Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Apple's Impressive Trifecta! Capped by a Rumoured Digital Distribution Deal with The Beatles

The shine on Apple continues following the company's watershed iPhone announcement last week -- I am with reporters this week in New York City, many of whom wondered why they attended the Consumer Electronics Show last week when the big big news was at Macworld in San Francisco. iPhone has seemingly single-handedly transformed and mobilized the mobile industry overnight -- the excitement is palpable. (As an aside, a trusted and educated source -- who also just happens to be a longtime friend and is an expert in the mobile world and is based in Europe -- tells me that it is likely that the iPhone will be available later this year in Europe "unlocked" (i.e., not sold exclusively through Cingular or any other carrier) because that is how phones are sold in Europe. So, if you put your name on the Apple waiting list but don't get the iPhone that way, you may be able to acquire one directly from a European retailer.)

Last week, it was the iPhone announcement. This week, Apple may have completed an impressive Trifecta, first by blowing past their earnings numbers (Apple reported revenues in the last quarter of $7.1 billion, while analysts expected $6.42 billion; and Apple shipped 21.1 millon iPods in the last quarter alone, a 50% increase from quarterly shipments the year before); and, second, by possibly capturing the digital music holy grail -- scoring a digital distribution deal with The Beatles. If true, Apple once again would "rock and roll" the music business by landing one of the last -- and arguably biggest -- fish yet to swim in the digital distribution pond (Led Zeppelin is the other big fish that still hasn't made its songs available for digital distribution).

Even I am impressed -- and, believe me, I certainly am no knee-jerk Apple "cultist." In fact, I frequently challenge family and friends for immediately lauding any move that Apple makes. But, these are all pretty exciting moves ...

Finally, I have written frequently about the Apple/Cisco "iPhone" trademark grudge match. The importance of this legal battle is more than simply over a name -- it is about the future of mobile calling as explained in a terrific piece by Owen Thomas of Business 2.0 (which, by the way, is a "must read" magazine for anyone interested in digital media and technology).

Skype Founders Take the Lid Off "The Venice Project" -- Now "Joost"

Skype founders Nikklas Zenstrom and Janus Friis have just unveiled more details of their long-anticipated IPTV business previously under the code name "The Venice Project" and now under the name "Joost." Expect social interaction among Joost users to be front and center of this initiative in order to differentiate it from all the others in and around this space, including the soon to launch and equally heavily-anticipated new digital media marketplace offered by BitTorrent.