Thursday, October 30, 2008

BPN 1257 Dutch MySpace facing the music

Just after half a year of operation in The Netherlands, MySpace has given up efforts to conquer the Dutch. MySpace was unable to seduce the Dutch to move from their home-grown Hyves social network to MySpace, despite all the music that was promised to the subscribers. The Dutch version of MySpace will continue to exist but will be directed from Berlin (Germany).

In February 2008 The Dutch branch of MySpace was officially launched with a lot of big talk. MySpace had studied the Dutch market and had thought about acquiring the Dutch network Hyves with some 7 million subscribers. In order to lure subscribers MySpace promised a lot of local content and even more music. But in my posting of February 10, 2008 I already pointed to the fact that MySpace Nederland was late in the market and would have a hard time fighting itself in. A subscriber of a social network is not just leaving the provider for music; he/she stays with his/her friends. Eventually MySpace had to face the music.

Blog Posting Number: 1257


BPN 1256 An e-Content workshop in Bahrain

I was in Bahrain again this week for the seventh time. I am becoming a regular visitor there, it looks. I was invited by the GFB, a conference organiser. The company had on behalf of the Bahrain e-Government Agency developed the Electronic Content Development workshop.

The Bahrain e-Government Agency is real on the ball in the Gulf area with developing e-Government services. In May of this year, it held an international e-Government Forum and an e-Government contest (see my postings from May 12, 2008 till May 26, 2008). Recently the Government of Bahrain became the first country globally to sign an agreement with Microsoft to deploy its Live@Gov suite of solutions for all citizens.

There were some 50 delegates, mainly from government as well as a few participants from private sector companies. The delegates from government came from various ministries and government agencies: Bahrain Centre for Studies & Research, Central Bank of Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Education, Institute of Public Administration, Ministry of Justice and Islamic Affairs, The Tender Board and the Pension Fund. It was a heterogeneous group.

It was a two day workshop, running from early morning till 14h in the afternoon. The first day was rather theoretical on the concept of e-content, cross-media and user generated content. But on the first day I also changed over to criteria for good content. The second day we went into e-Content competitions like the Bahrain e-Government Award and the World Summit Award. I was helped very much by the e-Government archive of the World Summit Award, which has 15 examples of excellent e-Government entries.

It was a short round trip from Amsterdam to Manama. But there was still some time to exchange ideas with some people. One of the exciting ideas is the e-Content Hub project for the Arab world, which is under development. It is an exciting project as in the Netherlands a Content Hub (sorry in Dutch) project is also coming on stream. Of course, the projects will differ in detail and execution, but they will have common aspects. In Bahrain the e-Content Hub is seen as a future economic activity; once the oil well will dry up, but the e-content well should have been brought on stream by that time.

All in all, it was exhausting, but exciting.

Blog Posting Number: 1256


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

BPN 1255 Virtual theft punished

A Dutch court has punished two teens for theft of virtual goods. The two teens had stolen under force the password from a school mate and appropriated virtual possessions such s a virtual amulet and virtual mask, the boy had gained in the game Runescape.

The ruling is important as virtual artefacts were defined as virtual goods for the first time in Dutch law. Despite the fact that these goods had been aquired by playing the game, the artefacts were seen as property of the teen. Goods can be stolen and in this case, they were stolen with force.

Last year a teen was in custody of the Dutch police for stealing artefacts from a private room in the Habbo Hotel, for which the owner had paid 2400 euro. The goods had been annexed through a bogus site, imitating the 3D Habbo Hotel.

Theft of virtual goods is a growing issue. In 2005 a Chinese gamer Zhu Caoyuan was stabbed to death in a row over a sword in a game.

Blog Posting Number: 1255


BPN 12554 EC welcomes EP support for new Safer Internet Programme

The European Parliament cast an overwhelmingly positive vote today on the report supporting the launch of a new EU Safer Internet programme. The 5-year programme (2009–13), proposed by the European Commission last February, will have a budget of € 55 million to combat illegal online content but also to tackle illegal and harmful conduct such as grooming and cyberbullying. (more)
Blog Posting Number: 1255

Friday, October 17, 2008

BPN 1253 E-Books not before 2030 in wide use

I have been interviewed for an article European Publishers Gear Up for Brave New World of E-Books on the Deutsche Welle site. One quote: 'Jak Boumans, a Dutch media-content consultant who runs his own firm, Electronic Media Reporting, is convinced e-books are here to stay. But he estimates it will be at least 2030 before they are in wide usage, considering how many details still need to be ironed out, and how ingrained peoples' attitudes are towards reading’.

Blog Posting Number: 1253

Tags: ,

BPN 1252 No Kindle at Frankfurt Fair was expected to launch the Kindle e-reader at the Frankfurt Book Fair. However the online retailer has become caught in Europe's complex web of Wi-Fi operators. It will be unable to sell the e-reader at Chistmas time, but is now expected to launch the device in Europe in 2009, according to an article in the Telegraph.

Blog Posting Number: 1252


Thursday, October 16, 2008

BPN 1251 Liquavista transforms ambient light displays

Liquavista today launched Liquavista ColorBright, the company's first display platform built using its patented electrowetting technology. Targeted at segment-driven display applications including watches and mobile phone secondary displays, its unique combination of outstanding brightness in natural light and vivid colour range offers new legibility and design freedom to creators of design-led electronic products.

"Simple LCD displays are all around us and are used on almost every electronic device and gadget. But their grey on black look does nothing for the integrity of the product design." said David Fisher, Design Director at leading product designers Seymour Powell. "Now product concepts can drive the display design - grey on black LCD will never look the same again."

Designers seeking inspiration can view Experience Liquavista, a short movie illustrating a range of product concepts enabled by the Liquavista Colorbright platform (the movie can be viewed at the Liquavista site). The company has also introduced a simple-to-use design tool, the ColorBright Liquidizer, which designers can use to create and experiment with design concepts. The Liquidizer and other support materials are available in the designer area of the Liquavista's website and at .

Liquavista will deliver both standard and custom displays using the Liquavista ColorBright platform. Standard display designs will be available in a number of colours and can be further customized through reflector choice.

Volume orders for displays will be filled by a recently opened a factory in the town of Dongguang Fenggang, Southern China using a process developed and proved at the company's research and development centre in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The new facility is hosted and supported by an existing LCD factory, Glory Sound (Asia) Ltd (

Liquavista was founded in 2006 as a spin-out from the Philips Research Labs in Eindhoven. The company develops a new type of film for a range of displays, especially for viewing movies. The company is backed by New Venture Partners, GIMV and Amadeus Capital and has offices in the UK, The Netherlands, and Hong Kong.

Blog Posting Number: 1251


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Announcement Posting Number 1250

Today I celebrate the posting of number 1250 to the Buziaulane blog. It is a milestone as I have mailed a posting to the blog on 1250 consecutive days, almost 3 years and a quarter. It has become an obsessive routine. And after a talk with a good friend and business partner I have decided to kick the habit. Not by going cold turkey, but by slowing down the pace to an occasional posting, perhaps once or twice a week. The newly gained free time will be used amongst others to finish my book on the Pre-internet period of new media in the Netherlands and some other assignments. So it is not a goodbye, but do return regularly to Buziaulane.

BPN 1250 Games seniors play

It is another milestone today. I have posted 1250 posting on 1250 consecutive days, which is roughly 3,25 years. One of the shortlist subjects has been game and seniors. Recently I found a Dutch (language) report on the subject written by Yvonne Woldberg, a student at the Utrecht University. She asked herself: how do seniors experience digital games and how does this match the way the game industry approaches them. She supposed that there was a dichotomy between gaming seniors and the game industry.

In order to get insight in this thesis she did desk research and interviews with three marketing employees in the gaming industry. To get an impression of the seniors, she held seven interviews with gamin young seniors and a web survey among 400+ gaming seniors on Seniorweb. She approached the game experience from the concept of game wisdom and refers to knowledge, skills and mentality; characteristics for the relationship between games, gamers and game industry.

The relationship between the gaming senior and the gaming industry is a love-hate relationship. The gaming industry has a negative imago about gaming seniors and the gaming seniors play their game but do not consider themselves to be real gamers, as gaming is something for young people. This imago is strengthened by the fact that gaming seniors mainly play casual games. But the casual game does not make the senior in a casual gamer by definition, as many seniors play the games in the hardcore way; many times, for long and with devotion. So this is a problem for the industry attempting to establish segmentation. Besides, making the games more accessible would help to break down the dichotomy between casual and hardcore.

The author offers two conclusions to the research. Terms like game, gamer and game industry should be defined broader. More attention should be paid to casual games as they have the potency to transform the negative imago of force and addiction into a game culture in which people of both sexes, of all ages and with gaming habits and preferences find their place. This recommendation is already being practiced by Nintendo in their advertisements for Wii and their Brain games. But also Zylom, a casual games company, has already games for senior women and attracts them with advertisements directed to the target group. Gaming should become a social activity which is accessible for everyone and which delivers pleasure.
Using the concept of game wisdom the author pleads also to start another approach to the research in game experience by recognising the influence of broader (social) contexts. With more quantitative and qualitative research in knowledge, skills and mentality of gamers over against games, gamers and game culture a better exchange between producer and consumer should achieved.

The study is worth while a read, but is sadly enough in the Dutch language. It also used the typical concept of media wisdom; a concept fashionable in The Netherlands since the Dutch government established a centre for media wisdom. I have already loathed the term media wisdom and indicated that I rather prefer media literacy (in line with computer literacy; can you imagine the term computer wisdom!) or media versatility. I – as a senior - personally would prefer the term game literacy, for in order to reach the stage of game wisdom, you need game education.

For more Buziaulane postings on games and senior:
Games for seniors -- The Interview
Watch out: the seniors are coming
Watch out for the silver tsunami
Looking back and forwards (2)
Games for seniors needed

Blog Posting: 1250

Tags: ,

Monday, October 13, 2008

BPN 1249 Happy Anniversary to the Dubai EE

It was the Brazilian Eminent Expert Marcello Sant’Iago (see photograph), who reminded me of the fifth anniversary of the World Summit Award Grand Jury event in Dubai in September 2003. It looks like such a long time ago, certainly if you consider that in the meantime three Grand Jury events have taken place and the next one is on the schedule for next year. The Dubai Grand Jury event was great for more than one reason.

The Dubai Grand Jury event was the first coming out of the World Summit Award (WSA). All effort so far had been in the light of setting up an organisation to support a global multimedia competition. In 2003 the first UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was going to be held in Geneva (Switzerland). The WSA had been conceived as a support event to the UN Summit showing what the Information Society was already up to. The competition had been set up on the Olympic Games principle that every country could participate and 136 countries did in the first edition.

Unique was the first band of 35 jurors. They had been selected on the basis of written profiles (no photographs attached to the CVs) by the provisional board. Funny enough the final selection did not differ much from the selections by the individual board members’ selection. They came from all over the globe and did not know each other. But many a friendship was closed and is still in effect. The Grand Jury members selected 5 entries per category (8 categories in total). The selection of 2003 winners still can be seen on the WSA site. They were brought to the exhibition in Geneva.

Dubai offered hospitality to the first WSA Grand Jury. And Emirate people were fabulous hosts. They had prepared a quiet space for jury members to check on the entries as well as a hall for deliberations under the direction of the initiator and process manager Peter Bruck. It was hard work for the jury members to get through all the entries and judge them fairly. But they did . And the hosts had prepared a social program, lifting on other events in Dubai such as the Gulf Information Technology exhibition and the opening of the Knowledge Management Village. Also at the other evenings they had organised open-air buffets and the last evening on a dohw (see photograph).

Five years on, the World Summit Award still exists, despite the fact that the WSIS had only two editions. But the WSA continues up to 2015, when the UN will look back at the results of the WSIS. The WSA has had three editions in the meantime. The Grand Juries were in Dubai (2003), Bahrain (2005) and Croatia (2007). The Gala events were in Geneva (2003), Tunis (2005) and Venice (2007). The next WSA edition is slated for next year with the Grand Jury in Venezuela and the Gala in Monterrey (Mexico).

Dubai was also my first acquaintance with the Middle East. I have been back several times to the Middle East now and especially Bahrain. In the meantime many Grand Jury members have stayed in contact with each other. And this week a number of Grand Jury/Board members congregate in New Dehli (India) for the Gala of the Mathan Award, the best Indian multimedia products and services.

Happy Anniversary to the Dubai EE.

Blog Posting Number: 1249


Sunday, October 12, 2008

BPN 1248 Dutch media and entertainment no double digit growth

Just before the great financial crisis Price Waterhouse and Coopers (PwC) published itsnnual outlook on the media and entertainment industry in The Netherlands.

The entertainment and media industry in the Netherlands expanded by 4.4 percent in 2006, up from the 3.1 percent rise in 2005 and the fastest increase during the past five years. End-user spending, which comprised 76 percent of the total market in 2006, rose by 4.0 percent, up from the 3.4 percent rise in 2005. Advertising increased by 5.6 percent, its largest gain during the past five years and well above the 2.1 percent growth in 2005. The rebound in the economy in the Netherlands in 2006 contributed to the jump in advertising.

Fueling the improvement was a reversal in filmed entertainment, which rose by 3.5 percent in 2006 after falling by 11.1 percent in 2005. Although recorded music declined by 6.1 percent, that drop was a 10.4 percentage point improvement compared with the 16.5 percent decrease in 2005. Double-digit increases in video games and sports also contributed to faster growth in 2006. Sports benefited from spending associated with the FIFA World Cup and Winter Olympics and video games were bolstered by the introduction of new console platforms.

Video games and sports were the fastest-growing segments in 2006 with increases of 17.1 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively, and the only segments to generate double-digit growth. The Internet, which was the fastest-growing segment in 2005 at 15.6 percent, rose by 7.7 percent in 2006, falling to third place. Slower growth in broadband access spending and a faster decline in dial-up accounted for the drop to single-digit growth for the Internet, its first single-digit advance since 2000.

Television was the next-fastest-growing segment with a 7.2 percent advance, fueled principally by double-digit growth in subscription spending that offset a decrease in the government contribution to public broadcasters. Out-of-home advertising at 5.0 percent was the only other segment to grow by five percent or more. Digital billboards and digital networks contributed to the increase in out-of-home growth in 2006.

Recorded music, theme parks and newspaper publishing were the only segments to record declines in 2006. Physical sales of recorded music fell by 9.2 percent, offsetting a 200 percent increase in digital sales from a tiny base. Falling admissions at De Efteling and Walibi World accounted for the 0.4 percent decline in theme park revenues, while a drop in newspaper circulation spending offset a rebound in newspaper advertising leading to a 1.1 percent dip in the newspaper market. That drop, however, was substantially less than the 2.1 percent decrease in 2005.

The entertainment and media (E&M) market as a whole in 2006 benefited from a noticeably stronger economy. We expect economic growth to remain relatively healthy during the next five years, which should support continued E&M expansion. We expect overall growth to average 4.6 percent compounded annually during the next five years, comparable to the increase in 2006. Spending in 2011 will total an estimated € 14.8 billion, up from € 11.9 billion in 2006.

PwC: We do not expect any segment to average double-digit growth during the next five years. Video games, which rose at a 26.9 percent compound annual rate during the past five years, will drop to an 8.0 percent compound annual increase during the next five years, but it will remain the fastest-growing segment. New video game platforms and growth in online and wireless gaming will drive spending. We expect television to be the secondfastest-growing segment with a projected 6.8 percent compound annual increase. A surging video-on-demand and the effect of government contributions to public broadcasters will propel television, although growth will be less than the 7.9 percent compound annual increase during the past three years as subscription spending growth moderates. Continued double-digit growth in online advertising will support the Internet market at a 6.3 percent annual rate.

Out-of-home advertising will build on the momentum generated in 2006 and buoyed by increasing penetration of digital technologies will expand at a 6.0 percent compound annual rate. Our 5.6 percent compound annual growth for recorded music represents a dramatic turnaround following five years of decline. We project recorded music to begin to increase in 2008 as the expanding digital music sector begins to become large enough to offset continued declines in physical music.

PcW project sports to expand at a 5.4 percent compound annual rate, led by expanding television rights fees and continued growth in sponsorship gate revenues. Theme parks will grow at a 3.8 percent compound annual rate, as new rides, hotels, and new parks boost admissions. Steady box office growth and increasing sell-through spending will offset a drop in the home video rental market, leading to a projected 3.2 percent rate compound growth for filmed entertainment. PcW expect radio to expand at a 2.4 percent rate compounded annually, helped by a rise in government contributions to public broadcasters. Magazines will lead the publishing segments with a 2.8 percent compound annual increase, while book publishing and newspaper publishing will grow by 1.9 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. We do not project any segment to decline during the next five years. During the past five years, three segments recorded music, newspaper and magazine publishing declined.

Blog Posting Number: 1248

Tags: ,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

BPN 1247 Oh no not again such a banking week

It has been a strange week with all those financial fluctuations: the stocks going down, banks being unable to provide their customers with their savings and banks being nationalised. None of it I had seen on this scale, certainly not in The Netherlands.

In The Netherlands we believe that we have a reliable banking system. Of course there have been some calamities, but in general you get what you ask for. But in the past weeks some strange things happened. The government nationalised the Dutch part of the Fortis Bank, from origin a Belgian bank. Fortis, or better Fortwas, had formed a consortium with the British Royal Bank of Scotland and the Spanish Bank Santander in order to buy the Dutch bank ABN-Amro, the national banking pride (not to me as I found The Bank too arrogant).

The problems developed over a period of a short time and of course the communication with the customers and the market was piecemeal. This yielded more than one forum on internet. There was even a forum pro Fortis and critical more negative forums and columns. After the acquisition of the Dutch parts of Fortis and The Bank ABN-Amro the sentiment has died down and shareholders arm themselves for court cases against Fortis or what is left of it

And just when everyone thought that the financial crisis would die down and the stocks would go up, another disaster announced itself in The Netherlands: the Icesave disaster. Icesave was the international internet bank of the Iceland bank Landsbanki. Subsidiaries in Great Britain and The Netherlands had been set up to pick up savings against a very high rate of 5,5 percent, the highest in the Dutch market and I believe, 5,6 percent in the UK market. In the Netherlands Icesave attracted 120.000 clients who put in 1,6 billion euro. However the bank got in liquidity problems and people smelled it. In droves they came to rescue up their savings. But of course there were also people who believed that this would not go wrong. Besides the Iceland government guaranteed the first 20.000 euro and the Dutch bank was the guarantor of the rest, first up for the next 20.000 euro and since this week for the next 80.000 euro. It soon became clear that Iceland could not guarantee anything. With 300.000 inhabitants, the national ministry did not have that much cash. So it nationalised all the banks. Did Fortis communicate piecemeal, Landesbanki did not communicate at all, except for a note on its internet site of Icesave, the transparent bank (!).

Again here the same effect as with Fortis, forums popped up all over internet. The most popular became Icelost. But a real fast action came from Business News Radio. This station is part of a cross media company with an internet site, the financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad and conferences. It is a very eager station, which smartly uses all the cross media facilities. So when Icesave stopped operations and was unable to provide money to its customers, the station started a crowdsourcing action. Under the motto Crises, the radio journalists called up the victims to mail their stories to the radio station. The station was flooded. Within an hour the journalist had a full inventory of all the questions of their listeners and the sad stories. They had enough content for the rest of the day. Stories were cited and analysed and victims interviewed. It was a smart move to combine two fast media: e-mail and radio.

Blog Posting Number: 1246


Friday, October 10, 2008

BPN 1246 AlmereGrid: a cityGrid for unused computer time

The most famous example of a grid is SETI@HOME. Consumers donate computer time to a project that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). I have had never the urge to participate in a project attempting to discover extraterrestrial life. But recently I was surprised to find city grid computing in my home town, Almere. AlmereGrid is operational since September 2006 after two years of preparation (The excuse for missing this news item is, that we were moving offices at that time).

AlmereGrid is a city grid aiming to solve more complex problems. The city is working on an urban fibre network for its almost 200.000 inhabitants, a number that will double in the next ten years. AlmereGrid allows citizens, companies and other organisations to donate otherwise unused computing time to science. By donating computing time for instance to medical research, these projects can be speeded up. AlmereGrid makes it easy for everyone to participate, even for computer non-literate by providing software.

The Almere-based initiative is a special project in four regards. First the heterogeneity of the Grid is remarkable. From the central AlmereGrid Exchange, communication will be initiated with all possible operating systems on which the connected processors are running. Secondly, the citizens and companies located within the Almere Fibre project will be involved. AlmereGrid will be implemented in a tight social structure which will connect the pioneers in the test-bed area. The third special project feature is strongly related with this fact. The fibre network is connecting the computers with a fixed speed of 100Mbit/s. This can be guaranteed since the SARA subsidiary in Almere and the service provider UNET are taking part as Technology Providers in AlmereGrid. The fourth feature consists in the technical but especially human enforcement of leading technology companies, which are collaborating to deploy the project. AlmereGrid is partner in the EU EDGeS project (EU Grant Agreement 211727).

AlmerGrid has performed already projects in the medical field, computing project and for consumers a building project. The medical project was for the Rotterdam Erasmus University. It concerned a finger bone growth project, requiring calculation power to track the growth in finger bones. Another project was done for the Antwerp University. The project dubbed Java Port AlmereGrid MetaScheduler was the final assignment for a Bachelor Informatics. It concerned a study and implementation of a so-called metascheduler, which was able to distribute the workload over various Grids. Some programs of this project will be used by AlmereGrid.

But AlmereGrid is not only oriented to scientific projects. As Almere is a fast growing city, doubling in inhabitant numbers over the next ten years. More than 70.000 houses have to be built. A number of them will be designed and/or built by the inhabitants themselves. In order to support those inhabitants the program Virtual Building Coach is being developed for them to design their own house in virtual reality on AlmereGrid. A number of relevant databases, including legislative ones, will be available on the AlmereGrid.

Another project is BEinGRID, a back-up facility for Small and Middle sized Enterprises (SMEs). AlmereGrid facilitates online back-up. The back-ups will be divided in parts and distributed over various machines. The files are encrypted and safe for disaster, fire and theft. The safety technology is base in the Random Reader of the Rabobank.

Blog Posting Number: 1246


Thursday, October 09, 2008

BPN 1245 Dutch cyber crime Code of Conduct in effect

The Minister for Foreign Trade Heemskerk kicked off the 'Notice-and-Take-Down' Code of Conduct in The Hague today. The Code sets out how internet companies are to handle reports about illegal websites. Under the terms of the Code of Conduct, illegal websites hosted from the Netherlands will eventually be removed. Substantial progress fighting spam, spyware and malware has been made over the past years. The new code will help to tackle other illegal activities on the internet, including handling stolen goods, discrimination or phishing.

The code of Conduct is based on good practices from businesses, governments and other parties involved in fighting cybercrime. The Code has been drawn up under the patronage of the National Infrastructure Cybercrime (Ministry of Economic Affairs) by market parties including KPN, XS4ALL, ISPConnect, Dutch Hosting Provider Association, NLKabel, Ziggo, UPC, CAIW, Zeelandnet and domain register SIDN. Ministries, the police and investigation services and organisations including Marktplaats/eBay and the copyright police BREIN collaborated in setting up the code. Affiliated businesses - 85% of all access providers and several hosting providers - hereby send a clear signal that the internet is not to be used for illegal practices.

Those responsible for placing illegal content on the internet are often difficult to trace. As reports about illegal Dutch sites are rarely acted upon, these sites often remain online. The Code sets out the agreements between participants and their specific roles in dealing with reports they receive. In principle, internet users can report any illegal content they come across to those responsible for placing the content on the net. If this is not possible or if they don't know who to approach, users can report their find to the next party down the chain. This may be the manager of a discussion forum, the company that hosts the relevant website, the service provider or, as a last resort, the police. These other parties in the chain will make every effort to get the information off line. The new Code will become effective today.

The Code will be followed up later this year with more measures to fight cybercrime. For instance, a ban on sending spam to companies will be introduced from early next year.

Blog Posting Number: 1245

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

BPN 1244 A banker's view of the Dutch creative industry

In these days of financial troubles, it is hard to read a financial report without any suspicion. But recently the Dutch cooperative Rabobank published statistics on the Dutch creative industry in its series of industrial sector reports under the title Figure and Trends. The financial figures report (sorry: in Dutch) is an addition to the Dutch 2008 Cross Media Monitor, which was put together by iMMovator in collaboration with TNO and the Rabobank.

The creative industry is a container term for a sector consisting of arts and cultural heritage, media and entertainment and creative business services. Within the subsector art and cultural heritage economic motives are subordinate to artistic motives. The activities are often sponsored by governments or semi-government institutes, not leaving the activity to the market mechanism of demand and supply. The subsector media and entertainment industry with the music industry, broadcasting, print and movie industry is very market driven and generates turn over from products and services for the consumer market. Major exception is the public broadcast system. The subsector creative business services operates on the business market, delivering products and services adding symbolic value to the products and services of their clients. In the creative business services sector operate architecture companies, consultancies, design and communication bureaus.

The Rabobank produced a financial analysis of the creative industry between 2004 and 2006. The data come from the Rabo Figures & Trends database. The database contains balance sheets of bank customers up to 2006. The statistics reflect the average company in the subsector. The figures of the art sector are base don a smaller amount of data than the other subsectors and are only indicative.

On a national level the creative industry created in 234.000 jobs in 2007. The creative business services are the largest subsector, followed by media and entertainment with 30 percent and arts and cultural heritage with 19 percent. The creative industry and ICT were the main boosters of employment with 10 percent between 1996-2007. Both sectors grew faster than the national economy and realised both in this period 4 percent turn-over growth over against an average national growth of the total economy of 2,2 percent. The creative industry as well as ICT are heavily concentrated in the Northern Wing.

The financial highlights are:
- The average company in the creative industry as well as in the subsectors have developed positively developed in the years 2004-2006. The average company in the creative industry sector realised turn-over of 689.000 euro in 2006.
- The average turn-over of a company in the creative business services was 801.000 euro, in the media- and entertainment industry 593.000 euro and in arts and cultural heritage 557.000 euro.
- The absolute profit as well as the profit percentage was raised in the period of 2004-2006: the creative business services with 6,9 percent, media and entertainment with 4% and arts and cultural heritage with 2 percent.
- Almost half of the companies in the creative industries with a turn-over smaller than 250.000 euro makes a profit after deducting the management fee.
- An average company in this sector owes 33 percent of the capital, while it also has 36 percent of foreign capital on the balance sheet. The short term foreign money is on average 20 percent.

The figures offer some ideas about the financial side of the business in the creative industry. However it would also be interesting to know what the share is of the digital creative industry, as I suspect that this is the main boost behind the growth up to 2007. Of course we will have to wait for the new figures and see in 2009, what the present financial crisis has brought on.

Blog Posting Number: 1244

Tags: ,, , , ,

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

BPN 1243 e-Book distribution in Europe

With the arrival of competition in the e-reader field in worldwide and especially in Europe, the issue of e-book distribution should be addressed. For the US and UK market there are already a number of e-book outlets. And Sony has even fine-tuned its US online e-book shop and is benefitting from the sales of its e-readers and of the sale of e-books (which boils down to the iPod model). But what about the continental European market for e-books. Let us look further in two years.

I purposely address the European continent as the UK benefits from the language similarity with the USA. But the European continent is a fragmented market due to the many languages. Of course, if there are any e-books in a particular language, it usually will be sold in the region where the languages are spoken. Four main language areas are German, French and Spanish and Italian. So German e-books have as a footprint: Germany, Switzerland and Austria; French e-books have France as sales market in Europe with a Francophone market in Africa, America and Asia (in countries like Vietnam). The Spanish language has Spain as beneficiary market with a large market in South America. And Italian e-books have Italy as sales area. All the other European languages including the Eastern European languages are usually restricted to the region and perhaps some small extra territories.

So for Germany, France and Spain there are real opportunities in the European regions or elsewhere. But for the smaller language areas it will be hard to establish a portfolio of e-books and set up a distribution system. A good example is the book loving country The Netherlands. The portfolio of Dutch books is not great. The last count was over 337 e-books and there was an estimate that by the end of the year there would be 500 e-books. So far the country has several download outlets, usually feeding on the same database with 85.000 e-books. Besides the Dutch national pride, the iLiad, there are other e-readers available such as Cybook, Hanlin and Jetbook, while next year the Sony e-reader PRS-505 will be available. So the sale of e-books is picking up speed and something is brewing in the distribution channels.

The Netherlands has had a very good physical infrastructure for books. The network of specialised bookshops has a logistic service for delivering books in 24 hours, provided by the central book warehouse, called in Dutch Centraal Boekhuis. Presently the Centraal Boekhuis still delivers printed copies, but the management is thinking about the challenge of e-books. Accoriding to PCW Entertainment and Media Outlook 2008, the turn-over of e-books will grow from last year's 9 million euro to 25 million euro in 2009. This perspective should be interesting enough for Centraal Boekhuis to set up a central e-book database and download service. It could be the management says, but this will only materialise in one or two years. The management can also buy the present distribution service as well as an e-book production service. Whatever choice they make, they (that is: the publishers) will have to invest in a at least a download service.

Of course you might hope that the Dutch download service will have an international link, so that you can buy English books, but also books in languages like German, French and Spanish, as many Dutch people have at least a third language, besides Dutch and English. Not too many French people will buy a Dutch language book, but more and more Germans are speaking and reading Dutch. So far Amazon has three subsidiaries in Europe, which can deliver the service. But for the smaller countries there is no proper infrastructure. Either Amazon will jump into that marketing opportunity or a European network of national download services will cover that need.

Blog Posting Number: 1243

Tags: ,

Monday, October 06, 2008

BPN 1242 E-readers gearing up for Christmas sales

It is clear that the e-reader market is moving. After the demonstration of the Plastic Logic 10,2 inch screen and the introduction of the 10,2 digital e-reader of iRex Technologies (which received a mixed reception; see USA Today’s review) opening up the business sector, the fight over the consumer market will bring a hot Christmas sale. Sony will introduce a new version of the e-reader, the PRS-700, in the USA next month at a price of 400 US dollar. This might be the trigger for Amazon to release its new version of Kindle.

The PRS-700 is the successor to the PRS-505. The reader looks much like the older reader. It has roughly the same dimensions, weighs 10 ounces and is equipped with the E Ink digital paper screen.
The PRS-700 can hold up to 350 books with built-in, internal memory, but eager readers can expand that amount by using a removable memory stick. (These days you can hold more books on a stick of 16 GB than the library of the Paris Sorbonne University in 1750 possessed).
The PRS-700 has quite some differences with the PRS-505 and other digital paper products: touch screen, virtual keyboard, six font sizes and LED lights. Contrary to the PRS-505 the new version has a touch screen. The display gives readers the option to work with a stylus and flip pages with their finger. The user can call up a virtual keyboard that allows users to search for terms, highlight words and make annotations (marginalia). Personally I think that the virtual keyboard, which I know from the iLiad, is a nuisance. And for anyone who needs bigger print to make it easier to read, the PSR-700 has six font sizes to choose from.
A principal difference with all other digital paper readers is the built-in front light in the PRS-700. So far the advertised advantage of digital paper was that the user can read the screen in bright sunlight. But now LED lights have been mounted in e-reader to assist in bright light situations, ensuring that the users will not have a problem seeing the text while the sun is shining brightly. This is one explanation. I read also another explanation for the LED lights, namely that the lights are there to ease the strain on the eyes of the users. Personally I am wondering about this front light feature; so far I have used paper digital in bright situation without having strained eyes.

There has been a rumour in the market that a second version of the Kindle is being expected. Speculation about the presentation determined a launch before the Christmas sale or at the launch of a T-Mobile electronic newspaper in Germany. The Boy Genius Report has gotten hold of some photos of a device that appears to be the Kindle 2. From the photographs it looks like Amazon has tried to address some of the criticisms of the Kindle, which it got after the first presentation almost a year ago. Most of this criticism was on the design of the Kindle and off-white colour. The inside man of Boy Genius Report says that “the device is basically the same size as the older model, but is thinner and has "a slightly heavier feel, and it feels much sturdier." The keyboard has been redesigned. The new model uses the same cellular Sprint EV-DO network for downloads. But: no word on the launching date and the price.

Blog Posting Number: 1242


Sunday, October 05, 2008

BPN 1241 Google jubilee: a confession

This year Google celebrates its first decade of operation. In just a few years Google was able to send search engines into oblivion. Who does still use Altavista, for example? Over the years Google has become an institution with an idealistic objective of making all the information in the world accessible electronically. And this not only means already digitised information, but also printed information such as books.

As part of the celebration Google has put up the internet index, not of the starting year 1998, but of 2001, when the first annual internet index was technically possible. This index shows a snapshot of internet in the new century. It also delivers an opportunity to compare the Google index of 2001 with the present index in the search engine. And the search company collaborates for the 20001 project with Internet Archive, which preserves old internet pages.

Of course I did some search and hit work. I looked for the name of my company in 2001 and 2008 and of course for my own name. The name of my company yielded some interesting results. Electronic Media Reporting (between quotes) delivered in 2001 a simple 245 links. The interesting part I that there were no links to my company, but al US links to the method of reporting with electronic media. In 2008 there were 3920 references, with only four references to the method of electronic reporting on the front page and more than 8 references to my company. In fact the first the first reference is to my company, which shows the improved localisation of the search engine. Of course I did also a search for my own name. This yielded in 2001 already 1820 references and had grown to 3110 links in 2008. For me the Google index of 2001 still showed the rise of internet and the global city theme, as my name is mentioned in the OJR Features: 50 international names to know (in journalism).

The jubilee also reminds me of a goof-up. By 1999, Google was ready to spread the wings over Europe. At that time I was working for the Dutch language newsletter Telecombrief . So on a day a press release came in and told about the launch of the Dutch language version of the search engine; at that time the major Dutch language search engine was Ilse., which now has shrivelled. I remember responding to the press release, which came from a Belgian PR bureau, which released the press releases rather in Flemish than in Dutch. Besides my remarks about their antiquated words, I told them that we, journalists, had heard all that stuff of being the best one before and that search engines still were stupid machines as they yielded more irrelevant stuff than relevant links. I told them also that Google still used the stupid search method of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) and that searching had not moved forward since 1972. Looking back I am still convinced that my comments about the information overload and Boolean operators still stand, but I must grant that Google in the meantime grew to giant proportions.

I wonder where Google will be in the next ten years. Will they still exist? Will the company have made improvements on their search engine? In the meantime Google is the best we have at the moment.

Blog Posting Number: 1241

Tags: search engine

Saturday, October 04, 2008

BPN 1240 Colour e-paper with moving images

When iRex Technologies recently launched the 10,2 inch screen, the usual objections to an e-reader were heard again: the screen is only for black and white representation and there is no video possible. In response to these objections, I noted in my posting that a colour screen was not far off, but that video was on the horizon by 2012. Colour will be around by 2009, according to Russ Wilcox, the chief executive of E-Ink. But video will take more time and the question is whether E-Ink paper can do the trick.

I personally believe that b/w screen are good enough for many books and newspapers. But that is the same conservative opinion as I had before colour was introduced for newspapers like USA Today. Besides whenever you have colour and video, you can still call up b/w publications.

The Guardian published this week an interesting article on the next generation of digital paper, which can handle colour and moving images. The British Technology Strategy Board has granted 15 million euro to a group of scientists in Cambridge. They will develop the next generation e-paper on the principle of electrowetting. This process electricity to manipulate a thin layer of liquid so that it changes colour; the individual cells change fast enough to run video. Electrowetting uses far less power than a traditional liquid crystal display (LCD). The technology offers bright vivid colours, video speed, exceptional viewability, even in bright sunlight, and substantial power savings compared with other technologies. We are set to play a key role in the portable and mobile applications markets by enabling new advances such as TV on mobile.

The team of scientists has been working on electrowetting at Philips Research Labs in Eindhoven for some 10 years and was spun off from Philips two years ago under the name of Liquavista. The company was created to commercialise the market opportunities of electrowetting displays, a technology that can be used in applications such as MP3 players, watches, cameras, mobile phones, DVD players and automotive applications. (This was also the objective of companies like iRex Technologies and Polymer Vision). The scientific team will be headed by Liquavista's chief scientific officer Rob Hayes and chief technology officer Johan Feenstra. The company plans to announce its first range of products at an electronics fair in Hong Kong this month. The project will also be supported by the US technology company Plastic Logic, which unveiled also a 10,2 inch screen last month.

Blog Posting Number: 1240

Tags: , ,

Friday, October 03, 2008

BPN 1239 Who gets EU cash?

Yesterday the EU launched the "Financial Transparency system" website and search engine. This database allows free access to details of who receives EU funds managed directly by the Commission and its executive agencies. It provides a consolidated view of the previous financial year and contains approximately 28.000 entries on Commission-run programmes in policy areas like research, education and culture, energy and transport and certain aspects of aid to third countries. The present website is a start of a larger project and now only contains data on project grants in 2007.

I had a look at the database and searched for some companies I knew where involved in European projects. And I found them easily with the amount of money they received. Although a project key is provided, there is no project name or acronym given; so you will have to copy the key and look further in the Europa database for the project name or acronym. On the other hand one sees the amounts of money, even to two decimals behind the comma. Whenever you search on a country like The Netherlands, you see 1565 entries, while the amounts descend from 22 million euro for a project of a foreign students exchange to two eurocents. There is also mention of natural persons, but they are not named due to privacy rules.

The Financial Transparency System website (FTS), launched in a test phase, focuses on the beneficiaries of budget lines managed directly by the Commission and the executive agencies set up to manage certain EU programmes and other forms of operational support. The data can be accessed through a web-based search engine providing various search criteria such as the country of the beneficiary, the Commission department which gave the grant or contract, the relevant budget line or the amount.

The information is extracted from the Commission's accounts for the previous year and provides the financial amounts committed in the budget for these activities. The first available year is 2007. In 2009, the beneficiaries of 2008 will be published and in 2010, the system will be enhanced to also include the procurement contracts from the Commission for its day-to-day administration.

The European Transparency Initiative, (ETI) was launched by the Commission in 2005. One of its three main objectives was to increase the level of information made available to the public on beneficiaries of EU funds. It started with information on funds managed centrally by the Commission and it is now completed with information on funds managed jointly with Member States such as the Common Agricultural Policy or Regional Development. Thanks to ETI, Member States agreed to extend the obligation to publish the names of beneficiaries to all EU funded policies as of the financial year 2007.

All websites concerning the publication of EU funds - for the moment these relate to Regional aid, including the structural funds, agricultural payments for rural development and the Commission's centrally managed funds - can be accessed through the main Commission portal.

Blog Posting Number: 1239

Tags: ,

Thursday, October 02, 2008

BPN 1238 Open Source and eGovernment

Last year the Dutch government agreed to move to Open Source. And hardly had they agreed on the decisison, then the signing for maintenance contract of Microsoft software came up. The vice-minister said I do not know anything about software, so we will sign the contract. And the computing entrepreneur, turned deputy department secretary, thought it wiser to sign the contract as the computer personnel and the infrastructure were not ready for the switch yet.

But now it looks like there is some movement into the direction of Open Source and Open Standards. The government has appointed an ambassador for the promotion of Open Source in government and semi-government (provinces and municipalities). And even a government institution , the Netherlands Patent Office (NPO), has changed to Open Source.

The new ambassador, Erik Gerritsen, will have to push the civil servants to move over to Open Standards and Open Source software. He is in fact the promoter of the 2007 action plan Nederland Open in Verbinding (The Netherlands Open in Connection). Part of the plan is to make an inventory of the status quo in government. The results of this inventory will be published in November. Personally I expect that it will show that the Dutch government is Microsoft country. The new ambassador in the meantime promotes the action plan and collects examples of success to show that a change over to Open Standards and Open Software is possible. He will also be a consultant to departments and accompany organisation in changing over.

Presently he has the Dutch Patent Office as an example of an institution changing over to Open Standards and Open Software. It is in fact the first government institute which changes over. The website of the NPO is constructed under Open Source software, while the NPO uses Joomla as open source content management system. The next step will be the implementation of Open Source software in the office environment, including desktop computers) and the customer relation software. This should be implemented by 2009.

There is also some movement from the municipalities. They work together in the development of their websites in the project TYPO3gem ( ). The members of the project decide about the functionalities needed for e-Government and produce the specifications. They bundle their financial means to get the system implemented and will run a common helpdesk.

Blog Posting Number: 1238

Tags: ,

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

BPN 1237 Dag DAG, Bye BYE

When the Dutch free newspaper DAG was introduced on May 8, 2008, I noted the ambiguous title. Dag in Dutch means Hello, but also goodbye. After last Monday’s announcement by the PCM Board, today's printed edition of DAG will be the last one, as the masthead of the frontpage says: LAATSTE DAG (Last day). Only the digital channels will be maintained. After the disappearance of DAG, there will be three national free newspapers left on the Dutch market: Metro, Spits and De Pers.

DAG has been on the market for one and a half years. It was the last one to come on the market. And it was the first new product in the post-Apax era. So it was a product to show that the newspaper holding PCM was able to put a product in the market with the help of the telecom company KPN. The free newspaper was pushed by the former PCM CEO. He started talks with Mr Boekhoorn, who was starting up the free newspaper De Pers, but in the usual PCM style these talks ended in Oh yes, Oh no; thus no. But by May 8, 2008 PCM was ready to launch DAG. Did it make any impression? Not really. It was a rag and a bloody shame for a newspaper company.

The newspaper had used the slogan of a crossmedia newspaper. But in practice this meant: a printed edition with a lot of photographs and a digital extensions on internet and mobile. No surprise. Although the first edition was hopeful, the lay-out of the free newspaper turned out to be abominable: more than 50 percent of the space was dedicated to photographs and the headline were all highlighted, as if bold letter could not grab the attention. Also the level of the articles was suited more for a highschool paper. But by the beginning of the year some real newspaper doctors came in. They started to borrow articles from the sister publication De Volkskrant and they cleaned up the design. It was a real step forwards. But crossmedia remained just a slogan and was not filled in by other concepts like day-parting.

As a medium DAG had troubles to bind advertisers to its publication. For a national newspaper company, this is surprising. Of course the printed edition was not exactly an advertisement in itself. Besides the printed edition had to compete with three other free newspapers, which were mainly distributed at railway station and public transport points. The management of DAG made a smart move when it got into a distribution deal with a supermarket chain. However, the addition of this was not enough to attract advertisers. According to the press release, PCM and KPN eventually believed that it was impossible to make DAG profitable in the future.

PCM and KPN have announced that DAG will cease its printed edition. KPN will step out as shareholder. But PCM has announced that it will continue with its digital channels. That means that the DAG management will have to select the whizkids from the 50 people staff. They will run the internet sites and the mobile service. They have already one customer: KPN. The digital team will deliver content to KPN Vandaag, as KPN had abolished the editorial staff of its Planet Internet service. The team will also deliver content for KPN’s mobile service and feed content to the producers of KPN’s narrowcasting services. Of course the team will have to get more clients; otherwise the PCM Board will end the exercise and say Dag DAG.

Blog Posting Number: 1237

Tags: , ,

September 2008 Monthly stats blog Buziaulane

Blog: Buziaulane is a daily blog in English
Period: 1-9-2008 till 30-9-2008

Pageviews: 1499 (August 1382)
Visits: 1180 (August 1119)
Unique Visitors: 1124 (August 1078)
Countries: 71 (August 67)

Pageviews from the following countries
1. Netherlands (29,49%)
2. USA (19,75%)
3. UK (9,87%)
4. Spain (3,80%)
5. India (3,40%)
6. Germany (2,74%)
7. France (2,67%)
8. Canada (2,54%)
9. Rest (2,20%)
10. Belgium (1,80%)
11. Finland (1,40%)
12. Australia (1,13%)
13. Jamaica (1,13%)
14. Singapore (1,07%)
15. Portugal (0,87%)

Most visited pages
1. other (55,17%)
2. (15,08%)
3. (2,34%)
4. (1,47%)
5. (1,40%)
6. (1,20%)
7. (1,00%)
8. (3,77%)
9. (0,73%)

Pagerank: 4
Indexed: 3690 (August 3760)
Yahoo links: 4476 (August 4635)

Stats generated by Onestat , ClustrMaps and Directshop