Quick Takes 7/2/07

  • filmstrip.jpgJessica Simpson’s dad/manager has reportedly lifted her new movie Blonde Ambition from the release schedule altogether after a number of stalls. Apparently she was distracted by shiny objects around her during the shoot and the movie is just no good at all.
  • The NYT has more on the push by children’s advocacy group’s request that the FTC look more deeply at the marketing to young children of PG-13 movies.
  • Warner Bros. VP of targeted marketing Viviana Pendrill has received the corporate leader of the year award from the L.A. chapter of the National Latina Business Women Assn. on Thursday.
  • Arkadium CEO Kenny Rosenblatt gets interviewed regarding the Wii-based advergame his company created to promote Live Free or Die Hard.
  • The Austrailian paper The Courier Mail delves into the push-back occuring in that country from the extensive movie marketing tie-ins at grocery stores. The problem, of course, is that most of the products being branded are high-fat snacks or other such products that lure kids but which parents aren’t thrilled about buying.
  • Matt Bradshaw actually does some investigating – something that Harry Knowles couldn’t be bothered with while soiling his pants – and finds strong evidence that a site believed at first to be part of the early Watchmen marketing is more likely just a fan effort.

Apple dares to make profit on iPhone

I’m normally a big fan of TechCrunch since it’s the best single source if you want to stay up on what’s happening in the tech/Web 2.0 world but occasionally Michael Arrington delves pretty deeply into desperation in order to try and make the site relevant.

That $599 iPhone Costs $220 To Make

Thanks, Mike. Is this going to be a continuing series where you roll back the curtain on production costs of Pepsi Cola, paper towels, my spiral notebook and Gladware?

I’ve reread the story and am trying to figure out why this is “TechCrunch worthy,” a designation most companies strive for but never fully achieve. OK, there’s a profit margin on the iPhone. So. What. It’s a brand new product, making it even less surprising that there’s a significant margin on each item. That’s what I thought was a pretty common occurrence  among new retail products, where they only drop in price and profitability as they move down the Long Tail and are supplanted by newer products.

A story like this makes me want to hug Arrington and tell him it’s OK, TechCrunch is a good site and he doesn’t need to post things like this to get attention.

I remember reading a while ago that compact discs cost just a couple dollars to produce, even when you figure in artists royalties and such. If Arrington really wants to start a regular “Who’s Got the Biggist Margins” effort I suggest he start there considering prices for CDs haven’t come down at all since their introduction 20 some years ago.

NFL wants video, like Bears offensive drives, to only last 45 seconds

I’m a big fan of recurring jokes and one of my favorites revolves around hockey. See here in Chicago we have a professional hockey team but we can’t watch it on local TV because the owner feels that broadcasting games would be bad for ticket sales. You can understand his argument considering that’s exactly what basketball, baseball and football leagues do, except that it’s not. So I make jokes about not even knowing what Tom and others are talking about when they mention hockey since it’s not something I usually even have the option of watching in the background and I chuckle to myself because my goodness am I witty.

It seems, though, that the NFL is taking a similar stance when it comes to online video. The league announced news organizations cannot post video longer than 45 seconds online, something meant to protect the interests (read: “web traffic”) of the league’s member teams, a policy that not even the NHL has in place. Quite the opposite, the other professional leagues allow for unlimited use by news organizations of video online. The NFL, though, wants to drive people to team sites where they’re the ones who have sold advertising and where people are just a couple clicks away from buying branded items.

I have no problem with a corporate entity wanting to protect assets it feels are valuable but there comes a point, as any parent will tell you, where you have to ask if you’ve crossed the line into smothering. Occasionally content has to run free, has to scrape its knees and has to meet new people. By restricting usage of video on news sites, the NFL is doing little but making sure content never gets misused but I don’t know if they fully realize that they run the risk of that content not being used at all.

As usual when a corporate entity attempts to over-control the media it’s the customer that loses. Fans, instead of being able to see NFL video on a news site will have to go to their team’s site, where the reporting will likely be less journalistic than that from a news organization.

What’s also interesting to me is how the NFL is repositioning itself from being a sports league to being a content producer, the equivalent of a Hollywood movie studio. There are actually a number of parallels since the studios, too, want to exercise total control over how their content is exhibited and viewed. This in contract to niche producers like Vuguru, the company behind the online series “Prom Queen,” and others that seem to believe it’s not where the content is viewed that is important but the the content itself that rules all.

“How does this impact my audience’s experience?” is a question all content producers should be asking themselves as they map out online strategies and then decisions made based on, not despite, the answers to that question.

I’m full, but thanks

We have a bad habit in our house of moving stuff to the basement when we can’t quite figure out what to do with it, when the boys don’t play with something anymore or when we replace something but think that it might serve some purpose in the future. This then leads to 1) A full basement of stuff that we never or very infrequently use or even think of and 2) An eventual trip by me to Goodwill.

Right now my online identity is feeling very much to me like a cluttered basement full of stuff I never use and rarely even think about. I’ve got all these social networks that I belong to that I haven’t quite figured out what to do with, personalized radio channels that I don’t listen to and a host of other unused logins. But the latest, shiniest thing is always tempting me via TechCrunch or some other site, beckoning me to sign up and play with it.

So I’m embarking on a project I’m calling Me 2.0 this week. I’m going to try and review all the sites I’ve created profiles on and figure out what is actually of use or interest to me. “What does this add to my online activity and how am I going to utilize it?” will be the question that gets asked over and over again as I review my wants and needs and figure out the tools that satisfy both. That includes a serious pruning of my RSS feeds and other information inputs. I need to get over feeling simultaneously overwhelmed by the information I’m taking in and underwhelmed by tools I’m using.

I’ll post updates as Me 2.0 progresses.

National Kidney Foundation Gift of Life Walk 2007

Yesterday the family and I – including my brother-in-law – participated in the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois’ Gift of Life Walk down on the Chicago lakefront. As I’ve mentioned before my youngest son Evan was born with kidney problems that necessitated a kidney transplant almost two years ago when he was just one-and-a-half. The NKFI is what I’ve been raising money for over on the side there. Through this and other efforts we raised a grand total of almost $1,000, an amazing total. I can’t thank all of you who chipped in what you could enough and I appreciate just as much the well-wishes and prayers from the rest of you all.

You can view a half-dozen photos we took while there over on Flickr. It was a great day – about 80 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze off the lake. Not only was the walk a great event but then we had a blast walking over to the Taste of Chicago for some pizza, corn and other treats.