Shuffling the Executives: News Corp and AOL Shift Org Charts

Thursday was a busy day in the executive wings at AOL and News Corp. Both companies made changes to their org charts.

News Corp
With the announcement of Peter Chernin’s departure in February, Rupert Murdoch hinted News Corp would shuffle around some executives to “streamline.” Today, in a memo to staff (reprinted below), the first of these changes were announced. 

At the top, News Corp’s LA-based creative businesses will be combined and report to Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, co-chairmen and CEOs of Fox Filmed Entertainment. 

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Apple Launches Talking Shuffle

new shuffleUntil recently when Apple geared up to launch a new product it was lights, camera and action; the full-on spectacle.  Lately though, the theater’s dark.  With recent launches, the company’s opting to use a simple press release instead of a big stage show.   To start the conversation, Apple’s letting products speak for themselves.  The approach suits the newly announced iPod Shuffle just fine.  The device speaks plenty, literally.

Announced today, the new generation of Apple’s tiniest iPod is billed as “the first music player that talks to you.” 

The tiny device features a Voice Over feature that acts like something of a virtual DJ.  Push the control button and it will call out the track name and artist of the song playing. Push it again and it can provide battery status information or even identify the names of different playlists.

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Earnings Watch: Take Two Beats Street in Q1

A year ago, all eyes watched as Take Two Interactive began to fight off EA’s hostile takeover bid.  Today, stock watchers checked back in to see how the company was performing months removed from leaving that challenge behind.  The result was mixed.

In earnings announced after the close of markets, the game publisher reported higher than expected sales for the first quarter but set second quarter guidance below analyst targets.

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YouTube Pulls Music Videos in The UK Over Lincensing

record-rights-issue-sm.jpg Music videos are among the most popular clips on YouTube but the battle to keep them there is getting more and more contentious.  Back in December, faced with failing licensing negotiations, Warner Music, pulled its programming off of the site.  Monday, it was Google playing the role of the aggressor. The company took a hard-line stance with the UK’s royalty collecting body.

After failing to reach an agreement with Performing Rights Society for Music (PRS), Google said it would block UK users from watching premium music videos on its YouTube site.

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Applevine Report: Netbook Rumors? U2 Leaving Apple for RIM?

apple rumors netbookApple’s said it again and again: it has little interest in the netbook category of computers at this time.  As recently as October, Steve Jobs called it a “nascent” market segment.  Still, no matter the denials or rejections, the rumors just won’t quit.   They’ve been trailing the company for months and they’re back at it again.

The latest batch took flight Monday when DigiTimes published a report saying Taiwan-based Wintek had been contracted to deliver touchscreen panels for a new netbook. Click to Read More

Amazon Tests Video Game Trade-in Program

games recycle smallGameStop proved buying and selling used video games is a lucrative market. When earnings are reported later this month, the company is expected to announce more than $2b in fiscal year revenue came from second hand goods, and all at higher margin than primary sales.  (see attached chart).  Still, opportunity notwithstanding, other retailers have generally shied away from entering the space. Between managing the quality of products, the risks of alienating suppliers (many of whom pay “market development fees” to the retailers), or even the risks of cannibalizing primary sales, it’s just not been worth it.   But now sales are down and times tight. Consumers are looking for bargains.  That has some retailers rethinking their choices. 

Recently, Toys R Us launched a limited New York area pilot to allow customers to trade in used game titles for store credit.  Best Buy is rumored to be considering doing similar and Thursday, Amazon launched a beta of its own.

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Beatles Rock Band: New Information Released

beatles rock band renderingWhen MTV Network’s Harmonix (Viacom) locked up the coveted rights to bring the Beatles to the digital age last fall, only a few details were revealed about the project.  The company said simply that the new game was being developed from the ground up, that it wouldn’t be merely a customized version of the Rock Band franchise, that Electronic Arts would be involved with publishing, and that the game has the full support of the band members (or their heirs).

Today, new details emerged.  Though still entirely new, the game will tie-in to the Rock Band series in name.  It’s title:  “Beatles: Rock Band”

The game will launch in Australia, Europe and North America on September 9th.  It will be released simultaneously for the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms.

Beatles fans are almost guaranteed to chime in that the scheduling, 09.09.09,  is no accident. It may or may not be coincidental but the number 9 has been connected to the band many times in lore, and urban legend Click to Read More

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