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Stardock Magazine: June 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 by Frogboy | Discussion: Industry


June 2007

TweakVista Public Beta begins

Stardock and have teamed up to create the ultimate Windows Vista tweaking  utility. If you have Windows Vista, you absolutely should try this out. The public beta is free.

[Get TweakVista Beta]

Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar 1.6 Released

The highest rated PC game of 2007 has gotten its first major update of the year. Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar includes a new graphics engine, new diplomacy UI, updated AI, new maps, and more!

[Get GalCiv II: Dark Avatar]


DirectSkin 5 makes creating native skinnable programs a snap

For software developers who have ever wanted to make their programs skinned, DirectSkin is the defacto standard way to do it. With DirectSkin a developer can make their software fully skinnable in a matter of minutes. It's what ATI, Earthlink, Autocad, and countless other companies and programs use.

[Learn about DirectSkin]

Multiplicity 1.2 eases Windows Vista transition

Multiplicity Pro allows users to easily control multiple local computers with a single keyboard and mouse. It's like a multi-monitor setup but with each monitor connected to its own PC. A full clipbard is setup between machines allowing users to use each machine as one (which is the key differentiator between Multiplicity and legacy solutions). It's a snap to use!

[Get Multiplicity]

LogonStudio Vista arrives

Have you updated your PC to Windows Vista? If so, check out LogonStudio Vista, a new program on Object Desktop that lets users change the Windows Vista logon.

[Get Object Desktop]


Hot Topics

Stardock & Corvette team up on Windows themed desktop.

Sins of a Solar Empire Beta 2 nears.

DesktopX 3.5 eases Sidebar gadget creation.

WinCustomize Wiki gets underway

How to record desktop videos

Pirates Desktop Theme

Learning DesktopX (Step by Step)





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The economics of podcasting

How much bang for the buck are they?

Monday, July 17, 2006 by Draginol | Discussion: Industry

I do a podcast -- PowerUser.TV. It's a tech podcast but with a lot of tongue in cheek. I play up my more offensive side of things with lots of weekly rants.

We really enjoy doing the podcasts, but the problem is that the work vs. reward is just not there.

Here's some of the problems with podcasts:

1) The sites that syndicate the feeds are the ones who get all the rewards. ITunes, PodNova, Yahoo, they're the ones who make all that advertising revenue without having to create the content. It costs Stardock thousands of dollars each week to do the podcast. Even the Neocast version costs Stardock money too even if it's not producing it, it runs/maintains the site for it. But the iTunes of the world merely have to link to the MP3 file leaving the content providers out in the cold.

2) The effort vs. reward is totally not there in terms of listeners. Take PowerUser.TV -- it involves 3 salaried people plus 1 volunteer to produce the show plus another salaried person to maintain the website. That same staff could put together a pretty impressive website. A popular website like might get a million visitors PER DAY. A popular podcast might get 100,000 listenres PER WEEK. It's not even remotely as effective a means.

3) Podcasts aren't sticky. You can't say in the middle of a podcast "Hey, go check out this post on" and the user be taken to the website somehow.

Can you imagine me saying on the air?

"I repeat, that's st=0%#..."

4) Bandwidth costs. A page view on might use up 60K. A download of a podcast might be 60 MEGABYTES PER LISTENER. Ack.

5) Podcasts are being crowded out by radio shows and other NON-podcasts (i.e. things that were produced with a totally different audience in mind and then tossed onto the web as an MP3 with an RSS feed and called a "podcast"). You can't even find most real podcasts anymore.

Of the top 50 podcasts on Yahoo, nearly HALF of them are now NPR (that's National Public RADIO) shows that have been tossed onto the net as "podcasts" despite them not really being podcasts. It really aggravates me because a) they're paid for by taxes and they're abusing the medium. It would be like Electronic Arts submitting games into the independent games festival.

That doesn't mean podcasts are doomed. It's too early by far to say that. What is really needed first off is a way to filter out the NPR's of the world off the various podcast lists so that people can actually find genuine podcasts.

Secondly, we need to learn who the listeners really are. The lack of raw numbers could be made up for if the listeners are "industry influencers". For example, may not get even a fraction of the traffic of a but the difference is that (I believe)'s average viewer has a lot more influence over what kind of technology people around them use over the average viewer (and the average viewer has a lot more influence than say the average MSN home page viewer and so forth).

It will be interesting to see what happens to podcasts. I don't think it'll be going away but I think it may become like blogging where at first everyone was starting to have blogs (and just as annoying then was on-line columnists turning their articles into "blogs") but now it's found its own particular niche.

How Much Competition Can The Market Bear?

Netscape vs Mozilla vs Firefox vs Opera vs Internet Explorer

Tuesday, February 1, 2005 by Zoomba | Discussion: Industry

Later this month, Netscape (AOL) will be releasing a beta version of their latest browser version… Netscape 8. This time though the browser has a rather odd parentage. Let’s look at the overall progression of the Netscape browser line. Each item is based on the item before it.

NCSA Mosaic -> Netscape 1-7 -> Mozilla -> Firefox -> Netscape 8

So now, by that train of logic, Netscape is loosely based on itself rather than being a direct evolution from previous versions.

Netscape, Mozilla and Firefox are all competing against Microsoft for market share in the web browser arena. IE rules supreme here through a combination of shady business moves by MS, and sheer incompetence by Netscape. The browser wars were declared over and dead years ago, no one can really argue who won. However, now we have a revival of that old competition, though it’s not quite as close as it used to be. Firefox right now represents the best threat to IE, taking up roughly 20% of the pie (MS still holds about 70%, and various versions of Netscape, Mozilla and Opera make up the remaining 10ish%). So you’d think Microsoft might be feeling a bit uncomfortable, that maybe they’d be rethinking their IE strategy, right? Well, probably not.

Most computer users don’t really care what the name of the program is that lets them check CNN.Com, or access their bank information online. To many, the web browser is just another feature of the Operating System itself, not a separate application that they could find a replacement for (issues of IE being built into Windows notwithstanding). To the average user, a computer is a black box that just has to work and they’ll take whatever is thrown at them by default.

Let’s say that the above population is steady at about 60% of all computer users (it’s likely higher, but we’ll go with that number). So that’s over half of all surfers who will always use Internet Explorer. That leaves 40% to be given to a competitor. Now, even 40%, while not quite half, is a respectable chunk and can provide some real power to whoever makes the browser that sucks up that share. Even at 40%, a competitor could give Microsoft a bit to worry about and would likely spur them on to better their own product. Even though the tables are slanted, you still have the recipe for good, healthy competition.

As things are going though, even if IE drops to 60%, or hell even 50%, we’ll never see any real competition. The reason is the other side of the line is too busy trying to edge out each other. Netscape is going after the AOL crowd… Mozilla is trying to act as a technology platform, and Firefox is just doing its own thing and is somehow gathering popularity. They’re taking the market and fragmenting it severely. Netscape has the brand recognition that the other two could only dream of, yet it’s the browser whose horrible design decisions were what finally tipped the scale towards Microsoft. Mozilla is trying to be the end-all-be-all tool and tech platform… it’s a beast of a browser. Firefox is just trying to take what Mozilla is doing, strip out all the crap, and build something that just flat-out works without being bogged down by bloat. Problem is that while they all technically work together, they’re trying to undermine and outdo one another.

There’s a lot to say for limited product choice in some cases. Yes, greater choice in a lot of cases means greater competition. In computing though that doesn’t hold true, because the consumer doesn’t know enough to be able to pick the “better” product. Mac OSX is a better product in terms of technology, security, ease of use and all that. For the average user, it even has all the software you need. But it’s not even making a dent in the market share of Windows. Certain distros of Linux are making huge strides in terms of usability, but aside from in the tech geek arena (where quality does matter), it’s not really touching Windows on the desktop. The better product doesn’t always win in this arena. You win through being quickly recognizable. You achieve that by being one of the two or three dominant providers in a given area.

With such an entrenched user base for IE, having four or five competitors isn’t going to do much to dislodge MS’s stranglehold on the market. The Mozilla camp (since they’re all the same core technology) needs to realize that there is a lot more to gain by banding together under one browser and using their resources to push that, instead of putting out a whole bunch of different products that are only incrementally different and ultimately lose out to MS just because they have the single largest chunk and no one else can come close.

Sadly, until the tech community as a whole realizes that it’s not us geeks who choose the successful technologies but Mom and Pop Smith who can’t even program their VCRs, we won’t see anyone come close to challenging Microsoft in any market.