Friday, 26 October 2012

Netflix. The new Facebook, there's no doubt. Numbers just in show 30 MILLION subscribers.

Netflix, the video service online that everyone loves and loves to give out about, has powered on. 

I blogged earlier this year ( about how they planned/hoped to have an extra 7 million subscribers by end 2012. Numbers just announced show they've a staggering 30 million users in total already.

An increase of 10 million users in two years which given that their original DVD service waned because of online, it's a great credit to them. The US and Canada are the core drivers here but as Netflix expanded this year into 51 new countries, it has really worked.

CEO Reed Hastings (that's him above and who had his salary doubled in 2010, to 5 million usd) on his Facebook page said: 
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thirty million of you are now Netflix streaming members.
I’d like to express my gratitude to each of you. Your choice to be a Netflix member helps us get more content every year, and helps us further improve our member experience. You make it possible for us to offer the most amazing internet television experience ever. Thank you, again. -Reed
Add to that Netflix has established itself very neatly in the connected TV market, this will mean that the company is destined to grow and grow.

An extraordinary story of new media and we know, that Netflix are commissioning programmes to be a player in the general TV market. We also know that they're very conscious of the need to improve their product - a self criticism that marks out a great business.

People always talk about investors looking for "the new Facebook".
Here it is.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Obama Romney Campaigns online tracking exposed. This needs a debate.

More and more, privacy has become an issue and with the new, increasing sophistication of tracking, it is something to be concerned about. After all, when you visit a site and at a simplistic level, get a cookie, we know where you go and what you do. And it's used for ad targeting.

But a report from the US regarding the Presidential election, has exposed the advances made in tracking. Worrying advances.

Both Obama and Romney have ramped up their sites tracking capabilities to understand and target voters better. Unprecedented tools that create profiles about your habits on the web and therefore, target personalised Ads when you visit other sites. hosts an astonishing 160 unique tracking technologies. Romney has 110. So think about how much they know about site users. How much they know about YOU.

It's argued that this is new advertising techniques in a digital world, but the key issue is that users don't know they're being tracked so extensively. Online data collectors will benefit from this hugely and it's not disclosed on their homepages (yeah, it's in the real small print). So that's okay then? not really.

Most people are unhappy being tracked - a recent poll suggested 60% - but I think that's low. Most people I know, resent it full stop. 

Both politicos too, send targeted emails - but Obama's campaign seems to have brought this skill to the nth degree. They've embedded Facebook names of friends encouraging you to get them to vote - so they know who your friends are. 

In my view anyway, and coming from the Ad side, this needs a debate. It's beginning to get unacceptable. I blogged before about Facebook having the right, which they do, to use your photos commercially for example. How about your picture appearing in an Ad without you knowing? Happy? So Facebook is now the biggest photo library in town - without your permission (oh, sorry, yes it's in the small print). But you didn't know that?

That's the issue.

No tracking without representation - there you go, a campaign slogan already.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Microsoft launch Windows 8 and SurfaceTablet this week. This is make or break time for the once glorious empire.

There's very little excitement ahead of Microsoft's launch Thursday of Windows 8 (that's the start screen above, courtesy of Mashable) and their first venture into hardware - The Surface Tablet.

And there was a time when the world would have started queueing by now. 

It's the biggest, most crucial, launch in Microsoft's history of both its controversial Surface Tablet and Windows 8, its new software optimised for touchscreen. Skype (owned by Microsoft) wil be deeply embedded into Windows 8 by the way.

Of course it needed to be done in that Microsoft had to update their software away from the old PC's into tablets, smartphones and new devices. Windows still is the preferred Operating System on over 95% of PC's....the problem is, PC's are not the preferred devices any more. Microsoft have a monopoly....but on the wrong thing.

Microsoft revenue fell 22% in the last quarter, as PC sales took a dive.

It's rumoured that the global cost of launches is 1.5 billion usd with Steve Ballmer CEO, saying that it's going to be "bigger than Windows 95". Well not yet it ain't. 

With Windows 95, The Rolling Stones told us to 'start me up' with this it's more like, "cry me a river". If Ballmer is betting the farm on this, then already it's looking over.

According to Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, he believes the operating system upgrade is “irrelevant.” While previous Windows releases inspired corporate PC upgrade cycles, “you’re not going to hear about the Windows 8 upgrade cycle. I think it’s the end of Windows"

The end of Windows?

Largely this launch, is to bring the operating system into the touchscreen space - although one wonders how many businesses for example, will be prepared to replace their monitors for the benefit of touchscreen? 

Networkworld called it a "non-event for business" and went on to pretty much slate the software. According to Networkworld - Windows 8 is going to get hammered in the next few weeks as consumers try out the new operating system for the first time. Their reactions will likely differ little from those of reviewers who found much to complain about. The bottom line is that Windows 8 – particularly on a tablet – does not behave much like any previous Windows PC operating system.

The launch is a pivotal moment for Microsoft but here's what Computerworld said; The Windows 8 launch will be a rocky one, leading to an "ugly" 2013 for Microsoft, warns a report from Forrester. And Microsoft's overall share of the PC-and-devices market, currently at 30%, will remain static at least until 2016, the report adds.

Curry's and PC World retailers, have said they'll open their doors in London at midnight this Friday October 26 for the launch in an attempt to generate "Applesque" interest.

And on the Focus website; Most businesses will most likely wait a while before adopting Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows operating system, scheduled for launch this month, the founder of Taiwanese computer maker Acer Inc. said Tuesday."For such a big event, it will be examined and discussed by people. It will not happen in just one month or one quarter," Stan Shih said when asked about the business sector's adoption of Windows 8, at the opening of a consumer centre in Taipei.

Here's what Channel Register are saying; There’s much to be excited about. Yet, not many in the channel are excited. In fact, the Microsoft ecosystem – component makers, PC manufacturers, distributors and resellers – is bracing for a lull rather than a surge in Windows-related sales.  

A lull? 

I think what you're seeing now is the death crunch. This is make or break time for Microsoft, once the greatest company in the world. Either Windows 8 and The Surface will take off or it won't. 

One or the other.

But this time, if it fails, it fails forever.
And that could be the end of Windows.
The end of Microsoft.
You're watching a bit of history.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Apple Ipad Mini launch. See it live here. Read about it just below.

Apple are launching the Ipad Mini live online and it's here

(You can read about it on my normal blog today, below).

Today Ipad launches the Ipad Mini. A lesson in creating excitement about a low-cost Apple brand without the damage.

Today, the Apple IPAD gets a new family member, the mini-Ipad. In San Jose Apple will unveil their mini under the slogan "the biggest thing to happen to the Ipad since the Ipad". The picture above is a leaked image.

A small tablet (about 7 inches), similar in size to both Google and Amazon, it's exactly what Steve Jobs didn't want to do, so new CEO Tim Cook is out on a limb here. It's likely to be accompanied by a wide-ranging announcement of new software and products creating a Wow! factor. And expect a spectacular launch. 

It will be a smaller ipad or, if you like, a bigger Ipod touch, giving the usual fare of movies, itunes and so on. But it will be more portable to allow it to compete with the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7. In particular, it will be the lower cost Ipad and that's the key. An opportunity to bring the expensive Apple product into mass hands at a lower price without damaging the brand itself.

In a way, the mini Ipad will allow you to read a book as a paperback rather than as an Ipad and if anyone can make a Kindle better than Kindle, it's Apple. I expect it to cost about 100 usd. 

This is a big announcement by Apple and one can't help wondering if it's intended to steal some of Microsoft's thunder with their launch of Windows 8 on Thursday. Methinks it is. It will also show Apple as the great innovator.

This too is October. The ideal month to launch potential Christmas present brands and I get the feeling that the mini is going to do terribly well. After all, who would be disappointed with an Apple in their stocking? We will see.

It's a lesson in producing excitement of a low cost product without damaging the mother brand. No mean feat.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Newsweek stops publication December 31. It's going digital.

Newsweek, fresh from doctors surgeries everywhere, will end its print edition in December and focus exclusively online. December 31st will be the last issue of this 80 year old magazine and the online editions will be known as 'Newsweek Global'.

Whilst this is the first 'high profile' magazine to do this, it most certainly won't be the last. Newsweek already has an App available for 19.99 euro a year and it's believed the new online mag will be subscription only.

Brit Tina Brown, editor (formerly of Vanity Fair/New Yorker), described one reason as the cost of printing being "incredibly archaic". However, in truth, its circulation has halved in the last 5 years to 1.5 million which is surprisingly small for a global magazine. 

A decade ago it sold 4m copies with 2.7m in the US alone. It also has become more 'dumbed down' and not the current affairs focus it was known for. 

Headlines over a picture of Obama asking "Americas first gay president" and doctored photos showing The Duchess of Cambridge walking with Princess Diana, were typical. It is actually Brown's stewardship that has lost the readers and brought its demise. It has been a sore subject.

Moving the operation online will also mean it get the magazine out with less staff costs because it's thought to be losing about 40 million dollars a year.

It's owned by Sidney Harman (audio pioneer) but it was merged with billionaire Barry Diller publishing interests and Harman bought Newsweek in 2011 from The Washington Post (who had bought it in 1961), famously, for a dollar. 

The tempo of news over the internet has overtaken glossy magazines. The UK Guardian newspaper is rumoured to be going digital only and of course 'Life' magazine has closed - mind you, with a circulation of 7 million at the end.

Newsweek were first with the Clinton/Lewinsky story but held it for checking only to be trumped by The Drudge report which actually established the internet as a place for breaking news, ironically.

So a little bit of history comes to an end but yet, internet publishing gets a boost. There's no question, you'll see more and more of this.

The internet isn't a threat to established publishers, it's just a different way of delivering.