January 30, 2008
Yahoo! Still at Crossroads
Everyone is dumping on Yahoo! due to its lack of financial performance in line with analysts' estimates. No matter how much money the company makes (or doesn't), they are not in Google earnings territory. The stock values are light years apart which is one reason why analysts get down on the company. That's just one for a company that has the most visited site on the Internet but can't seem to make as much money from ads as Google. Even though the company re-upped the co-brand with AT&T, the latter company got better terms than the prior agreement. Yahoo! is now forecasting a rough upcoming fiscal year and has resorted to layoffs to meet financial targets.
Disclosure: I am a home subscriber to AT&T-Yahoo! broadband service, though I tend to ignore the Yahoo! component of that service. Like a lot of people, I Google instead.
European Cases On Copyright and the Internet
Two cases of interest come out of Europe. The first comes from the European Court of Justice in the case of Promusicae v. Telefónica de España. The music association brought suit against the ISP to determine the identity of P2P users who traded music files using KaZaA. The outcome was that the information was private and could only be disclosed in criminal cases rather than in the underlying civil case.
The second involves the file sharing host RapidShare. The Düsseldorf Regional Court ruled against the company in a copyright suit by GEMA saying that RapidShare can face penalties for the content its users upload to the service. Many music and adult content blogs use RapidShare as a host for movies and music files. Filtering will be a nightmare for RapidShare. Germany, it seems, doesn't have the same (hated by content owners) safe harbor provisions in their laws as does the United States. Once the Viacom case is decided we'll actually see how safe that harbor really is.
Microsoft Consent Decree Extended
The federal court overseeing Microsoft's consent decree has extended oversight to November of 2009 due to the fact that certain protocols and specifications have not been fully published by Microsoft. The states wanted an extension of five years.
More on this in Ars Technica.
January 28, 2008
The Computer In Your Eyes
Imagine contact lenses as your next computer monitor or high definition television. Something like it is in development now. Read about it here.
Yahoo Working on a Major DRM Free Music Store
Yahoo is working on a DRM free music store. Don't expect anything imminent, but that end would be welcome on the competition front. One of the problems with the brave new world of legal music downloads is that outside of iTunes and the iPod, everyone looks the same. The article in Ars Technica that describes this development suggests a few ways stores can distinguish themselves from each other. Different bit rates, lossless formats (that one would hook me), or simply other formats and varied pricing are all possibilities.
I agree with pronouncements that the album is dead, more or less. But that's the music retailing business at work. For a contrary view, go here. Some music is definitely meant to be heard in the context of an album, but most artists (other than Radiohead and a few others) release song collections in spite of their protestations to the contrary. This is nothing new. Even performances in the old-time world of opera and ballet frequently cut sections of music for artistic or time considerations. Take the musically cohesive Ziggy Stardust album by David Bowie. One could easily lose the only cover song, It Ain't Easy, and still appreciate the record. There are other examples of double albums (the Beatles White Album comes to mind) that could easily be cut down to size. Selling collections as singles makes the artists compete for sales. There's nothing wrong with that.