Real Artists Ship, eventually: Apple TV upgrade slightly delayed

apple tvWant to rent a movie through Apple TV? Not so fast.  Steve Jobs promised the Macworld faithful the necessary software update enabling the functionality would be ready by the end January.  Turns out, however, January is over and “it’s not quite ready.”

For the few million Apple TV owners, the rental functionality and other software adjustments should be available within a week or two.   Apple didn’t provide a reason when announcing the delay.

It’s not the first time Apple TV has had a go-to-market hiccup.   The initial launch was also delayed.  It comes down to philosophy.  Despite the urban legend that Steve Jobs pushes immovable deadlines and plays task master to engineers with the mantra “real artists ship,”  Click to Read More

Amazon on a Digital Mission: acquires Audible

amazon-audible.jpgAmazon was a pioneer in establishing internet based e-commerce.  Now, in their second act, they look like they are trying to blaze a similar trail in the sale of digital goods.  Today, in line with those efforts, Amazon announced they will buy spoken word (audiobook) publisher Audible for $11.50 a share in cash. 

At the $11.50 a share price Amazon is paying a 24% premium over Audible’s Wednesday closing price of $9.33 a share.   Two months ago Audible traded upwards of $14 a share.  Last quarter they did sales of $27m and lost $192k.  Those metrics may make the purchase look like a bargain (and it probably is), but views on that are likely to be divergent.  Part of the reason: last month, Audible’s largest shareholder, Apax, signaled a lack of confidence in the company when they (and affiliates) began selling off their 23% stake in the company. 

Probably the best near term gauge for valuing this deal as an Amazon shareholder lies in measuring the strategy it reflects rather than the approximately $300m purchase price.

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Sony Gaming Back in Black, Future Earnings Hazy

sony earnsThanks to time zone differences, Sony was one of the first companies to report earnings on what is an extremely busy earnings calendar (Electronic Arts, New York Times Co.  Google, and Getty Images all report today as well).   As has been the case with many technology and consumer facing companies already to report, their results for the past quarter were moderate to positive but the gray cloud of overall economic conditions led to a cautious and hazy future forecast for the coming months (and year).

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Freshly Funded: January Venture Recap

cashThe second half of January proved fruitful for a number of startups seeking capital.  5, with focuses ranging from gaming to social networking, mark this issue of the venture roundup:

•IGA Worldwide
New York based IGA is one of the larger independent companies running an in-game advertising network.  On January 24th, they announced the closing on an additional installment of $5m in funding for their Series B round.   Translink Capital, ITOCHU and Presidio STX, a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corp, provided the funds.

IGA previously took $25m in Series B financing last July. Click to Read More

Yahoo Q4 Earnings

yahoo patienceForget about “what have you done for me lately” (though that can’t be neglected); in these turbulent markets what matters more is “what are you going to do for me next.” Wall Street made that painfully clear when Apple released record earnings last week but was cautious in their forward guidance.  After Tuesday’s close of market, Yahoo received a similar message.  It was a little less blunt, the consequences a little less severe, but then, with Yahoo nobody had built up expectations to walk away impressed. 

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Current to go Public

current tv ipoAl Gore may not have created the Internet but he is Chairman and one of the co-founders of Current Media, parent company of Current TV. Now, he and his colleagues are getting ready to take it public.

Current TV was founded in 2002 and launched in 2005 as a 24/7 cable and satellite TV network focused on news and information. The channel and its affiliated website differ from traditional programming in that they rely heavily on user/audience participation.  Relying on what they’ve named “Viewer Created Content” (VC2), approximately a third of Current TV’s on air broadcasts comes from non-fiction submissions.  It’s news from pop culture to politics from young adults, in their own perspective.

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Rationalizing Rumors: DRM-Free Music from Yahoo

not crazy rumorsMove over Amazon and iTunes, here comes Yahoo with the volume blaring.   At least that’s a rumor that circulated late last week.  Citing anonymous music industry executives, several reports claimed Yahoo is negotiating to begin selling DRM-Free music later this year.   

A few days looking for more info has yielded no substantive confirmation and little further detail.  From what’s available, it appears talks are real but early in process and delicate enough that nobody wants to compromise the discussions by sharing information.    Still, as for logic, a deal makes sense for both Yahoo and the labels.  There’s incentive for both sides to reach agreement.   There’s a good probability something will be announced between the two; possibly by June, or sooner.

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