Archive for November 2008
TJ Caveney, VP of Marketing and Sales at OMS SafeHarbor invites you to join him on Tuesday December 9th at 2:00pm Eastern Time for a presentation entitled Customer Self-Service: Electronic Software Distribution -The Competitive Edge.This presentation looks at the rationale behind empowering your customers to act independently and at ESD as the way of promoting self-service. It looks at the differences between the B2C and B2B markets. The presentation looks at the overall benefits to both the customer and the software vendor.
Sign-up today for the webinar on our website: www.o-ms.com/event_registry.php.
Here is a preview:
This presentation highlights how establishing a customer self-service center can help boost your company’s competitive edge through better customer support and reduced product delivery and support costs.
It starts out defining the base functionality that a customer self-service center should have and how the customer can be empowered to act when and how they feel it necessary while having their needs better serviced. The flip side is the company downloading support costs, streamlining distribution and reducing service calls. Standardization and process automation help to reduce manual intervention making more efficient use of your resources while providing more service to your customer. This allows your company to react in real time using structured processes to respond to adhoc customer support.
The presentation outlines the goals (both stated and intended) and discusses how a phased approach can provide tactical wins (cost reduction, customer support and streamlining) while addressing strategic goals such as increased sales (cross-selling, upselling and maintenance service attachment opportunities), marketing and business intelligence (market research, product mix/bundling and active users/customer profiles) and internal productivity gains and reduced time-to-market.
Finally it looks briefly at some of the base data elements that need to be serviced by various internal business systems. It touches on the challenges of unifying customers, products, orders and support into an automated and integrated information collective.
DRM news from the EU
France and the European Commission have fought another round in their battle over how to deal with online piracy. This time, the Council on Education, Youth and Culture blocked a French effort to write ‘three strikes’ style penalties into its conclusions on distributing online content.
More information/commentatry related to our RSS question a few weeks ago.
RSS is more than aggregation — it’s the new personalization: “A recent press release concerning ArnoldIT‘s Google monitoring service piqued my interest. It turns out to be a nicely formatted aggregation page for Google blogs. The most recent five blog entries (or titles therefrom) are grouped together by category. Google has over 70 different blogs (for everything from Gears and Gadgets to OpenSocial and Chrome). Keeping up with them all is nearly impossible. Hence the ArnoldIT aggregation service, dubbed ‘Overflight.’
While handy in its own right, Overflight is not available as an RSS feed. It also doesn’t seem to be searchable. So I decided to see if I could mash together my own version of Overflight (tailored to my own research needs), using Yahoo Pipes, the visual Web-app builder.
As it turns out, I was able to cobble together an Overflight workalike in a matter of 90 minutes or so (give or take a bag of microwave popcorn). I didn’t have time to aggregate all 70-something Google blogs, so I concentrated just on the twelve developer blogs that are of particular interest to me. My app is on the Pipes site as Google Developer Blogs Super-Feed, which you can subscribe to here.
With my super-feed, you can see the title, description, and content for the most recent 8 blog entries in all twelve Google developer blogs that I chose to aggregate (AJAX Search API, Gears, Gadgets, OpenSocial, Open Source, Mashup Editor, Web Toolkit, App Engine, Google Code, iGoogle, Desktop, and Data API blogs). That’s 96 entries total. Actually, it can be less than that if a blog is cross-categorized, since I included logic that removes duplicates.
A tool of this kind is obviously more useful if it allows searching. The keyword-search version is here. (It supports single words or exact phrases.) You’ll notice that after you perform a search, a header bar will appear above the results-list containing various links and buttons you can use to subscribe to (and/or syndicate) that particular search. In other words, you can search on ‘AJAX’ and then subscribe to the query as a feed; then you could search on ‘Google Docs’ and subscribe to that query as a feed. And so on.
Is Pipes the ideal way to build Web apps? Not necessarily. The list of things you can’t accomplish with Pipes is quite long, and the learning curve (for what you get) is somewhat steep. But it offers a glimpse (arguably) of how some Web apps will be built in the future.
What this exercise really shows, however, is the power of standards like RSS. This is a point worth emphasizing. As Web content becomes more granular, compositional, and personalizable (not to mention more perishable), subscribability becomes a design consideration. Users want to be able to opt into dynamic content. This is a theme I’ve seen emerge over the past year in the Web CMS world as well as in Enterprise Search, where it’s no longer enough just to let users save queries; they now need to be able to subscribe to their queries (or the content generated by them).
Bottom line? Feed-based delivery of content isn’t just about aggregation; it’s about empowering users — giving them the power to choose how they want to consume content. That’s a subtle distinction that’s driving a good deal of change in the content management industry right now, and it’s something we continue to watch carefully.”
Amazon just announced their formal entry into the CDN space.
Dan Raburn’s (see blogroll) comments on pricing pressure are below.
We started looking at it yesterday.
Why Amazon’s CDN Offering Is No Threat To Akamai, Limelight or CDN Pricing: “As expected, I’ve already read half a dozen posts this morning from those who are saying Amazon’s new CloudFront CDN offering is either going to challenge CDNs such as Akamai and Limelight for business or will force CDNs to cut…“
Another good article from Techcrunch just now.
Here is the stark reality of online video: nobody is making much money and the enthusiastic projections for online video advertising going from $500 million in 2008 to more than $5 billion in five years will undoubtedly be pared back in the coming weeks as analysts revisit their numbers. (Those numbers are from August—eMarketer).
The writing is already on the wall. YouTube is resorting to selling off video search results to the sexiest bidder and just today announced that it is extending overlay ads in YouTube Partner videos to embedded videos on other sites (previously these would only show up on YouTube itself). It is pulling out all the stops to try to get those revenues flowing. Meanwhile, smaller video startups such as Veoh and Revsion3 have already cut back on staff and shows in order to survive. So you can throw this slide out the window:
There is plenty of video inventory, just not a lot that advertisers want. Although YouTube streams more than 5 billion videos a month, estimates bandied about are that only 3 to 4 percent of those videos have ads. That is still a lot of videos, but it means that much smaller competitors such as Hulu that focus only on professionally-produced, advertiser-friendly videos are much closer in revenues to YouTube than the raw number of video streams would suggest.
But even the videos produced and distributed online by the TV networks are bringing in only a fraction of the advertising dollars that they do on regular TV. NBC CEO Jeff Zucker’s fear that the Web will turn ‘analog dollars’ into ‘digital pennies is coming true. According to Dean Denhart, the CEO of BlackArrow (a company that provides an ad-management system for on-demand video across both cable and the Web), mainstream video fetches an average of about 50-cents per thousand viewers per hour watched on broadcast and cable TV, compared to 5 cents per thousand viewers per hour watched for the same video on the Web.
In other words, TV and media companies can make ten times as much by putting a video on TV than they can by putting it on the Web, even if that video attracts the same size audience. Online video startups can look at that as an opportunity to close that gap, but they should also realize that the Web is not the only game in town. In fact, cable companies are striking back by gradually shifting up their video-on-demand channels to a bigger mix of free, advertising-supported video. Cable’s answer to Youtube will be more video-on-demand channels with better videos that advertisers will line up to buy ads for at ten times the price they are willing to pay for ads on YouTube, or Hulu for that matter.
Here’s a slide Denhart likes to show that puts things into perspective. In 2008, he estimates that people in the U.S. watched 389 billion hours of plain old TV. That compares to 95 billion hours of on-demand TV, which he breaks up into live DVR (59 billion hours), time-shifted DVR (23 billion), cable and satellite video-on-demand (6 billion hours), online video (7 billion hours), and digital downloads (800 million hours). So of all 484 billion hours people will spend watching video in the U.S. this year, only 1.4 percent will be online video.
By 2010, Denhart thinks the overall viewer-controlled portion of the video pie will increase from 20 percent of all time spent watching videos to 32 percent. And both online video and video-on-demand will both grow to 2.7 percent of time watched, or about 14 billion hours each. Which segment do you think will be making more money from advertising in two years?
Last month, I co-moderated a Beet.TV roundtable on online video where we discussed some of these issues. It was clear that the budding online video industry is still trying to figure out the best way to proceed to profitability. Below are two clips from that event.
In the first clip, Brightcove exec Adam Berrey suggests that focusing too much on video advertising inventory per se (pre-rolls, post-rolls, etc.) is the wrong way to think about it. Instead media companies should think more holistically about selling their audience instead of their inventory. And video is just one way to do that. Also brands that use online videos to tell stories about their products may end up creating closer connections to consumers than simply sticking a 15-second commercial on a million videos produced by somebody else.
In the second clip, MSNBC.com president Charlie Tillinghast paints a dour picture of the exit scenarios for Web video startups. Web video startups hoping to get bought by a bigger media company will likely be disappointed by the price they can get. And it is no longer enough to simply have built up an audience that a startup then can then sell to a bigger media company. The only startups that will be bought are those with ‘demonstrable’ revenues or those that have attracted desirable audience niches that the bigger companies lack.
Crunch Network: CrunchGear drool over the sexiest new gadgets and hardware.
The days of buying packaged software loaded onto CDs are numbered. Today, Microsoft quietly drove another nail into the coffin of packaged software by launching the Microsoft Store on the Web. After testing the software download store in Europe and Korea, Microsoft opened up its U.S. version today.
The store sells all Microsoft software from Office to Xbox 360 games. Instead of shipping the software in the mail, you download it over the Web. Just like you can download apps directly to your iPhone from the iTunes App Store, the Microsoft Store takes the same approach for its own PC and server software. (It does not distribute mobile apps or software made by other companies).
CEO Steve Ballmer hinted this would happen last week. But the company did not make a big deal about today’s launch, perhaps not wanting to alieante any of its retail distribution partners. . Microsoft program manager Trevin Chow put out the word on his personal blog, explaining the benefits of Electronic Software Distribution (ESD):
You pay for an ESD product just like you would for one that would be physically shipped to you. The big difference is that after your payment is confirmed, you can immediately download the product to your computer and install it right away. There is no longer any need to pay for shipping costs and waiting for the big brown truck to drive across the country. You’ll be able to enjoy your software almost immediately – all it takes is the download time of the product, which will vary depending on the size of the digital download.
The obvious fear for most users buying ESD products is not having the software on physical media to re-install the product at a later time. Microsoft Store solves this by letting you re-download the product until mainstream support for the product ends. Typically this is 5 years after the product is released. You always have the option of copying the downloaded products to physical media if you want to have it available longer than the mainstream support lifetime.
The store also sells Microsoft peripherals such as Xbox 360 consoles, computer mice and keyboards (those need to be shipped).
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