Weekend Web, Tech, Commerce, Music, and Entertainment News from the Reader

It seems like there were a lot of small, interesting, news stories that came up in Google Reader (My RSS Reader) in the last three days, so I thought I'd lay them out briefly:
  • Fred Wilson calls for companies to implement purchasing through text messaging, noting that texting is now a primary way that most people communicate, and small things like movie/song purchases could easily be activated through SMS. Jott is showing how much can be done via short voice and SMS. Interestingly I read in the same weekend that Pizza Hut and Papa Johns are now accepting pizza orders via text message; I don't advocate eating their pizza, but if sub-par fast pizza chains can leverage modern technology, I'm sure other commercial companies can take the next step.
  • Facebook continues to refine the way information is added to the newsfeed, and what rights 3rd parties (applications) have in interacting with users en mass. I'm a big fan of the information stream (I wish people leveraged social resources more), and expect that it will change in a big way this year. Companies like friendfeed are showing more interesting progress, and that same technology could be used in Facebook to make the newsfeed more all-encompassing and more valuable. In any case it's good to see that Facebook is continually looking to improve user-experience and information value. [see my friendfeed page here or at the right of my blog or left of my facebook profile]
  • Google Operating System has an interesting article outlining how Google Reader could benefit from features that exist in Gmail. All of the suggestions are strong, could leverage long term value out of Google Reader (similar to how adding search functions changed the information store value of Google Reader), and when you think about it, seem obvious. Another interesting web application, ReadBurner, is leveraging the shared item function from Google Reader to create a Digg competitor of sorts; this seems like an obvious application that Google could do natively stronger than ReadBurner could do, and I don't see how they can stay out of this space. Hopefully innovation rolls out in a big way in Google Reader this year.
  • Mark Cuban wrote about how musicians need to let go of the concept of the music album, and recognize the success of micro-payment / micro-purchasing, i.e. the $0.99 cent single. He says 27 single tracks sold more than 100k times in a single week, which shows how big the single is, how big our threshold for small, inexpensive purchases is, and calls for bands to start offering subscription-type single track models. It's a good idea, and the next in a long line of suggestions that are being made across the web about how the music business could reform to fit the changing digital entertainment sales landscape. The larger point is this - the music industry is not dead; there is a lot of money to be made, all it takes is recognition that making money will require flexibility and innovation.
  • EA announced they will begin offering games to be downloaded and ad-supported. This is newsworthy because it's the first real venture into ad-supported video games beyond the Pogo / Real Arcade / etc. free online casual games subset. EA is recognizing that there can be more engaging, higher-level games that fall between the casual game and the hard-core game, which will attract players if the price is right, which means if the price is free. By offering these games by online download, it also means that they can sell dynamic advertising to be streamed in like Massive does with XBox360, and that's a valuable opportunity for advertisers, which means it's a valuable proposition for EA. This could be a market-changing move by a company that has traditionally relied on a few big key franchises that come out at a significant price year after year to the same fans.
  • HBO has started testing an online offering where HBO subscribers can access content via streaming broadband. On-demand movies seems like a must, with Netflix, Apple, and others offering it. The real question, though, is how they are going to combat piracy. Networks are finding that offering free content with ad-support online is a great alternative revenue stream and alternative offering to make illegal downloading less worthwhile (it is often about content accessibility). HBO isn't addressing this problem by only having offerings for their current subscribers. Ultimately all content that people can get for free somewhere (legally or illegally) needs to be unlocked and offered via value proposition to the masses.