Thursday, December 23, 2010

Morning Brief: B2B gets a shake-up and a launch (of sorts); HP disses Android and goes its own way

My first gig in B2B publishing was with the Construction Information Group at McGraw-Hill publishing a daily newspaper for the construction industry of Northern California. It was a great group, for a while, with an amazing group of publishers.
One of the last great moves made by leaders of the group was the securing of the AIA contract in 1997. It was a deft act that stole away the title of "official" magazine of the association from Architecture, then owned by BPI Communications. Some saw McGraw-Hill's move at the time as simply buying the market, but the move catapulted Architectural Record from third in the field, behind both Architecture and Progressive Architecture, to first.

Actually, BPI had bought already Progressive Architecture from Penton and shut it down, clearing a bit of room in a field where editorial and production costs can be a bit higher than other markets. The move back fired on BPI when McGraw-Hill secured the AIA contract and at least two publishers lost their jobs over the moves.

Now Hanley-Wood will be taking over the AIA contract at the beginning of the year for its magazine Architect, having previously purchased and shut down Architecture. Meanwhile, the editor of ArchRecord, Robert Ivy, will be leaving McGraw-Hill to become head of the AIA. Ironic, no? But it all looks like shuffling chairs on the Titanic as McGraw-Hill continues to lessen its presence in trade publishing, and the association for architects tries to stay relavant in its industry.

Speaking of B2B and construction: Cygnus Business Media released a press release announcing that they will be launching a quarterly magazine next year called Sustainable Construction. Reading through the release one sees that the quarterly will be created in partnership with Caterpillar -- though they don't use the term "partnership".

The last paragraph of the press release is a bit confusing:
Sustainable Construction, a quarterly publication slated for late-Summer of 2011, features three digital publications -imbedded video, audio and other rich media tools- and a print product (produced with soy ink on recycled paper).
I suppose they mean "embedded" video, but no matter. What are these three "digital publications". And "late summer"? Who puts out a release about a launch no one will see for eight to nine months?

The WSJ posted an interesting interview with HP's head of mobile Jon Rubinstein yesterday. Rubinstein used to be the CEO at Palm. No wonder then that the interview gives on the distinct impression that HP will be be pushing its own WebOS in competition to Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

I guess I see HP as a low priced manufacturer of bland, workable devices, not as the creator of a new platform. I would have expected that HP, if it wanted to continue to develop WebOS, would also produce Android or Windows based tablets. HP seems to be the kind of company that would want to flood the market with different kinds of tablets, rather than focus only on its own platform.

But who knows, maybe this is a change in direction that will make sense as we get into 2011.