Dirk Knemeyer

The decline of the newspaper industry, March 22, 2011

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The newspaper industry continues to bemoan their fate, most recently with Bob Woodward claiming that Eric Schmidt killed newspapers. This is in the wake of reports that newspaper ad revenue is at a 25 year low. My question is “why is this new or of interest to anyone?” I remember way back in 2000 being responsible for recommending media buys for some large companies. Well, even then I was pushing anything but print. The cost-to-benefit ratio was atrocious, with the print ads proving incredibly expensive impact-wise compared to TV, radio, internet, almost anything. More than a decade ago one didn’t have to be a genius to see what a crummy deal newspaper advertising was. So now, many years later, with internet advertising so mature, why are we even mildly surprised people are running away from the bizarrely overvalued print option in favor of targeted and affordable digital? Die already newspapers. You had the chance to change your business model to remain relevant and thriving and you chose to rest on your centuries-old laurels… with the possible exception of the New York Times. Well, congratulations. Your combination of greed and lack of vision has ruined your entire industry. Don’t blame Eric Schmidt, you only have yourselves to blame. Try to die with dignity and let the work move on.

Microsoft and gaming, March 15, 2011

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Microsoft’s Kinect is the fastest-selling electronic device ever according to the Guinness Book of World Records. This is on the strength of selling more than ten million units since November. That is over 1.5 billion dollars in gross sales, an absolutely astounding feat. Gaming is one of the few pillars of strength Microsoft has left, and based on the success of the Kinect their Waterloo isn’t coming any time soon.

On Disney’s decline, March 1, 2011

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Last week Disney purchased Togetherville, a social network for kids that focuses on privacy and safety. Disney has been known to invest in Silicon Valley startups so this should be no surprise. The real question, could Disney ever be A or The big player for children’s online presence? I’m going to say no. While Disney has historically had the clout and penetration to seemingly dominate the mindshare of toy budgets for our smallest citizens, their product and brand have been falling more and more out of step with macro changes in our society. Disney will remain a money-making monstrosity into the foreseeable future, but the days of the animated empire dominating the gateway to magic for America’s youth is certainly over. Like the awkward plastic and moldy facade of Disney manufactured city “Celebration Florida”, no amount of late adoption of key technologies will make Mickey and Minnie seem special in quite the same way ever again.

On Netflix’s future and lack of original content, February 22, 2011

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Amazon is entering the streaming video market for real today, announcing that all Amazon Prime members, a service that provides free shipping for 79 dollars a year, will also receive free streaming of over 5,000 movies and television shows. While this is only a fraction of the content Netflix offers—they claim to offer 20,000 videos for free streaming—it reminds why I’m so bearish on Netflix’s despite being brand passionate about their service. The cold hard truth is that as devices and media crash together more and more players will be competing to have you watch content through their service. Netflix, a business that all it does is provide content access, is vulnerable to being toppled by any one of a number of big players who storm into the space. Their model of queue-and-deliver is already ancient, and, while it works for dedicated customers like me, other services will be creating native video-on-demand approaches that will, eventually, equal or exceed the user experience. While I would like to wrong, Amazon’s latest move should be just the first in a series of incursions over the next couple of years. Good luck Netflix.

On the Comcast-NBC merger, January 25, 2011

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The Comcast-NBC merger was approved last week. While Comcast was forced to give up control of Hulu, and while Comcast has to give fair access to video providers like Netflix, the consensus from analysts, including yours truly, is that this is a troubling development with a real potential to have a chilling impact on what we pay for web access either directly or through more expensive web services in the future. This is a nasty merger that almost certainly will have negative effects on the consumer. We will keep an interested eye on net access in general, and Comcast in particular.

Google’s Google TV, December 22, 2010

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Streaming internet through the TV goes mainstream [in 2011], but Google TV is going to be an also-ran. So the convergence of the internet and the television, it’s clearly coming. More and more we’re watching television programs on our computers, on alternate devices coming through game consoles and systems. This is going to happen, but the early leader in terms of bringing software into the television, branding televisions, synthesizing the internet and the television, it isn’t Google TV and they’re not going to make it. They’ll be involved they’re going to be more of a niche player as this really goes mainstream. We’re going to see people, more often than not, watching the internet on their television, using the internet on their television and the fluidity between those contexts.

The future of cable companies,

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Ok so number two is cable companies on the rise and, you know, this is one that people maybe aren’t seeing coming quite as much as the other things we had mentioned where the trends are already there but they just haven’t broken through. Cable companies are really going to be at the epicenter of a lot of things we have talked about today, things like privacy, things like streaming and video. We’ve already heard the stories about the company that handles traffic for Netflix and the battles they’re having with Comcast. Those kind of battles are only going to intensify. The cable, the pipes that connect the internet too us is ultimately where it’s at. Once that’s shut off it’s nothing.

So the role of cable companies, the importance of cable companies [in 2011] is going to increase, but I think in my opinion, ominously, they’re going to gain more power, and I think they’re going to have more… insidious is too strong… they’re going to have business models that impose upon us more and we’re going to start to get a peek into what their planning, because the world of 500 channel cable TV, like that’s peaked, that’s going to be more of a thing of the past. People are looking for they internet connection to connect to some channels, some sort of canned, quote-unquote, television content, but more to tap into a bigger world. That’s what cable companies are going to try to start monetizing, and in 2011 we’re going to see how they monetize it and what that looks like and what that means and I don’t think we’ll be happy with a lot of what we see.

Cord-cutting and cable companies, December 9, 2010

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I’ve always been ahead of the curve in progressive approaches to a connected life. I had a second dedicated internet phone line that did not share or split from the actual phone installed way back in 1993. I dumped having a real phone and only used my cell for all calls starting back in 1999. Now I’m cutting the cord at the very front end of this wave as well. This difference this time is that I’m not sure the future will support cord cutting as a good choice. Cable and satellite companies are single-minded in their attempts to retain their old income streams which cord cutting is decidedly in opposition too. So, while for the moment I’m enjoying living la vida cordless, I’m wondering if it will be quite as cushy of a deal in a year or three.

DVD bundles, February 13, 2006

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Does it strike anyone else that the current model of creating DVDs (read: groups of thoughtlessly bundled content) that provide the linear “every single episode” model is not particularly usable or desirable? I mean, how much of a specific show can most people possibly see?

I remember when I was a child, each Christmas there was a basic set of shows that I expected to catch: Frosty the Snowman. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Now, I have no idea if they were all on the same television network, but one way or another I was taken through that gauntlet each year. I looked forward to it. Those artifacts were as much a part of Christmas as the tree, the presents, the dinner with the extended family.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for media companies to package their content that way? I mean, don’t give me a mega-DVD set with every Charlie Brown cartoon ever put to television: I’ll never buy that. Give me a package of theme-related shows that fits my lifestyle needs and I’ll pony up for it.