Seth Shapiro\'s Business Innovation Blog

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

A Governor of the Motion Picture Academy crams for the Oscars

I love this one. Om Malik of Business 2.0 lambastes the Academy Awards with a completely incorrect (but pretty accurate) admonition : Oscar Academy: Go Back to School. Post is here.
Yes, he means the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And no, it’s not a school, it’s a professsional academy, as in an institution for the advancement of art or science or literature. But his thrust is to highlight to the foolishness of the Academy’s demanding that YouTube remove clips of the broadcast from the site.

Don?t they realize that these clips are like milk left on the counter top for too long, and will go sour soon? Don’t they realize that in this era when people are short on time, the three-hour overproduced crap that passes off as the Oscars broadcast is not needed? Why not work with YouTube and give people what they want?

Right on Om.
I’m off to TV school now – my Spelling prof’s a ballbuster.

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

Paul Miller has an interesting take here on Apple’s original talks with Verizon… to our point on January 14 that “Apple gets a business model with all of the upside of an MVNO and none of the down.”

“While Cingular… couldn’t seem prouder of its iPhone exclusivity, apparently Apple’s first choice was Verizon, but the two companies couldn’t agree on a deal… “We said no.” Said Jim Gerace, a VZW VP. “We have nothing bad to say about the Apple iPhone. We just couldn’t reach a deal that was mutually beneficial.” Talks began as far back as two years ago, but … Apple wanted a percentage of monthly service fees, control over distribution that would limit iPhone sales to Apple and Verizon stores… “They would have been stepping in between us and our customers to the point where we would have almost had to take a back seat … on hardware and service support,” say Gerace. Cingular doesn’t quite see it that way… Says … a Cingular spokesman, “I don’t want to leave the impression that these (iPhone) customers are not ours. They are.”

Um, OK. See you in June (or thereabouts). And send my 8800 already.

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

Verizon today launched, V Cast, its Qualcomm Media FLO-powered Mobile TV service in several markets. The service runs 24/7, with content from eight networks. Details here. We’ve all seen the ads; no one seems particularly passionate about it, but Staci of Paid Content is fairly positive here. There was some positive news from MobiTV this week. Coincidence or not, I know not.

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

Had meant to do another piece on DRM (see previous screed here) but wound up doing it at – full thread here.

Most music folks have seen Edgar (Warner Music CEO and Seagram’s heir) Bronfman’s quote that the argument against DRM is “without logic or merit”.

Hmm. Could it be knee-jerk protection that’s meritless? The labels have been trying that for years. how’s it working for em? Not so good. Re “without logic”? Try managing your LEGAL purchases on multiple devices. It’s a case study in awful product design.

So here are your customer’s options, Ed:

1. Download free versions and put them on any device, to your heart’s content.

2. Pay for downloads too crippled to know that you are the same person on your PC, Mac, iPod and PSP. Then waste many many hours failing to get the stuff (that you PAID FOR) onto the device (that you PAID FOR).

When a free product is more friendly and flexible than a priced product, the selling entity has no one to blame but itself. And if Sony Music had thought ahead, Sony CE might have held onto the portable market they owned with Walkman/Discman, and likely would never have handed the whole game to Apple in the first place.

It was the label’s game to lose – and they lost. They need to listen to their customers and suppliers (artists) or be disintermediated.

If you have any thoughts or complaints post em here or there… cheers.

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

As mentioned on the home page, I’m moderating the Venture Capital Roundtable at Tracy Swedlow’s TV of Tomorrow show on March 14 in San Francisco. If you’re a VC, I-Banker or general finance person with experience in the media space, and interested in joining us, please ping me at

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

New Windows and Intel Mac versions are out. As discussed here this is the Broadband TV co. to watch at the moment, from Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who brought us Skype and Kazaa. Installing now, more later. Thanks Daniel and Grayson.

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

Yesterday, after months of speculation (see Jan 6), the good-natured uber-designer triumphed over the brooding nihilist. According to a witness, “Pavilack had a continual lead… but late in the night Dale pulled a 7-letter with the ‘guitars'”, yielding a decisive win. Neither the Vatican nor Anton LaVey could be reached for comment.

Herigstad Pavilack

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

Yay. Wait a minute – the new phone sucks.
Seduced by 3G and HSDPA, I got a Samsung Blackjack. The screen is gorgeous; the black rubberized shell is great and the form factor is nice but Windows Mobile 5.0 is ass. Don’t get me started on the menuing mistakes they made unless you’re thinking of getting one,  in which case email me and I’ll give 10 reasons not to. Another D+ User Experience from Redmond. Even the audio makes no sense.

I’m buying a Blackberry 8800 and will wait for the iPhone… both of which are unfortunately Edge not 3G. Re Blackjack, Q, Dash – if you have one and really like it please drop me a line and explain how you deal with the bizarre functionality decisions.

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

For those who didn’t hear on Monday, Joost has announced its first major deal, with Viacom. Press release bills Joost as “the world’s first online global tv distribution platform” and “the world’s first broadcast-quality Internet television service”. The deal gives the Kazaa/Skpe juggernaut access to MTV (including VH-1 and Comedy Central), Paramount and BET content ? all on a non-exclusive basis I believe. All content will be free to customers. Some excerpts:

Joost will allow users to have free access to thousands of programs and channels not readily available on the Web. Through Joost, viewers can watch programming from many of Viacom’s brands on their computers through a customizable platform with advanced television viewing features such as links that lead to more information or related websites based on the content; and a variety of plug-in applications, such as instant messaging, message boards, and news tickers.

MTV will offer popular shows, both past and present, including Laguna Beach, Beavis & Butthead, Real World, Punk’d and My Super Sweet Sixteen, while COMEDY CENTRAL will feature episodes from Stella, CCP’s and Freak Show. Nickelodeon, CMT: Country Music Television, MTV2, Logo, Spike TV, mtvU, and will also provide content. VH1’s offerings will include episodes of Flavor of Love, Surreal Life, and I Love New York. BET’s Networks’ offerings will include some of its biggest shows, including Beef, DMX: Soul of a Man, Comic View and recent smash hit American Gangster. Also, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage and Paramount Classics will be providing full-length feature films from its catalog of classics and recent releases.

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

Here’s the email I just got as a stockholder. Mel Karmazin is one of the underdog geniuses of the industry.
“Today is a very exciting day for SIRIUS customers. As you may have heard, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio are merging to form the nation’s premier audio entertainment provider.

This combination of our two offerings will benefit you – our loyal listeners. As a single company, we’ll provide superior programming to you every day with the best of both SIRIUS and XM. Currently, XM and SIRIUS broadcast a wide range of commercial-free music channels, exclusive sports coverage, news, talk, and entertainment programming. Howard Stern. Oprah and Friends. The NFL. MLB. NBA. ESPN. CNBC. Fox News. Additionally, the combined company will be able to improve existing services such as real-time traffic information and rear-seat video as well as introduce new ones.

After shareholder and regulatory approvals, we anticipate that the combination will be finalized by the end of 2007. Until then, both companies will continue to operate independently. We look forward to the many benefits this combination will offer and continuing to make your listening experience an enjoyable one – offering more of the Very Best Radio on Radio.

Stay tuned,

Mel Karmazin, CEO”

Posted by: Seth Shapiro

As widely publicized MTV is cutting 250 staffers. Judy McGrath seems like a good egg, but not very engaged, apparently. Do they have a plan?

Jason Hirshhorn is great, but he left for Sling… good luck Mika…