Friday, December 30, 2011

Post # 1057 for 2011: New Year predictions

I don't do New Years resolutions – I wouldn't keep them anyways. And usually I wouldn't do New Years predictions, either. But this seems to me like a good way to end the year as it will give me something to write about late next year.

So let's start with the obvious: the Giants still won't be able to hit the broadside of a barn next year. Now that may not be something you care about, but for me, this is a really good reason to dread 2012.

Another good reason to dread 2012 will be the continued promotion of austerity – both in the U.S. and in Europe. That any economy can grow through contraction should be an obviously absurd notion. But the Keynesian are losing this battle – so more layoffs and government cutbacks will continue in 2012.

Tech: Apple will release an iPad 3 at the usual time. No drama, no major surprises. It's the way Apple rolls, to the disappointment of many tech sites. It will be a big hit, as it will incorporate Siri and attempt to fulfill the vision of this old Apple video:



Sorry, no 7-inch iPad next year.

Media: Newspapers will continue to construct paywalls, but it won't really matter – after all, they weren't making online anyways, so the loss of traffic won't matter. But the drive to construct paywalls will take many publisher's attention from what most should really be doing: developing new mobile, web and tablet products. In the digital age, having one product, print, doesn't cut it. The market for information has fragmented, only the developers will survive the era.

Too many publishers will think they are developers for hiring vendors to launch their products.

The much quoted newspaper consultants will continue to push for aggregation, low pay, layoffs, and fighting Apple. Then they will return to their classrooms until called upon to provide a quote to a lazy reporter.

Magazines will survive. You really think everyone will substitute an aggregation of links for a well-designed, well-edited, well-written magazine? Magazines will continue to go digital, but they will still be magazines.

Other predictions: The Sharks won't win the Stanley Cup (that was an easy one).

The Prime Ministers of Greece and Italy, both former bankers, will decide to merge their countries. Mass layoffs of citizens will ensue as the combined countries will promise to "do more with less (citizens)." Most of those kicked out of their countries will move to Australia.

A major U.S. computer maker will launch a new tablet, kill it off, fire their CEO, and then bring in a new one – someone that recently lost an election in their first attempt at politics.

U.S. Presidential election prediction: Michele Bachmann won't win. (OK, that was too easy.) But neither will Gingrich or Paul (so that leaves the two obvious choices).

But whoever wins, the candidate that triumphs will be the one that best convinces voters to vote against their own interests, and who convinces voters that people just like themselves are the root of all their problems.

Quick predictions: The NYT hires a new CEO, someone from within the club... Rupert Murdoch lays low, 2011 wasn't a good year... Tech writers, following the iPad 3 introduction, debate who is more boring: Tim Cook or Steve Ballmer... DigiTimes will be wrong, again... Media sites will be undeterred and repeat DigiTimes rumors verbatim... NYC will select Cornell to build its tech campus – ten years from now it will become a business school... Phillies fans will spend the summer bragging about their team (but not the fall)... There will be millions of additional Apple v. Google market share stories... Andrew Luck will shock football fans by joining the Calgary Stampeders... England won't win Euro 2012, but if they do no one hear the end of it for a decade... you will have a great, peaceful and prosperous New Year (don't prove me wrong, OK?)

See you again in 2012 – Tuesday, to be exact.

TNM's Year in Review: Q4

Here is the conclusion of the year in review series: part one of this series can be found here, part two here, with part three here.

Next week marks the two year anniversary of Talking New Media, a website launched a little over three months before Apple shipped its first iPads, but more than a decade after the first newspaper and magazine websites appeared online.

2011 was a very eventful year in world news, but in some ways it was a simply a continuation of 2010 where media critics continued to debate the paid content versus advertising strategies, and where the gurus of aggregation and layoffs, disguised as 'digital first' proponents, continued to hold sway – despite any evidence that their philosophy could translated into profit publishing models.

October:

News:
Microsoft kills off the Zune
Apple unveils the iPhone 4S, critics disappointed, sales break records
Craig Dubow steps down as Gannett CEO, gets massive payout
Apple issues simultaneous updates, Internet traffic explodes
Apple's Newsstand leads to 2 million app downloads for Future Publishing
McClatchy reports earnings down 21%, revenue down an additional 8%
Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi has died of wounds suffered when he was captured
Ziff Davis Enterprise says it is abandoning print for digital

The quarter started with an announcement from Dutch digital publishing solutions provider WoodWing that they would begin selling the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, kill off its own file formats, and that it would begin concentrating its efforts on editorial workflow solutions.

"This is the right time for WoodWing to fully focus on its core activities, which is to streamline and optimize the editorial workflow," said Erik Schut, President of WoodWing Software.
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Apple's own website tribute to its co-founder, Steve Jobs.


Apple announced the passing of CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs on October 5. His death, while not unexpected, was still met with shock and regret. Many media writers who otherwise were strong critics of Apple wrote with passion about the leadership and record of innovation of Apple under Job's management.

Even today, however, it is hard not to write about those piranhas who have made a living telling media executives to avoid developing for the iPad but who, at the death of Jobs, suddenly become available for interviews proclaiming the great deeds of the Apple CEO.

Later in the month Apple reported its Q4 earnings. The actual earnings reported showed that Apple sold 11.1 million iPads in the quarter, had $28.3 billion in revenue (up from $20.3 the year before) and earned record profits. But because some websites had previously reported the wild forecasts of some crazed analyst, many reports said that Apple had actually had a disappointing quarter.

One week later The Guardian finally previewed its long awaited iPad edition which launched later that same week. "We looked at some of the beautiful, early experiments that people did as newspapers on the iPad – and they were beautiful but they were recreating the newspaper on the iPad," said Rusbridger in the promotional video produced for the preview.

David Carr, the NYT's media writer got on his soapbox near the end of the month to deliver a mighty sermon under the headline Why Not Occupy Newsrooms? The column followed reports of the the huge retirement package given to outgoing Gannett CEO Craig Dubow.

"Forget about occupying Wall Street; maybe it’s time to start occupying Main Street, a place Gannett has bled dry by offering less and less news while dumping and furloughing journalists in seemingly every quarter," Carr wrote.

November:

News:
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou resigned, replaced by banker
Adobe kills off mobile Flash
USPS says it will lose $5.1 billion in 2011
Mag+ launches its own single issue tablet publishing solution

TNM ran a two-page interview with Mag+'s Mike Haney on Halloween and November 1.

The always navel gazing world of journalism got its own soap opera story to report, as Poynter's Julie Moos accused its blogger Jim Romenesko of "a pattern of incomplete attribution." The spat was started by an inquiry from Erika Fry, an assistant editor at the Columbia Journalism Review, who talked to Moos about Romenesko's blog and inconsistencies in the way he used quotes from the stories he was aggregating.

In the end Jim Romenesko was gone, launching his own media website later in the quarter, and Poynter ended up looking foolish and isolated as few media writers backed Moos and Poynter.

In mid-November Amazon began shipping its 7-inch tablet, the Kindle Fire. The tablet has reported sold very well, though tech writers have been less enthusiastic about the actual product. TNM's look at the Kindle Fire came on the 21st, and my thoughts on the tablet haven't changed much: nice price, too small for serious newspaper or magazine app development.

The launch of the tablet, though, continued the further fragmentation of Android, a huge factor in developers continued preference for iOS.

The month ended with the surprise announcement that Time Inc. had turned to Laura Land, the head of Digitas, a digital ad agency, to run its magazine division.

Lang's previous work has all been on the client and agency side, so her lack of publishing experience quickly was noticed by media writers (though all seemed to admit that her digital advertising experience would be hugely beneficial to Time.)

TNM's own report on the hiring was a mess thanks to it being written on my iPhone, as autocorrect changed all the references to "Digitas" to "Digital" – not one of TNM's best moments in 2011.

December:

News:
Google launches Google Currents, is own tablet publishing app
The BBC updates its iPlayer app, promises Android version (as well as a US version)
Attack in Liège: Belgian dailies launch live blogs to keep readers informed of events, death toll
Apple's Newsstand reaches the 1,000 mark (iPad)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dies
House Republicans decide to pass tax cut extension rather than face voter's wrath

Rumors of an Apple TV, an actual television set, began in earnest, though most writers failed to take into account that falling price of TV sets.
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The election season started to heat up in preparation for the Iowa caucuses on January 3. The New York Times launched its own iPhone app, NYTImes Election 2012, in preparation for the silly season.

The app requires a paid digital subscription, though those who already are subscribing to a NYT product get free access as part of their existing subscription package.

Time Magazine picked "The Protester" as its Person of the Year.

The NYT admitted in mid-December that it was in talks with Halifax Media Holdings to sell its Regional Media Group. The group includes mid-sized dailies such as The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., The Gainesville Sun in Gainesville, Fla., and The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

One week later the sale was announced for the rock bottom price of $143 million.

Morning Brief: Sears identifies 79 stores to be closed; Sam Logan, publisher of the Michigan Chronicle, is dead at 78; Apple rumors fuel the dog days around the holidays

Earlier this week Sears Holdings said it would close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores. It publicly identified 79 of those stores on Thursday (list of the stores here in PDF form).

At the same time, ratings agency Fitch downgraded Sears to "CCC" from "B", according to a Reuters report. On Wednesday, Standard & Poor's placed the beleaguered, company's credit rating on review for a possible downgrade.



The AP is reporting the death of Samuel Logan Jr., the publisher of the African-American newspaper the Michigan Chronicle at the age of 78. (Photo of Logan courtesy of the Michigan Chronicle.)

"Sam Logan was more than a Detroit icon, he was a respected pioneer in black journalism who championed the need for coverage of a community not totally served by the mainstream media," Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said.

According to the story in the Detroit Free Press, Logan was born in "Colquit, La., to a family of sharecroppers, Mr. Logan picked cotton as a youth and came to Detroit at 14 with his mother and brother." Logan joined the Chronicle in 1961 after serving in the Army as a paratrooper. Logan worked in the advertising, production and marketing departments before being named publisher inthe mid-'80s.



2011 is ending as it began, with tech and other sites talking about future tablets that will beat out the iPad, and Apple's supposed plans to build a smaller tablet.

Often the same sites that start the rumors are the first to dismiss them, thus being able to be right (as well as wrong).

Time Magazine's Jared Newman gets the editor's curse of a provocative headline – Looking Forward to 2012: Credible iPad Threats – though his column concludes that "the iPad isn’t in any serious trouble next year.

As for the recurring rumors that Apple will introduce a 7-inch tablet, well, that old song is getting old. I suppose it is possible, just like the Apple television set rumors, but with Apple one thing is sure, you won't hear anything directly from the company until they are ready to launch. (I am also think that any rumor that isn't accompanied by leaked photos can be pretty much dismissed out of hand.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

TNM's Year in Review: Q3

Part one of this series can be found here, and Part two here.

Next week marks the two year anniversary of Talking New Media, a website launched a little over three months before Apple shipped its first iPads, but more than a decade after the first newspaper and magazine websites appeared online.

2011 was a very eventful year in world news, but in some ways it was a simply a continuation of 2010 where media critics continued to debate the paid content versus advertising strategies, and where the gurus of aggregation and layoffs, disguised as 'digital first' proponents, continued to hold sway – despite any evidence that their philosophy could translated into profit publishing models.

July:

News:
Sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn collapses
U.K. phone hacking scandal widens, Prime Minister vows public inquiry
Murdoch closes News of the World
Apple releases OS X Lion though its Mac App Store
Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten evacuated during Oslo shooting and bombing
US and European economies slow due to austerity measures

In early July the phone hacking scandal finally broke big and quickly led to the decision by News International to close its tabloid, News of the World. Eventually both Rupert and James Murdoch had were forced to testify before a committee.

But during the month of July the news just kept coming as new revelations and new consequences appeared: News dropped its bid for BSkyB; Rebekah Brooks, chief executive, resigned, and on and on.

As with most big news stories, Americans looked to The Daily Show for perspective:


Google delisted Belgian newspapers from its search results after losing a lawsuit which claimed that Google did not have the right to post links to their articles without Google paying them, or asking their permission. And so Belgian papers disappeared from search results.

"We regret having to do so. We would be happy to re-include Copiepresse if they would indicate their desire to appear in Google Search and waive the potential penalties," Google spokesman William Echikson said.

Three days later Belgian papers gave Google permission to include them in search results.

August:

News:
The British Library says it plans to double the number of book titles available through its iPad app
Concerns continue to grow over Eurozone debtor nations
Quark sold to PE firm Platinum Equity
Dow drops over 500 points (again)
Gannett says it will print its Cinncinati and Kentucky papers in smaller format through the Columbus Dispatch

Time Inc. said that it will "launch tablet editions for its entire portfolio of 21 titles by year's end." Magazines that would soon have their own tablet editions include InStyle, Real Simple and Entertainment Weekly.
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“Having our entire portfolio available on tablets will create a significant new digital reach for our advertisers," said Maurice Edelson, EVP at Time Inc.

Starting next week, in the New Year, Time will begin reporting its digital sales and subscriber information to the Audit Bureau of Circulations for inclusion in its audit reports.

Web apps become all the rage as some media properties attempt to avoid creating native iOS apps. Not surprisingly, new vendors emerge to push the HTML5 apps, just they emerged to push mobile apps.

Other major publishers, such as Meredith, also continued to deepen their commitments to tablet publishing and selling subscriptions through Apple's App Store.

Meanwhile, things were not going so well at HP as the company said it would dump the TouchPad – soon it would dump its CEO.

One publication that was moving in the opposite direction was The Financial Times which had previously launched a web app. The move, which has proved successful, led Apple to dump the FT app from the App Store due to violation of developer rules.

But the real news in August was the continuing Eurozone crisis that was pushing down growth in all of Europe, not just countries at the center of the debt crisis, like Greece.

September:

News:
Yahoo! board of directors fire CEO Carol Bartz
Google acquires Zagat, publisher of restaurant guides
McGraw-Hill says it will split into two companies
Meg Whitman hired as new HP CEO
Amazon hold event to unveil the Kindle Fire
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The independent magazine publishing business did not grow as fast as I would have predicted when the iPad launched in April of 2010, as many potential publishers were held back by expensive digital publishing solutions. But indy publisher Chris English managed to release his third magazine app in September, Maybach.

The best newspaper apps continued to be appear from European – especially German – newspaper publishers. News weekly Die Zeit released a native designed app in mid-September which offered a free issue at launch, but otherwise would charge a subscription fee through iTunes.

One of the best book apps of 2011 appeared in September: Journey to the Exoplanets. The ebook app was the project of the magazine Scientific American and the book publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The third quarter ended with the Amazon unveiling of the 7-inch Kindle Fire. Anticipation was also building for the Apple event scheduled to announcement the new iPhone.

Morning Brief: NYT e-mail snafu; Iowa gets one more week of attention; Canada gripped by World Juniors

With the year winding down, and many promotional subscriptions coming to an end, the NYT is scrambling to convince many readers to re-up their digital and print subscriptions. But yesterday the Times committed a bit of an "oops" by sending emails to many customers saying their print subscriptions had been cancelled – even when those same readers were never print subscribers.

Our records indicate that you recently requested to cancel your home delivery subscription. Please keep in mind when your delivery service ends, you will no longer have unlimited access to NYTimes.com and our NYTimes apps.

We do hope you’ll reconsider.
Later in the day another email was sent saying that the first email had been sent in error – and today the Times posted a correction on its website home page:
The Times mistakenly sent e-mails Wednesday to subscribers and others, erroneously stating that home delivery of the newspaper had been canceled. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Being the week between Christmas and New Years, things are pretty slow in the media world. But on January 3rd the Iowa Caucuses take place, marking the beginning of the primary season. Because of this any bit of news that comes from the campaigns this week is considered big stuff.

This morning the politicos are reporting that the state chairman for the Michele Bachmann campaign has defected over to the Ron Paul campaign. The defection of Kent Sorenson is considered "stunning" news to some. But by next weekend, when all attention leaves Iowa for New Hampshire this will all be forgotten, even if Paul pulls off an upset in Iowa.

Remember, Huckabee won in Iowa four years ago. John McCabe finished fourth and was the eventual nominee.



Are you following the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships? Probably not if you are an American, or not a avid hockey fan. But the annual event, which always kicks off just after Christmas, is big stuff in Canada, and is quite an exciting event.

The hockey tournament pits the top national teams comprised of players under the age of 20. The event is taking place in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta – last year's event was in Buffalo, New York.

The tournament has been won by the Russians in 2011, the U.S. in 2010, and the Canadians in 2009, with the Swedes also being very competitive.

The U.S. was upset yesterday by the team from Finland, and frankly looked pretty bad (giving the puck away consistently), but they are still among the favorites in the tournament. They must beat the Czechs tomorrow, though, or else face a must win game against Canada on New Year's Eve (the Canadians have looked like the best team in the tournament through two games).

You can check out the tournament if you get the NHL Network (the iPad app will be of no help).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TNM's Year in Review: Q2

Part one of this series can be found here.

Next week marks the two year anniversary of Talking New Media, a website launched a little over three months before Apple shipped its first iPads, but more than a decade after the first newspaper and magazine websites appeared online.

2011 was a very eventful year in world news, but in some ways it was a simply a continuation of 2010 where media critics continued to debate the paid content versus advertising strategies, and where the gurus of aggregation and layoffs, disguised as 'digital first' proponents, continued to hold sway – despite any evidence that their philosophy could translated into profit publishing models.

April:

News:
Japan raises nuclear crisis level
Bonnier spins out mag+ into a new separate company
Orange Country Register releases iPad afternoon edition

The Onion launched its own iPad app, appropriately enough on April 1st.
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Time Warner was forced to remove several channels from its iPad app including FX, Discover Channel and MTV, as networks resisted allowing cable providers extend their services to tablets. Later in the month HBO releases its own iPad app, HBO GO, which will stream content directly to subscribers.

"We believe we have every right to carry the programming on our iPad app," Time Warner said at the time. "But, for the time being, we have decided to focus our iPad efforts on those enlightened programmers who understand the benefit and importance of allowing our subscribers--and their viewers--to watch their programming on any screen in their homes."

Woodwing said in early April that it would make its tablet publishing format, "ofip", open and free of charge. But months later the company would transform itself into solely an enterprise publishing solutions company that would support the Adobe platform.

Jelle de Weert, 23, a student at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute released brilliantly conceived tablet edition for the school's annual magazine. Odd Magazine transformed the 138 page print magazine into a 300+ interactive digital product.

Near the end of the month Apple finally responds to security concerns that it tracking iPhone user locations. "Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so." The issue quickly goes away.

May:

News:
Osama Bin Ladin killed in raid
Microsoft buys Skype
Zillow reports that 28.4% of all single-family homes with mortgages are under water due to lower home values
Nomad Editions releases its first iPad app
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TNM contributor Pedro Monteiro wrote a post about the new app from Joe Zeff Design called Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz. Later in the month TNM reprinted his interview with Zeff.

The company behind the drink Red Bull released its first iPad magazine. The first issue of Red Bulletin featured SF Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum on the cover.

German newspaper Schwäbische Zeitung releases its first iPad app. The app is the first of many released that put most U.S. newspaper publishers to shame. Meanwhile, Metropoli launched a series of replica editions for its Italian weekly newspapers. The divide between app strategies – native design versus replica editions – continued throughout the year.

Unable to get Apple to go along with an iPad app, Playboy launches an HTML solution instead though its new site, iPlayboy.com.

Next Issue get set to launch its digital newsstand, but only for the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

June:

News:
Patent troll Lodsys files lawsuits against seven small developers
Windows 8 previewed at All Things D
Greek debt crisis begins becoming front page news
Layoffs follow News Corp.'s sale of MySpace

June started with the announcement that Bill Keller would step down as editor at the NYT, to be replaced by Jill Abramson.
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The Financial Times decides to go with a web based app rather than split subscription revenue with Apple. The initial launch was not well executed, but eventually the financial newspaper was able to claim success for its strategy - proving that financial newspapers are in a far better position to create paywalls.

Penguin Group releases app version of On the Road, the Jack Kerouac classic. Penguin had committed to developing apps for the iPad at the time of Apple's tablet announcement, saying that "The definition of the book itself is up for grabs."

Magzter launched its own digital newsstand serving the Indian magazine market.

Bonnier releases a disappointing tablet edition for its food magazine Saveur. Rather than using the company's own native publishing solution, Mag+, Bonnier instead used a replica solution called MagLight.

Morning Brief: The NYT Co. sells Regional Media Group; Senator Nelson decides to retire from the Senate; U.K. government may develop iPad app for the Prime Minister

The New York Times Company said late yesterday that it had agreed to sell its Regional Media Group to Halifax Media Holdings for the rock bottom price of $143 million.

The newspaper group includes dailies such as The Press Democrat, The Sarasota Herald Tribune, The Gainesville Sun, and The Tuscaloosa News.

The group, which has been under the direction of Michael Golden since 2009, who is also Vice Chairman of The New York Times Co. According to the Times story on the sale, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company, said the sale "will enable The New York Times Company to continue our transformation to a digitally focused, multiplatform media company.”

The MediaDecoder blog last week said that adveritsing revenues at the group had been falling precipitously: 30 percent in 2009 to $193 million, and 8.2 percent last year to $177 million. Total revenue was said to be around $264 million (said to be 11 percent of total revenue for the company).

The sales price of $143 million, therefore, represents a one time multiple of revenue of either this year's ad revenue forecast, or the forecast for 2012. Either way, it is an incredibly low price.



Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced yesterday that he would not seek reelection. The Democratic Senator would have faced a difficult reelection in a state where he was the only Democrat holding statewide office.

Nelson is the seventh Democrat to announce that he will retire from the Senate, increasing the chances that the Republicans could take over the chamber after the November 2012 election.



The AP said a Times of London story is reporting that the British government will be developing an app for Prime Minister David Cameron's iPad. The app could send statistics and information from government departments, as well as real time news to Cameron's iPad.

I can not provide a direct link to the Times story because the Murdoch paper is behind a solid paywall, preventing non-subscribers from accessing the story.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TNM's Year in Review: Q1

Next week marks the two year anniversary of Talking New Media, a website launched a little over three months before Apple shipped its first iPads, but more than a decade after the first newspaper and magazine websites appeared online.

2011 was a very eventful year in world news, but in some ways it was a simply a continuation of 2010 where media critics continued to debate the paid content versus advertising strategies, and where the gurus of aggregation and layoffs, disguised as 'digital first' proponents, continued to hold sway – despite any evidence that their philosophy could translated into profit publishing models.

January:

News:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) shot
Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, goes on medical leave

The year started with the tech and media website proclaiming the death of the tablet magazine – really. It may be hard to believe, but with only 10,000 iPads in circulation, the fact that Wired's tablet sales were down to 23,000 an issue was already cause to give up on the new medium (at least according to the critics; many publishers simply moved on).
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In January, Sporting News signed a deal with AOL
to takeover Fanhouse.


The Dallas Morning News announced that it would construct its own paywall, following similar announcements from other papers, including the NYT, which had not yet launched its own metered paywall by January. Note: we're still waiting on announcements that these paywalls are successfully leading the expansion, rather than contraction, of newsroom staffs.

The CEO of the Flemish Newspaper Association, Patrick Lacroix ripped Apple's 30 percent commission structure in a blog post on Mediargus.be – to not avail.

"30% is neither a reasonable nor a suitable remuneration for the distributor who only adds a limited value. If Apple wants to take part in the conversation about subscriptions it will have to be at least ten times less that percentage," Lacroix wrote in January.

February:

News:
Al Jazeera web traffic soars as readers follow events in Egypt
HP unveils the TouchPad
Borders Group files of bankruptcy
A Scottish Deerhound wins Westminster (personal favorite of all the news items)

The Daily, Rupert Murdoch's iPad-only newspaper, was unveiled at an event at the Guggenheim Museum on February 2. The paper initially was offered free of charge.

While the news product's right wing politics have limited its success, The Daily continues on, showing that there are probably enough fans of the Fox News model to keep the product going, at least for a while.

Motorola unveiled the XOOM in February and after a week or so I was able to test it out for myself – I was not impressed.

Random House became the latest big name publisher to agree to adopt the agency model whereby the publisher sets the price for their digital products and the seller (Apple) collects the commission. “The agency model guarantees a higher margin for retailers than did our previous sales terms. We are making this change both as an investment in the successful digital transition of our existing partners and in order to give us the opportunity to forge new retail relationships,” Random House said in a statement at the time.

TNM mentions Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue web app: traffic at TNM soars.

March:

News:

An 8.9 earthquake hits Japan, followed by tsunami
Massive protests in London in reaction to government cutbacks
Steven Brills sells Journalism Online to R.R. Donnelley
NYT launches its metered paywall

Apple released iOS 4.3 in March, which brought lots of new goodies, and the AppleTV update added MLB.TV and other apps. Prior to the update, only a select few apps could stream content, but iOS 4.3 allowed AirPlay compliant apps to begin streaming. Soon developers began issuing app updates to include the new features.

Zinio suffered a major meltdown in March, caused by an outage at one of its data centers.

The Boston Herald launched its baseball app
 just in time for Opening Day.

The long awaited New York Times paywall finally launched at the end of the month, but the paper made sure many of its most frequent users got through for free, thanks to a deal with the car maker Lincoln. The NYT has bragged that its digital subscriber numbers have soared, but late in December it was announced that its CEO, Janet Robinson, would step down at the end of the year – related? who knows.

The original announcement for the paywall was in May of 2010, by the way.

Apple begins shipping the iPad 2 for delivery on March 17.

Meanwhile, a survey showed that 16 percent of consumers had cancelled their newspaper subscriptions due to the recession.

Morning Brief: Sears Holdings says it will close 100 to 120 of its Sears, Kmart stores; Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and local Chicago PEs complete newspaper acquisitions

The Christmas holiday has not been kind to Sears Holdings, the company behind Sears and Kmart, as the company announced that same-store sales had fallen 5.2 percent. Because of this, the company said it plans to close 100 to 120 of its 2,200 stores.

"Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce on-going expenses," CEO Lou D'Ambrosio said in its announcement.

"While our past practice has been to keep marginally performing stores open while we worked to improve their performance, we no longer believe that to be the appropriate action in this environment," the WSJ reported that the company said in its statement.



Both Berkshire Hathaway and Wrapports LLC completed their acquisitions of their local newspapers: Warren Buffett's Berkshire buying the Omaha World-Herald, and Wrapports, made of up of local PE figures, buying the Chicago Sun-Times.



If you are one of those who believe music was never so good as when it was only available on vinyl records, then you will like what BBC Radio 6 is planning of New Year's Day: the Beeb will be playing on 45 RPM records.

"In a world dominated by digital music, vinyl is a format still close to the hearts of many music lovers and increased sales demonstrate its enduring appeal," said station editor Paul Rodgers, according to the Guardian report.

Of course, the ironic part of all of this is that BBC 6 was launched as a digital only station by the BBC in 2002. The station has been threatened with closure of the past few years as the U.K.'s conservative governments have looked to scale back the BBC.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Closed for the holiday

See you Tuesday morning (Monday is the observed holiday in the U.S.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Yo ho, my boys! No more work to-night!

"Yo ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer. Let's have the shutters up," cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of his hands, "before a man can say Jack Robinson."

You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it. They charged into the street with the shutters -- one, two, three -- had them up in their places -- four, five, six -- barred them and pinned then -- seven, eight, nine -- and came back before you could have got to twelve, panting like race-horses.

"Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk, with wonderful agility. "Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots of room here. Hilli-ho, Dick! Chirrup, Ebenezer."

Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room, as you would desire to see upon a winter's night.

Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol

Morning Brief: House Republicans decide its best to move on, while PolitiFact chooses to circle the wagons; the FCC set to try and loosen media rules again

The NYT has already buried the story on its website – House G.O.P. Leaders Agree to Extension of Payroll Tax Cut – a sign that the whole House GOP fiasco was much ado about nothing. In the end, realizing that they looked foolish and isolated, the House Republicans reversed course and said it would now approve a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.

The key, from the GOP's perspective, was to get the issue off the table as quickly as possible – and to get the story off the front pages as quickly as possible. They will have to deal with this morning's papers, but most newspaper websites have already moved on (only the WaPo seems to be keeping the story upfront, as the actual vote, possibly a voice vote, is set for later today).



If the House Republicans realized they were better off beating a hasty retreat, PolitiFact is trying a different tactic: digging in its heels and taking swipes at its critics. The St. Petersburg Times property caught the attention of the media world by giving the GOP a huge Christmas present by saying that the 2011 Lie of the Year was the claim that Republicans voted to end Medicare.

Writing on their website, Bill Adair goes after critics and quickly digs himself into a corner: critics of the decision are wrong because those who think PolitiFact made a bad decision are merely biased journalists who read and listen to biased news sources, calling such behavoir " life in our echo chamber nation".

Unfortunately, attacking the credibility of critics is a bit silly, isn't it? After all, the issue of the decision itself, which Adair fails to even try to justify except by saying that their competitors made the same choice (echo chamber?).

The whole silly mess reminds me of the way Poynter, another property associated with the Times, handled the Romenesko mess: dig in and deny. 2011 is not ending well for either institution.



The FCC is set to ease limits on cross-ownership of media properties in one market, according to a story this morning on the BusinessWeek website.

As the story points out, this is the second attempt to loosen media ownership rules, and it is bound to be met with similar objections as the first.

But while many think that media companies like Gannett might be helped by loosening the rules, I would predict that those who would take advantage of the ability to own multiple media outlets in a market might be companies that might employ a roll-up strategy: PE firms. Many existing media companies have scaled back their M&A efforts, concentrating on low cost new media properties rather than television stations or daily newspapers.

First the FCC has to successfully rewrite those rules, and beat back any challenges in court.



The new owners of the Chicago Sun Times have brought in Timothy Knight as CEO. Knight is the former publisher of Newsday where, as the NYT said at the time of his departure two years ago, he endured "a turbulent five-year tenure that included a circulation scandal, downsizing and changes in ownership and management."

Reports of the sale to a group of local PE executives mostly center on the possibility of a more technology driven approach by the new management team.

“This isn’t a newspaper acquisition. This is the creation of a technologically-enabled content company,” Knight is quoted as saying in the Sun Times story on the sale. “The platform, the brands that the Sun-Times has across Chicagoland are outstanding and unmatched.”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas – New Year's Day schedule

We're winding it down here at TNM, preparing to start the season's gift shopping. I know, I'm one of those that waits until just about the last moment.

But this year I have an excuse: travel, a near oven disaster, and TNM. The oven disaster has been solved thanks to the GE repair man and so all that's to prevent me from finally getting to the mall is TNM. Well, we won't let that happen.
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Animated GIF (downsized) courtesy of Magie Aniamted GIFs.


So, the plan is to do a Morning Brief on Friday and that will probably be it until after Christmas. Monday the 26th is the official holiday (whatever that means), and so TNM will be back live on Tuesday.

The First falls on Sunday this year, that means no Rose Bowl and the other college games until Monday the 2nd. TNM will be back, therefore, on the 3rd. Got that? Good.

For BNA, creating 'reader' apps is the preferred approach

What approach should B2B publishers take in regards to tablet editions? Should they simply launch an iPad app and make their industry trade publications open to anyone who downloads the app? Or should they charge new readers for a subscription through the App Store while allowing current "qualified" subscribers to log into their accounts in the app to access the content for free?

A third approach might be to create a reader app – one that only allows content access to those customers who are already subscribers. This approach means that the app itself can not generate new subscribers, but the publisher won't be splitting revenue with Apple, either. Also, the new iPad app then serves as another way paying customers can access their content.
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This is the approach BNA (The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.) has chosen to use with its iPad apps.

BNA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bloomberg L.P., is a company that provides legal, regulatory and other business information to its customers through print and e-newsletters, the web, book, etc. The company has many products available in the areas of Legal and Business, Tax and Accounting, Environment Health and Safety and Human Resources. All or most of these could potentially become tablet products, should the company decide to go in that direction.

To date, BNA has released seven iPad apps, that latest being BNA Labor and Employment Law Insights, released earlier this week. Each app is free, but each app only allows downloaders to browse the articles and videos available, as well as see the author and speaker names and content headlines.

In order to fully access the content, downloaders will have to already have a subscription to the information service. In the case of the BNA Labor and Employment Law Insights app, the cost is $295 for a year's subscription. As you can see, BNA products are generally pricey, one reason the company would be hesitant to share a revenue split with another company (in this case, Apple).

Does this approach make sense for other B2B publications? Certainly, if you one of those B2Bs that are charging a fairly high subscription price for your print or web products. With your customers buying tablets you want to migrate with them.

But if you are mailing a monthly print magazine to a list of "qualified" readers, and not getting any, or little subscription revenue, then this would simply be an additional cost – sort of like those Flash flipbooks so many publishers have paid for. In that scenario, I would think that the hybrid approach is best: charging new readers through the app, while letting current "qualified" readers log-in for free access. As far as I know, Apple has not objected to this approach, though one could interpret their developer rules in such a way as to disallow this – I have yet to hear anything definitive to date.

App updates to Modern Luxury apps highlight the sameness of many apps from the same publisher

There is nothing like a side-by-side comparison of newspapers and magazines inside the App Store to show that, like your corner 7-11, many publishing products today are cookie cutter replicas of each other. Such a comparison wouldn't have been possible in the past.

BlueToad today issued more updates to the Modern Luxury replica editions including Atlantan for iPad, Dallas for for iPad, DC for iPad, and Angeleno, as well as many more. Since these are free magazines that do not require a subscription to access, readers are generally fairly generous in their reviews as few want to complain about getting a something for nothing.
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In the past, magazine readers would visit their local Borders (no more) and see a few city magazines on the newsstand – generally their local magazine plus some for exotic destinations like Paris or Hawaii.

But thanks to digital newsstands, we can see how similar magazines are from the same publisher, how the same formulas are at play, and how expensive photo shoots can be justified when the expense is spread out among a portfolio of magazines. (To their credit, the editors did not make the mistake of using the same shot for their covers.)

Of course, this is the Modern Luxury formula at work, and I am in no position to criticize the approach as I have not seen their P&Ls, nor am I the target audience for these publications, being older and without an inheritance to look forward to.

But it is worth checking out Apple's Newsstand today and to wonder whether it is really a good idea to release a wave of updates for similar magazines on the same day.

Likewise, I've written about similar looking newspaper apps and how replica or native designed apps sometimes make newspapers, that otherwise have distinct personalities, look the same – usually bland.

Is this important? Probably not, though I'd personally have to wonder how much a newspaper or magazine really reflects my own local community when I can see inside the App Store other publications that appear to be clones.

Morning Brief: Wave of bombings hits Baghdad; Robinson gets sweet exit package from NYT; Amazon pushes out updates to Kindle Fire tab OS and Kindle app for iOS

At least 14 bombings occurred in Baghdad this morning as a wave of sectarian violence shook the capital after the Shite-leg government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi.

The attacks followed closely the withdrawal of the last American forces in the country.

"I was sleeping in my bed when the explosion happened," CBS News quoted 12-year-old Hussain Abbas, who was standing nearby in his pajamas. "I jumped from my bed and rushed to my mom's lap. I told her I did not want to go to school today. I'm terrified."



Reuters is reporting that the exit package The New York Times Company will paying Janet Robinson to step down as CEO will total over $15 million.

The new agency quotes an unnamed source as saying that Robinson will receive a $4.5 million consulting fee, plus $10.9 million in pension benefits. But Reuter added this tidbit near the ned of its report:
But Robinson is getting less than half of the $37.1 million in severance Craig Dubow received when he retired as Gannett Inc's CEO in October, after six years at the helm of the newspaper publisher and amid similarly dismal financial results.
The New York Times Company continues its efforts to close a deal for its Regional Media Group made up of newspapers such as The Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida, The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., and The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama.



Amazon pushed out an operating system update to users of the Kindle Fire, reportedly improving scrolling and other basic navigation traits.

Amazon also issued an update to its Kindle app for iOS which brings in magazines and newspapers Kindle Editions (generally replica or text versions). Users have complained, however, that the app update takes away the ability to archive previously read books and that the app is buggy.

MobileBurn posted a video of the changes to the Kindle Fire OS on its YouTube Channel:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Engadget Distro gets update that pulls it into Newsstand; simple digital publishing model still works

The fairly new iPad magazine app from AOL owned Engadget, called Engadget Distro, received an update last night to bring it into Apple's Newsstand.
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The update probably was forced on them due to a misunderstanding of Newsstand rules that do, indeed, allow for free publications to be inside Newsstand. But no matter, the update has now been issued and the app functions as advertised.

For the reader, whether you like this app will be totally determined by whether you enjoy Engadget's web content, since the app is a simple repackaging of the tech site's work there.

But for me, the app remains a great example of a simple digital publishing solution for the iPad that creates a logical, easy-to-read, easy-to-navigate tablet magazine. That doesn't mean its perfect, as I will soon point out. But it offers so many great lessons in what a publisher should be thinking about when designing their own digital magazine for tablets.

(This post, by the way, is not going to be much different than the original post I wrote in October when the app was first launched. But I think it is worth writing about this again.)

What makes this app work is its simplicity. First, there is a library page where all the issues reside – you've seen libraries like this a million times. There is a subscribe button at the top that when pressed quickly makes you a subscriber – since this is a free magazine no need to double confirm a purchase.

What could be improved here? A pop-up or a more prominent subscription promotion would be nice, to encourage subscribers, especially since this app is now in Newsstand. What else? Well, it would be nice to know how big these issues are when they are being downloaded. Many readers won't care, but I like to know how much space I have giving away to a publisher. My guess is that these issues are not that large, but it is still nice to know.

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Left: The library page inside the Engadget Distro iPad app; Middle: the same full page ad that was seen in the first issue remains here in the most recent issue; Right: simple story navigation is consistent with other digital magazines.



Once the issue opens up one sees right away that the publisher has decided to create their issues in portrait only orientation. This saves space – quite a lot of space really. I can't criticize this decision as it speeds production, saves space, and replicates the print magazine experience. But other publishers might decide to go landscape-only, or put the time into make their digital magazines use both orientations. It will all depend on how much time and resources you have. For a weekly like Engagdet Distro it probably makes sense to go with one orientation only.

Inside the magazine the story flow is simple and consistent with other native designed magazine apps. In fact, this is standard magazine design, I would say. The readers scrolls within a story, swipes to get to the next story. This way of doings was outlined by Bonnier was back in December of 2009 in its concept video. You can see that video on the TNM YouTube Channel.

For B2B publishers especially, this way of making digital magazines for the iPad and other tablets seems ideal. It is simple, quick, and repeatable. For web publishers like me, this is just what I would produce if Mag+ or some other digital publishing solutions provider would go insane and make their digital publishing solution free.

Endadget's app is, in essence, a replica app. What it doesn't use, for instance, is in-page text boxes that allow for scrolling while the background image stays the same. Using Mag+ to build the app would allow for this. There is also no embedded video or audio, something that many publishers would insist on. In fact, this is something you would expect from a tech site.

So why write about such a simple app twice in three months? Because I see this app as what many publishers who are unfamiliar with tablet publications should look at first. This is like taking a baby step. But this app is far more instructive to look at than a normal replica app. This is lies somewhere between those hard-to-read PDF apps, and apps that try and use all the bells and whistles available to them. If a publisher starts with a simple vision of digital publishing, something like this app, then they are starting at a good place.

And readers seem to agree: this updated app is getting only good marks from those who have downloaded it – something not often seen inside the App Store.

Morning Brief: Some early presents for some, coal for others; paid legal fees for a phone-hacker, a patent win for Apple, a lump of coal for taxpayers thanks to House GOP

The time to unwrap presents may still be a few days away for most of us, but for some Christmas has come early.

Glenn Mulcaire, for instance, the man accused of phone hacking for Murdoch's News of the World, just won a court case that will save him some serious legal fees. The News of the World had originally agreed to pay his defense costs but then cancelled the contract – Mulcaire sued and just today the high court ruled that News Group Newspapers would have to continue to fund his legal fees, according to the Guardian report.

Apple won a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission that said that Android smartphones made by HTC Corp. violated an Apple patent. This is a loss for Google, as well. But the ruling is fairly limited, and two can play at the patent game. In fact, everyone is playing in the patent game, guaranteeing that eventually everyone will lose, especially consumers. But then again, consumers always lose when the corporations start playing their games.

U.S. tax payers got a lump of coal yesterday thanks to Republicans in the House. They voted overwhelmingly to kill the Senate compromise bill that would have extended the payroll tax cut by two months. As a result, taxes will be going up for U.S. tax payers come January 1st, and millions of Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. Further Medicare reimbursement fees for doctors will also be reduced.

But, none of those dire consequences are guaranteed, as the NYT story makes plain in its last paragraph (kind a way of burying the lead, if you ask me):
Republicans could decide to accept the two-month extension as is or with additional sweeteners, like a promise that a conference committee would meet to seek a longer-term extension, but such a move would require unanimous consent from the Senate. They could add another social policy rider, as is their tendency, and the Senate could toss it off the bill later, through a procedure that has been employed in the past. Or they could do similar procedural moves with a bill to extend the benefits for a year, which has been the goal of Mr. Obama and Democrats all along.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

News Corp's Australian division updates its portfolio of highly unpopular newspaper iPad apps

The Australian division of News Corp. has updated its slate of newspaper iPad apps, though readers inside the Australian App Store continue to complain about the lack of content and the high price users must pay for access.

The apps for The Daily and The Sunday Telegraph, The Courier-Mail/The Sunday Mail, The Advertiser & Sunday Mail, Herald Sun, and PerthNow, were all updated for a variety of reasons including bog fixes and added content.

But unlike many of its counterparts in the U.S. and elsewhere, these apps (released under the News Digital Media name) are not to be found inside Apple's Newsstand but remain outside as free standing apps.

Also, each of these apps are paid apps priced at $7.49 (Australian dollars), with the except of PerthNow, which is priced at $4.49. This is price is the one month subscription price – a six month subscription costs $34.99 ($24.99 for PerthNow).

Each of the apps have far more one-star reviews than 5-star reviews, as readers complain about pop-up ads, sparse news content (versus the websites) and, of course, the price.

This pricing and Newsstand policy seems pretty consistent throughout the corporation. The New York Post and Wall Street Journal all can be found under the News category, but not inside Newsstand. Similarly, The Times of London and Sunday Times are also free standing apps, though both are free to download.

Only The Daily breaks the pattern, remaining free and also incorporating Newsstand support.

My Christmas wish list: from tablet ad networks to new VCs; plus stock stuffers from Apple and Google

I like to wait until the last minute to do my Christmas shopping, it's mimics the adrenaline rush I used to get while working at daily newspapers. But time is getting short, and Santa needs my list if there is any chance of me getting what I want.

So I have come up with a list of things I'd like to see under the tree Sunday morning, as well as a few items I think Santa should consider giving others. Here we go:

1) Small item first: please, Santa, can you find a way to put a stop to those market share stories the media, especially the tech media, like to write about Apple and Google and Samsung and you-name-it? I know it sounds trivial, but I really don't know if I could stand another year of Business Insider saying "Apple is doomed" on day before they report on Apple's record earnings.

OK, now for the real goodies.


2) Santa, I could really use an inexpensive tablet publishing solution – and so could a lot of TNM readers. If I were a well funded start-up, Adobe's outrageously priced solutions would work; a not as well funded start-up could use Mag+; but what about the rest of us?

3) Oh, and throw in a new tablet ad network or two. I may be a big believer in in-house ad staffs, but most start-ups need an ad network to sell ads at the beginning, especially bloggers moving their titles onto a tablet.

4) A newspaper, just one, that recognizes that geolocation and local businesses are a match made in heaven. I'm still waiting for some newspaper company that realizes that digital subscriptions will only get you so far, that the print media world is making a big mistake, a fatal mistake, by giving up on advertising models. Mobile phones + classified advertising seems so made of each other. Come on ad guys, get in the game!

5) Santa, I know you don't like it when someone wishes bad things to happen to others, but we in the media world could really use the complete collapse of the PE industry. We don't need another PE firm coming in and buying up properties, laying off staffs and then selling the titles off again (or declaring bankruptcy). No, what we need is what we had in the late nineties, a VC community willing to invest in new businesses. Far too many investment firms are only interested in finding the next Facebook, even though they wouldn't recognize it if it stood in front of them. No, we need money spread around to new media start-ups without a PE guy added to the board.

OK, now how about a few stocking stuffers:

From Apple: a new iPad with Siri, a higher resolution display, and a faster processor. (You know, this might be the only gift I actually will get.)

From Google: support staff. Period. (I still have unresolved issues with Google that are two years old. I couldn't imagine the same thing happening with any other company.)

Finally, since this is the season of giving, so here what I'd like Santa to give others:

The Democrats: a spine. The Republicans: sanity, if that's not possible then a heart.

Greece: a winning lottery ticket; the U.K.: an expired Eurorail pass.

The Giants (S.F.): a bat; the Colts (Indy) a new neck for Payton; Les Habs (Montréal) a 21-year old Jean Béliveau; the Clippers (L.A.): oh, I think they've gotten their Christmas presents already.

The WSJ editorial board: a subscription to The Nation; The Nation: an advertiser; Patch editors: a raise; Bankers: a cut in pay.

To everyone else: peace and prosperity, love and best wishes.

Morning Brief: Publishers continue to clean up their apps prior to the holiday; NYT updates add in live election results in preparation for the primaries; local markets contemplate the sale of their NYT-owned newspapers

Publishers and developers continued to use the week before the Christmas holiday weekend to issue updates to their media apps at a furious pace.


Today Future PLC issued updates for 64 apps, somehow Linus Format's update slipped into the store earlier. All the updates say that they are adding iOS 5 support so that the owners tablet or mobile device will no longer delete issues when space becomes low.

The updates also improve the reading experience by having the magazines leave off where the reader ended reading them, rather than return to the cover; and the library now shows the issue size when the reader edits their issues to clear space – all good features.

Now, if only someone at Future could improve these app icons – yuck.



The New York Times issued updates for its iOS upps, adding in live election night voting results in anticipation for the primary season (The Iowa caucuses are on January 3.)

The Android app, NYTimes app for tablet, was last updated in June, so an update should be expected for that app very soon, as well.



Zinio also updated its universal app, fixing crashing bugs (it hopes). The app description says that this will be the last app update that will support iOS 3.

One wonders who it is that might still be on iOS 3. My guess would be those who own an iPhone but treat it like an old flip phone, rarely if ever running apps other than the phone app itself.

Another candidate would be those, like my in my family, who still use the original iPhone, as well as the iPhone 3G and 3Gs, as converted iPod touches. I use an old iPhone as a music streamer and alarm clock. My daughter still has my original iPhone which she uses to listen to music.



The news that The New York Times Company is planning to sell off their regional newspapers is sinking in where the company owns papers. In the Bay Area, the Chronicle (still owned by Hearst) reported on the sale news, mentioning that a sale would effect the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and the weeklies North Bay Business Journal and Petaluma Argus-Courier.

The Boston Herald couldn't help themselves, asking when the Boston Globe might be sold off, as well.

No one really has anything original to say, it appears, simply rehashing the financial results for the past few years – without, of course, mentioning their own paper's results over the same period of time.

It is an odd thing about the newspaper business: journalists lament the passing or sale of a newspaper after it occurs, but relish planting knives before the actual event.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rogers Publishing updates four magazine iPad apps to add Newsstand support; those who update their apps need to read the app description for instructions

'Tis the season for app updates as many media companies continue move their publications into Apple's Newsstand.

One of the latest to issue updates is Rogers Publishing Limited which issued updates for Maclean's Magazine,

The app updates come with a rather disturbing warning:

ATTENTION PRINT SUBSCRIBERS: you will need to go to Settings --> Delete Account ID, to reset your subscription then click the red Activate button and enter your account ID. This will unlock all of your issues.

By installing this update, you will temporarily delete all of your previously downloaded issues. Please see instructions below to restore your magazines.

If you are an Apple subscriber and you update your app, upgrade to iOS/Newsstand or delete and resintall (sic) your app, you will be able to sign in with your account ID and retrieve all previously purchased magazines. There is also a "Retrieve Magazines" button in your app settings panel that you can tap on to retrieve previously purchased magazines.
If you are unfamiliar with Maclean's you should know that it is a leading Canadian news weekly, founded over 100 years ago by Lt.-Col. John Bayne Maclean. The iPad edition is a good way to get acquainted with the publication, though you should ignore the app description pricing: it says print subscription pricing is higher than single issue pricing (it's not).

New York Times in talks to sell off its regional media group to Halifax Media Holdings; the journey to the NYT for a lot of journalists and ad execs just got longer

The New York Times Company confirmed today that it is in discussions with Halifax Media Holdings LLC regarding its Regional Media Group.

The story broke because of the sharp eyes of Jim Romenesko (or one of his readers) who noticed that Halifax was listing the NYT properties on its website. That page was swiftly taken down, but not before a screenshot was taken.'


The properties in question include mostly mid-sized dailies like The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., The Gainesville Sun in Gainesville, Fla., and The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

For as long as I can remember, these properties were seen as choice landing spots for many journalists and advertising managers – a way into an elite organization other than through the doors of the NYT itself. While reality often led those I know who have worked for the Regional Media Group to express disappointment – there is only one NYT – those I spoke to were always happy to say they were working for The New York Times Company rather than ____ (fill in the blank).

So why is the NYT selling? Because it remains difficult for most regional newspapers to make the transition to digital, or said another way, many don't see a successful transition ahead.

The reality is that few newspapers can continue to sell print while also forcing readers to pay for digital. The financial newspapers – the WSJ and FT, for instance – are finding success selling digital subscriptions. My guess is that the NYT really aren't doing as well, but they are doign better than other consumer newspapers. (So many of the NYT's digital subscriptions remain discounted that I am still reluctant to pronounce the Times's metered paywall an unqualified success.)

So if the way is not clear for the NYT, what does it look like for regional papers? Well, not good unless the model changes – and getting a newspaper to change its model is almost impossible. Few papers have taken advantage of the geolocation services in mobile devices to launch localized advertising products, few have launched tablet editions that are more than mere replicas, and few have energetically embraced app development to become serial launchers of new digital products.

The future of regional and local newspapers will be dismal for many traditional print publishers, what with new digital competitors biting at their heels. But there is a future for some, and no doubt that is what the investors behind Halifax Media Holdings is hoping (or they will simply sell off the pieces).



No surprise that Jim Romenesko landed this news first – he has been landing stories like this for years. But it is ironic (or maybe it isn't) that this story broke one month after his departure from Poynter.

Jim is not time stamping his stories on his new website, so it is a little hard to tell exactly when he posted his story, but it obviously quickly forced the NYT to respond with its own press release. That, in turn was picked up by others, including Poynter, which would not link back to Jim's news site as a source. (You can make of that what you will.)