Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Morning Brief: WikiLeaks founder in custody in London; Tribune bankruptcy goes to creditor vote on four options

WikiLeaks founder has been Julian Assange arrested and taken to magistrates court in London this morning, but before his arrest he published an op-ed in The Australian. Here are some excerpts:

In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public...

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption...

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Tribune Company creditors will begin voting on December 22 for one of four reorganization plans for the bankrupt media company. Reuters is quoting Delaware Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Carey as saying "I shudder to think what lies ahead," Carey said.

Also being investigated are the deleted e-mails from former chief executive Randy Michaels. Michaels resigned in October following the publicity surrounding claims that Michaels fostered "a sexist and hostile workplace", according to Reuters.

Claiming that it will stock 3 million books, many of them free, Google launched its own online bookstore yesterday in direct competition to Amazon. I'm quite sure that today Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos is whispering to himself those say words Steve Job said about Google: "That "Don't be evil" slogan Google's known for? Bullshit".

The Washington Post's Fast Forward column today penned a rather negative review of Google's apps, stating that the Android version offered fewer fonts than the iPhone/iPad version, and that buying a Google ebook then moving the content to a Barnes & Noble device led to "a fussy file-transfer procedure, required by Google's Adobe-supplied DRM, that involves installing a copy of Adobe Digital Editions, opening the book in that free program, then employing that program to sideload the book on the Nook."

Google tends to launch things in a hurry so I wouldn't come to too many conclusions just yet. But concerning Google's battle with Amazon I can only say that this reminds me of something an engineer who worked for General Motors once told me many years ago. He said that it is easy to take market share from a competitor when the customer is unhappy with the product. But when the customer is satisfied, as GM was finding with those that had bought their cars from Toyota or Nissan (then known as Datsun) then it is harder to win back market share.

That's the challenge for Google ebooks, battling an Amazon that has a very high customer satisfaction rating.