Tag Archive | media

Google’s Answer to the Great Chromecast/Netflix Giveaway Mystery: There’s No Mystery — We Sold Out

sold out

Why did Google kill its Chromecast/Netflix promotion a day after it launched?

It didn’t, exactly. And neither did Netflix.

Here’s a new statement from Google on the end of the deal, which gave Chromecast buyers three months of free Netflix: “Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available.”

And here’s a tiny bit of clarity about what that means, as far as I can tell after speaking to people at both companies: Google bought a fixed amount of Netflix subscriptions to bundle with its $35 Web TV gadget, and it sold out.

Feel free to wonder whether Google dramatically underestimated demand for Chromecast, or if it is very happy to have sold out in a day (right now, Gabe Rivera and his robots think this is the most compelling story in tech).

Also feel free to wonder whether the end of the promotion will do anything to dampen enthusiasm for the Chromecast.

My hunch: At an effective price of $11, it was basically free, and thus a very attractive impulse buy. And, at its list price of $35, it is still very, very cheap for a piece of consumer electronics. And it’s probably going to continue to sell well.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Humannet)

Yet Another Way to Get a Super-Cheap Web TV Box

now tv

What’s that? You say you’re intrigued by the notion of a Web TV box, but $35 for a Google Chromecast is too rich for your blood?

Here you go – if you live in the U.K.: Satellite TV service BSkyB has rolled out a Web TV box for 9.99.

That works out to about $15, and what that gets you is essentially a rebranded Roku HD box – BSkyB invested in Roku last year, and once again this spring – tailored to support BSkyB’s Now TV streaming subscription service. That also means that the box won’t support BSkyB rivals Netflix and Amazon/Lovefilm.

You can see more specs and details here, but the big picture is that this shows yet another approach to distributing Web-to-TV hardware: Rather than have consumers buy the gadgets directly from the manufacturer, a programmer/distributor sells the box and subsidizes the cost.

Expect to see more of this in the future. For starters, note that Roku’s other investors include 21st Century Fox, Dish Network and Hearst, which owns both TV stations and stakes in TV networks including ESPN.

Meanwhile, Apple is in talks with Time Warner Cable about an Apple TV tie-up; for now, that deal doesn’t call for the cable operator to sell Apple’s boxes, but you could certainly imagine a pact where it does.

And remember that Amazon, which tried to buy Roku last year, has its own TV box in the works, which will be optimized for Amazon’s own video offerings.

Mark Zuckerberg to Speak on Immigration Issues at S.F. Film Premiere

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the Facebook Home launch event.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to deliver an address on immigration issues in early August, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the first time he has spoken publicly on the matter.

The speech will include the San Francisco premiere of a new film, “Documented,” which chronicles the struggles of undocumented immigrants entering the United States.

The film was written and directed by Jose Antonio Vargas, a writer and immigration rights activist who revealed his own status as an undocumented immigrant in a widely circulated New York Times Magazine article in 2011. (Vargas also wrote a lengthy profile of Zuckerberg for the New Yorker a few years ago.)

The premiere is sponsored by and ties in perfectly with FWD.us, the sometimes controversial Zuckerberg-backed political action group focused on U.S. immigration reform. The issues that FWD.us supports are felt by many tech companies in Silicon Valley; in particular, the focus on changing certain legislation which would allow for more annual H-1B visas, ultimately granting more foreign workers entry into the U.S.

But, as the Chronicle notes, the premiere will be the first time Silicon Valley will enter the wider debate on immigration reform as a whole, rather than just focus on the expansion of visa programs in order to recruit international engineering talent.

The film debuts at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Aug. 5.

Google Suggests Web-TV Thingies You Can Buy Instead of Google’s Sold-Out Chromecast

poltergeist

Google has not only sold out of Netflix giveaways to bundle with its Chromecast device, but it doesn’t have any Chromecasts to sell right now, period. If you place an order on Google’s site, you’ll be told there is a two- to three-week wait before one will ship.

As a helpful AllThingsD reader points out, as of this morning, you could still buy a Chromecast from Best Buy’s website. That’s no longer the case, either.

But if you do end up looking for a Chromecast on BestBuy.com, you will find a list of other ways you can watch Web video on your TV.

The list is provided by Google, via its AdSense ad units, which means that, even if Google can’t sell you a gadget, it might still make money by getting you to click on a link.

The list will change over time, and will vary depending on your browsing history. Here’s one I just saw:

best buy chromecast adsense

If you’re in the market for a Chromecast, you might very well have heard of Roku, which offers gadgets that do similar things, but at a higher price point.

It’s interesting to note that Google’s auction/algorithm thinks you might also want to check out devices from Western Digital, which has had a hard time getting attention for its streaming boxes. It’s also interesting to see that Aereo, a subscription service that can’t show up on your TV without help from Apple TV, Roku (or, theoretically, Chromecast), is on the list, too.

After Hacking Attack, Apple’s Dev Center Site Is Up and Running Again

Happy_mac

Eight days after taking it down in response to a security breach, Apple has restored the website for its Developer Center.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. But the entry page of the site was clearly visible this afternoon. Some sections, like forums, were still offline. Certificates, identifiers and profiles were back online.

An email circulated to Apple developers said, “Thank you for bearing with us while we bring these important systems back online. We will continue to update you with our progress.” It has also added a system status page so members can keep track of what’s back and working and what’s not.

Access to the site had been curtailed for several days as Apple investigated the circumstances of a security incident said to have occurred on July 18.

The company said in an email to its developer community (see below) three days after the incident took place that the site had been accessed by what it called “an intruder.”

Apple said in the original email disclosing the breach that it would be “completely overhauling our developer systems, updating our server software, and rebuilding our entire database.” It hasn’t gone into any further detail about the nature of the attack.

The Apple developer site grants access to iOS 7, OS X Mavericks and other software development tools. When it first went down it was marked with a notice saying it was down for maintenance. A later notice apologized that maintenance was taking longer than expected. Developers were told that memberships that would have expired during the downtime had been automatically extended.

Since extended downtime of this sort is rare with Apple, people in the dev community naturally began to wonder what was up. Apple finally came clean about the attempted attack and said that “…we have not been able to rule out the possibility that some developers’ names, mailing addresses, and/or email addresses may have been accessed.” Still no word on that.

Here’s the full text of the email sent around to developers.

Developer Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles Now Available

We appreciate your patience as we work to bring our developer services back online. Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles, software downloads, and other developer services are now available. If you would like to know the availability of a particular system, visit our status page.

If your program membership expired or is set to expire during this downtime. It will be extended and your app will remain on the App Store. If you have any other concerns about your account please contact us.

Thank you for bearing with us while we bring these important systems back online. We will continue to update you with our progress.

Yahoo Plans Splashy New San Francisco Digs (And Dreams of Neon Billboard’s Return)

yahoosign380

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images News

According to multiple sources close to the situation, Yahoo is close to signing a lease for a splashy new San Francisco outpost to keep up with the fast growth of other Web companies that have opened high-profile offices here.

Yahoo’s Mayer apparently is hoping for a big PR announcement of the space in San Francisco, much as she did with the recent news that the company was opening new digs in Times Square in Manhattan, in the former offices of the New York Times.

Mayer apparently likes old media locations. While the company has been looking at a number of locations in an increasingly tight office real estate market in San Francisco, it has zeroed in on a large amount of space in the famed San Francisco Chronicle building at 5th and Mission Streets.

That is now the location of Square, the high-profile online payments company which did a handsome redo of its office there. It is expected to vacate and move to an even swankier new space nearby by the end of September.

It’s not clear if Yahoo has actually signed the lease there or how many floors it will take, but sources said that the deal is in advanced stages.

Yahoo, whose main headquarters are in Sunnyvale, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley, already has a large location in San Francisco that houses several hundred sales, engineering and other employees over three floors.

But it is located in a nondescript office tower in the duller financial district of the city and not in the more hip environs south of Market Street, which has seen a major renaissance over the last two years due to the opening of numerous Internet companies.

That’s where companies like Twitter, Airbnb, Square and also many Sand Hill Road venture firms have built dramatic and highly designed offices. In addition, companies with existing big Silicon Valley campuses, such as Google, have also located fast-forward spaces in San Francisco.

In fact, the search giant is apparently now dramatically expanding its footprint at its SF HQ in Morgan Stanley’s Hills Plaza building, which is right at the foot of the Bay Bridge on the city’s waterfront.

As does Google, so copies Yahoo these days – from free food to trendy offices.

In fact, sources said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer – who was a longtime Google exec – has been eager to up the company’s attractiveness to younger entrepreneurs, which includes providing appropriate urban digs within a stone’s throw of twee coffee roasters and ironic donut purveyors.

There are, obviously, no molasses, Guinness-soaked pear donuts easily found in Sunnyvale.

Yahoo has tried to create some hipster cred in the big city before. In 2006, it founded an incubator space in San Francisco called Brickhouse, to foster fast-forward ideas. But it ended up shuttering it two years later due to cost-cutting.

The same expense-chopping was to blame for the end of the iconic Yahoo billboard on the eastbound lane of the Bay Bridge – a retro motel-style one with many quirky mottos, including, “A Nice Place to Stay in the Internet” – that the company gave up in 2011 after a decade. It has since been rented by Clear Channel to the Gap’s Old Navy.

According to sources, Yahoo’s marketing head has told employees that the company has been trying hard to reclaim its past glory, in neon lights at least.

I emailed Yahoo for comment, but horses will fly – it could happen! – before I expect any kind of substantive response from PR at the company.

Top Skype Exec Mark Gillett Departs Microsoft

According to an internal memo sent this morning to employees, top Skype exec Mark Gillett is leaving Microsoft. Sources said that Gillett – who is corporate VP for Skype, as well as its Lync communications product – has another job he is headed to, although the memo did not mention where he was going. Gillett, who is responsible for Skype’s product, engineering and operations worldwide, has been with the online telephony company for several years, including before Microsoft bought it. Previous to that, he worked at private equity giant Silver Lake in Europe.

Here’s the Music Lou Reed Liked

US singer and composer, Lou Reed attends

PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images

Lou Reed was a capital-R Rock Star, but he was also very much a normal-sized human. If you lived in New York in the last couple decades, there was a good chance you’d bump into him doing something very normal, just like regular people do. Once I went to get sushi at an unremarkable place on 13th Street, and there he was, picking at something with Laurie Anderson.

So there’s my Lou Reed story.*

Anyway, just like millions of other people, Lou Reed had a Spotify account. Because he is also a capital-R Rock Star, Spotify occasionally encouraged its users to follow his activity on the streaming music service. So, if you did, you could see what he was listening to.

Or, at least, what whoever was using Lou Reed’s Spotify account was listening to. On the Internet, no one knows if your dog is controlling your playlist.

With that caveat in mind, here, via the Daily Dot, is what Lou Reed was listening to – and liking – in the past year or so. Reed also had other curated playlists, but this one is worth noting because so much of it will be familiar to the average music fan. Turns out Lou Reed listened to Paul Simon, David Bowie and … Lou Reed. Just like a regular human.

And here’s a tremendous Lou Reed performance from 1974. RIP.

* I do have a much better Alec Baldwin story. It is not risque, but it is sort of unbelievable. Yet there are many witnesses.

Amazon Unveils Its MatchBook Print-and-Kindle Combo Deal

Amazon today launched the MatchBook program it announced last month, which lets owners of select print books bought on Amazon get the Kindle e-book versions for $2.99 or cheaper.

Neustar Buys Aggregate Knowledge, One of Facebook’s Ad Tech Favorites, for $119 Million Cash

istockphoto_581154-pile-of-money

iStockphoto | dny59

Neustar, which makes most of its money managing databases for phone companies, is buying Aggregate Knowledge, an analytics company best known recently for its work with Facebook.

Neustar, which reported earnings today, paid $119 million in cash for Aggregate Knowledge; Neustar officials said they would also use restricted stock units in the transaction.

Aggregate Knowledge had raised a reported $64 million since 2005, from investors including Kleiner Perkins, DAG Ventures and OVP Venture Partners. The company restructured in 2010, when current CEO David Jakubowski came on board.

Neustar’s main business involves managing databases of phone numbers for carriers, and that work generated more than half of its $830 million in revenue last year. But it has been trying to build up a marketing business as well; marketing is part of its “information services” unit, which makes up roughly a quarter of its revenue today.

Aggregate Knowledge is supposed to help accelerate that push, and Jakubowski will head up Neustar’s marketing businesses.

Prior to today’s deal Aggregate Knowledge has been spending a lot of time with Facebook, helping the company explain how its ad campaigns are working for marketers. That relationship will continue after the acquisition, Jakubowski said.

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