90 000 Toshibas sold over the weekend

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Best Buy and Wal-mart had a campaign during the weekend where they sold the Toshiba HD-A2 for $100 – and that resulted in an impressive amount of HD DVD players sold. Over 90 000 players were sold during the weekend. Impressive. Is this the start of a price war between the blu-ray and HD DVD camps? I sure hope so – consumer power!

Toshiba HD-A2 model sells 90,000 over weekend [videobusiness.com]

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MySpace Joins Google to Take On Facebook and Microsoft

BetaNews has learned that amidst MySpace’s move to join Google’s OpenSocial community, Microsoft is now in talks with Facebook to integrate Windows Live ID into the quickly growing social network.

Reliable sources tell BetaNews that the two companies have begun talks on integrating login systems following an advertising agreement that gives Microsoft a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook in exchange for $240 million.

Microsoft previously pushed its Passport authentication system — now renamed to Windows Live ID — on third-party sites such as eBay. But that effort was eventually abandoned and Microsoft has focused on making Live ID work across the Redmond company’s own services, including its Xbox Live gaming platform.

With Google’s move to become the primary platform for social networking-based applications, however, Microsoft appears to have changed course. Late Thursday came news that MySpace would join Google’s newly announced OpenSocial API platform, handing a huge win to the search giant. Bebo and others like Friendster are also joining Google.

Facebook was the first site to truly open up for third party developers to create mini-applications that can run on users’ profiles. Companies are eager to tap into the massive visitor bases on social networking sites, which gives them instant exposure and an audience that could potentially bring in revenues. The largest Facebook applications count millions of users, which would not have been possible without the viral nature of the site.

While many of Facebook’s rivals announced plans to develop their own open platforms, almost everyone has now opted to join Google on OpenSocial. Google said it has been working with MySpace for a year on building the platform, which began shortly after the two companies inked a $900 million advertising agreement.

With the addition of MySpace and Bebo, Google now counts far more users than Facebook, so developers may opt to create applications for OpenSocial rather than the individual site. Facebook was apparently not told of Google’s plans, but the site could still add compatibility for OpenSocial’s APIs. However, that would mean Facebook loses control of the platform to Google, which may be difficult for the company to accept.

Bebo, meanwhile, plans to release an API that would allow the conversion of Facebook applications to be compatible with OpenSocial, according to reports. This could make it easy for existing developers to immediate gain access to users on MySpace and other OpenSocial sites. Facebook requires the use of a proprietary language called FBML, while Google is utilizing HTML and JavaScript.

At the end of the day, however, it’s still not clear how big of a market there is for applications running on social networking sites. While a handful such as Slide and iLike have garnered millions of users, most developers count mere thousands. In addition, no application developer has found a good way to monetize those users – something that Google will surely be focused on through OpenSocial.

Industry pundit Michael Arrington expects Facebook to join Google, because if it doesn’t the site will look like the closed outsider.

“For their part, Google will certainly want Facebook’s participation. But they had to get everyone else on board first, before Facebook would even consider it,” Arrington wrote on his TechCrunch blog. “An open platform means no social network has any advantage over any other when it comes to third party applications. The playing field has been evened, and no one wins. Except Google. They always win.”

But Microsoft, with its newfound ties to Facebook, may not want to give in so easily – especially if it is successful in adding Windows Live ID to the site. The two companies could attempt to leverage Microsoft’s huge developer community and create their own standard that also spans Windows Live Spaces, setting up a showdown with Google and MySpace.

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Philips and the Art of Naked Humiliation

newVideoPlayer(“nakedheadset.flv”, 475, 376);

WARNING: VIDEO INCLUDES BRIEF, PASTY REAR NUDITY!

The Pitch A melanin-impaired British bloke, donning nothing more than a pair of heart-splashed boxers and a wireless Philips headset, dances maniacally through his mum’s house. All’s going swimmingly until our hero slides into the kitchen, where he rocks a little Running Man, then starts making love to the granite countertop. Alas, the cat is too absorbed in his music to notice the gathering of aging biddies in the living room, just on the other side of some glass doors. When “Jonathan” whips off his undies, stern-faced mum decides she’s had enough; she rings her son, whose headset conveniently allows him to field phone calls, too. Rank embarrassment ensues, as Jonathan covers up his babymakers and exits stage left. Does Philips expect us to emulate this exhibitionist weirdo and pony up around $100 for Bluetooth cans?

Rip-Off Of This is a very YouTube Era ad, and I’m willing to bet that the creators glimpsed themselves a few clips of truly awful dancing before coming up with the concept. But in terms of Madison Avenue antecedents, the one that immediately pops to mind is the classic Bud Light “Parrot” ad, in which a ditz learns her potential one-night-stand’s true feelings. No dancing in that one, but oh-so-much humiliation.

The Spin Notice how there are no technical details in this ad—it instead follows the old writer’s adage of “show, don’t tell.” Jonathan’s nudity actually serves an important purpose, as it makes clear that there are no wires of any kind on his person. And there’s a clever shot towards the end that flicks at the headset’s non-music capabilities, specifically its ability to receive mobile calls. Sure, a non-geek will have no clue that Bluetooth is the technology in question, or what sort of range they might reasonably expect between headset and personal audio player. (This detailed review says upwards of 10 meters.) But the ad is really just a come-hither for the product’s cleanly designed promo site, on which all is explained in relatively plain English.

Counterspin It’s always a risk for ads to choose a doofus as their de facto pitchman. Let’s face it, none of us would like to be caught dancing around naked—and attempting to copulate with a slab of granite!—while our mom’s prune-skinned friends looked on in horror. On the most literal level, this commercial equates ownership of the product with hopeless loserdom—why is this cat living with his mom in the first place, given that he looks closer to 21 than 15? Philips is obviously just trying to use humor to raise product awareness, but it needs to tread lightly—there’s a fine line between a sharp joke and the sort of humiliation that forces you to avert your eyes.

Takeaway This commercial was apparently made for the European market, which explains the fleeting nudity; if this appeared on primetime TV in the U.S., the uproar might rival that which accompanied Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. But if Jonathan’s naughty bits could be blanked out, this would play great on these shores—and Philips might move some of those wireless headsets, too. I’m actually surprised at the dearth of Bluetooth ‘phones on the streets of New York; when people invest in nicer earphones, they usually seem to plunk for noise-canceling options rather than going wireless. Not having tested these Philips cans personally, I can’t really comment on their sound quality. But it’s got to be better than the iPod/Zune/Zen factory ‘phones, plus there’s the added bonus of one-touch switching ‘twixt music and phone calls. It’s an innovation that’s been around for a while, sure, but it’s going to require some mass-marketing to break through. Maybe Philips is finally on the case.