The UpStream (Page 209)

Micro Vlogging has a New Contender: MixBit

posted Saturday Aug 10, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Micro Vlogging has a New Contender: MixBit

In a trend that I have had no luck understanding, micro vlogging has become a popular business. Between Twitter's Vine and Instagram video, there is no shortage of videos so short they cannot get across a point.

Well, if those two services were not enough for you, I have good news: the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, have launched a competitor. Named MixBit, the service allows users to record and upload 16 seconds, a full second longer than Instagram.

The difference here is the ability to edit and mix videos together. One feature is to combine 256 of these 16 second clips together into a single, 1-hour video. You can also import videos to be edited together, allowing an even greater number of "Best of Vine" type videos to be uploaded.

Chad Hurley described the service, saying,

The whole purpose of MixBit is to reuse the content within the system. I really want to focus on great stories that people can tell.

I, obviously, do not understand the value of a 16 second video service. That could have a lot to do with the fact that I have lived a large portion of my life in news rooms producing 30 to 60 minute episodes and having trouble keeping the broadcast that short, so the use of 16 seconds is out of my experience. The people who do understand the micro vlogging community should be happy about this, however. Competition breeds innovation, and new ideas in an industry are always good.

Yahoo! to Complete Company Transition with Logo Change

posted Saturday Aug 10, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Yahoo! to Complete Company Transition with Logo Change

It was only a matter of time before this happened. Since taking over the company, Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer has been changing everything about the company. She has closed up unproductive products and purchased companies she thought were a good fit, such as Tumblr and Rockmelt. She even decided to try and revive Flickr.

The only thing left of the old company at this point is the well-recognized and incredibly childish purple logo. Well, according to an announcement of the company's official Tumblr page, that is all about to change. Well, according to what we have seen so far, some of that is about to change. Over the next 30 days, leading up to September 4, the company will unveil another logo candidate, ending with the unveiling of the official logo on that date.

As of now, which is only day 4, all of the published candidates have maintained 2 things: the weird purple color and the exclamation point, both of which are features I would have enjoyed being dismissed. If you would like to see the logos, you can visit the daily logo site, or, if you would like to see the logos in context, they will be maintaining the candidates on all of the major pages each day.

A refresh of the brand image is a good idea for a company trying to reinvent itself as the place to get relevant information. Hopefully the final version of the logo will be better looking that the 4 logos we have seen thus far, as they are all pretty iffy. Yahoo could certainly use a visual makeover right now.

Hit the break for the preview video to see a brief look at a number of the candidates.

Microsoft Unveils New Xbox One Details

posted Saturday Aug 10, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft Unveils New Xbox One Details

This has been a big week for information on Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One console. First, an updated version of the Xbox Live Gold features listing has shown some of the advertised features of the new console that will only be available to Gold subscribers.

As anyone who has ever used an Xbox product would have guessed, the list includes Skype, SmartMatch and OneGuide. Since Skype is replacing Windows Live Messenger, which was shut down in favor of Skype overall, it was logical that it would maintain the same placement that its predecessor did. SmartMatch is an online gaming feature, which requires Gold, so we will skip that one. OneGuide is a media-related feature, most of which already require Gold, so we will skip that one, too.

The feature that seems to have people confused is the Game DVR. The feature, which was shown off in-depth at this year's E3 press conference, has been one of great focus for the so-called gaming media. That focus has changed with this announcement, however. Somehow, people who claim to be professional gaming journalists are surprised that a feature to engage socially via recorded gameplay will require Gold.

Now, on the Xbox 360, to use Facebook and Twitter, you must be a Gold subscriber. Being as the sharing of game video is a social activity, it would seem that anyone would have expected this move, but alas, you would be wrong. If you guessed that Sony would pounce and tell people that their version wouldn't require PS+, you would be right, however.

In other, non-Gold news, Major Nelson showed off the console in its first ever unboxing video. Finally, the answer to a lot of questions have been answered. Most notable is the inclusion of a headset with the console, something that the rumor mill had attempted to suggest Microsoft would not include in the box. Luckily that rumor is now dead.

Hit the break to check out Major Nelson's unboxing video and let us know what you think about the Gold subscriptions.

Microsoft's Latest Branding Disaster - SkyDrive

posted Sunday Aug 4, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft's Latest Branding Disaster - SkyDrive

Microsoft has been having quite a time picking brand names that stand up to trademark suits. We all remember the issue over the term "Metro" for the new universal interface across Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox. Previously all of the interface concepts were referred to as Metro, until Metro AG, the world's 5th largest retailer, contacted them and demanded they pick a new name. unfortunately they have had no luck accomplishing that, having used the terms Modern UI and now simply Windows Store style.

This week, Microsoft has lost another brand name to not being legally prepared, this time one that matters: SkyDrive. For those who do not know, SkyDrive is a cloud storage solution from Microsoft that is heavily integrated into their current product offerings, with even closer integration in upcoming products. Windows 8.1, codenamed Blue, is set to have SkyDrive as its default storage location. Windows Phone automatically uploads photos to the service's Photos section. Xbox One will allow cloud storage of games and save data to SkyDrive as well.

All of that is almost correct, as Microsoft will now have to change the name of the service from SkyDrive. A trademark suit with BSkyB, or British Sky Broadcasting, was lost, with Microsoft having to let go of the brand which infringed on the 'Sky' mark. The mark in question is for a former cloud storage service, Sky Store & Share, which BSkyB shuttered in 2011, when they initially filed the trademark suit.

Luckily for Microsoft, BSkyB has allowed Microsoft a reasonable period of time to transition off of the mark. If Microsoft is unable to make a deal out of court for a licensing program for the name, which they have not mentioned being interested in, this loss will cost Microsoft dearly.

As Microsoft has been marketing SkyDrive as the center of a technological wheel that includes all of Microsoft's technologies, like Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, Internet Explorer, Outlook and Office, there will be a tremendous amount of branding changes to be done. All of these applications and platforms will need to have logos, marketing material and naming updated to reflect whatever the new name of the service is.

In addition, there will be a lot of development cost involved. All of these apps will have new API endpoints that will need to be developed and implemented. All existing SkyDrive shares will need to be rerouted to the new domain. Plus, there are non-Microsoft apps that rely on SkyDrive heavily that will also need to be rewritten at the cost of developers unrelated to Microsoft.

This last issue is the one that might cost Microsoft the most. At a time when Microsoft is trying to court new development on its platforms, costing those developers money because of a bad decision on Microsoft's part will not help in winning hearts and minds.

Luckily, SkyDrive as a brand name is still relatively unknown. Unless you use Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8, you might have never interacted with the brand at all. If this was going to happen, this would be the time to have it happen. Hopefully, whatever the new brand name is, it will not have the same over-reaching, bland descriptive branding that Microsoft has been known for.

DirecTV and the NFL Discuss Sunday Ticket Deal

posted Sunday Aug 4, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

DirecTV and the NFL Discuss Sunday Ticket Deal

Could DirecTV and the NFL's happy relationship finally come to a disastrous end? It can if the two don't come to an agreement on the price that it will cost DirecTV for NFL Sunday Ticket.

During the earnings conference call for the second quarter, DirecTV CEO Michael White spoke about the current negotiations with the NFL. Their contract with the league ends after the 2014 season, so the satellite company still has a small amount of time left.

We're always in a dialogue with the NFL about how things are going and how we can continue to improve and build the franchise, and we've had those discussions as well this year. We continue to have very constructive discussions with the NFL. I continue to be optimistic that we're great partners together and that Sunday Ticket will stay with us for the long haul.

It's all about the price that the NFL would like to increase the deal to. As it stands, DirecTV shells out just over $1 billion for the Sunday Ticket package each year, giving them exclusive rights over the subscription, not counting the Web access. That's quite a lot of money, but it secures DirecTV as the only provider of this content. The company's CFO Patrick Doyle seems to agree with his statements back in March that DirecTV won't pay an exponentially higher price for the package.

For us, there's a point where we're certainly willing to renew and at some increase that's reasonable, that we can absorb and continue to pass on to the customer. I think, obviously, if it goes above that, we would certainly either think about not carrying it or go nonexclusive.

DirecTV has had exclusive access to broadcast Sunday Ticket since its inception back in 1994. However the NFL is putting pressure on upping the price of its media deals across the board. CBS, NBC, FOX and ESPN, altogether, have averaged a price increase of just over 75 percent for their renegotiated contracts, so if you carry that over to DirecTV, that send the current $1 billion price tag to $1.75 billion. Is that a hike that the satellite company would be willing to pay? If not, I'm sure any cable company would be quick to swoop in and try to work out a short-term deal immediately. However, with the amount of added incentives that DirecTV offers, like watching on your tablet, computer and even adding your fantasy football team into the Sunday Ticket interface itself, I think it would take a lot more work than what it's worth for cable providers, especially considering some of them balked for years at even introducing the NFL RedZone channel. It's also possible that DirecTV would consider signing a non-exclusive deal if it meant a sharp discount in price.

In contrast, Aereo is currently expanding their reach. By only having to pay $8 a month with no contract commitment, if Aereo is in your favorite team's market, that's a far better price to pay for five months than the $300 sticker shock that is Sunday Ticket - or having to sign a one- or two-year agreement with DirecTV.

Could Aereo be damaging DirecTV's value of Sunday Ticket to the point where they could no longer justify paying the price tag? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Yahoo Picks Up Social Browser Rockmelt in Year-long Trend of Acquisitions

posted Sunday Aug 4, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Yahoo Picks Up Social Browser Rockmelt in Year-long Trend of Acquisitions

It's a brand new week here in Cyberland, which means it's time for another company to be acquired by Yahoo. In what seems to be the ongoing trend as of late, Yahoo has been snatching up startups left and right, all while revamping their own projects, closing non-profitable ones and spending billions on established brands. Last week, it was Admovate and this week, it's Rockmelt, the startup social browser.

On their blog, Rockmelt posted:

We're excited to tell you that Rockmelt has been acquired by Yahoo!. Yahoo! and Rockmelt share a common goal: To help people discover the best content from around the web. In our short four and a half years at Rockmelt, we've learned a lot about how you like to browse the web, discover content, and share the great stuff you've found. You've been right by our sides as we've celebrated successes, endured failures, and invented new ways of doing things. You've taught us a ton. And we plan to put everything we've learned to work at Yahoo!.... Your kept items will be exported as bookmarks and the feeds you follow as an OPML file. The Rockmelt apps and web product will be shutdown on August 31, 2013.

Founded in 2009, the company was able to gain almost $40 million in investment funds from different companies around the country. The shutdown of Rockmelt's app and products are to be expected, as Yahoo has been doing that with nearly every other company they've brought into their portfolio over the past year.

It should also be pointed out that this wasn't Yahoo's only pick-up this week, either. The web giant purchased Lexity, an e-commerce business, but the terms of that deal were not disclosed. For Rockmelt, AllThingsD is reporting that Yahoo almost doubled the social browser's investment money, with a check in the ballpark of $60-$70 million.

Will Yahoo keep up this trend of buying up groups that will hopefully boost their relevancy moving forward? Or will they eventually run out of companies to buy and/or cash to spend?

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