Mobile Podcasting in China

Post ImageStan Sorensen at the Mobile Podcasting blog notes that Melodeo, a company that provides music and podcasts to cell phones, has formed a joint venture in China:

Melodeo has gotten together with ACCESS China to form a joint venture in China. The JV will deploy the first secure mobile network for digital content in China. This is a huge opportunity for us. The 2 largest carriers in China represent 350m users. Each one is accustomed to using their mobile phone as a computer – it’s the primary device for communicating, accessing the web, downloading data.

Stan also notes that “this is a first for mobile in China.” I’m not exactly sure what it means for mobile podcasting, but presumably a larger presence and user base for a company like Melodeo will only help.

Read: Mobile Podcasting

Blog Herald Sold

Post ImageI guess selling blogs isn’t as surprising nowadays as it used to be, but I was still a little shocked when I found out earlier today that Duncan Riley’s popular Blog Herald had been sold. The word on the street is that the blog sold for around $70,000 USD. From Jeremy Wright:

Why did Duncan sell it? I’ll let him give the full reasons, but the biggest and best were that he was no longer enjoying writing it as much as he used to, and that there was a perceived conflict of interest with a blog that was in a blog network reporting on blog networks.

Duncan’s been considering this move for a while now, but could never get enough interest up with the people he was talking to to make it worth his while. I told him I’d help out, broker the deal and take some of the stress off his shoulders. It’s always hardest to sell something you care deeply about (I know, having been there), so we both felt having someone who wasn’t directly involved with it doing the selling would be best (ie: me).

My congratulations to Duncan and my best wishes for the future of the site. I hope he gets what he wants out of it!

I remember a little over a year ago when I was doing BlogosphereRadio.com, the Blog Herald was one of my primary sources of information. It takes a lot of hard work to consistently post the most up-to-date news and analysis, so I have great respect for Duncan. I haven’t frequented the site as often lately (though I remain subscribed) mainly because my attention has turned to podcasting. I hope the new owner doesn’t destroy everything Duncan has accomplished thus far.

Do I think it’s worth $75K? Not so sure on that. I guess if the blog has the traffic – the right number of eyeballs – you could justify the price. The big question I’d have if I was the buyer is, how can I see a return on this investment?

I guess time will tell.

Read: Blog Herald

Henry Blodget on Google

The infamous Henry Blodget took up blogging last year, and regardless of your opinions about him or your memories of the dotcom bubble and subsequent bust, he has some interesting thoughts. His latest focus on Google, which has been enjoying quite a steady ride north on the stock market lately. Here’s what Mr. Blodget has to say:

No one else is writing this piece, so it will have to be me. I should say upfront that I’m not predicting that this will happen (yet), and I’m certainly not making a recommendation. I’m just laying out a scenario that could kick Google in the kneecaps and take its stock back to, say, $100 a share.

Google’s major weakness is that it is almost entirely dependent on one, high-margin revenue stream. The company has dozens of cool products, but with the exception of AdWords, none of them generate meaningful revenue. From an intermediate-term financial perspective, therefore, they are irrelevant.

So, the question is, what could happen to AdWords, and what will happen to the company (and stock) if it does?

It’s a very interesting read, definitely worth it. One of the bigger problems he mentions is click fraud, but Google’s rapidly growing fixed costs are also a big factor. And he nails the biggest problem of all – they need some other revenue generating products! You can’t run a sustainable business when you only release beta products (I recently posted about betas on the Paramagnus Blog).

I know it’s silly to compare Google with Microsoft and Yahoo and any other company, but if Google “loses”, it will be because the other companies all have numerous revenue streams.

Read: Internet Outsider

Podcasting at IBM

Post ImageI ran across an interesting article today in The Journal News about podcasting inside and outside IBM. Sounds like Big Blue really likes the idea of time-shifted audio:

IBM started to encourage employees to read and create the online journals known as blogs last May. Shortly after, IBM started pushing podcasts — subscription-based audio downloads that can be listened to on laptops, iPods or other MP3 players.

Inside the company, about 50 podcasts have debuted. There have been 15,000 downloads in the past two months.

In addition to making work more fun, there are numerous cost savings that can occur at a company like IBM who adopts podcasting. Take for example a conference call in which one or two people simply dispense information to dozens more, perhaps explaining some documents or figures. That’s the kind of thing that can be very cheaply turned into a podcast, and according to the article, such a podcast saved IBM hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Could 2006 be the year of corporate podcasting?

Read: The Journal News

Mindboggling – Microsoft buying Yahoo?

Post ImageEvery once in a while a rumor comes along that is so outlandish, so crazy, so never-gonna-happen, that it makes you really hope it does happen! The latest such rumor is that Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo, a rumor that has sent investors into a craze:

Analysts said reasons for the heightened interest in Yahoo call options ranged from recent rumors that software company Microsoft Corp. might be seeking to partner or merge with the Internet company, to bullish expectations for the company’s upcoming fourth quarter earnings report.

“The speculative activity in short-term calls might reflect the recent talk about an alliance with Microsoft,” Ruffy said.

Such rumors have been rampant since Google Inc. recently fortified its lead in the Web search market by taking a 5 percent stake in Time Warner Inc.’s AOL Internet unit.

On Sunday the Los Angeles Times cited what it called speculation that Yahoo had rebuffed an $80 billion bid from Microsoft as too low.

Did you see that? Eighty billion dollars! I can’t quite wrap my head around that amount! According to Microsoft Watch, the software giant currently has about $40 billion in cash.

There’s too much to consider if such a merger were to take place that I won’t even bother unless it actually happens.

Read: Reuters

Podcasting – the "teenager" of media

Post ImageI feel very lucky that I’ve been able to watch podcasting grow since the beginning basically, and through that time I’ve noticed a number of things. Such as the fact that the media has to put podcasting (or whatever is new and hot) into a category at every stage of it’s growth. Always comparing, always categorizing. A good example is Jon Fine’s article in BusinessWeek (Nov 28th) entitled “Can Podcasting Do Business?“:

Podcasting is the teenage clique of media. Small enough that its pioneers refer to one another by first names only, young enough that it’s unclear which media model fits it, and brazen enough to believe it can figure it all out by itself. Parents will tell you how stubborn adolescents can be — and how, more annoyingly, adolescents are sometimes right.

Sounds good as a categorization, and in some respects it works, so it gets printed. Good sign of the times we live in too – I very much doubt that similar sorts of things were written about the automobile industry or the software industry when they were starting out (though I don’t know for sure, I’m not that old). We’re at the point that we can monitor the growth of an industry from the start and in a very indepth way, for good or bad.

Note too that a “model which fits it” is still pointed out. That’s another aspect of the growth of podcasting that just won’t go away it seems, that everyone thinks it must have a business model.

Read: BusinessWeek

Small Business Week

Post ImageLast week was Small Business Week in Alberta, and indeed all across Canada. Here are some interesting statistics about small business in Alberta:

  • Small businesses (businesses that employ less than 10 employees) account for 74% (104,000) of all businesses with employees in Alberta. (Source: Alberta Economic Development, 2004 Alberta Business Monitor)
  • In 2004, women accounted for 34% of all self-employed individuals in Alberta; this was the same as the national average. (Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey 2004)
  • From 1999 to 2004, the number of people that were self-employed in Edmonton has increased by 3%. (Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey 2004)

I am included in that last number! Paramagnus incorporated here in Edmonton back in 2000. Speaking of Edmonton, our small business week runs this week, from the 24th to the 28th of October (had to be different I suppose!):

From every small business success story, there is an idea, which through initiative, tenacity and the entrepreneurial spirit, becomes reality. From this entrepreneurial spirit, innovative concepts and dynamic businesses are nurtured. Edmonton Small Business Week 2005 – October 24 –28, is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of small business and the entrepreneurial spirit. Share the spirit and enjoy the week of activities planned!

Blaine Yamkovy
Chair, 2005 Small Business Week

You can see the list of events on their website. Dickson and I are attending the VenturePrize Seminar tomorrow evening (you had to register previously), but other than that I hadn’t really planned to attend anything. I think they need more events!

Happy Small Business Week to my fellow smallbiz owners in Edmonton!

Read: Edmonton SBW

TEC Connector

Post ImageI attended TEC Edmonton’s TEC Connector event this afternoon with Dickson. TEC Edmonton is a joint venture of the University of Alberta and the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. Here’s what the event was all about:

This TEC Connector event will showcase companies created from the results of University of Alberta inventions and technologies. In addition, the event is an active connector which will provide networking tools and tips, plus generate opportunities to connect with useful representatives in our community, including: university researchers, start-up company leaders, professional service firms, financial support organizations, government agency representatives, media representatives, inventors and entrepreneurs.

Obviously Paramagnus is not a spin-off company, nor we do use any University research or innovations, but we though the event might be a great opportunity to do some networking anyway. We met some interesting people and found out more about many of the local companies we had only just heard of in the past. I also learned some interesting statistics about University of Alberta spin-off companies:

  • As of March 31st, 2005 there were 69 active UofA spin-off companies
  • There have been 84 such companies formed since 1963, including those that have merged, been acquired, or discontinued
  • These companies employ more than 1000 high-skilled workers
  • More than 80% of the spin-offs are based in Alberta
  • Seven are publicly traded

One of the speakers at the event also mentioned the pending offer to purchase to the Hudson’s Bay building downtown, which if approved is where TEC Edmonton’s new headquarters would be. University administration presents the proposal to the Board of Governors on Friday, so we should know either this week or next whether or not the deal will go through.

Networking events are always lots of fun! This one was especially good because there was free food and drinks 🙂

Read: TEC Connector

Average Joe Podcasting

Post ImageIt seems that big media has decided they want to get into the podcasting game, with everyone from MSNBC to Fox to BusinessWeek announcing podcasts in the last few weeks. I think that’s great! You know what they say, the more the merrier! And let’s be honest, no matter how much you like listening to an American couple talk about their sex life, you probably wouldn’t mind adding some news or commentary to your daily playlist.

Unfortunately, now that big media (or mainstreamedia) is on board, there’s a good crop of pundits and critics who seem to think that podcasting is over, because the average joe won’t be able to make any money podcasting. The big media players get all the coverage, and thus the advertising dollars.

Except that average joe probably doesn’t want to make any money from his (or her) podcast! Not everyone who starts a podcast is going to want to make money from it, just like not everyone who blogs does so with the intention of making a living. I read a lot about podcasting – news articles, blog posts, etc., and I can’t help but feel that far too many individuals and organizations focus on the “making money from podcasting” idea. Sure, there will be some podcasts that generate revenue, but I don’t see any reason that podcasting should be different from blogging: there are a lot of business blogs, but there are far more personal, average joe, I do it for myself/my family/my friends kind of blogs.

As soon as starting and maintaining a podcast is as simple as starting and maintaining a blog, I think we’ll see the same breakdown in podcasting. Lots of average joe podcasts, and far less big media or big business podcasts. Podcasting is not radio! You can decide what you want to listen to, whether that’s corporate marketing podcasts, flashy radio sounding podcasts, or something more real.

And one last clarification: just because I call them “average joe” podcasts, doesn’t mean they have to suck or sound bad! There will probably be some professional sounding average joe podcasts produced. All I mean by the term is podcasts not created for the sole purpose of making a monetary profit, but more as a labor of love. Or maybe even just ’cause it’s the thing to do 😉

No opportunity for podcasting business?

Post ImageFrom David Carr in today’s New York Times:

For the time being, podcasting is a cipher, a technology that seems to further threaten established media’s stranglehold on public consciousness, but offers little opportunity in the way of a real actual business. Big media are aggressively attempting to get their arms around the next big thing. But it remains elusive, a medium that is viral and uncontrollable by nature, and that does not threaten to become a business any time soon.

I’m going to have to respectfully disagree David! How do you explain Audible’s announcement regarding podcasting at Gnomedex? Or the new release of iTunes, focused on podcasting? Or even Adam Curry’s growing PodShow? There is a massive amount of opportunity for business with podcasting.

Read: New York Times