Wippit RIP

After 8 years Wippit has closed its doors. A genuine pioneer in digital music Wippit founder Paul Myers tried to get the labels to sign up to a legal P-to-P service long before they were ready (they're still not all the way there yet cf PlayLouder). Paul could have chosen to follow the more trodden path of launching an illegal offering first and then using an established audience as leverage to get label licenses. He opted instead to stay firmly on-side with the labels but ultimately didn't get the licenses he needed and Wippit was left as a well-meaning but ultimately compromised offering that never really managed to achieve mass market share despite innovative positioning and partnerships.

Hard luck Paul, the first mover doesn't always have the advantage.

Social Everything?

Met with a handful of clients and prospects yesterday in Seattle. During one pretty free-form conversation with Classmates -- one of the few companies that has pulled off paid consumer content online -- the discussion ran along the lines of, if the Internet was a connection layer, and HTML etc. was a content/presentation layer, and now we're adding a social layer, are there any applications that wouldn't benefit from social functionality? At least from a user's perspective.

Think about that for a second. It's tough to come up with any. You end up mumbling about exclusive access/membership or information that needs to be "pure" -- from a single, identified source (or artist). And even that could benefit from commentary. One-to-one private communications may be the only thing...

Boy, am I asking for a lot of clutter.

Invergence?

I'm at the Inverge conference in Portland for the next couple days. I'll post about cool stuff.

No comment? No problem.

I love Matt Haughey's thoughtful post on the differences between comments on blogs in 2008 and those back in the day (five years ago).

But I think the root of the problem (described in various media outlets over the past year or so) of snarky, or mean-spirited, or generally unhelpful comments becoming the norm has to do with the distance we've achieved from those original link-and-essay heavy blogs.

Ironically, the comment thread on this post is an outstanding discussion of the issues involved.

There is no one answer to handling comments on the Web. I run a perfectly respectable site in my community that is full of thoughtful and informative posts by real people using their real names. My competitor down the road operates his community section more like an ongoing, anonymous brawl with interesting conversations going on in the corners. I think it works for him and his posters.

I never had a problem with Jupiter's no-comments policy, even though I love getting comments and mixing it up with my readers. I think it's a reasonable choice for the way the company does business. Some of my favorite bloggers don't take comments and it has never bothered me.

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United Airlines retreats on eliminating transatlantic meals

Earlier this summer, United Airlines announced plans to stop providing meals to coach passengers on its transatlantic flights. Today, the airline emailed its customers to advise that they had changed their mind based on the feedback they'd received.

United Airlines is positioning this as responding to what travelers value. You may not be a fan a airline food. But if your flying from San Francisco to Frankfurt, a box of microwaved chicken looks a lot better than the Starbucks egg salad sandwich that has been in your carry-on for 10 hours.

I don't blame United for trying to eliminate transatlantic meals. Cost cutting is essential right now. I don't know if they had any focus groups prior to the initial announcement. But it is somehow reassuring to know that passengers out cried and United listened.

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Comes With Limits, Comes With Data Charges

So it looks like the mobile industry concept of 'unlimited' (i.e. limited to 'fair-use') is to be applied to CWM. From the small print:

At the time of launch downloading of the tracks is not restricted unless usage is not considered to be for personal usage or user is using any unsupported applications or connection methods. If average usage for all users reached predefined levels Nokia is allowed to restrict number of downloads for individual users

Devil of course is in the detail.

Also, crucially, CWM customers, who will be on pre-pay of course, will have to pay all data charges incurred when downloading:

No additional charge for content is made per download - the music is "free" at the point of download and no prices are displayed to CWM users. End user would still be responsible for any data charges involved

That should generate some pretty rapid usage of pre-pay credits in the initial weeks as customers fill up their phones. Clearly this is viewed as a key tactic for CPW to drive their mobile broadband business. But there is a disconnect here - the services is for pre-pay customers only. But it would seem to be geared towards migrating customers to subscription mobile broadband. But if they become subscription customers, would they still be allowed to have access to CWM?

Google Chrome will boost pre-emptive contextual advertising

[Posted by Steven Noble]

Chrome — the new web browser from Google — has generated online buzz for all sorts of reasons, but there has been almost no talk about its impact on contextual advertising.

To me, it's clear: Chrome is part of Google's plan to allow us to buy ads within almost any electronic application or media.

Today, many of the applications we use are ad-free zones. For example, most word processors and video editors are free of advertising. The same is true of the on-screen applications that we use to control most consumer electronics devices.

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Starwood Preferred Guest Takes To the Skies

Starwood's loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest, has allowed members to transfer SPG to airline loyalty programs, which has been useful if not occasionally cumbersome benefit. However, now the program has gotten even better — SPG points can be used to book flights directly on www.spg.com/flights.

It gets better: there are no black out dates. On my first try comparing SPG Flights to an airline site, I found SPG offered several loyalty point options while the identical route on the airline's Web site indicated there were no loyalty point flights available.

And, it gets better still: While airline redemption programs impose fees on airline mile redemption flights, SPG Flights redemption includes taxes and booking fees in the price of the flight.

This is great news for travelers, the savviest of whom should be signing up for Starwood American Express cards from their desks in the Sheraton. It is also interesting for the travel industry — the most competitive loyalty program to book flights is now run by a hotel.

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Google Chrome: Paging Dr. McLuhan

It wasn't the feature set of Google's Chrome browser that got me excited, nor was it opening yet another strategic front in Google's cold war with Microsoft. Nor was it the comic book by Scott McCloud, although that's really cool. Lately, my mind has been on Javascript.

For most of my career as a creator and critic of media sites, I've been disdainful of javascript, a language that was born in the Age of Hype and which it seemed to me did more than any innovation (save Flash) to muck up otherwise perfectly respectable websites.

But things have changed. At first, it was the increasing processing speed of our computers, combined with the excitement of Google Maps, that turned a lot of heads. But now, Mozilla, Apple, and now Google are hard at work improving Javascript's performance by layering improved execution on top of all that processing power.

Meanwhile, Chrome's use of a separate process for each page and windows designed to contain Web applications turn windows into something more like applications.

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Comes With Music Comes With Carphone Warehouse

Finally comes the news that Nokia's Comes With Music is set for launch. It will launch first in the UK with Carphone Warehouse on October 2nd. Interestingly the service will launch on the mass market 5310 XpressMusic device. This is significant as it shows that Nokia is setting its sights firmly on the younger mass market - the most important target group for the record labels and interestingly not Nokia's other core segment (i.e. higher spending, N series customers).

Apart from pandering to record label strategic objectives there is another reason Nokia may be focusing on younger mass market consumers first: the iPhone remains unchallenged in terms of UI and design in the high end media phone space. Nokia doesn't yet have a device that challenges it on equal terms. Whilst Nokia's anticipated "Tube" may or may not be the device to challenge the iPhone, right now Nokia is smartly fighting the battle for mobile music where Apple can't currently challenge: the low end.

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