Beth Callaghan

Recent Posts by Beth Callaghan

Weekend Update: 9.5.2009–One for the Kids


The week that took us from August to September was one for the books over at BoomTown, especially if you’re 12.

Kara spent Monday morning at Activision Blizzard (ATVI), where they are pushing forward with the entire Guitar Hero line, even as the game industry faces a nearly 50 percent decline in U.S. sales this year. Kara got to play hero to several of the forthcoming releases, including previewing the much anticipated DJ Hero console.

The youth movement continued with the fancy bar graph from Forrester Research’s annual “State of Consumers and Technology,” which drove home an important fact of life for media outlets. All the money being spent on new media expansion is a fight for the young; older consumers are sticking to more reliable fare.

BoomTown wasn’t just about the kids though, as 23andMe co-founder Linda Avey announced her exit from the gene-juicing business to focus on a foundation related to Alzheimer’s research. Avey co-founded 23andMe with Anne Wojcicki in 2006 with early money from Genentech (DNA), Google (GOOG) and New Enterprise Associates, as well as Wojcicki’s husband, Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

While BoomTown was keepin’ it real with the kids, Digital Daily was abuzz with a spate of iPhone news. John started Monday off on the topic of the Sept. 9 iPod event with confirmation that music, indeed, will be center stage. In the Apple world, that means iPods and iTunes, though Beatles fans are keeping their fingers crossed.

Readers got a compare-and-contrast of Apple’s (AAPL) foreign and domestic policy when John covered a potential two-carrier system in China and the long-awaited stateside activation of MMS features in the iPhone OS3. Meaning that while China may get the iPhone carrier flexibility so far absent in the U.S. market, American consumers are just about to get a new feature that’s been standard on every smartphone for a year or more.

MediaMemo covered a fluid week in the world of media giants and Top Chefs. Disney (DIS) went off to the mines and instead of seven dwarfs, found Marvel and the rights to its 5,000-character portfolio. Disney CEO Bob Iger didn’t think $4 billion was too much to pay to bring Iron Man and friends to the happiest media empire on earth and is sure the company will benefit from such “rich intellectual property.”

If the Disney vault got 5,000 new friends this week, eBay said goodbye to one long-time partner. Peter reported that the long, difficult breakup between eBay and Skype was finalized when eBay sold a 65 percent stake in the VOIP juggernaut to the internationally mixed bag of Silver Lake, Index ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and a Canadian pension fund.

Peter rounded out the week of motion with lots of changes in Google’s ranks. The search giant shuffled the chairs with David Fischer moving out of the self-serve ad business with no sign yet of a replacement. Google China saw the big chair turn upside-down when Kai-Fu Lee announced that he’d leave the company this month to begin his own venture. Lee will be replaced by the tag team of Boon-Lock Yeo and John Liu, who will oversee engineering and business, respectively.

Not all Google’s shifts were outbound though. “Charlie’s Café” at the main campus got its Top Chef back after Preeti Mistry failed to make the cut on the Las Vegas iteration of the popular TV show. Regular fans of the show weren’t surprised by her dismissal, but at least Google can put one in the plus column this week.

Over at The Mossberg Solution, Katie took aim at a possible answer to a question plaguing all image-conscious technophiles: Yea or nay to the omnipresent Bluetooth earpiece. Plantronics (PLT) and Aliph, maker of the Jawbone, both say yea and are upping the ante on the recently reviled symbol of cellphone userdom. Katie reviewed the fashion-forward Discovery 975 and Jawbone Prime, each designed to separate its users from $130. In exchange, they’ll get redesigned outsides and some new features that might even put one back in Brad Pitt’s ear.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus