Friday, October 15, 2010

Update: NYT alerts begin rolling out to iPad owners

Here's an example of a New York Times alert, received through their newly updated iPad app:
This seems like a rather minor story to justify an alert. There must be literally hundreds of stories like this one that would justify an alert. I'm sure the editors will be experimenting with this mechanism for a while and will settle in a bit.

Of course, why not let readers decide what they consider worth getting alerts on? For instance, I'm sure some readers want political news alerts, business alerts, Yankee alerts -- you get the idea. Is this kind of customization possible?

The NYT has issued a press release about their new app and it mentions that Fox Searchlight, Mercedes-Benz and MicroStrategy are the current advertisers supporting the effort -- something I failed to mention in my original post this morning.

The press release also includes this quote: "As technology evolves, we are committed to setting new standards for online advertising, and the iPad is a prime example of our innovation," said Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer, The New York Times Media Group and general manager,

Don't you just love these made-up press release quotes?

Google shares rise sharply on higher profits; Gannett shares despite higher profits, but lower print revenue

Old media can't catch a break: shares of Gannett fell more than 8 percent this morning despite an earnings report that showed that the company's profits grew 32 percent. But strong broadcast and digital revenues did not hide the fact that print revenue continues to decline.

On the other hand, Google shares were rising dramatically today after the company reported strong earnings. The company also reported that mobile revenue will exceed $1 billion on an annual basis.

“We saw strength in every major product area,” Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette said in the earnings conference call.

Gannett profits soar thanks to 22% increase in broadcast revenue; but print ad business continues to decline

Gannett Co. Inc. reported a dramatic increase in overall profits thanks to huge increases in broadcast revenue, though newspaper print advertising remained in the dumper.

Profits at the media giant increased in the Q3 38 percent, spurred on by a 22 percent increase in broadcast revenue. One year ago the company reported that its broadcast revenue had fallen 23 percent, so this is a dramatic reversal of fortune -- though the company did have the mid-term elections to help it.

Print advertising, though, is not showing the same level of recovery. The print side reported a decrease in ad revenue of 5.1 percent -- this is on top of the 28 percent decline it reported a year ago. Previous Gannett had reported that its Q2 print revenue had declined a similar amount -- 5.7 percent.

Although many newspaper companies are reporting a moderation of losses in print advertising, it must be remembered that this is on top of huge losses in the prior year or two. With the housing crisis worsening, it is possible that there will be more pressure on ad budgets in the next few quarters.

Gannett also reported a ten percent increase in digital advertising, a sign that the overall advertising market has improved somewhat. On Wednesday of this week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that ad spending online had reached $12.1 billion in the first half of this year -- a new record and an 11.3 percent increase over the first half of 2009.

Want a little bit good news? Gannett will; be adding 35 positions in its Fort Myers, Florida online ad operation department. In return the media giant will receive up to $105,000 from the Lee County Job Opportunity Program, according to

Ironically, is a E.W. Scripps property, so that must have hurt a little to report.

Morning Brief: NY Times updates its iPad app, provides more content; Zinio also updates its digital newsstand

A batch of important app updates has hit iTunes this morning:
Speaking of updates: the New York Times has updated its much maligned NYTimes for iPad app. The app, which was released in time for the iPad's launch in April, has been widely criticized for a lack of content, and rumors have it that even Steve Jobs has complained about the app -- though, remember, that is just a rumor ;)

Now the app brings in more sections, and therefore, much more content. Wired claims that it is "full content", but I don't believe that is an accurate assessment since I do not see a search function. Therefore the content that would be accessible would that which is currently populating the various RSS feeds.
Additionally, iPad owners will now have to register in order to access many of the sections. Taking a look at the screenshot at left, you can see the little blue dots next to many of the section names -- this means you have to be registered and logged in to see these sections. I've been registered with the Times site for years so logging in was very easy. Once you are logged in these dots disappear and you now have total access to the content available.

The app, upon opening for the first time now asks you if you want notifications turned on so you can receive breaking news flashes. While some app developers have abused this feature, this seems like a logical use of notifications and I immediately turned mine on. The function is easily turned on and off through settings, however, so users maintain control.

I will admit that I was pretty surprised that the Times updated their free app rather than introducing a new paid app. But the Times may have decided that they can work with this design and when they introduce their metered paywall some time next year they may have a built-in mechanism for bringing that over to the iPad app. Users may find that the app reverts to some free/some paid in 2011 -- we'll see.

Speaking of updates: digital newsstand company Zinio has updated its universal app this morning, updating a few features, and the like, but now offering trial subscriptions for new members who sign up.

The company is also promising to introduce a search feature, bookmarking and more in future updates.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New York Post brings its unique brand of journalism to the iPad with a paid app; includes in-app subscription options

One of my favorite stories about working at the ol' Herald Examiner in Los Angeles was the time Hearst execs approved a trial print run of a tabloid edition of the paper -- better to read on the city's non-existent subway system, the story goes. The union representing the truck drivers wanted to make sure everyone in the newsroom saw this monstrosity of a newspaper so they drove by the front door of 111 S. Broadway and dumped the tabloids out into the street (I was able to grab a copy and have it to this day).
In the end Hearst dumped the tabloid idea and then later closed the paper.

When you think of tabloid daily newspapers in America you think of New York, not California, and certainly not the Midwest. You think of the Post and the Daily News.

So it is that Murdoch's Post becomes the first of the NY tabloids to have their own iPad edition. In fact, since the New York Times has failed to follow-up with a paid app that offers full access to the daily newspaper, one could argue that the Post app is the first real iPad app from a New York paper -- unless one counts the app from that other Murdoch paper, the Wall Street Journal.

Yep, that's the Post.

The New York Post app costs $1.99 and gives downloaders access to 30 days worth of newspapers.

I suppose one could call the Post's initial effort a modified replica edition. The app basically gives you access to that day's paper, but it also has a few features that make it a little more than just a replica edition.

One feature is really a gimmick: the ability to create your own 'cover'. But other features allow you to open the paper to the sports section instantly (important, since this is the way many New Yorkers read the Post), there are in article slideshows, and others involve navigation. The essential feature is that complete issues are downloaded so that subscribers can read the paper offline -- extremely important in a city that actually has a subway system, right?. As a result, the app will probably serve readers well.

Left: the app's subscription page; Middle: the quick jump navigation pull down; Right: the app allows you to design your own issue cover.

I've nothing to say about the Post's content -- it remains uniquely New York -- but the in-app subscription feature is vitally important to point out. As mentioned previously, readers get a month's worth of access for their initial $1.99 purchase; then readers can buy continued access for $6.99 a month, $39.99 for six months, or $74.99 for a year. (The Post website says a home delivered subscription for Manhattan would cost $14 per month, or $182 for a year.)

According to Forbes, the Post's app is unique in that it has this built-in subscription model without first having a paid website. "What Apple has told publishers, according to sources that have been involved in those discussions, is that only those who had a “preexisting digital business” would be allowed to sell app-based subscriptions," Jeff Bercovici wrote today. If this is true or merely what the writer has heard is not known.

The Post certainly has a loyal audience, and like Fox News, its audience is going to be enthusiastic about this app. What will be interesting is to see, however, is whether the Post is able to sell a significant number of subscriptions through this app -- it will probably take a few months to reach any kind of conclusion. The only question I would have is this: are there enough NY-based iPad owners who will fit the Post reader profile to result in a significant number of sales? Frankly, I have no clue, but I'm definitely interested in discovering the answer.

A number to ponder: 11.5% of home mortgages in 'default'; can the ad recovery last in this environment?

About three years ago my family went with another on a short ski vacation. During one dinner out the conversation turned to the economy. I mentioned that I had just read that nearly five percent of all U.S. household were now in default on the home mortgages. I went to great pains to explain that "default" meant they were late on a recent payment, not that they were about to be foreclosed on.

Nonetheless, the comment caused one of the people at the table to get upset. Apparently the person felt I made up the number and was trying to makes some political point -- no, I was merely passing on what I had heard recently.

That was early 2008. Today the NYT, low in a story on banks, reports that "11.5 percent of borrowers are in default today, up from 5.7 percent from two years earlier."

Ponder that number for a moment: more than one in ten households are currently in default on their home mortgage.

But it gets worse: RealtyTrac reports that 102,134 properties last month were taken over by the lender. And according to Bloomberg, there were 347,420 foreclosure filings just last month, "one out of every 371 households received a notice." California led the way: 191,016 homes received a foreclosure filing last month.

The media industry does not live in a vacuum, these kinds of economic numbers must have an impact on the industry through advertising volume and subscription renewal rates. The publishing industry is currently showing signs of a modest adrecovery -- a little better for online advertising -- but how long can it last?

Morning Brief: radio study shows growth of streamed content among young; ad deal for Canadian websites

Edison Research recently released a study that looks at young people's radio listening habits (thanks to eMarketer Daily for the heads-up).
The study, The American Youth Study 2010, showed that young people are increasingly turning to the Internet for radio content, with 20 percent of 12-24 year olds using Pandora, and a further six percent streaming radio content over the Internet.

Rather disturbingly (at least to me), the study shows that the musical tastes of young people . . . suck. The number of 12-24 year olds that listen to Top 40 stations has more than doubled, while other forms decreased. Great, ten more years of Lady Gaga.

Adconion Canada has signed up a couple of entertainment website, and, will now be represented in Canada by the ad rep firm. According to the company's announcement, is Canada's third largest entertainment news site.

As for Adconion, their management team is a little homogeneous, don't you think?

Logitech has released its first television component that features Google TV. The Revue will set you back $300, three times the price of the recently released Apple TV, according to CNET.

$300 sounds like a niche product to me. I always thought the Slingbox was a really great add-on to one's television but it never caught on because, to be honest, TV is TV. It's not like these devices improve the quality of the actual programming.

Of course, the attraction of these new devices is that you are now given the option of watching content other than that produced by the networks and that has to concern television producers.

Looking at Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 OS Dan Costa on asks "where are the apps". We are only slightly more than three years removed from the day Apple introduced the iPhone -- but we are only two years away from the anniversary of the first third party apps introduced for that phone. And here we are questioning the strengths of a product's app catalog.

I'm not a tech analyst, but if I were to venture a guess, I would say that the market for Windows Phone 7 lies in the low-end of the mobile phone market, with Android and iOS dominating the high-end. Where does that leave RIM?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Online ad spending rises sharply, outpacing print recovery; blaming Apple is becoming a career choice

The Interactive Advertising Bureau reported that Internet advertising revenues in the U.S. reached $12.1 billion in the first half of the year, setting a new record for spending, and is an 11.3 percent increase over the first half of last year.

“Interactive advertising revenue is on a strong upward trajectory,” said Sherrill Mane, SVP, Industry Services, IAB. “Nearly all types of ad formats are showing positive movement and marketers across all advertising categories, most notably consumer packaged goods and pharmaceuticals, are increasing their investment in digital media.”

In comparison, consumer magazine ad pages rose 3.6 percent in the third quarter of this year, and were basically flat in the previous quarter. This reinforces the view that while magazine ad pages are indeed recovering, the print industry has lost market share against electronic advertising during the recession. B2B media has not reported its results for the quarter yet, but my thinking would be that it would report a small uptick in ad pages -- if any increase at all.

Tell me if you see what may be wrong here: In other words, once someone has two or more app issues downloaded, Condé Nast was unable to tell which issue they are looking at because Apple does not provide that level of detail. Incidentally, this is one of the frustrations magazine publishers have when dealing with Apple, because they can’t scrutinize their subscribers’ buying habits as well as they can do with their print pubs.
So Condé Nast can tell how much time a reader spends with their print products? I thought they had to pay for research to figure this out. I had no idea print magazines were embedded with some sort of device that tracks my reading habits. Crips, I better dump all those print magazines!

Blaming Apple for not freely giving publishers all their customer information is common among our crop of media writers. But what if Apple just handed this information over, would you think there might be a bit of a backlash against Apple?

Oh, and by the way, are publishers getting this information from Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, HTC? I was not aware of the flood of information being provided to media companies by these companies derived from their Android apps. No, it's only Apple that is holding back apparently. Geesh.

I don't think publishers are so naive as to expect free research from Apple. They know that apps on an iPad are pretty much the equivalent of the newsstand for print magazines: it's hard to figure out who is buying what as publishers only receive the barest of information from the distributor. This is certainly frustrating, but its something publishers have been dealing with for years.

Media writers may think Apple should spoon feed their media customers, but I guarantee you that media executives are not expecting this to happen -- they just want a more open Apple, a more open app approval process, and a way to make the iOS subscription models work.

Update: As fate would have it, after publishing this post I immediately received an e-mail from the folks at Readex Research which, of course, was soliciting me for some print magazine readership studies. Print research has been an active business for longer than I've been doing this: whether it was Scarborough Research reports for newspapers, or Readex Research for magazines.

Media Research: Condé Nast brags up its apps; latest Gallup poll points to increasingly cynical American public

The media giant Condé Nast is bragging up some research it conducted that saying that its readers really love their iPad apps. “We’re very excited. We believe there’s a huge business on the horizon," said Lou Cona, chief marketing officer to Mediaweek.

paidContent's story concludes that the survey proves that most users don't see the device as a "mobile" device -- and I think this is right. The inclusion of WiFi and 3G is confusing some into thinking that simply having an Internet connection makes a device mobile. (We'll see, however, if new seven inch tablets are looked at the same way.)
A poor choice of words was used to convey the next finding: "But the big news is iPad and iPhone readers seem to spend more time with the digital replicas in comparison to the print versions," David Kaplan writes. In fact, Condé Nast is producing few "replica" editions, but instead many are native apps. One would guess that the writer is simply choosing his words poorly and is not using the term I prefer -- tablet editions.

In fact, replica editions consistently are viewed fairly negatively by iPad owners. Their reviews inside iTunes consistently show that readers want more from their tablet editions than mere electronic replicas of print editions. Although I know of no research so far on this subject, my guess would be that readers spend about the same amount of time reading a replica edition on their iPads as a print edition -- but that native apps, those with embedded video, animation and the like, are more engaging and therefore readers spend more time with these products. These are the products Condé Nast is producing and so I think their own research is pointing in that direction.

Condé Nast obviously surveyed those who downloaded, installed and used their apps. What about everyone else -- those that downloaded the app, but may have deleted it or otherwise rejected it? That is, what does iTunes reviewers say?

Using a scale that compared five-star reviews with one-star reviews, this is what users in iTunes say about Condé Nast apps: Glamour 29% positive; New Yorker 12% positive; Gourmet Live 32% positive; Wired 22% positive; Vanity Fair 35% positive; GQ 47% positive; Epicurious 62% positive. (As a comparison, MacLife has a 66% positive rating using this method.)

So what's the problem? Condé Nast says their readers love their apps, but iTunes says the opposite. The reason for this is that the number one complain about most magazine apps from the big publishers is pricing. Readers complaint that those with print subscriptions are getting shafted buy being forced to buy their magazines twice. They also complain about cover prices that are not discounted from print cover prices. Another common complaint is that issues must be bought one at a time due to problems with the buying model within iTunes.

In the end, none of this actually involves the application or its content.

There appears to be three factors determining iTunes reviews: 1) pricing; 2) replica versus native app; and 3) app stability. Interestingly, European reviewers seem to be more open to straight replica conversions of print editions than American iPad users (though I will admit that I have conducted no survey along these lines and am simply concluding this by looking within the various iTunes App Stores and comparing reviews of similar products by country).

You can read the full Condé Nast press release here. It includes some best practices for advertisers.

I received an e-mail this morning with the subject line: "EXIRATION ALERT!" Well done.

A new Gallup poll paints a very bleak picture, though consistent picture of American attitudes towards media and government.

According to the latest 2010 USA Today/Gallup Governance survey, American continue to believe that the media is too liberal, with 48 percent of Americans believing that the news media skews left. But these numbers are actually exactly the same as they were in 2004 and only one point different than they were in 2008, a year Democrats took back the White House.

But the trend towards trusting the media continues to be one direction. Only 43 percent of those surveyed trust the mainstream press a Great deal or a fair amount. This number has fallen consistently since its high in June 1976, shortly after Watergate.

Americans believe the media is too liberal for only one reason: the media tells them it is. It is a recurring theme on television cable broadcasts, on editorial pages, and on the radio. If the media says it is so it must be so. And what does the media say about itself: that it can't be trusted. Blasting the NYT, for instance, is a consistent message spewed out by Fox News, the WSJ and just about every outlet, save the NYT.

Gallup's main purpose of this poll is to judge American attitudes towards government. Here again the results were consistent with past results. Americans believe government is doing too much -- 58 percent say so. But the question is designed to get these results worded to suggest that "Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses" This question always results in a majority favoring limiting government (except, of course, right after 9/11 when suddenly folks thought the government was needed more).

The one number that has dramatically increased is the number of Americans who believe that government has too much power. In the poll conducted from September 13-16 this number has increased to 59 percent, reflection, I believe, in the fact that many liberals and progressives are disappointed that President Obama has increased executive power rather than following through on his promises to scale it back. Not surprisingly, 46 percent agree that "federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and citizens" though this is still a minority position -- though just barely.

We are very close to reaching a point where a majority of Americans see their government as a direct threat to their liberty.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mobile apps can change the way we shop, effect local merchants; Amazon adds bar scanning to iPhone app

I don't know how many executives in charge of their newspaper's mobile strategy have come out of the advertising departments, but one gets a sense that the answer may be 'none'. The reason I figure this is that the all too common theme of newspaper apps is that they are RSS feed delivery systems -- and that's about it.

I may have a 'J' degree and have worked as both a reporter and editor, but my professional background is heavy in advertising. Yes, I've walked door-to-door to service and see local clients, so I'm a bit biased when it comes to my view of the role of advertising: local merchants should be considered as much a newspaper's customer base as its readership. But news apps seem to forget this, and as a result are missing out on another opportunity to solidify their role as the primary way a local business promotes itself.

That little rant was inspired by an update Amazon has made to its iPhone app. The Amazon app has been around a while but I deleted my version of the app because it just didn't see that the old app was a better way to check out than using the iPhone's browser.

But today Amazon has added a feature to its app that fundamentally changes the game: the app now uses the phone's camera as a bar scan device, instantly producing a search of Amazon for the product being scanned. Now a shopper can go into a local merchant, scan a book, CD, DVD (or whatever) and see what the price is on Amazon.

The Amazon app is not the first to offer bar scanning. One app that I've found incredibly useful is called RedLaser. The advantage of RedLaser is that the user scans an item and a list of the same product comes up from local merchants.

Besides the 'gee wiz' factor involved here, the impact on shopping habits is easy to see. Now any shopper can find out instantly whether they are better off buying that book online rather than paying full retail at a local store. It may be great for the shopper, but the downside is easy to see.
(I once showed someone in an AT&T store the RedLaser app and the customer was instantly sold them on buying an iPhone. Apps were a completely new concept to them -- they just thought people were buying iPhones for the 'cool' factor. Once they saw RedLaser they began to see the iPhone in a whole new way.)

But the point I'd like to make is simply that by adding a little feature like bar scanning to their app, Amazon has suddenly improved their app 100 percent.

Local news apps have pretty much been off-the-shelf products produced by third party developers. The developers are building the apps mainly to create their own ad networks, so they create one-size-fits-all apps that may, or may not have some unique features to them. Some apps now come with traffic maps, utilizing Google Maps; some are adding social networking capabilities. But few (really none) are adding shopping features to their news apps.

One app I've applauded is The Scoop, an app from the New York Times which brings in restaurant and entertainment content, maps the events on a map, etc. The Times chose to build a separate app for this rather than incorporate it into its main NYT app, but the idea is good.

But if I am in New York and need to find a dry cleaners I am not going to use a newspaper app, will I? Instead I'll probably try Google Maps first, then maybe a Yellow Pages app if I have one. The newspaper app isn't an option -- at least not right now. Why is this? Because the word "content" appears to be the sole possess of the editorial department when it should also apply to both display and classified advertising.

(More on this tomorrow.)

Financial Times doubles down: releases free iPad edition for the Chinese market

The Financial Times, having claimed that it has already sold over £1m in advertising for its first iPad app, has expanded its tablet product line by launching a new iPad app for the Chinese market.
The app, free to download, and free to access content, is more a way to view the website than a converted version of a newspaper. But despite its design, the app offers readers the ability to download the print version of that day's paper for offline reading. The app also features video content and photo slide shows.

Like the initial FT iPad app, the new Chinese version is launching with a single sponsor, an approach being used by many publishers: single sponsor at launch, evolving into a normal paid display ad model months later once subscriber numbers are known.

Morning Brief: FT iPad app has brought in over £1m in ad revenue; developing for iOS is becoming big business

Speaking at the MediaGuardian Changing Advertising Summit, Ben Hughes, the deputy chief executive at the Financial Times, said that the paper's iPad app has generated more than £1m (about $1.58m) since its launch in May.

According to the Guardian, traditional advertising now only accounts for around 40 percent of revenue at the FT.

TNM looked at the Financial Times app at release and found it a step in the right direction: a newspaper app that is built for both online and offline reading, clean native layouts, and embedded video content -- which requires a live Internet connection.

Originally the app contained a single sponsor, Hublot, but like the New York Times' Editor's Choice app, the FT added additional advertising opportunities over time.

Developing for the Apple's iOS is becoming big business: ngmoco, Inc. a developer of games has been bought by Japanese social game developer DeNA.

According to the San Francisco Business Times, the sales price is near $400 million -- "shareholders and employees will get $300 million in cash and securities and are entitled to additional consideration of up to $100 million based performance milestones through Dec. 31, 2011," according to the financial paper. (AppleInsider says the price is $400 billion -- don't you love typos?)

ngmoco has 37 games inside the iTunes app store for the iPhone, and a handfull for the iPad, as well. One of its games is Rolando, a game for the iPhone that costs $2.99.

Walmart will begin selling Apple's iPad starting this Friday. The retail giant already sells other Apple products such as iPods and iPhones, though it does not offer any discounts.

The move comes a few weeks before the first Android based tablets will begin to appear. Rumors persist that Apple plans to expand their tablet line by launching a smaller model, though the company generally keeps a pretty consistent one-year product cycle. The iPad was launched in the U.S. on April 3 of this year, with the European launch about six weeks later.

Monday, October 11, 2010

American Express Publishing releases first iPad app for Food & Wine; users complain about download speeds

Those who have been able to get it to download seem to love the new iPad edition of American Express Publishing's Food & Wine. The problem is getting it to download.
The huge file, creating using tools from WoodWing, has iPad owners pretty split on this new magazine app. While there are quite a number of positive reviews in iTunes, over 70 percent of reviewers give the app only one star -- the minimum number possible -- thanks to the incredibly long time it takes readers to access the issue (about 20 minutes).

The good news is that you can make yourself lunch while waiting for the app to download. The bad news is that readers might miss their flight trying to download this monster while at the airport.

← Following the cover page is a scrolling page
that explains the features of the tablet edition.

I won't talk about this new app as a magazine -- there is an excellent review of the app by Chicago Tribune writer Steve Cavendish here -- but will instead talk about the philosophy of the app and some of the decisions the publishing team made.

First, of course, is the choice to offer this first app as a single-sponsor tablet edition. This is becoming common as magazines that are used to having set ratebases are put in the position of figuring out how to monetize an initial tablet edition. This issue was solely sponsored by Canadian Tourism Commission.

This initial app is free of charge, but Dana Cowin, editor of Food & Wine states that subsequent apps will cost the reader $3.99 -- which is a 20 percent discount from the print cover price.

But the tablet edition is not a straight conversion of a print edition. In fact, the cover used for this states that this is "Issue 1, 2010". That should tell you the attitude that went into creating this app.

"I didn't want a PDF version with essentially a couple of extra pictures," Cowin is quoted by the Tribune as stating.

Left: the magazine beautifully takes advantage of the iPads display; Middle: embedded video is used throughout the tablet edition; Right: a video, which also can be viewed full screen in landscape mode.

The app when downloaded in iTunes is only a shell, weighing in at about 2 MB. But the fully downloaded edition is huge, with tons of pictures, video, layers account for the size. But since the user does not know the size of the download users are expressing frustration with the slowness of the issue download. My guess is that this version of Food & Wine must be absolutely enormous.

But this tablet edition has a lot of content to consume and this brings me to a question I've had in my mind for a while: since building a really good tablet magazine is a lot of work, can a publisher really commit to producing something this intense on a monthly basis? Well, Food & Wine may be providing an answer by committing to about six issues a year, rather than a tight monthly publishing schedule -- and I definitely applaud this.

I may circle back to this app in another post as there is a lot to see here. Suffice it to say that this is a superior effort which those iPad owners who have the patience enough to complete the issue download will be enjoying for weeks to come.

The WoodWing site lists Aysling Digital Media Solutions is the publishing partner for Food & Wine. Aysling is a company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and was formerly WoodWing Solutions. Patrick Becker is President and Director of Sales at Aysling and the company has business development team members for newspaper, magazine and book publishing clients.

Becker wrote a comment on another site which I found very interesting:
This is an exciting time for publishers and the media / entertainment industry. In Q1 2010 the forecast for our industry was only slightly better than 2009, and we all remember 2009!

The release of the iPad and WoodWing's production system changed everything. These tools can get a traditional publisher to any “tablet” for under $40K or they can outsource production for under $10K per issue.

I can't wait to see what's next.

Microsoft CEO Ballmer unveils final version of Windows Phone 7, but already it appears company jumped the gun

This is not how you want to roll out a new product. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today chose Columbus Day, presumably a slow news day, to introduce its new Windows Phone 7 operating system. But the tech giant chose to show its new OS displaying the logo of a company that is not currently onboard.
According to developer of the very popular mobile game Angry Birds, Rovio Mobile, the company is not yet committed to developing their game for the new OS. "We have NOT committed to doing a Windows Phone 7 version. Microsoft put the Angry Birds icon on their site without our permission<" the company tweeted. Later they added that they are not angry at Microsoft, but simply wanted to set the record straight.

While most of the tech press naturally is focusing on the horse race angle -- wondering if Microsoft can compete with Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms -- the real story for publishers is apps, and whether it will be worth investing in this segment of the market. That is why the news from app developers becomes important.

Getting an honest assessment of Microsoft's chances at success is hard due to the "fanboy" nature of modern tech writing on the subject, and the equally partisan comments that inevitably follow. But one line of thinking that seems to have merit to me is that the Microsoft's best chance at success may lie less in smartphones but more in tablets, where mobile operating systems are also used. Microsoft Windows is the default OS on netbooks -- a segment that is feeling the strain of competing against the iPad -- and a move to Windows Phone 7 could allow hardware makers to shift gears and begin to build low priced tablet alternatives. Right now, that alternative is thought to be Android-based tablets. Microsoft may want in on the mobile phone market, but they equally will want to maintain their share of the netbook (merging into tablets) market, as well.

Morning Brief: Columbus Day, media writing, the Apple App Store and foreign media apps, and sports 'torture'

Today is Columbus Day in America -- a not-quite national holiday, celebrated by the banks and the post office, because . . . well, because there are no other holidays until November. In the Midwest where Halloween seems like a logical choice for a holiday, though I'm sure there would be a few objections from conservatives.

This article is silly, just silly. Read it and ask yourself "when I think of Esquire magazine do I think of web content?" Poynter's mobile writer links to it because, well, he links to anything negative about media apps.

Many online commentators frequently ask "why can't we have a better press corps?" I always ask myself "why can't we have a better media reporting corps?"

The Apple App Store clearly is in need of an online retail guru to come in and clean it up, organize it, and make it easier to find things. But I think the folks at Apple are slowly beginning to play around with the categories in order to spice things up a bit.

This morning I noticed a category for Halloween, for instance. But I'm more interested in news apps and this is where things seem pretty out of control.

For instance, what exactly is a news app? Is it an app that delivers or organizes news? Or is it anything that contains "news"? Many apps end up in the "News" category simply because there is no other place for them. Others, like the Australian magazine "Sport & Style" could go under Sports or Lifestyle but are classified under "News" -- probably it was a judgement call.

One things an iTunes user sees is a lot of foreign language apps in the U.S. store. The vast majority of these apps list "English" as their language even though they are clearly written a language other than English. This is a common error made by the developers when they submit their apps to Apple.

But not every app makes it into the U.S. app store. The folks at WoodWing sent me a press release last week for an app that was in the German store but is not available in the U.S. store. The app for Auto Bild looks interesting but I took a pass.

I like looking at the non-U.S. media apps. Especially in Europe, media professionals don't seem as jaded and negative as those here in the States -- maybe I'm wrong about that, but that is the way it looks from here.

It is truly painful to be a fan of Bay Area teams. Last week I had to watch all the teams lose until late Sunday afternoon when the Giants finally ended the streak by beating the Padres (and wrapped up the division title). This weekend they all seemed to win until Sunday night when the once-proud 49ers proved that their abilities to find new ways to lose are endless. The new trendy word used by Bay Area sports fans is "torture".

Well, I suppose there are worse things than being a Bay Area sports fan -- you could be Brooks Conrad this morning.