Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Morning Brief: Apple affiliate program could learn from Amazon

I've been traveling the past few days, as you might have noticed, a few items have piled up. A Morning Brief is as good a place to post them as any.

I received a notice from Apple Monday about their affiliate program. The program is so badly run that I was not even aware that I had already signed up for it. In any case, Apple's idea of a new development in its affiliate program was limited to placing ads on your site in hopes that someone will link back. In other words, a bad ploy to get you to place ads for free.
I just don't recognize Apple anymore. The company used to do things with style substance.

A better example of a good affiliate program is Amazon's program -- formally knows as Amazon Associates. It's better for one reason only: widgets. By making it easy to embed links and product pictures, the widget allows editors and publishers to provide these links without having to remember code, or affiliate numbers, etc.

The NYT reported last night that Apple is starting to face the same level of scrutiny of its business practices that was common for Microsoft. Whether Apple gets the irony is unknown.

According to the Times, the Justice Department is looking closely at Apple's iTunes store and the pressure the company supposedly has placed on the music labels to do busy with Apple, and to decline making deals with other retail outlets like Amazon. Specifically, the article talks about a promotion Amazon promoted.

"The magazine reported that representatives of Apple’s iTunes music service were asking the labels not to participate in Amazon’s promotion, adding that Apple punished those that did by withdrawing marketing support for those songs on iTunes," the Times wrote.

Publish2 announced a news exchange program that it says is "a platform aimed at disrupting the Associated Press monopoly over content distribution to newspapers." Really. They really said that in a release.

A few outlets including Folio: picked up the release and posted a story. But I had to read the release several times simply to marvel at the tone of the thing. Judge for yourself, here are the first two paragraphs:
Today, at TechCrunch Disrupt, we’re announcing the launch of Publish2 News Exchange, a platform aimed at disrupting the Associated Press monopoly over content distribution to newspapers. With Publish2 News Exchange, newspapers can replace the AP’s obsolete cooperative with direct content sharing and replace the AP’s commodity content with both free, high-quality content from the Web and content from any paid source.

With Publish2 News Exchange, we’ve created what the AP should have become, but can’t because of a classic Innovator’s Dilemma. The New AP is an open, efficient, scalable news distribution platform. We’re enabling newspapers to benefit for the first time from the disruptive power of the Web, and from the efficiency of content production on the Web.
Somebody needs to hire a PR firm.

Finally, Steve Smith over at Mobile Insider read the same Financial Times story I did yesterday that questions whether newspaper publishers are really ready of the iPad. Smith's take is about the same as mine: yes, results so far have been hit-and-miss, but there have been some good implementation of tablet technology so far, including the Financial Times own iPad app.

The reason behind the story, of course, is that the iPad is being introduced in Europe this week (as well as Canada and Australia), and editors are rushing to make sure they have something in print about it. This leads, I'm afraid, to some rather misguided stories. There seems to be a desire to predict the future success of a product days and weeks before it is actually launched. I especially liked PC World's stories on the iPad -- they posted so many reviews, judgements and rants that you it will be impossible for anyone not to say that PC World got it right.