paidContent Quick Hits: 12.31.09

Apple Tablet Mock-up

»  The rumored Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) tablet will cost under $1,000, according to a second hand account given to ex-Google (NSDQ: GOOG) China President and former Apple exec Kaifu Lee. He also hears that Apple will ship 10 million units of the tablet in 2010 and that the device features a 10.1-inch multi-touch screen, 3D technology, a virtual keyboard and video conferencing capabilities. [Cloned in China]

»  Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Cable (NYSE: TWC) is now agreeing to arbitration—and/or an interim agreement—with News Corp.‘s Fox Television group over the two companies’ retrans contract dispute. (Update: News Corp (NYSE: NWS). didn’t agree so the midnight watch continues.] [Mediapost]

»  After closing a number of titles in 2009, Conde Nast’s Fairchild Fashion Group is readying a new b2b title aimed at men’s fashion category for a June launch. [Mediaweek]

»  In a sign that movie studios will increase their online ad spending significantly this year, look to Avatar as a prime example of where things currently stand. The sci-fi blockbuster’s studio, 20th Century Fox, devoted at least 10 percent to promotion on the web. That compares to an average of 4.4 percent spent on new media a few years ago. [Variety]

»  As E&P staffers vacate their offices today for what looks like the last time, the possibility of a buyer saving the Nielsen mag from extinction is still alive, though editor Greg Mitchell says any firm agreement is at least two weeks away. In the interim, staffers have set up E&P In Exile just in case a savior comes through. [E&P

»  Pop singer John Mayer is a Twitter and Tumblr addict, but he’s calling for people to take a break from online communications and commit to a “one week digital cleanse” starting 9am on January 1. [Techcrunch]

»  Newsosaur’s Alan D. Mutter offers his predictions for 2010: some online media outlets will charge for access; no rebound for newspapers, radio and local TV, even if the economy improves more than expected; and the wave of media companies going out of business isn’t over. [Reflections of a Newsosaur]


Updated: Marvel Transforms Into Disney Unit; Deal Valued At $4.3 Billion

Marvel Entertainment

As expected, 2009 ended with 70-year-old Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL) and its 5,000-plus characters as part of The Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) Company. Marvel shareholders approved the $4.3 billion merger early Thursday and the completed deal was announced after the market closed. Adding the likes of Spider-Man and X-Men should help raise Disney’s appeal to young males, while the company expects licensing to pay for the deal.

The cash-and-stock deal announced in August was the second- largest acquisition in CEO Bob Iger’s tenure and in Disney’s history; the payout for Pixar in 2006 was $7.4 billion in stock. Marvel shareholders get $30 per share in cash, plus 0.745 Disney shares for every Marvel share they own. Marvel will operate as a standalone unit with its CEO Ike Perlmutter in charge. Perlmutter owned 37 percent of Marvel—putting his take at about $1.5 billion.

Meanwhile, investors in both companies celebrated the news, as Marvel’s stock was up 0.41 percent to $54.27, while Disney’s share price gained 0.90 percent to $32.57 after the deal was announced this morning. Disney closed at $32.25, though, down slightly from the previous day while Marvel closed for the last time at $54.08. Marvel release Disney release

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Awkward! CNN’s Sanchez Grills GOP Sen. Ensign On His Affair

sanchez_ensignWow. This year — and this decade — will just not go quietly. Will this be the final viral clip of the decade or will someone drag Mark Sanford or John Edwards in front of the camera before the day is through? Senator John Ensign apparently thought he was going on CNN to talk about terrorism — until Rick Sanchez switched topics began asking him about the ethics scandal he’s now embroiled in, thanks to his affair with the wife of one of his top staffers, and ethics allegations around a lobbying gig he may have subsequently gotten for the cuckolded husband. THIS YEAR HAS BEEN SO WEIRD.

It seems a safe bet that Ensign wasn’t expecting this. Watch below:



2009: The Year of America’s First Wifi President

jeffrey-feldman iiGiven that media critics often describe FDR as the first “radio
president” and JFK as the first “TV president,” logic dictates that 2009 brought
forth the first entry in a new era: the Wifi President.

With his Blackberry forever in tow, a sophisticated election campaign grounded in new social networking media, and the most YouTube friendly White House communications team ever to grace Pennsylvania Avenue— Barack Obama has, more than any to date, harnessed the power of Internet to advance his Presidential goals.

His predecessor was still a long way off.  When asked if he was familiar with the World Wide Web, President George W. Bush famously responded, “I’m familiar. I can click around and surf around.”  It was not exactly the answer of a net savvy politico.

Even in the months leading up to 2009, Obama brought quite a high tech contrast to the White House. From the earliest phase of his bid for the Presidency, Obama’s public persona was fused with the Internet at an almost genetic level.

A self-identifying “crackberry” junky, photos of a smiling Obama as he sent emails from his Blackberry had the effect humanized him early in the campaign, much the same way that photos of past candidates hunting or fishing might have done. 

The instantly iconic Obama campaign logo–a soft blue “O” bisected by a swath of color that was part Stars and Stripes, part rainbow–took its graphic cues from the popular Web 2.0 typographic styles familiar to users of Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and Reddit. 

At the same time, we learned that Barack Obama was a Mac user–and a geeky one at that.  A photo of Obama on ComputerWeekly.com, ran with the headline “Barack Obama – The First Truly Digital President.”  The picture showed Obama at his desk surrounded by jump drives and an open Macbook personalized with a Pacman sticker–presidential candidate as Internet nerd.

Just as Bill Clinton played saxophone on late night TV and pitched politics to a new generation of voters joined at the hip to MTV, Obama’s campaign sent a constant stream of emails to appeal for money, boots on the ground, and the perpetual battle cry of “hope.”

Far more important even than the speeches Obama gave to tens of thousands of attendees, his internet campaign used the internet to connect millions of voters to the candidate and to each other.  Fund raising appeals and calls to GOTV spread like electronic tentacles from campaign headquarters in Chicago through laptops, cell phones, and hand held devices.  And people loved it because the Internet campaign gave them the same social immediacy that they found on the most popular websites and on group blogs.

What made all this possible for Obama was not just the bare bones of the Internet, which was more an innovation of the 90s than this past year. They key for Obama was the now ubiquitous Wifi hookup points that now peppered the country.  While Wifi and broadband were present in the 2004 campaign, 2008 was the first time that the majority of the campaign volunteering public was equipped with devices capable of reading and uploading information to and from the internet from just about anywhere.

And in 2009, Obama brought it all to the White House.

>>>NEXT: The Wifi President Takes Office


Shelby Bonnie’s Whiskey Media Secures $2.5 Million Funding

Shelby Bonnie

Social media publisher Whiskey Media has raised a $2.5 million funding, PEHub reported, citing a regulatory filing. No word on who the investors are or what the proceeds will go towards. The Sausalito, CA-based company was started by Shelby Bonnie (pictured), the former chairman and CEO of CNET, two years ago. Whiskey Media serves as the parent for a group of entertainment reviews and news sites, including video gamer Giant Bomb, comic books forum Comic Vine, and Anime Vice.

The company previously raised about $1.5 million. Before Whiskey Media, Bonnie tried to create a site called Political Base, but that project ended and all that is left there is a page directing users to unrelated outlets like TPM and Huffington Post. Bonnie also ran into some trouble with the SEC over Cnet’s stock option grant practices, but he was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.

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Twitterers Celebrate a New Year by Looking Back 10 Years (And Talking About Themselves, Natch)

mirrorA certain class of digerati turns up their noses at the use of “hash tags” on Twitter. In the same way that they’d sniff at someone who uses an AOL (AOL) email address.

Their loss. For the rest of us, hash tags–that is, sticking a “#” sign before a phrase in your Twitter message–have become an entertaining and useful way to keep track of/play with memes that break out on the microblogging service.

Some of these are topical: Responses to news or things that Twitterers think should be news. Like the #Amazonfail outbreak last spring over the retailer’s supposed censorship of gay-themed books. Others are the equivalent of a party game played by people all over the world. I liked #oneletteroffmovies, for instance.

And now, at the end of the decade: #10yearsgo.

This one seems to have struck a chord with Twitterers, and that makes plenty of sense. Seeing what everyone else was up to a decade ago is great voyeuristic fun, and telling everyone what you were doing a decade ago is great narcissistic fun. That’s Twitter, no?

tenyearsago

And in case you care, I’m with Alberto Santos on this one. I was spending a lot of time playing this song:


Prince – 1999

And if you’re still reading this far into the post: Thanks for reading what I had to say this year, and thanks for letting me know what’s on your mind, too. Gotta go make a lot of lasagna. See you in 2010.

[Image credit: Beverly & Pack]

Ten Years Later, The Y2K Hysteria Is Even Funnier With Age

y2k.jpgExactly ten years ago, we were recovering from ringing in the new year millennium in style — with Prince’s 1999 song ironically cued up throughout our homemade party mixed tapes (burning CDs and iPods were not yet on the scene.) But this wasn’t just any New Year’s Eve — this was the night when we escaped the ghosts in the digital machine who threatened to get their collective revenge on a civilization grown lazy with technological advances. How did they plan to attack? Via the mysterious and scary computer glitch known as Y2K!

But it wasn’t all fun and games 10 years ago. New York city residents had heard of rumored attacks led by a relatively unknown (at the time) terrorist name Osama bin Laden. The fear then, though, was some sort of nerve gas: true story, I had a neighbor that had taped heavy duty plastic over their windows in case there was such an attack. Of course, this was blissfully in a pre-9/11 era, so no one took these threats that seriously (except my neighbors of course.)

But the real concern of the time was the computer glitch that promised to have elevators and airplanes drop like bricks from the sky. Sounds funny today, but ten years ago, it was a very real concern. Need proof of the paranoia? Watch the unintentionally hilarious video hosted by Sci-Fi legend Leonard Nimoy. The clip is from a program called Y2k Family Survival Guide, and yes, you can still purchase it (on VHS) at Amazon.