Thursday, August 21, 2014

Barnes & Noble Partners With Samsung

A partnership has brewed between these two forces as the Nook is finally a part of the Galaxy line of Samsung tablets.  Per AP, "The 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook will sell for $179, the same entry price of the non-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4."  According to the report, the new Nook has access to both Google and Nook stores and the device will have a camera on both the front and rear.  

Will customers flock to the new device or wait to see what Apple offers in September?  Regardless, this move from B&N to partner with an established brand like Samsung is a smart one.  It should open more distribution opportunities for both and more access to a wider variety of apps and downloads. 

Playstation Converted Xbox Users To Their Platform

According to a Nielsen report announced by Re/code, "an April Nielsen study found that 31 percent of PS4 owners did not own Sony’s previous console, the PlayStation 3, but did own an Xbox 360 or Wii."  And while no particular analysis has been confirmed, it seems that gamers may be a fickle lot. 

As a parent of a gamer, I was involved in the lunacy of announcements with both Sony and Microsoft introduced last holiday season new gaming platforms that required new games to use.  It meant that Xbox 360 games couldn't run on Xbox One and PS 3 games wouldn't run on PS 4.  My son is always looking at the next new game so that development led him to compare and decide which system best served his future needs.  And he, like the other 31 percent switched from Xbox 360 to PS4.

Would the outcome have been any different if these consoles enabled older versions of games to play, I'm not certain.  But I do know that by having both companies push new gaming platforms, they each pursued a strategy of touting platform superiority.  For Xbox, it was as both a gaming and entertainment console; for Playstation as a better gaming experience.  For pure play interests, PS 4 won.  Given that both companies embraced a due over of their respective platforms, it is a no-brainer that consumers would compare and pick based on which platform best served their interests. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Apple's Stock Price Echos Investment Strategy

As Apple reaches an all time high in its stock price, it reminds me of the adage, buy on the rumor, sell on the news.  On September 9, Apple is expected to announce new versions of its iPhone, possibly new versions of its iPad, and the first launch in a number of years of a new product, the iWatch.  That is three weeks away so till then we can only speculate on what gets announced.  But for those that are fans of Apple and invest in it as a company as well, that potential news will drive the price up into Septemebr 9. 

Post that date, profit takers will no doubt sell on the news of product releases.  Yet that is short run thinking and for those that invest in the long run, the combination of long run growth and dividend return should continue to make Apple a valued investment.  For it is more than just one or two products; Apple has built an ecosystem where its products work easily with one another, iMac to iPad to iPhone to Apple TV to possibly the iWatch. Products that work seamlessly and easily with one another. 

So enjoy the up and down ride of the stock price.  Some investors will chase the short term profit while others will enjoy the long term journey.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

RIP Don Pardo

Don Pardo passed away at the age of 96, with over 4 decades in media.  From radio to television and even on digital, Pardo has touched multiple media platforms.  And while his work was mainly that of voice overs, he occasionally appeared on screen as well.  He was known by multiple generations of fans, in his early days on quiz shows like Jeopardy to his most recent work on Saturday Night Live.  And as these shows have made their way on web and OTT platform, so has Don Pardo.  He will be missed.

Football Equals Primetime Broadcast Ratings

This year, CBS begins to air Thursday Night Football to all its broadcast markets.  Certainly seeing the success that NBC has had with its Sunday Night Football games, CBS wants a similar outcome.  For both broadcasters, it attracts a large Nielsen rated audience in primetime as well as serves as a promotional vehicle to its other primetime shows.  It has previously worked for NBC in past years to raise its ratings and should do the same for CBS.

But this is not a new phenomenon.  For years, ABC was the proud owner of Monday Night Football across its broadcast footprint.  It was the home for Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, "Dandy Don" Meredith and more recently John Madden.  But a few years ago, ABC made the decision to move its football franchise off broadcast and onto its sister cable network, ESPN.  And while it surely helped ESPN ratings and assured higher license fees, I'm not sure if their ABC parent wouldn't mind now having their Monday night franchise back. 

Now as a football fan, I worry that too many nights of football will kill the golden goose.  It's one thing to commit to a Sunday afternoon of football, but the more hours and more days, the harder it is to stay tuned in.  Sometimes too much of a good thing is simply too much.  Yes Thursday Night football was first on the NFL Network, but with its move to a broadcast network, it will surely ask for bigger rivalry games to attract bigger audiences.  Thursday Night, Sunday Night, and Monday Night might just be too many.  But as we have come to learn, its never about the fan, only about the revenue.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Xbox Entertainment Might Still Have A Future

With Microsoft concentrating on cloud and products, their adventure into video content creation became short lived.  The Xbox gaming platform has been successful, but entertainment is a more risky business.  So with plans to shutter their Xbox Entertainment Studio (XES) arm, the possibility of a sale has emerged.  Per the Hollywood Reporter, "XES is shopping for a new home and has had preliminary talks with Warner Bros. about possibly becoming a stand-alone entity based at the studio. In that scenario, Warners would look to merge XES with Machinima, the video game-centric YouTube network in which it owns a stake." 

Given the rise of OTT platforms, this kind of deal makes tons of sense if the content inside the Xbox pipeline has some value to begin with.  A deal with XES doesn't necessarily automatically deliver a platform deal to the WB.  In addition, I would love to learn through Xbox research how many hours of video content are already being consumed through the platform.  I can only imagine that the vast majority comes through Netflix, Hulu, and You Tube access.  Lastly, one can only hope that the content coming out of XES is both desirable to the core audience and able to deliver some revenue in return.

In this case, it appears XES may have some distribution opportunities on premium cable as well.  Valuable content with cross platform interest that grows audience interest and long term appeal can do quite well.  Their hope is that their Halo franchise is case in point.  For Warner Bros, it is a continued eye on a future outside the traditional platforms of theatrical and television.  The rise of digital distribution across OTT platforms adds another market to mine.  And having content that appeals to the Xbox core audience demo may be a good fit. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Al Gore Wants The Rest Of His Money

When Al Gore and his partners sold Current TV to Al Jazeera, a portion of their sale was placed in an escrow account for certain potential debts owed prior to the sale.  It seems the date where all bills were to be payed has passed and Gore and partners seek the remainder of their funds.  But with Al Jazeera America, the new name for the network, not doing well in the ratings or ad dollars, those funds remain in limbo.  Yet they have grown their subscriber base from by thirty percent since the sale.  According to the NY Times, Al Jazeera sees growth, but is not ready to deliver the rest of the funds to Gore.  I just wonder if they are still happy with the deal they made. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Typical Day In The Internet Of Things

My morning starts as it usually does with my smartwatch gently buzzing my wrist.  I touch it just before my smartphone emits a later ring to remind me to rise.  As I head down the stairs and into the kitchen, I announce to my coffee maker, "start brew" as I walk to the door with today's trash to place it outside for pick up.  The door sensing my closeness, unlocks. Oh how I wish it would open automatically...maybe some day.  As I head to the curb, the door locks behind me, but not to worry; as I return, the door once again unlocks and allows me reentry.  As I enter, my smartwatch buzzes me with some breaking news.

With coffee in hand, I open my tablet to read my morning paper and catch up on any early emails.  It feels a little cool in the house, so I simply say "turn temperature up two degrees" and the HVAC system quickly begins to raise the thermometer setting in the house.  No matter, when everyone finally leaves this morning, the thermometer will automatically adjust to a preset higher temperature.

Its off to the gym.  As I enter my car, my smartwatch tells the car to engage the engine and off I go.  Driving along, I receive a text on my smartphone which is automatically moved to my car screen.  A quick glance and back to the road.  At the gym, I decide on a quick swim or jog today, either way, I can see my heart rate rise and count the distance I've traveled.   I'm also counting calories I've burned as well as eaten on this diet.  A quick bit at their snack bar, paid for with a swipe of my smartwatch over their payment machine.  After the gym, its off to work. 

A long day in the office finally brings me home.  In the car, I speak into my smartwatch to tell my home to cool down the house prior to my arrival.  The front door once again unlocks as I approach.  And as I enter, a preset radio begins to play.  But I am in the mood to watch some television.  "Radio off" I announce, then "TV on".  I follow that command with "Channel NBC" and watch the news.  The cable box knows it is me watching via my smartwatch proximity to the cable box.  Sitting on my couch, I speak "Oven on 450 degrees" as I start to consider making dinner.  The refrigerator counts that I have removed a steak and automatically adds to the grocery list on my apps.  I decide to buy more spices as well and command "grocery list add garlic powder".

As night approaches, I command "Turn down for bedtime".  The drapes in the living room close and the HVAC system changes the temperature for night.  A full day, but one made simpler with the internet of things. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Three Digital Marketing Trends

It is hard to disagree with the article in ClickZ entitled These 3 Digital Marketing Trends Are About to Change Advertising except to say that it already has.  The three trends cited are programmatic ad buying, real time marketing, and native advertising.  We live in a world of immediacy where information is value.  Our digital landscape has enabled us to not only buy and sell in real time, but to also know more about the consumer then ever before.  And the power of this demographic, psychographic, and sociographic information allows for a more targeted, more customized, more specific ad and marketing message. 

And as real purchase data gets migrated into all this big data, it will only grow more powerful too.  The question is will consumers remain apathetic to the acquiring of all this data through cookies and other means, or will they want to reclaim more of their privacy? Do consumers like that sites feed them display and video ads shortly after a search on best vacuum cleaners perhaps?  Or will they find it a bit unnerving.  Data and research are powerful tools that power programmatic advertising, real time marketing, and even native content marketing.  Its use makes the technological elements that much more useful and effective.  As to trends in the future to look for, my bet is on the rise of e-commerce purchases to future advertising.