It is no coincidence that James Cameron re-released his movie Titanic in 3D recently as the 100th anniversary of the 1912 incident occurred on April 14. Built in Northern Ireland, the powers that be there have created the ultimate 9-gallery museum dedicated to the fallen liner. At a cost of $160 million, it includes interactive displays and a recreation of the ships grand staircase.
Recently Cameron and Robert Ballard released two documentaries on the ship itself after visiting the sunken remains. Both can be seen on the National Geographic Channel this month. There is even a website dedicated to the ship with a countdown to the day of the sinking.
Wait, there is more commercialism to be found in honor of the event. Both Bonhams and Guernsey's NY Auction Houses plan to sell items salvaged or related merchandise and a spare $60,000 will get you an actual visit to the ocean floor to visit the wreckage. Finally, for a lesser fee, starting at about $2,000 a memorial cruise is taking the same route as the original Titanic. Amazingly, there were 1,309 passengers signed up for it, the same amount as the original.
Note: BBC photographer Tim Rex suffered what is believed to be a heart attack on that MS Balmoral memorial cruise. A rescue helicopter picked up the 56 year-old from the Irish port of Cobh on April 8, the last stop before the original tragedy. Let's hope all is well for the rest of the voyage.
Best Buy plans some restructuring after losses late last year, proving once again that what can be bought online or less expensively often is. Fifty of their big box stores will be closed while 100 new small stand alone stores are planned to go up by 2013. They plan to increase their online revenue which, if you have seen their site lately, includes deals like free store pickup when you purchase online. Finally, they plan to cater more to customers, which to us just means quit asking us to purchase extended warranties.
We don't quite get it. The recently released Hunger Games carries an MP-13 rating in spite of its violent plot while Bully has an R for "strong" language and an adult must accompany the age group that is targeted. The film cannot be shown in schools with that rating and although there is a movement afoot to get it changed, that hasn't happened as yet. You can sign the petition online and send it to friends and Facebook to help the MPAA change their mind.
The Digital Advertising Alliance is composed of more than 400 Internet companies that are supporting a do-not-track button for browsers. Complete implementation will take place by the end of the year and is already in IE, Firefox and Safari, with Google planning to update its own in Chrome.
This is not a definitive end-all as users will still have to endure customized ads, some market research and law enforcement snooping. And note that every time you push that Like button on Facebook, Big Brother is watching.
Now that the alliance of Netflix and Starz is ending by the end of the month, its president Chris Albrecht has said that they plan to offer alternatives to capture the Interweb market like an app for watching their programming on smartphones, tablets and other devices. He hinted at the idea of offering the channel online for a fee, thereby bypassing cable and satellite. This does not sound like such a stretch as that does seem to be the market of the future. We're just sayin'....
We have to admit that when it comes to UltraViolet, we just don't get it. With most of the major studios involved (Disney is the holdout,) the idea is that instead of streaming or renting, a onetime purchase with the logo gives you a Blu-ray and regular DVD with a code that can be used to download on various UltraViolet enabled video devices like tablets, smartphones and PCs. Sign up at the site and up to six individuals get access. Go for a code only and you get to burn your own copy.
While the service only launched in mid-October and is still new with only a few titles available and no major retailers committed to the idea, the company feels that it can do to video what Apple and iTunes did for music. But when it comes right down to it, the fact is that you have to be on the Internet to use the service and burn a copy that many cannot or don't want to do makes it less appealing.
We so prefer renting or streaming to amassing more "stuff" and unless you have kids that can endlessly watch animated movies or you are sci-fi fanatic, we think the concept has a ways to go. Especially since if you look at a purchase for "Horrible Bosses" Blu-ray/DVD combination pack plus UltraViolet digital code that is a whopping $24.99.
In an obviously greedy move, the cost of a Redbox DVD is now at least two extra dimes. While Coinstar claims that the $1.00 to $1.20 increase is due to "operating expenses" including debit card fees, it also gives an option for merchants to apply surcharges. With this 20% price hike, you may soon find the red kiosks containing a different kind of product. Then again, Reed Hastings apologized and BOA listened (kind of) and that's a start. Take the hint, Coinstar.
Hulu has decided not to sell their company because of a conflict regarding future streaming rights on the Net. That ends the auction that began in June and was said to be of interest to Dish Network, Yahoo and Amazon. Hulu is owned by News Corp., which is made up of ABC, Disney and other media companies. Getting back to business, the company says,
"Our focus no rests solely on ensuring that our efforts as owners contribute in a meaningful way to the exciting future that lies ahead for Hulu."
We hope that includes the freebie shows and movies that we have grown to love from them.
Netflix's rate hike has cost them about a million subscribers. Considering the fact that they still have about 14 million DVD only and 22 million streaming customers, perhaps they are moving towards the latter to concentrate on. With online streaming perhaps due to become the sole source of content, you can finally turn your outdated TV into a mini-coffee table.
Note: Told ya so. In a letter to its customers, CEO Reed Hastings apologized not for raising the rates but for not explaining that he is separating both services, changing the name of the mail service to Qwikster.
Best Buy seems to be feeling the pinch in sales and will be concentration its efforts by improving its Marketplace. They have added several third party sellers to join them such as Buy.com, resulting in an "increased assortment of products, brands and price points."
You can bet that you will see a change as the holidays approach this year as they have promised about a third more products online.