Saturday, March 6, 2010

Week in Review

Short reads on a Saturday morning:

Engadget has more on the mysterious Courier, Microsoft's pen driven, two-page tablet that appears to be far more rumor than product as pictures and videos keep getting leaked, with no product in sight -- the exact opposite of what seems to happen when a real product is about to be produced. In any case, Engadget says they have more concrete information about Courier including that it doesn't run off of Microsoft's recently unveiled Windows 7 (which won't appear itself until later this year), but instead runs the same OS as the Zune. I don't know, it looks cool, but I never write anything anymore, I type. And besides, the whole thing seems odd -- if they really were ready to launch this thing wouldn't they want to keep things under wraps? Maybe this is just an effort to raise the spirits of Microsoft folk who have been taking a beating lately from all the talk about Google and Apple?



• Rusty Coats will be leaving his post as V.P. of Interactive for E.W. Scripps. Coats said the decision was both professional and personal. Said Coats in a memo to staff: "On the professional side, after more than 20 years with newspapers – 15 of them on the interactive side – I would like to explore the broader interactive world. There is a lot of innovation happening in the interactive space – some in newspapers, some outside. I want to see what’s outside without viewing it through a familiar lens."
Rusty Coats: It’s time to see less of the world alone from an aisle seat, rental car and hotel room. 
Corrected thanks to input from Jack Lail, who is Director of Innovation of the Knoxville News Sentinel -- thank you! I wrote in the previous version that Coats had been head of interactive at Scripps 15 years -- a bad mistake on my part.

• Back to tablets for a moment, Apple publicly announced the iPad will make its appearance inside Apple stores: April 3, with pre-orders taken starting March 12. I speculate here on prospects for sales. I personally will wait, not because I am one of those iPad naysayers, because that is my pattern with all new Apple products. Let the early adopters buy their iPad, let them work out the bugs, then go by version two . . . and then hear the early adopters complain about the fact that Apple has dropped the price, or added features not found on their version one device.

• It's hard to follow all the newspaper and B2B media firms going into, and out of, bankruptcy proceedings. Here's another: Penton Business Media won court approval yesterday of its reorganization plan, and will be officially no longer in bankruptcy some time next week. Penton's efforts will result in the company dumping $270 million of its total debt load. But as the Reuters story points out, Penton had $841 million in assets and $1.13 billion in liabilities as of November 30.

• Looking ahead: Local news aggregator Outside.In is hiring their first ad sales person, and we'll look at what the company is up to in an interview I conducted with Camilla Cho, veep of biz dev.  Media folk sure love meetings, don't they? Next week there will be something called the 2010 Media Summit in New York -- I won't be going, but I'll keep an eye open to see if any news comes out.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Photoblogging Friday - 9

It's Photoblogging Friday again, TNM's version of catblogging. Dean Brierly is back to recommend this week's content.  Dean's better at this stuff than I am; and frankly, I could use a little break. (Though I will say that it was nice to be able to reproduce a still from Metropolis last week. I may due it again the next time a silent film is restored and released on DVD or shown at a festival).
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Dean had picked a photo by Steven A. Heller, the director of photography services at the Art Center of Design in Pasadena, a position he has held for more than 20 years. This shot is from his "Lost Series" and was taken with his iPhone. You can find more of Heller's work here.

Dean Brierly's site remains, Photographers Speak, and is worth exploring to see what new interviews he has conducted.

What to do with a monopoly? Put up a paywall.

UBM's move to put up a few paywalls where it feels it has a monopoly may only be an experiment, but it feels like an invitation.

Eventually, the VC community has to take notice and realize the future won't be magazines behind paywalls, but B2B online pure plays. Thanks to VerticalNet B2B pure plays may have a bad name, but with companies like UBM, Nielsen and Reed essentially getting out of the print business altogether, or at least shrinking down to minnow size, an opening has to be there for online pure plays.

Additionally, tablet publishing offers an online company another option (making them, I suppose, no longer a pure play). Between tablet publishing, mobile media, e-mail newsletters, data, and events, a non-magazine B2B still has lots of revenue sources -- all more profitable long term than print.

Now that the iPad launch date has been announced, media can get down to some serious business

OK, Apple has finally given us a date, April 3, for the actual launch of its iPad tablet. So what's next? Do Apple stores get flooded with buyers, eager to consume all sorts of media on their new tablets, while simultaneously canceling every print publication they subscribe to?

Well, if iPhone sales are any guide, the real rush towards iPad adoption won't materialize on Day One, but will be seen some time in the future, after consumers have seen the device in the wild, and are given an additional reason to buy the device.

Looking back at the iPhone, sales started out fairly slowly for the device with Apple not able to crack the one million units mark until the first sales quarter of 2008, before declining again until the fourth quarter of 2008 when Apple introduced its first 3G model.  But many would be surprised how low the initial sales were compared to a year later. The reason is that Apple's phone sales were zero before the introduction of the iPhone, and so Apple received positive press for simply getting into the market (and for introducing such a revolutionary new version of the smart phone).
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Two developments really changed the cell phone game in 2008: first, Apple's first 3G phone brought their product to the same level as other advanced smart phones; and second, the 3G phone also brought OS 2.0 and the app store on iTunes.

Some have been disappointed that Apple's iPad will launch without many features prospective buyers have requested: a front facing camera for video conferencing, Flash support, a standard USB connection (though the bottom iPod connector is, in reality, a USB connection), etc. Many of these features may be introduced in the future -- though Flash support certainly is questionable -- and so a second generation iPad, like the iPhone, may be a more popular product.

What I look for, however, is more Apple viral marketing, word of mouth, and the Starbucks effect. I think no product benefited more from coffee buying than the iPhone. In 2007 stories began to appear about iPhone users slowing down the register line as they fiddled on their phones while ordering their lattes. Then Starbucks dropped T-Mobile and did a deal with AT&T, giving iPhone users free Wi-Fi at the chain. Finally, Starbucks introduced their own app, allowing iPhone users to buy their lattes using their phones -- it didn't really catch on, but it did lead to more press and more "cool factor".

My guess is that we will see the same sort of sales performance for the iPad as the iPhone. Sales will appear impressive at first because Apple will tell us it is impressive and because once again the base is zero. But the spike in sales will appear later. This time, my bet is that sales will spike in a more traditional fashion, around the holiday season as shoppers decide between netbooks and tablets. The spark may be the holidays, or it may be the arrival of more media and game offerings for the device.

Apple announces launch date for its iPad; tablet will be in stores April 3rd, pre-orders starting March 12th

Apple announced today that its new tablet, the iPad, will be in stores starting Saturday, April 3. The WiFi model without 3G capability will be available first, with 3G models promised by late April.  Apple also said that both the WiFi and 3G models will launch at the same time in Canada and Europe -- late in April.
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Pre-orders begin March 12, as eager buyers will be able to begin spending their allowances of all models of the iPad online.

The press release mentions the new iBooks app, but does not say if it will be available on day one. The new books app will feature a bookstore and "will feature books from the New York Times Best Seller list from both major and independent publishers, including Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster," according to the release.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hello, newsletter subscribers

Just a quick note to thank those who have signed up for the TNM e-newsletter. Thank you.

I am still working on the layout and basic content of the newsletter, so don't surprised to occasionally receive an odd looking newsletter in your in-box.

To those who have not signed up yet, it's easy and free. Just input your e-mail address in the form found on the upper left of the home page. E-mail addresses are kept confidential and never, ever used for anything other than the delivery of the newsletter.

Thank you again.

Andy does the iPad in his own unique way

Andy Ihnatko can write me under the table (my excuse is always "I'm really a publisher, not a writer) but Ihnatko has so far waited to write about his impressions of the new Apple iPad. Today he let loose and it is a great read.

Ihnatko is a big Apple fan (maybe fan is not the right word here), so understand that going in. But his column is a good counterbalance to the flood of anti-anything-Apple posts I've been reading lately.  I posted a few comments here on the column he wrote in January speculating about what Apple's iPad would really be about. Looking back at it I think he was spot on -- especially about how publishers would work with Apple (through the app store, developing their own applications rather than waiting for some sort of publications store to be built within iTunes).

So go to the Sun-Times site and give it a read -- but beware of the typos.
(Hey, Sun-Times editors!)

Below is an interview with Ihnatko produced by Macworld. Ihnatko talks a little about the iPad, but I especially liked the conversation concerning book publishing about two-thirds of the way in.

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Newspapers continue to live in a print bubble; mobile media apps offer an opportunity to break loose

Yesterday I looked at some of the new apps out for the iPhone including the Washington Post's first iPhone attempt. Overall, one can see which newspaper companies are taking the medium seriously and which simply are letting vendors supply them with a quick solution so they can claim "we're on the iPhone, too!"

The Post app has some nice features and will probably grow into a very good app based on the commitment shown by Goli Sheikholeslami, the Post's head of digital.

Over the past year and a half of using news apps I have been struck with one fact, though: newspapers are as unimaginative on mobile media as they are online. Rather than looking at the platform and adjusting their content, newspapers continue to look at their content and then simply port over what they think will work. Building an app for the iPhone or Android presents new opportunities to consider content and revenue options that are not possible in print.


Political GPS, one of many specialty apps to be found on the iPhone.  ☞


Here is a simple example: aggregation. No, not aggregation of content such as local news, but aggregation of mobile capabilities. Take political news, for instance. The Times and Post do a fantastic job of presenting the activities of Congress in print and online. But print limitations generally prevent the newspapers from running long columns of roll call votes. Sometimes these roll call votes can be found online -- but only occasionally. But will this content appear on the paper's mobile app?

Enter the entrepreneurial app developer. Thomas Huntington is one such developer. His Political GPS app allows the user to see information on their Congressmen, get voting records, contact their representative via phone or e-mail, get texts of current legislation as well as past legislation back to the 106th Congress (today's Congress is the 110th, by the way), and share results found via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.

Wouldn't this kind of information be great to incorporate into the app of the newspaper of record for the nation's capitol? Maybe, maybe not -- but I can tell you that a small developer of iPhone apps would not require millions of dollars to be persuaded to cash out to (or team up with) a big city newspaper.

Back in January I interviewed Richard Farley, publisher of RF Football, a soccer blog. (The interview ran on our sister site, CitizenPublishing.net.) The thought struck me that aggregating sports content through working with bloggers and microsites would an attractive feature for many papers online. Including Farley's content, or that of Brian Quarstad (a Minnesota soccer blogger) makes the newspaper's content online that much richer. More importantly, it makes the newspaper's a portal instead of just a destination site.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The state of news apps: a look at the Washington Post, The Guardian and Gallup iPhone applications

Today the Washington Post finally got in the mobile media game with the appearance of their paid application in the iTunes store.
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Apple introduced the second edition of the iPhone OS on July 11, 2008, and with it came the iTunes app store. That move may have been even more significant to mobile media than the introduction of the iPhone itself. The new iTunes app store opened up mobile phones to new features, and have allowed publishers like the New York Times to extend its brand across the nation, if not the globe.  (The iPhone is currently on OS 3.1.3, with OS 4.0 is due out this summer. Each new OS version is free to iPhone users, unlike new versions of computer operating systems.)

The NYT app was introduced less than two weeks after the iTunes app store was established and has been the leading news application ever since. Today, the free app and is on version 2.32 (the CNN Mobile app is the number one paid app).

What follows is a review of the new Washington Post app, and a comparison with The Guardian and Gallup's iPhone app offerings.



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The screen shots above, each of which can be enlarged by clicking on them, show some of the features of the new WaPo app. The application opens to a simple screen of white, and contains a small banner ad on the bottom. I don't know of what real value this ad is since the screen changes almost immediately to the index page. There are no ads on this page right now, telling me that the app was released without the direct participation of the advertising department. I obviously could be wrong about this, but I believe this because any advertising manager worth his/her weight would want ads in the very first edition of the app in order to be able to sell additional advertising later. A spec issue, if you will.

The index has a great feature, one that caught me by surprise. If you "pull down" the index it rubber bands and reveals a message that the action will refresh the index. Very unique and creative.

The new layouts need work, however. The middle screen capture above is typical -- all text, without graphics.  Another story about Karl Rove (this is the Washington Post, after all) does contain a picture, but the image is so large that it almost appears that there is no story that follows.  Comparing the layout to The Guardian layout shows that there is still some work to be done in this area.

The Post app has another little handy feature which can be seen in the far right screen shot.  The "My Post" feature allows you to save stories in a folder for later viewing. This may not seem like a very important feature until you realize that the Index page will always be updated, and the going back to find a story will be hard if you can't bookmark or store the story in some way. The Post app handles it this way and it is a nice solution.

Blogs, news sites tout non-existent WaPo iPhone app

"Washington Post Rolls Out $1.99 iPhone App" . . . "Washington Post Offers Subscription Model App for iPhone" . . . "Washington Post? There’s an App for That" . . . "Washington Post Adds iPhone App With Annual Fee"
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The mystery app, much touted, little seen. ☞ 


The blogs and news sites had a field day declaring that the Washington Post had "unveiled" an iPhone app. But for most of the day there was no links to the mysterious app, or actual screen shots to be seen.

A search of the iTunes store turned up some version of the application. But any attempt to buy results in a error message (click photo above for larger view). We'll compare the WaPo app to others in the field -- assuming it appears.

Update: I see that Slate, a Washington Post property, has a new iPhone app up on iTunes (iTunes link). It costs $1.99 (the price reportedly to be charged for the WaPo app). There are a few reviews, and a couple mention something rather obvious: a paid app generally is free of advertising. In print, and also in how I envision tablet publishing, the ads are just as important as the editorial (can you image Vogue without the ads?). But for a mobile app it is generally bad form to charge for the app AND include ads. Many do it, of course.  But, believe it or not, there is a growing sense of mobile etiquette concerning fees and ads: do one or the other, but not both.

Further update: The mystery app appears! You can find it on iTunes here. I'll have a rundown on newspaper apps by the end of the day.

Naysayers have a vested interest in the death of media: when the dust settles they won't be the new publishers

Robert X. Cringely's take on the iPad and his opinion that the publishing world is doomed was a fun read -- if you are a sadomasochist. "But I fear the ship for most publications may have already sailed. It may simply be too late -- because people are too used to getting subpar content for free," Cringely writes.

Just like the stock market, when enough people scream "buy!". . . you know it's time to sell.

Cringely represents a very popular view of the media world: the old world is dying, and they just don't see how publishing will exist without the old ways, and without the old folk. It must really bother them that they see no future.


We're doomed, I say.  ☞


But, of course, they are wrong. I'm sure the scribes that lost their jobs when Gutenberg came along were just as depressed.

Cringely writes today "Here's the nasty little secret most publishers would rather you not know: Their online versions aren't nearly as good as their print versions. The reasons are pretty obvious. The premium rates publications charge(d) for print advertising subsidized a great many things -- like teams of researchers, fact checkers, copy editors, and multiple line editors -- that online ad models simply don't support."

I can't really argue with that. But does it make the point he thinks it does: that these magazines will all die off when they go online? No, just that they will change. Illuminated manuscripts may have been the height of the art of book production, but the invention of movable type printing didn't kill off the form, it just changed it.

Cringely quotes the CJR survey recently released that shows the decline of copy-editing online versus print. It is truly sad that so many print publications cut corners with their online products -- but most of these editors are producing both print and online, what makes you think that the better quality publications will be cutting corners when they can concentrate 100 percent of their efforts online? And even if the practice continues, I still say "so what?"

What is always missing in the discussion is the demands of the public. People want to read interesting things. When the old guard dies off will people stop reading? Well, they'll stop reading the old guard's copy, that's for sure.

(I assume the headline on the piece, Apple iPad Is Too Late to Save Print Publishing, was just an unfortunate error. No one is arguing that the creation of a new electronic device, the iPad, will save print publishing. Maybe Cringely's column was really a way of criticizing his own publication's work?)

What really bothers many is that people will continue to read publications -- on their computers, tablets and phones. And someone will be producing those publications, and advertising in them. Maybe the model won't support a staff of editors and fact checkers. But the printing press eliminated a lot of scribe jobs as well, didn't it?

Yesterday's speech from Penguin Group CEO John Makinson gives me hope. Here we have an executive who sees that to produce books for tablets the form has to change. Books must take advantage of multimedia capabilities of tablets in order to be attractive to buyers. It is not enough that publishes simply port their copy over to the new device -- they need to explore the new device's advantages (and disadvantages) and adjust.

The ultimate irony is that Cringely writes for InfoWorld -- a publication that went exclusively online in 2007. I suppose the proper response to declining print revenue would have been to shut the whole thing down and call it a day. But instead, three years into the new InfoWorld here is Cringely, still writing and being published, thanks to the only model IDG thought would work.

Update: Somehow I missed this story from yesterday -- Chris Anderson has seen the future of magazines -- and it's on a tablet. Chris Anderson, of course, is the editor of Wired magazine, and part of a company moving at break neck speed towards tablet publishing. Funny how being in a different publishing environment can lead one to a completely different view of things.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Book publishing on the iPad: Penguin Books to work around e-Pub format limitations by building apps

Penguin Group’s CEO John Makinson revealed his company's tablet strategy in a speech in London today.

“We will be embedding and streaming audio, video and gaming in to everything we do. This will present us, and the platform owners with technology challenges," Makinson said.

"The ePub format, which is the standard for ebooks at the present, is designed to support traditional narrative text, but not this cool stuff that we’re now talking about. So for the time being, at least, we’ll be creating a lot of our digital content as applications, for sale on app stores and HTML, rather than as ebooks."

These new enhanced books would sell, it is presumed, as individual applications, rather than as part of an online book store.

"The definition of the book itself is up for grabs," Makinson concluded.

The video of Makinson's talk was posted on YouTube by "parakeet" who may have a connection with paidContent.co.uk (if so, thank you for posting).

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Meanwhile, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that he predicts that most iPad buyers will choose to purchase models without 3G capability. "My expectation is that there's not going to be a lot of people out there looking for another subscription," Stephenson said during a recent investor conference.

All iPad models offered by Apple will come with built-in WiFi capability. Additional models will also have 3G, but users will have to pay a data fee, similar to those required on smart phones. For many, Stephenson believes, the additional monthly charge will discourage choosing the more expensive models.



While Stephenson may be right initially, it is also possible that as Apple brings out new models, that this may change. For instance, a model with video conferencing capability -- requiring a front facing camera that is currently missing from the model demonstrated by Steve Jobs in January -- would be a reason for 3G.  Also, a rumor today about Netflix surveying their customers concerning iPhone film streaming could result in the same service on tablets.  Apple is rumored (no company has more "rumors" about it than Apple) to be interested in using cloud computing to stream video to users, as well.

While video streaming is certainly capable using WiFi, using 3G in areas where there is no free public WiFi available, such as airports, would be a popular option for many.

AdMedia Partners survey shows 44% of media execs say they want out; B2Bs more optimistic about online

AdMedia Partners released a survey that shows media companies a bit more optimistic about growth in 2010, leading many to want to make strategic acquisitions, while 44 percent said they would consider selling out. The full survey can be downloaded here.

“There has been a lot of money sitting on the sidelines for the last 12–18 months. Smaller companies that survived the downturn are attractive to well-funded buyers,” said one respondent in the survey.

The survey also shows that B2B publishers were a little more optimistic about the chances online revenue will begin to match print. Sixty-five percent of trade publishers said that online would get to 50 percent of total revenue within five years, versus only 21 percent of consumer magazine executives, 15 percent of which doubted online would ever equal print.

Pew study show "news" just part of the media landscape; television still beats out Internet as #1 source

The recent media study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project is getting much attention for the fact that it appears that more and more Americans are getting their news online. But the study really points out an obvious fact: news is a media commodity the same way sit coms and reality shows are: consumption mirrors age and demographics, as well as our "viewing" habits, in general.

The Pew study shows that most Americans still get their news via local and national television, and that like television, certain demographics are heavy users: older Americans, women and African Americans. Also, the older we get, the more interested we are in "news". Even online, young people are less likely to be interested in "news" versus those middle aged.

If Pew were to repeat this study each year I believe the value of the study would grow tremendously. For instance, America appears to be moving towards a partisan styled media, much more like the European model. Is this true? What would the study have said five years ago, or in five years?

But here is what the study says to me: news is "content" -- it is "entertainment". That is, if most people get their news from television, and then from radio and the Internet, with newspapers way down the list, then why is this? Isn't it because news follows the same pattern as other entertainment vehicles. Most white elderly Americans get their news on TV because that is what they are doing during the day. (The Pew study in no covers this area, so consider it speculation.) If the question was asked "where do you get your entertainment, with the same choices listed, the results would not be so different: TV, radio, Internet, in that order -- not so far off from these results.

BBC reveals restructuring recommendations; cuts to digital content, less foreign TV programming

BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, unveiled proposals that will dramatically refocus the broadcasting and publishing efforts of the UK media giant. The proposals include trimming radio programming, cuts to some online activities, and the possible sale of the BBC print magazines, Top Gear and Radio Times.

The complete report can be found here.

The report reads like an ode to its commercial competitors as it promises to "set new boundaries" to its media ventures, and recommends cutting back on content acquisition such as foreign programming like "Mad Men".

Excerpts from the report:

The digital age should be a golden age for public space. . . . But digital also threatens to disrupt traditional public space. Fragmentation of audiences and consumption is weakening traditional media business models, including their ability to support quality content, from international newsgathering to indigenous drama and comedy. Traditional subsidies that enabled commercially funded broadcasters to make socially and culturally valuable content are failing. When, as a result, a piece of valuable content is lost—consider, for instance, the ending of The South Bank Show—the effects are multiple: audiences lose a precious connection to the arts world; the UK television industry loses an important documentary platform; but at the same time, many artists and cultural institutions lose a significant pathway to the public. Public space is diminished...



Doing fewer things better means, on this strategy, significant changes to the BBC’s service portfolio:
Focusing the BBC’s website on the five content priorities
• Halving the number of sections on the site and improving its quality by closing lower- performing sites and consolidating the rest
• Spending 25% lesson the site per year by 2013
• Turning the site in to a window on the web by providing at least on external link on every
page and doubling monthly ‘click-throughs’ to external sites

New York Daily News gets in the mobile game; releases mobile apps for iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile

The New York Daily News announced today new mobile applications available for iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile smartphone users. The iPhone app, developed by Handmark, is available on the iTunes app store (iTunes link).

Handmark recently announced a released app for the London Evening Standard at the Mobile World Congress.

“The Daily News is dedicated to bringing quality content to New Yorkers, and we are focused on expanding and enhancing the way our readers access it,” said Daily News CEO Marc Kramer in a release. “Our new mobile application offers a fast, easy and convenient source for our readers to connect with anytime, anywhere.”

Monday, March 1, 2010

NYT reaches deal to distribute content with Reach Media Group; Times headlines to appear on RMG video screens

Reach Media Group Networks (RMG) and the New York Times have announced a deal to distribute content onto RMG video screens, including news headlines, photos, and videos.

“This platform is a great opportunity to expose our brand to new audiences in a medium that is quickly expanding,” said Murray Gaylord, Vice President of Marketing, NYTimes.com. “We also believe this is an innovative way to extend The Times’s brand to its large audience of business professionals in our key markets.”

The RMG system is IP-based, allowing for location-based advertising. RMG also said that the screens will allow for medium rectangle advertising -- a more web based approach, as opposed to a TV approach as seen in other video advertising vehicles such as PRN or IBN.

RMG is backed by VC firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and DAG Ventures, as well as National CineMedia, the in-theater network.

Reed Business Information exits the construction market in Australia; Reed US sells off its library titles

In an e-mail to advertisers, Reed Business Information announced their exit from the Australian construction market, citing a corporate restructuring decision.

“The decision to exit the construction B2B publishing market was based on the commercial viability of the magazines and websites we have in this sector. The changes we have made will allow us to focus resources and expertise on our other online and offline brands in the manufacturing, engineering and building markets," read the e-mail, according to Mumbrella, an Australian media and marketing web site.

The Australian magazine effected is Construction Contractor, a monthly. The March issue will be the last one produced. Additional moves were announced including a cut in frequency for two other RBI magazines in Australia.

In the U.S., the fate of Construction Equipment and the other construction magazine are in doubt as the company has announced its intent to sell off most of its titles, while retaining Variety and Reed Construction Data.

Update: paidContent.org is reporting this morning that Reed has sold its library titles, Library Journal and School Library Journal. They will update the story as they get more information.

The Big Boys get into a tussle over Europe: Microsoft rats out rival; tells Google to deal with it

Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, David Heiner, went after Google late last week for accusing Microsoft of being behind efforts to look into Google's business practices, stating that complaints "usually come from competitors," and making no apology for pointing the finger at Google.

In a blog post, Heiner also went after Google CEO Eric Schmidt, accusing the chief executive of going after Microsoft in the past. "Believe me, I know: I’ve been chief competition counsel at Microsoft since 1994, so I’ve seen plenty of competitor complaints. Novell, when current Google CEO Eric Schmidt was at the helm, was never hesitant about complaining to regulators about Microsoft. Google hasn’t been shy about raising antitrust concerns about Microsoft in the last few years, either," wrote Heiner.

Last week was not a good week for Google. Beside the EU inquiry, Google ran into trouble in Italy. Three of its executives were held liable for damages resulting from the posting of a YouTube video. The three execs were sentenced in absentia to six months, though none face the real possibility of jail time. Google is appealing the ruling.