MediaBytes 10.12.2007

CURRENT TV will officially relaunch its website on October 16, and Al Gore has promised that the site will “take interactivity to a new level.” As part of the change, Current TV will drop the “TV” – and simply become “Current.” Current.com will act as a user-generated hub, accepting links to news stories, videos, and even user-written articles. Embedding video from YouTube has been made incredibly simple, as has recording short “video diaries” using a Flash-based video recorder. The site is taking an all user-generated focus. And what about the TV programs? All reference to TV have been moved to a sidebar — the web’s version of the backseat.

COMCAST announced that it has finally begun rolling out TIVO – powered set-top boxes. The first customers have begin receiving the upgrade, which installs TiVo software onto existing Comcast boxes from Motorola. The service is initially only available in parts of New England, with coverage expanding through the region over the next few months. The price of the software upgrade has not been formally announced, but is expected to cost around $5 – $10 per month. The challenge: will users pay-up for a better set-top box experience? More importantly: is Comcast’s current software bad enough to make this a viable product? Stay tuned – TiVo also has a deal in the works with Cox, and has hinted at a renewed relationship with DirecTV.

GOOGLE CEO Eric Schmidt said the search-giant plans to address its current weakness in social-networking during the coming year. Schmidt spoke positively of the social-networking phenomenon, just days after Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called it a “fad.” Google believes that social-networking accounts for an “enormous proportion” of Internet traffic, and is a “very real” online force. As a result, it is currently building “social graphs” to improve search and other services for users. Schmidt also said that Google wants to serve ads for the Facebook network — a privilege currently held by Microsoft.

SNOCAP has slashed its workforce by 60%, a spokeswoman said Thursday evening. The music-licensing company was founded by Napster creator Shawn Fanning, and has struggled to find its purpose while attempting to eek out a legal, online music business, collecting scraps from iTunes and Amazon’s table. The company currently helps musicians sell music directly to consumers, while handling all rights issues on their behalf. Last week, however, the company lost a major deal with CD Baby to sell music for independent artists. Now, according to reports, the company is looking to be purchased.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is a business advisor and technology consultant. He helps Fortune 500 companies with digital transformation, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn's Top Voice in Technology, he is the co-host of "Think About This with Shelly Palmer & Ross Martin" on the Westwood One Podcast Network. He covers tech and business for Good Day New York, writes a weekly column for Adweek, is a regular commentator on CNN and CNBC, and writes a popular daily business blog. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com

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