Is there a Kindle in your future?

Picture of the Kindle from Amazon’s page.Remember, people scoffed at the first iPod, $500 for an MP3 player. They ridiculed the video iPod- “Who is going to watch a movie on that small screen, and pay $1.99 for a tv show I could watch the night before for free- puhlleeezeeeeee”

Well, we know what happened there. And remember, Apple wasn’t the first mover.

Today the news broke on the Kindle, Amazons entry into e-readers. E-readers haven’t exactly taken off, but then again- Sony has been hitting a bunch of singles lately, and they are behind the most successful e-book to date.

Amazon has taken the e-book to a new level, with constant connectivity via the Sprint high speed cell network, but, there are some hidden gotcha’s that make this book worth passing on – mostly, the fact that Amazon wants to charge you to upload your own data, or to subscribe to blogs. Eh, better luck next time.

Here is a brief description of the reader from the lengthy Newsweek article, which is well worth reading:

Amazon: Reinventing the Book | Newsweek.com
First, it must project an aura of bookishness; it should be less of a whizzy gizmo than an austere vessel of culture. Therefore the Kindle (named to evoke the crackling ignition of knowledge) has the dimensions of a paperback, with a tapering of its width that emulates the bulge toward a book’s binding. It weighs but 10.3 ounces, and unlike a laptop computer it does not run hot or make intrusive beeps. A reading device must be sharp and durable, Bezos says, and with the use of E Ink, a breakthrough technology of several years ago that mimes the clarity of a printed book, the Kindle’s six-inch screen posts readable pages. The battery has to last for a while, he adds, since there’s nothing sadder than a book you can’t read because of electile dysfunction. (The Kindle gets as many as 30 hours of reading on a charge, and recharges in two hours.) And, to soothe the anxieties of print-culture stalwarts, in sleep mode the Kindle displays retro images of ancient texts, early printing presses and beloved authors like Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen.

But then comes the features that your mom’s copy of “Gone With the Wind” can’t match. E-book devices like the Kindle allow you to change the font size: aging baby boomers will appreciate that every book can instantly be a large-type edition. The handheld device can also hold several shelves’ worth of books: 200 of them onboard, hundreds more on a memory card and a limitless amount in virtual library stacks maintained by Amazon. Also, the Kindle allows you to search within the book for a phrase or name.

My bet would still be on Apple- with a tablet style iPod Touch, or tablet Mac. Combined with the iTunes store, you have an integration that’s already proven- plus an Apple device would be able to play video- a key media tool that can’t be ignored. And hopefully, Apple won’t try to gouge you on uploading your own content- after all, it’s an Open Source world- shouldn’t you be able to upload anything you want that’s yours to your own device without paying the piper?

The big question is when does this device become cheap enough that it becomes cheaper for a newspaper to give you a reader instead of a printed newspaper? When does your choice of reading materials start serving up targeted ads? Amazon will have suggestions, no doubt- but, how will this help their partners move the sales needle?

Watch and see?

In the mean time- what do you think? And, do you want one? Even if it is butt-fugly?

Who needs Television Networks anymore?

We’ve been predicting the end of the Network television since the earliest days of high-speed internet access. Now, some content producers are starting to realize they don’t need the airwaves for access either:

Mininova Closes Distribution Deal for TV-Show | TorrentFreak
The “old media” is slowly realizing that BitTorrent is a great distribution platform, and above all, an excellent marketing tool. Today, The Red Band Film Company and Mininova announce the first official deal to distribute a TV-show on the popular BitTorrent site.

The immense popularity of TV-shows on BitTorrent doesn’t go unnoticed, not even to TV-producers. Several TV-production companies already leaked their pilots on BitTorrent, but Red Band and Mininova take it one step further.

Mininova and Red Band made a distribution deal for the upcoming TV-show Pariah Island, a new comedy series which parodies reality TV shows like “Survivor” or “Pirate Master”. Although Red Band can’t be compared to billion dollar production studios such as 20th Century Fox Television and Warner Bros., it is a sign that times are changing and that TV-producers are looking for alternative distribution channels.

“We at Red Band recognize that downloading sites such as Mininova are a distribution medium, one which can be partnered with in a true participatory arrangement,” says the Red Band production team.

The Red Band team adds: “With this deal, Mininova gets overnight credibility as a partner of content producers, thereby disproving the notion that such sites are “pirates” seeking only to break copyrights. Mininova gets producer credit on Pariah Island, and their logo will eventually appear on Pariah Island. In exchange, Pariah Island gets advertising space and other promotional activities on Mininova.org.”

Erik, one of the founders of Mininova told TorrentFreak that the partnership will show that Mininova is more than a venue for pirated material, and hopes that more production companies will choose Mininova as a distribution platform in the future…

Would David Chase launch the Sopranos on BitTorrent? Probably not, unless he had major sponsorship (yes, we’re headed back to the day of “Soap Operas”- sponsor driven programming). Apple’s iTunes store is a more likely outlet, but this space is still in a shoot-out phase with Amazon, the networks and the billion pound Google gorilla in the corner.

If there is one player who dropped the ball- it was TiVo who had first mover opportunity- by having a user profile, a hard drive to store programs but no true Internet connection until recently. With the iPhone being Time’s gadget of the year, don’t count Apple out as becoming the leader in IPTV- and marketing targeting.

The end of the Network is near, we just don’t know exactly how the story will end.

Jan 2018 update : Mininova flamed out in April of 2017. However, there are plenty of new ways to distribute your own content- and be paid. YouTube has turned even mediocre content providers into viable businesses.

If Google is "The Force" which side is it working for?

The Big Ad Agencies used to be afraid of Google because they didn’t understand it, the web, or the future of advertising. When all of a sudden, advertisers started pulling money out of the media budget and spending it with Google it terrified them. So they all went and bought up “new media” shops- and still created sites that didn’t work with Google any better than, well you know those braille buttons on the drive-up ATM?

So when Google starts raiding the big agencies for top talent, their worst nightmare begins to come true: the $9 billion dollar gorilla now is quietly sneaking over from media to marketing partner.

Ogilvy N.Y.’s Berndt to Join Google
Berndt, who resigned from Ogilvy this week, will become the managing director of Google Creative Lab, according to a Google representative. In the newly created position, Berndt will lead the marketing of Google’s brand and services. He will also work with agencies to integrate Google products into campaigns.

The move comes as Google looks to expand its relationships with large brand advertisers. After initially offering only simple text links overwhelmingly geared to direct-response marketers, Google has added graphical and video ads more often used by brands.

The thing is- of all the people to hire, Google picks someone from an agency that still can’t get it’s own clients spots online in a way that customers can find them. I met Andy at the 2007 AAF National Convention- nice guy, super cool presentation of the new Fanta work- but, if you went to the Ogilvy site – or the Fanta site- or anywhere- you couldn’t find the campaign except for a lone spot posted by PSYOPS who did the animation. The big agencies have a long way to go to learn how to monetize advertising that works by earned attention instead of paid placement.

Maybe, Andy will be the new evangelist for the power of Google when used right- then again, he may be working for the dark side now… depending on your viewpoint.

One things for sure, no agency will ever have a bankroll like Google.

If Google is “The Force” which side is it working for?

The Big Ad Agencies used to be afraid of Google because they didn’t understand it, the web, or the future of advertising. When all of a sudden, advertisers started pulling money out of the media budget and spending it with Google it terrified them. So they all went and bought up “new media” shops- and still created sites that didn’t work with Google any better than, well you know those braille buttons on the drive-up ATM?

So when Google starts raiding the big agencies for top talent, their worst nightmare begins to come true: the $9 billion dollar gorilla now is quietly sneaking over from media to marketing partner.

Ogilvy N.Y.’s Berndt to Join Google
Berndt, who resigned from Ogilvy this week, will become the managing director of Google Creative Lab, according to a Google representative. In the newly created position, Berndt will lead the marketing of Google’s brand and services. He will also work with agencies to integrate Google products into campaigns.

The move comes as Google looks to expand its relationships with large brand advertisers. After initially offering only simple text links overwhelmingly geared to direct-response marketers, Google has added graphical and video ads more often used by brands.

The thing is- of all the people to hire, Google picks someone from an agency that still can’t get it’s own clients spots online in a way that customers can find them. I met Andy at the 2007 AAF National Convention- nice guy, super cool presentation of the new Fanta work- but, if you went to the Ogilvy site – or the Fanta site- or anywhere- you couldn’t find the campaign except for a lone spot posted by PSYOPS who did the animation. The big agencies have a long way to go to learn how to monetize advertising that works by earned attention instead of paid placement.

Maybe, Andy will be the new evangelist for the power of Google when used right- then again, he may be working for the dark side now… depending on your viewpoint.

One things for sure, no agency will ever have a bankroll like Google.

Broadcasters are lost when it comes to IPTV

Apparently the folks who run broadcast networks flunked business 101. Can you imagine book publishers not selling their wares through Amazon and Borders and Barnes and Nobel at the same time? Of course not.

Sure, Networks can sell their programming direct, but, that’s not the point- especially since they will be out of business in the next three years if they don’t adapt to the new realities.

NBC made this super stupid move today:

NBC Cancels Apple iTunes TV Show Deal – TVWeek – News
NBC Universal wont renew its agreement with Apples iTunes to carry NBCU shows on the download service, sparking retail retaliation from the computer giant.

NBCU wont pull its existing content from iTunes until its current two-year deal expires in December. But in response to NBCU”s decision, Apple today said it would not make NBCs new fall TV shows available for download from iTunes.

Its a blow to both Apple and consumers. According to Apple, NBC supplied iTunes with three of its 10 best-selling TV shows last season, accounting for 30 percent of iTunes TV show sales.

It’s not about the networks anymore- it’s about delivering content to a diverse and varied and increasingly fickle audience- as efficiently as possible and monetizing it any way you can. The iTunes store is one of the most convenient online storefronts using the best technology. Most network sites have had problems with cross-platform delivery, consistent transfers and poor models for monetization. With Apple leading the market with over 70% of the portable digital devices- it’s a market that networks shouldn’t risk alienating.

The iTunes store also includes web 2.0 community functions- something that the networks have been slow to grasp. The market is moving to open source, open platforms- and all NBC is risking is ticking off their existing client base.

Stay tuned in- or should I say clicked in. This is only the beginning of the end of the Networks.

Advertising personalization and TV over IP

Recently, I decided to take a look at the CBS show, Jericho, which was slated to be dropped, but was reinstated by fan support.

First stop was the free version of the pilot on the iTunes store. Perfect download, no problem watching and controls that actually worked. Plus I could watch it on my iPhone.

Next stop, CBS.com where I thought I’d be able to watch it on my mac. No such luck- since CBS engineered their site with the “RealPlayer” which has been referred to as one of the worst pieces of software ever. The mac plugin wasn’t even available the first time I tried. So, lucky for me, CBS was going to rerun the series in order over the summer. Tivo here I come. The second showing ended up being a fast forward through at least a half dozen episodes- and no where near as good as the seven minute Sopranos. Then, CBS skipped a week (or Tivo balked)- and I went back to the CBS site again. Somehow, I got it to stutter through a painful hour and a half viewing of a 45 minute show- complete with the same 2 commercials over and over. Then- JACKPOT- seems CBS put up another site: www.jerichorises.com which runs fine on a mac -problem solved. I’m in Jericho heaven- even though the play controls still aren’t near as good as Quicktime, and the resume doesn’t work at all.CBS error messages

But, here is the thing: CBS has the perfect opportunity to build a relationship with me. I’m coming back over and over to their site, to spend “quality time” with their show. They could ask as few as 1 or 2 questions in return for providing each episode on demand for free and start customizing the commercials. Right now, I get one for Gerbers baby food (I’m a single male over 40 with no intentions of breeding) and for AT&T Wireless- to whom I’m already stuck with, since I have an iPhone. Irrelevant ads, presented by the most relevant personalized delivery system.

CBS network timeout messageIf you are a marketer and are buying online ad delivery, you should be asking about how the message is being targeted and what kind of feedback mechanism is provided. Since I can’t fast forward through the ads easily (remember, the controls of “innertube” suck) all you are doing is annoying me, instead of having a chance to build a real relationship. In an age of earned media, that annoyance factor could actually contribute to negative brand equity- distaste for your brand from the intrusiveness and repetitiveness of your ad delivery.

Advertising online can be the most powerful tool yet, but, like all power, used without care- it can backfire royally.