Sony’s Amazing Bending TV Screen

For now, and the near future, the LCD’s rule as the display technology of choice for portable devices is relatively unthreatened but developing technologies are only a few years from trying to stage a coup. On Friday, at a display industry event, Sony and Philips unveiled bleeding-edge display technology breakthroughs that may lead the charge for next-generation devices in the form of ultra-thin, bendable displays.

The Phillips announcement, which was limited to words and a photograph, captured modest press attention. The Sony news, which was also revealed in a Japanese video showcasing the technology, has been burning up the wire services.

sony displaySony’s video press release showcased a 2.5in prototype of an “Electronic Paper” display.  It has a screen that measures in at a tiny .01 inch (.3mm) thickness.  Layered on a plastic, instead of glass, the display is so thin, in fact, that unlike LCD or Plasma TV technologies, the Sony prototype can be bent into curves yet still show high quality full motion video content. (The Philips prototype offers similar abilities).

At its core, the Sony display uses what’s called an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology along with several innovations.  The OLED technology which uses organic materials printed onto a thin film doesn’t require any kind of backlight to function (compared to an LCD) and as a result can be made far thinner.

Possible futuristic applications include ultra thin portable video devices that could look like they were imagined out of the archives of science fiction.  Click to Read More

Did the Internet Kill The Video Star: Is the TV Music Video Dead?

With the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” so began MTV in August 1981.  Moments later, the video for Video Killed the Radio Star aired.  It was the first music video shown on Music Television (MTV).  Now, more than 25 years later, I wonder, as the song goes, was there a “day the music died”…. can someone tell me, has the internet “Killed the Video Star?”

mtv When MTV first hit the airwaves in 1981 it was revolutionary, edgy…. borderline counter culture… It was the dream alchemy to capture the attention of its twelve to twenty-five year old target audience. 

For its first 6 years, using a format somewhat adapted from Top 40 radio, MTV carried almost exclusively music videos – most a similar kind of somewhat crude, rough around the edges, under-produced material to that which now litter the pages of Internet video networks.  The grainy concert clips, the saucy, crude displays, they were the antithesis of the rest of broadcast TV.  That was part of why they were adored and appreciated: They were new, they were different, and they were bold.

Eventually, as the MTV brand grew and globalized, siblings were brought to the family in the form of new channels and new kinds of programming.  Like an older child, slightly neglected because of the needs of its baby brothers and sisters, the music video moved to a place of less prominence. 

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Amazon Gets Brilliant: audiobook publisher bought for undisclosed terms

In a move hinting that Amazon may be interested in offering more than just music at its soon to be launched online music store, Amazon has acquired the nations largest independent audio-book publisher Brilliance Audio.  The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Brilliance, which was founded in the 1980s and is based in Michigan, publishes audio titles from best selling authors ranging from Deeprak Chopra to Ken Follett. Brilliance releases twelve to fifteen audio-books a month in MP3 format on CD or for digital downloads.  Amazon currently offers about 100k audio-book titles, approximately one thousand of which come from Brilliance.

In acquiring Brilliance, Amazon will be in a position to leverage its publishing relationships (as well as its own in- house efforts) to expand the availability of the audio book format to a much larger range of titles. Click to Read More

Pandora expands to Sprint and Sonos

Oakland, California, based Pandora Media, a free Internet-based radio service is partnering with Sprint Nextel to offer a personalized streaming radio service to Sprint Nextel mobile phone users.  Beginning today, the new service will be available for free for the first 30 days of use; it will then be a $2.99 a month add-on fee to Sprint data plans (which require plans with a cost equal to a minimum payment of another $15 a month.

sonos sprint pandoraThe Pandora service, which will be offered through a new web interface specifically for mobile customers, will also be available on the Sonos Music System, a wireless home music system gaining rave reviews from gadget freaks around the globe.  (Sonos is kind of like a cross between an iPod and a remote control.  It wirelessly streams your music collection from up to 16 computers or storage devices (including MP3 players) to Sonos receivers which can be placed around your house and connected to speakers or stereos. Each Sonos "Zone" receiver can play music independent of the others).  For Sonos, Pandora will also offer a 30 day trial and a similar subscription fee.

Pandora bills itself as a personalized (or semi-personalized) Internet radio service.  Unlike their competitors, including and others, Pandora has created detailed indexes of their available songs based on a range of musical criteria (almost 400 attributes). The call it the Music Genome Project. These criteria are noted for songs you like, as are your listening habits. From the data that provides, Pandora streams to you a play list of music custom tailored for you, the individual listener.

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AdSense Video: The Pilot Begins

In the beginning of May, YouTube (which has become the 4th most visited website on the planet according to Alexa Ratings) announced it was going to begin sharing ad revenue with its more popular, and prolific contributing members.  Specific terms weren’t disclosed, and the only thing clear was that (unlike competing site Revver) the revenue sharing would be selective and not available to the majority of contributors.

adsI looked more closely at that revenue sharing situation on May 8th and I wrote an article (available here) speculating that, as announced, the revenue sharing program was really just a small step in  Google/YouTube’s grander plan for video advertising.  It was my theory that Google was simply taking a measured step towards a much larger ambition to serve a more complete video advertising solution (both in the video stream, and also, with contextually appropriate ads wrapped around it).  At the time, I wrote “I would not be surprised it YouTube, flush with Google’s cash and infrastructure to assist it, isn’t working on trying to innovate in-video advertising the same way that Google did with search.  I’d see the limited revenue sharing arrangement as just a small step toward that goal.”

It’s only been a few weeks, but things happen fast in the technology world, and it’s looking more and more like my tea leaves were correct that day.  As of today, Google is running a limited test to allow a small group of advertising partners to run video ads inside of video clips (e.g. In-Stream or In-Video advertising). 

The test is being run as part of the AdSense program and revenue will be split (as is the case with other AdSense ads) between the website publisher and Google.  The ads will be no longer than 30 seconds and can be skipped by the viewer.  For now, the pilot program ads will run on web publishers embedded Flash players and not inside Google or YouTube hosted videos (though, if the pilot is successful, that will almost assuredly change).

If the pilot program does evolve to include YouTube as is expected, it’s also pretty likely that the ads will be highly targeted. In late April, in a story published by, YouTube’s Chief Marketing Officer, Suzie Reider confirmed that YouTube was using the site as a focus group and collecting an enormous amount of data about the use of video content. Quoted in the article, Ms. Reider said “By Q3 [YouTube will] have a tremendous amount of metrics and data around every video.”

This Adsense Video pilot program is just the kind of innovation that could make Google’s purchase of DoubleClick start to look like a very smart move. Click to Read More

Feedburner to Google – reports confirm.

All week, rumors have been floating around that Web 2.0 company Feedburner, which helps websites and blogs (including Metue) distribute and track RSS (Really Simple Syndication feeds), is being bought by Google.

A short while ago, Tech Crunch ran a story citing sources close to the deal saying the deal was in fact official with an announcement due shortly.  According to the Tech Crunch article, the parties have signed a binding term sheet and are working through the deal documents.    If that’s accurate, and my research also seems to suggest it is, a closing within the next month is likely.

The deal is reported to be for about $100m in cash, with that paid largely upfront.  For Feedburner and its investors, this will mean a nearly 10x return on investment over the 4 year life of the company. 

For Google, Feedburner and its platform could represent a new frontier in advertising, especially for Google’s AdSense platform.  The logic is that:  when people view news (and blog) content through RSS or email feeds (both of which are increasingly popular) they often do not click-thru to the original article and publishing website. Consequence of that, a large number of advertising impressions are potentially lost for the host site (and it’s ad publisher which is often Google).   In buying Feedburner, Google gains the ability to place advertising directly in to the feed-streams.  With that, Google will be able to take it’s AdSense platform and make it more mobile.  Impressions potentially lost to feeds can be recaptured.  That’s a positive opportunity for Google and blog/website publishers alike.

Joost gets an Agent: Joost to work with CAA

If your pockets are deep enough you can afford to pay to find good content.  At least that would seem to be the case for IPTV company Joost.  Just a few weeks after closing a substantial $45m Series A financing (that bought investors around the world only a minority stake), Joost has now signed a deal with Creative Artists Agency.

The LA-based talent agency will, according to a statement from the company’s head of business development, Michael Yanover (reported by Reuters), "provide Joost greater access to programming through [CAA’s] relationships with networks, studios, record labels, artists and independently-controlled content libraries."

With strategic investment from CBS and Viacom (more here), you’d think Joost already had access to significant media relationships and networks – but I suppose the more leads the better; so long as you can afford it or the price isn’t too steep.  (It’s not clear what Joost paid for the privilege)

One thing is clear – Joost is trying hard to capitalize on all the press and publicity it can. For most startup’s, or aspiring actors, getting an agent may be a big deal but in and of itself, it’s not newsworthy. Joost seems to have a knack for getting themselves in the press (a feat, it’s founders also accomplished well with their past startup, Skype). Given the publicity, I’m surprised their competitor Veoh (which is backed in part by Hollywood notable Michael Eisner) hasn’t tried to steal, or share, in the limelight.

Whatever money Joost is spending, I hope they allocate a more sizable amount toward the quality of their service. I’ve experimented with Joost a good bit this past week and I’m not yet impressed. I know it is still a beta (and am therefore withholding final judgment), but the reality doesn’t yet live up to the hype (and the hype seems to be getting bigger day by day!). Right now, its like watching an amateur baseball player with a good swing and talking about him playing in Major League Baseball and being a superstar. The guy may or may not have the talent, but he’s not in the bigs yet, and a lot needs to happen for him to get there– I’m not a big enough baseball fan to want to watch the amateur games.

[Note: Joost is still invitation only.  As previously noted, if you’d like an invitation to try the service send an email from the Contact Page here on Metue or leave a comment and put Joost Invite as the title, or the subject.  I’ll be happy to pass one along, no strings attached (though I'd welcome any emails of people's thoughts on the Joost experience for inclusion in a future article).]

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