Microsoft plans to buy videogame-ad firm: report

From Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT – news) plans to pay $200 million to $400 million for Massive Inc., a privately held company that places ads in video games, the Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday.

The deal to buy the two-year-old start-up highlights the increasing importance of advertising in nontraditional media, the report said.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the story is based on rumor and declined comment. A spokeswoman for Massive also declined comment.

Clients of Massive, which uses always-on Internet connections to place real-time ads in games, include Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KO – news), Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (7267.T) and other advertisers that are boosting spending for ads in video games.

There are high expectations for in-game advertising, because it offers the promise to again connect advertisers with the desirable young male audience, which has been abandoning television and other traditional media in favor of the Internet and video games.

In an interview with Reuters in December, Massive Chief Executive Mitchell Davis said forecasts from a variety of industry sources call for real-time game advertising revenue to grow into a $3 billion-plus global market by 2010.

The new generation of in-game ads offered by Massive and rivals like Double Fusion allow advertisers to run campaigns for specific periods of time, rather than buying a slot that is hard-coded into a game. That means billboards and storefronts in games can change over time to more closely resemble the real world that some games attempt to recreate.

Video game publishers, which are struggling with rising game development costs, hope that in-game advertising will come to represent a meaningful source of revenue.

Microsoft, which already runs a large advertising business around its MSN Internet unit, has won over gamers with its
Xbox Live service that connects gamers to the Web through its Xbox and newer Xbox 360 consoles.

In an effort to close the gap on online advertising leaders Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG – news) and Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO – news), Microsoft plans to roll out a new advertising system called adCenter that sells ads across the company’s Web content and services.

In the future, advertisers will be able to place ads through adCenter across Microsoft’s other platforms such as Xbox consoles and mobile devices.

Massive’s advertising partners include game publishers THQ Inc. (Nasdaq:THQI – news), Vivendi Universal’s (VIV.PA) games unit, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.’s (Nasdaq:TTWO – news) 2K Sports, NCsoft Corp. (036570.KS) and Konami Corp. (9766.T)

Shares of Microsoft rose 2 cents to $27.13 in afternoon Nasdaq trade.

Mobile Phones Revolutionize Webbrowsing, Study Says

Mobile Phones Revolutionize Webbrowsing, Study Says

By Steve Javors

From XBiz (Adult Content There – NSFW)

PARIS, France — According to the annual study by Ipsos Insight called “The Face of the Web,” mobile phone browsing is globally revolutionizing the way people view the Internet. The boom of cheap mobile phones, coupled with faster wireless networks has fueled its growth.

The study was conducted in November and December 2005 among 6,544 adults in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, the U.K. and the U.S.

“Accessing the Internet on a wireless handheld device is no longer a novelty for consumers in the major global economies,” Brian Cruikshank, senior Vice President and managing director for Ipsos said. “In the long term, many of today’s PC-centric online activities could be complemented through the mobile phone or migrate to the mobile phone altogether, due to great convenience and faster connection speeds.”

Twenty-eight percent of mobile phone owners have browsed the Internet on their cellphones according to the study. While that’s only a 3 percent increase from 2004, the study says that people over 35 are fueling the growth.

The study also showed that text messaging was the most popular online activity, used by more than half of all mobile phone households. More than one-third have sent or received emails as well, but personal computers still remain the device of choice to access the Internet.

In a related study, researchers Maryam Kamvar and Shumeet Baluja looked at 1 million search queries made to Google mobile and arrived at some surprising conclusions. According to the pair, searches for porn on cellphones exceeded similar PC-based searches by percentage. Based on the study, 20 percent of the searches on cellphones were for porn, whereas only 10 percent of PC searches sought the same material.

“We speculate that people may feel more comfortable querying adult terms on private [mobile] devices,” the study suggested. “Anecdotally, we have observed that users often consider their cellphone as a very personal and private device; perhaps even more so than their computer — the probability of others discovering their search behavior (through cached pages, auto-completion of query terms or URLs) is smaller.”

Trash that PC in an eco-friendly way

An article from Cnet that should be shared:

By Tom Krazit
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

FAQ Computer-related waste remains a local and global problem, despite the progress made over the last few years.

More and more PCs are recycled, but some estimates say that 80 percent of the electronic waste slated for recycling in the U.S. is shipped overseas to be taken apart by low-wage workers, according to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.

Some vendors and recycling organizations do a very good job of recovering PCs and monitors for proper disposal, but there’s no nationally accepted method for dealing with electronic waste, and the U.S. government chose not to sign the Basel Convention prohibiting the dumping of hazardous waste on developing nations.

The PC industry has come to realize that recycling isn’t just good for the environment. Manufacturing costs can be reduced by using recycled materials, and refurbished units can pull a little extra revenue out of a PC that was destined for the scrap heap.

But plenty of people still don’t realize how to properly dispose of their electronics. On the eve of Earth Day 2006, here’s what you can do to avoid contributing to the problem.

What happens to my PC once I put it on the curb?
In most cases, it ends up in a landfill. Only about 10 percent of all discarded computers are recycled in the U.S., meaning millions of computers could be leaking harmful chemicals into groundwater. (Some states, like Massachusetts, ban TV sets and computer monitors from landfills outright.)

And even in the case of that 10 percent, not all the recycling is done in an environmentally friendly way. It’s far cheaper to send electronic waste to federal prisons or overseas to be broken down into raw materials, often by poor workers who don’t take the proper precautions to protect themselves or the environment, said Ted Smith, a senior strategist at the SVTC and chairman of the Computer TakeBack Campaign. There are always going to be a few recycling outfits that choose this option in order to maximize their profits, so long as the U.S. government allows this to happen, Smith said.

How has electronic waste affected the environment?
There’s a lot of stuff in a circuit board that you really don’t want to ingest. Lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium all have been shown to have harmful effects on humans. (If they enter the body, that is. You needn’t worry about their presence in the computer while you’re filling out an Excel spreadsheet.) The cases of PCs and monitors are also made of plastics that give off toxic fumes if they’re burned.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 1 percent to 4 percent of all solid waste generated in this country comes from consumer electronics. That percentage is likely to grow as more and more people add PCs, cell phones, DVD players and other gadgets to their collections.

So what products do I need to recycle?
Basically, anything with a circuit board. Older monitors and televisions are especially bad because of all the lead used in the CRT (cathode ray tube) to shield the viewer from radiation. But PCs, cell phones, VCRs, DVD players, printers and even digital alarm clocks should not be tossed out with the regular trash.

How do I do it?
Consumers and local governments are getting much better at recognizing the need to treat electronic waste differently from last night’s leftovers. Many communities hold special hazardous-waste collection days or designate centers where electronic waste like old monitors, televisions or PCs can be dropped off for free.

Local computer recycling outfits are another place where you can make sure your PC is properly discarded. The SVTC advises that you make sure you’re working with a recycler that’s signed its pledge to avoid using prison labor or shipping e-waste to poor countries.

PC vendors are also getting into the act, offering programs in which they take back old PCs when one of their customers purchases a new one. Hewlett-Packard and Dell, the two PC market share leaders, were recently commended by the SVTC for their efforts in trying to recover as much electronic waste as possible. Panasonic, Gateway and Acer were the lowest-ranked respondents to an SVTC survey on recycling programs.

Dell will pick up your old PC and monitor for free if you buy a new Dell PC, said Jake Player, senior manager of asset recovery services at Dell. If you go with the competition, Dell charges you $10 to pick up 50 pounds worth of electronic waste. The company hopes to triple, by 2009, the amount of waste it recovers. It gets back only about 10 percent of what it ships out each year, Player said.

In June, Apple will start taking back old computers for free with the purchase of a new Mac, it announced Friday. The offer applies to customers who buy a Mac through an Apple retail store or the company’s Web site, and includes free shipping.

Other PC vendors charge a fee for their waste recovery programs. HP operates its own recycling plants with Noranda Recycling–two in the U.S. and one in Germany–that break down hazardous materials into their base elements, said David Lear, vice president of corporate, social and environmental responsibility. HP charges between $13 and $34 depending on the item. For example, an inkjet printer costs $17, while a PC costs $21. The company is currently giving coupons for its recycling program upon the purchase of new HP hardware.

CNET Networks (publisher of News.com) also runs a program that accepts used electronic equipment. CNET will pay you for your old tech goods, and donate a portion of the trade-in value to the school of your choice. The products are refurbished for resale if possible, otherwise they are recycled.

What else can be done?
PC companies and local recyclers also refurbish older equipment in order to extend its lifetime. People often throw out PCs or printers that can be salvaged and resold on secondary markets or donated to charitable organizations.

HP uses plastic it recovers in its recycling plants to build some of its scanners, Lear said. The company is currently evaluating whether it can use the same process to build PCs or printers, he said.

What about my data?
Given how easy it can be to recover sensitive information from a hard drive, many recyclers and vendors take data deletion very seriously. In fact, recycling your electronic equipment with a reputable service provider can help make sure your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, said Rocco D’Amico, a spokesman for Brass Recovery, a Connecticut recycling company. Still, it’s probably a good idea to use a utility that will wipe your hard drive clean of all data.

Why don’t PC makers just use friendlier materials?
Some progress is being made in convincing the industry to use less harmful ingredients, but a lot more work needs to be done, Smith said. The European Union has taken the lead in this regard, passing the Reduction on Hazardous Substances Act (click here for PDF) that requires PC companies to eliminate certain hazardous chemicals from their products destined for the EU by July 1. Many PC manufacturers plan to have all their products comply with the directive, since it doesn’t make much sense to have separate production lines for the EU and for the rest of the world.

MobileCrunch – Cingular Mobilizes TV Guide’s TV Guide Channel

An idea that may help save TV from digital doom. Getting tv guide on your cell may get people to watch more tv…

MobileCrunch » Cingular Mobilizes TV Guide’s TV Guide Channel
In a deal reported by Broadcasting and Cable as well as Southcaltech.com, Cingular Wireless has struck a deal with Gemstar TV-Guide the parent company of TV-Guide Mobile to provide Cingular with content for the wireless giant’s streaming mobile video service.

According to the Broadcasting and Cable report, Gemstar’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Digital Media, Rich Cusick says:

“As part of our goal to become the leading cross-platform consumer hub for video guidance, we are excited to be partnering with Cingular to offer consumers, who are passionate about television, access to exclusive TV Guide Channel content almost whenever and wherever they want it. Enhancing the personal mobile entertainment experience of Cingular users across the country is in keeping with our strategy to integrate the TV Guide brand, content and technology across multiple platforms.”

Personally, I’m still on the fence about streaming video to mobile devices. While I’ve certainly enjoyed being able to watch the odd partial DVD on a smartphone from time to time, I’m not sure I’d pay the extra monthly fees currently required for a subscription to any of the services currently offered. So let me ask; what about MC readers? Do YOU subscribe to Mobi-TV? How much are you willing to pay? Are you satisfied with the service? At what price point would you buy (or cancel) your Mobi-TV service?? I’d love some replies to this informal poll.

TV networks and affiliates challenge FCC on “indecency”

TV networks and affiliates challenge FCC on “indecency”

TV networks and affiliates challenge FCC on “indecency”
Four television networks — ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox — and their respective affiliates are challenging an FCC ruling that several programs were indecent because of language. Snip:

The move represents a protest against the aggressive enforcement of federal indecency rules that broadcasters have complained are vague and inconsistently applied. Millions of dollars in fines have been levied based on those rules.

The appeals challenge the FCC’s finding that profane language was used on the CBS program “The Early Show” in 2004, two incidents on the “Billboard Music Awards” shows broadcast by News Corp.’s Fox in 2002 and 2003 and various episodes of the ABC show “NYPD Blue” that aired in 2003.

Link to AP item.

TV Indecency / FCC fight story found via Boing Boing

Develop a Google Maps mashup

In an excellent article about Google map mashups, Richard Mamanus explains the basics of creating custom google maps around other info and working witht the google maps api for mashups.

In an excellent article about Google map mashups, Richard Mamanus explains the basics of creating custom google maps around other info and working witht the google maps api for mashups.

How to develop a Google Maps mashup
Posted by Richard MacManus

In my previous post I noted that Google Maps has released Version 2 of its API. In this post I thought I’d talk more about how you can start developing with Google Maps. Mashups are all the rage, so if you’re a developer or just like to remix things – now’s a good time to jump in and build one!

The easiest way to get content for your mashup is to use APIs (Application Programming Interface) from companies such as Google, Amazon or eBay. That is, big companies that offer a reliable and large data set via documented API hooks into their systems. You can also use RSS from companies like craigslist.

read more about the google mashups at ZDnet

Google beefs up local advertising with logos

The new features allow an advertiser to insert a business logo or picture in a balloon that pops up next to its location on the Google map, as well as provide additional information in several lines of text, such as a phone number of business description.

Google beefs up local advertising with logos

Excerpts from a story via yahoo / reuters…

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Internet search leader Google Inc. on Thursday began offering marketers more features for local advertising, allowing them to add logos and business information to their listings on a Google map.

Local advertising on the Internet is expected to be a prime driver of growth in the sector.

The new features allow an advertiser to insert a business logo or picture in a balloon that pops up next to its location on the Google map, as well as provide additional information in several lines of text, such as a phone number of business description.

Create an RSS Feed With Excel

It’s been made; an application for creating rss feeds from an excel spreadsheet. Over at Automate Excel, Mark William Wielgus, a Microsoft Certified Excel Exper,t has created a little application that runs in excel and creates a basic rss feed with ease.

Create an RSS Feed With Excel

An idea hit me and I googled it, then wham. It’s been made; an application for creating rss feeds from an excel spreadsheet (In Dec of 2004 no less!). Over at Automate Excel, Mark William Wielgus, a Microsoft Certified Excel Exper,t has created a little application that runs in excel and creates a basic rss feed with ease. This app appears to be pretty customizable and is a great way to get spreadsheet info into rss / xml format.

From the Automate Excle web site:

If you are a website owner without an RSS feed (most Excel Sites) and is capable of logging the Title, Link, and Short Description of your latest article in an Excel spreadsheet, you can now offer your users updates via RSS.

Also, since people are notorious for keeping lists in Excel, if you would like to syndicate those lists, the following could be manipulated to do so(with some VBA know-how of course).

Read more and download the free RSS / Excel app at Automate Excel.