Technology notebook: MySpace keys on music to be more relevant

MySpace is trying to get on your social calendar — or at least take over how you manage it.

The social networking site, in the midst of an overhaul to regain its lost mojo, is rolling out a service Thursday that blends nearly 1 million concert listings with a calendar and new links to buy tickets from partners or artists. Other pop culture events such as movie debuts and album releases are expected to appear on the calendar as well.

Users can add or subtract which events they see on their personal calendars on MySpace by clicking on categories such as music or friends’ events. They even could list or remove events they were notified of on Facebook, the rival social networking giant. Listings can be tailored to a user’s favorite artists and location.

MySpace is capitalizing on its strength as a forum where 14 million musicians interact with fans and on its bustling invitation application, which it says handled 126 million event invitations in March alone. The new project also opens a channel for advertising that is needed to improve the finances of MySpace, which has become an underperforming unit of News Corp.

MySpace is selling event listings that will show up prominently on users’ calendars and profile pages. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is promoting an event to sell merchandise that goes with DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.’s latest movie, “How To Train Your Dragon.”

MySpace co-president Jason Hirschhorn said the service will make the site’s huge database of event listings more relevant to users and give advertisers a way to blend in more seamlessly with users’ lives.

New features on tap for FLO TV

Phones and other mobile devices that receive Qualcomm Inc.’s FLO TV broadcasts will get new features later this year, including the ability to record shows off the air.

AT&T Inc. offers two phone models that can receive the broadcasts through a FLO TV service branded as “AT&T Mobile TV,” while Verizon Wireless sells another two for “V Cast Mobile TV.” Qualcomm also sells a portable TV set for $200, while Audiovox Corp. sells an in-car entertainment system that can receive FLO TV.

Mobile TV hasn’t been a big draw for phone shoppers so far.

Qualcomm said this week that it aims to change that in the second half of this year by giving buyers more flexibility.

The video-recording feature will let them watch shows when they like. The company will also let viewers buy service by the day, rather than committing to subscriptions that cost $10 to $15 per month for a package of a dozen channels.

Qualcomm will also add interactive features to its viewing software, to let viewers click for more information about a show or click to buy an advertised product.

Qualcomm said the new features will become available on current FLO TV devices through software upgrades.

The new features don’t address FLO TV’s main problem: that it’s accessible on only a few devices. But Qualcomm has demonstrated a device that takes the FLO TV signal and rebroadcasts it over Wi-Fi, which would make it accessible to smart phones such as the iPhone. It hasn’t said when that device would be available.

Associated Press