Archive for June, 2006|Monthly archive page
According to Erick Schonfeld over at Business 2.0's blog, some engineers at Amazon are informally working on linking Amazon's APIs to the virtual world Second Life. If that were to happen, it would mean that Second Lifers could then open up virtual shops selling real-world goods (via Amazon). Avatars in Second Life could select from the huge catalog of products that spans from books to electronics and music and the product will be delivered to their first life door. Robert Hof at Bizweek reports:
In response to an audience question at the Supernova conference, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels revealed that a group of Amazon engineers is looking at ways to use Amazon Web services to bridge Amazon with Second Life. According to a comment by Vogels at the virtual-worlds blog 3pointD.com, it's not an official project. But it's no secret that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is an investor in Second Life creator Linden Lab.
Sony BMG Music Entertainment has unveiled Musicbox, a new flash-based site that offers videos, interviews, rarely seen footage and best of all, attempts to reach out to music bloggers and fan sites to link to the content. Because the footage is flash-based, the content is not as easy to pirate, which gives a certain comfort level for the music giant to take on a such a venture. Visitors are encouraged to link to certain portions of the site and the code and instructions for setting up the links is easily found on the site. This should be a great opportunity for Sony to promote their roster of artists both new and old on a platform that is sure to gel with the current technological tastes of Gen Y.
Tivo has filed a patent application that will let subscribers download TV shows for a charge, Gizmodo reports.
TiVo Applies For Content-On-Demand Download Service – Gizmodo
TiVo is planning to let you download a show/movie on demand, kind of like pay-per-view. The different types of content are going to be free, subscription or pay-per-view, and are going to be priced accordingly.
With all the hoopla around wirelessly connected music players, some of them developed by start-ups like Music Gremlins and Zing, many are wondering whether Apple will go that route as well? Who knows, but a report in The China Post, says that the company might be about to introduce a new kind of iPod. In story about Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Taiwan’s largest electronics company, and makers of iPod, there is a curious quote from company chairman Terry Gou…
Apple is about to unveil the next generation of iPod, the best-selling music player in the U.S., using a “none-touch” concept, Gou said without elaborating.
My guess (repeat guess) on this would be a bigger screen video iPod. Connectivity would be nice… but not without battery power.
Sony is trying to position their handheld games console as a traveler's tool. We mentioned the Talkman translator application device a while ago – a 'game' that can translate spoken sentences into Japanese, Italian, French or German – and now PSP plan to offer travel guides, VOIP and satellite navigation, the Sydney Morning Herald reports:
A new application, Planet PSP, will be launched later this year, with six editions covering some of Europe's most popular destinations: Amsterdam, Barcelona, London, Paris, Prague and Rome.
Designed with young tourists in mind, the guides cover more than 250 city highlights such as restaurants, shops, clubs and tourist attractions. Videos, audio walks, photographs, maps and pre-planned itineraries make full use of the PSP's multimedia capabilities.
Sony is also developing satellite navigation and internet telephony capabilities for the handheld, both expected before Christmas. The GPS-enabled device will not only prevent your getting lost, but it will also have location-based games with content determined by the user's whereabouts.
Video and VoIP calls will be made possible by an EyeToy digital camera that plugs into a USB port and harnesses the console's wireless internet support.
Target are to begin to produce high fashion pieces at high fashion prices. Target are selling their Couture range already at LA boutique Intuition and online. MSNBC says:
The most expensive clothing item in the Targèt Couture line is this $330 cashmere sweater. If it's bling you're looking for, check out the one-carat diamond necklace, which will set you back $3,100.
While some may say that this goes against Target's "Design of the Masses" approach, this move is really a smart media strategy.
The brand is savvy enough to understand that its Bullseye logo has some fashion cache. Creating only a very limited line and distributing it through one boutique in LA, Target has lots of control and can create buzz. Target will get the LA hipsters scrambling to get hold of product and willing to pay lots of dollars to become walking advertisements for their brand.
Target need to make sure that they do this for just the right amount of time and then get out. No one would want the Bullseye to overstay its welcome as a Hollywood fashion icon. The king of Pop-Up retailing strikes again!!
While brands like Coca-Cola and MTV have dabbled with establishing a presence in the virtual world, I have been curious to see which retailers make the first move and which ones get it right. Looks like American Apparel gets the retailer prize. More importantly , real world businesses are starting to discover the opportunity of SecondLife on it’s 3 year anniversary. Some actually understand how to use this medium. Others are simply playing with “Advergaming” (…stupid little forgettable advertising-led online games). Karl Long has written an insightful piece on Second Life titled, “It’s not a game; the ultimate co-creative business”
“June 23rd will be SecondLife’s 3rd birthday, and it finally seems to be gaining traction in the marketplace of ideas, and more importantly for its financial viability it’s starting to gain the attention of businesses. Micropersuasion noted yesterday that American Apparel has opened a store there, and in September last year, Wells Fargo bought and island, and created an educational game.”
Give it a read…but more importantly, get into Second Life and then decide for yourself where your opportunity lies.
Following up on the youth cellphone program introduced earlier this year by Disney, looks like T-Mobile is junping on the bandwagon.
To help parents keep their kids’ cellphone bills under control, T-Mobile has released the kidConnect service that’s now available for $19.99. The plan includes 50 minutes of anytime calls plus unlimited calling between parent and child and other T-Mobile subscribers. There’s a also unlimited weekend calling and SMS/MMS, which deducts from the 50 minutes of anytime talk minutes.
Plans like these are pretty neat for parents who don’t want their kids using the phone excessively, but still want to keep track and have their children be able to reach them at any time. We hear Michael Douglas gave one to CZJ. – Jason Chen
June 13, 2006
A ChargeBox is a set of lockers designed to charge batteries of phones and other mobile devices.
Created by British Boxbrands, ChargeBoxes have six lockers with each locker containing four different chargers. The user picks the appropriate locker for their device, opens the door and attaches the device to a charger inside. Payment is then made either with a GBP 1 coin or by sending an SMS to a specific code. Once payment has been received, the door can be locked and charging begins. The device is charged for 40 minutes, or less if a user is in a hurry and doesn’t need a fully charged battery.
The system offers a charging solution that covers 90 percent of handsets on the market, and also replenishes batteries of Blackberries, PDAs, iPods and PSPs. The first machines will be placed in easyInternetcafes, Novotel hotels, Vodafone stores, and various airports. One hundred ChargeBoxes are being launched this month and BoxBrands has ambitions to have over 1000 in the UK by the end of 2006.
In a world that’s addicted to communication, and where mobile devices have reached almost universal adult penetration, drained batteries are a definite chokepoint. While we’ve seen similar examples of public charging points, they’re far from commonplace, and would be a welcome addition to hotels, gyms, airports, train stations, hospitals, coffee shops, cinemas, festivals, shopping malls, etc.
If you’re an vending machine enthusiast, this should be right up your alley. And if you work for a mobile phone network, why not sponsor ChargeBoxes in high footfall locations? Good for your brand, and you’ll benefit directly if consumers are able to spend more time on their phones. 😉
Japan’s answer to 7-Eleven, FamilyMart is a franchise chain that operates 6,000 convenience stores in Japan, and 6,000 in Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Vancouver, and Shanghai. For its North-American rollout, the company is operating under the brand name Famima.
Five recently opened stores in the Los Angeles area (Pasadena, Torrance, Santa Monica, Westwood, and West Hollywood), are the first of 250 planned Famima stores in the US. What sets Famima apart? Catering to busy, affluent urbanites, the stores offer premium versions of regular convenience store goods. Drip coffee has been replaced by espresso, and microwaved hotdogs by fresh sushi and bento boxes. Famima sells a variety of premium groceries and prepared foods, alongside anime comics, European notepads and other fun novelty items.
Design is clean, polished, and uncluttered, and signs for aisle sections are somewhat cryptic icons in bright yellow and red.
Like Harrods 102, Famima aims to be a one-stop-shop for the affluent consumers they’re after. In their own words: “Famima encompasses all that is essential for the 21st century lifestyle – a neighbourhood deli, a quick service restaurant, a premium grocer, a drug store, a banker, a personal business services and stationery store, a local newsstand and internet provider, and a morning coffee and snack stop.” As long as the design doesn’t grow stale, and the food stays fresh, premium convenience stores like Famima and Harrods 102 will appeal to customers in cities across the globe. Sooner or later, a global chain will do for convenience what Starbucks did for coffee!
A development in the Second Life virtual world indicates that a SL will soon release a browser that virtual world inhabitants can use to browse the real world internet. Commentators are pointing to the updated “Help function” which appears to be working like a web browser – calling help pages from a URL. Right now SL inhabitants can’t change the page browsed but that will change soon – whether SL like it or now.
Already, hackers have posted on their sites a method that lets SLers can change the Help page to the page of their choice (by hacking the .ini file on their desktop). Surely, soon – some bright spark will be able to hack the functionality to allow people to browse like the do in the real world.
The only question to ask is: When will they invent a virtual internet for the virtual world?? 😉
Click image to enlarge