Fox Buys Flektor and Photobucket

Fox Interactive Media (FIM) today announced separate agreements to acquire Photobucket (http://www.photobucket.com) and Flektor, Inc (http://www.flektor.com). Photobucket is one of the Web’s most popular photo- and video-sharing services, and Flektor is a next-generation Web site that provides users with a suite of Web-based tools to transform their photos and videos into dynamic slideshows, postcards, live interactive presentations and video mash-ups. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

“The acquisition of these two companies is a perfect strategic fit for us that reinforces FIM’s leadership in user-generated content,” said Peter Levinsohn, President of Fox Interactive Media. “As a leading site for creative expression Photobucket extends our reach among personal media sharing enthusiasts and the innovative new entrant Flektor brings highly-differentiated new tools to the table that will drive the next generation. Together, they represent a powerful combination and we are thrilled for them to join our network.”

Photobucket and Flektor join a number of other leading online destinations within FIM, currently the Web’s most-viewed network in the U.S. with more than 45 billion page views per month.* The group’s properties include MySpace, IGN Entertainment, FOXSports.com, AmericanIdol.com and others.

PHOTOBUCKET
Photobucket (http://www.photobucket.com) has over 42 million users* linking billions of personal photos, images, slideshows, and videos to hundreds of thousands of Web sites. In addition, 47% of all Photobucket users link to social networks such as FIM’s MySpace (http://www.myspace.com), the world’s leading lifestyle portal.

Photobucket is expected to remain in operation as a standalone site while its technology and tools will be used to enhance sites across the FIM network, as well as the more than 300,000 other Web sites linked to by Photobucket’s users. Photobucket is based in Denver, CO, with additional offices in Palo Alto, CA.

“Becoming part of the Fox Interactive Media network will have a tremendous and positive impact on our ability to serve our users’ needs,” said Alex Welch, CEO Photobucket. “We plan to continue developing innovative tools that enhance self-expression and allow our users to have the best media sharing, linking and searching experience on the Web. Partnering with FIM will give us the resources and support to deliver on this vision, as well as the ability to offer new opportunities to our end users, customers and partners.”

FLEKTOR, Inc.
Flektor’s innovative technology enables users to edit video and audio content in real-time, and either publish the finished product to Flektor.com (http://www.flektor.com) or embed it on any number of Web sites, blogs or social network profile pages.

By offering both editing and storage capabilities, Flektor gives content creators the tools to easily create mash-ups or other types of user-generated media clips without incurring the cost or technical expertise necessary to store and manage large files. Flektor’s approach to streaming photo slideshows and videos allows users to incorporate live features, such as quizzes and polls, into their creations and update previously-posted content without having to re-post the files.

”We founded Flektor to give Internet users the tools they need to easily create, connect and share content,” said Jason Rubin, co-founder of Flektor. “Becoming a part of the Fox Interactive Media network will enable us to deliver these tools to the broadest possible online audience.”

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iTunes Plus

Apple today launched iTunes Plus — DRM-free music tracks featuring high quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings — for just $1.29 per song. iTunes Plus is launching with EMI’s digital catalog of outstanding recordings, including singles and albums from Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Joss Stone,
Pink Floyd, John Coltrane and more than a dozen of Paul McCartney’s classic albums available on iTunes for the first time.

iTunes will continue to offer its entire catalog, currently over five million songs, in the same versions as today — 128 kbps AAC encoding with DRM — at the same price of 99 cents per song, alongside the higher quality iTunes Plus versions when available. In addition, iTunes customers can now easily upgrade their library of previously purchased EMI content to iTunes Plus tracks for just 30 cents a song and $3.00 for most albums.

“Our customers are very excited about the freedom and amazing sound quality of iTunes Plus,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We expect more than half of the songs on iTunes will be offered in iTunes Plus versions by the end of this year.”

“This is a tremendous milestone for digital music,” said Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group. “Consumers are going to love listening to higher quality iTunes Plus tracks from their favorite EMI artists with no usage restrictions.”

With the release of iTunes Plus, customers can now download tracks from their favorite EMI artists without limitations on the type of music player or number of computers that purchased songs can be played on. iTunes is also offering customers a simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their library of previously purchased EMI content to the iTunes Plus versions. EMI music videos are now also available in iTunes Plus versions with no change in price. iTunes Plus songs purchased from the iTunes Store will play on all iPods, Mac or Windows computers, widescreen TVs with Apple TV and soon iPhones, as well as many other digital music players.

iTunes U

Apple today announced the launch of iTunes U, a dedicated area within the iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) featuring free content such as course lectures, language lessons, lab demonstrations, sports highlights and campus tours provided by top US colleges and universities including Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Duke University and MIT.

“iTunes U makes it easy for anyone to access amazing educational material from many of the country’s most respected colleges and universities,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “Education is a lifelong pursuit and we’re pleased to give everyone the ability to download lectures, speeches and other academic content for free.”

“From its earliest days, Stanford has sought to serve the public by sharing the knowledge generated by our faculty and students,” said Stanford Provost John Etchemendy. “Our partnership with Apple and iTunes U provides a creative and innovative way to engage millions of people with our teaching, learning and research and share the experience of intellectual exploration and discovery that defines our university.”

Created in collaboration with colleges and universities, iTunes U makes it
easier than ever to extend learning, explore interests, learn more about a school and stay connected with an alma mater. Content from iTunes can be loaded onto an iPod with just one click and experienced on-the-go, anytime, making learning from a lecture just as simple as enjoying music.

The iTunes Store features the world’s largest catalog, adding new education content to over five million songs, 350 television shows and over 500 movies. The iTunes Store has sold over 2.5 billion songs, 50 million TV shows and over two million movies, making it the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store.

Sanctuary webisodes

Sanctuary

Webisodes have been around for a good amount of years, but usually they were fan films and overall low budget. Sanctuary is the first epic sci-fi webisode series that I can say I want to watch!Judge for yourself by watching the first full episode on The Pipeline’s Indie Film show. After that you can watch the preview for the second episode. As of this post, there have already been four episodes released. Best of all each episode has high definition versions available for purchasing at only $2.49! Regular standard definition versions cost $1.99 per episode.

Check out the series official website at www.SantuaryForAll.com.

LOST on iPod Games

If this doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will…

Today Apple is extending the range to 14 games for iPod available on the iTunes Store adding LOST from Gameloft to its line up.

Join your favourite castaways in their quest to seek truth and survive in the official iPod game of the hit television series, LOST.

Help Jack search for dynamite, tend to the wounded, and avoid the black smoke. Relive the crash scene, open the hatch and ultimately try your best to escape from the Others. Immerse yourself into their mysterious world with authentic settings and a genuine storyline created by writers behind the hit show.

The official iPod game providing total immersion into the world of LOST.

• Storyline created by the writers behind the series
• Play Jack and interact with other main characters of the series: Kate,Locke, Sayid, etc.
• Production quality that measures up with the LOST phenomenon: faithfully reproduced settings, intuitive and extremely varied gameplay
• Explore the island’s main sites: The beach, the jungle, inside the Hatch, the Black Rock, etc.
• Relive the most eventful moments from the series: The crash scene, running from the black smoke, meeting the Others, etc.
• Take on a multitude of challenges: Exploration, hunting, helping the wounded, searching for dynamite, etc.