Saturday, January 30, 2010

Week in Review

Short reads on a Saturday morning.

•  The week was totally dominated by the launch of Apple's iPad, the very unfortunately named new mobile device. Techies complained about the lack of Flash and multitasking (something that some believe will eventually be corrected in software updates) as well as the lack of a camera. Media analysts were concerned by the absence of updated customized magazines and newspapers being demonstrated. In the end, it is obvious that the content will come.

I posted two somewhat lengthy posts on the launch that can be read here and here. But I'll leave the last word for this week to Paul Smalera who wrote on True/Slant:

Apple has just created the ultimate sandbox. The newspapers and magazines are the rich kids who can afford the coolest Tyco toys. The question is, can they get over the fact that the sandbox is in Steve Jobs’ backyard? Readers aren’t going to wait around for the print media to get over their sulking; they’ll be happy to play with whoever shows up first at Jobs’ iPad sandbox with their dumptruck or steamshovel, even if it’s made out of plastic and the windshield’s popped out, as long as it’s fun and worthwhile. Readers will grow with those apps as they evolve and build audiences and revenue. If old media doesn’t get its act together, they’ll be playing with their shiny metal front-loaders in their crappy cardboard sandboxes, that wilt in the rain, all by themselves, right around the time Stevie and his friends are graduating to the jungle gym.

•  OK, maybe not the absolutely last word . . . Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, warns of The iPad's Threat to Advertising. I don't see it, I don't get it, but there it is.

•  Speaking of threats, do you think Borders sees Apple as a threat? Apple used the Yerba Buena Center event to not only unveil its new media device but it also previewed iBook, Apple's new bookstore app. Borders, meanwhile, was not having a good week as it announced that it was laying off 10% of its corporate staff. Maybe now someone will mention to them that there's this little thing called the Internet that they seem to be struggling with . . .

•  One of the funnier moments leading up to the big launch day was Terry McGraw on CNBC commenting on his company's financial performance. Asked by CNBC's stumbling interviewer Erin Burnett about McGraw-Hill's involvement with Apple's new tablet device, McGraw confirmed that his company was working with Apple and mentioned that the device would run the iPhone OS. Oh my how the blogs lit up!  See, McGraw confirms new Apple device!  Then the next day when there was no mention of McGraw-Hill by Steve Jobs during his presentation the blogs (and mainstream media) went nuts again. McGraw-Hill punished! McGraw-Hill axed! Oh my.

☜  McGraw-Hill CEO Terry McGraw reacts as CNBC host Erin Burnett ends interview by revealing "I like to smell my textbooks". We kid you not.

One day later it was time for McGraw-Hill's press people to set the record straight.  WSJ: "As a company deeply involved in the digitization of education and business information, we were as interested as anyone in the launch of the new device, although we were never part of the launch event and never in a position to confirm details about the device ahead of time," said Steven Weiss, VP of corporate communications for The McGraw-Hill Companies.

•  The Guardian had a busy week in the news, as well. Besides liveblogging the big event in San Francisco, they also announced their first "beatbloggers".  The hires are part of a plan to create a local new network staffed by bloggers. By local, we are not talking about neighborhood level reporting as the first three hires will report on Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leeds. So hyperlocal publishers need not despair.

•  Finally, it's worth again pointing out Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger's speech from this week about pay walls. My post on the speech is here.