Monday, August 11, 2008

snapshot 8/11/08

Microsoft's Zune player seeking Hollywood stardom
Microsoft executives have been making the rounds at talent agencies and production companies in recent months in hopes of licensing exclusive original video programming for the portable media player, which has struggled to gain traction in the marketplace.

While Microsoft has denied persistent rumors that Zune would expand into communications a la Apple's iPhone, the company confirmed being in an "exploratory phase" regarding supplementing the TV content it already licenses from studios with Zune-only fare.

Citigroup sees better Amazon Kindle sales
Citigroup said on Monday that Inc's Kindle electronic reader appears to be selling much better than expected and could double a previous estimate for units sold this year, sending shares in the online retailer up 7 percent.

Music site dials up volume of traffic
Months after striking unprecedented deals with four major record labels, San Francisco social network Imeem has found itself on the forefront of the music industry's frantic experiment with free, ad-supported music sites. Armed with an expansive music and video catalog, which offers on-demand streaming of major record artists and independent bands, Imeem has attracted millions of users worldwide, in July becoming the No. 1 streaming music site in the United States, according to Web analytics company Compete.

With a wealth of data about its users' musical preferences, the company has attracted big-name advertisers, such as Apple, Nokia, Toyota and Sony, which flock to the site hoping to tap into Imeem's young demographic. The company is also experimenting with the e-commerce model - users can download songs they like on iTunes or, and later this year they will be able to purchase ring tones and merchandise. Meanwhile, Imeem's digital music wholesaler, Snocap, helps indie bands sell their music online.

Slippery Quarter: Napster Revenues, Profits, Subscribers Notch Down
Napster suffered a difficult second quarter, despite the recent shift towards MP3s. For the fiscal first quarter ending June 30th, the company witnessed drops across revenues, income, and subscribers, three critical metrics.

Specifically, revenues slowed to $30.3 million, down from $32.3 million during the year-ago quarter. Earnings also soured, slipping to $4.4 million, down from $4.2 million previously. And subscribers? Napster reported a total of 708,000 subscribers, down from 760,000 at the start of the period. The downer quarter raises questions about the impact of the DRM-free catalog, triggered on May 19th. During the call, Napster chief Chris Gorog pointed to "positive trends for Napster with increases to visitation and user engagement," though broader gains appear missing.

Blockbuster Online Download Store Screenshot Tour
Blockbuster's just expanded their movie store beta test to an audience size that includes me, so here's a screenshot walkthrough of what you're going to see on their service. First, it's really quite similar to their rental pages except for the fact that you'll see prices and labels next to everything. Renting costs anywhere between $0 to $3.99ish, and purchases go all the way up to $19.99. There is one lone $29.99 one but we're assuming that it's a typo. You'll have to use the MovieLink player to download and watch films, so no real luck if you were hoping that it was a WMV file you could stream to your Xbox 360.

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