About one third of U.S. households bought at least one item online this holiday season, compared to 10 percent last year. But online purchases still only accounted for 6 percent of total retail sales. The top ten most-visited retail sites (not necessarily top-selling), according to ComScore, belong to:
1. eBay 2. Amazon 3. Wal-Mart 4. Apple Computer 5. Target 6. Dell 7. ToysRUs sites 8. Overstock.com 9. Best Buy 10. Circuit City
The list is still tech-heavy, but it is interesting to see Apple beating Dell (in online oglers, at least), and Wal-Mart and Target rising up the charts.
Intel is changing its 37-year-old logo and dropping its iconic "Intel Inside" tag line in favor of "Leap Ahead." The "Intel Inside" swoop, though, will remain. The change, to be unveiled at next week's CES show in Las Vegas, is part of a reported $2.5 billion marketing campaign masterminded by Intel's first-ever chief marketing officer, Eric Kim, who was hired a year ago from Samsung Electronics.
I am not sure this will be a brand-enhancing move. I'd argue that more people associate the brand with the "Intel Inside" slogan than with the logo itself, so changing the logo is not such a big deal. The new logo actually looks much better. But changing the slogan is messing with the brand. "Leap Ahead" is not bad, but it doesn't say "Intel."
Or do we know the slogan so well by now that it is implied by the mere presence of the swoop? And does "Leap Ahead" tell consumers more about what the product is going to do for them than the dependable, but ho-hum, stamp of quality represented by "Intel Inside"? We'll see over the next few years if this change helps or hurts Intel's standing as the fifth most valuable brand in the world.
So instead of buying browser startup Opera Software, as was rumored a couple weeks ago, Google struck a deal to be the default search engine in Opera's mobile browsers. Just like with its PC browser, getting Google to pay for preferred search status seems to be Opera's new business model.
Given other previous rumors, is this yet another deal where Google outplayed Microsoft?
In conjunction with its newly-acquired IFilms website, MTV Networks' VH1 is creating a new show called "Web Junk 20." The weekly show will highlight video clips and short films making the rounds on the Web. It will appear on VH1, as well as on VH1's (Windows-only) broadband service, Vspot, and the clips will be available for individual viewing on iFilm. Hollywood Reporter excerpts:
"The Web clip is the lingua franca of the new age," said [Michael] Hirschorn, executive vp programming and production at VH1.
IFilm CEO Blair Harrison said the site also is providing viewers with an easy method of uploading clips they think are worthy of including in "Web Junk 20."
"Our intention as creators and aggregators of content is to treat our audience as publishers," Harrison said. "Now that we're going to be delivering a fully automated tool, users will be able to upload whatever video they want and they'll get a chance to get on TV as well."
This democratic element is something Hirschorn said will play an increasingly important role in VH1 programming. "Six or nine months down the road, virtually everything we do will have a viewer-generated component to it," he said.
This was bound to happen. From the networks' point of view , consumer-created content is even better than reality TV because it is free. (Granted, some of the clips may come from regular TV shows like the Daily Show or Saturday Night Live, repurposed via the Web, but it should still be a pretty cheap proposition for VH1).
Once a clip makes it onto "Web Junk 20," even more people will want to check out the original download on the Web, potentially creating a self-perpetuating, download frenzy.
The chip industry is about to put out its biannual technology roadmap, and for the first time it will project a shift away from silicon-based technologies, and toward the adoption of nanotechnologies. John Markoff reports:
The transition to new nanotechnology techniques could occur around 2015, when chipmakers will have exhausted their ability to shrink the wires and switches that make up the modern processors and memory storage devices at the heart of the computer, communications and consumer electronics industries.
Today's microprocessors already have more than 1 billion transistors. But it is almost certain that new types of switches and new materials will be needed to build chips that have 1,000 times the capacity of current chips. . . . The goal over the next decade is to build chips that can hold more than 1 trillion switches. . . . [Such a chip] is projected to have a switching speed of 1 trillion times a second, far faster than the three to 4 billion times a second typical of today's fastest microprocessors.
That's still ten years away, but the question for the tech industry going forward is manufacturability. Nanoswitches and nanocircuits won't be made using the same equipment and processes that have made the microchip such a dynamo of economic growth. If these nanocircuits cannot be mass-produced cheaply and with a low defect rate, Moore's Law will come to a screeching halt—for a lack of funds, if not for a lack of physics.
—The RIAA will be granted its long-awaited patent on the concept of suing your own customers and promptly sue the MPAA for violating it.
—AOL, after months of extensive market research on the effects of the walled garden model on the distribution and consumption of interactive media, will rotate its logo by another 90 degrees. Chairman Dick Parsons will boast that the new logo “reflects the new direction of our company,” but founder Steve Case will make an impassioned plea in the New York Times to break up the logo into a circle and three triangles.
—Yahoo, acclerating its bid to dominate the social space, will announce that it is buying the actual societies of 32 cash-strapped governments. Citizens will be allowed to link their existing names to their Yahoo accounts.
First, there was Project Gutenberg, which aims to scan and digitize all public domain books. Now, there is LibriVox, which aims to create free, public-domain audio books. People volunteer to read and record chapters.
I wonder how the quality is, and whether different chapters are read by different voices.
The problem with fingerprint ID systems is that if someone really wants that data on your PC or access to that secure room in HQ, they can always chop off your finger and use it to gain access. (Okay, this isn't a huge problem, but it's happened). Now, Fujitsu has developed a biometric authentication system that reads the veins in your palm instead. Om reports:
Fujitsu’s contention is that every person has a very unique vein
pattern that cannot be replicated. Even identical twins don’t have
identical veins, according to Fujitsu research. In addition, their
technology also taps into factors such as “blood moving inside of the
veins,” so one can over come the security problems posed by “hacking”
Since the technology requires moving blood, that might deter potential hand choppers. But it's not like you could embed one of these things on a laptop. I still say fingerprint readers are going to become standard on most mobile devices, and will save most of us from having to remember all of our passwords for online services.