By the Numbers: Recent Stats in Perspective

numbers and statsStatistics and comparative numbers hit the airwaves and headlines of business news every day.  “The price represents a 39% premium over the prior day’s close.” “Total U.S. gaming sales were up 18% over the same period in the prior year”  EBITDA. Market Share.  Off. On.  Positive. Negative.   Today’s grabber was an announcement from retail tracking firm NPD that Apple surpassed Best Buy to become the number two music retailer (offline and on) in the U.S.

Boiled down, it seems there is a number to tell any story, or as often, support any argument.   But what might these digits look like in perspective?   Outside the microcosm of tech, or media tech, what do some of the statistics translate to?

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From the Labs: Better Batteries, Smaller Devices?

breakthroughEven as reports are starting to indicate there’s no cause for concern, one of the most common complaints (or perhaps concerns) raised about Apple’s new Macbook Air is the fact that the battery is not meant to be user-replaceable.    A few years from now, however, that design decision may be even less relevant.

Earlier this week, Yahoo and other news sites began to report on work researchers at Stanford’s Materials Science and Engineering department reported in the journal Nature Nanotechnology in mid December.   The scientists’ breakthrough discovery could yield batteries that can run for 40 or more hours and be smaller than what we use today.  And these high powered wonders could be just a few years from being on the market. The implications for portable gadgets, our entertainment on the go, even electric cars, could be significant.

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Gaming and Movie Convergence: a retrospective timeline

convergenceA good story is timeless, crossing between different medium, living and breathing it runs in an often unending circle.  Books and comic books become TV shows and movies.  Movies and TV programs spin off and beget novels and video games. Games too, sometimes start their own traditions or evolve from other tales already known.   It’s a natural co-existence; a cycle that’s evolving with each change in communication mediums.

Among the different medium, video games and movies in particular share a common ground.  They are often similar in storyline and visual style.  That makes for a natural companionship where, on one level, they co-exist by sharing franchises as appropriate to the different technologies and methods of storytelling; watch Star Wars, the movie; play Star Wars, the video game.  On another level, however, the mediums themselves almost converge. There, games become a dynamic, interactive, choose-your-own-adventure equivalent to the static, but rich, three act Hollywood movie experience.

From Spiderman, to the Matrix, from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, from James Bond, to The Simpsons and CSI: games built around existing TV and movie franchises increasingly dot the lists of popular games for current generation consoles.  And in reverse, Click to Read More

Viacom Shuns DoubleClick, Embraces Microsoft

msft viacom ad pactThe last days of Viacom’s advertising partnership with DoubleClick were long ago foretold.  With Viacom still feuding with Google over YouTube and copyrights, and with Google’s purchase of DoubleClick likely nearing the end of regulatory review, it was just a matter of time.  Wednesday the hammer dropped and Viacom pledged its allegiance to Microsoft.

In a five year deal worth at least $500m in exchanged value, Microsoft and the media giant behind MTV Networks, Nickelodeon and Paramount pictures reached a complex advertising and content distribution deal.

Under the pact, Microsoft will license Viacom content (non-exclusively) for use on both Microsoft web properties and for the Xbox 360.

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NFL and Ticketmaster: Jointly Chasing Stubhub and Scalper

NFL TicketmasterScore one for Ticketmaster.  In the ongoing battle to gain footing in secondary ticket markets, Ticketmaster has inked a high profile deal with the NFL to handle league sponsored resales.

The new service, named the NFL Ticket Exchange, will be hosted by Ticketmaster (Interactive Corp) and accessible from NFL licensed websites including  The site will go live in time for the 2008 season.  Both the NFL and Ticketmaster will jointly promote and market the offering.

Ticketmaster already hosted ticket exchange services for 18 of the 32 teams in the NFL.  The newly signed deal will expand the reach to the entire league.

Ticketmaster’s strategy of securing tickets by partnership follows a similar effort employed by more established secondary sellers Stubhub Click to Read More

Netflix Postal Woes? No Worries

netflix mailBlockbuster hasn’t been able to derail Netflix but could the U.S. Post Office? That was a question that popped up earlier today after results of a November audit by the Postal Inspector General began to circulate in the wider press, and more narrowly from a blog posting on Wired that sounded an alarm but left out important details.  The details tell a different story. Fear not.

The audit report in question was from early November (See PDF link Below).  It was focused on First Class Permit Reply Mail, the category of mail used by popular movie rental services as well as Game Fly and some audiobook services.   

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Blockbuster Going Mobile? Why?

questionThere’s no such thing as corporate Darwin Awards or business Razzie’s but when it comes to bad executive decisions or business "say what’s?" it seems there ought be something.

In fairness, there are lots of gambles that don’t pay off, decisions that look much worse in hindsight than they did on the drafting table. As the cliches go: Nothing ventured nothing gained. You’ve got to gamble sometimes. Take some risks. Bad decisions and mistakes, of course, happen all the time. I’m not talking about those. What I’m thinking about are those decisions that fall easily in to the "should have known better"category. Choices that seem to violate common sense. It seems there should be some sort of trophy to acknowledge those kinds of mental lapses in the executive wing. A decision that leaves people scratching their heads and going "watchoo talking about Willis."…that deserves a special Lucite block on the mantle.

Looking back over last weeks events, I’ve got to wonder if management at Blockbuster might be inline for such a nomination. Click to Read More

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