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Rockie & Me

Rockie and Me

I was explaining to Rockie that I was Fake Keith.

Back in 1995 I played a show in Jersey City opening for a Stones cover band called Sticky Fingers. Fake Mick and I hit it off and enjoyed some groupies and 420 in the Men’s Room. I told him we had fun dancing to his music, but that we needed a ride back to Hoboken because the rest of the band didn’t want to stay for the cover band. Fake Mick told me that he thought I played guitar like Keith, but that we should just walk home or take a cab. It was such a good night that we didn’t care.

About two months later Fake Mick called me from his home base in Boston and asked me if I wanted to do a Southern tour. He said that he and Fake Keith were fighting and that Fake Bill and Fake Charlie didn’t want to travel all that distance. I don’t remember what Fake Ronnie/ Brian/ Mick Taylor thought.

I was living with a punk band and we needed rent money so the timing was impeccable. The pay was $300 per show, plus per diem. This was by far the best paying gig I had, and yet I felt so dirty when I agreed to be the musical director. I hired the punk band to back us up, augmented by an alcoholic Americana guitar genius from the band The Ex-Husbands. We played the Stones with a punk edge – awesome on When The Whip Comes Down, and it really worked down South where one radio guy said we sounded like Skynard playing the Stones. Fake Mick encouraged us to jam and entertain the crowd by playing with our teeth or behind our backs or jumping into the crowd.

One night I did the rock star back bend on my knees. I had my eyes closed when I felt my face and my guitar covered in something wet. Fake Mick had done a whole sex thing where he blew a beer in my face, much to the audience’s delight.

The audience was full of drunks, sometimes women jumped on stage and started dancing, we played behind chicken fence one night in a roadhouse in Georgia, and we had a bad night only once when we lost out to the Beatle cover band. Damn that Fake McCartney.

Anyway, Rockie couldn’t get past the money. He keeps harping on how short sighted I was not to keep playing with those guys. I told Rockie, I know that now! But he just keeps coming back to it. He says that’s why I need him. He says he is more objective about the business side. He also says I am dating the wrong women, but that he’s going to help me with that too.


A Postmodern Internet’s Impact On Music

A Postmodern Internet’s Impact On Music, Art, Fashion and Writing

Tasting like a burst of sour when you bite into an unsqueezed slice of lemon, the distribution and marketing of music has changed in the same way that cities have grown – not with class and planning, but through the shortest method to the quickest buck.

My premise here is that the mountain pass is too narrow for a corporation to slip through. You have to have the ability to move fast and be prepared to take unexpected hits that you often can’t see the impact of until time has passed and the fire has started. And that fire will spread.

The lessons I learned at Cornell on Deconstruction, and the time I spent as an apprentice writer to the most important minimalist author to walk the planet, John Barth, exposed to me to possibilities of unconventional storytelling. The medium of the Internet is the perfect canvas for post-modern authors.

I was at a real Hollywood party with actually funny writers – and even if they write drivel for money, they often have very amusing observations that make you think and laugh, especially if you’ve got your mojo going. Anyway, I was introduced as the great writer that doesn’t write anymore. I explained that writing novels seemed to me to be almost like riding a horse and buggy to work. I love pretentious writers, and I fancy myself to be one as well. However, I need feedback on what I write and sitting in a room of pretentious writers, which is what we did at Johns Hopkins and in my writing groups, doesn’t represent the real world.

I also need support. I am not continuing on this topic unless I get some hard data to suggest it’s worth the time.

What does that mean, I don’t know. Maybe you can tell me?

City WInery

1-15-13 All Access Pass


10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

By Susan Gunelius at

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It’s vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and — perhaps most importantly — your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. The Law of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

8. The Law of Acknowledgment
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.

9. The Law of Accessibility
Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

10. The Law of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others.


For alcohol brand-related social media issues

For alcohol brands, social media a stiff cocktail
by Caroline McCarthy

On a Monday morning late last month, at the headquarters of the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association, the promotional vehicle for a vineyard-speckled region about four hours northwest of Manhattan, something was amiss with Foursquare.
Namely, the Corning, N.Y.-based tourism group’s account on the location-sharing social-media site was doing something funny: It was triggering friend requests. That’s not supposed to happen with a Foursquare account that’s set up as a brand or business page–users should be able to automatically follow the brand or company, rather than having to wait to have their requests approved individually, as would be the case with a regular personal profile. The switch seemed to indicate that Finger Lakes Wine Country’s brand page had been, in effect, demoted.
“My office manager, who handles all of our general e-mail inquiries, said, ‘Has there been a change to our Foursquare page? All of a sudden I’m getting all these friend requests’,” related Morgen McLaughlin, the president of the tourism group. “Then we received an e-mail from Foursquare that they had suspended the account because of the alcohol content.”
When some of the trendiest destinations for digital brand marketing and advertising are small social networks with limited resources, brands in restricted sectors like the alcohol industry–and those that might be on the periphery of it–start to run into these kinds of problems. Foursquare built a name for itself as a way for nightlife-happy 20-somethings to “check in” to bars in cities and let their friends know where they were throwing back brews. But because Foursquare does not at present have technology in place to effectively verify users’ ages, alcohol-related brands are currently barred from participating in its brand pages program.
Twitter, too, has been hesitant to permit the promotion or inclusion of alcohol in its Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends ad program, excluding them from it at first and now cautiously allowing a few very large companies. (It should be noted that Promoted Products are still restricted overall to a few hundred brands. None of the alcohol brands that have been permitted access have bought Twitter ads yet, according to a company spokesman.)

Advertising wine, or even activities that may be related to wine, can be tough on social-media sites like Foursquare and Twitter.
(Credit: CC: Flickr user umbrialovers)
Finger Lakes Wine Country managed to contact Foursquare to resolve the problem, and after explaining that it was a tourist group rather than an organization that actually sells wine, its brand page was reinstated. McLaughlin says she can see where Foursquare was coming from. “It absolutely makes sense, especially when you’re talking about specific businesses that sell and market alcohol. So, yeah, a winery should have its page restricted. Thirteen-year-olds or 15-year-olds probably shouldn’t be thinking about wineries and breweries,” she told CNET. “We’re not a wine marketing company, per se, we’re a destination, and so for some people, especially in legal, that becomes a very hard point of definition.”
Social-media companies like Foursquare do, of course, ask for users’ ages and can theoretically use that to gauge which users are of legal drinking age. But it’s not that easy, explains Ted Zeller, an attorney with law firm Norris McLaughlin and Marcus, P.A. who specializes in alcohol beverage law. “If you’re an alcohol brand, I know of no federal Internet law restrictions as far as advertisements go–the same would be applicable to TV advertisements,” Zeller said. “The problems that you run into are more state-based regulations.”
A few states, like Utah and Pennsylvania–where Zeller, who has represented the Yuengling brewing company in court, is based–have extremely stringent regulations that extend all the way up the alcohol industry’s chain of command from wholesalers to consumer marketing. Foursquare’s hurdle here would be that it would either need to abide by different laws for different states, or put in place overarching age verification and advertising regulations that adhere to even the strictest state laws. “That’s the difficulty,” Zeller said. “It’s a tremendous hurdle from a legal perspective.”
The irony is that social media, given the vast amount of personal information that users are prone to entering into profiles, ought to make things easier for an industry that needs to carefully target its advertising and marketing based on legal restrictions. But that information can be so vast and unverifiable, and a social-networking site’s reach so global, that it can instead get even more complex. Geolocation services like Foursquare, where an essential part of the experience is moving from place to place, crossing state or even international boundaries in the process, brings a whole new piece to the puzzle. In comparison, traditional advertisements–TV ads distributed based on a static television market, ensuring that billboard ads are kept the required distance from churches or schools based on state laws–seem far simpler.
The company that’s perhaps figured this out best is Facebook, which has fine-tuned its targeted display ads so meticulously that it’s been able to put forth a precise set of regulations for alcohol advertisers. Age-based restrictions are in place for multiple countries, as are some outright bans in countries like Egypt, Norway, and the United Arab Emirates, which prohibit alcohol advertising of any type. If a Facebook user has not filled out his or her profile extensively enough to determine age or location, that user will not see any alcohol-related ads. Access to alcohol-related “fan pages” can also be age-restricted.
And some alcohol-related brands have actually taken advantage of restrictions in order to create campaigns that give their brands an elite, “secret club” vibe. Tequila company Patron and beer brand Stella Artois have created, respectively, the “Patron Social Club” and “La Societe Stella Artois,” members-only networking communities that offer perks and promotions in exchange for top-of-the-line age verification.
But when it comes to the most basic and obvious uses of social media–a Foursquare brand page, a promoted tweet on Twitter–the roadblocks can be frustrating for companies ranging from a local winery or brewpub to a mass-market rum company looking to launch a spring break promotion.
“I feel sorry for a lot of these small start-up companies, because the percentage of usage growth is huge, so the companies don’t have the internal infrastructure to be able to deal with these things case by case,” Finger Lakes Wine Country’s Morgen McLaughlin said. “I remember in the beginning with Facebook, I actually got thrown off because I was posting about our new travel guide to too many friends.”
But in spite of the inherent red tape that comes from working with small start-ups in a rigid advertising environment–and the continual need to explain that, no, her company doesn’t sell liquor–social media is where McLaughlin plans to continue focusing. “In 2010, Facebook was the No. 1 Web referral to our Web site outside of organic search, by huge numbers,” she told CNET. “We’ve connected with major wine and travel writers on Twitter. Without those tools, our destination would not be nearly as visible.”


GM hires hot New York social media firm, Big Fuel

Big Fuel, a New York-based marketing and communications agency, will open a Detroit office to handle social media campaigns for General Motors.

The expansion will allow Big Fuel to work with GM on a day-to-day basis, according to Seth Berk, VP of business development at Big Fuel. The two companies will collaborate on social media marketing campaigns structured around each individual GM brand line. The campaigns will roll out throughout the first quarter of 2011.

“Each of GM’s brand lines has their own audience demographic that we are working with them on reaching,” Berk said. The challenge with any social media effort, according to Berk, is understanding the audience and its needs. Big Fuel will work closely with GM to “make sure the messaging is appropriate and relevant to [each brand] audience,” Berk said.

The company’s Detroit office will consist of 30 staff members. Between 20 and 40 new staff members will also be added to the company’s New York office. GM and Big Fuel have been working together for the past six months on the upcoming campaigns. GM previously developed its own social media campaigns in-house.

Big Fuel works with 18 clients, including Colgate-Palmolive, Neutrogena, and Fox Interactive Media.

The story was first reported today on

GM could not be reached for comment.


7 Ways to Get Your Social Media Marketing Money’s Worth

7 Ways to Get Your Social Media Marketing Money’s Worth

By Kevin S. Ryan & Jeff Zabin
E-Commerce Times
12/22/10 5:00 AM PT

Done right, social media campaigns can be pretty flexible in scope and design, allowing marketers to shift gears to reflect facts on the ground. In fact, because of the two-way nature of most social media, brands can win laurels for adjusting their efforts in the face of criticism or lack of response.

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n the rush to Facebook, marketers are discovering that different kinds of content drive different kinds of results — and different social networks respond in different ways. It was not that long ago that the experts warned that brands could not “sell” in social media, that the audience would rebel, and that social media efforts would fail. We have learned, however, that when done correctly, it absolutely is possible to promote goods and services to online fans and friends.

Top Performers are focused most heavily on taking advantage of the “social” aspect of social media marketing, indicating a begrudging acceptance of the current state of ROI measurement, Gleanster research reveals.

Following are seven ways that Top Performers are maximizing the value of their investments in social media marketing initiatives. The research findings are based on the experiences of 284 companies that participated in the Gleanster survey for the new benchmark report Social Media Marketing (currently available for free download).

1. Give consumers a good reason to want to share brand-related content.

Good community managers have learned over time that one of the keys to a successful engagement campaign is to provide quality content that is relevant to the brand but that does not necessarily promote consumption of the brand.

Marketers who run social media efforts for companies large and small need to remember that customers want to take the lead in advocating for the brand. Brands might point them in the right direction, but consumers will be most inclined to interact with the content if it provides value, solves a problem, or is just plain interesting.

2. Identify and engage top influencers.

The influencers and brand advocates that gravitate to a company’s online communities and social media sites are the holy grail for marketers. These are the people who will tell the brand story, rally others to the brand’s side, and speak up when the need occurs.

With the right social media monitoring tools, brands can identify these people without engaging in social media marketing themselves, but they’ll generally be at a loss to do anything about it without joining the social media universe, even on a small scale.

Influencers are a funny breed. Brands should foster a positive relationship with them, but should be careful not to “buy” their influence. Just showing them respect and attention, and giving them early information, should be enough to keep them involved.

3. Leverage the reach and multiplier effect of social networks.

Social media platforms work by allowing people to connect and communicate with circles of friends — each with their own circle of friends.

These overlapping and interconnected circles allow users to broadcast their stories to their networks, and also allow the information to creep into the larger networks.

Marketers who create interesting offers, content or apps for these networks can find that the social capital pays off by sparking a “me too” connection to the brand.

4. Adjust promotional tactics as needed, based on campaign performance.

Top Performers are outdistancing others by paying closer attention to the effectiveness of their social media marketing — and changing course when necessary.

Done right, social media campaigns can be pretty flexible in scope and design, allowing marketers to shift gears to reflect facts on the ground. In fact, because of the two-way nature of most social media, brands can win laurels for adjusting their efforts in the face of criticism or lack of response.

Either way, the ability to modify a campaign to make it more effective or to draw a larger response has clear benefits that are not as readily available in more traditional marketing campaigns.

5. Generate new content and conversation on campaign landing pages.

Content costs money, and marketing content can sometimes come across as, well, marketing content. User-generated content, on the other hand, is generally authentic and is perceived by the audience as trustworthy.

This user content can also make static pages seem alive, offering a constant stream of changes. Brands need to be willing to take their lumps, though, because these unvarnished and sometimes impolitic comments can be off-putting.

6. Host one or more branded online customer communities.

Branded customer communities can be an effective way to gain customer insights, marshal enthusiasm and develop advocates.

Communities generally have strong value in natural search. But they are no slam dunk. They require a lot of TLC, and are something of a slow build.

The challenge, frequently, is in keeping the focus on building the community long enough to actually build the community. Done correctly, branded communities can pay off in spades.

7. Integrate social media with other media buys and campaigns.

Social media marketing is seductive, because there’s the perception that you can do it on the fly — that you don’t need the kind of planning and back-end support as you do for email marketing campaigns or traditional marketing efforts.

More and more marketers are adding Facebook and Twitter mentions to their ads and marketing collateral. The callouts frequently are mere invitations to join or follow the brand on those sites. However, aggressive marketers are finding ways to bring value to the fan for taking the action.

They are offering exclusive content, special deals or early information. The comingling of social media marketing with other campaigns can have the effect of making the entire brand seem more in line with the sensibilities of today’s consumer.

Kevin S. Ryan is research fellow at Gleanster and former vice president of social media at Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS). He can be reached at Jeff Zabin is research director at Gleanster and former research fellow at Aberdeen Group. He can be reached at


How to Build 24/7 Relationships, Using New Media

New rules for how to keep in touch with your customers.

The old 1-800 style of customer service is slowly being eroded. Companies are recognizing that every interaction matters and are therefore starting to open up new channels of communication to offer instant access, robust feedback loops, and rapid response.

Customer service is often driven reactively, relegated to a cost center and considered a negative touchpoint. Despised by customers and riddled with clichés, it’s a broken system that reflects poorly on an organization’s underlying structure, culture, and brand values.

Today, real-time connectivity is changing the game. New communication tools are supporting open access, robust feedback, direct participation, and immediacy of information. We are seeing consistent evidence that one-way, linear flows of communication are shifting to continuous dialogue through multiple channels.
TAKE ACTION: Designing for Life’s Changes

1. Don’t invade, connect
Build continuity throughout the life of the relationship with your customers, without invading their space.

2. Transform monologue to dialogue
Host a dialogue that gets both sides talking in order to create a continuous loop: listen, respond, act.

3. Create redundancy
Design multiple points of entry. Allow access from all sides, in multiple channels, tailored for any number of situations.
4. Outside in/inside out
Open up access to what’s going on behind the scenes. Make it human by making it authentic.

5. Leverage existing platforms
Don’t invent, integrate. Systems are already in place so that you can communicate via tools consumers already use.

THE EVIDENCE: Stories from Around the Globe

Always-on Customer Service

People are vocal when things go wrong and new media tools amplify this, but the online shoe company Zappos has turned that to its advantage. Zappos maintains an Insights page, a Facebook account, and each employee has a Twitter account, which allows them to act as ambassadors for the company.

Jeanne’s last job was at a traditional call center, where it was just one call after the next: “I felt like a robot, with no connection to the people I worked with or the person on the other end of the line.” When she started at Zappos, the first thing she was asked to do was to set up a profile and Twitter account. “Once I even sent a woman flowers after she’d opened up to me about a family incident.”

How might you build personal connections with your customers? How might you turn negative interactions into positive ones by responding to issues in real time?

Meaningful Micro-moments

It’s been hard for Jane, a 33-year-old New Yorker, to find a doctor she can trust. And it doesn’t help when she has to wait two hours for a three-minute appointment: “If I’m sick, I’m sick, and I want to know what’s wrong as soon as I can.”

Since she signed up for the Hello Health service, she’s able to communicate with her doctor rather than with the system. She can use IM, video chats, and Facebook-like profiles to ask about even the smallest things. Jane is a self-described hypochondriac and needs reassurance that, yes, it’s just a cold. The fact that her doctor is always there for her, either in person or just a simple email away, means everything to her.

How can we transform the old system with new tools? How can we make getting a medical checkup as simple as getting a coffee at Starbucks?

The New Public Dialogue

During the 2008 US election, Jenna watched speeches on YouTube, got updates on her mobile phone, and subscribed to feeds. “Never before have I felt so involved,” she said. “When it came time to watch the inauguration, I could see it with my Facebook status updates on CNN.”

Citizens the world over have discovered the utility of mobile phones, YouTube, and Blogger to produce their own news coverage and influence world events. Dumisani Ndlela, a journalist in Zimbabwe, wrote about the use of SMS jokes to make sense of the election stalemate. Halfway across the world, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi regretted that his governing party ignored alternative media there: “It was a serious misjudgment. We made the biggest mistake in thinking that it was not important.”

How might governments reach the public using the social networking tools? How can citizens and NGOs use them to make government more transparent, accountable, and responsive?

Simple Tools for the Little Guys
Michael Coffey, chief executive of BlueCotton in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is using tools like Twitter to enhance customer service without significant infrastructure investment. The 25-employee, $4 million company lets customers design their own shirts online. Two of Coffey’s factory workers have recently used iPhones to send photo tweets of completed shirts right before shipping. “Customers have some anxiety when they purchase shirts online,” Coffey says. “The tweets help alleviate those concerns and create real fans of the company.”

Bridging Services for Direct Access
Being stuck in a tree of menu options isn’t what you need when things are going wrong. Often what people want is to simply talk to a person. is a cheat sheet that tells frustrated consumers the right buttons to push on a telephone to reach a human in the customer service department at hundreds of companies. From full-service suites to message boards, many services are emerging to help consumers navigate complex systems that weren’t built for customer satisfaction.

Portals for Public Action
Services that aggregate voices to support popular action are already widespread. Vote Report India is a collaborative election-monitoring platform that disseminates information and supports citizen action. Users contribute direct SMS, email, and web reports on violations of the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct. The platform compiles these direct reports with news reports, blog posts, photos, videos, and tweets related to the elections. Citizens can monitor all relevant sources, in one place, on an interactive map.

Be a Pattern Spotter

Now that you’ve been exposed to a few different examples, don’t be surprised if you start seeing Life’s Changes patterns all around. Keep your eyes open and let us know what you find, especially if it’s the next new pattern.

PATTERNS are a collection of shared thoughts, insights, and observations gathered by IDEO through their work and the world around them. Read more about PATTERNS here.

Jenny Comiskey has collaborated with a wide range of clients to define new platforms, service experiences, and innovation strategies. She has an abundant curiosity for uncovering the small nuances of individual behaviors, complementing that with a macro view of emerging social and cultural patterns. Jenny is most at home when tackling messy systemic issues, applying design thinking to reframe complex problems, enable positive impact, uncover new opportunities for value creation, and define “what’s next.”

Aradhana Goel is the design and innovation lead for IDEO’s portfolio in India and focuses on strategic program and partner development in the region. She has extensive experience ranging from architecture and urban design to experience design to service innovation. She is passionate about understanding human behaviors, how they inform the collective societal patterns, and how these patterns intersect with technology and business needs to inform innovative products, services, environments, organizations and systems.

Simon King is an interaction designer whose work spans macro and micro, from long-term platform strategy to pixels and milliseconds. His areas of interests include adaptive systems, multi-channel platforms, and information visualization. At IDEO Chicago he has worked on a diverse range of projects including medical devices, financial services, mobile payments, and the digital experience of the Olympic games. Simon holds a masters degree in Interaction Design from Carnegie Mellon University and a BFA in Graphic Design from Western Michigan University.

For over 10 years, Jenny Comiskey, a senior design strategist, has collaborated with a wide range of clients d


Apple jumping into the social networking business with Ping

From Apple, a Step Into Social Media for Music
Published: September 1, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple jumped into the social networking business on Wednesday, introducing Ping, a service built into iTunes that is intended to help users discover new music and, presumably, buy more songs from Apple.

Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, showcased Ping at an event here along with a string of other new products. They included updates to Apple’s iPod line of music players and new software that allows wireless printing from iPads and iPhones.

Mr. Jobs also introduced a much-anticipated upgrade of its Apple TV set-top box that is smaller and, at $99, significantly cheaper than its predecessor, which did not sell well. It allows users to rent television shows from Fox and ABC for 99 cents, and like many other devices, it can also stream movies from Netflix.

Mr. Jobs said the changes to the iPod lineup, which include new versions of the Shuffle, Nano and Touch models, were the most significant since Apple introduced its first music player in 2001.

“This year we’ve gone wild,” Mr. Jobs said. Sales of iPods have declined this year, but revenue from them has continued to grow as more buyers choose the higher-priced Touch model.

An unexpected announcement from Mr. Jobs was the introduction of Ping. With it, users will be able to follow friends and see what music they have bought or enjoyed, what concerts they plan to attend and what music they have reviewed. They will also be able to follow bands and get updates on their new releases, concert tours and other events.

Many other online music services like Pandora and Zune Social from Microsoft already have features that allow friends to share information about music.

While other social networks have struggled in the shadow of Facebook, some analysts said that Apple had a chance to turn Ping into a success. The service will be instantly available to 160 million iTunes users, as long as they download the latest version of the software, which Apple released on Wednesday.

“Apple wants to create even tighter links with iTunes users and keep them a click away from buying a song,” said Mike McGuire, a vice president with Gartner. “Ping will give people more reasons to spend frequently and rapidly.”

While Ping may put Apple in competition with Facebook, its impact on the struggling MySpace may be more pronounced, analysts said. MySpace has emphasized music over the last few years.

“This isn’t about reconnecting with your girlfriend from eighth grade,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with the Altimeter Group. “This is about talking to people about music.”

A spokeswoman for MySpace declined to comment.

Mr. Jobs said Ping would have simple privacy controls. Anyone will be able to follow bands and receive their updates, and users will be able to say whether they want to be followed by anyone or only by people they approve.

The new iPod Touch is thinner than the previous model and comes equipped with front- and rear-facing cameras, as well as Apple’s FaceTime video chatting software. It also has the same high-resolution retina display that Apple first showcased on the iPhone 4 earlier this year.

The Touch comes in three versions; the cheapest has 8 gigabytes of storage and costs $229.

Apple shrank the iPod Nano by replacing its wheel interface with a touch screen. It costs $149 for an 8-gigabyte version and $179 for 16 gigabytes.

In introducing the new version of Apple TV, Mr. Jobs acknowledged that the set-top box had not been as successful as he had hoped. The new version replaces the download-to-own model with a rental service that has shows from Fox and ABC for 99 cents. Mr. Jobs said the other networks had yet to agree to Apple’s pricing.

“We think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board with us,” he said.

But that is far from guaranteed. All television studios are wary of distributing their shows in new ways on the Internet for fear of harming their existing businesses, which rely on cable and satellite subscriptions.

Fox and ABC agreed to Apple’s pricing model only after lengthy negotiations and heated internal discussions, especially at Fox’s parent, the News Corporation.

ABC’s participation is not surprising, given that Mr. Jobs is the largest shareholder and a board member of its parent, the Walt Disney Company.

For its part, Fox suggested that its agreement with Apple was something of an experiment. In a statement, Jim Gianopulos, the chairman and chief executive of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said the studio was excited to work with Apple over the next several months to “explore this innovative offering.”

Other networks, like CBS and NBC, are pointedly not participating in the rentals program. “Episodic television is not a pay-per-view business,” said Keith J. Cocozza, a spokesman for Time Warner, which owns HBO, TNT and other channels. Companies like Time Warner are instead supporting the existing subscription TV model, which is being gradually extended to the Web.

Analysts said that the new Apple TV was likely to be more of a hit than its $299 predecessor, in part because of its low price, but also because of software that allows users to stream content from their iPhones and iPads to their TVs through the set-top box. But they said Apple’s challenges in securing more content underscored the continuing difficulties that technology companies faced in cracking the TV market.

“Apple has not yet made a significant play for control of the TV,” James L. McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester, wrote on his blog.

Brian Stelter contributed reporting from New York.


Disney bets on Social Media

By MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — You’ve got to hand it to Walt Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger. He is not afraid to shake up a corporate culture when he spies an opportunity to achieve a higher rate of return for his stockholders.

Disney (DIS 33.77, +0.06, +0.18%) is essentially swapping the movie business — by selling off Miramax for some $660 million — for the bright lights of … social media, by agreeing earlier this week to acquire Playdom, a social-gaming destination on the Internet, for about $563 million.

Presto! Disney said Friday it would sell Miramax to businessman Ron Tutor and his partners, and a new culture is born at Iger’s shop. And it is a good idea, too. The movie business is as volatile as ever. Someone smart like Iger concludes that there is no good reason for a media behemoth to roll the dice time after time on a big-budget extravaganza which fails to make a profit. 

The new media present opportunities and challenges for executives everywhere. In the entertainment industry, brand names matter. More than ever. There are so many platforms available to present content. “Snow White” will be as vital — and potentially lucrative — on some youngster’s iPad (AAPL 258.31, +0.20, +0.08%) as it ever was in a movie theater or on home television.

Social media are increasingly the most exciting developments in the communications industry. Facebook can influence the population’s culture, the economy and politics. Twitter has clout, too.

Disney is shrewd to flex its muscle in this area. Hooray for … social media.

— Jon Friedman


The Social Media Revolution growth exceed Industrial Revolution?

The growth of social media is incredible. Facebook tops google for weekly traffic, Social Media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the web, 1 out of 8 people married in the US met via social media,etc


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January 2023