Archive for December 2009
Social Media is rooted in relationships, the dynamic interaction and collaboration between real people. We learned and continue to learn how to communicate in public forums, evolving our personal views on privacy and uncertainty as we transform from digital introverts to social extroverts. This is our industrial revolution and its reward for participation is relevance. The socialization of online societies democratized the publishing industry and equalized influence.
A host of Web start-ups are gaining traction based on the premise that they make it easier for people to buy and sell online than the company that invented the idea: eBay Inc. Second Rotation Inc.'s Gazelle.com site, which offers people a set price to take used gadgets like iPods and laptops off their hands, last month more than doubled the number of products, to 18,000, that it took in compared with a year earlier. Glyde Corp. last month launched its own online marketplace that allows consumers to sell used books, DVDs and videogames in a system that automates posting a listing, figuring out how much to charge and even mailing it out. Gazelle pays consumers for used electronics that it then lists for resale. Above, an employee shelves electronics at the company's Boston facility. Many of these companies are tapping a recession-friendly opportunity they dub "re-commerce," which essentially means using the Internet to find a second life for used stuff that usually just gathers dust on bookshelves and in garages.
Google is stockpiling a wealth of user data. With its search engine, its advertising services, its applications, its new free DNS service, and more, the company has an incredible perspective on exactly what users are looking at. Many fear that Google could abuse this information or allow it to be abused, either for profit or to prosecute citizens who aren't necessarily guilty. In short, fears that "Big Brother is watching you" have been replace with fears that "Google is watching you". Google's recently responded to such doubts, blasting those that would harbor them. Google CEO Eric Schmidt commented to CNBC, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."
Gone are the days of relying solely on boasts about towing capacities and horsepower to move the metal. Ford and Chevy dealers soon will start talking more about fuel economy and iPod outlets as the companies roll out new compact and subcompact cars.
Five major magazine and newspaper publishers on Tuesday announced plans to build an industry-standard platform to present their work on the Web, phones and e-readers in a richer, more flexible and more lucrative form than is possible today. The consortium of Time Inc., Conde Nast, the Hearst Corporation, Meredith and the News Corporation does not lack for ambition, hoping to design software primarily for devices that do not yet exist – cellphones more advanced than anything now on the market and e-readers far more sophisticated than today’s mostly static, black-and-white devices.
In the beleaguered music industry’s latest bid to generate more money from its content, two top music labels on Tuesday will introduce Vevo, a Web site for music videos. Vevo is co-owned by the Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and the Abu Dhabi Media Company. Vevo said Monday that it had signed up a third major music label, EMI Music, as a video provider, leaving only one holdout among the big four labels, Warner Music. Vevo said conversations with Warner were continuing.
France's Groupe Danone finally lost its foothold in China this fall after a two-year legal battle with local beverage maker Wahaha. Apple's iPhone logged a disappointing debut there in November. Figuring out the Chinese retail market -- which posted 5.9 trillion yuan ($867.6 billion) in total sales in the first half of this year -- is far from a piece of cake for some big international corporations. But not for Kraft. The president of Kraft International, Sanjay Khosla, told Forbes how the world's second largest food company overhauled its recipe for success to align with the particular appetites of China's 1.3 billion people. It now boasts the biggest market share in China in two major categories: cookies and powdered beverages.
The economy seems to be stabilizing, and this has prompted a shift in the public mood. Raw fear has given way to anxiety that the recovery will be feeble and drab. Companies are hoarding cash. Banks aren’t lending to small businesses. Private research spending is drifting downward. People are asking anxious questions about America’s future. Will it take years before the animal spirits revive? Can the economy rebalance so that it relies less on consumption and debt and more on innovation and export? Have we entered a period of relative decline?
Nike is changing directions to go places it's never gone. But the floor leader directing this isn't legendary co-founder Phil Knight– as well-known for his ego as his vision. It's his unassuming, hand-picked replacement, Mark Parker. After four years as CEO, Parker is growing Nike from a brand that you slip on your feet or pull over your shoulders to one that follows you off the field into your life of digital socializing and New World hobbies.
From Studio 6B at 30 Rockefeller Center, NBC brought Milton Berle, Jack Parr and Johnny Carson into the nation’s living rooms, then broadcast local news to New York City for decades. Last Thursday, it was a stage for a cable takeover as Comcast announced a plan to acquire NBC Universal. There, in Studio 6B, a town hall meeting for NBC employees opened with Jeff Zucker, the NBC Universal chief executive, introducing “our new friends from Philadelphia,” and closed with a formal welcome to the Comcast family by Ralph Roberts, the cable operator’s 89-year-old patriarch. Mr. Roberts received a standing ovation. For employees of the oldest and most storied part of NBC Universal, the broadcast network, one question lingered: will we fit into this cable family?