Weekend Update, 1.31.09
Rumor has it there are big games going on this weekend–at least one of which involves football players. The rest involve the usual players, though they might appear in different positions–and on different teams–from week to week. These games, most likely, will continue through Monday and beyond. Scores will be kept on an ongoing basis.
BoomTown wrote this week about a new game of tag taking Facebook by storm. Whether or not you’ve written a list of “25 Random Things” about yourself, you’ve likely read a few. BoomTown only gave up five, but they’re good ones. On defense, AOL announced it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce due to the overall ad meltdown; CEO Randy Falco’s memo to his troops is here. And whether or not AOL has buyer’s remorse over last year’s $850 million acquisition of Bebo, the company is not considering putting the social network up for sale.
BoomTown followed the tough love approach of Yahoo’s (YHOO) new CEO Carol Bartz, and liveblogged the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, during which Bartz insisted (without mentioning Microsoft) that she wasn’t brought to Yahoo to sell the company. She also shared some canny-folksy wisdom–in the form of a chicken metaphor–about the value of the company as a whole, but it’s still a little early in the game to call that one. Of course, BoomTown had a few opinions about the unspoken Microsoft (MSFT) scenario.
Over at Digital Daily, there was a lot to be said about smartphones. Apple’s (AAPL) so-called “iPhone patent,” which would cover much of the Palm (PALM) Pre’s multitouch and gesture interface, has the potential to be a huge game changer in that race, if it’s upheld. And as if Palm doesn’t have enough to worry about, Sprint (S)–its exclusive carrier for the Pre–is rumored to be preparing to lay off 14 percent of its workforce in March, when the phone is expected to launch. Elsewhere in that contest, it turns out that Research in Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry Storm, which was largely panned by critics, is actually selling at a decent clip–one million so far in the U.S. No iPhone, but still, it could be worse. As Digital Daily noted, Dell (DELL) is said to be readying two phones to enter the market dominated by the iPhone, BlackBerry, and soon the Pre: one an iPhone-like Windows Mobile device, and the other a Pre-like Android device. Both could launch as soon as February, but greatness is not anticipated. Digital Daily also kept the tech job-cut score, which increased 74.2 percent from 2007 to 2008. Here’s a roundup of some of those affected.
MediaMemo had some interesting numbers to share: While Obama’s Inauguration was indeed a big day for Web video, it wasn’t as huge as some estimated. Exact numbers are impossible to measure, of course, but roughly 13 million people watched the ceremony online, while roughly 38 million watched on television. On an ongoing (and presumably growing) basis, though, numbers suggest that almost 20 percent of Netflix’s (NFLX) subscribers are using the company’s streaming service to watch movies online. That should increasingly morph back into the world of television as the company’s technology makes it simpler to stream directly to a set-linked device. In the world of print, things continue to look grim. Time Warner’s (TWX) Time Inc., in a standoff with its distributor, which upped its price by seven cents per magazine–has announced it will take its business elsewhere as of Feb. 1. If this is a game of chicken, it’s anybody’s guess who’ll win. And Time Inc.’s Ann Moore received a lifetime achievement award from the magazine industry’s trade group on Thursday. In her acceptance speech, she expressed her belief in the power of magazines and print advertising and her gratitude in the fact that she’s not in the newspaper business.
In Personal Technology this week, Walt Mossberg reviewed iLife ’09–specifically iPhoto, GarageBand and iMovie, with mixed results. In Mossberg’s Mailbox, it was all about Windows 7: Whether it requires new drivers, how it stacks up to XP, and how upgrades from XP and Vista compare with each another. Katherine Boehret reviewed the BlackBerry Curve 8900 in the Mossberg Solution, and liked it.
More next week.