The New Look We7 - Initial Thoughts

Yesterday We7 announced a major revamp to their ad supported music service. (The reason I'm only blogging on this today is, in case you were wondering, because yesterday I had a lengthy email exchange with We7's (very helpful) PR agency addressing queries).

We7 (which I first blogged about back in May '07) is another venture into digital by one-time Genesis front man Peter Gabriel. His previous dally-with-digital was OD2 which now provides the backbone of Nokia's digital music strategy, including Comes With Music. We7 provides an interesting twist on ad-supported, splicing a short audio ad at the start of free streamed and downloaded songs. Though there are still gaps in catalogue (particularly for downloads) there is a lot of content on here (including the majors) and lots more being added. We7 uses IP filtering to help target advertising and the filtering worked when tested with a couple of regional VPNs (Netherlands and US). In fact the filtering worked a bit too well: not only did all non-internationally licensed content not play, it disappeared entirely, even from search results. One other small issue is that there seems to be a lot of unsold ad inventory as I just got 'We7' audio inserts instead of ads.

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VirginMedia's Hangover from the Last Downturn

Yesterday VirginMedia announced it would cut 2200 jobs, 15% of its workforce, to take effect around the end of 2009.

On the radio, I heard this reported as being a result of the current downturn in the UK (in the third quarter the UK experienced negative growth). But VirginMedia's reasoning is not the result of a change in consumer spending.

The problem VirginMedia face is that they have been carrying billions in debt generated during the rapid expansion of cable networks in the UK during the 90s.

Over the last few years, the level of market competition that VirginMedia has faced has limited VirginMedia's ability to generate significant enough revenues to retrieve their position. The vaunted multi-play that has been at the core of VirginMedia's strategy has resulted in a war on multiple fronts: in TV against Freeview and Sky; broadband versus Carphone Warehouse, BT, Orange, Sky, Tiscali; and home phone against Carphone, BT, and numerous others.

VirginMedia's announcement was a hangover from last time's problems, combined now with the greater difficulty in raising capital and sustaining existing debts caused by the credit crunch. Effects of changes in consumer spending will take longer to come through. There may be more pain to come.

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Patton's Patterns - Execution Lessons for Driving Sales

Pattonmovieposterlarge General George Patton’s unparalleled ability to execute in WWII sometimes gets overshadowed by his colorful (and stupid) public relations.  Because of his quick strike abilities, the Axis leaders feared him more than any other Allied general.  What made him truly unique, and someone still studied in military academies throughout the world today, was his formula for success.  Patton had a voracious appetite for history and believed that humanity already had a master inventory of all of the strategies and tactics for winning a battle.

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Help Me Figure Out Personas vs. Modes

Since we don't take comments on ye olde Jup blog, help me out at the new place.

Customer Personas vs. Modes

Davidcard[Posted by David Card]

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Facebook - 15M ACTIVE Mobile Users

Wow. The number doesn't surprise me, but it's still a big milestone. I use Facebook on my iPhone and my Blackberry. I think this number will only continue to grow and everyone in the ecosystem will benefit. Reasons:

- More and more cell phones have larger screens/full key boards. The Facebook mobile site is good, but the applications are great. They didn't say how many of their active users are on a converged or more advanced handset like an iPhone or Blackberry, but I'd be surprised if the traffic from these devices isn't high. I tried to get Sam Altman to tell me yesterday - how Loopt was doing on the iPhone vs. a basic feature phone, but he wouldn't tell me. All he would tell me is "way higher."

- High level of overlap in the demographics of active data users on cell phones and those who use social networking sites online multiple times each day. They are one and the same.

- The more your friends post, the more reasons you have to check in more often and comment / respond. It's circular ... and gaining momentum.

I've published some research on how important I think social networking is to the mobile industry. See summary here.

See Facebook post.

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Vodafone Becomes a Major Broadband ISP

Today, Vodafone announced first half results. Unsurprisingly, mobile broadband was a key part of their strategy to maintain revenues as mobile voice and sms increasingly head towards becoming free.

They reported very fast mobile broadband growth, built upon aggressive pricing by other operators in European markets. Vodafone -- not aiming to be the cheapest priced -- reported an 84% increase in mobile PC connectivity devices and reckons about half of those are consumer buys. Given the early stage of the consumer mobile broadband market, that's an impressive result. Data-related revenues will be harder to secure: they rose by just 27%.

In the UK alone, Vodafone reported >500k mobile PC devices. This would place Vodafone among the leading ISPs if compared with home broadband, and with growth levels that only Sky could approach (but not match).

Note to non-European readers, pricing for mobile broadband is as low as 10ukp for one months' use on a pre-pay SIM, or 5ukp if an add-on to an existing contract plan. This isn't in every country, but in some where low prices exist, the market is moving extremely quickly.

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Yes, You Can Still Have a Garish MySpace Page that Bleeds Off the Screen

MySpace releases its profile editor 2.0. You can control page width! Only a handful of templates to start, with a few that are movie-themed (ie sponsored).

When I talked with MySpace about this a few days ago, I marveled at MySpace's ability to encourage customization (over half its users), especially in the face of pretty hard to use tools. Very DIY in the early days: "copy a friend's HTML!" though that spawned a cottage industry of third-party offerings. We've been wondering if widgets would get user customization adoption above the historical 15%-20% barrier. But of course, MySpace has always been at least as much about personal expression as it is about communication or entertainment consumption.

The new tools are pretty easy to use, although they could use a tutorial for geezers. (At least half of MySpace's audience is over 35, contrary to popular opinion.) There's more control over which of your friends groups see what, and there's a kinda-sorta apps gallery presentation in the profile editor. I'm disappointed that you can't click through on my "interests" now. I hope that's a temporary bug. And now I wish I could re-skin my music player.

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Facebook - 15M ACTIVE Mobile Users

Wow. The number doesn't surprise me, but it's still a big milestone. I use Facebook on my iPhone and my Blackberry. I think this number will only continue to grow and everyone in the ecosystem will benefit. Reasons:

* More and more cell phones have larger screens/full key boards. The Facebook mobile site is good, but the applications are great. They didn't say how many of their active users are on a converged or more advanced handset like an iPhone or Blackberry, but I'd be surprised if the traffic from these devices isn't high. I tried to get Sam Altman to tell me yesterday - how Loopt was doing on the iPhone vs. a basic feature phone, but he wouldn't tell me. All he would tell me is "way higher."
* High level of overlap in the demographics of active data users on cell phones and those who use social networking sites online multiple times each day. They are one and the same.
* The more your friends post, the more reasons you have to check in more often and comment / respond. It's circular ... and gaining momentum.

I've published some research on how important I think social networking is to the mobile industry. See summary here.

See Facebook post.

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New Dawn Fading?

Why is Amazon promoting a special edition Joy Division Zune for $350 to me? It came out in June in the old 80GB form factor (new 120GB models only cost $250; even in Gears of War 2 special edition livery, they're $280.)

Does Amazon know me that well?

B001EWDFCS-3-th.jpg

It may indeed be a collectible; I can't find one on eBay, where the Halo 3 edition 30GB model is $127. Where will it end?

Day Of The Lords [2007 Re-mastered Album Version]