Weekend Update, 3.28.09
Another week into challenging times and the theme for Weekend Update is undoubtedly cost-saving, with a healthy dose of revenue-seeking.
On the revenue-seeking side, BoomTown’s Twitter Business Plan Count-Up hasn’t yielded any real keepers yet. There is a real contender, though–since Jennifer Aniston so publicly broke up with her boyfriend, John Mayer, on account of his Twitter “addiction,” BoomTown suggests offering “Twitter rehab” for those not willing to lose their relationships just yet. Not sure how zoning would work on that one, but the profit margin could be nice. The Guardian’s Changing Media Summit in London didn’t provide a lot of hard answers to the revenue question either, but it did gather the curious together to discuss the matter further, ponder the Next Big Thing, and talk about what the media company of tomorrow looks like. And, perhaps proving that during hard times Americans love an unlikely hero (a Seabiscuit for our own economic disaster?), Steve Wozniak escaped elimination from “Dancing With The Stars” for yet another week–undoubtedly due to the will of the people and their appreciation of his determined and goodhearted willingness to look silly on national television. The Pillsbury Doughboy bit probably didn’t hurt, either.
On the cost-saving side, MediaMemo wrote about job and salary cuts at the New York Times (NYT). The job cuts were on the business side, but the company slashed all of its nonunion salaries by 2.5-5 percent. It will ask for similar cuts from its unionized newsroom employees, in a spirit of “shared sacrifice.” Google (GOOG) sacrificed 200 more jobs, this time from sales. One of the most drastic signs of recession, however, may be the fact that Condé Nast’s higher echelons are cutting back on chauffeured cars to get them around Manhattan.
According to Digital Daily, It was Black Thursday at IBM (IBM) on the 26th, with 1,674 job losses (and counting). 5,000 jobs are expected to be cut overall, with many of the lost U.S. positions being transferred offshore. Better news over at Viacom’s (VIA) MTV games–according to new statistics, the company’s Rock Band franchise recently surpassed $1 billion in North American retail sales, making it the number one title of 2008 across all genres, based on revenue. And that’s before Beatles: Rock Band even comes close to shipping. That’s the kind of magic shown so far by Palm’s (PALM) forthcoming Pre handset, which–without a price or a release date–has boosted the company’s share price more than $7 based on little more than a CES debut and some enthusiastic analysts. Digital Daily noted that not everyone feels magical, but the launch will tell.
Over in Personal Technology, Walt Mossberg offered quick reviews of the iPhone apps he uses most often and that make the shiny Apple (AAPL) gadget worth the price. In Mossberg’s Mailbox, Walt pointed out the usefulness of IE8’s compatibility button, which makes the browser act like IE7 in certain instances, on Web sites that were coded around the peccadilloes of the earlier versions of the Microsoft (MSFT) software. Other readers had questions about ordering broadband service without a land line and burning movies to Blu-ray discs using an iMac. Katie Boehret spent the week testing out a new TV from Samsung–the first to integrate with the Yahoo (YHOO) Widget Engine, which enables viewers to watch shows and access the Web on the same large screen. Her thoughts are in The Mossberg Solution.
More next week.