MediaFile

Tech wrap: Amazon vs eBay…fight!

A photograph of a computer screen showing the website eBay is shown in Encinitas, California April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mike BlakeEBay said it will buy e-commerce service provider GSI Commerce for $1.96 billion in cash to build up its online marketplaces, as it ramps up its battle with Amazon.com. GSI is attractive to eBay because of its expertise in taking customer orders, managing them and filling them, which also happens to be an area of strength for Amazon. GSI, which owns Web businesses such as Rue La La and ShopRunner, also provides retailers such as Aeropostale and TJX’s Marshalls chains with technology, payment processing and customer care services for their e-commerce sites.

There will be no iPhone 5 announcement at Apple’s 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference in June, according to The Wall Street Journal’s John Paczkowski. Instead, we should expect a software event, Paczkowski writes, quoting an Apple’s WWDC press release: “If you are an iOS or Mac OS X software developer, this is the event that you do not want to miss.” He goes on to speculate that the delay may be due to Apple timing the release of  a 4G LTE-compatible iPhone 5 with AT&T’s expected roll-out of its 4G LTE networks mid year.

Apple “piled another brick onto the ramparts of its walled garden,” only considering apps that are sold through the Mac App Store for this year’s Apple Design Awards, The Register’s Rik Myslewski writes. “This move makes it clear that Apple is enforcing a two-tiered status for Mac OS X apps: those it allows into the store, and those that remain outside it,” Myslewski adds.

The U.S. and Europe are converging in their Web privacy positions, partly through intensive meetings in recent months between regulators from Washington and Brussels, writes Eva Dou. Final legislative proposals expected from the U.S. in June or July and from the EU later this year. Europe has wanted strict measures to protect individuals privacy while the U.S. has tended to prefer giving companies responsibility for policing themselves, according to Dou.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is returning to the company as executive chairman, CEO Dick Costolo announced. Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter in 2006 along with Evan Williams and Biz Stone, and served as its first CEO until being replaced by Williams in 2008, will remain CEO of Square, the mobile payment startup he co-founded in 2009. Square said in a statement that it would remain Dorsey’s top priority.

Tech wrap: Ripe BlackBerry not sweet enough

A man looks at a BlackBerry product display in a shop at a mobile and computer shopping complex in northern Tehran January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi Research In Motion’s quarterly net profit jumped 32 percent, boosted by strong global BlackBerry smartphone sales. But a weaker-than-expected outlook as it spent heavily on the launch of its PlayBook tablet next month, sent RIM’s shares tumbling after the bell.

Facebook is testing a real-time ad targeting system that relates your user profile to words that you form as you type them, according to AdAge’s Irina Slutsky. For example, “users who update their status with ‘Mmm, I could go for some pizza tonight’, could get an ad or a coupon from Domino’s, Papa John’s or Pizza Hut”, she writes.

The hungry masses are gobbling up Apple’s iPads mainly because of the approachable touchscreen interface, writes Wired’s Brian X. Chen. Web browsing topped the responses to a casual poll by Wired asking “What do you do with your iPad?”, matching the result of a study by NPD Group last year, Chen adds. Reading and social networking followed browsing in the Wired poll. A minority used the iPad for special purposes such as recording music, writing poetry and teaching in class from book notes.

Why won’t Amazon say how many Kindles it’s sold?

Something about returning from the Christmas holidays makes people want to show off what they received – a new sweater donned, a new gadget subtly pulled out at meetings, a few extra pounds padding the belly.

Jeff Bezos doesn’t like this tradition. He will hint at the generous present that consumers gave to Amazon in the form of surprisingly strong sales, but he won’t offer details.

Bezos wants you to know that his Kindle – the e-book reader that has done a remarkably good job surviving in the age of the iPad – was Amazon’s “bestselling product of all time.” How many Kindles did Amazon sell? We don’t know because Amazon isn’t saying.

Orb TV: the latest device bringing web to TV

Orb TV alonephotoAdd Orb TV to the list of devices that is attempting to bring the web to the TV. The Oakland, Calif.-based company launched the product on Thursday — a hockey puck shaped object (pictured on the left) that promises to deliver all sorts of content  available on the Internet straight to your TV.

Orb TV is selling for $99 (purchased only through its website)  and can help you find any show regardless of the source including content from Hulu, YouTube and CBS or from your computer like photos, according to Orb TV.  Users control the device through a smartphone app and can search simply by typing in a show like “Glee.”

“Our belief is that the evolution of digital media has been stymied,” said Orb TV CEO Joe Costello. “The whole premise it that it should be enjoyed anywhere, anytime and to make it simple. The last part hasn’t happened.”

Microsoft shows off Windows 7 touch-screen features

Microsoft highlighted new multi-touch features on the range of new PCs as it launched Windows 7 in New York on Thursday.

Here’s a clip of a photo managing program, which allows you to sort through snaps and manipulate them manually, and a shot of the new Kindle application from Amazon, which lets people read a book onscreen, if that’s what they want to do.

The Windows 7 launch event was quieter than previous versions, focusing on slick new hardware and consumer-oriented features such as watching TV on the PC, creating home networks, making videos and playing music.

Barnes & Noble plans big (e-reader?) event

Brace yourself for the next salvo in the battle of the ebook readers (or electronic reading devices, or e-reader, or whatever you want to call them).

Barnes & Noble is planning a “major event” next Tuesday in New York to announce a mystery… something.

The bookseller won’t say exactly what it will announce, but we’d be surprised if its NOT a digital book reader, to compete with Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader series.

Amie Street nabs Sony deal, works on new funding round

Amie Street, the digital music site which made its name with a dynamic pricing model for songs, has signed up Sony Music as its first major music label. It means songs from acts like Beyonce (pictured), Outkast, Kings of Leon and The Ting Tings are now available on the site as well as plenty of catalog albums.

But the songs will not be dynamically priced like the rest of the music on Amie Street which fluctuates based on demand. Sony’s songs will cost 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29, much like they are on sites like iTunes and Amazon.

In an open letter to the Amie Street community the site’s owners said:

We know this is a big change, and we’re confident that it will make Amie Street a better place for you to discover, download, and share new music. We spent hundreds of hours asking members of the Amie Street community whether this kind of catalog belonged on the site, and for most of you the answer was a definite Yes.

Amazon sparks digital ownership debate

“Orwell fans, lock your doors,” was the reaction from Amazon user Caffeine Queen after she and others had received notice from Amazon last Friday that their e-book versions of “1984″ and “Animal Farm” had been removed from their Kindle device.

Amazon explained later that these electronic versions were distributed illegally and that customers were refunded.

Amazon’s decision to remotely delete the e-books not only infuriated customers, it sparked a debate on digital ownership.

Sun Valley: The stars align

Allen & Co’s 27th Sun Valley media and technology conference starts on July 7 and ends on July 12. In the meantime, expect media writers to breathlessly report, blog, tweet, photograph and record the event. Why the fuss? There are literally hundreds of people coming who are known to do nothing else than run the universe when it comes to TV shows, movies, telecoms, the Internet and all sorts of other electronic communications. We have lists of all the people who bankroll them as well, along with a list of other interesting people you will find there.

Here, meanwhile, are the big men and women of media and technology who justify the travel budgets that increasingly hard-up news organizations have to put out for your favorite folks in the press corps to hide behind the hedges and hope for a handout that will break news, move markets and excite our editors. Keep in mind: this list is not a guarantee that these people are showing up; it’s just an invitation list (arranged alphabetically by company). We’ll update it as we learn more. (Our boldface names indicate some general viewpoint that they’re the stars of the stars.)

    James McCann, CEO, 1-800-flowers.com. Bobby Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard Inc. Also Brian Kelly, co-chairman. Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com Inc. Tim Armstrong, chairman and CEO, AOL Michael Ovitz, AMSEF LLC, former uber-talent agent at Creative Artists Agency and former Walt Disney Co executive. Gerhard Zeiler, CEO, RTL Group, Bertelsmann AG. Bill and Melinda Gates, of the foundation of the same name. Bill, of course, co-founded Microsoft Corp. Mark Vadon, executive chairman, Blue Nile Inc. James Dolan, president, CEO, Cablevision Systems Corp. Leslie Moonves, president, CEO, CBS Corp. Also Neil Ashe, president, CBS Interactive. Also Quincy Smith, CEO, CBS Interactive. (And a former Allen & Co man.) Charlie Rose, interviewer and anchor on the Charlie Rose Show Anthony Bloom, Cineworld plc Richard Parsons, chairman, Citigroup Inc. Former CEO, Time Warner Inc. Lowry Mays, chairman, Clear Channel Communications Inc. Ralph Roberts, founder, chairman emeritus, Comcast Corp. Also Stephen Burke, president and COO, Comcast Cable. Patrick Condo, president, CEO, Convera Corp. Jimmy Hayes, CEO, Cox Enterprises Inc. Richard Lovett, president, Creative Artists Agency Inc. Also Bryan Lourd, managing partner. Michael Dell, chairman and CEO, Dell Inc. Richard Rosenblatt, chairman and CEO, Demand Media. He used to work at MySpace’s parent company before News Corp bought it. Chase Carey, former DirecTV CEO and Rupert Murdoch’s new No. 2 man at News Corp. John Hendricks, founder and chairman, Discovery Communications. Also president and CEO David Zaslav. Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO, DreamWorks Animation SKG. John Donahoe, president and CEO, eBay Inc. Dara Khosrowshahi, president and CEO, Expedia Inc. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (We’ve heard conflicting reports about whether he’ll show. Either way, he’s still on our list.) Tom Freston, principal, Firefly3 LLC. Former Viacom executive. Martin Varsavsky, CEO, FON Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric Co. Jeff Zucker, CEO, NBC Universal. (GE) Ronald Meyer, president and COO, Universal Studios. (GE) Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO, Google. Also co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Juan Luis Cebrian, CEO, Grupo Prisa. Also Ignacio Polanco, chairman. Emilio Azcarraga, chairman and president, Grupo Televisa. Also Alfonso de Angoitia, executive vp. Christopher Schroeder, CEO, HealthCentral. Also former CEO of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. Cathleen Black, president, Hearst Magazines. R. Todd Bradley, executive vp, personal systems group, Hewlett-Packard Co. Also CEO Mark Hurd. Barry Diller, chairman, CEO, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Also chairman, Expedia Inc. Also Victor Kaufman, vice chairman, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman, Illyria Pty Ltd. Son of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch. Craig Barrett, former CEO, chairman, Intel Corp. Also Sean Maloney, executive vp, chief sales and marketing officer. Jeffrey Berg, chairman and CEO, International Creative Management. Also president Christopher Silbermann. Michael Volpi, formerly of Cisco Systems Inc and Joost. Eric Eisner, L+E Pictures. Son of former Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner. Kevin Reilly, CEO, Lamar Advertising Co. Michael Fries, president and CEO, Liberty Global Inc. John Malone, chairman, Liberty Media Corp. Also Greg Maffei, president and CEO. Reid Hoffman, chairman, president of products, LinkedIn Corp. Sam Altman, co-founder and CEO, Loopt Inc. Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, advanced strategies and policy, Microsoft Corp. Also Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment and devices division, and Henry Vigil, senior vp, strategy and partnership. Rupert Murdoch, CEO, News Corp. Also with him is his second son, James Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp’s Europe and Asia operations. Also Jonathan Miller, News Corp’s chairman and CEO for its digital media group. Former president and COO Peter Chernin, whose last day was June 30, is coming along too, in tow with CFO David DeVoe and new MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta. Gina Bianchini, CEO, Ning Inc. Jorma Ollila, chairman, Nokia Corp. Greg Wyler, founder, O3B Networks Ltd. Jeffrey Jordan, president and CEO, OpenTable Inc. Jeffery Boyd, president and CEO, priceline.com Inc. Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe. Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Qualcomm Inc. Robert Johnson, founder and chairman, the RLJ Companies. Jay Y. Lee, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Kenneth Lowe, chairman, president and CEO. Scripps Networks Interactive. Mel Karmazin, CEO, Sirius XM Radio Inc. Max Levchin, CEO, Slide Inc. Sir Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO, Sony Corp. Also Kazuo Hirai, president of networked products and services group; Robert Wiesenthal, executive vp and CFO, Sony Corporation of America; Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Hiroshi Yoshioka, executive deputy president, president of consumer products and devices group; and Nicole Seligman, top lawyer. Nick Grouf, CEO, Spot Runner Inc. Thomas Glocer, CEO, Thomson Reuters Corp, along with Niall FitzGerald, deputy chairman. Michael Eisner, the Tornante Company LLC. Former Walt Disney Co CEO. Lars Buttler, CEO, Trion World Network Inc. Evan Williams, co-founder and chairman, Twitter Inc. David Levin, CEO, United Business Media plc. James Berkus, chairman, United Talent Agency. Brad Grey, chairman and CEO, Paramount Pictures Corp (Viacom). Sumner Redstone, chairman, Viacom. Also Philippe Dauman, president and CEO. Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO, Vivendi. Robert Iger, president and CEO, Walt Disney Co. Also Thomas Staggs, CFO. Edgar Bronfman Jr, chairman and CEO, Warner Music Group. Donald Graham, chairman, CEO, The Washington Post Co. Casey Wasserman, chairman and CEO, Wasserman Media Group LLC. Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman, The Weinstein Co. Shelby Bonnie, CEO, Whiskey Media LLC. Jim Wiatt, William Morris Endeavor. Terry Semel, chairman and CEO, Windsor Media. Former Yahoo CEO. Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP. Anne Mulcahy, chairman, Xerox Corp. Jerry Yang, chief Yahoo. Mark Pincus, founder, CEO, Zynga Inc.

Tuesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories about the media industry:

Amazon Patents Detail Kindle Advertising Model (Mediapost)
Laurie Sullivan writes: “The patents clearly note that Amazon would insert advertisements throughout the ebooks, from the beginning to the end, between chapters or following every 10 pages, as well as in the margins.”

> In-Book Ads Coming to the Amazon Kindle? (Fast Company)
> 6 Reasons Why Ads On The Kindle Don’t Work (Business Insider)

Deadline for Globe bids postponed (Boston Globe)
“The New York Times Co. has postponed tomorrow’s deadline for prospective buyers of The Boston Globe to submit preliminary bids for the newspaper, people briefed on the sales process said. No new date has been set for the bids,” writes Robert Weisman.