It's no news to anybody that Apple is a bit ahead of Microsoft in the digital music business.Bill Gates and his company's partners have long predicted that consumers would like the choice of brands and features offered by Microsoft-compatible music players, but consumer democracy has voted overwhelmingly for Apple's iPod. , but consumer democracy has voted overwhelmingly for Apple's iPod.
Now comes a BusinessWeek story putting flesh on an idea that's been floating around for some time. The magazine reports that Microsoft has a team of people working on a potential new device, to be created by Microsoft, that would take on the iPod directly.The device would likely add gaming capability to the ordinary video-and-music combination of the iPod and today's rivals. BusinessWeek's article speculates that any such device would trade on the strength of the Xbox, rather than simply tackle the iPod on its own turf.
The idea is still in the planning stages, and no final decision has been made, the article says. This kind of strategy would carry serious risks for Microsoft, which has staked its claim in the digital media business primarily as a provider of software for dozens or hundreds of other partners around the world, both hardware and software. If it makes its own player, this partner strategy could be severely undermined, as the article notes. That said, the iPod's lead is only getting bigger every day.
Investments by venture capitalists in startups rose a meager 2 percent in 2005 despite a big jump in VC fundraising, a study said Monday, suggesting VCs are taking in more money than they can prudently invest.
Meanwhile, some 182 venture firms raised $25.2 billion from investors in the same year, up 46 percent from the $17.3 billion raised by 194 firms during 2004, according to figures from the National Venture Capital Association. That’s the biggest fundraising total since the boom.
「一方で、National Venture Capital Association によると2005年に資金調達したベンチャー企業182社の合計金額は$25.2 billion。2004年に資金調達したベンチャー企業194社の合計金額$17.3 billionと比べると46％増との事。」
Experts don’t agree on the effects of a venture overhang but some say it leads to irrational investment and a lower bar for investing. If too many startups get funding, the worry is competition kills off the opportunity for above-average returns.
The amount of money available for investment makes it more profitable to bet on later-stage companies. The investment size and subsequent payoff potential is bigger and many of the early risk factors are taken care of.
The biggest gains in venture spending went to retailers and consumer services. VCs upped their investment in retailers, such as Guild.com, almost 75 percent to $215.5 million in 2005, from $123.2 million the year before. Investment in consumer services increased 53 percent to $2.4 billion from $1.5 billion in 2004.
The panelists voted on each other's predictions by holding up two-color paddles, with the green side facing forward for agreement and red facing forward for disagreement. The audience voted by holding up either red or green squares of paper.
First-timer Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners made the least popular prediction in saying corporate-software makers Microsoft, Oracle and SAP would lose their dominance of the $100 billion enterprise applications market during the next 36 months. Emerging competitors will use open source software and online software delivery, Winblad believes, to offer low-cost alternatives. All the paddles on the stage flashed red, except for Jurvetson, and the audience showed almost no green.
Winblad got much more traction with her second prediction, that design would count more than ever in consumer products such as MP3 players, mobile phones and laptop computers. Consumers are becoming less interested in the technical details of such personal devices and more interested in how they look and what kind of statement they make.
McNamee added that U.S. consumer technology companies need to focus on ``aspirational products,'' such as Apple's elegant iPod line, where desirable design justifies a higher selling price, because Americans can't compete on price alone with low-cost mass-market products from China and elsewhere in Asia.
One of the more precise predictions came from Jurvetson, who said voice calls would become free when placed over the Internet and would become the ``killer app'' for municipal wireless networks. WiFi cordless phones, just now hitting the markets, will bring free calling in homes that have broadband Internet service and a wireless network, and anywhere within a city that has outdoor WiFi service. Cupertino, Mountain View, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale already have or will soon have such municipal WiFi networks. In five or 10 years, Jurvetson concluded, we'll barely remember the days when we received monthly phone bills.
「Draper Fisher JurvetsonのSteve Jurvetson氏の予測の1つは、音声通話はインターネットにより無料となり、それは市営ワイヤレスネットワークのキラーアプリになるというものだ。市場で注目を集めるWiFiコードレス電話は、家庭内および屋外WiFiサービスにより、無料通話を可能とする。Cupertino市, Mountain View市, Santa Clara市そしてSunnyvale市では、近日中に市営ワイヤレスネットワークが敷設される。Jurvetson氏は、5年乃至10年後、我々は通話料の月々の請求書を受領していた日々を忘れるだろうと締め括った。」
Schoendorf flashed the red side of his paddle, however, questioning how well such systems would work and asking the audience, ``How many of you had a dropped cellular call in the last week?''
CBS and E! Networks plan to debut original content produced, designed, and formatted for both cell phones and the web.The rush to deliver streaming video via cell phones or the web is forcing television networks to deliver more than just archived content on these rapidly emerging entertainment platfors.
According to Variety.com, CBS is in the early stages of planning and producing a soap opera that will be seen exclusively on cell phones. The soap opera will stream five to seven episodes a week that run about three to five minutes each, rather than the hour or half-hour that is the average running time of soap episodes on TV.
A day after AOL acquired video search startup Truveo for an estimated $50 million, the other closely watched video search firm, Blinkx, said Wednesday it has no plans to put itself up for sale although it intends to receive investment from one of the larger Internet or media companies.
“We’re in the middle of talking to VCs and some of the larger companies and players investing potentially in our organization,” said Blinkx co-founder Suranga Chandratillake. “We have to juggle and figure out who can bring the most to the table.”
Analysts and experts have long regarded Truveo and Blinkx as the most impressive startups in the video search industry, and speculation over possible takeovers has consistently dogged both firms. AOL bought Truveo Tuesday (see AOL Buys Video Search Startup) for what sources familiar with the deal say was $50 million, leaving Blinkx as an obvious acquisition target.
There was speculation late last year that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. was talking to Blinkx about a possible purchase. While Mr. Chandratillake declined to comment on the talk, he reiterated that he had spoken to the prominent Internet, media, and software companies.
AOL did not disclose the amount of the deal, which took place during December. But sources familiar with the transaction say the No. 3 web portal paid close to $50 million for Burlingame, California-based Truveo.
AOL was not the only search giant interested in buying Truveo, which has 12 employees. But its winning bid accelerates competition among the top search engines to control video search as an ever-growing quantity of video content migrates to the Internet.
Like traditional text search dominated by Google and Yahoo, much of the money in video search will come from online ads. Advertisers spent $225 million in 2005 on online video ads, according to estimates from research firm eMarketer. That figure is expected to grow to $640 million by 2007, and will likely hit the $1-billion mark in 2008.
「グーグルとヤフーによって支配されている既存のテキスト検索同様に、ビデオ検索に於ける収入の多くは、オンライン広告によるものだ。リサーチ会社のeMarketer社によれば、2005年のオンライン動画広告市場は$225 millionだった。この数字は、2007年は$640 million 、2008年は$1-billionになると予想される。」
Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, and IAC’s Ask Jeeves are jockeying to deliver the sort of programming once solely provided by broadcasters and cable television. AOL, with access to Time Warner’s vast library of music, television, and movies, has an edge.
“It’s important for the company to create a formidable offering in its video search if it’s going to intensify its broadband-friendly environment,” said Tom Forte, a consumer analyst at Geneva Investment in Chicago.
AOL said it will fold Truveo’s video search technology into the company’s own search and video products in the coming months. The purchase follows AOL’s acquisition of Singingfish during November 2003 and the company’s launch of AOL Video Search during July (see AOL Offers Customization).
During December, Google said it was paying $1 billion for a 5 percent stake in AOL (see How Google-AOL Alters Search). In addition to access to AOL and Time Warner’s vast content reserves, Google’s deal with AOL outflanked a competing offer from Microsoft.
While AOL declined to release numbers for the Truveo deal, a company spokesperson did allow that it is the largest acquisition by the company since it bought Advertising.com during June 2004. That deal was for a reported $435 million.
Founded by Tim Tuttle and Adam Beguelin during January 2004, Truveo debuted its video search technology during September 2005. Almost instantly, it became the subject of intense takeover speculation. AOL and its competitors eyeing Truveo wanted its technology.
Jeff Clavier, an angel investor in Truveo, and a venture capital consultant, said it makes sense for AOL to buy Truveo’s technology now. “It is cheaper and it is easier to integrate,” Mr. Clavier said.