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Highlights in the digital media economy in 2010

by User Not Found | 12月 30, 2010

As the year approaches the end, let’s look back and review some of the impactful events in the digital media business in 2010. Many of those events generated substantial buzz when they just happened, but quickly people forget about them and move their attention on to new things. As a year-end review, this summery is intended to help us relearn these events and gauge their impact on the industry and companies in the future. Events about Google:
    Google claimed it was threatened by cyber attacks originated from China in January. Following the event, Google decided to stop censoring search results in China, which put themselves in a direct confronting position with the Chinese government. As the conflict between Google and the Chinese government deepened, Google had to redirect the traffic on its China site to the Hong Kong homepage. Google had not only lost market share to its competitors in China but also lost plenty of talent due to the uncertainty of its business in China. With only a constrained access to the largest Internet market in terms of users, now Google’s growth solely relies on the expansion to other business lines, such as display advertising, Android platform and TV business.
    Google’s social network initiatives remained unsuccessful. Google Buzz was introduced in the year, but even with the Gmail integration the service has been forgotten by the public. The once highly buzzed Google Wave was terminated by Google, as most people cannot figure out how to use the innovative service. Despite the popularity of Gmail, the dominant Facebook and the growing Twittier and LinkedIn will only make Google’s future in social media gloomier.
    Google unveiled Google TV with its partners Sony, Intel and Logitech. While Google had depicted a splendid picture for the Google TV when it introduced the product, its lack of premium content support and the severe competition from Apple, Microsoft and Amazon already led many to question the feasibility of the product. Sony’s slash on the price in the holiday season for Google TV-embedded TVs magnified the concerns on the product’s outlook. 2011 will be the key year for Google TV’s success. And if Google could build healthy relationship with Hollywood studios for the platform, it would still gain some ground in the new TV business.
Events about Apple:
    Apple’s introduction of iPad has clearly changed many aspects of digital media consumption. Publishing and news industry has found a new and more versatile content distribution platform, which seems could further offset the decline of traditional revenue streams. With a bigger screen compared to smart phones, iPad is a better device for mobile video consumption. Movie studios and pay TV companies started to put strong focus on distributing their content through iPads. We expect the iPad to continue its robust growth in the next year, along with its importance to premium content distribution.
    Games have always been top-selling apps in Apple’s app store. The introduction of Game Center on iPhones and iPads makes Apple a formidable player in the social game distribution business. Going forward, the gaming piece will continue to augment the appeal of Apple’s platform.
Events about others:
    Microsoft’s Kinect has shown signs of good reception in the holiday season. With the tremendous investment put in the project, it finally delivered quality gaming experience to casual gamers, dwarfing Wii’s motion censor device. Although Xbox only accounts for a relatively small portion of Microsoft’s total revenue, the success of the device could pave the way for its home entertainment strategy if implemented correctly. The solid experience of Kinect also counters the argument that Microsoft has lost the innovation capability. In addition, Microsoft struck a deal with ESPN to provide ESPN programs to Xbox Live users.
    Netflix keeps up its growth and now has 16 million subscription members. Given its expansion to other devices and other countries, we expect the service to maintain the growth momentum in the coming year. On the other hand, Hulu also adopted a paid revenue model with the introduction of Hulu Plus. But given the limited content catalog, Hulu Plus faces challenges to grow its paid users.
    Facebook keeps the ball rolling by introducing a number of new features and services on the platform. Meanwhile, social games gained attraction with their virtual currency revenue model. Games from Zynga and Playdom have gained millions of users, most of which are based on social networks. As the ad rates on social networks remain low, the social gaming business could help Facebook break through its profitability challenge. And the social gaming companies will surely benefit from the secular growth of social networks.
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