Nineteen European Web startups to watch: In conjunction with the Next Web Conference in Amsterdam, a competition was held to determine the companies on the other side of the pond that will be making noise in the future. Some of the winners include Silentale, a service that allows people to browse all their digital conversations in one place; Klomptek, a remote desktop solution for mobile phones; and Yunoo, a personal finance tool with social features. Proof that creativity and forward thinking aren't just limited to Silicon Valley and Japan, and also things to watch for the future – some of these may be setting up U.S. branches if they get big enough.
Full-length movies may be coming to YouTube: The company is in negotiations to include films from Sony Pictures. It would be the service's first premium content. We reported last week that YouTube was going through financial bumps – it's dominating streaming video in every area except revenue. Furthermore, they don't have the streaming video pond to themselves anymore – Hulu is making a real charge at them (although they're not without their own problems) and services like Netflix (which just added South Park and Nickelodeon shows to its streaming lineup) are offering desktop streaming through the Xbox 360. This allows them to generate revenue and yet also remain available for people who want to upload their video clips from Grandma's birthday party.
TheStreeet reports that Nokia may be the next to throw its hat in the netbook ring. What's most interesting about this is it's not a computer company, but a phone manufactuer. Netbooks and smartphones seem to be drawing closer and closer in concept – first the announcement that netbooks running Android may be in our future, now this. It's not entirely implausible that the cell phone makers may eventually become the major players in the netbook game – after all, nobody expected a computer manufacturer to make a big splash in phones.
Sun Microsystems won't be acquired by IBM after all: The company is now attempting to explain the collapse of the deal to shareholders and customers. Hopefully, another suitor will come along for this historic name in the computer business, because it would be a shame to see it fade into the sunset – not only because a lot of jobs are at stake, but because of its storied heritage. And in another saga of a heritage company facing hard times, Time-Warner may spin off AOL, which will either mean a new dawn for the company or its final doom. It all depends on how well they're able to cut their ties to their Internet-for-dummies past and reinvent themselves.
Former deputy treasury secretary Roger Altman said this is not a normal cyclic recovery and that we face a "slow, painful climb" to geting back on our collective feet. There's several factors that go into it, so the article is worth reading carefully. Needless to say, Americans spending over their income is one big cog in that wheel – a reminder to all of us that we need to watch our spending a little more carefully when the economy does get back into normal working order.
Analyst Lazard Capital says that Amazon's entry into the used game market is unlikely to affect GameStop, whch is the king in that arena of retailing. However, the challenge will come when other brick-and-mortar retailers, such as so-called "big box" stores, get into the used games industry. In today's economy, it makes sense that used games are more important than ever, and it's quite logical to assume that a number of retailers are going to want a piece of the pie. Personally, I can't see anyone knocking anyone off their throne. GameStop has built its reputation not on price (their used games are often only a few dollars cheaper than the new ones), but on deep customer service – its staff is very knowledgeable about what they sell and also extremely honest (I once had a GameStop staffer tell me that a less expensive game would actually be more enjoyable for me than a higher-priced one). That's the kind of thing that builds customer loyalty, and unless HereComesEveryoneMart is going to offer that, they will be no threat.
The Midway saga again: The Mortal Kombat team claims that they were not paid bonuses for their work on the bankrupt company's flagship game. Small wonder that reports are flying the team plans to set up their own game company. It's inevitable that Midway is going to go down, so at least if these people strike out on their own, they can grab the Mortal Kombat brand and carry on with it.
Sony is taking potshots at the DSi, saying Nintendo's new portable underserves its audience and lacks third-party suport compared to Sony's own PSP. This kind of trash talking would be one thing if Sony had the goods to back it up, but considering that PSP still lags dismally behind DSs of all kinds, at least in this country, it just comes across as sour grapes. Sony's behavior over the past couple of weeks has been a lesson in "what not to do to build good press" - first the head-scratching PS2 price cut, now this trash-talking.
Namco Bandai is practicing good multimedia synergy with its popular Tales Of series, announcing both a new game featuring characters from 13 previous installments and a new anime. Both are Japan-only at the moment, but don't expect that to last. Tales Of has been quietly building into a multimedia monster with much less noise than the Final Fantasy franchise did, and they're a lesson in steadily building a brand. (And in another interesting synergy, two hot video game franchises will come together later this year in the form of Lego Rock Band).
Disney slashes 1,900 theme park jobs - Given the effect the economy is having on tourism, this was probably inevitable, but it's still sad to hear, especially considering how many Disney fans consider being an employee of one of the parks a dream job.