SugarSync: Anyone want an invite?

I’ve been taking part in the beta trial of SugarSync, the content-synchronization service that allows you to synch photos, documents and other content across multiple PCs, mobile devices etc. (the service was formerly known as Sharpcast, and only syncrhonized photos). I’ve got a limited number of beta invites available — if anyone wants one, post a comment with an active email address and I’ll shoot you the link.

Imeem: MP3tunes, you’re on your own

I’m glad Mark Hopkins from Mashable wrote this post about Imeem — which just bought Anywhere.FM, a startup from YCombinator — and MP3tunes, the online music-sharing service from serial entrepreneur Michael Robertson (founder of Linspire and the original MP3.com). I’ve been watching the back-and-forth between Michael and Imeem CEO marketing VP Matt Graves on the Pho list with interest, since MP3tunes is being sued by EMI and Anywhere.FM does something very similar.

As Mark explains in his post, Michael asked the Imeem VP for his views on the legality of what Anywhere.FM does, and Graves said that he didn’t want to talk about the terms of the Anywhere.FM deal “now or ever, on the list or privately,” although he said he was sorry Michael was being sued. Robertson then responded that he just wanted the Imeem exec’s thoughts on whether the service was legal, and if so why — and was obviously interested in finding an ally in his lawsuit with EMI.

Graves shut this line of inquiry down as well, which I must admit I find odd. There’s no question that in the past Michael — rightly or wrongly — has been a lightning rod for lawsuits related to his various online services, but how does it help to avoid the issue? If Anywhere.FM and MP3tunes are similar services, and one is being sued by a record label, doesn’t it stand to reason that the other might as well? Perhaps Graves thinks he can avoid such an outcome so long as he doesn’t talk about it.

I wrote about the EMI lawsuit in this post, and linked to Michael’s overview of what the lawsuit is about, which is well worth a read. In a nutshell, EMI claims that an MP3tunes feature called Sideload is illegal, and so are the online music “lockers” that the company provides, where users can store songs — including songs that they have purchased through Amazon or other online services, which can be transfered directly into the locker. Sideload is much like Seeqpod (which is also being sued) or Songza.

Mike Arrington, Fox Business host?

I watched this clip of Mike Arrington on the Fox Business show Happy Hour, with Cody Willard and Rebecca Gomez, and the one thing that struck me was how smart and reasonable Mike seemed compared with the frenetic — almost manic — Willard and his sidekick.

More to the point, I think Mike’s long-range outlook on Yahoo is correct: the company has to figure out how to grow its online-advertising business, or surrender it to someone who can.

Why did we pick the name Yahoo again?

As expected by just about everyone, Yahoo released fairly lacklustre numbers late Tuesday — and also used a word that you should try never to use in an earnings outlook: “headwinds.” As Rob Hof notes at BusinessWeek, this is code for “results are going to suck until further notice.” The stock was off about 10 per cent in after-hours trading, and that took it down near $20, or 40 per cent lower than it was three months ago.

Henry “I used to be a famous Wall Street analyst” Blodget has a pretty good rundown of the numbers at Silicon Alley Insider (although I must admit that every time he does that kind of thing I wonder whether he isn’t getting a little close to the line, given his settlement with the SEC). The fact is that Yahoo is cutting 1,000 people — as was widely rumoured last week — and its future guidance was so-so at best.

Share of the search market flat or falling, profit margins lower, new deals with cable companies bringing in lower revenue — not a pretty picture. but Yahoo still has high hopes, according to Sue Decker. Unfortunately, Yahoo shareholders have had some pretty high hopes as well, and about all they have to show for them so far is a share price that has been sliding down the slippery slope for the past year.

Barcodes: Really clever or really dumb?

“It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”
David St. Hubbins, This is Spinal Tap

Google is apparently experimenting with tiny barcodes that will sit next to newspaper advertisements and be scannable by mobile phone, so that you can “read” the code and be whisked to some website where you can get an interactive coupon, a special deal on Star Wars memorabilia, etc. Apparently I’m not the only one who immediately had visions of the CueCat, an ungainly handheld scanner gizmo that some ridiculous company tried to foist on newspaper readers back in the first bubble.

In the comments on a Silicon Alley Insider post about the Google experiment, Henry Blodget says that CueCat was the single worst idea he ever heard during Bubble 1.0 — and that’s saying a lot. I would have to agree (Allen Stern of Centernetworks, however, says that he thought it was a pretty good idea, and still has one in his closet). If you want some technical information, there’s some at the Google FAQ.

I know that there are a lot of people who are going to point out that they use barcodes like this all the time to buy things in Japan, but I would like to point out that not everything that is popular in Japan is good, and in support of that I would offer this and most of these.