THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
DVR users still watch commercials
Even on fast-forward, users of TiVos and other DVRs may still take in advertising messages. Plus: New Sprint gadget targets AT&T, Comcast.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - With TV's upfront advertising sales set to start next month, the habits of TiVo owners and other digital video recorder users -- who comprise about 9 percent of the audience, a figure that's set to double by the end of 2006 -- are a hot issue. Two seemingly contradictory reports have come out. The first claims, unsurprisingly, that DVR viewers skip ads so much that they barely add anything to the TV ratings advertisers pay for. The second *argues* that even though viewers fast-forward through commercials, they still recall the ads just as well as viewers who watch in real time. The reason, a hopeful CBS executive tells MediaDailyNews, is that when fast-forwarding, a viewer's attention is necessarily fixed on the screen so that they don't miss their show. So they still see the advertiser's message, albeit speeded up and without sound. Regular TV viewers, on the other hand, are prone to such advertiser-unfriendly habits as getting snacks and going to the bathroom during commercial breaks.

New Sprint gadget targets telecom and cable providers

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Cell-phone networks are getting fast enough that they can outperform DSL connections -- but up until now, they've been hard to use at home. Sprint (Research), however, is now offering a router that hooks up to its high-speed cellular data network and obviates the need for any kind wired Internet connection, like a cable modem or DSL, in the home. Sprint's data network runs at speeds of more than 2 megabits per second, and rebroadcasts the connection as Wi-Fi throughout your home. Wi-Fi has some key advantages over cellular networks: It's easier and cheaper to share than wireless services from outfits like Sprint, which require a $59.99 a month subscription for every connected device, and Wi-Fi often can give users better coverage inside a building. With this move, Sprint is hoping to boost its data revenues -- a move that could come at the expense of cable and DSL providers like AT&T (Research), Comcast (Research) and Verizon (Research).

Microsoft scores rare victory online

Open-source Apache Web server software has long dominated the Internet, running the majority of Web domains. But Tech Web reports that this month, Microsoft (Research) saw its share of the Web-server market jump 4.7%, while Apache saw its share drop nearly six percentage points. UK research firm Netcraft says the swing -- the largest one on record -- is largely attributable to the decision by giant web hosting service Go Daddy to switch from Apache to Windows. Go Daddy, renowned for its salty SuperBowl ads, recently became the largest domain-name registrar in the world and hosts 4.4 million Web servers. Even after Go Daddy's move, however, Apache retained a 63 percent market share, compared to Windows' 25 percent. Comments at tech news site Slashdot pointed out that Go Daddy's move affected primarily "parked," or inactive, Web domains, and that market-share numbers for active servers remains more favorable to Apache.

Virtual ads pop up in baseball

When you go to a baseball game these days, you're confronted with advertising everywhere from your ticket stub to your seat cushion. Why should virtual baseball be any different? Online advertising agency Massive Incorporated announced that it will be delivering ads into Take-Two Interactive's (Research) Major League Baseball 2K6 game for the Xbox 360. Ars Technica muses on the aesthetics of bringing ads to the virtual ballpark, while Massive CEO Mitch Davis predicts that $100 million will be spent on gaming ads in 2006, a number that he expects will grow to $3 billion by the end of the decade. The MarketingVox blog welcomes the trend, pointing to a study suggesting that in-game ad campaigns raise product awareness by 60%. For their part, gamers appear unfazed by the announcement, though some wonder why the additional revenue stream hasn't led to a decline in the price of gamesTop of page

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