All 3 entries tagged Computing

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March 12, 2009

What next for Spotify?

I, and I suspect everyone I’ve recommended it to, love Spotify.

It’s ludicrously simple, the adverts are reasonably unobtrusive, and it’s free.

But I can still hear the creaking of the floodgates. Spotify’s a step forward for making everything ‘free’ to the consumer, but I think there’s much more to come.

First up, a simple one: Spoken word. Spotify would be 100% better if it had comedy, drama and classic radio documentaries available. I suspect much of this material hasn’t been released on CD before because it wouldn’t be economic. Now it is. The long tail’s wagging and I hope BBC Worldwide et al will jump on board it soon.

Spotify logoSecond, a new medium altogether: Games. I’ve had a look, and unless I’m mistaken, there’s nowhere to rent PC games online. Even sites like Swapgame and Lovefilm will only let you rent console games. And then they choose to prop up Royal Mail rather than use something more modern like downloads. The idea of spending £35+ on a new game has always baffled me. My attention span isn’t long enough to justify that sort of outlay. And rather than a fee-paying model, why not rent the games out for free in return for some advertising?

Thirdly, a step onto other people’s turf: TV. Project Kangaroo’s skipped off into oblivion, and there’s still a big gap in the market for non-PSB online TV. Some services are on the cusp of getting it right – we have BT Vision and it’s great, if a little expensive. Surely the ad-funded model is the way forward?

The best thing about these ways forward, in my opinion, is that they could bring in much more money than just streaming music. There’s a lot of scepticism that an advert every 20mins will be enough to pay the conservative record companies what they want. Each of these three ideas depend on the support of industries who are likely to be much more open to ‘free’ than the music industry has been.

If I was Spotify, I’d Diversify.

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P.S. This article hints at Spotify trying to get on mobile devices. If I were working for Google, I’d be pushing Android to get exclusivity on it – it’d make the Apple. fall from its tree and splatter all over Cupertino.


September 06, 2006

Imbecile of the Week #5: Ken Kutaragi

Last week Airbus announced it was replacing the guy in charge of its A380 superjumbo because of continued delays to production. The delays don’t help when the company is struggling to sell enough of the machines to break even.

Well a similar – and potentially more expensive – situation is going on at Sony, where the Playstation 3 has been delayed in Europe and its production volumes to the U.S. and Japan have been cut to a paltry 500,000 each. They were supposed to sell 4,000,000 consoles by the end of 2006 and will now only manage 2,000,000 tops. It’s causing major problems for Sony as it gives Microsoft yet another Christmas season to dominate as the #1 console.

The production of the PS3 has been delayed because of the Blu-Ray disc players that go inside them. Blu-Ray is one of two competing formats (the other being HD-DVD) hoping to replace the humble DVD as the disc of choice for film and video-game consumers. Both formats have been beset by problems such as a shortage of blue-coloured lasers, discs that just don’t work, and the new version of Windows not supporting either.

But there’s been no chopping of heads as seen at Airbus.

It might because there’s nothing Sony can do about it, so it’s no-one’s fault (hardly likely), or more probably, it could be because of a different management style (Airbus’s boss got into trouble because he didn’t warn the Board of Directors that the plane was going to be delayed by turbulence).

Sony have got a lot to lose from having the PS3 delayed: not just poor figures for 2006, but also a loss in market share as parents buy their kids XBoxes for Christmas, and a boost for HD-DVD which looks set to get to market far quicker than its arch-rival.

Ken Kutaragi (boss of Sony’s Computer Entertainment division) might have kept his job for now, but in the second round of Format Wars, HD-DVD has been dealt another card in its favour.


September 04, 2006

Google's listening…

According to The Register Google is working on software which will use your computer microphone to listen what’s going on in your house. Not surprisingly, it hopes to use this information to serve you “content relevant advertising” which, in other words, means that you’ll be watching a football match on TV and Google will think “Hmm…sports fan, here’s an advert for Nike”. Similarly if you’re watching a news story about fishing, Google will listen and throw some angling adverts on your PC screen.

It’s an intriguing development. Obviously, they can’t do this without telling you, although they’re not likely to explictly go out of their way to offer you this amazing new ability to view more advertising. Instead I reckon they’ll package the software with the Google Sidebar, Google Talk or with GMail, meaning you’ll just have to tick a box saying you agree to their ‘terms and conditions’.

As the Register piece mentions, there’s a danger of being in a permanent state of deja vu, but the future uses of the software could be quite wide reaching. Imagine TV advertising tailored to the conversation you’ve just been having. Or radio ads which know which songs you like.

It’s the future, as Peter Kay would say, and it’s becoming more and more like Minority Report every day.


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