MediaFile

Maybe $400 heaters and $85,000 TVs will get consumers spending again

                                                                                          It was a confusing week to be a consumer electronics reporter. At the start, I was convinced that no one wants to spend on anything besides an iPad and by the end, I learned that there are people out there buying $85,000 TVs.

On Tuesday, Best Buy’s shares tanked on disappointing earnings. Our headline shouted “tech shoppers turn thrifty,”  and explained how nobody will buy a new flat-screen TV once they have bought their first one.

But if U.S. consumers won’t shell out for new flat screens, maybe they will buy high-end fans and heaters. That’s what James Dyson told me on Wednesday at the launch of the inventor’s latest gadget– a heater that costs $400, the Dyson Hot.

Dyson’s privately held UK-based company has 2,700 employees and saw its profit soar 26 percent this year, on the strengh of items like its cordless vacuum cleaner and swanky “air multiplier” fans that lack blades and cost much more than the competition.

Dyson told Reuters that Best Buy, his company’s largest distrubutor in the U.S., would probably rebound when spending comes back. “People will always want to buy technology,” he said.

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The end of the story…

……is the cash cow for Chinese company Shanda Literature Ltd, a
subsidiary of Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

The company’s business model is simple: read the first half
of a book online for free, and if you want to know the rest
(which usually is the case if you have read that far) you need
to pay for it. Revenues are split with the stories’ authors.

In China, this proves to be successful. According to Shanda
Literature CEO Hou Xiaoqing, the company now has cash reserves
of $1.8 billion, with 800,000 authors creating up to 80,000 new
pages of content per day, he said at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Monday media highlights

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

Microsoft takes on Google as Office moves to Web (Reuters)
Jim Finkle reports: “Microsoft will offer for free to consumers Web-based versions of its Office suite of programs, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and a note-taking program. Microsoft will also host one Internet business version of Office at its own data centers, charging companies a yet-to- be-announced fee.”

Six in 10 companies plan to skip Windows 7 (Reuters)
“Many of the more than 1,000 companies that responded to a survey by ScriptLogic Corp say they have economized by cutting back on software updates and lack the resources to deploy Microsoft’s latest offering.”

MySpace to Take Entertainment Tack (WSJ)
“In a brief interview, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said MySpace needs to be refocused ‘as an entertainment portal.’ Mr. Murdoch described his vision for MySpace as a place where ‘people are looking for common interests,’” writes Julia Angwin.

Wednesday media highlights

News about the media industry:

Netflix looks to future but still going strong with DVD rentals (USA Today)
“Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings doesn’t think his 58 distribution centers are in immediate danger of becoming obsolete, but he knows that day will come. He believes DVD rentals have four to nine years to keep growing, despite inroads in Internet delivery of movies to set-top TV boxes and other video-on-demand options,” writes Jefferson Graham.

Is the bell tolling for Clear Channel? (San Antonio Express-News)
David Hendricks writes: “Analysts believe Clear Channel, now with about $22 billion in total debts, will have trouble making scheduled payments later this year. The company, already down to about 800 stations from its peak of about 1,200 stations, either will have to start selling stations itself or go into bankruptcy, where lenders will put stations up for sale.”

Foes No More, Ad Agencies Unite With Internet Firms (NYT)
Eric Pfanner writes: “With consumers spending more and more time online, analysts say Internet companies and ad agencies have no choice but to work together to develop ways to make money from digital media.”

Is your newsroom ready for the future?

On Tuesday, a panel hosted by Reuters and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers discussed the state of the media industry and the challenges it faces from consumers demanding information in new and different ways.

How could the industry transform its newsrooms to thrive in this culture?

Chrystia Freeland of the Financial Times said the key discipline was to constantly ask what the reader actually wants and not what is technologically possible. “This is going to be different for everyone,” Freeland told the crowd, which included Thomson Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger.

For the full discussion, watch the video below.

The panel included
Chrystia Freeland, US managing editor, Financial Times

Larry Ingrassia, business editor, The New York Times

Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs & new media professor, Columbia Journalism School

Video game console obituaries premature – Microsoft

Gaming insiders who have given consoles the death sentence, get a life!

Shane Kim, VP of Strategy and Business Development at Microsoft Corp’s Interactive Entertainment Business, said it’s too soon to write off the Xbox.

“This console generation will have a long life cycle. I think it’s way premature to say there will never be another Xbox,” said Kim at the Reuters Media Summit.

Industry veterans like WildTangent Chairman Alex St. John and Sandy Duncan, who set up and ran the European Xbox business for Microsoft, believe that consoles as we know them are doomed. Duncan said they will “die out ” in the next five to 10 years, according to an interview published in www.Thatvideogameblog.com.

DVD sales gets worse in ’08 – Pali Research

dvds-broken.jpgToo little too late, at least for 2008. Hollywood’s long awaited decision to back a winner in the single next-generation DVD wars didn’t come fast enough to stem a further decline in DVD sales this year, according to Pali Research’s Richard Greenfield.Greenfield now expects consumer spending on DVDs to fall 4 to 5 percent this year, compared to a 2 percent decline in 2007, despite an anticipated tripling of Blu-ray DVD sales this year. Blu-ray won’t start slowing the decline until 2009-2010.Slowing sales of older titles, Wal-Mart’s decision to clean up its aisles by eliminating “dump bins” of discounted titles, and anticipated Internet service bandwidth increases that could boost piracy of video are also expected to pressure sales of physical media.Perhaps there is still time for DVD and Blu-ray to make nice with consumers. Sony’s U.S. chief said consumers prefer physical discs to Internet delivery, and that it could take a decade before downloading hits its stride.(Photos: Reuters / This is what they do to pirated DVDs in Bucharest.)