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day permlink Wednesday, 19 June 2002

permlink Wpost: univision, CD sales

Even though I haven't watched any World Cup matches and I don't follow sports at all, I found this article on the emergent American audience for sports coverage in Spanish fascinating:

Gol-Gol-Gol Gooaaaalll! Univision's Soccer Win: Spanish-Language Network's Announcers Lure Fans From ESPN [Washington Post]
More people -- both Spanish- and English-speaking -- are watching World Cup matches on Univision than on ESPN and ESPN2...

Univision offers a sharper picture than ESPN and sister network ESPN2, which have periodically compressed the image to add scrolling sports scores at the bottom of the screen. Univision is also showing the games live, while ESPN is delaying its satellite feed by seven seconds in order to add on-screen graphics.

The seven-second delay between the broadcasts has led some viewers to use it to their advantage: English-speakers watch the action on Univision but, when an important play happens, they switch to ESPN, where the play is about to happen, to get the explanation in English.
A co-author of that article, Frank Ahrens, also put out a tech article today. However, this one has some highly dubious assumptions embedded in it:

'Ranger' Vs. the Movie Pirates: Software Is Studios' Latest Weapon in A Growing Battle [Washington Post]
Hollywood watched in horror as Napster corroded the music industry -- last year, worldwide revenue from CD sales dropped 7 percent as billions of songs were legally and illegally downloaded from the Internet. The movie studios -- led by their lobbying group, the Motion Picture Association of America -- is determined not to let that happen to them.
Note the tying of a 7 percent drop in sales to the exchanging of songs with no actual data to establish the connection.

Gosh, to me it seems more likely that the longstanding overpricing of CDs might have something to with it. And the record industry's continued mewling that its own manufacturing and marketing costs are the reason CDs cost so much is just so much crap.

Exhibit A: The Harry Potter movie soundtrack CD costs $13.49 at Amazon. The Harry Potter widescreen movie DVD, with two discs (with many times more bits on each), more complex (and prettier) packaging, and numerous custom-programmed interactive scenes costs $15.99. The marketing budget for the DVD is presumably higher, too. Does anybody believe Warner Brothers is selling the DVD at a loss?

So why is it that the comparatively new process of making DVDs has already gone up the efficiency curve to the point where prices are coming down all over creation (even going below $15 for some) while the CD (which has been around for many years) is still hanging around in the $15+ range? Hey, that's easy: price-fixing.

Mass-market CDs should cost at most $10. (Limited-run CDs are a different matter). I believe the primary reason worldwide CD sales dropped 7 percent is the simple principle of supply and demand: fewer people consider a simple 45-75 minutes of audio to be worth so much money, especially when there's so much more they could get for almost the same amount of money. permlink  

permlink segways and LEDs

Segway gets okay for sidewalks [MSNBC]
Up until recently, all but three states barred motorized vehicles from sidewalks. Now the path is clearer. Twenty-four states ... have enacted Segway's proposals into law with surprising speed over the past six months. Legislation in four more states is awaiting governors' signatures.

The legislation moved so quickly it caught many unawares. "I don't think any kind of opposition had any chance to set up shop," said analyst Melissa Savage at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "I've not seen anything quite like this before."
Hmm. I guess I fall on the side of giving it a shot and withdrawing approval if it starts to cause trouble. I think that's better than not allowing it to be tried.

Another interesting technology I just read about:

The Next Lightbulb [Forbes]
What's producing the light is not a conventional flashlight bulb but a tiny chip inside a white light-emitting diode (LED) that's just as bright but consumes half as much power and lasts years longer.

"Lightbulbs have stayed pretty much the same for more than a hundred years," Swoboda says. "It's about time that business gets disrupted."
Light bulbs do waste a lot of energy (as heat). It would be great if we had bright cold light sources. permlink     5 comment(s)  
I wouldn't expect Segways to cause any more problems on sidewalks than motorized wheelchairs do, and no one argues that those should be driven only in the street.
      ...posted by Chris T. on June 19, 2002 10:40 AM
How fast do they get? I think the worry is about crowds of marauding 12mph Segways. I don't think wheelchairs go that fast.
      ...posted by Steve on June 19, 2002 12:21 PM
Have you seen the LED Museum? a true labor of love!
      ...posted by Anita Rowland on June 19, 2002 12:35 PM
Thanks, Anita! It's nice to see some pictures. The Turtlelite II looks interesting (though pricy) as a household flashlight.
      ...posted by Steve on June 19, 2002 1:05 PM
Most of my friends and I all have tiny LEDs on our keychains and have found them to be indespensible and surprisingly bright. One of my housemates recently got a maglite-style LED flashlight with five LEDs and no reflector. It works quite well. The biggest impact LEDs have had around here though is in traffic lights.

Back in 1997, the town I live in determined that not only would it be cheaper to use LEDs than incandescent bulbs in traffic lights, but it would be cheaper to replace all the red bulbs immediately than to replace them as they burnt out. The cost savings comes from having fewer accidents caused by burnt out red bulbs. (When an LED does finally give up the ghost, there are still dozens of working ones left to tell motorists to stop.)
      ...posted by Seth on June 20, 2002 3:46 PM
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