Will MySpace Lose Their Space?

MySpace is seemingly Lost In Space. They have been losing users at an alarming rate.
To MySpace’s credit, they listened and have introduced new user features (Profile 2.0), revised their music section, and launched a “connect” feature. They also ousted their CEO to bring in former Facebook exec, Owen Van Natta.
Additionally, MySpace is offering a Beta version of ”MySpace Local” which provides some of the functionality of Twitter, like; “Where can I get a great Tuna Sandwich in Kansas City?”

To be honest, other than the music search on MySpace, it’s always been a miss for me.

And the music section, until lately, wasn’t the best: if you sifted through enough dreck, you could find a rare gem. The newly revamped music features on MySpace are far better than what they had, and leagues beyond anything Facebook has to offer.

Yet is it too little, too late? Should MySpace have made these changes mid-year 2008 when they knew Facebook was closing the gap? Facebook overtook MySpace as the largest Social Network in existence this year, and it’s not showing signs of slowing down. (My mother, in her 80s, recently added a Facebook account to keep up with the “grand kids”) So, Facebook’s growth, in addition to the growth rate of Twitter (1300% from 2008 to 2009) leaves MySpace with difficult challenges to overcome.

It’s doubtful in the near term, but it will depend on Van Natta’s leadership, innovation, and speed. MySpace will also need to rollout “MySpace II” carefully, not losing current users while regaining previous members.

The other huge benefit for MySpace: it’s owned by NewsCorp, the same company that owns Fox News, along with the WS Journal and NY Post. With that kind of breaking-news potential backing the site, it’s possible that MySpace may emerge as a pseudo-combination of Digg and Facebook, with an awesome music application, online dating services, and the Twitter-like MySpace Local application.

Another hurdle for MySpace to overcome is the “ghetto” feel when compared to Facebook. Facebook is branded thoroughly on every page of the site whereas MySpace has multiple skins that can be utilized; some from third party vendors that lead to pages not to loading correctly or causing your browser to hang.

Additionally, MySpace is not positioned like Facebook in regard to the “employment” factor. Facebook is setup to “brand” yourself to potential employers…which means that users tend to keep it clean of profanity in the headings, as well as use actual names rather than online IDs.

But, then again, maybe that is part of the MySpace charm. Facebook has experienced their share of problems; they’ve disenchanted some of their members with sweeping changes to their privacy policies (although later rescinded), and have changed the user interface, much to the chagrin of many. In fact, many demand that the “old” Facebook be brought back.

Finally, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg seems to be hold the future of the site solely in his hands, as evidenced by the mysterious departure of Chief Financial Officer, Gideon Yu. CFO Yu’s departure was the latest changing of the senior management ranks at Facebook, “whose employees and investors are anxious about Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s plans for the social-networking site.”

But, Facebook is out in front, leaving MySpace with the challenge of implenting changes quickly; not only to maintain their 130 million current members, but to also reel in former users that broke ranks. According to Nielsen, MySpace and Flixter were the only Social Networking platforms to lose users from 2008 to 2009.

Where is our beloved Xanga?

ATT Profits Rise Due to iPhone.

It’s official: The iPhone is a recession-defying powerhouse, fueling strong quarterly results for both AT&T and Apple.

AT&T, which pays Apple about $300 for every device sold, added 1.2 million wireless subscribers, ending the quarter with 78.2 million. That propelled its first-quarter profit of $3.1 billion, or 53 cents per share — topping analysts’ expectations of 48 cents per share. $300 is a small price to pay for the new subscribers and those subscribers are using a great deal of ATT services.

High-profit mobile data usage jumped 39% to $3.2 billion. Text messages more than doubled to 94 billion. The iPhone drove much of that traffic.

AT&T said it signed up 1.6 million iPhone customers in the quarter — more than 40% of them new to AT&T.

Apple had its best non-holiday quarter: a 15% jump in second-quarter profit that beat Wall Street expectations. Sales of iPhones more than doubled, to 3.79 million, from a year ago.

Angels and Demons

Angels & Demons Movie Trailer HD – video powered by Metacafe
If you’ve read Angels & Demons, an earlier best-seller by Dan-The Da Vinci Code-Brown, you’re ahead of me in choosing sides on whether the book and upcoming film, both works of fiction, are anti-Catholic.

I am Catholic and usually I am too curious to worry about those issues but some of our colleagues are taking offense.

Defender-of-the-faith William Donohue of the Catholic League calls the book and film “demonic.” In a new round of debunking books (there were dozens when Code was hot) Donohue is selling a $5 guide to its flaws. And he whacked the film (which is not in theaters until May 15) in a Daily News opinion piece Friday.

The piece was chiefly about the new Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan.Donahue writes that Dolan, who is known to engage popular culture, will be challenged because…”Once again, the tag team of Dan Brown and Ron Howard have collaborated in smearing the Catholic Church with fabulously bogus tales.”

Now, director Ron Howard, who did the first blockbuster film of the Code and is about to launch A&D, fires back on Huffington Post:

“Let me be clear: neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic. And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome. After all, in Angels & Demons, Professor Robert Langdon teams up with the Catholic Church to thwart a vicious attack against the Vatican. What, exactly, is anti-Catholic about that?”

Back in 2006, when The Da Vinci Code was the rage, 28.5% of Americans said they had read the book, according to a survey of 1,721 Americans by sociologists from Baylor University. As far as I can tell, the Vatican and the Catholic Church are still standing.

It looks fascinating!

The Real Thing? Mexican Coca-Cola.

After the New Coke debacle did Coca-Cola bring back the original formula when they introduced Classic? In a word, no.

Classic Coke is sweetened with HCFS, before New Coke the original formula used good old cane sugar.

In the 1980s, most major soda producers (and many food manufacturers) switched from using sugar as a sweetener to using high fructose corn syrup because it was both sweeter and cheaper than sugar. Due to the rising price of corn syrup, as well as increased consumer demand – primarily in the name of health – for sugar sweetened drinks, some manufacturers are considering a switch back to sugar. Others, like Jones Soda, have already done so.

As consumers, we don’t always have a choice when price is an issue, but let’s assume for a moment that all of our favorite drinks switch to sugar. Is this a good thing? If you have ever gone out to pick up extra packs of (kosher) Coke during Passover, when the sugar-sweetened version is put in stores, your answer is probably yes. But if you don’t like the taste of the version made with sugar, the possibility of a switch is less appealing.

Why am I just thinking about this now? Around this time of year in America, Coke puts out a special version of its flagship beverage that ostensibly is geared toward the Jewish population as its celebrates Passover. You’d be lucky to find any of it, though. It’s selling out everywhere it appears on supermarket shelves.yellowcoke
It’s not just the Jewish popualtion who love it, because Kosher Coke could actually be better called Real Sugar Coke. The standard American Coke is made with that dietary bugaboo high fructose corn syrup, but because the Jewish commandment is not to eat foods with leavening in them, corn’s out. So for observant customers, Coke (and Pepsi) makes special batches using real sugar. The taste difference is noticeable right away. It’s far better, like the Coke of your childhood.
Because it is the Coke from your childhood. Coke phased out real sugar in the mid-’80s in favor of that industrial-grade, cheap sweeter that clutters our palettes in nearly everything we eat. A major reason New Coke failed is because it was around that time that Coke decided to switch out cane sugar for that processed glob HFCS; part of the disgust Americans felt for the new stuff was due to the fact we had been used to proper sugar before that.

Most times of year, those Coke fans in the know can obtain Coke made with real sugar by getting their hands on bottles made in Mexico. This so-called Mexican Coke is highly prized, and charged at a premium at gourmet stores and Latin grocery importers. In fact, many countries make “real” Coke, and it’s one of the unexpected pleasures of international travel that you can actually taste Coke as Coke was invented to be.
Lots of other countries sell “the real thing,” too, including the United Kingdom — it’s just one more way that traveling Americans don’t realize they’re getting the shaft when it comes to food and infrastructure — but since Mexico is nearer, it’s easiest and cheapest for American consumers to get their hands on that.
If this “healthier” Coke is such a big hit, and it’s clearly turning consumers on, then why doesn’t Coke just make it year-round? The simple answer is that HFCS is cheap. Last year, the Wall Street Journal predicted that higher corn prices would force the soda makers back to sugar, but so far, that hasn’t happened in the standard products, although Snapple recently announced that HFCS would get the heave-ho in a product makeover.

Instead, the soda makers are being tricky, and bringing sugar back mostly to products it charges more for. Pepsi and Mountain Dew have noticed the thirst for beverages that aren’t made with HFCS, and in response, this month it’s coming out with its line of sugar-based Throwback drinks. But like Kosher Coke, they are not promised to stay on shelves forever.

I don’t like HCFS, one of the least inventive and blandest ingredients on the menu, and it’s gotten to the point where I’m insulted when manufacturers think this low-grade sweetener is good for you. (The junk is in nearly every loaf of bread at the grocery store, and even in Newman’s Own lemonade, which you’d think would be more natural.) I don’t know about you, but I’d be willing to pay another nickel for my bottle of Coke if it meant it could be sweetened with real sugar. Either that, or I could convert or move to Mexico.

A Snapshot of Women and Interactive

The power of the female customer will not only influence how brands market this year and next; it will define the business and marketing strategies for at least the first few decades of the 21st century.

Women are calling for recognition in the form of consumer parity. They want to be acknowledged as an individual consumer with individual needs, rather than anonymous members of the female demographic. “I know I’m a woman,” she’s saying. “But I’m not like every other woman. Would you please start speaking to me about what matters to me?”

What’s causing this wave of feminism to spread at an epidemic rate? The emergence of the newest form of communication technology – the Internet and smart devices like the Blackberry.

Women are devoting more and more of their highly valuable time to researching, reaching out, and shopping online. It fits their multitasking lifestyle perfectly, with instant access to products, services, and each other – completing a full circle in the purchasing and influencing process.

Technology has made women the mainstream customer base of today and tomorrow. And it’s not going away.

Britain’s Idol Surprise!

Susan Boyle seemed an unlikely candidate on “Britain’s Got Talent,” but her dramatic performance on the reality competition show captured the hearts and imagination of viewers who watched her locally and on millions more on YouTube.

In fact, the clip still makes people cry including my mother. If you’re one of few who haven’t checked out the “Britain’s got talent” performance.

Boyle is frumpy, never-been-kissed and unemployed. The Millionaire Matchmaker has even offered to do a makeover for her..

The goofy music played over her introduction reflects how the judges, hosts, studio audience and even viewers like us did not take her seriously.

They all expected a ridiculous rendition of a song that’s far below her grandiose, delusional perception of her talents.

But Carumba were we all wrong.. As soon as she began “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables, everyone was shocked.

You can see, hear and feel the ripple of surprise and delight in the audience. Even the infamous sourpuss Simon made a goofy joke and cracked a smile or in his case smirk..

It’s moving. In a sense, she has nothing except the aforementioned dream. And that dream might just become a reality.