Monday, December 05, 2005

Talkr hires its first investor...

I'm proud to announce that Talkr has added its first employee. Or, perhaps that's more accurately phrased as: Talkr has acquired its first investor. Dave Liloia has agreed to come on board as Talkr's Director of Network Development. His job will be to work with the bloggers that use Talkr's services to improve the existing feature set and bring in new ideas.

Since Talkr is a small, unfunded company, Dave has agreed to work part-time for Talkr in exchange for equity. That's a good deal for Talkr, because Dave is fantastic (he's the guy that came up with the tagline "Letting blogs speak for themselves") ; and hopefully, it will end up being a good deal for Dave as well. (It also fails to break the bank, which hiring Dave with cash most certainly would.)

Speaking of hiring, Talkr still needs more help. In particular, we need some Perl geeks that are interested in working on cutting edge problems. (I may have an announcement to make in this area in the near future, but I'd be happy to make two or three announcements.) If you like what Talkr does; if you're comfortable working with the LAMP stack; and if you'd like to help make Talkr better, please send me an email at Please include a couple of specific ideas for how to improve Talkr, and give me a sense of your Perl chops.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A long-overdue update on Talkr

My apologies to folks that use (or are simply interested in) Talkr. Over the past two months, the service has had several outages, and has provided a complete lack of new functionality. I'd like to make a confession in this post, and then give you a general update on the site.

First, the confession -- if you envision Talkr as a hip, venture-backed Silicon Valley startup, complete with chefs, foozball and offices, you will probably be sorely disappointed. (Don't get me wrong, of course, Talkr _is_ hip.) ;-) Talkr has to this point been the work of one person (me), plus some paid and unpaid consultants. Talkr is really a "virtual" company. Our entire office fits inside the knapsack that I wore today, and physically consists of two laptops, a surge protector and a microphone / headset to allow Skype calls.

The service itself has been spotty because, over the past two months, my family and I have prepared for (and now largely completed) a move from Durham, NH in the USA to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. We are now living where the jungle meets the Caribbean beach, where the vast majority of people don't have computers, and people look at you kind of blankly when you ask about a "fast" internet connection. (Thanks to the wonders of satellite internet connections, I have now found a provider, "Jungle Internet" which can provide me with a 128 kbps wifi connection.) This is a really exciting opportunity for my family -- three of our four children are now attending a Spanish-only school here, and this is going to be quite a formative experience for all of us.

So, what does this mean for Talkr? First, I should have more time in the coming weeks to make sure that the existing service is actually available. My most sincere apologies to people that have signed up for Talkr, but been unable to use it. In addition to my own time, I'm also hoping to announce some additional help in the near future. That help will allow us to begin to roll out a host of requested features that I will write about soon.

So, thank you for your patience, and please don't hesitate to write ( if you have any questions or suggestions.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Lancerlord demos new features from Talkr

Lancerlord has created a demonstration of some of Talkr's most advanced new speech features. We're very proud to link directly to the audio. The comments to Lancerlord's post are both thought-provoking and true. We recommend that you read them in their entirety.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

On hitting important milestones

The following represents a bit of shameless promotion of some of the milestones that Talkr has hit since our launch in May.

Perhaps most importantly, Talkr has signed up more than 350 partners in the past 2 months. These partners hail from more than 40 countries, including such far off places (at least relative to my current latitude and longitude) as Sweden, Japan, Cambodia and Middle Earth.

On the content creation side, Talkr currently tracks just under 1000 feeds, and has created more than a quarter of a million audio files. (If you read that sentence twice, and then wondered if there was a mistake, the answer is no -- those are accurate numbers. Some of these feeds are updated frequently. Of the nearly 1000 feeds that we track, 143 have more than 250 posts. The three most frequently published feeds account for nearly 75,000 posts since late April 2005.)

On the listening side, we're averaging between 1000 and 1500 downloads a day. The majority of downloads come from readers that listen to audio directly from our partners' sites, or through The remainder represent files downloaded by podcasting clients.

Thanks for suffering through that onslaught of infoporn. We have a lot of development going on now, and plan to announce new functionality in the near future.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Talkr denies rumor that it will debut new features at Web 2.0

For immediate release.

"We vigorously deny the rumor that Talkr will debut a fascinating set of new features at the Web 2.0 conference this year" says Chris Brooks, CEO of web 2.0 company "However," Mr Brooks continued, "We are planning the release of some really cool stuff at about that time. It's just that we aren't sure that the Web 2.0 conference would be the proper venue."

He later retracted that statement, saying "Okay, okay. Yes. Actually, the Web 2.0 conference would be the perfect venue. It's just that, on moral principles, we are completely opposed to that sort of blatant self-promotion."

Mr Brooks continued, "In fact, we would like to explicitly discourage anyone with an interest in Web 2.0 from suggesting to the conference organizers that they should include Talkr in the agenda. Please do not read John Battelle's blog entry asking for input from the community, and please do not use the web page provided explicitly for this purpose to request that Talkr make a presentation. Thank you. We appreciate your complete lack of support."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

An open invitation to podcast your blog with Talkr

Talkr has been providing podcasts for a select group of bloggers since our launch on May 9th of this year. Our pitch is simple: we will convert your text-only blog into a podcast for free. We will monitor your blog every hour, and convert each new article into an mp3 audio file using the best speech synthesis software on the market. We will host those audio files and provide you with an RSS feed (and bandwidth) to make it easy for your readers to get access to your podcast. If you are interested in generating revenue, you may choose to link to Talkr from your blog. If one of your readers becomes a paying subscriber to Talkr, we will give you a share of that revenue.

Until now, we have asked bloggers to submit their blogs, and then wait a couple of days until we have time to review their blog and issue an invitation. This 2-day delay is now a thing of the past. Any blogger can now use Talkr's new self-serve podcasting tool to configure a podcast of their text-only blog. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes.

So, if you currently have a blog, and you'd like to work with Talkr, please point your web browser to and click on the button entitled "Want a free podcast of your blog?".

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Apologies if you heard a "Your license has expired" message yesterday

If you listened to audio from Talkr yesterday, you may have heard an audio file that began with the message "Your license has expired". This was caused by a mixup with our speech synthesis vendor, and is not an attempt to nag our listeners into becoming paid subscribers.

Our previous license expires on June 30th, and so earlier in the week we requested a new license from our vendor. However, our vendor misspelled the name of the license file, and we did not catch this when we removed the old license and installed the new one. We ran our suite of unit tests which saw that audio files were created, and we patted ourselves on the back for an easy upgrade.

Our mistake. Our speech synthesis software adds a nag message to the beginning of each audio file if you don't have a valid license -- but it still creates the file. So all of our tests passed, but the audio files were wrong. We have now added a step to our QA process to generate an audio file and actually listen to it -- rather than simply validating that it is binary, has a non-zero size, and has the correct file extension.

Our apologies -- we should have caught this.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Does podcasting threaten radio?

Think back, if you will, to 1993, when the first web browser was released. Imagine that a very wise friend had pulled you aside and told you that the internet would create a vast amount of wealth over the next decade. And then imagine that this friend had asked you to speculate on which companies were likely to benefit. You might well have concluded that newspapers were extraordinarily well-placed to capitalize on this new medium. Newspapers had earned the trust of their local (and often national and international) readers; they owned the rights to volumes of engaging and thoughtful text content; and they had developed an enviable content-creation process. In addition, they had essentially cornered the market on classified ads for job, rental, real estate and yard-sale style ads. This gave them both method and motive to become major players in the coming internet boom.

Yet, while the newspaper industry averaged profit margins of around 20% in 2004, the internet boom largely passed them by. Newspaper circulation is in decline, and readers are as likely to get their news from an internet portal as from their hometown paper. Furthermore, several of the best-known internet brands (such as eBay, Craigslist and Monster) have largely supplanted newspaper classifieds.

At least two of the trends that explain newspapers' inability to capitalize on the internet (1. readers' preference for niche-content; and 2. the development of extremely fine-grained advertising metrics) will wreak havoc on the radio industry's attempts to take advantage of podcasting.

One of the most consistent trends over the last decade has been the explosion in the number of news and information sources. Television networks expanded from 3 to a few tens to hundreds (and if Google has their way, perhaps to millions) of channels. Text news sources expanded from a handful of major papers to millions of blogs. The underlying trend is a consistent and voracious appetite for niche-content. Radio, however, has been insulated from this trend, because until recently there has been no distribution channel for niche-content audio. The first cracks in this foundation were the satellite radio companies, which offer hundreds of channels. Yet if the rise of the internet is a reasonable analogy, once the enabling technology is widely available, listeners will demand thousands, tens of thousands, even millions of audio channels.

A second trend is the rise of extremely fine-grained classified ad reporting metrics. Companies that enable online advertisements (such as Google and Overture) provide advertisers with extremely detailed advertising metrics on click thru rates, costs per click and costs per conversion. Online advertisers can use these tools to quickly and cheaply iterate through a series of advertisements, improving them on each cycle. Newspapers had no way to match these statistics, and advertisers have shifted online in droves. Radio, of course, has never had to face this threat, because there has been no competition. And, to be fair, the advertisers that are currently underwriting podcasts are doing so on metrics which are almost certainly less credible than those offered by the radio industry. However, as mp3 players are integrated into more powerful palmtop devices, fine-grained tracking will inevitably follow. (I would go so far as to speculate that users will soon accept fine-grained (if somewhat anonymous) tracking of their phone usage in exchange for free phone calls. Phone companies, in turn, will turn that tracking into a powerful mechanism for improving advertising metrics.) Advertisers will not hesitate to convert from broad demographic ad buys to niche-content based ad buys with good conversion statistics.

Where does that leave radio? At worst it leaves them with few listeners and fewer advertisers. While other scenarios are certainly possible, radio execs have to deal with two basic facts: over the next few years users will demand unlimited options when it comes to content and advertisers will demand perfect information.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Audible introduces its new podcasting features

I have written elsewhere about dipping its toes into podcasting. Audible has released an introduction to its soon-to-be-released podcasting functionality:

Audible now offers content producers the infrastructure for circulation control, paid subscriptions and advertising management needed to effortlessly produce and manage podcasting - and turn that audio content into predictable, incremental revenue.

Full announcement to follow next week at Gnomedex. (In fact between announcements from Apple, Audible and who knows else, Gnomedex is shaping up to be a watershed event in the popularization of podcasting.)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Recent changes at Talkr

One of the pleasures of a startup is that you can invent and implement in quick release cycles. Here are a few of the updates that we have released to Talkr in the last week.

Perhaps most noticeable is a new look and feel on the homepage and secondary pages. We moved several of the feeds from the free audio page to the homepage so that people can get a sense of Talkr's functionality without having to click deeper into the site.

We have also changed our subscription policy -- in addition to the free audio feeds, you can now listen to any three feeds for free. So if you want to hear how your own blog will sound, submit it on our Search for Feeds page, create a free membership, and get out your iPod.

Finally, we have been getting lots of requests from people that are interested in having Talkr host a podcast of their blog. You can now submit your blog for inclusion in Talkr Partners -- our free program to podcast text-only blogs.

If you have other feature requests, please don't hesitate to contact us, or leave your requests as comments to this post.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Grokking Findory

I have been experimenting for the past couple of weeks with Findory, a web search company that provides implicit personalization of search results. Findory's algorithm orders search results based on three criteria beyond your explicit search terms: your previous search queries; the articles that you read in response to those previous queries; and the articles read by other people with similar search queries.

Unlike most search engines, Findory will present you with search results even if you don't enter a search term. In this sense, using Findory has more in common with using a newspaper than using Google. However, unlike a newspaper, Findory will gradually learn which articles you want on the front page.

Findory also has a feature that I really like: you can subscribe to a daily RSS feeds for keywords that interest you. However (unlike Technorati and PubSub which offer a similar feature) the RSS feed is generated based on Findory's model of your interests -- and reading articles from the RSS feed provides feedback to the personalization engine. That's a big win if you want a generalized tool that can find interesting articles for search terms that interest you.

But enough of an overview -- let's get to the meat.

The Good:
  1. Findory turns up articles that I find interesting. Many of those articles (unsurprisingly) appear related to my previous search queries and the articles that I read. But not all. One article (that was completely unrelated to my search history) was entitled "Virginia to Shoot Gulls Nesting on Highway". Sort of a mashup of Google does BoingBoing.
  2. You get lots of control over your search history -- if you perform a search and you don't want Findory to remember it, you can simply delete that search.
  3. Findory provides substantially fewer search results for an average search term than, for example, Google or Yahoo. I'm going to assume that this is because the underlying algorithm allows them to throw away a lot of keyword results that aren't personal enough.

A few complaints:

Perhaps my most fundamental criticism of Findory revolves around its core strength: Findory is focused on implicit personalization. Yet I kept wanting my homepage to reflect my interests faster. The way to teach Findory what you like is to run searches. But I kept wanting to tell it more explicitly what I wanted.

Let me digress. Those of us who blog are creating ever-expanding streams of meta-data about ourselves, including the keywords and concepts that preoccupy us and the sites and articles that capture our attention. Why should a personalization engine wait around for the fairly paltry information that it can derive from 5 or 10 search queries over a two week period? Why not allow me to explicitly point a search engine to my meta data? (Especially when this meta data is already formatted into a well-understood xml format?) Better yet, why not say "I like gadgets. Personalize my searches based on Gizmodo." Couldn't a personalized search engine make some interesting use of my blogroll or my bookmarks? Why not allow me to "prime the pump" so to speak when I first arrive at Findory?

I also had a minor implementation complaint with Findory's RSS feeds. Suppose I see a summary of an interesting article in my personalized feed, and I click on the title. That click brings me directly to Findory where I see the same article summary that I just saw in my feed aggregator. Why does it bring me to Findory? I can't think of a reason (besides inflating Findory's pageview count). Furthermore, Findory does not consider this behavior to qualify as "reading" the article (and therefore presumably does not customize my future search results based on this click). Why not have the link point to Findory (so that Findory can record that I read the article), but then immediately redirect my request to the full blog article?

Finally, let me wrap up with a bit of speculation on Findory's future.

Let me argue, briefly, that personalization such as Findory's will not find a killer app in serving personalized news or search results. The killer app for this sort of personalization is in serving search engine advertisements. Remember, the current model of an AdWords-type advertising engine is that the advertisers that pay the most get a boost in their ad's ranking, and the ads that have the highest click-thru-rate (a form of collaborative filtering) get a boost in their ranking. But the underlying relevance model for which ads get displayed is based on keyword (and synonym) matching.

Instead, what if the search engine created a mental model of the concept you were searching for, based on your interests as exposed by your search history? Could the search engine serve more accurate ads?

Here's a brief experiment to try at home: Run a search on google for "tiger". When I did this the first ad was for "Learn about big cats". The second ad was for "Low Prices on PCs, LCDs and More!". Now run a second search for "Mac OS", and then a third search for "tiger". Notice that the ads displayed on this third search are still split between felines and computers. Google has missed an opportunity to learn something from my intervening search for "Mac OS", and therefore lost an opportunity to show me more relevant ads.

In fact, the ads that you click on could themselves provide additional feedback back to the personalization engine -- feedback that is at least as relevant as any article that you read.

Here are some practical reasons why one of the top four search engines would be more likely to buy Findory for its effect on advertising than its effect on search results:
  1. The return on investment is straightforward to calculate: Success in advertising could be defined as a higher click-thru-rate. To estimate the ROI you need an estimate of the percentage of searches that employ commercially viable but ambiguous search terms; an estimate of the percentage of such queries that can be clarified by the personalization engine; and an estimate of the increase in click-thru-rates that might result. Compare that to estimating the ROI for an search results: Success in this case is defined by a user being incrementally more likely to return to your search engine and use it again in the future. (Not to mention that more accurate search results may actually decrease the number of ads that users click on, since the organic search results may address their needs without them turning to the paid advertisements.)
  2. Integrating a personalization engine into an advertising engine would be trivial compared to integrating one into a general search engine. Instead of hundreds of weighting factors affecting relevancy you deal with a handful.
  3. Measuring the quality of a particular set of search results is a difficult task -- one for which it is hard to agree upon common metrics. End users wouldn't necessarily notice the results of personalization in an average web search. Search engine marketers, on the other hand, live and die on incremental changes to click-thru-rates.
Overall, I will probably continue to use Findory's RSS service -- I just wonder if its focus on personalized search results will result in a viable business.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Is there a future for standalone podcasting clients?

This should be an exciting and unnerving time for the folks writing podcasting clients. Exciting because there is lots of interest in podcatchers. Unnerving because... there is lots of interest in podcatchers. Steve Jobs has announced that the next version of iTunes will include a podcasting client. Newsgroups are buzzing that Microsoft can't be far behind iTunes.

Is there a standalone future for the Dopplers and the iPodders? No. Here's why: a good podcasting client is like plumbing -- it's only visible to the end user when it screws up. Do you pay your plumber to put in brand name copper pipe? No. You buy a house and you expect it to have adequate pipe. Podcasting clients are going to get absorbed into some other piece of software on user's desktop.

So here's my advice to the folks currently writing podcasting clients: port your podcatcher to FireFox. Earn the praise of your peers and the bragging rights of having contributed to FireFox. Help to create a podcasting client that could be installed on 50 million desktops, doesn't enforce DRM and that accepts audio in any format. The podcasting community will thank you.

Update: Looks like Thunderbird, Mozilla's standalone email client, is scheduled to add podcatching support later this month. Let's see, iTunes, Mozilla, and lots of rumors about a major Microsoft podcasting announcement later this month at Gnomedex. Who else might be interested in playing in this space: Nokia? Palm?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Talkr beta launches

We launched the Talkr beta on April 15th. We've gotten some great feedback, and made a number of changes -- both to the underlying functionality and to the user interface itself. We had quite a few folks ask for invitations to the beta -- more, in fact, than we had planned to give out. We have just begun to send out a few more -- so if you wanted one, and we didn't get in touch with you, please send me another request at cbrooks at talkr dot com.

For those of you that haven't looked at, let me give you a brief introduction.

Talkr provides a service that allows people to listen to any text feed. Want the New York Times headlines as a podcast? Point Talkr to the NYT's feed, and point your podcast client to Talkr. Want to listen to your favorite blog? Point us to their feed -- we will convert that feed from text to speech and make a podcast available.

Curious about the sound quality of our podcasts? Here's a link to a 3 minute audio version of a post that I wrote entitled "The quiet 600-pound gorilla".

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The quiet 600 pound gorilla

AudioBlogger, BlogSparx! and Odeo have been getting a lot of press lately for their efforts to popularize podcasting. But there is another company that does something that looks a lot like podcasting:

Audible was founded in 1995, did an ipo in 1999 and recently announced 2004 revenue of US $34.4 million. The company is expecting approximately $60 million in revenue in 2005. They are extremely bullish on the increasing demand for spoken audio. They have initiatives to expand their presence in overseas markets, to expand their wireless offerings, and to dive into educational products. They have also noticed podcasting.

In a February 2005 analysts' call, audible's CEO said a few words about podcasting:
Also on the technology front we will shortly publish powerful tools and support services to aid the growing community of talented self-publishers, bloggers and podcasters. We will move to combine some of the singular advantages of the audible listening experience, our broadly adopted platform for internet audio distribution, and powerful new rss enclosure-based distribution technologies both as additive services for our current content partners and as new tools for the growing self-publishing community.
The technology of podcasting (that is, time-shifted playback) is a natural fit for audible -- especially for their daily audio editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. And I certainly applaud any efforts that encourage more mainstream use of podcasting. But audible's current stable of content is edited content -- in fact, it represents the most successful of edited works. The WSJ recently noted that audio books are only made if the publisher expects the hard-cover edition of a book to sell at least 50,000 copies. Blogs represent a shift to much less formal (and less formulaic) content.

What can we make of this shift to include the substantially less formal blogosphere? First, audible undoubtably sees the power of the long tail in their own business. (How could they not? In many ways, Audible is in the same business as Amazon -- and Amazon is the canonical example of the long tail.) Second, while several entrepreneurs made it out of the starting gate first, large businesses have noticed podcasting and are reacting quickly. First-mover advantage is often an ephemeral advantage at best, and in this market it may go to the larger players!

Odeo begins its beta

Judging from the login text boxes on Odeo's homepage, they have begun their beta. Seems like a reasonable occasion to announce that my new company, will begin its beta on Monday, April 18th.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Pheedo scores early advertising wins for podcasters

Pheedo, a company known for its AdWords-like advertising on blogs and rss feeds, has brokered advertising agreements for two podcasters: Eric Rice and the Chris Pirillo Show. Pheedo's blog entry is here. Other coverage is here and here.

I think the deal with Chris Pirillo is interesting, in that Citrix (the company sponsoring the advertisment) is experimenting with pay-for-performance (PPP) metrics on the podcast. Pirillo will be using a Citrix product in his podcasts, and listeners can use a promotional code to register for a free trial of the product. PPP advertising is a natural fit for podcasters given that standard web advertising metrics will be hard to come by.

Hats off to Pheedo!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Update on Odeo's business plan

Evan Williams gave a presentation yesterday on Odeo at O'Reilly's Emerging Technologies conference, and the blogosphere is buzzing. Tom Foremski has a nice writeup, that includes a summary of Odeo's business plan:
  • Offer free basic hosting and charge for premium hosting, based on bandwidth usage....
  • Sell advertising into popular content (a la radio) with some sort of revenue-sharing arrangement....
  • Sell premium content. "Audible has shown that a significant audience is willing to pay for non-music digital audio," said Ev, who counts himself a loyal Audible customer. "I think there's a lot of potential in non-book forms as well. There are a lot of things I would be willing to pay to get in audio form even if they're available for free on text form....

Another Company in the PodCasting Space

Just noticed a company called MessageCast which is adding a new advertising wrinkle. According to, MessageCast monitors a podcast feed and notifies its subscribers (via email, rss or "desktop alert") that that a new podcast is available. It plans to add advertisements to those notifications.
MessageCast's LiveMessage alerting service lets users know when a new podcast is available and alerts them via any number of different mechanisms, including e-mail, IM and RSS. The plan is to allow advertisers to place contextual ads in those alerts.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Surveying a rush of Podcasting businesses

A number of new businesses have sprouted in the past month to capitalize on podcasting. (Not sure what podcasting is? Wikipedia is your friend.) The PodCast Network, Odeo,, and Adam Curry's Boku Communications to name a few. And, of course, we can't forget the veritable granddaddy of them all, itconversations. Does the podcasting trend have strong enough legs to support these businesses? Before I answer that question, I should disclose that I am tossing my hat into this ring as well -- so you may want to keep your salt handy if you choose to drink the cool-aid that follows.

How will these businesses make money? A number of individual podcasters already make money from sponsorships and micropayments. Doc Searls' thread on making money with podcasting drew a number of examples from people that make (what I assume to be) beer money (or perhaps car payment money?) from podcasting.

Yet the new crop of podcasting businesses are seeking more substantial revenue. They are focused primarily on advertising. That is, they intend to develop a network of high-quality podcasts that will attract a core of committed listeners, and in turn, a group of avid advertisers.

The problem with advertising strategies today is that there are relatively few listeners. Few podcasts have aggregated more than 10,000 listeners. (In February of this year, ClickZ reported that The PodCast Network's most popular podcast had about 6,000 listeners.) In BlogAd's second annual survey of blog readers about 5% of respondents acknowledged listening to one or two blogs on a weekly basis. It takes no great analytical skill to conclude that if only a few blog readers are listening to podcasts, substantially fewer non-blog readers are listening. Therefore, pursuing an advertising-based strategy today depends on (1) a faith that listenership will expand quickly and (2) either deep pockets or keeping your day job.

Is the audience for podcasts likely to grow dramatically in the next year or two? My guess is that it will. Three trends point in that direction:

1. Better technology for creating, finding and distributing podcasts: Many of the companies mentioned above are trying to make it easier for listeners to find high-quality podcasts. Adam Curry's company is taking that one step farther and offering to pay up-and-coming podcasters directly. Many other companies are developing tools that dramatically reduce the cost of creating and producing high quality audio. And finally, there are a multitude of podcasting clients (podcatchers) under development.

2. MP3 player / cell-phone ownership: MP3 players reached a tipping point in 2004. According to a Pew Internet & American Life survey released on Feb. 14, 2005, 11% of adults now own MP3 players -- and if the teenagers I know are representative, the adoption rate among teens quite likely exceeds the rate among adults. Cell phones with adequate memory can already be used as MP3 players, and that trend will only accelerate. In fact, a recent study found that of the 44% of US teens (ages 10 - 18) that have a cell phone, 71% want to use their phone as an MP3 player.

3. Continuing penetration of broadband: Downloading audio files is impractical on dialup lines -- time shifted or no. As of February 2005, slightly more than 56% of US internet users have broadband access from home. This percentage has increased at approximately 1% a month over the past 12 months. This upward trend is expected to continue, although likely at a decreasing rate as we approach 60 - 65% penetration.

These three trends suggest a trifecta for audio content: it will be easier to develop, easier to find and easier to access in the coming year. That spells more listeners and the advertisers that follow them. Will advertising revenue offset revenue burn quickly enough for these companies (and my own) to succeed? It's too early to say -- I suspect what will matter most is good-old-fashioned entrepreneurship: keep an eye on the money and innovate, innovate, innovate.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

First post on new blog

So, here's the obligatory first post / introduction to me:

Name: Chris Brooks

Job Title: Entrepreneur

Current Business: Can't tell you -- Still in stealth mode.

Previous Business: The ever-popular

Previous Jobs:
VP, Technology at (2000 - 2005)
Software Engineer / Developer at Fidelity Investments (1998 - 2000)
Application Programmer at UNC-Chapel Hill (1997 - 1998)

Education: Yep.

What this blog is about: My thoughts on creating, growing, screwing up and learning from online businesses.