I remember when Princess Diana died, just as the internet and personal home pages were beginning to hit the mainstream in 1997, the outpouring of emotion online. The web allowed mourners to instantly express, and more importantly, share their grief with anyone and everyone. The power of the web shone through in a global, virtual, memorial the likes of which the world had really never seen.
Flash forward to now, and the web has become much more than merely a place to post feelings; it's an international global marketplace, and with social networking one of the hottest things going, we're seeing a convergence of financial and personal exchanges on an incredible level in the wake of Michael Jackson's death.
And as you might expect, those reaping the biggest benefits from the tragedy of all this are the biggest names in online media and social networking: Apple Inc., thanks to iTunes; Google, thanks to YouTube; Amazon.com; AT&T, Twitter, Facebook, and heaven only knows how many others.
It's been an wacky 24 hours. AT&T reports that as the news was breaking, 65,000 texts were sent every second, the biggest spike in SMS traffic on AT&T's network in history.
At Apple , an equally enormous frenzy. Seven of the top 10 albums on sale, along with the top 5 songs on iTunes are from Michael Jackson. "The Essential Michael Jackson" was number 1, followed closely by "Thriller." Oh, and 8 of the top 10 music videos came from the King of Pop.
Amazon reports that the top 15 music slots belong to Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5.
Google's search traffic was so extraordinary that the company thought its site was under attack. Google has also created a special page on its YouTube video-sharing site called Spotlight: RIP Michael Jackson and it's attracting millions of visitors.
Time Warner's TMZ website, which broke the news of Jackson's death, crashed under the traffic. And Keynote Systems reported problems with MSNBC and Yahoo's websites because of the crush.
At Twitter, celebrity blogs about Michael Jackson are mushrooming. Five of the top 10 searches on the site were about Jackson and 8 of the top 10 "trending" topics were about him.
"Apple, for instance with iTunes, gets 33 cents a song, and you're gonna see tremendous amount of interest and draw down in Jackson songs, and MTV, which really put him on the map with Thriller, will be running those videos for ever and ever and drawing tremendous advertiser support," says Porter Bibb, managing partner at Mediatech Capital Partners.
Ironic, indeed tragic, that with Jackson facing a rumored $500 million in debt at the time of his death, that it is his death that is re-igniting his image, legacy, and financial opportunity.
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