Saturday, January 9, 2010

Week in Review

Short reads on a Saturday morning:

• Arguments were held Friday in the Comcast, FCC net neutrality dispute. The case revolves around an FCC order banning Comcast's blocking its broadband customers from the file-sharing technology BitTorrent.  The original order by the FCC was issued when the commission was headed by Republican Kevin Martin. The current commission, chaired by Democrat Julius Genachowski, is placing a top priority on the issue of net neutrality.

• The expected closings at Reed Business Information began a little earlier than expected with the news that Video Business was being shuttered, along with MBT (Manufacturing Business Technology) and Industrial Distribution. Penton quickly followed with the news that two of its B2B pubs would stop publishing print editions and become online only pubs.

• The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was held and the news was tablets, tablets, tablets (oh, and readers, too). Whether you are in the newspaper, magazine or book business, new devices are being targeted at consumers.

ComputerWorld states the obvious: You don't need to work in my business to know that publishing is in a world of hurt. Newspapers and magazines are cutting staff or closing down due to declining readerships and the loss of advertisers. Book publishers, also losing readers, bank on high-priced blockbusters, franchise publications, and dashed-off tell-all books, and take fewer risks with unknown authors.

This same article also pointed to an older post on MacWorld that asks "Does Apple really want to sell magazines?": Apple would need to create a new set of iTunes storefronts for books, magazines, and newspapers, and would need to sign deals with major publishers. Publishers would need to present their content to Apple in a compatible format, which could be easy or hard, depending on if Apple were to support a common format or create something completely new.
• Yet more CES news: Sling Media, maker of the Sling Box (I want one, too bad Christmas is over), announced support for Flash support in its hardware and software products. The Sling Box allows users to view television broadcasts on their computer when the device is hooked up to a cable box. Sling Media also has an iPhone app that allows users to watch live television on their phones via their Sling Box.

• And finally, this story backs up my assertion that Microsoft head honcho Steve Ballmer's CES keynote address was a bit of a disappointment.
Apple must be patting themselves on the back, as the Hewlett-Packard (HP) tablet unveiled by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Wednesday night failed to wow those expecting a true competitor to the mythical Apple tablet ... The HP tablet is basically a color e-reader running Amazon Kindle software, with few other details besides a sub-$500 price point and an estimated arrival on the market by mid-2010. So disappointing was the release that Microsoft and HP's shares fell yesterday according to BusinessWeek.

So the media world still remains waiting for tablet publishing revolution.