The 404 570: Where we buy Palm for five bucks and a coke (podcast)

In a sneak-attack move that left everyone (including CNET's own Bonnie Cha) surprised, HP, not HTC, announced that it will buy Palm for $1.2 billion. Many industry pundits consider the partnership out of left field; few remember HP's early foray in the world of PDAs starting with the Jornada handhelds that even found their way into the capable hands of Denise Richards in the James Bond film "The World is Not Enough."

We're anxious to see what HP does with branding and WebOS, which some argue is the only thing from Palm worth saving. And although Wilson and I are optimistic to see how HP handles the buyout, Jeff is ready to jump ship and land on the HTC Evo 4G coming this summer.

Congratulations to Comcast for winning the Golden Poo in The Consumerist's Worst Company in America Awards for 2010. We're also not surprised to see that Ticketmaster follows closely in the runner-up position, although we're not sure what's worse--standing in line to give back a Comcast cable box or paying Ticketmaster's "service fees" that sometimes cost more than the tickets!

Before we finish today's episode, we have to spend time with our favorite movie series "Back to the Future" and a list of six innovations from the movie that we're still waiting for two decades later.

Although we hesitate at the dangers of flying cars like the DeLorean, we still have use for clever inventions like the Black & Decker Hydrator and self-drying clothing. And what Christmas would be complete without your own 404 Podcast-sponsored hoverboard? Don't forget that they don't work on water...UNLESS YOU HAVE POWER.

P.S. Jeff and I have a gentleman's bet on whether Griff's lackey says "Bozo" or "Bojo" in this famous quote. Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments!

EPISODE 570 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Will Craigslist drive scalpers out of business?

Ticket scalping has been a hot topic in the music industry for years, causing a lot of uproar and complaints among music fans.

The sad fact of the matter is that lots of parties in the music industry try to sell secondhand tickets for a markup. Ticketmaster owns a premium resale service called TicketsNow. It also owns a resale exchange, TicketExchange, which lets any individual (including scalpers) buy or sell a ticket. Even artists and managers frequently take their allotments and sell them on broker sites for a markup, as The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Worst of all is … Read more

Live music's not dead. Look at all the iPhone apps

In its typical stately and slightly behind fashion, The New Yorker magazine this week published a piece (subscription required) about big changes in the live music industry. The article used as its grounding point a recent dispute between Bruce Springsteen and Ticketmaster over scalping and ticket withholding by artists, but the larger point was that the concert industry may be following the recording industry down the tubes--a prediction I made more than a year ago. The article has reams of supporting statistics and quotes, but the simple point is that the big acts aren't selling as many tickets as … Read more

Ticketmaster CEO says Live Nation merger necessary

CARLSBAD, Calif.--Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff portrayed his company on Wednesday as one that needs the merger with Live Nation to survive.

"Any of you guys can write a program to sell some tickets," he told the crowd at the D: All Things Digital conference here.

Conference co-host Kara Swisher took issue with his positioning. "Most people don't consider Ticketmaster a victim," Swisher said.

Azoff noted that more and more entities are getting into the ticketing business, forcing his company to diversify as well.

"It's the natural evolution of business," he said. &… Read more

Wrestling with scalpers in the free market

A year and a half after I first blogged about ticket brokers and the free market, the rest of the world is finally catching on to the fact that scalping isn't going away.

A lot has happened in the intervening time--Live Nation emerged as a competitor to Ticketmaster, then agreed to merge with Ticketmaster, and The Wall Street Journal has published a couple of articles exposing the fact that artists and managers often team up with ticket sellers (like Ticketmaster) and brokers (like Ticketmaster subsidiary TicketExchange) to sell their own allotments of tickets for several times their face value. … Read more

Want season tickets to your favorite MLB team? Good luck

I'm a die-hard Yankees fan and a season ticket holder for the most storied franchise in sports history. I've been buying the tickets online through the Yankees' "My Yankees" pane that it operates with Ticketmaster. Until now, I was happy with my package of games and the affordable seats I got.

But 2009 is a different story. The Yankees have a new stadium, higher pricing, and a relocation process that has caused Yankees fans to question the motives of their favorite team.

Right now, there are season ticket holders with seniority dating back more than five years that are still waiting for their season tickets, while others, who do have seats, have been moved from the infield to the upper deck. The main reason: Yankees brass decided to use the Web as their main source of adding new season ticket holders, which combined with more people wanting to see the new stadium, created demand that caught team officials off guard.

"As it turned out, we had an unexpected number of fans who wanted the full season, not dropping down because of the economy, but going up," Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost told Newsday in an interview. "We didn't expect there would be such a demand for fulls and we have to salvage 6,000 or 7,000 seats a game for general sale."

To address concerns, the Yankees are now offering "premium seats" to displaced season ticket holders or newcomers for $325 per game for a full season package and $350 per game in a partial season plan. Those seats are located "dugout to dugout" just above field level. Good seats. But there's one problem: last year, a comparable seat in the old Yankee stadium behind home plate was selling for $100.

There's a lot of blame to go around. Some say that the Yankees shouldn't have been so "greedy" in their attempt to add more season ticket holders, while others are saying that it's the relatively recent availability of season tickets online that has substantially reduced the barriers to entry and made it possible for so many people to quickly and easily buy season packages.

Nowhere are both arguments more pronounced than in the place where the fervor started in the first place: online forums. As of this writing, NYYfans.com forum has a 177-page thread on the relocation process dating back to 2007. On average, more than 30 concerned fans are adding comments to that forum each day.

Are the Yankees alone?

With under two months until the season starts, now is the time for most teams in the Major League to start making their big pushes for season tickets. Season ticket holders are important to any team because they basically guarantee cash for a certain number of games before the season even starts. That's precisely why the Web is such a key component in ticket distribution across Major League Baseball: Ease of use translates into more revenue.

I ventured around the league (online) to find out if fans in other cities were having as much trouble as Yankees fans trying to get season tickets and good seats. Fortunately, the Yankees debacle looks like an isolated event.… Read more

Ticketmaster, Live Nation to merge

After a couple weeks of rumors reported by The Wall Street Journal and other outlets, it's finally happened: concert promoter and venue owner Live Nation and the nation's largest ticket seller, Ticketmaster, have merged in a deal worth approximately $2.5 billion.

Why is this important? Because the combined companies are, in my opinion, dangerously close to building a vertical monopoly. The new company, Live Nation Entertainment, will own concert venues, the ticketing system for those venues, and exclusive rights to certain major acts that play those venues. In other words, if you thought concert prices were high … Read more

Live Nation can't keep up with Phish demand

Music forums were abuzz all weekend about Live Nation's inability to handle the millions of simultaneous online requests for Phish tickets. The fabled jam band is reuniting for a summer tour after several years off, and is playing some Live Nation-owned venues, which means that tickets for those shows were available only through Live Nation. Unfortunately, Live Nation (a spin-off of Clear Channel) is relatively new at ticketing and its Web ticketing service couldn't handle the strain. The worst: apparently some would-be purchasers were offered seats, only to have the system break down when they tried to complete … Read more

RIM makes friends with MySpace, TiVo, Microsoft, Slacker

Our hardworking colleagues at CNET have been in the thick of the action at the CTIA wireless show this week and we figure Crave readers will want in on the fun, too.

In case you haven't seen, today Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, made a whole slew of announcements about bringing popular consumer applications to the device. It already has Facebook for BlackBerry, but now RIM is expanding.

• As CNET News reported earlier this week, Microsoft Live Search will be integrated with the BlackBerry Browser.

• BlackBerry users will now be able to schedule their TiVo recordings from their phone, … Read more

Flexible pricing coming to Ticketmaster?

Prices for airline tickets are one of life's great mysteries. A travel agent tried to explain it to me once, and without getting too detailed, it's a combination of segmentation, demand-based pricing, and ensuring that seats are filled. Segmentation's the reason why last-minute tickets cost so much--most vacationers plan far in advance, and business travelers are much more likely to accept high prices. Demand-based pricing is why it's way more expensive to take the same trip over Thanksgiving than over the second weekend in November, and why prices can fluctuate from moment to moment--as one "… Read more