All Web companies should act like
). That is, every time they implement a really good idea they
should simultaneously let loose with a real stinker. This keeps
investors and the general public amused, or bemused. It also
provides a steady stream of business school case studies that may
edify future generations of entrepreneurs.
Witness these recent examples of decision-making, good and bad,
from each company.
The YouTube Premium Option
YouTube reportedly is about to announce its introduction of premium
pay channels in special interest areas, like children's
programming, music, comedy, and more. Subscription pricing is
expected to start as low as $1.99 per month.
YouTube fans still will be able to upload or download as many crazy
cat videos as they want for free. But programmers will have the
option of moving behind the pay wall, and offering their content
This is such a great idea that it's amazing YouTube owner Google
didn't think of it earlier-like a couple of years ago, when
original Web programming initiatives first got to be a hot topic.
As an alternative to advertising support, which so far has proved
to be meager, the new revenue option could unleash a wave of
creativity and higher production values that will benefit its
producers as well as Google. If it succeeds, we may soon see young
producers abandoning cable television for the relative freedom of
This assumes that YouTube will keep its executive decision-making
to a minimum, as it always has on the advertiser-supported site.
The pay options are expected to be video-on-demand databases rather
than programmed "channels" in any conventional sense.
On the downside for consumers, a ton of "free" content will
inevitably move behind the pay wall. But given the current low
level of advertising revenue for video, that content will
inevitably move behind somebody's pay wall, and soon.
YouTube dominates the market for advertising attached to digital
video. But even if that spending climbs to the record $4.14 billion
expected this year, digital video will still carry only 2.4% of
according to CNN
Google Glass: A Fashion Faux Pas?
If the Google Glass experiment goes down in history as a misstep,
the pivotal date of its demise will be recorded as May 4, 2013.
Saturday Night Live
cast member Fred Armisen appeared on the Weekend Update segment
looking like a dork.
His performance as a twitching, muttering, eyeball-rolling geek
wrapped up in his goofy headgear may put an end to anyone's idea
that Google Glass is socially acceptable, much less cool.
If anybody needs more evidence, there's
a Tumblr page
called "White Men Wearing Google Glass."
Here's a related question: If
) really is
developing an iWatch
, is that any different? Will people look less silly interacting
with their own wrists than they do interacting with their heads?
Facebook's Mobile Move
Investors were heartened last week by signs of "improved mobile
monetization," as they call it, in Facebook's first quarter
earnings report. It seems that 30% of the company's advertising
revenue now comes from mobile placements, double the percentage
just two quarters ago.
That addresses a major concern about Facebook, that it will be
unable to hang onto its massive audience as it segues to mostly
mobile Web access.
Which brings us to a much more important company project-Facebook
Home. This mobile app places Facebook at the forefront of a user's
smartphone experience-literally replacing the usual selection of
icons with a Facebook feed.
That's a smart move for existing members, who are likely to at
least scan their Facebook updates more frequently. It's even
smarter for newer emerging-market users, who may experience this
Facebook-centric page as a real home page, the way users once
focused on the top-level pages of
Unfortunately, Facebook Home may be getting a rocky start.
that installations are slow, and early user reviews are negative.
Zuckerberg's Political Misstep
Surely there couldn't be a downside to Facebook founder Mark
Zuckerberg's decision to champion immigration reform. If anything,
it highlights a positive aspect of the issue: The desire of
companies like his to recruit the world's best employees in order
to build and nurture America's "knowledge economy."
But his political action committee or PAC, called FWD.us, has been
funding advertising campaigns that praise congresspeople from
conservative districts for supporting various conservative causes,
so that those congresspeople can get away with one little lapse
from conservative orthodoxy-that is, a vote in favor of immigration
The PAC is churning out
highly partisan attacks
on "Obamacare" and "Chicago-style politics," and apparently
endorsing highly controversial measures like oil drilling in the
Alaska wilderness and the Keystone XL pipeline.
Obviously, Zuckerberg's name and face is not all over these ads,
but it's no secret that he is behind the PAC.
So, does this mean that the highly visible Facebook founder favors
drilling in the Alaska wilderness, or opposes Obamacare?
Not at all. His bipartisan PAC would cheerfully bankroll a campaign
on either or both sides of those issues if it would get another
vote in favor of immigration reform.
Somehow that makes it ickier, public relations-wise. Unless
Zuckerberg really wants to alienate a really broad spectrum of his
When It Comes to Investors and Amazon, Is Love
Should You Buy Bonds from Apple or the US
Apple: Is the Rebound Real?