Tech Check

Notes From D

The "D: All Things Digital Conference" here at the Four Seasons Aviara in Carlsbad is a feast for the technological senses.

From our perch here on the Vivace Terrace, we've enjoyed an esteemed group of visitors so far: Twitter's Evan Williams and Biz Stonedropped by to share lots about their meteoric growth, but little about how to monetize it; Liberty Media'sJohn Malone just shared with us after his interview that the days of print news and traditional newspapers are fast approaching their end, but declined to predict exactly when. He says "nichey" content providers with very specific, targeted audiences willing to pay are the only viable options, like Bloomberg as an example.

Google'sVice President of partnerships David Eun told me in response to my question about Twitter, Facebook and AOL rumors that by the time they percolated to the public consciousness, they're long gone as options. He wouldn't say whether any material talks continue, but he did say that YouTube as a revenue/profit stream was performing nicely, as Google focuses more on reach than on revenue.

Wall Street analysts tell me they've largely written off YouTube. One told me that the unit needs to generate $750 million in annual revenue to contribute anything to the bottom line and that it's currently only doing about a third of that. Eun says Google is patiently sticking to its YouTube strategy, and with users uploading 20 hours of video every minute, content is soaring. YouTube is now the world's second largest Search engine behind Google itself.

He acknowledged that YouTube is examining several revenue stream generation options, including a Hulu(a partnership of NBCUniversal and News Corp.) and Netflix though declined to offer details.

I'll be sitting down with Carol Bartz shortly in her first TV interview since taking over the C-suite at Yahoo. Earlier today, she told the crowd that Yahoo could indeed be for sale, but that it would take a "boat load of money" to do the deal. I'll ask her for a price but don't expect to get an answer. She also says layoffs at the company should be finished. At least for now. This exclusive interview should be an interesting one.

Tomorrow, I'll be sitting down for a First-On interview with Microsoft's Steve Ballmer as the company prepares to unveil its new search engine called "Bing." Lots on the plate to discuss with him, including his Yahoo plans, those persistent SAP rumors, Windows 7 updates, his thoughts on Apple's ongoing momentum and any new details about that Zune phone. And what about Google's and HP's plans to use the Android operating system in a new line of netbooks? Is Google finally a real threat to Microsoft's bread and butter? Hmmmm.

Should be intriguing.


Questions?  Comments?