MICROSOFT has announced new models of the Zune portable media player. The company now offers Zunes with more storage, better screens for watching video content, and wireless syncing with computers. Flash-based Zunes were also released. Microsoft pledged to improve its Zune software, and has created Zune Social, a networking site that encourages users to share song samples with friends. The Zune Marketplace will soon add one million DRM-free music tracks.
SENATOR HERB KOHL introduced a bill that seeks to overhaul the government’s approach to the upcoming transition to digital television. Kohl proposes mandatory broadcaster PSA’s, and the creation of task forces and advisory boards to oversee the transition. The bill also requests that over-the-air-only households receive the first coupons for digital-to-analog convertors. Under the current plan, those coupons will be equally available to all households.
HD DVD will gain online shopping features. Universal Studios has announced that the HD DVD for “Evan Almighty” will connect viewers to Universal’s online store, which will offer products either directly from the film or simply related to its content. The original goal was to create pop-ups during the film, which allowed viewers to select an item on-screen and order it. However, this appeared to be an endorsement by the actors in the scene, a condition that is not covered by current contracts. The next move is to obtain such agreements earlier in the creative process.
TURNER BROADCASTING has signed a one-year deal with Kaneva, to create “virtual worlds” for its entertainment networks. The deal will create Turner social-networking communities, which will contain embedded video players that stream contextual Turner content. Kaneva’s revenue model is a mixture of ad support, premium membership, and sales of “virtual goods.”
MICROSOFT CEO Steve Ballmer told a gathering of ad agencies and clients that advertising would be 25% of its business within a few years, and that the whole industry would go digital in that same time-frame. Ballmer believes ad-supported digital media is the preferred choice for consumers — and that ad-supported software may be as well. Ballmer issued a stern warning to the group, saying that very soon “All media goes digital; all advertising goes digital.”