Today’s forecast: Weather alerts on your smartphone

Starting Thursday, the U.S. National Weather Service will broadcast weather alerts to smartphones. Severe weather warnings, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and snow blizzards will be sent via a text message in 90 characters or less. The service is free and users can opt-out at any time.

The Price of E-book Progress

There’s probably a PhD in economics to be had by anyone who can explain the unusual pricing dynamics of the e-book market. Despite increased retail competition, with Barnes & Noble (BKS), Sony (SNE), Google (GOOG) and now Apple (AAPL) joining market leader Amazon (AMZN), consumer prices are going up. Publishers’ profits, meanwhile, despite wider distribution of e-books than ever before, are going down.

Does Google Even Understand What News Is?

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece this week, set out to argue what has been said a million times before: The Internet isn’t killing news. But while he was stating the obvious, some of his points didn’t exactly help Google’s case.

Media Stocks Drop on Digitally Inspired Downgrade

Old media isn’t seeming so stalwart after an analyst at Lehman Brothers this morning downgraded shares of Disney, CBS and News Corp., sending them down as much as 3.8 percent, 6 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

The report, written by Lehman’s Anthony DiClemente, looked at declining revenue for the entertainment industry in general, for which it blamed “ubiquitous technological change” including digital distribution, audience fragmentation and file-sharing. According to Wired News, DiClemente pointed to tech companies as successors to the entertainment throne. “Content may no longer be king in the entertainment business, as distribution giants Apple and Google seem to prove again and again.”

DiClemente downgraded Disney to “underweight” from “equal weight,” dropping his price target on the Mouse House to $29 from $40; he also downgraded CBS shares to “neutral” from “equal weight,” cutting his price target to $16 from $25. And he took his rating on News Corp. to “equal weight” from “overweight,” lowering his price target to $15 from $26.

Update: DiClemente also downgraded Time Warner and lowered his price target for Viacom (Viacom missed the downgrade due to the success of Rock Band and affiliate cable fees).

We’re pretty sure digital distribution is the future, too, but we don’t have that kind of market power.

MySpace Opens Up; Will Launch Platform on Feb 5

The world’s top social network has finally bought its ticket for the third-party developer party. In a switch from its early days as a Fox subsidiary, MySpace has fallen in line with its competitors — it plans to ask programmers to its San Francisco development office on Feb. 5, where executives will invite them to participate in the MySpace Development Platform that will go live that day.

Leading those efforts with be Amit Kapur, an old-time MySpacer who is being promoted to chief operating officer and will oversee the launch of the development platform. Kapur, who was formerly vice president of business development, stuck to the party line in an interview, hewing closely to the points outlined in a MySpace press release. He said that the platform will support Google’s Open Social initiative, but declined to go into specifics.

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