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A decade of digital media flops and predictions

Media flops

Microsoft rolls out the Zune to go up against the iPod in 2006. And then, three years later, a new Zune HD to vie with the iPod Touch.  The Zune gets more traction with late-night talk-show comedians than with consumers. Both the player and the brand are now dead.

Burger King gives away a free AOL Music download with every Original Whopper. The download code is on the burger wrapper — try not to get grease on your screen!

McDonald’s begins renting DVDs. Actually, this one wasn’t a total flop: Turns out people don’t want DVDs with their fries, but Redbox, which now has over 30,000 kiosks, got its start in McDonald’s.

News Corp says consumers are “desperate” for $30 HD movie rentals. Well, that desperation was pretty short-lived: Today, you can rent an HD movie on iTunes for $4.99, or buy one for under $20.

Simon & Schuster decides ebooks need more video, and introduces the Vook. Vooks never takes off — it’s kind of hard to get immersed in a book when videos and Twitter hashtags are competing for your attention — and neither do these ebooks with built-in soundtracks). Vook pivots and is now an ebook publishing platform.

Yahoo introduces Twitter competitor “Yahoo Meme.”  The tagline is “No time or patience to blog?” with a picture of dogs saying “wow!” and “yum!”

Sears launches its own movie download service. Walmart and Best Buy both have download services, so why not Sears too! “Alphaline” goes under in less than a year.

Not the next Facebook

Walmart’s social network “The Hub”

Lycos’ social movie service “Lycos Cinema

MySpace’s social news service (MySpace itself, for that matter)

Nielsen’s social network/market research combo “Hey Nielsen”

Conde Nast’s teen social network “Flip”

AOL’s AIM Pages

Martha Stewart’s social network

The art of making predictions

The next great American newspaper will be online only. “Instead of writing one longish piece, reporters will write (say) five short ones–will belt out little stories all the time, as things happen.”  — David Gelernter in “The Weekly Standard,” 2003

Did it come true? Yes. The Huffington Post may not be a “great American newspaper,” but it — and hundreds of other news blogs — follow the constantly updated news model that Gelernter envisioned.

The average person will spend 10 hours a day with media by 2009. — Private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson, 2005

Did it come true? Yes: A 2010 eMarketer survey found that the average American spent 10.6 hours per day with media in 2008 and 11 hours in 2010.

MySpace will be worth $15 billion within a few years. — RBC Capital analyst Jordan Rohan in 2006

Did it come true? Definitely not. In 2011, News Corp sold off MySpace for just $35 million.

Warren Buffett says he won’t buy more newspapers “at any price.” — Warren Buffett, 2010

Did it come true? No. Buffett bought 63 local newspapers in a $142 million deal in 2012.

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