friend, rather than the bullying monopolist depicted in Brussels.
Issue no. 303 - 29 February 2004
- US - Women Tailor Sex Industry to Their Eyes
(New York Times)
Experts say demand by women - both heterosexual and lesbian - is driving the growth of all sorts of sex-related ventures, from stores, catalogs and sex toy companies to adult Web sites, pornographic films and cable television shows. At the same time, many women, they say, see the sex industry as a legitimate place to make a living.
Issue no. 302 - 15 February 2004
- Microsoft to protect Disney films
Disney has joined forces with Microsoft to start selling its movies over the net later this year. The venerable animation studio has signed up to use Microsoft software to stop its films being pirated. The deal reflects Microsoft desire to establish a foothold in the home entertainment market. For its part, Disney sees the potential for selling movies via the net but it is also worried about the potential for its creations to be pirated once it makes them available for download. The deal with Microsoft will wrap the software giant's Digital Rights Management (DRM) system around the media being made available to stop it being illegally copied.
- US - Comcast Makes Mega-Bid for Disney
Comcast launched an unsolicited bid to take over the Walt Disney Co., offering $56 billion in stock to gain control of the legendary entertainment conglomerate that owns the ABC television network, ESPN sports channel and such global icons as Mickey Mouse. A merger would elevate the nation's largest cable television firm to the ranks of industry giants such as Time Warner and News Corp. - entertainment behemoths that own movie studios, television networks and the means to distribute programming over cables or satellites. see also An Audacious Attempt at Media Giant Status and The Mouse That Reeled.
Issue no. 301 - 8 February 2004
- File-swappers 'should be paid'
Rather than being hit by lawsuits, file-sharers should be paid for converting their collections to legal formats, according to an industry trade group. Internet users could collect paychecks rather than lawsuits when they share music through 'peer-to-peer' networks like Kazaa, under a proposal outlined by an industry trade group, the Distributed Computing Industry Association.
- The Pornography Industry vs. Digital Pirates
(New York Times)
Let the music industry sue those who share files, and let Hollywood push for tough laws and regulations to curb movie copying. Playboy, like many companies that provide access to virtual flesh and naughtiness, is turning online freeloaders into subscribers by giving away pictures to other sites that, in turn, drive visitors right back to Playboy.com.
- TV-style adverts arrive on web
Net users may have to get used to watching TV ads between web pages, if trials currently under way on high profile websites are successful. The new video ads are being tested on 15 sites over the next five weeks. They are the result of a collaboration between online ad developers, Unicast, and software giant, Microsoft. But though users may find them annoying, they could ultimately reduce the overall number of web advertisements in the long term. [Ed: interesting reader feedback]
Issue no. 298 - 18 January 2004
- Women put off by gadget shopping
A new generation of tech-savvy women is emerging but they are still being treated like idiots when it comes to selling gadgets, say experts. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, delegates heard that women needed to be treated with respect by the companies selling products like digital cameras or MP3 players. The technology industry is anxious to tap into the female consumer, as women hold the purse strings for more than $50 billion in gadget spending in the US.
Issue no. 296 - 4 January 2004
- US - A wary eye on sites for music sharing
(New York Times)
The last year has seen an explosion of pay music-downloading services. Some have been successes, like Apple's iTunes Music Store, with 1.5 million downloads a week. Others, like BuyMusic, are plagued by complaints from users. But there is another site that has iTunes Music Store and BuyMusic beat: Easy Music Download, which has a greater profit margin than iTunes Music Store and probably a greater percentage of dissatisfied users than BuyMusic.
- UK - Digital radios are Christmas hit
Tens of thousands of digital radios have been sold in the UK in the last few weeks, as retailers find them one of their biggest Christmas hits. The Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) said they were 'absolutely astounded' at sales. A spokeswoman said many retailers were reporting the radios to be their most popular gift, and some could not keep up with demand.
- UK - Family history gets online boost
The full register of every birth, death and marriage in England and Wales since 1837 has been put online to help genealogists trace family ties. The searchable online register brings together data that was previously spread across several different offices and family record centres.
- US - For the Ex-Buccaneer, a Pillage-Free Playlist
(New York Times)
It was time to go legit. No more pirated music for us. We decided to test two services: the iTunes Music Store from Apple Computer, and Rhapsody, from RealNetworks.
Issue no. 294 - 14 December 2003
- CN - Cybererotik in China gefragt
Das SMS-Geschäft in China boomt: Die im Nasdaq ablesbaren Aktienkurse der drei chinesischen Megaportale Sina.com, Sohu.com und Netease.com befinden sich im Höhenflug. Grund dafür sind die hohen Einnahmen aus dem SMS-Geschäft. Mit ihren überaus erfolgreichen SMS-Allianzen haben die großen Service Provider ein 'Erotik-Netz' in nie gekannter Weise in China aufgebaut.
- JenniCam to go dark after 7 years
One of the darlings of the Web and a pioneer of electronic exhibitionism - Jenni of JenniCam fame - is turning off the lights after seven years. Jennifer Ringley, 27, became a quasi-celebrity when she installed video cameras in her room at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania in April 1996 and launched JenniCam.org. Over the years the cameras have followed the redhead's every movement 24 hours a day. Now, her Web site has a notice saying it will be closing on Dec. 31. While Ringley did not provide a reason on the site or respond to an e-mail query, it appears that her undressing may be her undoing. A spokeswoman at online payment company PayPal confirmed that they were closing her account because the frontal nudity on her Web site violates the company's acceptable use policy.
- KR - Computer games - Invaders from the land of broadband
Could South Korea hold the key to the next generation of online computer games?
- UK - Is that a real horse?
An early driving force in the success of digital television has been live sport, and the industry believes the next big driver will be interactive TV betting. A marriage of the two seems to have been made in heaven. But decent live sport is expensive and not easily acquired, so why not make it up? On Sky Digital, a new channel called iSportsTV is now screening the world's first virtual interactive TV horse racing programme. You see the race track, and the crowd, you see the start and the finish, you hear the thundering hooves. And you can gamble to your heart's content. It seems real but it's all made-up: the horses, the stands, the race - it's all created by a fancy computer programme.
Issue no. 293 - 7 December 2003
- Kind of blue
Can porn really be acceptable? A new website thinks it can.
- NL - Erotica to disappear from Dutch TV
Following the lead of commercial television broadcaster SBS, competitor RTL 5 will also abandon its "erotica" programmes, signalling the end to the soft porn era on Dutch free-to-air TV.
- Porn In The U.S.A.
Selling sex is one of the oldest businesses in the world, and right now, business has never been better. One of the biggest cultural changes in the United States over the past 25 years has been the widespread acceptance of sexuality explicit material - pornography. In the space of a generation, a product that once was available in the back alleys of big cities has gone corporate, delivered now directly into homes and hotel rooms by some of the biggest companies in the U.S.
- UK - Hi-tech jukeboxes set to revolutionise pub music
Internet terminals offering instant access to more than two million songs are to be installed in pubs across the country as part of a plan to stop jukeboxes becoming obsolete. Each year pubs scrap more than 1,000 jukeboxes as they become less popular with customers.
- Yahoo back in X-rated business
(San Franciso Chronicle)
Yahoo, which removed adult products and banner ads from its U.S. Web portal in 2001 after protests by conservative groups, is back in the pornography business. With the acquisition of Overture Services, Yahoo is now selling ads to a range of hard-core Web sites. Those ads appear on two search engines Yahoo acquired as part of the Overture deal - AltaVista and AlltheWeb.com.
Issue no. 292 - 23 November 2003
- Online movies promised by 2005
Top Hollywood executive Jack Valenti has said technological developments could mean newly released films being available online by 2005. The Motion Picture Association Of America chief said issues of secure delivery were almost resolved. Valenti said films should go straight from big screen to internet well before rental release on DVD and video. However, the film business had no plans to follow the music industry in suing pirates, Valenti added.
Issue no. 290 - 9 November 2003
- Music-industry mergers
Sony and Bertelsmann have unveiled plans to merge their music subsidiaries, creating a company that would have a quarter of the world market for recorded music. Competition authorities have frowned on such deals in the past, but the prevalence of piracy may persuade them this time. See also Bertelsmann deal with Sony responds to plummeting sales (IHT);
Issue no. 288 - 19 October 2003
- NL - Athletes show naked ambition
Female Dutch athletes are baring all on a pay-per-view website to fund training abroad during the winter after cuts in subsidies left them in the cold. Around 250 photos of six women are on the site, which received almost 2m hits on Monday alone. All the proceeds go to the women, who expect to earn about 1,000 euro (£700) each to put towards travel and training costs.
- UK - BT promotes broadband for gaming
BT is throwing its weight behind online gaming in an attempt to encourage more people to switch to broadband. It has joined forces with gaming giants Sony and Microsoft to offer a combined router/modem and broadband package for console gamers.
Issue no. 287 - 11 October 2003
- Lawrence Lessig: The BBC's lessons for America
Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC, announced that the broadcaster would make the contents of its vast archive available to the public so long as any re-use of that content was for non-commercial purposes. (Commercial re-users will have to strike their own deal.) The BBC Creative Archive would enable the British to cultivate this national resource - for which they have already paid - for educational, critical or comedic purposes. The very structure will also make it much more likely that commercial creators will be able to identify content valuable to them, and then license that content from the BBC. The idea is a brilliant response to the extraordinary explosion of creative capacity enabled by digital technologies, in light of the BBC's founding mission - as Lord Reith put it - to 'inform, educate and entertain'.
Issue no. 285 - 28 September 2003
Issue no. 284 - 21 September 2003
- No More 'AOL' for Time Warner
AOL Time Warner plans to drop "AOL" from its name, symbolizing the giant media company's effort to put the failings of the biggest merger in history behind it and begin a new phase of its corporate identity.
Issue no. 283 - 14 September 2003
- AOL Europe emerges as a bright spot
(New York Times)
AOL Europe is emerging as an upbeat counterpoint to AOL's sagging business in the United States. In the past two and a half years, AOL Europe has more than doubled its subscribers to 6.2 million and nearly doubled its revenue to about $1.4 billion. The European service has gradually cut its costs and its losses, and in its latest quarter it finally broke even.
- Blogger bucks premium-services trend
Google-owned Web log-creation site Blogger is eliminating its paid version and folding premium functions into its free service, bucking a trend toward making people pay for Web site extras. The creation of Blogger Pro, which cost subscribers a yearly fee of $35, came about as a result of financial necessity, Blogger co-founder Evan Williams wrote in an e-mail to subscribers. Now that Google owns the service, that need has passed. Google said it would give Blogger Pro subscribers either a $24 Blogger sweatshirt or a prorated cash refund. [Ed: I chose the sweatshirt].
- UK - Dial up for BBC comedy clips
Comedy lovers in the UK will soon be able to watch classic sketches such as Basil beating Manuel with a spoon in Fawlty Towers on their mobile phones. Favourite moments from BBC comedy shows will be made available for download in a deal with the Vodafone network. This is the first such deal for the BBC and BBC Worldwide expects it to grow rapidly. Eight 30-second clips from Fawlty Towers will be offered initially, with other shows expected to follow shortly. The deal was made possible after the show's star, writers and other rights holders agreed to it.
Issue no. 282 - 7 September 2003
- Of monkeys and penguins
Darl McBride, capitalist crusader against the commie horde of Linux users. The SCO case of 2003 sounds increasingly like the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, which pitted religious fundamentalists against progressives wanting to teach Darwin alongside the Bible in American classrooms. The SCO case plays the same role in a culture war now consuming the software industry.
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