Posts Tagged ‘street’

You’ve Come a Long Way, Silicon Valley

December 17, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

At the first big technology conference I attended, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a decade ago, I squeezed past hundreds of attendees on the show floor and was surprised to find myself alone in the ladies’ bathroom. Down the hall, the line for the men’s bathroom snaked out the door. Throughout my career at The Wall Street Journal, I’ve used my casual ladies’ bathroom observations as my own barometer to measure the number of women at events and, more broadly, in the tech community. The more women I see in the field, the less likely it is that just a team of guys are making and marketing tech products. Eleven years later, I’m happy to report I now regularly wait in line for the ladies’ rooms at conferences and product announcement events. A lot has happened since that first conference and I’ve had a front-row seat on this ever-changing industry. I’ve never written exclusively for or about women; rather, I hope my columns are read by anyone interested in learning more about a product. But privately I’ve noted the industry’s shift away from masculine marketing and product designs. In my final column this week, I’m taking a moment to look back at a few examples of how products geared toward women shaped this industry, counting failures and successes. First, the misses. A great example of a now-defunct company that tried entirely too hard to appeal to women with its product was the 2009 Palm Pre. The pebble-shaped smartphone had a slide-out keyboard and the company was proud to note that women would like the mirror that was revealed on the back of the pulled-down keyboard. On top of that, its commercial felt like a cross between a coordinated dance routine and a soap opera, complete with a woman standing on a rock in a windblown dress while she organized her digital life on a Palm Pre. A woman’s breathy voice-over said she was working on sorting “my family’s lives, friends’ lives, work life, play life, my life today and my life next week.” At the end of the commercial, the woman sat on the rock in the middle of a field with her dress tucked under her. All women do this, right? One of the most well-known failed attempts to design for women came in the shade of pink. After years of designing dull black and silver products, tech companies seemed to think they found the solution for appealing to all women by slapping a rosy hue on a device and calling it a female favorite. As laptops, cameras, cellphones, headphones, Bluetooth headsets, portable speaker docks, mice, keyboards and other products flooded the market, women continued to look for the best products with the best user interfaces—not just the pink ones. Another more recent failure: Verizon’s Droid

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FCC’s Wheeler Pulls Media Ownership Proposal

December 17, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The Federal Communications Commission’s review of media ownership rules, now nearly three years late, is likely to drag on even longer. New FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has decided to withdraw the proposal to relax the rules circulated by his predecessor, Julius Genachowski, and replace it with his own, according to a Wall Street Journal report .

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Twitter Steps Up Test of Local Tweet Discovery Feature

December 14, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

As AllThingsD first reported in April , Twitter is continuing to test a feature that surfaces nearby tweets based on a user’s location. Spotted by The Wall Street Journal in the wild, the feature looks to be a separate swipe-able timeline — and opt-in only, in its current state.

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Simulcast of Bonnie & Clyde Nabs 4.2 Million Demo Viewers

December 9, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The body count for A+E Networks' roadblock broadcast of its period drama Bonnie & Clyde is high: 9.8 million viewers across all Lifetime, A&E and History, with a demo viewership (among 25-54 year-olds) of 4.2 million. The second part of the two-night event will air this evening. By network, the story was surprisingly even: 3.7 million on History, 3.1 million on Lifetime, and 3 million on A&E. Ad sales were tweaked across the networks, with companies placing their dollars where they thought they'd do the most good among the cablers. It's easily A+E's most-promoted event of the fall season. Manhattanites can't cross the street without seeing a subway poster or a bus covered in branding for the crime-and-passion miniseries. Reviews for the program were mixed—The New York Times' Mike Hale praised Bruce Beresford's direction, though he didn't have much use for the performances, while Slate, Vulture and the A.V. Club were all less than enthusiastic (Slate's Willa Paskin called the show's portrayal of Bonnie Parker " misogynistic "). Still, you can't argue with success, or if you can, it makes more success happen: Nielsen's SocialGuide ranked the show the most talked-about of the day (excluding sports) and the crime-spree duo topped Google Trends, too.

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Adult Swim Crashes a Spaceship in NYC for New Show Rick and Morty

December 2, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If you were wandering aimlessly around Manhattan last week, you probably saw lampposts with a flier showing a cheap, grainy-looking photo of a spaceship and little perforated "take one" pull tabs at the bottom telling you to go to 23rd Street and Broadway to buy a slightly used spaceship. When you got there, the perceptive among you may have noticed the spaceship, which appeared to have crashed into the ground next to the Flatiron Building, with cartoon characters Rick and Morty from the new Adult Swim show (titled, cleverly, Rick and Morty) hanging around. (Well, actually, they were statues. Morty was still inside, and Rick was on a bench taking a slug from a bottle of XXX.) The installation is pretty impressive—they even mangled some chairs that look like the furniture that sits in the public area around the building and put together foam bricks that look exactly like chunks of the tan pavement. The network's campaign for the show has been an elaborate one—there's an ad on Craigslist for the spaceship, too, as well as normal(ish) posters for the show around town. The network also posted the first 22-minute episode of the show, which premieres Monday night at 10:30 p.m., on YouTube. You can check it out below, along with the network's own time-lapse video of its spaceship assemblage. And we've got an interview with co-creator Dan Harmon here. Here's a snippet we had to cut to make the interview fit in the magazine, but is still pretty cool: "It's very much like Doctor Who and Ford Prefect in Hitchhiker's Guide, and Willy Wonka," Harmon said when we asked him why he liked crazy, antisocial characters like Rick. "They just don't have time to interface with the people around them in a way that makes anybody comfortable. I think the answer over time is that you'll come to believe that he's a real person. I think even by the end of these first 10 episodes, we've figured out that the more hours you log with this guy, he never really jumps the shark in terms of revealing that he loves all the people around him, or crying and saying 'Oh, it's so hard to be this big a prick,' but you get it, or you get that you don't get it. It made me so excited that this character could possibly live for a long time." You can check out the clip below to see how insane Rick is, or stop by the Flatiron to say hi until the end of today.

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Can Cable Consolidation Get Past the Regulators?

November 22, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Comcast is looking seriously at acquiring Time Warner Cable, multiple reports said earlier today, prompting rapid fluctuations in TWC's stock price, which spiked 9 percent to $132.16 a share this afternoon (the stock was trading below $120 a share as recently as Wednesday). Part of the stock movement has to do with TWC's attractiveness to more than one suitor: backed by Liberty Media, Charter is also looking at acquiring the cable operator. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Charter is close to securing funding for a bid. There's a reason Time Warner looks like the prettiest girl at the dance: it has a full 14.6 million subscribers and it's in hot water with its shareholders as of recently, principally because it lost some 306,000 of those subscribers during its lengthy beef with CBS earlier this year. That cost the company some $122 million, but TWC's revenue is still $2.6 billion —not exactly a distressed asset . As the cable market matures and threatens to shrink , consolidation has become a serious proposition for companies looking to shed money-sucking bureaucracies and pare down infrastructures across as many subscribers as possible. Of course, part of the reason for the existing inefficiencies is that habit larger cable companies have of eating smaller ones, but those little cable companies are like Lay's potato chips : you can't eat just one. (Most recently, TWC gobbled up Dukenet for a $600 million cash deal ) It remains to be seen whether Washington will be excited to see another merger between giant service providers in an industry already criticized for creating regional monopolies. The last time Comcast wanted to do something like this—when it merged with media giant NBCUniversal—it attracted further criticism when, after the deal was approved, then-commissioner Meredith Baker jumped ship to a consultancy job at the newly-formed mega-corporation. If Comcast wants to buy TWC, it's a safe bet that it will have a tougher row to hoe than Charter.

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Strange Ads Promote an Author Who Isn’t Real and a Book That Doesn’t Exist

November 15, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

IFC's upcoming The Spoils of Bablyon, a comedy miniseries that spoofs serious miniseries, is based on a book that seems to be sold out in Hudson News stores around the country. The problem with keeping the book in stock, though, is that there were never any copies printed to begin with. Eric Jonrosh (and the jig will be up when he shows up on TV and looks a lot like Will Ferrell, who produces the series along with longtime collaborator Adam McKay) is the megalomaniacal author of the book, and his persona has become the avatar of IFC's marketing for the show. "They created a character—well, we don't even like to call him a character," head of marketing Blake Callaway tells AdFreak. "We like to pretend he's real. We've written the fake book reviews. He's committed to literacy, because if you can't read, you can't read Jonrosh." The writer's megalomaniacal streak is borne out in the ambitions of the miniseries, which appears to span a period from the 1930s to the 1980s, if the trailer (see below) is any indication. So IFC has an appropriately grandiose ad campaign, with the book-focused executions littering bookstores and branded Little Free Libraries installed in cities like Dallas and Minneapolis in partnership with that organization. Callaway says he hopes to entice writers from the blockbuster-ier end of the literary spectrum to turn out for the show's L.A. premiere in January. "[James Patterson] is on our wish list," Callaway said

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Baby, You Can Drive (Or Ride in) My Car

November 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If you’re still driving your own car, you might need to get up to speed. Car sharing and ride sharing have cruised into many cities around the world, especially as more people are going car-free to save money or live more environmentally friendly lifestyles. And smartphone apps are making it even easier to find available rental cars and rides. But before you can join in a chorus of car-sharing Kumbaya, you might want some basic information. In this week’s column, I’ll explain how car sharing and ride sharing work, how to find and access cars and how to address safety concerns. This could be helpful if you need wheels for just an hour or the day, want a ride from someone or want to offer a ride to someone. Just be prepared to pay for the convenience of quickly picking up a car and be aware of the possible awkwardness of riding with a stranger. Wheeling in Convenience A spin with some zip: Zipcar lets you pick from a variety of vehicles and choose a membership plan that fits your driving frequency. Renting a car no longer means going to an airport or rental office to get one. You might be able to find a car a few steps from your front door. This is especially common in cities where services like Zipcar, Car2Go and Enterprise (with its Enterprise CarShare program) let users pick up or drop off cars on streets or in parking garages. To start, you’ll need a membership with the company, which usually requires a fee, as well as some information like your driver’s license, age, moving violation history (if any) and payment information. The company will send you a membership card, which you wave over a small panel on the windshield to unlock the car and start tracking the time you began using it. Keys are inside and you’ll leave them there when you’re done. To lock the car, just swipe your card on the windshield reader again. In the case of Zipcar and Enterprise CarShare, cars must be picked up and returned to the same spot and reservations must be made via phone, website or mobile app. Car2Go uses a looser approach: It lets members pick up cars without a reservation (though you can make one) and it’s designed for one-way rides to anywhere within a designated Home Area

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Before Groupon Came Calling, LivingSocial and Ticket Monster Were Once One Big Happy Family (Video)

November 8, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Ticket Monster’s mascot Yesterday, LivingSocial announced a somewhat surprising buyer for its Korean business Ticket Monster : its main competitor Groupon. The deal, worth $260 million in cash and stock and expected to close early next year, has been well received on Wall Street, with Groupon’s stock rising seven percent this morning despite a sizable revenue miss in the third quarter. For LivingSocial, the sale ends a short two-plus-year marriage with Ticket Monster, which was supposed to serve as its beachhead for a large Asian expansion. In those honeymoon days, just a few months after the acquisition, LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy and Ticket Monster CEO Daniel Shin appeared at AllThingsD ’s 2011 AsiaD conference with high hopes for the future and talked about how each business would benefit from the other. The full interview, moderated by my colleague Ina Fried, is below.

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Is Apple Set to Take on TV?

October 29, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Tim Cook hinted today that Apple is well positioned to take over the TV. Speaking during an earnings call with Wall Street analysts, who asked what new product categories Apple would step into in 2014, Cook advised them to think about what the company already does well: Hardware, software services and its app ecosystem. No one else has a set of skills like these, Cook said, and Apple would use those unique skills to push into new product categories. He didn’t name TV explicitly, but his description sounded like a recipe for the television of the future. It also would match the expertise needed for a smartwatch or even a gaming console. "If you look at the skills Apple has, from hardware to software to services and an incredible app ecosystem, this set of things are very very unique," Cook said

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