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  • Consoles 'Stealing' Hardcore Gamers from PC

    Consoles 'Stealing' Hardcore Gamers from PC

    The outspoken Epic Games VP Mark Rein laments the state of the PC market in a new interview. He also talks about the huge potential for user-generated content.

    In an interview with Guardian Unlimited in the U.K., Epic Games VP Mark Rein talked about user-generated content, Unreal Tournament III and the PC vs. console divide.

    While Epic is a PC developer at heart, they and other formerly PC-only studios have basically been forced to join the console ranks due to PC games piracy and an overall decline in PC game sales. Rein commented, "I'm a real fan of the PC, but yes, consoles are definitely stealing a lot of hardcore gamers from the PC. When Call of Duty 4 came out, I heard some of our guys sitting around talking about the great game they'd had last night and I'm like, 'Hey guys, what server are you playing on? I'd love to come and join you,' and they said, 'Just send us a friends request,' It was at that point I realized they were all playing it on console. Plus, the sales of the console versions are something like ten times the sales of the PC versions."

    UT3 on PS3 is unique in that it, like its PC cousin, actually supports user-generated mods from gamers. Rein couldn't be happier. "We're going to have a big mod contest starting soon and I think that will spur on innovation even more. We're hoping to have a category specifically for PS3 mods. PCs obviously have a lot more memory, so it is possible for a mod to be too big for the PS3, but all of our game levels run on both so we don't foresee that as a problem," he said. He also praised Sony effusively: "I think Sony are real pioneers in this - I think they deserve a lot of credit for letting us do this. They're really doing something different, and it hints at what they want to do with the PlayStation Network in the future. They're definitely on the right track!"

    Unfortunately Microsoft has not yet approved user-generated content for the Xbox 360 version. Rein doesn't necessarily blame them though. "They've got a closed system where everything's checked, users know the quality of everything they download, and you know it won't crash your machine. User generated content - well, it can be dangerous, you could theoretically download a mod that uses too much memory and crashes your machine," he explained.

    That said, Rein fully believes user-generated content is the future. "Do I think there's going to be a user-generated content revolution? Yes, but it will be different things to different people," he said. "Right now, we're barely scratching the surface - we're just letting users trade little things they made over the internet. Later on we hope to do more with it, make content easier to find, make some of it more official - highlight the really great content and make it much easier to get it onto your machine ... so in the future, gamers who buy a game like this are hopefully going to be able to get a whole bunch of free, extra cool content - and hopefully, some of the guys who make that content will become developers further down the road. A lot of the guys here at Epic previously worked on mods.

    "At some point, I'd like to work with the creators of some of the professional quality mods to help take them to the next level and work with us to build a marketplace where they can make some money off their content."

    via GameDaily

  • Paris GDC Details Announced

    Paris GDC Details Announced

    The Game Developers Conference in Lyon was so fun, CMP decided to do it all again! This year, however, the French event will take place in Paris in the Summer.

    Today, the CMP Game Group announced the details for the Paris Game Developers Conference. It will be an expansion of the first French GDC, which took place in Lyon in December 2007. More details, including information to submit session proposals, are available at parisgdc.com.

    "We were delighted with the success of the first French GDC held in 2007 and are confident that Paris GDC will bring together even more talented developers from around the world, now in a more central location and the home of the biggest development studios in the country," noted Pierre Carde, executive director of Paris GDC 08.

    Paris GDC will take place June 23 - 24, 2008 at the Coeur Defense in Paris.

    via GameDaily

  • cdv USA Delivers Pacific Storm: Allies to Retail

    cdv USA Delivers Pacific Storm: Allies to Retail

    cdv Software Entertainment USA today released Pacific Storm: Allies, its WWII combined action/strategy title, to North American retailers. In the game, players will be able to effortlessly switch between strategic, RTS and first-person gameplay modes to control massive naval fleets and squadrons of aircraft during some of the deadliest battles of WWII in the Pacific theater. For more information about Pacific Storm: Allies, please visit http://pacificstorm.cdvus.com.

    Pacific Storm: Allies is the latest title in the Pacific Storm series of WWII Pacific theater games which combine real-time strategy, resource management and exciting, in-your-face combat action. In Pacific Storm Allies, players jump into the thick of battle, playing as the United States, Japan, and a new playable nation - the United Kingdom. Allied nations, including the Netherlands, Germany and Russia, offer a new level of diplomacy and resource management to the game. An updated graphics engine brings to life new aircraft, naval ships and landscapes, showcasing them in lush, vivid detail.

    As with the original Pacific Storm, Allies offers something for everyone - armchair admirals can take command of massive fleets from a sweeping strategic perspective, while the action fan can jump into the cockpit to battle it out in the skies, or man deck guns to turn enemy ships into smoking hulks.

    via http://pc.gamezone.com

  • EBay Lowers Listing Fees to Boost Sales

    EBay Lowers Listing Fees to Boost Sales

    EBay Inc. said Tuesday it will cut by up to 50 percent the fees it charges sellers to list their goods online, in an effort to boost listings and keep pace with other burgeoning e-commerce sites.

    To balance the fee cut, the company plans to increase its commission on items that do sell, a method the company says sellers prefer because it lowers their risk if items do not sell.

    The greatest fee increase will come for goods selling for less than $25. EBay's fee for those transactions will rise 67 percent, to 8.75 percent of the final sale price.

    ''A majority of sellers will see their fees go down,'' said company spokesman Usher Lieberman. ''We are basing our success on their success and we want to encourage sellers to list more items with us.''

    The new fee structure, announced to a gathering of 200 of eBay's top North American sellers in Washington, goes into effect Feb. 20 in the United States. More pricing changes are coming shortly in the United Kingdom and Germany.

    EBay has struggled with flattening growth in recent years and a temporary drop in the number of items for sale on its site.

    Listings on eBay's various sites in the fourth quarter rose 4 percent, reversing two straight quarters of declines, the company reported last week. The number of people actively using the site has also stagnated, rising just 2 percent from a year ago.

    The online auctioneer has faced increasing competition from other e-commerce sites such as Amazon.com, which does not charge a listing fee.

    EBay's various fees have long been a point of contention for its sellers, which range from mom-and-pop vendors to online stores with large inventories.

    The changes come as longtime chief executive Meg Whitman announced she would retire at the end of March. Incoming CEO John Donahoe, president of eBay Marketplaces, which encompasses its shopping sites and classifieds, has said he will aggressively change eBay's product, customer approach and business model.

    Along with changes to the fee structure, eBay said it will change how sellers show up on customer searches. Those with high rates of customer dissatisfaction will get lower exposure in a search, the company said.

    via WSJ

  • AbeBooks New Coupon Policy for Affiliates

    AbeBooks New Coupon Policy for Affiliates

    AbeBooks is developing coupons! Abebooks.com

    Find textbooks. New and used. Save money.

    Currently they're just in the testing phase and only releasing coupons directly to buyers. This means that until they can figure out the impact of coupons on their bottom line, and how the affiliates play into that, they won't be able to pay out affiliate commissions on coupon sales. From this point forward, Abebooks will not be paying commission on coupons, so you'll probably want to avoid picking up any new coupons that pop into existence. Any sales made through their test coupons before their email alert will be commissionable and paid out.

    Eventually, once They've figured out how coupons are being used and what the impact is, they will start providing coupons for affiliate use (and including them in the CJ interface) and go from there. Buy textbooks for less at AbeBooks.com

    Benefits of Working With AbeBooks

    • 30,000 plus transactions per day
    • Above average Conversion Rates many over 15%
    • Largest Selection of Books on the web 100 million plus
    • High Seasonality spike for Textbooks Season Aug.-Sept./Jan.
    • Increased Commission for proven performers

    The world's largest online marketplace for books.

  • Video games boost music download sales

    Video games boost music download sales

    In the two months since MTV Networks and Harmonix released the music-based video game Rock Band, players have purchased and downloaded more than 2.5 million additional songs made available after the game's initial distribution.

    Activision, meanwhile, said it has sold more than five million new songs via download for Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock since it began adding downloadable content in early November.

    While new digital music services competing with iTunes have struggled to convince music fans to pay $1 per song, downloadable tracks for games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are flying off the digital shelves.

    "With such a low installation base, we didn't think that there'd be two million songs sold in eight weeks," division president of MTVN Music Group/Logo/Films, Van Toffler, said. "We live in a rough time around music, where our audience struggles to pay $20 for a CD but don't hesitate to pay $50 for a game. The notion to pay 99 cents or $1.99 to have a song and repeatedly play with it apparently isn't a big hurdle."

    The original Rock Band and Guitar Hero games shipped with more than 50 licensed songs each, a mix of master recordings and covers.

    Since then, Rock Band has made new music available every week as either singles or in three-pack bundles that can be added as new playable levels for between 99 cents and $5.50. Guitar Hero III did the same, focusing on three-song bundles of new music and music featured in previous versions of the game.

    Although MTV is not providing specific numbers, it did say that the majority of the downloaded songs were purchased by Xbox 360 as opposed to PlayStation 3 users. According to the NPD Group, Rock Band sold 775,000 copies for the Xbox 360 through the end of 2007, compared with 250,000 on the PS3.

    The game's impact on song sales for participating artists, however, remains unclear. While not providing exact sales figures, MTV did say that the Metallica three-pack of Ride the Lightning, And Justice for All and the group's self-titled black album is the best-selling Rock Band download.

    According to Nielsen SoundScan data, those same songs saw digital download sales spikes of 31 per cent, 39 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively, for the month after they were featured as a Rock Band download, over the previous month.

    But those increased sales numbered only in the hundreds, while the Rock Band downloads numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Still, label executives are thrilled with the results.

    MTVN already has plans to expand its outreach to artists, creating additional game expansions -- as both physical products and downloadable content -- around specific music genres and even artists.

    "We are talking to tons of bands, from indie to the most established ... to release not necessarily their entire catalog, but maybe some of their classic albums and do special packages around that," Toffler said.


  • Sears Appoints Online Head

    Sears Appoints Online Head

    Sears Holdings Corp. is expected to name a veteran Microsoft Corp. executive to lead its online businesses, one of five operating units the retailer is crafting in an effort to spark a turnaround.

    James Barr, a 12-year Microsoft executive and general manager of MSN Shopping and Marketplaces, will take over the online unit effective Feb. 2 as a senior vice president of Sears Holdings. MSN Shopping is a comparison-shopping site with nearly 9,000 retail affiliates.

    He joins Sears at a time when it is struggling to boost sales and halt a profit decline. Sears Chairman Edward S. Lampert Tuesday confirmed a reorganization that he said would "increase autonomy and accountability, create greater ownership and enable faster, better decisions." His plan calls for online, brands, support, operating businesses and real-estate units run by executives and individual advisory boards.

    Mr. Lampert, 45 years old, has been scouring the retail industry for seasoned executives interested in leading the business units, dangling the prospect of an initial public offering or spinoff of successful ventures.

    Mr. Barr's appointment was expected to be announced Monday. A spokeswoman for the Hoffman Estates, Ill., retailer declined to comment. Mr. Barr couldn't be reached for comment and a Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

    Separately, Sears confirmed Neil Day, a former Walmart.com executive, is joining the firm as the online unit's senior vice president and chief technology officer. He most recently was chief executive officer of digital-music storage start-up, Media Master Inc.

    In the last three quarters, profits at the 121-year-old retailer have declined on a year-to-year basis despite new marketing, online and sales initiatives. Sears said fourth-quarter profit would fall about 50% from a year earlier. Sears was formed from the 2005 merger of Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Kmart.

    Mr. Barr will oversee operations, business and technology for all the company's online units. In the past, sears.com, kmart.com, and most other online operations reported to John C. Walden, the retailer's chief customer officer. Mr. Walden left the company a week ago.

    Mr. Barr's appointment as the first of several business-unit executives signifies the importance that Mr. Lampert is placing on online sales.

    Mr. Day joined Walmart.com in 2000 when it acquired technology he had helped develop for homewarehouse.com, a hardware retailer. "He was instrumental in launching and building walmart.com into a leading internet retailer," said Carter Cast, CEO of NetShops Inc. and a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive.

    via WSJ...

  • NPD Issues Corrected Top 10 PC Games of 2007

    NPD Issues Corrected Top 10 PC Games of 2007

    World of Warcraft still tops the chart, but there's been some shuffling among the various Sims related titles. Check out the new PC chart inside...

    Below you will find the amended Top 10 PC games.

    So what's changed? The Sims 2 has jumped up to third place with many more units sold, while Call of Duty 4 drops from fourth to fifth. Also, The Sims 2 Bon Voyage Expansion Pack drops to tenth while the The Sims 2 Pets Expansion Pack is no longer in the top 10. Age of Empires III moves up from ninth to seventh and MS Flight Simulator X now makes an appearance in ninth. The problem appears to have stemmed from the exclusion of Deluxe and Gold versions on certain titles – you'll notice several more asterisks now.

    Top 10 PC Games of 2007 (Corrected)

    1. World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade* – Vivendi (Blizzard) – 2.25 million
    2. World of Warcraft* – Vivendi (Blizzard) – 914K
    3. The Sims 2* – Electronic Arts – 534K
    4. The Sims 2 Seasons Expansion Pack – Electronic Arts – 433K
    5. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare* – Activision – 383K
    6. Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars* – Electronic Arts – 350K
    7. MS Age of Empires III* – Microsoft – 313K
    8. Sim City 4* - Electronic Arts – 294K
    9. MS Flight Simulator X* - Microsoft - 280K
    10. The Sims 2 Bon Voyage Expansion Pack – Electronic Arts – 272K

    *Includes Collector's, Deluxe, Gold or Kane Editions

    via GameDaily
  • Mobile Game Sales to Hit $3 Billion in North America by 2012 – Juniper

    Mobile Game Sales to Hit $3 Billion in North America by 2012 – Juniper

    According to Juniper Research, mobile game revenues over the next few years will explode in North America, reaching $3 billion by 2012.

    The analysts at U.K.-based Juniper Research have issued a new report on the mobile games market in North America, predicting that revenues will jump from less than $800 million in 2007 to more than $3 billion by 2012.

    Juniper said that currently 18 million Americans download or rent mobile games at least once per year, but that figure should "increase sharply" during the next five years as user interfaces improve and more all-you-can-eat data packages and free trial periods for subscription-based games are introduced.

    "This 'try before you buy' strategy not only makes the customer more comfortable about purchasing a particular title: it also makes him or her more familiar with mobile gameplay per se and will provide further encouragement for the consumer to seek out additional titles in the future," noted report author Dr Windsor Holden.

    Advertising will also play a key role, as ad-funded mobile games in North America are expected to reach 30 percent by 2012. As mobile game penetration in North America rises, however, consumers can expect prices to go up, mostly due to "increasing sophistication of high-end games combined with improved form factor in handsets," Juniper said. Even with continued growth in North America, the mobile games market here is expected to continue to trail both the China/Far East region and Western Europe over the next five years.

    Juniper suggests that poor marketing of mobile titles is currently one of the big problems for publishers, since many customers are frequently unaware of new releases. Juniper also "recommends that publishers focus on enhancing their portfolios of 'lifestyle games' as a means of expanding the mobile gaming demographic."

    via GameDaily

  • NPD Results for PC Gaming in 2007

    NPD Results for PC Gaming in 2007

    Before you skip right to the numbers, keep in mind that NPD numbers don’t encompass digital downloads which explains why games like The Orange Box are conspicuously absent from the year’s top 10 chart.

    Revenue from retail sales dropped nearly $60 million from $970 million in 2006 to $910.7 million in 2007. That doesn’t encompass revenue from subscriptions from MMOs, which continue to be a major chunk of the PC market. As for what the direct cause of the drop was, I would imagine it’s a combination of increased piracy and a larger usage of digital distribution as outlets like Steam become the norm for many PC gamers.

    1. World Of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (Vivendi) - 2.25 million
    2. World Of Warcraft (Vivendi) - 914,000
    3. The Sims 2: Seasons Expansion Pack (Electronic Arts) - 433,000
    4. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Activision) - 383,000
    5. Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (Electronic Arts) - 343,000
    6. Sim City 4 Deluxe (Electronic Arts) - 284,000
    7. The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts) - 281,000
    8. The Sims 2: Bon Voyage Expansion Pack (Electronic Arts) - 271,000
    9. Age Of Empires III (Microsoft) - 259,000
    10. The Sims 2: Pets Expansion Pack (Electronic Arts) - 236,000

    It’s no surprise to see World of Warcraft and The Sims dominate the list; I’d expect nothing different in 2008. There’s not much room for games that don’t belong to either of those series to make the list, but of the four that did, it’s somewhat odd to see Age of Empires III sell just over a quarter million units.

    I really wouldn’t put much stock in these numbers for all of the aforementioned reasons. Whether or not PC gaming is struggling certainly cannot be ascertained from these figures, so don’t go crazy about how you just invested in a new 8800 when PC gaming is about to go down the toilet.

    Which I’d like to think it isn’t.

    via Gamasutra & Gaming Today

  • (one of) the greatest shareware successes of all time

    (one of) the greatest shareware successes of all time

    - Doom -
    "If you are having trouble going online to take this game to the next level of entertainment, it's probably because you stole the copy you're playing. That's OK - you know, now would be an excellent time to decide to buy a genuine copy. You got one over on us, took our hard work and got a free ride - looks like you're enjoying it so far; glad you like the game :) - but we really would appreciate it if you did us this little favor, and helped us pay our employees for all their hard work."

    via Gamasutra
  • UK Ecommerce Grows Faster than US Ecommerce

    UK Ecommerce Grows Faster than US Ecommerce

    While ecommerce is definitely robust in the US, especially online holiday shopping, it doesn’t come close to equaling what is happening in the UK. In December alone, according to vnunet.com, the UK saw 50 percent ecommerce growth.

    For 2007, over 2006, UK ecommerce saw 54 percent growth, as opposed to the 19% US ecommerce growth in 2007. As in the US, holiday shopping in the UK, especially during the last week of shopping before Christmas contributed to that growth.

    Not only that, but online retail sales in Britain account for 15 percent of the total retail spending, reports vnunet.com:

    “Online growth has proved robust and sustainable over the past year, increasing its share of UK retail from 10p in the pound to 15p,” said Anthoula Madden, vice president of consumer products in the UK at Capgemini.

    While US ecommerce continues to grow, it does not have near the share of total retail purchases seen in Great Britain. One of the main drivers behind the explosive growth of UK ecommerce is an increase in broadband connections in the UK. Other factors include such items as an increased desire for competitive pricing, convenience and selection.

    more from eCommerce Cache

  • World Of Warcraft Dominates Receding U.S. PC Retail In 2007

    World Of Warcraft Dominates Receding U.S. PC Retail In 2007

    The Entertainment Software Association has highlighted new NPD data on the PC game market, following full-year analysis on the $18.85 billion dollar video game industry pertaining specifically to PC software sales.

    Computer retail game sales in the United States totaled $910.7 million, or 36.4 million units, a decrease over last year's results, when PC games sold in a retail setting saw revenue of $970 million.

    Following the ESA-trailed results, NPD released the top 10 best-selling PC games of 2007 to online outlets including Gamasutra, revealing two major franchises - Vivendi/Blizzard's World Of Warcraft and Electronic Arts' The Sims - dominating much of the charts. The full run-down is as follows:

    1. World Of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (Vivendi) - 2.25 million
    2. World Of Warcraft (Vivendi) - 914,000
    3. The Sims 2: Seasons Expansion Pack (Electronic Arts) - 433,000
    4. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Activision) - 383,000
    5. Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (Electronic Arts) - 343,000
    6. Sim City 4 Deluxe (Electronic Arts) - 284,000
    7. The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts) - 281,000
    8. The Sims 2: Bon Voyage Expansion Pack (Electronic Arts) - 271,000
    9. Age Of Empires III (Microsoft) - 259,000
    10. The Sims 2: Pets Expansion Pack (Electronic Arts) - 236,000

    However, digital downloads were not factored in to the NPD data, since the firm only tracks bricks-and-mortar retail sales currently, making it difficult to track exactly how the PC market is trending as a whole with the rise of casual games and even digital downloads for more 'hardcore' titles.

    As an interesting aside, over both PC and console sales in 2007, NPD Group data also released by the ESA indicates that only 15.5 percent of games sold, in terms of unit sales, last year were rated "Mature".

    This compared to the 56.5 percent of games sold rated "Everyone 10+" or lower and the 28 percent of "Teen"-rated games. The "Family Entertainment" genre grew 110 percent in 2007 to 17.2 percent of all games sold, up from 9.1 percent in 2006, according to the ESA.
    more ganasutra...
  • Online Retail & Content Bracing For eBay Earnings (EBAY)

    Online Retail & Content Bracing For eBay Earnings (EBAY)

    eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) is set to report earnings after the close today. First Call has earnings estimates at $0.41 EPS on roughly $2.14 Billion in revenues. Next quarter estimates are $0.40 EPS on $2.15 Billion in revenues, and the fiscal 2008 target is $1.66 EPS on roughly $9 Billion in revenues.

    eBay did already offer some guidance for a comparison with its last earnings. For this quarter it previously offered guidance of $0.39 to $0.41 EPS on a non-GAAP basis and $2.1 to $2.15 Billion in revenues. We should get some key insight for 2008 today, and this may be the real determining factor for how Wall Street treats Auction Street.

    It is impossible to try pointing out that but there are many articles on the web about how the recent steroid scandal in sports has been affecting the sale of sports memorabilia, which is one key area for eBay. A general spending slowdown has to also limit aggressive bidding in many areas it serves as well, although that doesn't translate into an immediate drop in eBay's cut of the pie until auction prices don't merit the time spent on an auction process and listings fall off.


  • Protexis at GDC

    Protexis at GDC

    Protexis RED (Retail Electronic Distribution) enables you to securely package and deliver your game titles digitally through major online retailers.

    Game Developers Conference 2008 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, CA on February 18-22, 2008

    come visit Protexis at
    Booth Number 5110 NH
  • US eCommerce Forecast: 2008 To 2012

    US eCommerce Forecast: 2008 To 2012

    US eCommerce Forecast: 2008 To 2012
    B2C eCommerce Expected To Top $300B In Five Years

    US online retail reached $175 billion in 2007 and is projected to grow to $335 billion by 2012. Business-to-consumer (B2C) eCommerce continues its double-digit year-over-year growth rate, in part because sales are shifting away from stores and in part because online shoppers are less sensitive to adverse economic conditions than the average US consumer. Despite the continued growth of the channel, online retailers face several challenges to growth: Online stores are broadly perceived as a second choice for shoppers, online retail is becoming increasingly seasonal, and online shoppers rarely admit to browsing, which can drive valuable incremental dollars during their Web shopping experiences.

    download whitepaper
  • Online Retail Solutions Provider Welcomes New CEO

    Online Retail Solutions Provider Welcomes New CEO

    Celebros Inc. (http://www.celebros.com/) officially announced Ofer Alt as its new CEO this past September. Ofer, who holds an Executive MBA (with Distinct Honors) from Bar-Ilan University and a B.Sc., Computer Sciences, B.A., Economics from Tel-Aviv University, brings with him 15 years of management experience, the majority of which was spent founding successful companies such as Poly Information which, in the space of six years, became a leading provider of Interactive Speech Response solutions for call centers. Poly Information was founded by Ofer in 2000 and taken public in 2006 (AIM: PLY). Ofer has also offered consultation and management services to international high-tech corporations such as Amdocs, Convergys, Cyota, Mercury Interactive and Formula Group.

    "I am tremendously excited to be involved in Celebros and believe that the vision to innovation, customer service, and strategic thinking demonstrated by the current management and staff will assure ongoing and additional value to our clients well into the future," Ofer commented in an interview conducted shortly after his appointment.

    Referring to the current state of the eCommerce market, Ofer had this to say; "In the past year we've seen some dramatic shifts in the eCommerce market. Are we approaching a market peak? How can we ensure positive trends continue? These are questions burning in the mind of our growing list of international customers. At Celebros, our response is to continue to make online shopping as easy and effective as possible. This is what all of our shop search and navigations solutions are designed to do, increasing revenues for our clients while providing an enjoyable and sophisticated shopping experience."

    Additionally, during the the last business quarter, Celebros has welcomed more than 60 new customers (http://www.celebros.com/Customer_List.asp?menu=customers) from the global online retail market, half of which are based in America, an exciting target for the company's market development. The other half are European companies and showcase Celebros' continued growth in that market. Among these new clients is Galeria Kaufhof, one of Germany's largest retail operations with over 140 locations.

    'Today, Kaufhof…has established itself as the innovation leader among the German department stores. Galeria stands for a comprehensive range of premium products from international brand manufacturers, an attractive ambiance, generous store layout and a clearly structured selling space.' (from http://www.metrogroup.de/).

    About Celebros

    Founded in 2000, Celebros is an international leader in the development of intelligent, concept-based search and navigation solutions for online merchandising operations. The QwiserTM Salesperson platform, available in 7 languages, uses the most advanced natural linguistic processing abilities to pinpoint what shoppers are looking for in real-time, enabling retailers to respond in an unparalleled way, increasing sales and enriching their customers' shopping experience.

    Celebros is headquartered in California with R&D in Israel and offices in London, Munich and Paris. The company handles online merchandising and sales for more than 300 online shops across a variety of domains including some of the world's largest online retailers like Avon, figleaves.com, Ice.com, and more.

    Copyright © 2008 Celebros Inc.; all rights reserved.

  • Recession Proof Search Engine Optimization Tips

    Recession Proof Search Engine Optimization Tips

    In this month’s Target Marketing Magazine, a TopRank authored article on how small businesses can gain a competitive marketing advantage by leveraging content promotion, blogs, social media and universal search was featured. Recently there has been some dialog and commentary on certain SEM channels about upcoming harder economic times calling for SEO to be taken back to the basics: “Textbook SEO” as Mike Grehan would put it. I disagree with the premise that companies should stop experimenting with new tactics and stick with the fundamentals. Effective SEO in any economic environment means getting more creative, not mundane.

    “As search engines evolve with features such as personalized, social and unified search, so must marketers evolve — especially those on a budget.”

    What the article in Target Marketing and this post look at are creative content creation and promotion approaches to optimizing not only small business web sites, but any web site, using a holistic approach to SEO. I’ll summarize a few of the key points here:

    tips from Lee Odden,,,

  • Newegg closes in on $2 billion in annual web sales

    Newegg closes in on $2 billion in annual web sales

    Online computer and consumer electronics retailer Newegg.com finished 2007 with web sales just shy of $2 billion. For the year, web sales for Newegg grew by 26.7% to about $1.9 billion from e-commerce revenue of $1.5 billion in 2006.

    We are very pleased with our performance in the fourth quarter of 2007, and with 2007 as a whole, says Newegg general counsel Lee Cheng. Our growth, particularly with the general downward trends in the traditional retail sector, demonstrated the fundamental strength of the Internet retail channel.

    In late 2007 Newegg, No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also opened a 337,000 square foot distribution center in Edison, NJ, that enables the company to ship 90% of all orders to customers located on the East Coast within two business days. The distribution hub features a new internally developed warehouse management and conveyor system.

    With the new fulfillment hub, Newegg now occupies more than 1 million square feet of warehousing and distribution space. The opening of the new warehouse, while directly benefiting Neweggs East Coast customer base with faster shipping, also will have the overall effect of shortening shipping time for all customers regardless of location,says Newegg vice president of merchandising and product marketing Bernard Luthi. As a result, 90% of all customers will receive their shipments within two days of ordering and 99.9% within three days.

    Newegg also operates U.S. distribution centers in Industry and Whittier, CA and in Memphis, TN. Overseas Newegg has fulfillment hubs in China in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Rick Quiroga, vice president, finance, at Newegg.com is speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 9-12 in Chicago in a session titled Taking Security, Payments and Operations to Failsafe Levels.

  • Best Buy buys Shanghai distribution center

    Best Buy buys Shanghai distribution center

    Consumer electronics giant Best Buy has rented a distribution center in Shanghai. Designed by logistics provider, Kuehne + Nagel, the 6,000-square-meter facility lies in Minhang district, in the city’s southwest. Kuehne + Nagel will manage the warehouse and also supply its distribution services in China.

    Best Buy opened its first retail store in China at the beginning of 2007.

    The photo is taken from the China Herald and shows the store in the busy shopping district of Xujiahui in central Shanghai.
    Source: PR Kuehne + Nagel, Best Buy

  • Oxigen Enters into a Strategic Relationship with Microsoft

    Oxigen Enters into a Strategic Relationship with Microsoft

    Oxigen Services India Pvt Ltd, an IT enabled multi services platform and distributor of Recharges, Prepaid subscriptions and Bill payments, announced today that Microsoft Corp. has acquired an equity stake in Oxigen.

    This collaboration is part of Microsoft's Unlimited Potential Groups commitment to help close the digital divide by creating new products and programs that will help bring social and economic opportunity to people who are not yet realizing the benefits of technology.

    By partnering with Microsoft, Oxigen expects to expand its business rapidly in the virtual payments and distribution space using Microsoft's Web & Mobile based technologies, as well as getting access to Microsoft's advertising services. Microsoft will add strategic value to Oxigen's business, said Pramod Saxena, Chairman & Managing Director, Oxigen Group.

    We're extremely pleased to enter into this strategic agreement with Oxigen, making Microsoft products and services available to support Oxigens continued business growth in India, said Peter Mansour, General Manager of Business Development and Strategy at Microsoft. Microsoft has been active in building services and technologies to support the growth of mobile communications for many years, and we believe our alliance with Oxigen will be a win for the many consumers both companies serve, he added.

    "Oxigen and Microsoft provide mutual assistance to one another in exploring new business opportunities." Oxigen said in a statement it would collaborate on a preferred partnership basis with Microsoft to drive services and products in developing economies and explore new business opportunities, within and outside the country.

    The primary focus of Oxigen Services has been on Recharge, Subscriptions, Billing and Payments through Electronic Distribution.

    The company handles

    Aggregation of Recharge, Bill Payments & Subscriptions, for all leading Telecom operators, Internet Service providers, Direct to Home TV (Dish and Tata Sky), PrePaid Radio ( World space), PrePaid Value added Services (MobiBuzz), Railway and Airline ticketing (Air Deccans MFly) etc on a single platform.

    It has a plethora of other services in its pipeline like Utility services, Insurance, Travel, Cinema , Gaming, Applications and Video content that would be launched shortly on its web and mobile solution,Oxicash, a Virtual Wallet.

    This Platform further Distributes these services to Oxigen's Pan India Retail Network of approximately 50,000 touch points, which it intends to grow to 250,000 by 2010 .

    The Vision of the company is To be a pan India, virtual Distribution network, with Electronic Delivery and Payment of pre paid and post paid services of all kinds, in a seamlessly networked environment. Oxigen is a neutral Payment Solution provider and can be accessed universally across all platforms for the convenience and a unique mega mart like experience to consumers.
  • Sony Pictures Television Approves Content Distribution for DivX Certified Devices

    Sony Pictures Television Approves Content Distribution for DivX Certified Devices

    DivX, Inc. and Sony Pictures Television Inc. today announced an agreement that will enable online retailers to offer Sony Pictures titles for secure download in the high-quality DivX format for playback on DivX Certified consumer electronics devices powered by the next-generation chipset solution.

    "This milestone agreement lays the foundation for Sony to offer high quality video content in the DivX format to its retail partners for playback on next-generation DivX Certified devices," said Kevin Hell, CEO of DivX, Inc. "Consumers want the flexibility and choice to enjoy high-quality video content from a range of retailers across a variety of devices. We are very pleased Sony Pictures Television recognizes the value of the DivX digital media solution and look forward to working together to offer a great experience to consumers."

    "We are dedicated to finding legitimate outlets for our content and to that end are excited to be working with DivX to provide retailers with an expanded ecosystem for the digital distribution and playback of our digital media," said Michael Arrieta, Executive Vice President, Digital Distribution & Mobile Entertainment, Sony Pictures Television.

    For more information about DivX, visit www.divx.com. To learn more about Sony Pictures Television, visit www.sonypicturestelevision.com.

    About DivX
    DivX, Inc. is a digital media company that enables consumers to enjoy a high-quality video experience across any kind of device. DivX creates, distributes and licenses digital video technologies that span the "three screens" comprising today's consumer media environment—the PC, the television and mobile devices. Over 100 million DivX Certified devices have shipped into the market from leading consumer electronics manufacturers. DivX also offers content providers and publishers a complete solution for the distribution of secure, high-quality digital video content. Driven by a globally recognized brand and a passionate community of hundreds of millions of consumers, DivX is simplifying the video experience to enable the digital home.

    About Sony Pictures Television Inc.
    Sony Pictures Television is one of the television industry’s leading content providers. It produces and distributes programming in every genre, including series, telefilms, theatrical releases and family entertainment for network and cable television, as well as first-run and off-network series for syndication. With more than 25 programs on the air, SPT boasts a program slate that includes the top-rated daytime dramas and game shows, landmark off-network series, original animated series and critically acclaimed primetime dramas, comedies and telefilms. SPT also owns one-half of cable channel GSN and is a partner in FEARnet, the premier horror/thriller website and VOD service. Sony Pictures Television oversees all of Sony Pictures Entertainment's (SPE) domestic digital distribution efforts across all electronically delivered platforms, including the internet and mobile. Sony Pictures Television, advertiser sales, is one of the premiere national advertising sales companies, handling the commercial inventory in SPT syndicated series as well as in all of SPE's digital businesses in the United States, for Sony BMG and for iN DEMAND's high-definition channel Mojo and the Tennis Channel, and is part owner of national media sales company ITN Networks, Inc. SPT (www.sonypicturestelevision.com) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
  • MediaCart, Microsoft and Wakefern Team Up to Deliver Next-Generation Digital Grocery Shopping and Ad Experience

    MediaCart, Microsoft and Wakefern Team Up to Deliver Next-Generation Digital Grocery Shopping and Ad Experience

    MediaCart system to use Microsoft's Atlas ad-serving technology to deliver targeted advertising to shoppers directly at the point of purchase.

    NEW YORK and REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- MediaCart Holdings, Microsoft Corp. and Wakefern Food Corporation announced today, at the National Retail Federation's 97th Annual Convention & Expo, that Wakefern plans to pilot MediaCart's next-generation computerized shopping carts for potential rollout to all ShopRite stores. The early pilot, conducted with Wakefern in its ShopRite stores, provided insights from both the consumer and retailer perspective that were adopted in the next-generation product. The nine-month pilot with Wakefern began in the spring of 2007. Microsoft's Atlas Division will provide video ad serving on the MediaCart grocery cart screen, providing advertisers with the opportunity to reach shoppers at the point of purchase, and providing ShopRite customers with a more personalized shopping experience.

    (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080114/AQM077)

    (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO)

    "In working with companies like MediaCart, we're continuing to push the envelope in the digital advertising realm to enable new and innovative ways for advertisers and agencies to create brand loyalty and engage with their target audiences in a highly relevant, measurable and targeted way," said Scott Ferris, general manager of the Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group at Microsoft. "Digital advertising opportunities are expanding rapidly into new areas, as many of consumers' daily activities, such as shopping, become increasingly 'connected,' and Microsoft is committed to working with advertisers and agencies to take advantage of these opportunities as they unfold."

    By using Microsoft technologies, the MediaCart solution will enable anonymous ad targeting through data obtained through ShopRite's customer loyalty card program. A shopper would scan his or her card at the MediaCart, and receive ads and promotional offers based on past purchases and/or saved shopping lists that could be uploaded from a home PC. No personally identifiable information will be shared with Microsoft, MediaCart or any advertiser as part of the ad serving process. The technology will also provide advertisers with reporting and analytics capabilities to assess performance of the ads in the stores.

    In addition to the advertising shoppers will receive, they will also be able to save time and money with MediaCart-equipped shopping carts by obtaining electronic coupons, locating products in the store, performing comparative price checks, viewing store specials in aisle as they shop, viewing recipes and nutritional information, shopping using an electronic shopping list that is presented in aisle order, totaling the cost of the items in their baskets before checkout, and expediting the checkout using the cart-level checkout feature. This enhanced shopping experience helps differentiate ShopRite in the marketplace and drives brand and customer loyalty.

    "Through the powerful combination of Microsoft and MediaCart, we are providing our customers with a cutting-edge shopping experience, unmatched in the industry," said Joseph Colalillo, chairman and CEO of Wakefern. "This is an exciting step in our ongoing commitment to meet and exceed the needs of our shoppers and stores."

    "With its strong technology leadership and shopper loyalty programs, ShopRite stores are ideal for the MediaCart system, which can further leverage the valuable shopper data to improve shopper communications," said David Brice, chairman and CEO of MediaCart. "We look forward to fulfilling agreements that utilize Wakefern's extensive retail experience and Microsoft's best-in-class advertising technology to take our shopping cart systems to a new level in their stores."

    In addition to Microsoft's Atlas technologies, the MediaCart solution is also built on Microsoft Windows CE and Microsoft SQL Server. Trials of the MediaCart solution are expected to begin in ShopRite stores in the second half of 2008.

    About Wakefern Food Corp.

    From a small, struggling cooperative with eight members -- all owners of their own grocery stores -- Wakefern Food Corporation has grown into the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States and one of the largest employers in New Jersey. The cooperative is comprised of 44 members who individually own and operate supermarkets under the ShopRite banner. Today, Wakefern, the merchandising and distribution arm of the company, and the 200 ShopRite stores located throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware, employ more than 47,000 people.

    A long time supporter of key community efforts, ShopRite was named America's Second Harvest Grocery Distributor of the Year (1999) for its ShopRite Partners In Caring program, a year-round initiative dedicated to fighting hunger in the communities served by ShopRite stores. Since its inception, ShopRite Partners In Caring has donated more than $15 million to more than 1,400 worthy charities.

    About MediaCart

    Media Cart Holdings, Inc., is leader in delivering computerized retail and grocery shopping cart systems to both assist shoppers and deliver point-of-purchase video communications for retailers and consumer product goods manufacturers. The MediaCart system uses the precise location of the shopping cart in the store as well as relevant shopping history and demographic data to drive pertinent communications at the point-of-purchase. For retailers, MediaCart integrates with their point-of-sale systems to offer a powerful competitive advantage for increasing customer loyalty and improving sales while capturing a new revenue stream from advertisements and promotions to individual shoppers. The Company was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Plano, Texas. Further information on MediaCart and its revolutionary shopping systems can be found at http://www.mediacart.com.

    About Microsoft

    Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

  • Wal-Mart Offers SEO and SEM Services

    Wal-Mart Offers SEO and SEM Services

    It sounds like an April Fools Day joke but SEO-focused journalists first got wind of it around Christmas. Sam s Club Wal-Mart s brand for bulk sales to small businesses now offers search marketing services. What does this mean for SEO and SEM consultants ... See how easy remote support can be. Try WebEx free! Deliver efficient and effective support. Remotely control applications. Leap ... (source:seochat.com)
    Read News
  • Roxio Launches BackOnTrack Online

    Roxio Launches BackOnTrack Online

    Roxio(R), a division of Sonic Solutions(R) , the leader in digital media software, today launched BackOnTrack(TM) Online, a digital media storage solution that automatically and continuously protects personal data and precious family memories. Trivially easy to set up and maintain, personal content is encrypted and uploaded to a remote and secure Roxio online backup center. In the event of computer data loss due to a crash, system theft, human error or even natural disaster, consumers' digital files can be quickly restored from any Web-connected computer. Consumers can begin safeguarding their digital lives today through a risk-free, 15-day trial available directly from Roxio at http://www.roxio.com. A 12-month subscription offering unlimited storage space is available for $49.99.

    BackOnTrack Online complements the recently released Roxio BackOnTrack Suite, a client-based backup application that offers components for system restoration, disaster recovery, as well as data backup to disc. Using both solutions in conjunction can comprehensively protect against the risk of any computer data loss.

    "Losing irreplaceable photos of your baby's first steps, a family reunion, or video from your wedding would be devastating, yet the majority of consumers are still not protecting themselves from this possibility," said Alexander Hars, director of product marketing, Roxio division of Sonic Solutions. "Unfortunately, hardware disasters can happen to anyone at anytime. As a company that enables consumers to manage and enjoy their photos, videos and music, we naturally understand the importance of protecting all these precious multi-media projects and content. With Roxio BackOnTrack Online, our customers can now quickly and conveniently backup their digital content and enjoy the peace-of-mind of knowing that their lifetime of memories is secure."

    Powered by the award-winning backup solution provider Carbonite, Roxio BackOnTrack Online offers a number of features designed to simplify and streamline the otherwise complicated and often time consuming data backup process:

        Fast and Easy: BackOnTrack Online takes the complication and guess work
    out of data protection with a streamlined installation process, automated
    data uploading, and a straightforward User Interface design and workflow.

    Unlimited Storage: BackOnTrack Online offers unlimited storage capacity so
    users don't have to pick and choose the files to backup. Lengthy videos,
    extensive photo and music collections, or even the entire contents of a
    hard drive can be easily uploaded to Roxio's online backup center.

    Completely Automated: With BackOnTrack Online, consumers can set it once
    and forget it. New and changed files are automatically detected and
    uploaded whenever the computer is connected to the Internet. To maintain
    system efficiency, BackOnTrack Online will upload content to the Internet
    after the computer is idle for a few minutes.

    Safe and Secure: All files are automatically encrypted for privacy before
    being transferred to Roxio's secure remote backup center and can be safely
    recovered from any Internet-connected computer.

    Easy Restore: Allows consumers to quickly recover everything or individual
    files or folders using the BackOnTrack Online Drive, which appears as a
    standard drive on Windows "My Computer".

    About Roxio

    Sonic's Consumer Products Group develops a range of award-winning digital media creation, management, preservation, sharing, and enjoyment applications for home and business users under the Roxio brand. Roxio products offer the perfect blend of ease and power, enabling consumers to achieve professional results from their photo, video, and music projects with minimal effort. Roxio's flagship applications, Easy Media Creator for the PC and Toast(R) for the Apple Macintosh, are the best-selling products in their respective categories in North American retail.

    Roxio's parent company, Sonic Solutions enables the creation, management, and enjoyment of digital media content through its Hollywood to Home(TM) products, services and technologies. Sonic's products range from the advanced authoring systems used to produce Hollywood DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc film releases to the award-winning Roxio(R)-branded photo, video, music, and digital-media management applications. Sonic's patented technologies and AuthorScript(R) media engine are relied upon by leading technology firms to define rich media experiences on a wide array of consumer electronics, mobile devices, set-top players, retail kiosks, and PCs. Sonic Solutions is headquartered in Marin County, California.

    Forward Looking Statements

    This press release may contain forward-looking statements that are based upon current expectations, including the launch, distribution, and market acceptance of Roxio BackOnTrack Online. Actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward looking statements as a result of various risks and uncertainties, including those discussed in the Company's annual and quarterly reports on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This press release should be read in conjunction with the Company's most recent annual report on Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and other reports on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which contain a more detailed discussion of the Company's business including risks and uncertainties that may affect future results. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements.

    Sonic, the Sonic logo, Sonic Solutions, Roxio, BackOnTrack, Toast, Hollywood to Home, and AuthorScript are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sonic Solutions or its subsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries. All other company or product names are trademarks of their respective owners and, in some cases, are used by Sonic Solutions under license. Specifications, pricing and delivery schedules are subject to change without notice.

  • UK PC Retail Awards 2008

    UK PC Retail Awards 2008

    An in-depth look at the upcoming PC Retail Awards 08

    The finalists for the 2008 PC Retail Awards represent those groups of individuals who have all excelled as participants in the UK technology channel. We now hand over to our panel of 75 channel insiders to vote for the winners of each award and look forward to announcing them on the big night.

    Click here for a look at the finalists in the FRONTLINE AWARDS category

    Click here for a look at the finalists in the DISTRIBUTION AWARDS category

    Click here for a look at the finalists in the VENDOR AWARDS category

    Click here for a special look at the SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD
  • end of the boxed retail channel for PC games may be near

    end of the boxed retail channel for PC games may be near

    Q&A: WildTangent's St. John Talks PC Distribution's Future In 1995, WildTangent CEO -- and vocal Vista detractor Alex St. John declared that DOS was dead and games for Windows would be in -- and he was jeered.

    Now, St. John says the end of the boxed retail channel for PC games may be near, with huge file sizes as the last frontier, and talks to Gamasutra about where his company WildTangent's PC content management system aims to fit in, and how he hopes to help developers become more independent.

  • Electronic Arts to give away video games online

    Electronic Arts to give away video games online

    A new, free version of Battlefield heralds the games indutry's shift towards making money from advertising and in-game sales

    Electronic Arts, the computer game publisher, has signalled its intent to embrace new, internet-based business models, announcing a version of its popular Battlefield title that will be distributed free online.

    Battlefield Heroes - a slimmed down, cartoonish version of its popular combat game, will be released for PC this summer. Instead of being sold for around $20 (£10), it will be available as a download for no charge. The makers aim to generate revenue through advertising and sales of weapons, outfits and other 'virtual items' that can be used in the game.

    The move reflects a wider shift in the video game industry towards online distribution - both as a means of capturing new audiences and to take advantage of new revenue opportunities, such as the ability for players to make purchases within the game, and watch ads.

    Already in South Korea, one of the world's most developed markets for games, companies such as Nexon have garnered huge audiences for so-called 'online casual games', which are free to play and often generate far greater profit margins for their creators than games sold at retail.

    Battlefield Heroes will be a simpler than previous installments - with an average target playing session of 10 to 15 minutes. EA hopes that this - along with its more cartoonish style - will attract new players.

    It won't be EA's first venture in free, online distribution of games. Two years ago, it introduced a free version of its FIFA football game in South Korea, which allows players to buy shoes and strips, as well as to increase the speed and accuracy of their team.

    The game now has more than five million players, and while most do not buy anything, a significant number end up spending between $15 and $20 a month, meaning that the title generates $1 million a month of 'in game' sales, an EA executive told The New York Times.

    "Traditional publishers like EA are seeking to move away from the traditional model, which is building something very expensive and hoping it will generate sales within three to four weeks of going on sale, to building something cheaper, which it's possible to update," Piers Harding Rolls, an analyst at Screen Digest, said.

    Computer games have long allowed players to interact with one another online. Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation now have internet-based features, and so-called 'massively multi-player online games (MMOG)', such as World of Warcraft, are expected to have 12 million subscribers in the US and Western Europe by 2011, according to Screen Digest.

    Unlike the latter - for which users must pay a monthly subscription - the new breed of 'casual online games' are free to download, and generate revenue through other means, such as the sale of virtual items and advertising.

    more by

  • Samsung, CinemaNow Embrace Macrovision Vision of Set-top as Key Home Media Hub

    Samsung, CinemaNow Embrace Macrovision Vision of Set-top as Key Home Media Hub

    January 19, 2008 – Convergence of Web and cable, satellite or telco video on consumer TVs and other devices stands to accelerate this year and next, as both consumer electronics and Web video firms embrace plug-and-play home network standards.

    Indeed, a next generation of cable, IPTV and satellite set-tops promises to outrun a stalled generation of Web TV set-top boxes that have largely failed to gain consumer acceptance. In the process, the plug-and-play set-tops also promise to retain a crucial role for cable, IPTV and satellite operators in the Web video race to the TV.

    Macrovision Corp. has advanced the multi-vendor plug-and-play movement on several fronts in recent weeks:
    • Consumer electronics (CE) giant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. licensed Macrovision Connected Platform technology to deliver next-generation set-top boxes by late 2008 with the capability to download, find and manage digital content seamlessly throughout the home. Samsung, a supplier of hundreds of thousands of set-tops to Time Warner Cable, will combine the Macrovision Connected Platform with its CableLabs-based tru2way (formerly OpenCable) applications platform to create a home network solution for cable.
    • Movie and TV download service CinemaNow and Macrovision agreed to integrate their technologies to enable consumers to acquire premium video content and download it directly from CinemaNow to Macrovision-enabled CE devices such as digital television sets, set-top boxes and network attached storage (NAS) devices.

    Driving Web video beyond PCs to the TV and other devices has taken a higher profile over the past year with the proliferation of Web video set-top boxes such as Akimbo, Apple TV and Vudu, and of video download-capable game consoles like Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. However, those boxes are dedicated to singular and exclusive walled garden content sources like Akimbo.com, iTunes.com, Xbox LIVE.com and Vudu.com. Additionally, a device like Apple TV interoperates with, and allows copying to, only iPod, iPhone and other devices made solely by Apple.

    Arguably, those content and device walled gardens have contributed to limited consumer adoption of the dedicated Web video boxes.

    In contrast, Macrovision and partners like CinemaNow suggest that Web video will makes its way to the TV en masse only if CE makers adopt common home network interconnection standards, and if content aggregators and distributors open their service access in a secure manner to multi-vendor, plug-and-play devices and home networks.

    “The challenge everyone has right now is being able to have access across a wide reach of device categories,” says CinemaNow CEO Curt Marvis. “Someone will be more willing to buy Harry Potter when they know it will play on four different devices. We feel we have the most robust offering to put in front of all these different categories. I don’t care if it’s a set-top, retail CE or a mobile phone.”

    Long a dominant leader in providing copy-protection technologies to Hollywood and television networks in the DVD distribution space, Macrovision intends to carry that mantle into online distribution and consumer fair-use copying, in part through several recent acquisitions.

    The Connected Platform is based on software developed by Mediabolic, which Macrovision acquired last year. It provides the dominant reference architecture used by all CE makers adopting Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) guidelines for home networking. Scores of manufacturers of TVs, media storage devices, DVRs and other home networked devices are employing DLNA guidelines to produce devices that will automatically interoperate with other DLNA-certified devices by sharing a common stack of Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), MPEG and other standard protocols.


  • Google Integrating Shopping Comparison Engine Customer Reviews

    Google Integrating Shopping Comparison Engine Customer Reviews

    A recent AuctionByte article was making the rounds last week here at Mercent, detailing Google’s customer review system which has been put into place for Goolge Product Search. It is no secret customer reviews significantly impact a buyer’s decision in making purchases online. The interesting part here, is how Google is putting this information together.

  • comScore Media Metrix Releases Top 50 U.S. Web Rankings for December

    comScore Media Metrix Releases Top 50 U.S. Web Rankings for December

    Retail Sites Post Second Consecutive Month of Strong Gains During Holiday Shopping Season

    RESTON, Va., Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- comScore, Inc. , a leader in measuring the digital world, today released its monthly analysis of U.S. consumer activity at top online properties for December 2007 from the comScore Media Metrix service. The month saw increased traffic to retail sites, shipping sites, and weather sites.

    "While the online holiday shopping promotions begin in earnest in November, the heaviest shopping and online spending actually occurs in December," said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix. "With shipping date guarantees extending later and in-store pickup options available, online holiday shopping is becoming increasingly conducive to the procrastinator."

    Retail Sites Swell Before Holidays

    Holiday shopping resulted in several retail categories experiencing significant growth during the month. The fragrances/cosmetics category climbed 30 percent to 21.5 million visitors, making it the top-gaining category for December, led by BathandBodyWorks.com with 4.4 million visitors (up 27 percent) and Sephora.com with 4.1 million visitors (up 41 percent).

    The consumer goods category once again saw significant growth for the second consecutive month, gaining 23 percent to nearly 36 million visitors. OfficeMax led the category with 15.3 million visitors, up 170 percent from the previous month, with much of the growth generated by the popular Office Max branded viral holiday greeting site ElfYourSelf.com. OfficeMax also claimed the top-gaining property position for the month. Other consumer goods sites achieving growth included QVC Sites, up 3 percent to 6.1 million visitors, and retailer Hammacher Schlemmer's site Hammacher.com, up 9 percent to 807,000 visitors.

    The retail - music category posted a 17-percent increase to nearly 28 million visitors, led by Barnes & Noble with 9.3 million visitors (up 20 percent), CDUniverse.com with 3.5 million visitors (up 4 percent) and eMusic with 3.4 million visitors (up 89 percent).

    Other retail categories experiencing strong growth for the month included jewelry/luxury goods/accessories (up 22 percent to 24 million visitors), retail-food (up 14 percent to 19 million visitors), retail-sports/outdoors (up 13 percent to 36.6 million visitors), and flowers/gifts/greetings (up 12 percent to 44.6 million visitors).

    Shipping Sites Surge Amid Holiday Package Rush

    December saw shipping sites jump as consumers shipped and anxiously awaited their holiday deliveries. The category rose 21 percent to 37 million visitors for December, with UPS Sites leading the category with 18.3 million visitors (up 34 percent), followed by USPS.com with 16.8 million visitors (up 19 percent) and FedEx with 12.3 million visitors (up 28 percent).

    Weather Category Gains in Anticipation of Wintery Conditions and Holiday Travel

    Holiday travel plans and winter storms sent Americans searching for weather forecasts, resulting in a 14-percent increase in visitors to weather sites. The Weather Channel topped the category with 40.7 million visitors, up 19 percent from November. Other sites experiencing significant growth included Yahoo! Weather (up 23 percent to 12.5 million visitors), AOL Weather (up 52 percent to 6.3 million visitors) and MSN Weather (up 34 percent to 5.8 million visitors).

    Top 50 Properties

    Yahoo! Sites continued its reign as the top U.S. Web property in December with nearly 137 million visitors, followed by Google Sites (133 million visitors) and Microsoft Sites (120 million visitors). Apple Inc., which benefited from interest in popular holiday gifts like the iPod and iPhone, moved up one spot to capture position 10 with 47.7 million visitors. Holiday shopping also lifted Sears Sites, which jumped 10 spots to number 21, Best Buy Sites, which rose 5 spots to 22, and JCPenney Sites, gaining 5 spots to position 40. NBC Universal, iVillage.com: The Womens Network, and Weatherbug Property all entered the rankings this month capturing positions 48, 49, and 50, respectively.

    Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking

    Advertising.com continued to lead the Ad Focus ranking of ad networks and sites accepting advertising, reaching 86 percent of the more than 183 million Americans online in December. Specific Media gained four spots to capture the fourth position reaching 77 percent of the online population. Collective Media gained seven spots to position 14, while Amazon.com climbed three spots to 34. YuMe Video Network, About, and Disney Online all entered the ranking this month capturing positions 37, 44, and 48, respectively.

    TABLE 1

    comScore Top 10 Gaining Properties by Percentage Change in Unique
    Visitors* (U.S.)
    December 2007 vs. November 2007
    Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
    Source: comScore Media Metrix
    Total Unique Visitors (000)

    Rank by
    Nov-07 Dec-07 % Change Visitors
    Total Internet: Total Audience 182,362 183,619 1 N/A
    OfficeMax 5,687 15,339 170 59
    JibJab Media 1,718 4,404 156 239
    Intuit 3,154 7,096 125 140
    FrontierNet.net 4,037 8,028 99 122
    Visa 2,833 5,196 83 195
    Buzznet 3,100 4,973 60 210
    DicksSportingGoods.com 3,493 5,093 46 205
    123Greetings.com 3,659 5,116 40 202
    Infospace Network 3,727 5,151 38 197
    Pronto.com 5,489 7,505 37 131

    *Ranking based on the top 250 properties in December 2007

    TABLE 2

    comScore Top 10 Gaining Categories by Percentage Change in Unique Visitors
    December 2007 vs. November 2007
    Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet
    Source: comScore Media Metrix
    Total Unique Visitors (000)

    Nov-07 Dec-07 % Change
    Total Internet: Total Audience 182,362 183,619 1
    Fragrances/Cosmetics 16,592 21,512 30
    Consumer Goods 29,100 35,936 23
    Jewelry/Luxury Goods/Accessories 19,688 24,036 22
    Shipping 30,693 36,990 21
    Retail - Music 23,846 27,933 17
    Gay/Lesbian 2,043 2,367 16
    Retail - Food 16,629 19,000 14
    Weather 60,132 68,388 14
    Sports/Outdoor 32,244 36,586 13
    Flowers/Gifts/Greetings 39,753 44,594 12

    TABLE 3

    comScore Top 50 Properties (U.S.)
    December 2007
    Total U.S. -- Home, Work and University Locations
    Unique Visitors (000)
    Source: comScore Media Metrix

    Rank Property Unique Rank Property Unique
    Visitors Visitors
    (000) (000)
    Total Internet:
    Total Audience 183,619
    1 Yahoo! Sites 136,634 26 Disney Online 26,167
    2 Google Sites 132,954 27 CBS Corporation 25,083
    3 Microsoft Sites 120,034 28 Glam Media 25,028
    4 Time Warner Network 119,545 29 CRAIGSLIST.ORG 24,468
    5 Fox Interactive Media 81,847 30 Yellowpages.com
    Network 24,453
    6 eBay 79,892 31 Bank of America 23,771
    7 Amazon Sites 65,205 32 Superpages.com
    Network 23,448
    8 Wikipedia Sites 51,851 33 Monster Worldwide 22,565
    9 Ask Network 49,509 34 Real.com Network 20,988
    10 Apple Inc. 47,724 35 ESPN 20,667
    11 New York Times Digital 44,362 36 E.W. Scripps 20,207
    12 Wal-Mart 44,341 37 Gannett Sites 20,163
    13 Viacom Digital 43,109 38 United Online,
    Inc 19,617
    14 Target Corporation 42,634 39 Circuit City
    Stores, Inc. 18,751
    15 Weather Channel, The 40,663 40 JCPenney Sites 18,729
    16 CNET Networks 35,773 41 Expedia Inc 18,702
    17 Facebook.com 34,658 42 NFL Internet
    Group 18,557
    18 Adobe Sites 30,798 43 Lycos Sites 18,427
    19 AT&T, Inc. 30,212 44 UPS Sites 18,314
    20 Verizon Communications 45 AmericanGreetings
    Corporation 28,656 Property 18,102
    21 Sears Sites 27,203 46 Photobucket.com
    LLC 18,060
    22 Best Buy Sites 27,067 47 ARTISTdirect
    Network 17,729
    23 Gorilla Nation 26,642 48 NBC Universal 17,309
    24 Shopzilla.com Sites 26,524 49 iVillage.com: The
    Womens Network 17,234
    25 Comcast Corporation 26,445 50 Weatherbug
    Property 17,077

    TABLE 4

    comScore Ad Focus Ranking (U.S.)
    December 2007
    Total U.S. - Home, Work and University
    Unique Visitors (000)
    Source: comScore Media Metrix

    Unique Unique
    Visitors Reach Visitors Reach
    Rank Property (000) % Rank Property (000) %

    Total Internet:
    Total Audience 183,619 100 %
    1 Advertising.com** 157,413 86 % 26 Vibrant Media** 71,901 39 %
    2 Yahoo! Network** 155,511 85 % 27 MySpace.com* 68,905 38 %
    3 Google Ad Network** 141,678 77 % 28 CPX
    Interactive** 68,840 37 %
    4 Specific Media** 141,104 77 % 29 Ebay.com 67,861 37 %
    5 Yahoo! 134,496 73 % 30 Gorilla
    Nation Media 66,993 36 %
    6 ValueClick 31 Undertone
    Networks** 133,982 73 % Networks** 61,512 34 %
    7 Blue Lithium** 133,674 73 % 32 MSN.com Home
    Page 59,212 32 %
    8 Tribal Fusion** 126,321 69 % 33 YouTube.com 56,628 31 %
    9 Google 125,319 68 % 34 Amazon.com 55,972 30 %
    10 Casale Media 35 AdDynamix.com** 49,840 27 %
    Network** 113,942 62 %
    11 AOL Media Network 107,793 59 % 36 Ask Network 49,509 27 %
    12 DRIVEpm** 105,991 58 % 37 YuMe Video
    Network 46,997 26 %
    13 MSN-Windows Live 103,675 56 % 38 Business.com
    Network 44,939 24 %
    14 Collective Media** 102,621 56 % 39 Ebau.com Home
    Page 43,660 24 %
    15 interCLICK** 98,635 54 % 40 Kontera** 43,629 24 %
    16 Traffic 41 PrecisionClick** 43,473 24 %
    Marketplace** 95,233 52 %
    17 Yahoo.com Home Page 94,751 52 % 42 Mapquest 43,195 24 %
    18 adconion media 43 Walmart.com 41,583 23 %
    group** 92,499 50 %
    19 Tremor Media 91,264 50 % 44 About 37,797 21 %
    20 AOL 90,269 49 % 45 The Nabbr
    Network 36,028 20 %
    21 24/7 Real Media** 85,824 47 % 46 Facebook.com 34,658 19 %
    22 Burst Media** 80,312 44 % 47 Weather.com 31,696 17 %
    23 ADSDAQ by 48 Disney Online 26,167 14 %
    ContextWeb** 80,111 44 %
    24 AdBrite** 78,533 43 % 49 Vizi Media** 26,023 14 %
    25 Centro 77,316 42 % 50 Real Cities
    Network 25,404 14 %

    Reach % denotes the percentage of the total Internet population that viewed a particular entity at least once in December. For instance, Yahoo! was seen by 73 percent of the more than 183 million Internet users in December.

        * Entity has assigned some portion of traffic to other syndicated
    ** Denotes an advertising network.

    About comScore Media Metrix

    comScore Media Metrix provides industry-leading Internet audience measurement services that report details of online media usage, visitor demographics and online buying power for the home, work and university audiences across local U.S. markets and across the globe. comScore Media Metrix reports are used by financial analysts, advertising agencies, publishers and marketers. comScore Media Metrix syndicated ratings are based on industry-sanctioned sampling methodologies.

    About comScore

    comScore, Inc. is a global leader in measuring the digital world. This capability is based on a massive, global cross-section of more than 2 million consumers who have given comScore permission to confidentially capture their browsing and transaction behavior, including online and offline purchasing. comScore panelists also participate in survey research that captures and integrates their attitudes and intentions. Through its proprietary technology, comScore measures what matters across a broad spectrum of behavior and attitudes. comScore analysts apply this deep knowledge of customers and competitors to help clients design powerful marketing strategies and tactics that deliver superior ROI. comScore services are used by more than 800 clients, including global leaders such as AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo!, BBC, Carat, Cyworld, Deutsche Bank, France Telecom, Best Buy, The Newspaper Association of America, Financial Times, ESPN, Fox Sports, Nestle, Starcom, Universal McCann, the United States Postal Service, Verizon, ViaMichelin, Merck and Expedia. For more information, please visit http://www.comscore.com.

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  • Microsoft's John Schappert Keynoting at GDC 08

    Microsoft's John Schappert Keynoting at GDC 08

    Amazingly, it's been a few years since Microsoft gave a keynote speech at the Game Developers Conference. They'll correct that this year, with John Schappert on hand.

    The CMP Game Group, today announced that John Schappert, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Live, Software and Services for the Interactive Entertainment Business will give a keynote address at the 2008 Game Developers Conference (GDC). He will give a speech titled "A Future Wide Open: Unleashing the Creative Community" where he will talk about democratizing game development, and the role of online gaming for his company's plans in the coming year for the Xbox 360. Schappert's speech will mark the first GDC Microsoft keynote since 2005.

    "The Game Developers Conference is the premiere stage for industry leaders to present their strategies for advancing the state of the art of games," said Jamil Moledina, executive director of the GDC. "Given John's experience and the Microsoft game development team behind him, we are confident that our attendees will not want to miss this glimpse into the future of how games will be made."

    GDC, will take place February 18 - 22, 2008 in the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

  • Web measurement firm comScore Inc. says online retail sales grew 19% in November and December.

    Web measurement firm comScore Inc. says online retail sales grew 19% in November and December.

    It was a happy holiday season for some major online retailers

    While overall retail sales were disappointing, online sales for 10 of the largest web merchants grew by a robust 29% year-over-year during the recent holiday season, reports Chase Paymentech, which processes payments for those e-retailers. Separately, web-only jewelry retailer Blue Nile says its fourth quarter sales were up 24% over 2006.

    The online results stand out amid the weak results for retailers overall. The National Retail Federation says retail sales for November and December totaled $469.9 billion, a 3% increase from 2006. That fell short of the trade group's projection of 4% growth in holiday spending, and represented the smallest increase since 2002.

    But it was a different story online, at least for the big retailers in the Chase Paymentech Pulse Index. Those retailers realized $5.482 billion in net sales on 108.4 million transactions, up 29% in both dollar and transaction volume from $4.239 billion and 83.9 million transactions for the same online retailers in 2006.

    "The tremendous year-over-year growth numbers clearly indicate that online commerce is attracting more and more consumers, particularly in a challenging economic environment," says Mike Duffy, president and CEO of Chase Paymentech.

    The Chase Paymentech results suggest that better results for some of the biggest online merchants than for web retailers as a whole. Web measurement firm comScore Inc. says online retail sales grew 19% in November and December. The Chase Paymentech Pulse Index is based on sales by 10 of the 30 largest online retailers according to the rankings in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

    The busiest period for the merchants tracked was Dec. 11-14 when the 10 e-retailers generated $598.1 million in sales. The busiest single day was Tuesday, Dec. 18, with $168.9 million in sales and 3.05 million transactions. The top day in terms of average ticket was Wednesday, Nov. 28, at $62.57. Wednesday was the busiest day of the week, averaging $103.7 million in sales over the holiday period of Nov. 5-Jan. 7, while Sunday was the slowest, averaging $61.5 million, Chase Paymentech says.

    Blue Nile, No. 49 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, reported only its year-over-year fourth quarter growth, and will report its full fourth quarter results Feb. 12. CEO Mark Vadon says he is extremely pleased with the results, especially in light of the overall economic malaise.

    "2007 was a great year for Blue Nile, and the holiday quarter was no exception," Vadon says. "While we have not previously released our fourth quarter sales results in advance of our earnings announcement date, we felt it was important to share this information given the industry data that has been released recently. Over the past week, a number of large jewelry retailers have reported negative same store results for the holiday season."

    Among the brighter spots in the National Retail Federation report of overall retail sales were health and personal care stores, which gained 3.7% over 2006, and general merchandise stores where sales grew 2.1%. Among the weaker sectors were clothing and clothing accessories stores, furniture and home furnishings stores, and department stores, NRF says. NRF is projecting 3.5% growth in overall retail sales in 2008.

    A separate report from research firm ShopperTrak RCT Corp. says in-store retail sales grew 4.5% although foot traffic to stores declined 2.7% in November and December. Throughout 2007 consumers visited stores less often, but on average spent more on each visit, ShopperTrak says. ShopperTrak collects data from more than 50,000 retail and shopping mall locations.

  • Online holiday shopping up sharply in UK and France, but not Germany

    Online holiday shopping up sharply in UK and France, but not Germany

    British and French consumers went online in large numbers during the recent holiday season, but not so Germany shoppers, according to comScore Inc., a web measurement firm that tracked online activity at retail shopping sites in the UK, France and Germany.

    At its peak, consumer visits to online retail sites were up 38% compared to the pre-holiday period in the UK and 45% in France. But activity at German retailers web sites was up only 12% at the height of the holiday season. A national rail strike and shaky consumer confidence made for a tepid holiday shopping season in Germany, comScore says. The comScore study compared visits to online retail sites for Oct. 29-Dec. 23 to the pre-holiday period of Sept. 3-Oct. 28.

    For both France and the UK, the peak online shopping week was Dec. 3-9; in Germany, the peak came one week later. "The typical pattern we note in all countries, including the U.S., is that online retail activity peaks in mid-December as consumers have to allow time for shipping and delivery of their purchases in most categories," says Bob Ivins, executive vice president of European markets for comScore.

    Amazon sites led the way in visits during the holiday season in the UK. In France, the top spot went to multi-channel retailer Groupe PPR and in Germany to Otto Gruppe, a catalog and web retailer.

    Here are the top five retail sites in the UK for the period Oct. 29-Dec. 23, with each e-retailer's average share of visits to online retail sites from UK users, according to comScore's World Metrix audience measurement service:

    • Amazon sites, 9%
    • Apple Inc., 6%
    • Home Retail Group, 5%
    • Tesco Stores, 4%
    • Play.com sites, 3%

    Here are the top five retail sites in France for the period Oct. 29-Dec. 23, with each e-retailer's average share of visits to online retail sites from French users, according to comScore's World Metrix audience measurement service:

    • Group PPR, 11%
    • Apple Inc., 5%
    • Amazon sites, 4%
    • Otto Gruppe, 4%
    • CDiscount.com, 4%
    Here are the top five retail sites in Germany for the period Oct. 29-Dec. 23, with each e-retailer's average share of visits to online retail sites from German users, according to comScore's World Metrix audience measurement service:
    • Otto Gruppe, 13%
    • Amazon sites, 9%
    • Arcandor AG, 5%
    • Apple Inc., 4%
    • O2online.de, 3%

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