Tech stories of the week that are worth a look from the digital content world.
Google was on fire this week – the search giant announced two new services and incurring the wrath of yet another country – this time Iran. Not only are they getting into the residential broadband business with an experimental fiber-optic network that would boost Internet speeds by 100%, but they are offering a new social media feature with Google Buzz, which builds community around relationships you have with fellow Gmail users. And Iran, leading up to the government’s annual celebration of their dictatorial revolution, announced this week that it would permanently shut down Gmail access to citizens. Google initially reported a significant drop in traffic in Iran due to increased cyber attacks on its popular Gmail service. [TechCrunch, Wall Street Journal Online]
US TV shows are key to Apple’s iPad entertainment strategy. Taking advantage of the iPad’s luxurious 10 inch screen, Apple is upping the ante on its iTunes TV show downloads business, pushing hard on networks to make their programming available for $1 per episode (half the current price) to coincide with the iPad hitting stores in late March/early April. Programmers are understandably hesitant to reduce prices, but Apple is usually successful at enticing partners to do what they want by flaunting their 120 million active accounts with credit card information – especially valuable for lucrative impulse buy moments. They also floated an all-you-can-view monthly TV show subscription package via iTunes. Sounds like Apple is ready to take on Hulu. [Financial Times]
Bye, Bye Veoh – Online video start-up Veoh, which offers movies, TV shows and user generated content and attracts 28 million viewers per month, burned through $70 million in funding from Intel, Time Warner and Goldman Sachs and filed for bankruptcy yesterday. How did they manage to go belly-up in the middle of an online video entertainment boom? [PC Magazine]
Looking for a Vudu set-top box? A what? Exactly. Vudu didn’t sell many of these on-demand movie streaming boxes, so they switched strategies and now appear as a feature on Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players instead. The Vudu feature is currently available in LG and Mitsubishi TV models, and will show up in Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio sets this summer. Bonuses: HD quality streaming, no monthly fee to use, and same-day movie availability with DVD releases. Drawbacks: You need to watch all rentals within 24 hours of purchase and weak forwarding/rewind capabilities. (New York Times]
Virtual Valentines? Facebook’s FarmVille community is all about love these days. They sent 500 million virtual Valentines to each other in only 48 hours. That’s a lot of love! [GigaOm]
Webinar Alert: Still confused about online video distribution, analytics and how to make money? Watch this free live stream discussion among industry leaders who are grappling with the same challenges. [BeetTV]
The Muppets & Social Media – Social news aggregator Digg scores a moment in the spotlight in this hilarious Muppet segment that showcases the influence of social media on an unfortunate poor Muppet. [BayNewser]