Saturday, March 20, 2010

Week in Review

Short reads on a Saturday morning:

• Was the biggest news in B2B that Reed sold off Interior Design and its entire furniture division to Sandow Media, or that Nielsen didn't announce it sold anything this week? Nielsen did manage to confirm that it had shuttered Sales & Marketing Management.

• The WSJ reported that Apple was "scrambling to secure iPad deals". The story, written with the help of five staffers, quoted no one, provided no proof, but did manage to find new ways to not identify people. The story, of course, was picked up by other sites and aggregators.

But since the way iPad users access e-content from newspapers and magazines would be through either the iPad's Safari web browser or through apps downloaded from iTunes the whole idea of "deals" simply makes no sense.

Then on Friday Apple sent out e-mails to its developers letting them know they are now accepting apps for review and approval. "iPad will begin shipping soon and your opportunity to be part of the grand opening of the iPad App Store starts today. Submit your iPad app now for an initial review by the App Review Team and receive feedback on its readiness for the grand opening.”

Since these initial apps must be developed and tested on a simulator, because only a select few chosen developers have actual iPads to work with, the vast majority of apps won't be submitted and approved until well after the April 3rd "Grand Opening". I suspect you'll find the New York Times and possibly one or more Condé Nast or Hearst magazines with apps on Day One. But there will be a Day Two.

• The real news may have been that the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) decided to once again change its rules and redefine what a digital magazine is. In the past, a digital magazine had to be an exact duplicate of the print version. No more. As a result, tablet versions (read: iPad versions) can now incorporate multimedia and change layouts without risking the wrath of the ABC.

Publishers will have to submit their apps to the ABC for approval, but I suspect that this being the Wild West days of tablet publishing I don't look for the ABC to stand in the way of many pioneers. The ABC has already approved the app for Wired magazine which will be available for the iPad starting with the June issue (has Apple approved the app?).

• Alexx Henry posted several videos to Vimeo demonstrating his iPad work for the online only VIVmag as well as Outside magazine. I posted the VIVmag video here, but no reason not to take advantage of Vimeo's embed code by posting the Outside feature spread now.

Some have called this eye candy but I think that misses the point. Artists are always going to stretch the medium, especially at the medium's birth. Think of the crazy camera work of some of the early silent films. (Not that old, huh?) I personally want to see what the tablet form can do, so I say go crazy and let readers be the final judge of what they like and are willing to pay for.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Photoblogging Friday - 11

It's Friday and Photoblogging Friday this week will be dedicated to Charles Moore, the great civil rights era photographer who died earlier this week.  The photography of Charles Moore was often featured in the pages of Life magazine in the 1960s and are familiar to many. Yet the man himself was not a celebrity.  I am certainly happy to see that many newspapers, and NPR have seen fit to remember him at the time of his death.
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☜  1963: Demonstrators try and avoid water cannon in Birmingham.
Charles Moore/Courtesy of Black Star

"I fight with my camera. I don't want to fight with my fists. I want to fight with my camera," Moore is heard saying in the NPR story that can be heard in full here.

Moore grew up in Alabama, the son of a Baptist minister (read full New York Times obituary here) who preached against racism.  Moore himself, as a photo journalist, tried to get the story, but not get arrested telling the New Orleans Times-Picayune “I’d let people trip me, jostle me, pull my hair and threaten to smash my camera.”
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1958: Dr. Martin Luther King  ☞
is arrested by Montgomery police.
Charles Moore/Courtesy of Black Star

Moore's first professional work was for the Montgomery Advertiser, but in 1962 he became a freelance photographer and worked for the Black Star agency. Later he went to cover the Vietnam War. Finally he decided to focus on nature, fashion and travel photography.

Claire O'Neill of NPR quotes University of Florida photography Professor John Kaplan: "Everybody in America had seen those pictures and yet, you know, when I met Moore and we just started chit-chatting, I realized there was so much behind the power of the images themselves - you know, how they were made, how he got access. Really has incredible courage. He was really, one of the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement."

Team approach to e-publishing may smooth entry into mobile and tablet publishing for many B2B publishers

It was hard enough convincing my employer to launch their first web sites back in 1995, I can imagine what it is like advocating creating a publication for the iPad or smart phones.

The reality is that many media owner only see expenses when the conversation of mobile and tablet publishing is broached.  (The reality is that many owners have totally forgotten the word "revenue" even exists as they concentrate all their efforts at cost control.) So getting an executive or owner to let the team enter the tablet or cell phone space may seem like a herculean task.

The solution may be to break out the products based on different content schemes: mobile and web, and print and tablet.  The breakout is based on the idea that tablet/reader publishing will be a leisure time activity the way print is (or that readers will be willing to spend more time with both tablets and print, when compared to mobile and web).

Although this is a simple solution it does raise the question again that many have been asking: did we make a mistake by aligning our web sites too much with our print products? The answer is "yes".

It is pretty much a commonly held belief now that web sites should only have a loose relationship with the print products they are aligned with. But many publishers, especially on the B2B side, rushed to launch web sites and quickly gave away the advertising as "value-added" to their print advertising customers. Ad agencies were the co-conspirators in this move, and then for years found themselves trying to pry money for interactive from their traditional print-centric clients.  The reality is that print customers were never the best leads for B2B web advertising. These advertisers had a long history of measuring results by reader response card levels and liked getting those silly little laminates at the trade shows. The real leads were the back of the book advertisers who wanted a constant marketing message out there without the hassle of changing copy every month or hiring ad agencies.

For older readers, web reading is something that is task oriented and mainly during business hours. I need to find something and so I surf the web.

Google's chief economist, Hal Varian pointed out in a recent speech that during the week newspaper readers spend much more time each session reading the print products than the online products. "What that says to me is that reading the news online is a work time activity. ... Most people aren't paid to sit at a computer and read newspapers. They're snatching things throughout the day."

Doesn't this also describe mobile reading habits, as well? While I certainly see people reading on their phones I usually see this during the day, and rarely for long periods of time. My guess is that as long as phones have screens smaller than ten inches this will remain true.

So if one team can handle mobile and web, does that mean that the other handles print and tablet? And what about the issue of layouts and app development?

Morning Brief: Pandora reaching 'too big to fail' status? ReplaceAds introduces mobile advertising platform

One of the joys of owning an iPhone is using it to get radio stations from around the world. One of my favorites is a classical music station from Strasbourg, France. My two favorite jazz stations are on almost opposite sides of the globe: KCSM, San Mateo, CA and Radio Swiss Jazz, Berne, Switzerland.

And then there is Pandora.

If you're not familiar with Pandora then just aadd that to the list of things you have to check out. The Internet and mobile media music company is a dominate player in streaming media. How dominant?  Digital Music News reports that roughly 44-45 percent of all royalties paid to SoundExchange, the performance rights entity that collects royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners, comes from Pandora.

In 2009, Pandora paid $28 million to SoundExchange, meaning, of course, that the streaming music industry now contributes at least $60 million to the record companies. OK, it's not exactly a billion dollar industry, but we are talking royalties -- all plus business for the labels. And to think that the government's Copyright Royalty Board almost killed off Internet radio in 2007 before Congress stepped in and made the parties come together.

All that streaming music and video needs to be monetized by the publishers, right?

ReplaceAds announced yesterday the availability of its new mobile advertising platform for mobile streaming radio and video. The platform is from owner Jetcast.

According to its press release, ReplaceAds will have 250 million mobile ad impressions per month to offer advertisers. "Mobile audio and video streaming is growing at a phenomenal rate. Our new mobile monetization platform allows broadcasters to quickly grow their mobile revenues and for advertisers to easily and cost effectively reach our affluent, and highly engaged mobile audience", said John Williams, Jetcast CEO.

Last month the Jetcast announced that it had appointed AdPlayerz as its new advertising sales and sponsorship representatives for the ReplaceAds platform.

And finally, it wouldn't be a New Media round-up without a reference to either Apple or Google.  I'm apparently not alone in feeling this way. Take yesterday's story from the WSJ: Apple Scrambles to Secure iPad Deals, a story that should have been titled WSJ editors require another Apple iPad story so we came up with one.

In this bit of fantasy, in which five staffers contributed, there are no names mentioned and no quotes used to support their premise that Apple is struggling to close content deals for its new iPad. According to the story Apple "hoped to work closely with newspaper, magazines and textbook publishers on new ways to digitally present print content on the iPad, but has for now put the effort on backburner." The source of this is credit to "one of the people", whoever that is. It was followed by "An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment" -- what a surprise.

The authors apparently don't own iPhones, or watched the iPad demo. If they had they would know that newspaper and magazine content is accessible through both the Safari browser (it's called the Internet, by the way), as well as those funny icons called "apps". No deals are necessary, just submit your app to Apple for inclusion in the iTunes store and unless the app involves politic satire or barely clothed humans, the chances are the app will be approved. After all, there are over 300 "flashlight" apps in the iTunes store, so how hard can it be for a newspaper publisher to create an app?

But, as the reporters for the WSJ wrote "people familiar with the matter say" . . . just about anything when they are not quoted and their names not used.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sandow Media acquires eight RBI titles; Reed divestiture picks up steam; Cahners empire now ancient history

Sandow Media announced today that they had acquired eight trade publications from Reed Business Information. Included in the deal was powerhouse magazine Interior Design, along with Furniture/Today, Gifts & Decorative Accessories, Home Textiles Today, Casual Living, Home Accents Today, Kids Today and Playthings.

Sandow's announcement states that the company will take on 100 employees along with Reed operations in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sandow will expand its New York operations, as well. No word on whether, or how many, positions may be lost in the acquisition.

"This is a rare opportunity for Sandow Media to acquire a group of industry-leading magazines and a very strong management team," said Adam I. Sandow, chairman and CEO of Sandow Media. "These brands each have robust print, digital, event and research businesses and hold the category leader position in each of their respective markets."

"We are more than pleased that our valuable brands and our talented and dedicated employees have found a new home with Sandow Media, a highly creative publishing company that has a tremendous track record under the leadership of Adam I. Sandow," said Reed Business Information-U.S. CEO John Poulin. "We wish them every possible success."

Canadian marketer gives the newspaper industry a little good advice: explore new business models

After reading a few depressing columns this morning and reacting to them in this post, I read this column that appeared on The Gazette (Montreal) web site by Mitch Joel. Joel is a partner at Twist Image, a digital marketing agency, and his column, written as an outsider, seemed to offer better advice than what I've been reading lately from the insiders.

I wish I could post the whole column, but I recommend going to the Gazette site and read the whole piece -- Joel is a far better writer than I am, that's for sure.  But here is an excerpt:

The economic recession that reduced traditional mass media advertising, along with a newspaper's many legacy systems which pre-date the Internet and mobile device era - unions, printing plants, trucks and people for distribution, leases, office space, etc. - makes things seem more dire and urgent.

The new business models that come into play also confuse the newspaper (and publishing) industry even further. There is no one single thing that is going to save the newspaper industry (like the Internet or the iPad). The Internet and free news on the Web are not the reasons that people are subscribing, reading or caring less for their local newspaper...

...Just last week, Le Devoir held a conference in Montreal on the future of independent media as that daily newspaper celebrates its centenary year. Writing out of the conference, The Gazette's Jason Magder cited Torstar chairman John Honderich as saying that giving away content online has turned out to be a bad idea.

With all due respect to all of the traditional news outlets out there in the world, that's simply not true. Free news online is a very viable business model, and there are many big media publishers making lots of money online offering free news (check out the Huffington Post, Mashable, TMZ, Media Bistro, the Daily Beast and many more).

Mitch Joel is president of Twist Image and the author of Six Pixels of Separation. The full column can be read on The Gazette web site.

Posts . . . deleted

I wrote a couple posts today for TNM, but deleted them both. In the end, they were simply rants about what I've read this morning.

One was about this column by Ken Doctor, one of the recognized gurus of the newspapers business (yes, the NAA actually likes using that word). It's a good round-up about hyper-local news and aggregation. It once again touts numbers -- produced by consulting companies -- that say local ad dollars are out there to be had.

Jim Romenesko then links to the column and the circular world of modern journalism continues on its merry way.

No one, likes talk about how these dollars will show up on their web sites, that's off topic. Only later are the ad folk are marched into the room so they can be told of the brilliant new idea. "Now go out there and sell it."

It's all so boring to me at this point. Another consultant says newspapers should aggregate local news (I agree), vendors arise to feed the beast, and newspapers start to toe the line.  Eventually the third party vendors tire of dealing with their clients as customers and begin to directly compete with them. The aggregators will soon be selling advertising because the newspapers have forgotten the value of those low-priced local ads, just as the electronic magazine vendors have themselves become magazine publishers because they are the only ones who truly believe in web-only publishing.

The world of modern publishing truly is a strange place, is it not?

(If you are interested in reading more about local news and aggregation I recommend reading my interview with Camilla Cho, head of business development for Outside.In.)

AOL sets plans for "aggressive expansion of Patch", its hyper-local news platform; establishes VC fund

AOL announced plans to expand its local content offerings by relaunching its City's Best and by expanding its hyper-local news platform Patch. AOl will also be creating a venture capital fund, reportedly worth $10 million, to look at start-ups in the local space.

"AOL is investing meaningfully in our communities through trusted, professional journalism and location-specific content in a compelling way that is valued by our users and attractive to our advertisers," said AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong in a release. "Local is the one area of the Internet that has not been built out in an extensive way. While there are companies in the local space, AOL has the technology to digitize the local space at scale. We believe it's an untapped market for the most part and one of the largest commercial opportunities online that has yet to be won."

AOL said that they intend to begin incorporating local content on its home page using geo-targeting. "AOL is focused on building meaningful content with our local platforms -- regardless of how or where consumers connect to us," said Jon Brod, Executive Vice President of AOL Ventures, Local and Mapping. "All of the ways people share information now -- Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Foursquare and others -- will also be targeted to distribute our content. The outstanding quality of our local content and its relevance to users are among the key elements that will drive this effort."

AOL will be aggregating the local content itself using its own Relegence technology. AOL purchased Relegence in 2006 for $50 million.

Patch currently has 40 local sites, all in California or on the East Coast.  Two new Patch sites have launched for Danville and San Ramon (adjoining communities) and another is planned for Pleasanton. (Disclosure: I was once the CAM, then ad director for The Valley Times in Pleasanton.)

The Patch sites continue to be pretty much advertising free and the advertising marketing material remains rudimentary. Ads are priced on a monthly rate, not impressions. It will be interesting to see when Patch gets serious about revenue.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mobile media: St. Patrick's Day edition - Irish media prepares for impact of iPhone introduction with Vodafone

Those of us who are U.S. based often accused, with good reason, of being too U.S.-centric when writing about the media world.  Take the iPhone, which has already had a major impact on media in America. Old news, right?

In Ireland, things are a little different simply because Apple first signed its initial carrier agreement with O2 instead of market leader Vodafone. Because the iPhone will now be available through Vodafone, the media market in Ireland is about to be shook up.

"A lot more people in Ireland are going to be using the Apple iPhone after next week when Vodafone makes the device available to its customers," the Irish Times reports. "Until now, the iPhone has been available exclusively on the O2 network, but with Vodafone joining the fray, media companies are ramping up their efforts to grab a slice of the Apple apps action."

In response to the change, newspapers on the Emerald Isle are getting serious about mobile: The Irish Times, for instance, will be launching two apps, one for the newspaper and the other for a weekly entertainment supplement.

“It is essential for newspaper publishers to have an app. The big threat facing publishers is that the functional need of the printed newspaper is being replaced by digital formats," said Paul Farrell, marketing director of The Irish Times.

There is a lesson in there somewhere.

Alexx Henry posts dramatic iPad work for VIVmag

Photographer Alexx Henry has posted a demonstration of what the photographer is working on for VIVmag, the all digital magazine associated with Zinio LLC.

"With the iPad release a mere few weeks away, it’s only appropriate that we release our own bit of goodness," Henry writes on his blog.

According to the post, the "motion magazine cover" and feature spread was designed for VIVmag with co-directors Cory Strassburger and Ming Hsiung. Although it looks very good here, it looks even better on his site or using the full-screen button on the lower right of the player below.

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Henry has also put together a page dedicated to his team's iPad work that truly has to be seen. There are two different spreads you can view: the one seen above for VIVmag and another for Outside magazine. Here is a screen capture of the Outside feature. Clicking on the picture will take you to Alexx Henry's iPad page where you can see both.

I can imagine watching all this with other publishers and hearing them gasp "But I can't afford to do this kind of work!"

True, but these kinds of demos are obviously setting the bar high for everyone else. They point to what is possible and why so many are excited by the possibilities inherent in tablet publishing.

AOL launches KitchenDaily; targets busy home cooks with quick, easy recipes; former Gourmet editor in charge

Former Gourmet editor Cheryl Brown has a new gig and Condé Nast has a new competitor in AOL backed

Launched today, KitchenDaily hopes to target busy home cooks with easy to prepare recipes. "KitchenDaily is designed to help busy home cooks, moms in particular, make smart, informed decisions about food and cooking while also helping to instill confidence in their abilities in the kitchen," said Stephanie Dolgins, senior vice president, AOL Women's and Lifestyle Group. KitchenDaily, along with the food blog Slashfood, are part of the AOL Living network.
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 Cheryl Brown, formerly of Gourmet, edits

In addition to Brown, the new web site also has snared Megan Steintrager as senior editor. Steintrager was formerly with Listed contributors and partners include The Culinary Institute of America, Mark Bittman, who writes the Minimalist column for the New York Times, as well as chefs Curtis Stone and Marcus Samuelsson.

Back in October Condé Nast announced its decision to close Gourmet magazine. Though the rumor was that the company was going to close either Gourmet or Bon Appétit, the decision to close the venerable magazine, founded in January 1941, was still a surprise to many.  The closing was part of a series of closings that included Men's Vogue, Portfolio, Modern Bride and others.  At the time of its closing, Gourmet had a circulation of 950,000 and was thought to be a more expensive magazine to maintain due to its long articles written by well-known authors, and edited by veteran editor Ruth Reichl. Bon Appétit, on the other hand, was a recipe driven magazine.

KitchenDaily, therefore, has far more in common with both Bon Appétit and other food web sites in that it relies on recipes and demonstration videos for content.

As someone who loves to cook KitchenDaily appears in every way to be a boys-stay-away web site. But no matter, most men who cook, I believe, find food sites through searches rather than through bookmarking. (As I have absolutely no proof that this is true I will stand by my baseless claim until proved otherwise!)

Seattle P.I. celebrates one year of web-only publishing; now Microsoft is the one with 'copy & paste' problems

Short reads on a Wednesday morning:

•  Seattle Post Intelligencer marks first year as web-only publication. "But is hardly the only new kid in town." The PI gives us a rundown of Seattle's booming web-only news community. Seattle P.I.
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•  Is "copy and paste" rocket science? Microsoft Windows Phone 7 to launch without the basic function just as the iPhone did in 2007. ZDNet

•  Forget flip books. If you want to boost circulation without having to print more copies become a tablet publisher. ABC revises its definition of a digital magazine to accommodate the iPad. AP

•  Both the NPR and the WSJ will launch iPad optimized web sites. Just as many web sites are able to detect a mobile device and serve up a mobile version of their content, both NPR and the WSJ plan on creating tablet versions of their site for those connecting via the Safari browser on their iPad. NPR correctly predicts that the iPad will be a leisure product and will build their custom site accordingly -- very smart. WSJ

•  Apple is about to be truly tested. Opera, the Norwegian browser company, is about to submit its own browser, Opera Mini, for the approval to be downloaded by iPhone users. Will Apple nix the browser competitor on grounds that it is simply duplicate functionality, or approve it to avoid possible claims of anti-competitive behavior? PC World

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

FCC outlines its 'National Broadband Plan' to Congress; for publishers, more broadband, more speed means online publishing becomes more like broadcasting

Originally, the term "broadcasting" referred to sowing seeds by hand over an area. Then it was taken up by radio pioneers as a way of describing their radio signals -- signals that travelled very far, in the early days, and were received by a small group of radio enthusiasts.

Today, the Internet is becoming the broadcasting medium of choice, and the FCC's “national broadband plan”, given to Congress today, is another move in making the Internet a medium that will more effectively distribute audio and video content.

The broadband plan outlines some lofty goals:

  • Goal 1: At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.
  • Goal 2: The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.
  • Goal 3: Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.
  • Goal 4: Every community should have affordable access to at least 1 Gbps broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.
  • Goal 5: To ensure the safety of Americans, every first responder should have access to a nationwide public safety wireless network.
  • Goal 6: To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy, every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.
The FCC, of course, can not wave a magic wand and instantly upgrade the nation's communications infrastructure.  But it is clear that between the moves taking place in the private sector, and the position of the Federal government, we are looking at bandwidth and broadband speeds becoming a priority.

An FCC initiative, broadband performance standards.  ☞

One of the most important parts of the FCC plan is the freeing up of spectrum. How this will effect online publishers is obvious: the more the Internet is seen as an audio/video format the more sites will be expected to resemble television, and less print.  This does not mean text based Internet publishing will go away, data after all is still a valuable commodity. But by promoting greater broadband availability, as well as speed, the trend towards a more multimedia capable Internet continues to progress.

The FCC's report, like any government document, is a monster. Whole sections are dedicated to child online safety and national security issues. But there are other areas of interest to both telecommunications companies, as well as the publishing community. To download the document in PDF form go to this page -- you can download individual chapters or the entire report. Not exactly light weekend reading, but important material, nonetheless.

Phew, glad that's over; B2B ad pages decline 28.6% in 2009; construction, tech and transportation hurt the most

I've written a couple of times (recently here and here) about the modest recovery some B2B publications seem to be enjoying, as well as the less than robust recovery others are experiencing. But for just about everyone, 2009 was a downer.

American Business Media (ABM) released (PDF link) their December report on ad pages for 2009 and it confirms what everyone knew: 2009 sucked. Ad pages declined 28.56 percent, and the year did not really improve much as December ad pages were still down 27.94 percent.

While certain categories were hit harder than others, only the agriculture category was lucky enough not to be hit with a double digit decline, falling only 8.91 percent.

When considering 2009 B2B performance, there are a couple questions that need to be answered to explain the huge declines:

  1. How much of this can be explained by the recession -- after all, the recession has been described as the worst since the Great Depression
  2. How much of this can be explained by the rise of electronic publishing alternatives -- did the web and mobile media finally deliver a fatal blow to B2B print?
  3. How much of this is corporate incompetence, something few want to talk about -- PE firms continue to dominate the industry, while other companies are run like social experiments gone amuck.

Beta testers are waiting; three to six month window for publishers to test tablet apps, make mistakes

You gotta love PC World. The magazine -- web site really -- probably publishes more pieces on Apple's iPad than any other on the web and they like to have it both ways.

Type in "iPad" on the site and the search results will hand you back 394 articles with titles like iPad for Movies? Call My Chiropractor ... or Why iPad is the 'Children's Toy of the Year'.

The one that caught my attention this morning was iPad Pre-Orders: For Idiots Only. Clearly PC World wants to be the News of the World for the tech community as it publishes ever more outlandish opinions about goings on in the tech arena. Presumably it drives traffic, right?

For me, the idea that those that rushed to place their iPad pre-orders last week were "idiots" is . . . idiotic. They aren't idiots, they are useful beta-testers.

My first computer purchase was an Apple 2e some time in 1983, about a year before Jobs introduced the first Macintosh. Since that time I have been a cautious computer buyer, always letting others be first in line to buy the latest and greatest. This is the way I was when I bought my first iPhone, I waited six months and then dove in.

These iPad beta testers are an amazing resource. The early iPad buyers will be able the ones that will make or break the iPad -- their opinions will drive sales, force Apple to make changes to the product, and generally make my purchase worthwhile. God bless early adopters.
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Remember this chart? I posted it with a story about iPad sales and adoption rates. I think it is important enough to re-post here. It shows that early iPhone sales, despite all the positive press, were actually low when compared to the rush of buyers for the 3G models that were introduced one year after the initial product introduction.

In addition to introducing 3G to their phones, Apple's second generation iPhone also came with the second generation of the OS. It was this development that introduced the app store and the rush that followed to create new applications for the device.

This time around, however, apps will be an integral part of the device from Day One. What this means is that those companies that can get their first iPad apps ready soon will have about six months to work out the kinks, to experiment.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nielsen to close Sales & Marketing Management

BtoBOnline is reporting that Nielsen Business Media is shutting down another of its magazines, this time Sales & Marketing Management.  Last week Nielsen sold off its food group to Stagnito Media. The group included once powerful brands Progressive Grocer, Convenience Store News and The Gourmet Retailer.

Late last year Nielsen announced that it would shutter Editor & Publisher and Kirkus Review after the company could not find a buyer for the properties after selling Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter. Eventually both titles were saved when buyers were found keep the brands alive.

RIM has a significant Blackberry loyalty problem; users eye iPhone and Android smartphone alternatives

Apple's iPhone and Google's new Android phones are making in roads in Research in Motion's (RIM) Blackberry user base, according to Crowd Science, an online market research and audience measurement company.

Crowd Science asked 1,140 smart phone users about their product loyalty and what phones they would consider the next time they purchase a smartphone. Almost 40 percent of Blackberry users are considering switching to the iPhone, and 32 percent said they were considering the Android based Nexus One phone. In comparison, only nine percent of iPhone users are looking at the Google's Nexus One phone.

"These results show that the restlessness of Blackberry users with their current brand hasn't just been driven by the allure of iPhone. Rather, Blackberry as a brand just isn't garnering the loyalty seen with other mobile operating systems," said John Martin, CEO of Crowd Science.

The study points out the changing face of smartphone as users begin to look to their phones for services other than e-mail and phone calls.  In addition, RIM's primary advantage when selling the Blackberry, enterprise level support, is being eroded as companies are able to accommodate the newer smartphones.
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For publishers, the study again points to the iPhone as the device of choice when creating publishing applications. "iPhone users have a significantly higher incidence of past-seven-day downloading of PAID applications than any other group of smartphone users surveyed," the report states.

You can access a PDF of the report here.

Apple spells out its 3G data plans for the iPad; monthly costs could be a drag on publisher's subscription plans

On Friday Apple began taking pre-orders for its Wi-Fi only (that is, without 3G) iPad models. Although sales started quickly, they also just as quickly slowed.

Today Apple spelled out what its 3G plans will look like.  Working still with AT&T, Apple unveiled two data plans for its 3G models: the unlimited data plan will cost $29.99, while a 250mb plan will be $14.99 per month.

Although Apple is touting the plans as part of a "breakthrough deal with AT&T", the reality is that for many the monthly data charges will be a burden. Worse, the monthly charges will remind users that they are already paying each month for the device and will be reluctant to add additional charges, like publication subscriptions, to their budgets.

The paywall argument is never ending, so it is not my intention to go over that ground again. But for those who believe that consumers will embrace, or at least not resist, monthly fees to consume media, remember that iPad users that sign up for data plans are already getting dinged and will be reluctant to make matters worse.

Are you willing to pay $30 a month or more to be
able to read the Times at your local Starbucks?

For iPhone users the AT&T data plans are a rip-off. AT&T has been promising tethering capability for the iPhone for a while and has not delivered. And since tethering itself is not free, the parade of fees is getting ridiculous. I see two possible ways out of this: one, users simply opt for the WiFi-only model and avoid the whole 3G debacle; two, pressure from competitors may change the environment as companies choose to include free 3G within the sales price of their own tablets at introduction.

2010 is the year these kinds of things get worked out as publishers experiment with paywalls, Apple and AT&T experiment with data plans, and consumers decide when all this nickel and dime-ing becomes just too much to deal with.

First look at Pew's PEJ State of the News Media report

It's a Monday morning and I am just getting around to reading the just released Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journal annual report: The State of the News Media.  The information is, of course, extensive, though I believe the look at magazines to be a bit superficial; and the lack of information about trade publishing means the report misses many developments that have meaning for all of media. (I suspect, however, that some may be having difficulty using the word journalism in a conversation involving trade publishing.)
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☜  Revenue chart from Pew's State of the News Media annual report.

Although the chart here may be pretty much all bad news, the report does discuss the growth of what it is labeling community journalism. “The new landscape is… more diverse and information-rich than ever before. Digital tools make it easier and easier to stitch together the information niches,” Michele McLellan, a 2009-2010 fellow studying online community news at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, is quoted in the report.

The report looks at some new news sources and discusses their contributions. The report concludes: "This area of journalism is still in its infancy and, as those involved in citizen journalism explain, the landscape continues to broaden. Financially, they face some of the same burden as legacy media do today, but in some cases without established overhead costs. Of course, they face daunting challenges in developing newsroom capabilities, obtaining financial support and understanding changing news preferences."

Again, the entire report can be found here.  For the habitually depressed, I recommend Gawker's take on the report: There Is Literally No Way to Make Money Selling News.