Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More Japanese Robots!!

You can never get enough Japanese robots.

Meet Riba ...

A robot nurse that can lift elderly patients from wheelchairs and beds. A giant teddy bear robot.


Woofer: Antidote to Twitter, or More of the Same?

With a 1,400-character minimum, Woofer in theory offers salvation from our growing Twitter-dom. Or Twitter-dumb.

The three principles of woofing: 1. Be eloquent. 2. Use adverbs. 3. DEA (don't ever abbreviate).

Noble statements.

Encouraging a person to think, compose and express. Macroblogging over microblogging. The anti-Twitter.

Not so fast. In reality, Woofer seems to merely encourage more idiocy and verbal spam.

Hence, a “woof” ten minutes ago that reads:
I am Awesome. I am [Name Deleted]! Hear Me Type! Penis, Penis, Penis, Penis …
When people have nothing to say, why can’t they just say nothing?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Online Advertising Hit, But Print Advertising Got Floored

Media executives may see recent data on advertising revenues from the Newspaper Association of America as a good news / bad news situation.

They would be wrong. It’s all bad news.

Newspaper ad revenues are down 29% during Q2 of 2009. Obviously bad news. But even their online ad revenues had a double-digit drop of 16%.

So what’s the good news that publishers see? The worst is behind them. Wrong again. The worst is still ahead.

The recession only explains half the loss in print ad revenues. The rest (about 13% of the loss) is pure erosion of the print newspaper business model.

As newspaper publishers search for an online news model that can sustain their revenues and newsrooms, they must apply basic investment strategy … diversify, diversify, diversify.

If you are only business is news, you are heading for a cliff. Yes, you need a digital platform for news. But you also need platforms for other categories of digital content. Either build them, buy them or merge with other companies that already have them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yahoo Grabs Big Piece of Middle East Internet Market

Eventually, global Internet companies would realize the Arab world is one of the last underdeveloped frontiers for digital media. That day was yesterday. Yahoo bought, the largest Arabic online portal, for an undisclosed sum, reportedly around $100 million.

This is a big deal. Even Twitter is a buzz with the news.

The Arabic speaking world of Internet users has not been completely ignored. Google opened it first office in the Arab world in 2006, and is the top search engine among Arabic users. Already 8% of Facebook's user base is in the Arab world. Yahoo is not the first major equity investment in a portal in the Arab world (or even a portal based in Jordan). Intel Capital recently invested in Jeeran, a Jordanian based social network with 1 million members. And that was Intel’s seventh investment in Middle East digital media. Last year, Vodafone Egypt bought Sarmady Communications (Sarcom), a digital content company based in Egypt.

But with this deal, Yahoo landed the biggest digital media acquisition to date in the Middle East. Yahoo calls it their biggest geographic expansion in years. I call it a very smart move. Maktoob has been the #1 Arabic website (in terms of users) for years, steadily growing organically and through a series of regional acquisitions. Its acquisition was inevitable. The only surprise is that it took so long. Maktoob has been around for almost 10 years.

320 million Arabic speakers worldwide, but only 1 per cent of all online content is in Arabic. That math adds up to outsized growth as the online advertising market catches up with the rapid rise in Internet penetration and usage in the Arab world. This deal alone may drive increased online advertising in the Middle East, as well as accelerate the shift away from newspapers and print advertising.

So Maktoob becomes Yahoo Maktoob at the price of $6 per user ($100 million for 16.5 million users). Although Middle East entrepreneurs will envy the valuation and the newly minted millionaires among them, that price will look dirt cheap one day. And that day is today.