Archive for May, 2007

CBS buys video blog Wallstrip

Wallstrip video showThe video blog, Wallstrip, which describes itself as “stock culture meets pop culture”, has been acquired by CBS. The price is unknown, but CBS has denied it’s 5 million dollars as was first reported by the gossip blog, Jossip. At the time is was suggested that the main attraction for CBS was securing the services of the shows dynamic host, Lindsay Campbell, who was to become the new face for the studios online video initiatives.

That’s not the case says NewTeeVee. The deal is just as much about the talent behind the camera:

Wallstrip creator Howard Lindzon said CBS bought the show in part because of its “web 2.0” attitude towards widely syndicating and distributing its video… “Quincy wants to be everywhere,” he said, meaning Quincy Smith, CBS’ dealmaker and the initiator of the Wallstrip purchase. The team will be part of, helping out with its video projects.

In other words, the deal should be viewed as an acquisition of a production company, rather than a single show. CBS clearly hopes to leverage what the Wallstrip team have learnt from their online video experiments, as well as harness the team’s ability to put out very cost effective content, with a distribution model that embraces the distributed nature of the net.

On a personal note, I count myself as a fan of the show. I’m not really all that interested in the stock market, but Wallstrip does a good job of explaining the cultural phenomena behind market success stories (and in an entertaining way), such as how Apple positions itself as a lifestyle company, and why people go crazy over Nike.

Congrats Wallstrip!

(If you’re new to the show, check out the announcement episode.)

The Pirate Bay to launch YouTube competitor?

The Piratebay logoThe Pirate Bay, best known for illegal music, video, and software downloads via BiTtorrent, is set to launch its own video streaming site.

A cryptic message posted on the Bay’s official blog states:

…it’s in the works being done right now and as usual we put a bit of Pirate Bay mentality behind every project we do.

Torrent Freak interprets this as meaning that the site will be similar to YouTube but without compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

…it’s exactly that “Pirate Bay mentality” that, in our opinion, is going to make this site a winner. Think YouTube without Google constantly pulling down copyrighted videos.

It’s hard to imagine how a lawless ‘YouTube’ could survive in a world where IP laws are increasingly harmonized across borders, and countries have an incentive to comply with the World Trade Organization. But then again, The Pirate Bay has a pretty good track record of evading US lawyers.

Google Reader comes to the Wii

Google Reader LabsA version of Google’s web-based RSS reader, designed specifically for use on Nintendo’s Wii, has been released into the wild. The work of a few Wii-owning Google engineers, Google Reader for Wii takes full advantage of the Wii Remote, and the interface is scaled for comfortable viewing on a television.

Writing on the official Google Reader blog, Google engineer, Mihai Parparita, says:

Earlier this year, I acquired a Nintendo Wii. As I was recovering from Wii elbow, I began to explore the capabilities of the Opera-based Internet Channel. It occurred that Reader may be a lot of fun on the Wii, especially with many photo and video feeds.

Some weekend hacking confirmed my suspicions, and the rest of the team also seemed to think it’d be a neat side project.

To access Google Reader on your Wii, point your browser at Alternatively, if you’re currently Wii-less you can visit or check out this video.

Joost 'opens' to the public — full review

JoostJoost, the much hyped online TV service from the founders of Skype, has begun opening its doors to the public. Though you can’t sign up through the company’s website, current Beta testers now have an unlimited number of invites to send to friends, so that it shouldn’t take long before anybody who wants to try out the service, can.

What is Joost?

Claiming to combine the best of TV with the best of the net, Joost is an on-demand video service that utilizes P2P technology to deliver a TV-like experience on a PC. In this respect, think of it as cable television without the need for a set-top-box. Additional functionality is provided through a number of built-in applications (called ‘widgets’) which include a channel-based chat room, an IM client (currently GTalk and Jabber only), and an RSS-based news ticker.

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Poll: Can Skype replace your landline?

IPEVO skype handsetSkype has been my Instant Messenger of choice for quite some time, and ever since purchasing a proper Skype handset (see picture) I’ve used it more and more for voice calls. In my experience it leaves iChat’s audio quality in the dust. Where Skype has really impressed me is in its ability to patch in regular land line and mobile phone calls whilst holding a conference. For me it’s become a critical business tool — although I do still maintain a traditional landline.

Others I know have been brave enough to dump their landline completely, opting to use a SkypeIn number instead — only to regret the decision. Having to ask a client to call you back in the hope that you’ll get a better peer-to-peer connection is, to say the least, a little embarrassing.

What’s your experience with Skype? Take our poll, and let us know more in the comments.


Amazon to challenge iTunes

Amazon has revealed plans to launch its own DRM-free music download store, in what many will see as a direct challenge to Apple’s iTunes. By selling tracks in the mp3 format — without copyright protection — music from Amazon will be compatible with almost any digital music device including cell-phones, streaming media boxes, and mp3 players such as Apple’s very own iPod.

Amazon’s catalogue will initially comprise of music from the third largest record company, EMI, and thousands of smaller labels. Along with Apple, who also recently starting selling DRM-free music, Amazon’s clout should help pile on more pressure for the other major record labels to follow suit and embrace the mp3 format.

As the Financial Times points out:

The web-based retailer’s decision to enter the digital music market comes at a time when the record companies are desperate for a rival to iTunes. In spite of challenges from Microsoft, Yahoo and others, the Apple service still commands roughly 80 per cent of the online music market, which has allowed it to dictate terms to the music companies on pricing and other issues.

Amazon has said that the service will debut later this year, but hasn’t revealed details on pricing, except to say it will be “competitive”.

Mozilla Labs working on making mobile browsing a snip

joey browser pluginMozilla Labs, the people behind Firefox, are experimenting with a new service to make mobile browsing less cumbersome and more convenient. Called ‘Joey‘ the idea is to enable users to bookmark or clip sections of a web page from their desktop browser that they wish to view on a mobile phone at a later date. Any snippets are then stored on the Joey server where they are reformatted and dynamically updated for mobile browsing.

In an article published in InfoWorld, Doug Turner, leader of the project, gives the example of clipping a scoreboard in order to keep up with a football match. Users would select the scoreboard section of a web page and store it on their personal Joey account, so that it’s then viewable from their mobile phone and constantly updated with the latest data.

Joey certainly takes an interesting approach to solving the mobile web problem, with its desktop/mobile hybrid approach — and for an information junkie like myself it could prove to be a very useful service.

See a demo of Joey here.

Report: paid video download is a 'dead end'

This post was originally published on Read/WriteWeb on May 15th, 2007.

Joost vs Amazon Unbox

A new study from Forrester Research predicts that online video download services will see sales peak this year, as consumers move other sources of online video. Read/WriteWeb recently reported that CBS is increasingly releasing content for free or via ad-supported mediums such as, Joost. Further, consumers are confronted with a growing number of video-on-demand options from their cable or satellite providers and Internet services.

Though sales of television and film downloads via services like iTunes and Amazon Unbox will nearly triple this year, according to the report, it is unlikely that such services will see much growth in 2008 and beyond unless the market shifts dramatically.

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CBS' new online video strategy: court web 2.0

This post was originally published on Read/WriteWeb on May 14th, 2007.

CBS logoLast May CBS launched Innertube, an online video site that would allow the network’s viewers to watch popular television shows like “CSI” and “Survivor” online for free, as well as bonus content and original mini shows. The site, which was ad supported and used RealPlayer, was ill-conceived from the start since it was put to head-to-head with arguably more attractive offers from CBS (99-cent commercial free downloads of Survivor, and free, sans-commercials on-demand content for Comcast cable subscribers). Eventually CBS also offered content for download on iTunes and clips via YouTube, leaving Innertube in the dust.

But now, CBS has decided that forcing users to come to them just doesn’t work, reports the Wall Street Journal. Beginning this month CBS will start to distribute their popular content over ten different online destinations, including AOL and Joost [Ed. see our Joost review], as part of a new initiative called the CBS Interactive Audience Network. The company is also reportedly working on deals with web 2.0 sites like Facebook, — which recently announced it was adding video, and Slide to distribute their video content over social networks.

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