The Internet Innovation Alliance put together an interesting graphic detailing just how much money broadband subscribers potentially save every year by having "access to education, job opportunities, social networking, and on-demand information." Did you know, for example, that the average amount saved on entertainment (restaurant dining, sporting/concert tickets, and leisure activities in five U.S. cities) works out to $2,747?
Broadband subscribers can expect to pocket $1,532 in savings on travel costs, $974 on housing, and $965 on food.
"Congress and the FCC should focus their efforts on policies that encourage investment in more robust networks and policies that expand digital literacy to those offline, rather than aggressive regulatory detours that discourage investment," said Bruce Mehlman, IAA co-chairman.
Based on an average U.S. household income before taxes of $62,857, IAA reckons broadband subscribers save as much as $7,707 each year on various goods and services thanks to having a fast Internet connection.
Worried your teenager might be misusing Facebook and sharing too much information with the world? ConnectSafely.org and the iKeepSafe Coalition want to help and have jointly released "A Parents' Guide to Facebook," a 35-page booklet and online resource designed to help parents show their teens how to optimize their privacy and safety on the world's largest social networking site.
"Many of our recommendations are stricter than Facebook's default settings for teens but, fortunately, Facebook provides excellent tools for further customization. This booklet helps parents and teens customize those tools fo teen-appropriate safety, privacy, and reputation protection," said ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid.
The guide offers up step-by-step instructions, illustrations, and parenting points on safety and privacy controls, and covers both cell phone and PC-based access.
What would be really great is if a single Microsoft Live Gold subscription covered an entire household rather than just one console and/or account. That's wishful thinking, we know, but if you own multiple accounts, Microsoft's new Live Gold Family Pack, available now, should help take some of the sting out of getting everyone online.
The Family Pack subscription costs $100 and covers four 12-month memberships. At that price, you're basically paying for two memberships and receiving two for free, so while it won't help households with 'just' two Xbox 360 Live subscriptions, it's an okay deal for those with three and a pretty good bargain for those with four.
In addition to the discounted price, the special four-pack also includes a few exclusive benefits, such as access to the new Family Center for family account and online settings management; activity monitoring reports; the ability to purchase and gift Microsoft Points Allowances to your children; and family-friendly content and discounts.
According to market research firm iSuppli, broadband subscriber growth around the world dipped 6.6 percent in the second quarter of 2010, but all is well again with third quarter numbers up 5.8 percent.
"Broadband subscriber additions declined in the second quarter because of normal seasonality as well as a poor performance in the North American market," said Lee Ratliff, senior analyst for broadband and digital home at iSuppli. "However, Chinese consumers’ insatiable demand for high-speed Internet is so high that it will cause subscriber numbers to rise again in the second half of the year."
In terms of broadband subscriber growth, China is coming off of its best-ever first quarter with the addition of around 6 million subscribers.
Here in the states, telcos and cable companies continue to jockey for position, with telcos extending their lead with successful fiber deployments, such as AT&T's U-verse and Verizon's FiOS, iSuppli notes.
Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress gave up on Randy Moss after just three weeks. It's taken New Corp. five years to reach that same level of discontent with MySpace, the social networking service it paid $580 million for back in 2005, Yahoo News reports.
"We've been clear that MySpace is a problem," News Corp. CEO Chase Carey said during a conference call with analysts. "The current losses are not acceptable or sustainable. Our current management did not create those losses but they know we have to address them."
Reading between the lines it sounds like MySpace might not be long for this world, but Carey insists the social networking service "has the potential to be an exciting business." The caveat? He wants to see improvement within the next few quarters.
"These are fluid businesses... I think it is something we look to judge in quarters not in years," Carey said when asked how big of a window MySpace would have to show improvement.
Blockbuster's brick-and-mortar business is feeling the wrath of streaming video services, just as mom-and-pop video rental shops felt the wrath of Blockbuster roughly a decade ago. And it's not just Netflix. Amazon this week announced the expansion of its Disc+ On Demand service to more than 10,000 eligible titles.
"When we launched Disc+ On Demand last year, we were excited by the overwhelmingly positive response from our customers," said Steve Oliver, category leader for Amazon.com DVD. "Customers love instant gratification, and this program allows customers to watch Disc+ On Demand titles instantly, without having to wait for their DVD or Blu-ray to arrive in the mail."
The way Disc+ On Demand works is if you purchase a select Blu-ray or DVD, you'll also receive Amazon's Video On Demand version as a free gift, which you can then watch right away on your PC, Mac, or on hundreds of compatible Internet connected TVs, Blu-ray players, and set-top boxes.
Removing some of the suckage from iTunes, Apple has begun informing music distributors that it's increasing the length of some samples three-fold, CNet reports.
"We are pleased to let you know that we are preparing to increase the length of music previews from 30 seconds to 90 seconds on the iTunes Store in the United States," Apple said. "We believe that giving potential customers more time to listen to your music will lead to more purchases."
The longer samples apply to songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Apple tried to push through the change back at the beginning of September but met with resistance from the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), which argued that Jobs and Co. needed to further negotiate with music publishers.
Google Buzz users on Tuesday should have received a rare email from Google regarding a settlement offer for a class action suit by Gmail users over privacy concerns (if not, check your SPAM box).
"Shortly after its [Google Buzz] launch, we heard from a number of people who were concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users and reached a settlement in this case," Google wrote in the above mentioned email.
"The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users' concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the Web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be," Google said.
This isn't a settlement where Gmail users receive cash, however "everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010."
The Court will decide on final approval of the settlement agreement on January 31, 2011.
It looks like all the speculation is true, Redbox will soon go toe-to-toe with Netflix in the Web-based movie distribution business, the Los Angeles Timesreports.
Redbox, which has seen stellar sales from its movie rental kiosks, is in talks with various potential partners for the expansion, including Walmart. Details are still being hammered out, but the end goal is to have the Web-based service work in conjunction with the kiosks.
"The disc business is still very strong and will continue to be for quite some time, but we need to get into this space to take advantage of the gradual transition to digital," said Mitch Lowe, chief executive of Redbox.
Things get a little tricky in the online world, as instead of acquiring discs at standard prices, movie studios can charge distributors high prices for each time a movie is viewed. Combined with shipping costs, $1 rentals probably aren't part of the equation, at least not outright, but Redbox insists it will continue to offer a good value.
"The way we're going to deliver this product is going to match the value consumers associate with our brand," Lowe said.
A subscription plan similar to Netflix is being discussed, though no pricing information or concrete details have yet been revealed.