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The Broadband Band


...I'll simply ask you to engage, explore and enjoy.

I went to an event last night and there were...oh say 100 people. Most of them were from Yahoo! (YHOO) and the advertising business. They were there to pay tribute to Wenda Harris Millard, the Chief Sales Officer for Yahoo. Unless you are in or were in the media and advertising business you may not know who she is.

Essentially she's the heart of Yahoo!'s advertising sales operation and probably one of the main reasons the company is so well respected and revered in marketing circles; not to mention, making a ton of dough! Alas, the point of this is not to regale you with the attendees.

Let's frame the perspective a bit; last year I switched from the buy side of the media world to the sell side. I went from buying millions of dollars of media to (in the very near future) selling millions of dollars in media. Last night's discussions hit a nerve. Many of the attendees have spent their entire lives in advertising and, eureka, are finally seeing what this whole "internet" thing is about.

I was talking to one executive who was discussing branding and made the following statement: "It's not until recently that I realized the impact of broadband..." He was referring to the shift in media consumption. To that I'll make my point, keep an eye on the following:

Earlier this week Apple (AAPL) announced their new iMacs. This was big in a couple of ways. They are the first generation of Macs using the Intel (INTC) processor. How Intel pulled this one off, I'll never know. But I would surmise that this is a significant blow to Microsoft (MSFT) Windows/Intel or "Wintel" domination. I sold all of my Microsoft a while back. I certainly wish I had sold it about four years ago based on the fact it's down more than 20% since 2001! This was one important point, because simply put, I really like Apple. NO...I REALLY LIKE APPLE. Mac has always claimed speed and these new Intel chips are made for multimedia consumption. With all the audio, video and other multimedia deals being made by Apple, having a processor that can digest the volume of data is critical and Intel seems to have the goods.

I'm starting to get the same feeling about SunMicro (SUNW) that I had about Apple when the stock hit oh...$7 in 2003. It was at $7 and everyone (read: Microsoft evangelists) said Apple was dying. I still believed.

Back to the point: Apple also announced today that their new Macs come with a remote control and software aptly called "Front Row." Now, I would suspect that many people are saying "so what!?"

Here's what: there is no TV. There is no PC. There is no internet, cable or broadcast, or satellite.

There are four things I look at when assessing the media landscape:

1) There are input devices - remote controls, keyboards, touch pads, key pads, dialing pads, the mouse - and there are the companies that make them (Apple, HP (HPQ), Samsung, etc)

2) There are output devices - screens - small screens on your cell phone or PDA, monitors big and small. (The same as above, plus Motorola (MOT), Nokia (NOK) and Research in Motion (RIMM))

3) There are distribution channels for data: DSL, WiFi, Cable, Cable modem, Satellite, Cellular, Blue Ray, etc. etc. etc. (Verizon (VZ), Comcast (CMCSA), Cablevision (CVC) , Time Warner (TWX), Sprint/Nextel (S), SBC, BellSouth (BLS) )

4) There is data. Now data equals content. Content is audio, video, text and images. For example...Minyanville! (Minyanville (MVIL on Bloomberg network - we're not public), Time Warner, Viacom (VIA), Disney (DIS), NewsCorp (NWS), etc.)

To add dimension , in the Minyanville conference room we now have a 61 inch In Focus TV complete with a keyboard and mouse (It's not exactly ours, but heck...we'll use it!). Simply plug in the Ethernet and coaxial cable into the back of the system and viola! You're all set to watch AND surf. The choice is yours.

The battle between cable and twisted pair (traditional fixed-line copper telephone wires) will really heat up in the coming months and years. It simply comes down to data, volume and speed. And if I were a betting man, which I am, I would bet on cable...for now.

Comcast, Cox (CXR), Cablevision, Katz, and Time Warner will continue to innovate on the delivery of data and content. Look for bundled services and delivery of all things data including phone services and more Skype-like mergers. Keep an eye on Vonage and companies pioneering VoIP (Voice over IP).

Broadband is revolutionizing the way we consume media. It's only a matter of time before you only have to plug one wire into your TV - not Ethernet and Cable.

Next week, we launch the new Minyanville. Notice I did not say It's simply Minyanville. It's a platform ready for broadband; a portal to revolutionize the world of finance by marrying entertainment and information. Minyanville will be the destination to all things finance. And we're going to make it fun.

So instead of asking you to log on or tune in, I'll simply ask you to engage, explore and enjoy. And in the process, we'll all have fun ... and make money.
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