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 ?

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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 silicon.com 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 silicon.com 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 .co.uk 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’.

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