Wikipedia 1 – 0 Microsoft

Microsoft today ran up the white flag in the battle of the online encyclopedias

“On October 31, 2009, MSN Encarta Web sites worldwide will be discontinued, with the exception of Encarta Japan, which will be discontinued on December 31, 2009. Additionally, Microsoft will cease to sell Microsoft Student and Encarta Premium software products worldwide by June 2009…”

Interestingly they close with ……

“Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years. However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past. As part of Microsoft’s goal to deliver the most effective and engaging resources for today’s consumer, it has made the decision to exit the Encarta business.”

Is free and socially networked the only way to survive ?

The ultimate try before you buy..

People who view my ‘non CIO’ blog – RockandRoll Football – will know that I stumbled across spotify earlier this year and love it.

So I was excited to hear today that a deal has been struck between Spotify and 7 Digital that will see a ‘Buy From 7Digital’ option added to the right click menu inside Spotify and will cover a six million strong catalogue of tracks. Now for the iTune haters amongst us – and there are many – this is just fantastic news as 7Digital also delivers its content at ear embracing 320kbps bitrates.

But is this the ultimate try before you buy experience ??  In the past you were only able to hear a few seconds of poor quality audio before making a purchase decision on a particular track. Now you get the whole track, superb quality, arguably better performance than on your local device (see my comment on iTunes performance vs Spotify) and all this before hitting the buy button. Is this the future for other consumer items ?? What d’ya think ??

In related news, I also heard that Spotify are finalising an iPhone / iTouch solution that will be available from the app store. Will Apple really let this go out unencumbered and embarrass their belover iTunes ?  Indeed, if you can get Spotify quality streamed to your device and the buy from 7Digital – why would you use the iTunes store at all ? This one will be interesting to watch.

… about mutli channel and reader focus

My last blog entry got in ahead of an intro peice I did for on print/web convergence which has only recently been published. They also kindly retitled it  “is the printed page dead ?” (… not really the point I was making or indeed the question I was asking buy hey ho)

Anyway, its published now so you can have a read and post any comments either here, at or maybe even both

Printed publications have long looked to the web as a way to revive their diminishing prospects. But, asks CIO Ian Cohen, even if they do embrace it will it be enough to save them?

When it comes to publishing, Bob Dylan said it best: “For the times they are a-changin”.

If you believe the prophets of doom, then the publishing industry is in terminal decline. Advertising revenues are shrinking faster than an expensive cashmere sweater in a spin dryer and circulation figures are falling off a cliff in all but the developing world.

Worse still, the online messiah has failed to deliver on its promises for the vast majority of print publications that launched a .com or version of their title. Dalliances with online subscriptions and paid content have been inconclusive for all but the most targeted of publications and no one has yet cracked the key issue of yield. Sure, the volume is there in terms of page impressions and unique visitors but, as Jerry Maguire said, ‘Show me the money’.

Click here to continue reading

Was no-one listening…

Its always sad to hear of newspaper and magazine publications disappearing but so many are in trouble that their demise is being predicted with alarming regularity.

Alongside today’s FT article “End of an era for Hearsts Seattle paper” which covers the move of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper to an all digital product after 146 years of print publication, Yahoo gave their prediction of the next 10 major newspapers that will either fold of go digital. There are some major names in this list.

Those who know me well will recall that I have long argued that newspapers will not die. Rather, that we live in a multi channel world and that publishers must recognise this and adapt. Reading is a specific “state” that cannot be replaced by a website (ebooks and ePaper solutions recognise this and focus on augmenting and enhancing that “state” rather than challenging it).

I still believe this to be true but the current predicament of the publishing industry does make one ask the question ..  “was no-one listening at the end of 2004”. Back then, many of us used a website called EPIC2014 to describe a possible future. Lots of editors laughed, some dismissed it out of hand ….. but some didn’t.

In these troubled and uncertain times, it’s worth another look – it lasts about 8mins, the tone is a little dramatic and the post 2005 product names may have turned out to be a bit different but is the outcome any less certain.

What d’ya think

Does everything have to do everything nowadays …

Time was when being unique was a bit special; when being different was something to be celebrated. It seems now that when it comes to social networking solutions and tools, everyone just wants to be the same.

A few weeks back facebook announced that they were opening up their status API to “… make sure the ability to share this content was available through our standard APIs….. and opening new APIs for you to post links, create notes, or upload videos etc”. So there you go then, in no way a response to the mega growth of twitter and its impact on the usage of facebook.

Earlier, and in a move that angered many users, LinkedIn added a status element (aka “what are you doing now”) to their offering, mirroring both Twitter and Facebook

Today we hear that social contacts platform Plaxo “…is adding two new stream aggregation features to its stream service Pulse which tries to build a social network around third-party data, allows users to stay connected to their friends’ updates” – sounds familiar.

More worrying though is the conundrum that may soon face many software developers. Is there any value in being unique and developing something new or do you simply just throw something together based on what already exists? What sustainable value is there in being new and first anymore? Don’t get me wrong, mash-ups are cool and many of the best ones work because, through a combination of different solutions and ideas, you actually do create something new. It seems to me though that the current trend in social network solutions is just to do more of the same and shamelessly steal from the competition.

Oh well – looks like everything really does taste like chicken


Google flexes its considerable muscles

In a move that some would say smacks of an excessive show of strength, Google have pulled music videos from the UK version of YouTube as part of an ongoing dispute with the Performing Rights Society.

YouTube claim that the new charges from the PRS, following the expiry of the previous deal, are excessive and for their part the PRS claim that Google’s actions to pull videos from YouTube came in the middle of ongoing negotiations.

Whatever the rights and wrongs here, this one looks like its gonna run for a while and, once again, the only loosers are the UK music loving consumer.

Come on – sort it out girls

Click here for the full article from The Guardian

Are Sky going after SlingBox ??

As many of you will know I’m a big fan of slingbox – I love technology that just works and from the day I plugged in my first slingbox I’ve never looked back. Where ever I am in the world I can access my Sky+ box to either watch live or recorded programs on my laptop or even my WinMo device (damn, I’ve even been known to simply change the channels whilst abroad to upset the kids – but that’s another story).

Now it seems that Sky are possibly targeting this market by “untethering” the sky player from the sky dish – or so says on-demand director Griff Parry in an interview with Paid Content…

image• The strategy is twofold: First, Sky Player is now untethered from the satellite proposition – meaning new, online-only customers can join despite not having a dish on their home. Second, nevermind Slingbox; for those who are Sky satellite subscribers, Sky Player is all about place-shifting – free to those who also take broadband or multiroom, the service’s 18 live channels are available not just in rooms beyond the lounge, but anywhere there is an internet connection; there’s also VOD content from across 23 TV channels, too.

“Long-term, by nature Sky is a platform operator, an aggregator and a retailer – what we’re trying to do with Sky Player is broadly replicate the proposition you would get on a set-top box. We’re reaffirming ourselves as the natural aggregator of TV, online.”

I’m not ditching my slingbox just yet

A bitter taste ..

It seems its not just the financial, media and tech sectors that are being “crunched”. Celebrity chief  Gordon Ramsey’s empire is feeling the pinch according to the FT.

“Accounts filed by Gordon Ramsay Holdings this week showed that the group had breached its banking covenants…..  financial statements for the year to August 31 2007 – which were filed eight months late – revealed that the group was in the process of renegotiating the terms of its facilities with its bankers.

The group, which has been dogged by rumours that it is experiencing financial difficulties because of the economic downturn, has insisted it is trading well.”

After dodging the Icelandic banking collapse it looks like Gordon may have to add improved financial control and management to his extensive (and expensive) menu.

More on offline being the new online

… from – now Opera implements google gears to allow offline browser accces.

“Gears enables compatible web applications such as Gmail, YouTube, Picassa, Remember the Milk and even WordPress to be accessed seamlessly when offline. It does this by caching data which ultimately means you get all the benefits of Cloud computing when connected to the Internet (anywhere data access, fast operation, online storage/backup) combined with the availability of a locally installed desktop application even if that connection breaks. ”

I use it with gmail and its great

Have you tried it yet – what d’ya think?