ZuneHD.com – New Side Project

Update: the official word on project Zune HD.

There is a lot of talk online about the “coming” Microsoft Zune HD. Whereas Microsoft has not confirmed a thing, the evidence coming in is pretty overwhelming. We've set up a site to track information about this product over at ZuneLuv.com/zunehd.

We've been very critical of Microsoft on this blog, but their place in the home entertainment space with the Xbox can't be denied. If a product were finally bridge the gap, as is discussed in this article, Microsoft could pull Zune out of the slump it is in.

Feel free to visit, bookmark, comment, or even subscribe to the feed.

ZuneHD? My Thoughts On The Rumors

Disclosure: I'm a Microsoft Digital Media MVP and under NDA with Microsoft under several issues. I, however, know nothing from Microsoft about any “Zune HD” project.

When Engadget broke the “Zune HD” story, I was curious. I did my quick due diligence on rumor articles of this sort and found ZuneHD.com to be open for registration. Microsoft wouldn't make the same bad decision they made in 2006, would they?

But the rumors are pretty rampant. Check out Apple Insider and Technologizer.

I grabbed www.ZuneHD.com just in case and promise I will let you know if I hear anything (officially, or via lawyer) turns up.

Sister site ZuneLuv.com and ZuneLuv on Twitter are additional sources of commentary (if interested).

Zune.net Podcast Directory Goes Web Based … Fascinating

So, quietly, the Zune.net Podcast Directory went web based (or at least has a web-based option). I wish I could tell you I got this content through some executive briefing that gives me hope for the future but … I read about this change in the Zune Insider as a sub-point of content (relating to some down time). I hope somebody up there understands how important this is.

However, let's be honest, I'll take what Zune News I can get (especially when it has to do with Zunes and Podcasts).

There's nothing fancy here in this release, but it certainly does the job (and sure beat's Apple's offering in this space). There are links to download everything and audio Podcasts can be streamed (if you have Silverlight installed). There are also options to review Podcasts. I've reviewed each of the Podcasts listed below – for obvious reasons. And yes, sure, we'd love a review or two from the audience as well.

  • The Zune Luv Podcast – How could I not mention this one? Don't you think the content at ZuneLuv.com has been getting better lately? No, I'm not writing it right now.
  • Internet Marketing This Week – I'm having more fun with this one than I think I should be allowed to have with a Podcast.
  • Marketing Online Live – Did I mention we're revamping a “2.0” version of this right now? You're going to love it. New episodes coming very very very soon.

I can hear the complaints coming now but, let's face it: it's web-based, it's from Microsoft, it beats what Apple is doing, and it's the first new Web-based Podcast Directory to come out in years.

Your thoughts?

Your Social – Or Mine – Or Zuck’s (George’s)?

So, … Google has Friend Connect to bring us all together. Twitter has joined forces with them so we know this is going to be something big.

Microsoft's Zune Insider certainly hasn't abandoned the “Social” of Zune.net but as this FriendFeed link shows, they're, at the very least, expanding their thoughts on what the “Social” means (subscribe to them – snooping in on what they're doing is extremely valuable market research).

So, is it all folding into one big heep of “convergence love?” This is a question we need to answer sooner than later.

FriendFeed's impact is considerable on two levels – a) the technology of FriendFeed proper is very impressive and well worth a look (I'm here) but b) the ability (via FriendFeed) to bring all this RSS together into a single location is, and has always been, the “promise” if you will of Web 2.0 and RSS.

We built Premiumcast on that “promise.” Do you think Ed Dale could have sold the Thirty Day Challenge Plus Memberships he did if he told the world they had to download special software and use special devices to make it all work? Watching that man tell hundreds on a uStream broadcast that “it just all runs through the iTunes you already have (or should have)” sent chills down my spine.

This stuff is really happening …

But, oh, Facebook … Zuck's Place if you will … so clean, so crisp, so simple. As the joke goes, I know people who have “left the Internet” for his closed system.

But it's not just Facebook.

George Tran who brought the Internet the extremely powerful and important 1ShoppingCart (disclosure, my private labels of 1ShoppingCart.com – FrontPageCart and Automate Sales – have been some of my most profitable online ventures), has recently launched eHive claiming it's your own personal social network. Impressive features – impressive pricing – don't think I haven't considered it.

So, your social? Mine? Zuck's? FriendFeed? One that hasn't launched yet?

Leave your comments below …

Enjoy this clip from Almost Famous – my favorite movie ever. Because, everyone … it is all happening.

My 2009 New Media Predictions

First, obviously, my scorecard on last year's predictions.

  • One major podcast network goes down in flames. None went down in flames but only one of them uses the word Podcasting in their marketing material and we even have one that although still afloat, proudly proclaims a copyright date of 2006. I'll say it now, the only “Network” that matters at all is Revision3, and part of the reason that they matter is because they know that Podcasting is only a smart part of their story.
  • The writer’s strike doesn’t help a single internet celeb go mainstream. Remember last year when the writer's strike was going to be the nail in the coffin of “traditional media?” Yup, that was a silly notion. I'll say it again – “traditional media” is doing a great job at being “traditional media” – we don't want to play in their playground at all because it simply isn't worth it.
  • Microsoft Zune podcasting numbers will get impressive quickly. Bingo, done, check, out of the park. I dare a single Podcaster in the Zune Podcast directory to tell me that the percentage of Zune listeners to players in the marketplace is lower than the percentage of iPod listeners to players in the marketplace. The Zune is extremely important in this space and is only going to become more so.
  • Managed RSS systems become popular and important. Popular, no. Important, yes. I've experienced some extremely profitable launches that have leveraged managed RSS that have given me tremendous content and case studies for Podcast Secrets 2009. The “real money” in Podcasting comes when different customers have different feeds.
  • The term “podcast” becomes synonymous with “channel” for the general public. About half right there. The need to understand the term is becoming less and less important and technologies will only push in this direction. I dare you to find the word “subscribe” anywhere in the Apple TV Podcast interface and I'd bet you more than 50% of new audience members in Podcasting this year couldn't tell you that Podcasts come from an RSS feed if you pointed a gun to their head. That's a very good thing (lack of plumbing knowledge, not guns to heads).

So, the predictions for 2009:

  • Now that iPod finally has a competitor in the Zune, you'll see advances this year in new media aggregation that can only come from stiff competition. Despite our governments attempts recently to kill capitalism, you'll see it play out in our marketplace anyway. The “winners” will have some much power and strength that the players will fight hard and long to get there. The audience will be the true winners. BTW, these aren't the “only” players in this space. Boxee.tv continues to impress and if a Hulu.com box ever sees the light of day …
  • The meme that “nobody will pay for content” will quietly die. People have been paying for content for ages, people are paying for content right now, people will always pay for content. New Media makers will find that being paid for content is actually kinda cool and “get over it.”
  • “Cable cutting” will become cool. With the combination of economic concerns and new technologies, “cable cutting” will become very popular (amongst the geeks, but that's where web surfing, emailing, and instant messaging came from too). This is the act of getting all of your media via the Internet, not your cable coax. It ain't the best term as many get their Internet from the cable, but you know what I mean. The digital television transition is making a lot more over the air stuff accessible to people who once purchased cable just to get the “local” stations. BTW, a refurbed Mac Mini with an Elgato EyeTV card running Boxee is amazingly killer.
  • The general public will stop treating microblogging (Twitter) as a 24×7 chat room and find some very strong business uses for it. This will not only get people BACK TO WORK but it will enable these service to profit as companies will pay for business usage accordingly.
  • There will be no real competitor to the iPhone in 2009. Anyone/everyone tasked with building the “iPhone Killer” don't understand what makes the iPhone the iPhone and it will take them at least a year to figure it out – and get it to market. Like the Zune prediction above, this will bring some great competition to our space, but it won't happen in 2009. Many of us will be able to ride out our 2-year iPhone contracts without even wishing we could jump to something else.

And there you have them … leave your comments below:

Microsoft Actually Did Something Downright Revolutionary With The Zune Today

Boy that should get some attention …

I typically place the day to day stuff about the Zune over at ZuneLuv.com but today's news deserves comment here as well (don't worry, we wrote about this over there too).

As reported at Cnet and explained at the Zune Insider, Microsoft added something very cool to the Zune Pass program. The short explanation is this:

The Zune Pass music subscription program doesn't leave you empty after each month of use. Now each month in the program includes 10 tracks that you get to own at the end of each month. Cancel, and the tracks are still yours. You can even burn them to CD if you want.

This changes everything, and then some.

First of all, the Zune Pass subscription program now can stay true to it's claim of being a “music discovery” engine. Someone could spend a year in the engine, spend the money one might associate with 12 CDs and walk out with the ‘experience' of having tried thousands of tracks – and still having 12 CDs worth of music in the end for their efforts.

It is truly the best of both worlds.

Secondly, the Zune (and Zune Pass) suddenly became a really good deal for music lovers. Instead of being the industry's “solution to that pesky portable media player problem,” the Zune can now become part of the solution – in a way that's “good” for both the industry and the end-user.

I've been a Zune Pass subscriber since the Zune came out. Microsoft has never paid a dime of my subscription fees yet I've loved the chance at listening to what I want, when I want it. Personally, the $15 a month seemed like a good deal. The ability to end each month with 10 tracks that are mine is but icing on the cake for me, but will cause a lot of people to finally give that cake a second look (and bite).

I've said in the past that Apple would have to respond to the music subscription options offered by Zune. Now they have no choice at all – and will be playing also-ran to Microsoft's revolutionary first move in this space.

Smart move Redmond.

It's been a long time since I've said that.

It feels good, don't it?

Which Is “Better” – Mac or PC In Video Editing?

My friend Mike attempts to answer the question – “Which is better, Mac or PC?” (related to video editing at least).

Since I purchased a new MacBook Pro yesterday, I thought I'd tell you why:

There is a “secret” angle to all this that most people forget. Actually, it ain't much of a secret at all but next to nobody is leveraging this thing. The new Macs all have Intel chips inside meaning that they can run Windows if/when needed. Now where to some “pure” Mac users, that might seem like putting lipstick on a pig, there is an element of GET OVER IT that needs to be examined.

I'll be honest, 95% of my computer time on this thing will be in full Mac mode. But, …

If I need a “full PC” to do some “full PC” things that only “full PCs” can do (Ustream.tv via PC has higher quality options – did you know that?), I use Bootcamp and have a full PC. Nice.

If I just need some Windows action during a computing session, I can run VMware Fusion and run “Real” Windows right on my Mac. No more having to have a PC laptop around the house just in case.

So, when I need a Mac, I have a Mac.

When I need some Windows action, I got it.

When I need a “Full PC” for some serious work, I got it.

Sorry Mike, but it doesn't sound like a “debate” to me at all.

What do you use?

What The “Spotlight Turns To Notebooks” Event Means To New Media

Like many, I've been watching the livebloggers during Apple's “Spotlight Turns To Notebooks” event. Currently I'm “watching” Engadget and Ars Technica (for those of you playing along at home).

As always, my comments on what this all “means” in the New Media space:

  • First, we start with the obligatory Apple is doing extremely well comment. Is it the “better software” comment that Jobs made? Yes, I can't/don't recommend Vista to anyone asking me what computer “they should get.” I push Mac with the obligatory you can always put Windows on it if you must statement. I hope Windows 7 learns something from this. Is it any wonder that with their 17% of their market share, Mac users tend to be close to 50% of the consumption of the New Media we put out and track?
  • The way Apple questions the very nature of products should make everyone take note. The way they asked if they could make the portable music player changed everything and with this new approach to building laptops, we see this spirit hasn't changed. The touchpad/mouse loses the button. Are you doing anything in New Media that you need to re-examine?
  • These chips are going to speed up video rendering something fierce. Can I hear an Amen?
  • The under a thousand dollar Macbook is extremely important. A total and complete video and audio editing center for around the price of what my parents bought their first VCR for in the 70s. Sales will go up – even in these “times.”

It's always a pleasure to “watch” these events and participate in them through this “underground” approach. In many ways it is extremely “New Media” – nothing is delivered via the traditional channels and the excitement is as high as a Hollywood premiere or a television season cliffhanger. Apple remains an inspiration and, now, the next task is to convince myself that I really “need” a new Macbook Pro …

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Today’s Starz On Netflix Announcement Is Big

As reported, people who use the Netflix streaming service, can now get movies from Starz (the cable movie channel). Right now, out of the box, you can stream movies like Spider Man 3, Enchanted, and Dan in Real Life.

Earlier I reported on a product called PlayOn that let's you stream Hulu.com and some other sources right to your Xbox. Their $30 product at the time “promised” coming Netflix integration but I really don't like to report until we know for sure.

They turned on Netflix integration last week. It didn't get much attention but was a very impressive implementation. I was going to do a quick video but then with this morning's announcement …

So now, as you can see in the video embedded below, you can get streaming videos from most of the television networks on your television set. With the Netflix/Starz announcement, you're not just stuck with Netflix's “limited” streaming library but you now have access to a premium movie channel's library, all on demand.

Remember that Microsoft will be introducing a direct Netflix option with their Fall Xbox update the eliminates the need for the Playon product. It also doesn't bring you Hulu or any of the other sources (so far) and costs $50 a year.

Once you figure out how to connect this all, total access to all this goodness (via the Netflix account) is less than $10 a month.

Remind me why people pay for cable again?

Vote For The Topic Of Wednesday’s Show – Stompernet Launch or iPod/Zune Announcements

Live Broadcasting by Ustream

We have two great topics of content for tomorrow's (Wednesday 9/10) New Media Matters Show: A) The Stompernet.com Launch and B) the recent iPod/Zune announcements.

So, if you'd like to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of the Stompernet launch (wait till you see what they do tomorrow), let us know in the comments below. If you'd rather chat about Zunes and iPods – we can do that as well.

Just fill out the comments accordingly.