Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stardoll

My friend, Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotfy, is also the co-founder and CTO of Stardoll. The New York Times Magazine has a good piece today, "Dress-Up for Dollars," by Rob Walker (who does the Consumed column) about Stardoll and the remarkable drivers that brands have become among teens, in this case teen girls.

What I'm really looking forward to is the New York Times' coverage of Spotify (based in Europe and currently in closed beta).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Can't Buy Me Love?

All this time, I thought Seeqpod was just about searching for mp3s. Turns out the company has several initiatives underway that combine it's search capabilities with particular areas of focus, including finance, video, shopping, etc.


I thought I'd give the buyable search and discovery a try. They recommended I search the Beatles, but, nah! I thought I'd search for the one thing the Beatles told us that money can't buy. That's right. I searched for "love."


Some of you are going to think I'm searching for love in all the wrong places. But, as it turns out, my search did manage to turn up a whole lotta love. (I know. Terrible. Absolutely terrible.)

But I have to say, the results are not too shabby.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Andreesen's on a Roll


I don't know if you've been reading Marc Andreesen's blog.

If you haven't, you should. There are a handful of folks who write things that just nail what's going on in the world at a particular point in time. Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail and Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine does that. My friend Brad Feld does it from time-to-time and so does Fred Wilson. But Marc Andreesen is taking things to another level entirely. Check it out.

Chris Anderson - "Free" Not Equal to "No Value"

When I saw Deborah Solomon's New York Times interview of Sheryl Crow, I had the same reaction as Chris Anderson's referenced below.



image Whether it's pop stars or Wall Street analysts, the biggest misconception of free is that no cost = no value.

For instance, this today from Silicon Alley Insider:

Whether it's software, patents, movies, or music, as a planet, we have decided that things that exist only in the form of atoms, or are not offered as a service, have no value.

Or this, from Sheryl Crow in last weekend's New York Times magazine (from which this photo was taken):

I’m sad that people feel like music should be free, that the work that we do is not valued.

Don’t you feel valued enough? It’s more about consciousness. When music comes free by way of friends burning CDs, there’s not that understanding of the work that goes into the making of an album.

Spot the error? It's that the only way to measure value is with money. Of course the Web is built mostly on two nonmonetary economies, attention (traffic) and reputation (links), both of which benefit hugely from free content and services. And it's a pretty simple matter to convert from either of those two currencies into cash, as a glance at Google balance sheet makes clear.

In a recent post, we listed dozens of business model built on free. All of them are based on the notion that free stuff does have value and the way we measure that is in the time people spend with them. Do I actually need to remind Wall Street analysts that time is money?

[The Long Tail]

Monday, February 4, 2008

Yahoo to Move Yahoo Music Unlimited to Real's Rhapsody

yahoo logo.jpgThere's more than a little irony in the story below from today's Digital Music News. It looks as though Yahoo's Music Unlimited offering is going to move to Rhapsody.


Of course, the bigger story in the news these days is
Microsoft's $44.6B bid for Yahoo. What would this mean, long term, for Yahoo Music Unlimited? Hard to say, but what are the odds that Microsoft would continue to use RealNetworks' Rhapsody music offering? Pretty slim, I'd say. It's far more likely that Redmond would see Yahoo Music as an adjunct to its own struggling music offerings and perhaps pull together some combination of Yahoo Music Unlimited that works with the Zune player. After all, Microsoft has already reportedly given the major labels (or at least Universal) a piece of the Zune sales price. (Though it's not like a percentage of Zune sales is going to go very far in helping the recorded music industry reverse the 10% decline in annual revenues it experienced in 2007.)

Unlimited Has Its Limits; Yahoo Taps Rhapsody on Subscription

Yahoo Music is now outsourcing its subscription-based offerings to both RealNetworks and Viacom-owned MTV, according to information disclosed Sunday. As part of the deal, subscription application Rhapsody - now a joint venture between RealNetworks and MTV - will become the exclusive provider of on-demand music services for Yahoo. The move replaces Yahoo Music Unlimited, a service that experienced tepid uptake despite aggressive pricing. Yahoo Music subscribers will migrate their accounts mid-year, according to the companies.

For RealNetworks and MTV, the move introduces Rhapsody to an immense audience, and a larger potential subscriber pool. "Soon, tens of millions of Yahoo users will be able to access their favorite music through Rhapsody – wherever they go, whenever they want it," said RealNetworks chairman and chief executive Rob Glaser. Rhapsody will also handle various non-subscription transactions, including a-la-carte downloads.

The news comes alongside a music-related acquisition by Yahoo. The mega-portal revealed that it has now purchased the privately-held FoxyTunes, a player plug-in that quickly finds lyrics, videos, bios, and other song- and artist-related information. FoxyTunes offers compatibility with 30 desktop and web-based players.

Permalink: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/stories/020108unlimited

And Suddenly, Silence

Last night I received a call from my 19 year old daughter. She's in Michigan. I am in Colorado. It was difficult to understand much of anything she said, but it was clear she was seriously upset, and evidently she was on her way via ambulance to the hospital after what was evidently a severe allergic reaction to some prescription medications. (She was discharged last night, and fortunately seems fine.)

But during the course of the evening, her mom called my cell phone from the hospital's emergency room telephone. Right in the middle of the call my iPhone died. Completely. I tried to restart it. No go. I plugged it into the computer and it went into "this iPhone needs to be restored" mode. Several downloads of software and lengthy attempts at restoring the pone (and its data) each failed. And here was the problem: the phone call from the emergency room came from a land line. I had no record of it (except on the iPhone, which was quite dead).

Eventually, I managed to find a support document on Apple's site that suggested creating a new user on your computer and restoring the phone using the new user. That worked. (My iPhone is now "test's" iPhone.)

And while all this was going on I called the hospital's main number via a land line, and after what seemed like an interminable wait, was finally connected to the emergency room and even, miracles of modern technology, to my daughter's room.

But what are the odds that my iPhone would die so completely at just such a moment? It was one of those horribly frustrating moments in life and a reminder that the technology on which we depend daily for much of our personal and business communications is not guaranteed to work in time of crisis or emergency. Sometimes things break. And they sometimes break at the worst possible time.