Interesting Web Services

When I worked during the boom I briefly used a great free document management service called FireDrop to manage approvals from press releases to appraisal forms for my team. There has seldom been a web service that has impressed me since, however BaseCamp looks like it might do that.

Unlike many web services offerings that I won’t name (RightNow Technologies, Groove Networks) it is truly platform-agnostic.

Loose connected networks

My friend Heather and I were pod (as in cubicle) neighbours at the same agency for 2 1/2 years. The last time we worked together was almost five years ago. However we have managed to keep in touch over the past five years via email on an irregular basis, the occasional phone call and kept up to speed with the happenings in each others lives.

Heather is a classic example of a loose connection within my network.One which would not have been realistically possible without the benefit of email. This network maintenance with people who I have known through different phases of my life is a key example of how the Internet has altered our social fabric and social networks such as LinkedIn, SoFlow and Orkut have tried to codify this process.

The value of this connection to me is very tangible, Heather met me at San Francisco airport, gave me a tour of Silicon Valley and on my one night off, took me to the Sunnyvale town market and custom car show.

Being in a strange place and being able to kick back with a friend who is a local, but at the same time gets where you are coming from was priceless. Being able to find a bar with a proper Irish fry up with black and white pudding makes her even more valuable!

I got to see a more human personal Silicon Valley than some of my peers who dismiss the place as being dull.

Certainly Sunnyvale felt small, but then why wouldn’t it when most of the major employers provide most of lifes requirements on giant campuses and you can buy everything else at the out-of-town Walmart or Target store. Being a European I was reminded of the small town mythology perpertrated in US films like American Grafitti, Back the Future and ET. Having been to Sunnyvale it all made sense.

Back to ’88: Utah Style

Utah, land famous for dry salt lakes, mob financiers and polygamy has appeared in the buzz on the blogosphere following on an email sent to the Interesting People email list. A rave was broken up by camoflaged men who turned out to be the local SWAT team (what a bunch of grown men lurking in the bushes in the middle of the night with various animals were actually doing is anyone’s guess).

It reminded me of the efforts of the British police back in the day to stamp out the house music movement back in ’88, instead it has mutated and spread all over the world.

Here is a live video of the event, the local TV news network’s coverage and here is the promoters side of the story.

Quality not piracy is the issue

Audience figures at cinemas have dropped in the US and the movie industry is working out what it can do about it. Michael Lyndon, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment told the New York Times: “Part of this is the fact that the movies may not have lived up to the expectations of the audience, not just in this year, but in years prior,” said Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which had some flops this summer, including the science fiction action movie “Stealth” and the romantic comedy “Bewitched.” “Audiences have gotten smart to the marketing, and they can smell the good ones from the bad ones at a distance.”

Interesting Business 2.0 Wireless Report: Mobile Content Goes Mainstream (US media companies wake up to it) live from San Francisco airport

Interesting Business 2.0 Wireless Report: Mobile Content Goes Mainstream (US media companies wake up to it) live from San Francisco airport

I found this email newsletter article from Business 2.0 very interesting as a from my Europeam perspective, the ship has already left the pier. For example I promoted Endemol and Channel 4’s Big Brother video content on mobiles via Vemotion a few years ago. However you cannot ignore the power of US programming (such as Lost, CSI, 24) and the creativity the US media companies bring. It will be interesting to see how the likes of Time Warner catches up to and competes with European mobile media players. Wireless Report: Mobile Content Goes Mainstream Big media wants to deliver content through your mobile phone. At least that’s what can be gleaned from Tuesday’s announcement that Time Warner (parent company of Business 2.0) made a strategic $7.5 million investment in Glu Mobile during its most recent round of venture funding. Glu, based in San Mateo, Calif., is one of the pioneers in the burgeoning mobile entertainment market. Since it was founded four years ago, Glu has pushed the wireless platform as a standard for consuming rich media with its collection of videogames, ringtones, and sports applications for cell phones. The investment from Time Warner is significant for two reasons. First, it provides the company with additional cash to help finance its ongoing global expansion. Second, and more important, it opens the doors for Glu to make popular Time Warner content deliverable over mobile devices. While the investment doesn’t guarantee access to Time Warner’s stable of brands, it’s a sterling endorsement. Glu has already established licensing agreements with Time Warner’s Cartoon Network and will launch additional products based on the network’s popular “Adult Swim” programs later this year. Glu chief executive Greg Ballard sees it as a precursor of deals to come. “It gives us access to their corridors,” he says, “and should lead to some very interesting products.” In exchange Time Warner receives something equally important: a clear view into the mobile industry. As part of the agreement, which took a year to hammer out, Turner Broadcasting System president Andy Heller will receive a seat on Glu’s board of directors. From this perch Heller can see firsthand just how complicated it is to bring a product to market across thousands of different handsets and hundreds of carriers. In Glu, Time Warner gets a partner that has established distribution agreements with nearly 90 wireless carriers worldwide and has developed a reputation for being able to bring products to market quickly. “This business is incredibly complex,” Ballard says. “At this point it would be very complicated to start from scratch.” It’s the size of the market that makes it impossible for media companies to ignore. For the foreseeable future, the cell phone will remain primarily a tool for making phone calls. Eventually, however, it will become a platform that serves many different forms of media, from music to movies. By 2008 more than 2 billion people around the world will own mobile phones. If just 10 percent of these cellular owners use their phones to view news clips, play games, listen to music, or consume any other form of media, that’s a multibillion-dollar opportunity for media companies and mobile content publishers alike. “Nobody wants to miss this,” Ballard says. Other media moguls are certain to follow Time Warner’s move. Barry Diller and John Malone are said to be looking at potential investments. They are both seeking ways to extend their existing properties — or, in Diller’s case — and the mobile platform is a logical next step. No other product in the world is as ubiquitous as the mobile phone; it’s one of the few devices consumers carry with them everywhere. News Corp. and Disney have already made strategic investments of their own. Fox Mobile Entertainment is working with another mobile content publisher, I-Play, to bring the hit television show 24 to subscribers’ mobile phones. Meanwhile, Disney has set up its own wireless division to find ways for Mickey Mouse and other popular characters to make their way onto handsets. In other words, it’s only a matter of time before consumers will be offered their favorite media content on their cell phones. ©2004 Business 2.0 Media Inc.

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