Thursday, November 18, 2010
  • Gavin O'Malley, November 18, 2010, 2:51 PM
  • Critics Tune Out On Google TV In addition to -- and partially because of -- ongoing partnership woes, Google TV is now facing harsh criticism from some very influential folks. Under the damning headline, "Google TV: No Need to Tune In Just Yet," The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg concludes that Google's Web TV service "has missed the mark."

    Under the equally painful headline, "Google TV, Usability Not Included," The New York Times' David Pogue writes: "On the great timeline of television history, Google TV takes an enormous step in the wrong direction: toward complexity."

    As The Telegraph notes, "The reviews will be a blow to Google's ambitions, but both writers suggest that initial problems are a mixture of hardware, software and content, and indicate that they have not yet written off Google's entire TV product."

    Mossberg, for his part, does appreciate Google TV's integration of web video and regular TV. However, "For now, I'd relegate Google TV to the category of a geek product, not a mainstream, easy solution ready for average users," he adds. "It's too complicated, in my view, and some of its functions fall short."

    At the moment, however, usability issues aren't even Google TV's chief concern.

    Following blackouts from ABC, CBS and NBC, GoogleTV's only remaining network partner, Fox, just removed its content from the platform. "The feeling at Fox was that Google's 'footprint was too small,'" CNet wrote last week, citing an unnamed source. In other words, "Google TV had yet to develop a large enough user base to make it worthwhile for the broadcaster."

    Meanwhile, at a conference last week, Google TV product lead Rishi Chandra admitted that GoogleTV wouldn't likely convince consumers to cut their cable cords anytime soon. "Our point of view is that cord cutting is not happening," Chandra said during a NewTeeVee conference. "We think the cable industry does a pretty good job of delivering content to users ... so we don't think that all of a sudden users are going to shut off all that content."

    Read the whole story...
  • Report: MySpace Waves White FlagTechCrunch's Michael Arrington claims to know exactly what Facebook and MySpace plan to announce this afternoon during an invitation-only press event -- to which he wasn't invited. "The event is less of a partnership announcement and more of a formal surrender ceremony," according to Arrington.

    "MySpace is sending CEO Mike Jones for the announcement. Facebook managed to rustle up a vice president -- Done Rose." Sources tell Arrington that is MySpace is "a little more than embarrassed" that Facebook isn't making someone more senior available for the event. The actual partnership involves a Facebook Connect integration so users can associate their MySpace accounts with their Facebook accounts and then log in to MySpace via Connect. As Arrington notes, part of that is already live. Meanwhile, MySpace is expected to contribute profile information to the partnership, which will be used it to help target advertising. Per the deal, Facebook users will now be able to push all their Facebook status updates to MySpace. Read the whole story...
  • Facebook Wants Your Credit Card Number Is Facebook getting into the credit business? Well, the top social net is testing a "Pay Later" feature for purchasing virtual goods within social games. "Users who have never purchased Credits before can spend Credits they haven't paid for and repay the balance later," Inside Facebook reports. "Users can only repay a balance with a credit card or PayPal, not offers, gift cards, or mobile payment."

    The suggestion, therefore, is that this is a ploy on Facebook's part to get users comfortable with buying virtual goods, as well as get them to put their credit card or PayPal details on file with Facebook. Those sneaky devils. According to Inside Facebook, the social net was already signed deals with all the top social game developers, including industry leader Zynga, to make Credits the exclusive direct payment method. The niche news blog suggests that the biggest barrier to users actively spending is getting their payment information on file. Beyond games, we're wondering what Facebook hopes to eventually use our credit card info for. Read the whole story...
  • Meet Orb's Magical Video-Streaming Service We feel a lawsuit coming, and it will likely be directed at Orb Networks -- the makers of a new device designed to bring all of's premium content to consumers' TV screens for free, with no subscription required. "Orb TV, a small streaming unit with the form factor of a hockey puck, also offers access to content from ESPN 3, Netflix, Comedy Central and other cable networks -- but the company doesn't have agreements with any of them," reports GigaOM.

    For $99, Orb offers a small piece of software that users install on their PCs. Simply put, videos from Hulu and other online sources stream through the PC client, which then sends the signal via Wi-Fi to the Orb TV unit. And, according to GigaOm, the device works pretty well. "Streaming also worked well, and the show-centric programming guide on my smartphone offered an easy way to access content from Hulu and other sites." Read the whole story...
  • Senate Panel Passes Anti-Piracy Bill A Senate panel just passed a bill giving U.S. agencies and officials new powers to battle foreign websites that sell counterfeit goods, pirated music, movies and books. "The bill, which supporters hope will set the stage for action next year, targets 'rogue websites' in countries such as China that are outside the reach of U.S. law," Reuters reports. Not surprisingly, the so-called "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" was vigorously backed by the likes of Disney, Nike, Merck and Time Warner, along with the Screen Actors Guild, the Motion Picture Association of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    According to Reuters, "The bill allows the Justice Department to seek a court order against the domain name of websites offering illegal music or movie downloads or ones that sell counterfeit goods ranging from fake tennis shoes to pharmaceutical products." Still, the bill does have its critics like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, which portrays the measure as "Internet censorship." Right. Read the whole story...
  • Report: Party's Over Online Dark days are ahead for the Web companies and online consumers alike, according to, citing sentiments from insiders at the Web 2.0 conference this week. "The fear that ran through the seventh annual Web 2.0 Summit is that the days when the Internet was a playground for startups with unlimited potential are disappearing," writes "Instead, we are moving into an era dominated by a handful of new Internet titans more interested in fighting each other for power and influence than in delighting users with new innovations."

    Who's to blame for such rampant innovation stifling? All the usual suspects, including Apple, Amazon, and Google, along with a few newcomers like Facebook. "Each has assumed a dominant position in their respective markets -- mobile, search, social networking, e-commerce -- and are focused on how to defend their turf while infiltrating their rivals' territory." Any student of history will tell you that such consolidation of power is standard practice for all industries. Whether so-called "disrupters" will break the mold remains to be seen. Read the whole story...