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Are The Social Networking Greats Nearing Their Limits?

Posted by Syberplanet on June 21st, 2008 - 436 views

So comScore [CNET] tells us Facebook surpassed MySpace in worldwide visitors for the first time. This shift evidently occurred sometime in the last few months, between March and May.


I’ll be frank. I was surprised to hear MySpace take second to Facebook. I didn’t think it would happen. At least not now. A while back I saw MySpace a good bit ahead of Facebook, and I figured, at that point, with north of a hundred million users a pop, neither had it in them to make a big leap forward. Evidently Zuckerberg has proved able to move forward faster than Murdoch. Or the people actually in charge of running MySpace, and not just raking cash.

But as far as financing goes, of course, MySpace still has the advantage. Several hundred million more income per year, if Rupert & Co. estimates correctly. (He says $800m, give or take. Which is fairly good, actually, if you look at where the company was the year after News Corp laid down $580m for the network in mid-2005.) Looking at what Facebook’s lunar $15b valuation reveals of the company’s founder’s intentions, I’d say MySpace, whether #1 or #2 in worldwide activity, is standing on more solid ground – so to speak.

Here’s the thing, though. We’re, what, more than a year into the era of serious, big-money social working, with grand advertising exclusivity deals and some application awesomeness in the works? You’d think Facebook and MySpace would’ve each have shown the beginnings of their rise from nine-figure returns to ten. MySpace alone is sitting close to the mark.

Getting that extra zero is turning out to be a real you-know-what.


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Posted in Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

CMS Markup Factory Launches With Mixed Bag Of Options

Posted by Syberplanet on June 21st, 2008 - 396 views

The options by which to create websites today are virtually endless. The choices are almost too many. WordPress, Drupal, Movable Type. Those are the names which come immediately to mind. The rest are a figurative blur. So is there room for another? One way to find out, I suppose. Enter, Markup Factory.

Created by a quartet over the course of what is described to be a seven-year development process, Markup Factory, based in Iowa, presents the prospective user a relatively simple and attractive setup. With emphasis on simple and attractive.

It boasts most all of the features basic website builders might opt to make use of, from blogs to podcast storage to calendar software to support for sales. But its bound to turn away quite a few interested users who would otherwise quickly become adopters. Why? Paid monthly subscriptions are required. $14.95 to start, and $149 for something “fully loaded.”

What’s more, even if one finds the tiered monthly fees acceptable, there are things that any minimalist site owner might want or need. For example, subscribers of the ‘Basic’ package, sans extras like podcast and storefront support, will have to make do with 50MB of storage, 2GB bandwidth allowance, and a limit of three pages. Suffice it to say ‘Basic’ is no bargain. Even at $50/month you’re still only given 500MB/10GB as standard.

Really, only at the $149 level is the user given a truly decent amount of access, with support for all functions. Limitless pages plus podcasts, calendar and storefront. Yet storage sits at 2GB. One would expect more, I imagine. (Markup Factory does note extra storage can be purchased upon request, for any choice of subscription.)

Value is presumably what many publishers have highest on their agendas when picking and choosing a platform on the Web. So given the free options currently available, Markup Factory will not convince many to sign up. Fully-customizable platforms like WordPress, Drupal certainly offer more options to the user, and established popular opinion carries weight. But if a new all-in-one service is what you’re aiming for, Markup Factory, with the exception of its unimpressive storage quotas, is something that, architecturally speaking, seems worth a try.

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Posted in Web 2.0 | No Comments »

NBC’s Online Olympic Channel: Will Costs Outweigh Rewards?

Posted by Syberplanet on June 21st, 2008 - 30,373 views


Web video delivery – streaming content, in particular – isn’t inexpensive. Google’s ability alone to making available millions upon millions of clips to YouTube viewers on demand on a daily basis purportedly costs the company quite a bit. With the cost of energy rising and both the physical and technological dimensions required for a modern data center’s construction and maintenance, it’s really no mystery why.

But are the upfront investments and the upkeep financing needed, for instance, to stream video news or sports feeds to sites, inhibitive of any substantive profits, immediate or long-term? John Malone of Liberty Media and DirecTV seems to think so. Speaking to Jonathan Soble of the Financial Times, he held as an example of a potentially great loss the effort being made by NBC, in collaboration with Microsoft, to deliver both live and on-demand video coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

Clearly NBC and the Silverlight-wielding software giant of Redmond are putting themselves to what may well be a record-breaking task for Web video delivery. The viewership will likely be extraordinary. And Internet advertising, while rising in value at what seems to be a weekly basis now, given the wealth of market analysis devoted to the sector today, is understandably not yet the heavyweight of traditional media. So it would seem logical to presume NBC will be netting fewer dollars for its online coverage in and around Beijing in August than its regular broadcasts.

But whether it will fail to reign in enough revenue to retain lasting value for its Web-based olympic portal I think is disputable. (Think short-term loss for future benefit.) If we’re to recall the series of Live 8 concerts held in 2005 and broadcast both on television and on the Web, the impact of the online content was noticeable, and the traffic that succeeded well after the events of July 2 had concluded was quite remarkable. AOL and the BBC both registered an audience of tens of millions. And much more recently, the U.S. Open golf tournament, an understandable non-global attraction, drew in a large share of viewers as well. (In good part due to the close duel between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, of course, but all things considered, it was good news for the USGA and its partners.)

Naturally, Malone has an incentive to maintain the existing paradigm, with broadcast television keeping hold of the viewer figures it has, without losing eyes to Web-based solutions. But even if I’m to take the chairman’s thoughts as being entirely objective, I would still say he’s likely to find will be more fruitful for its investors than he supposes. And I imagine it is on-demand video – if it indeed spans the breadth of virtually all games held later this summer, and not a small number of select highlights – that will be the aspect of the website which will grant NBC the right to brag some.

Will the project require NBC to rollout a whole lot of red tape? Perhaps. But I’m willing to bet it will run a good deal less than Malone and other like-minded skeptics predict.

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Posted in Web 2.0 | 5 Comments »

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