Friday, December 17, 2010

Comments, comments, comments: Huffington Post impresses with sheer volume of reader involvement

I like to tell a story of the early days of Internet publishing, it goes like this: back in the early nineties, the very, very early days of "online" publishing (let's not even call it web publishing) we had many discussions at McGraw-Hill about what it would take to succeed online. Amazingly, we came up with half of the right answer: community. The other half of the question was "how do you build community?" That part was a mystery.

Today, some people like to talk about page views and unique users, others talk about reader involvement like comments.

This is a long way of getting into a little item. You might have heard of the story released today of the study conducted by the University of Maryland which informed readers and viewers are concerning political issues -- or put another way, how misinformed those same readers and viewers are based on the source of their information. The results show, shock-shock, that Fox News viewers are, let's say, a bit misinformed.

OK, no surprise there, and many of the more liberal websites are having a bit of fun with it. But after reading a few versions of the same story something really shocked me. The story posted on the Huffington Post, which was posted this morning, has at this hour 5,725 comments. Seeing 300+ comments on a Paul Krugman or Charles Krauthammer column impresses me. But 5,725 comments?

Oops, over 5,800 now. You've have to admit, that's impressive. But this is not even unusual. A story that simply recaps Jon Stewart's last show of the year has over 4,000 comments.

Touch Gaming keeps it going with its second edition; tablet magazine also releases a free "Lite" version

Dutch independent publisher Rijnders Media has released its second edition of its iPad-only Touch Gaming Magazine. Edited by Patrick Rijnders, with app programming by Alfred Rijnders, this is definitely an independent publishing venture, despite all the company names associated with the effort.
TNM looked at the first effort from Rijnders back in early November, so it is nice to see that the publishers have been able to get a second issue together so quickly in order to maintain some sort of regular frequency.

The second edition of Touch Gaming Magazine follows the same design as the first, but this time the publishers have decided to release a second free version the magazine in order to provide readers with a preview. This "Lite" version gives the reader "a taste of the magazine, with 3 interviews, reviews and a background article on retro gaming," according to the description. I downloaded the paid version: at 99 cents, it was the least I could do, right?
Like the first edition, this second edition contains interviews and lots of reviews of games designed for iOS devices. The page designs are simple and do not contain animation and video -- because of this, the second edition is even "lighter" than the first, only 10.2 MB in size.

Since the demographics of iPad owners skew heavily towards young males, you would think that an iPad-only magazine for touch gaming would be a perfect fit. But the first edition only garnered one review in the US iTunes store, and none at all in the UK or Dutch stores proving how hard it is to break through the clutter of the app store.

Morning Brief: Executive at Apple supplier gets nabbed for providing inside information; don't report those numbers!

The Business Journal reported yesterday on the arrest of Walter Shimoon,a senior director of business development at Flextronics in San Diego, an Apple supplier. He is accused of funneling information about Apple's product plans to investors through Primary Global Research, a Mountain View consultancy.

According to the report Shimoon has alleged to have been caught on tape giving the research firm information on Apple's new tablet project, what became the iPad. "It’s a new category altogether. I believe it’s called K48 ... At Apple, you can get fired for saying K48 ... outside of a meeting that doesn’t have K48 people in it. That’s how crazy they are about it."

Maybe Primary Global should get out of the tech consulting business and become a media firm.

If you don't like the numbers, don't report them.
That seems to be the message sent by the folks at Research in Motion. RIM reported its Q3 earnings and most of the press is pretty impressed with the sales numbers. So why is it that the maker of BlackBerry has announced that it will no longer report its subscriber growth numbers?

Oh well, things will get interesting once the launch, if they launch, their BlackBerry Playbook -- still several months away. For publishers, iOS and Android continue to be where the action is. Only the largest media firms can develop for all the mobile platforms (as can the third party vendors).

But that fact doesn't seem to faze RIM's CEO Jim Balsillie who once again went on a tear during the company's conference call:

I think the PlayBook redefines what a tablet should do. I think we've articulated some elements of it, and I think this idea of a proprietary SDK and unnecessary apps -- though there's a huge role for apps -- I think is going to shift in the market, and I think it's going to shift very, very quickly. And I think there's going to be a strong appetite for web fidelity and tool familiarity. And I think there's going to be a rapid desire for high performance. And I think we're way ahead on that. -- Yahoo transcription.
Drink decaf often helps.

For those who may have wondered what happened to the series I was writing on B2B media . . . but there aren't any TNM readers wondering, are there? You see I doubt that many people directly involved in the B2B media business read TNM -- at least that is my impression based on the feedback I get, as well as my traffic numbers.

I did write those follow-up posts, quite a number of them actually. But this morning I decided to delete them all. They were very long, thoughtful pieces about what troubles the B2B media industry when it comes to New Media and what could be done about it. Then reality hit: B2B media executives don't give a shit about New Media. The people I know in B2B either already get it, or they are just plain hopeless -- I don't know anyone in between. So why waste posts on people who thing site redesigns and new content management systems are a part of New Media strategy?

So let's move on and talk about the things of importance to TNM readers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Apple to open Mac App Store on January 6; will some media firms be enticed to develop for the Mac desktop?

Apple has set the date: January 6th. That is the day the company will open its Mac App Store. The store will try and duplicate the success of the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad apps.
In their announcement Apple said that the new Mac App Store " will be available in 90 countries at launch and will feature paid and free apps in categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities." Noticeably missing from that list is "News", a major category in the current iTunes App Store.

The rules of the game for the new Mac App Store are the same as for the other stores: developers get to keep 70 percent of the price of the apps, and are not charged for offering their apps for free.

Because the full Mac operating system is different than the mobile iOS version, developers will not be able to convert their iOS apps as easily as the move from iPhone to iPad proved to be. Nonetheless, I am sure some media entity out there will be tempted to experiment with the idea of a media app for the desktop.

Morning Brief: tons of app updates -- a reminder to publishers that mobile should be treated differently than print; Condé Nast looks to monetize its free apps

Yesterday afternoon I plugged my phone into my computer to pull off a couple of screenshots. But before plugging it in I made sure to check if there were any app updates waiting in iTunes. Sure enough, there they were -- 18 of them.
For anyone who owns an iPhone, iPad (or both), this is a common experience, especially after Apple has updated the OS. Some have complained that developing an app for iOS or Android is a pain because of the need to constantly update their apps. Publishers, the thinking goes, just aren't used to this kind of thing.

But those complaints are wildly misguided. Users actually love updates. App updates are like getting something for free and publishers need to take advantage of this as often as they can.

Apple certainly knows how to take advantage of updates. Yesterday it updated its iBooks app by adding the ability to print via AirPrint. It also added some illustrated books to its offerings, as well as made some other minor changes. All for free, of course. The update served as a reminder to users that the app is there and can be a good alternative to the Amazon Kindle app (or others).

But a few media apps were in that batch of updates including updates for apps from the New York Times and Washington Post. And this morning? Seven more apps have updates waiting to be downloaded, including updates to apps from PBS, Flipboard, Xfinity and two local ABC television affiliates.

Condé Nast's Epicurious app was one of the early apps launched for the iPad back in April. The company did a good job with its app and new iPad owners downloaded the app in huge numbers. The app, though, was/is free and now Condé Nast would no doubt like to find ways to capitalize on its new product.

On Tuesday the company updated the app and added a few features including the ability to sync recipes with the app. There is a one-time charge of $1.99, a minor fee really. But I would guess that the company would like to see how many of its users (who can use the app on the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as the iPad) sign up for the feature.

Idea: a recipe aggregation app. (Donations from developers appreciated.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nomad Editions brings on Chris Leach to establish custom publishing division; health and sports will be focus

With now three live mobile publications under its belt, and a fourth soon to be released, Nomad Editions is ready to move into custom publishing. Today the company announced that Chris Leach, formerly director of custom media at EPS Communications, as well as editor at Inc. Magazine, will head the new division at Nomad Editions.
“I look forward to leading the efforts in the Nomad Editions Custom Media division, providing readers with a highly customized and targeted reading experience that is not available elsewhere today, even on the digital platform,” Leach said in the company's release.

As director of custom media, Leach will focus on health and sports. Robert Benchley will serve as chief content officer for the health initiative, while Nomad Editions' Director of Business Development, Peter Savarino, will concentrate on college and professional sports.
Nomad Editions is the brainchild of Mark Edmiston former managing director at M&A firm AdMedia Partners, and former CEO at Newsweek Inc.

Along with designer Roger Black and others, Nomad Editions is releasing a series of electronic publications specifically for the mobile market, though no mobile or tablet apps are part of the equation. The publications are designed to be read online at your computer, on smartphones, or on tablets, through the device's browser.

The company has launched three e-pubs to date: Wave Lines, Real Eats and Wide Screen, with a fourth, u+me, set to launch in January.

Mid-day Notes: Another flipbook maker turns to apps; DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket; Apple TV & Google TV

Selling Power magazine has a rather confusing approach to tablet editions, it has two identical apps in the iTunes App Store from Canadian flipbook maker Kastoff Enterprises. One app, released in October and called Selling Power App says it gives you access to one sample issue and then the user can get a one-year subscription (six issues) for $9.99.
Now there is a second app, more appropriately called simply Selling Power, which is also free and offers a sample issue (the September-October issue) and then says you can buy individual issues for $1.99 a piece. My guess is that the annual subscription idea wasn't a big hit and so this approach is replacing it.

In any case, this is another of those replica editions produced by a flipbook vendor. On the bright side, this is an easy way to make your magazine accessible for iPad owners. The app offers pinch-to-zoom, page swiping, etc. On the downside, you have to love flipbooks to want to duplicate the experience on a tablet. I could go on, but every TNM knows my view of flipbooks.

The vendor, Kastoff Enterprises of Montreal, Canada, calls its brand Turn-page and appears to be using Selling Power magazine has a showcase client. Maybe he cut the publisher a deal (like free!).

While Google TV has struggled to gain traction, Apple's newest version of Apple TV seems to be doing better. Part of the reason may simply be price -- at $99 its not much of an investment, and with its little one button remote, its a breeze to set-up and use.

Engadget is reporting that a recent survey from DirecTV hints that its NFL Sunday Ticket could be coming to Apple TV, as well as other boxtop devices. It's a good idea. While having a monopoly on the product is a good way to draw new customers, extending the product to boxtop makes even more sense. As a former DirecTV customer who was tired of constantly having channels pulled from my service, it is really the only way I'd consider buying anything from DirecTV again (anyone what to volunteer to climb on my roof and pull down that satellite dish?).

Apple has also issued an Apple TV update in an attempt to resolve issues with resolution some users have experienced. My experiences have been pretty good so far, but the device is still at the mercy of the content providers. For instance, Netflix seems to stream well, but YouTube is, well, it's YouTube.

If Apple is having more luck with its new TV product than Google is with theirs (my opinion), then the opposite appears to be true of mobile ad networks.

Apple yesterday launched its first iAd for the iPad, and an ad for Disney's "Tron Legacy" -- of course, and ad for a Disney product isn't really a real ad, is it? (A "real" ad, as any publisher can tell you, is one that is sold by a staff salesperson, with a signed insertion order, copy in house, and accounting ready to bill.)

If it is true (see here) that Apple is butting in to control or influence creative, look for clients and agencies to go elsewhere. Word to Apple, learn from publishers, there is always someone else willing to sell you that ad.

B2B continues its struggles with New Media - part 1

Of all the publishing segments that are struggling with New Media, none are suffering quite as badly as B2B. Whether it is the web, mobile or tablets, B2B publishers continue to beat their heads against the wall hoping that one day all this mess will go away and we will return to the late nineties and good times.

The causes of B2B media's woes are quite complex: one could blame the PE firms who really aren't much interested in developing their companies beyond buying and selling properties, or the management teams who move from firm to firm like managers moving from one last place team to another. Others have argued that B2B editorial teams have never gotten the web, and never will -- but it should be said that that position is becoming less relevant as time goes on simply because new J grads are far more interested in New Media than B2B coming out of school.

But before examining possible solutions, let's take a look at the present state of the industry.

One firm that has publicly committed to electronic publishing is Penton Media. Recently the company redesigned and relaunched many (all?) of its B2B websites. The websites, such as this one for Electronic Musician are modern in appearance, clean, and attractive. One way to tell a "modern" websites is simply width -- is 970 pixels wide, compare that to the NYT, its about the same width. Now look at Editor & Publisher's website: it is 782 pixels wide, not counting the orphaned house ad on the side. It looks like it was designed a decade ago (thanks Nielsen).

Unfortunately, most website redesigned projects are obsessed with content management systems and page design. If either of these two elements were really that important would the Drudge Report be successful?

Most B2B websites suffer from the same three problems: they are not updated frequently enough, they are press release trash cans, and they have little personality.

With the exception of the major B2B brands, most B2B websites get updated "periodically", as if posting stories online were just another of several jobs to be done in a week's time. Electronic Musician, for instance, has four stories that rotate on its home page slide show. All the stories with bylines show that they were posted a week ago within a half hour of each other. The section below the slideshow is for the "Robair Report" (not to be confused with the Colbert Report, I suppose). The column from Gino Robair was last posted on the 9th -- not too bad -- but the links to the previous columns produce an error message, showing that the editors are not too concerned with their web content.

Of course, the world of media today is 24/7, so it hardly need be said that posting new material daily is vitally important to any commercial website. Looking at other Penton sites you see a mixed bag -- Ward's Dealer Business, for instance, seems to be updated regularly, but sadly the site is still using their old design.

Any blogger can tell you this simple truth: traffic is directly related to frequency of posting. Volume is not necessarily the key here -- one or two good posts a day will drive regular readers back to your site. But simply posting PR won't get it done.

Press Releases
OK, everyone knows that the press release is the life blood of the B2B editor, but things are really bad online where many sites only post press releases.

Look at the new website for Construction Equipment, the former RBI magazine, now part of Scranton Gillette. The site appears to be designed to be a press release magnet. "News", actually just links to items found elsewhere on the web, is relegated to second fiddle. If readers of this once dominant trade publication were hoping a change of scenery would improve the magazine's online efforts they were wrong.

B2B editors are pretty much invisible now-a-days. The days of editors like Howard Stussman, editor at Engineering News Record for 33 years, are long gone. It's not the tenure that is important here, but personality. Stussman's replacement at ENR, Janice Tuchman, has been there for almost ten years now, but anyone who endured attended a speech by Stussman at an industry event knew that the man was in charge of not only his magazine, but would have thought he ran the whole damn industry. Those of us who were either his colleague or competitor (I was both during my B2B years) bristled at the man's ego, but were ultimately jealous of his standing in the industry.

An editor like Stussman infused his magazine with his personality -- one way or another. This same sort of "putting one's stamp" on the product is missing from many magazines today, but is completely absent from most B2B web products.

Of the three points above, at least two of them could apply to many B2B print products today, as well. But B2B websites stand out in their blandness, and formulaic approach to their production.

One reason I think this exists is that management is enamored with CMS -- it is as if having an efficient and easy to manage content management system will lead to a profitable web strategy. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Traffic and ad sales leads to profits.

One reason are so obsessed with their back-end systems is that they are so leery of their front-end -- that is, their editorial and sales staffs. At every B2B I've worked for, management tried to keep as much of the control and maintenance of the websites from the staff as possible. Editors simply posted stories -- layout, design, maintenance was not their area of concern. Imagine if print magazines were handled the same way?

Tomorrow: some suggestions for B2B managers.
Later: mobile and tablet editions and B2B.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Short takes: CNN releases iPad app; Tribune says Reuters America will make them less reliant on AP

The once famous, now decrepit cable news channel CNN has released its first iPad app and it looks pretty good. Of course, like its iPhone cousin, the app kind of shows off how little news the media company actually produces.
The CNN App for iPad (who names these things?) is free to download, and the company has now converted its iPhone app from paid to free, as well.

I'll take a look at the new app tomorrow, but I should point out that the app gives users three ways to view it: a collage-like layout seen here in the screenshot, an RSS feed like layout, and as one story at a time. The app also has a radio feature that gives the user an hourly update -- total length two minutes. (I guess CNN figures that those serious about the news wouldn't be interested in CNN anyways.)

The Tribune Company seemed to brag a little as it announced that it had signed a multi-year agreement to become one of Reuters America's first customers. The company went out of its way to dig the AP a bit by saying that the agreement with Reuters "will make them less reliant on Associated Press for print and online content. Ouch.

So far the Tribune Company has not dropped AP, but the company's papers have experimented with "eschewing AP content in news, business and features", as they said. Most likely they found that going cold turkey left large holes to fill. Reuters America might just be able to fill those holes.

I was quickly reviewing the iTunes App Store for new media apps when I came across a new RSS feed reader: Albania News -- all the news you could ever want about Albania. At first I thought that this was another example of apps showing up in the wrong stores. Then I found a new one for news from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus -- MNDaily.

It was only then that I realized I was still signed into the Australian store. It's a mess.

Murdoch's Australian tablet strategy remains consistent with release of new app for The Advertiser & Sunday Mail

The Australian newspaper properties of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. remain committed to a paid news app strategy with the release of the first tablet editions of The Advertiser and Sunday Mail, the newspapers of South Australia.

The Advertiser & Sunday Mail costs $5.99 in the US iTunes App Store, $7.99 in the Australian store. This will get you 31 days of subscription service, after which readers will be asked to re-up. The represents a good discount off the print editions: The Australian charges $6.99 (Australian dollars) per week for six days of home delivery, for instance.
This is quite a different approach than was originally taken by the Wall Street Journal iPad edition when it was first launched. But then again, The Australian is a consumer newspaper, not a national financial newspaper like the WSJ.

This is the fourth paid app released by News Digital Media, the others being for the Herald Sun, The Daily and the Sunday Telegraph, and the first one which was for The Australian. All the apps are charging the same price except The Australian which charges two dollars less for the app, but then charges the same as the others to renew.

The reaction to these news apps has been mixed in the iTunes App Store for Australia. Users have complained about the video content not playing, as well as the pop-up ads. Another problem seems to be that not all the print content can be found in the tablet edition: things like the crossword puzzle, racing forms and other content is missing because it can not be easily converted since they do not lend themselves to RSS feeds.

This is a good reminder that there is more to a newspaper than just the "news". Other elements that seem to be missing from most newspaper apps ("all" non-replica apps, anyways) is classified advertising -- a big mistake. (Of course, as a former CAM you'd expect me to stick up for classifieds.)

The promotional video for the new app is after the break:

Retweet: Japanese publishers blame Apple for copyright violations of new apps within the iTunes App Store

How about a standing ovation for Japanese publishers? Unlike their American cousins, it appears that Japanese publishers are paying attention to what has been going on in the iTunes App Store, and as a result have denounced Apple for allowing apps to be approved that violate the copyright of their media properties, according to a post on the WSJ website.

It has been a recurring theme here at TNM to point out that new apps are being approved weekly, if not daily, that play off the brand names of media properties. Apple says it will remove apps that violate the trademarks of media properties when notified by the media company, but there have been plenty of obvious examples of trade name violations leaving one to wonder who at Apple is in charge of media app approval.

Morning Brief: NYT reports that Microsoft will try it again; one media investment firm sells B2B flagship to another

Rumors are flying that Microsoft will introduce a line of slates* early next year after canceling earlier efforts to enter the market.

According to the report, the new products would run Windows 7 when in landscape mode, and Angry Birds when in portrait -- or something like that.

The New York Times report was written by Nick Bilton but could have been written by Judith Miller or John Burns:

The people with knowledge of these devices asked not to be named as they are not authorized to speak publicly by Microsoft or partnering companies. Microsoft declined to comment about coming products that have not been announced.
* Slates are tablet computers that are slow and buggy because they run full operating systems rather than slimmed down mobile operating systems.

In B2B media: Wasserstein & Co. acquired Nation's Restaurant News from GE Capital yesterday. Penton Media and Lebhar-Friedman Inc. served as the middle men.

Proving the value of media monopolies, the government of Silvio Berlusconi survived a second round of no-confidence voting in the Italian parliament today. The vote was 314 to 311.

Earlier in the upper house, Berlusconi won as well -- 162 votes to 135. Four opposition members switched their votes at the last minute and voted with the government. According to the Guardian report, one of the senators was later expelled by his party, Sicilian-based Movement for Autonomies, as one party member accused the party member of "one of the most squalid examples of this buying and selling [of votes] that has turned parliament into a sort of cattle market".

Back in the US no-confidence votes are not allowed, otherwise governments would fall weekly.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Political website gets into the iPad game, showing you don't need to be a newspaper to create a tablet edition

So why would a website feel the need to create an iPad app that duplicates its web content? Since iPad owners could just as easily launch their browser as an app, it does seem like a waste effort, right?
Not necessarily. After all, there are those times when you will be without an Internet connection -- like on a flight -- so an app that allows you to read while offline does have some merit.

The political news website Politico seems to feel that way. They have launched their own free iPad app to compliment their already launched iPhone app. While the iPhone app is a typical RSS reader, the iPad app follows the NYT model. It, too, relies on RSS feeds to populate the app, then it layouts out the copy very much as does the NYT's app.

The problem with news apps that allow offline reading is that travelers will still need to remember to launch their apps before they lose their Internet connection, allowing the app to access the copy. Some apps, like the Financial Times iPad edition, have a download button that brings in the content for all their different sections. Here, where the content is more limited, simply launching the app and keeping it open for a while is all that is necessary.
Strangely, Politico does not mention offline reading in the app's description -- at least not directly. "The clean, easy-to-navigate layout is ideal for staying up to date when you’re on the go," -- I suppose savvy iPad owners get the message.

Comparing the iPad version to the website itself, the first thing I noticed was that Politico had enough inventory available on its site that it could dedicate a lot of real estate to the promotion of its free iPad app. As for the app's business model, it is single-sponsored: in this case, Shell.

If there is a problem with these kinds of apps for web-only properties, it is that some readers will be expecting such things as full, searchable content, etc. That is why some newspapers have decided to call these types of tablet editions "Best of" or "Editor's Choice" to show the reader that the content is a bit limited. This is also why the iTunes app description should point out the advantages of an app version of the product: offline reading, native layouts, etc.

Afternoon brief: Tablets - everyone has an opinion, even the Tehran Times; Amazon brags about its Kindle sales

There is no shortage of opinions about new phones, tablets and the like -- one reason why TNM avoids reviews of hardware. So, should it come as a surprise to see this headline: HTML5 on Android Samsung Galaxy Tab “disappointing” vs Apple iPad.

The source: the Tehran Times.

Amazon is bragging up its Kindle sales again -- again without actually quoting any real numbers.
Writing on their own forums, the Amazon Kindle teams writes that "in just the first 73 days of this holiday quarter, we've already sold millions of our all-new Kindles with the latest E Ink Pearl display. In fact, in the last 73 days, readers have purchased more Kindles than we sold during all of 2009."

No word, of course, on exactly what their sales were for 2009.

MacDailyNews wrote this morning that they have a source that says that Verizon will unveil a LTE capable version of the iPhone after Christmas. The new iPhone will work on Verizon's new, but barely launched, 4G network. It will also have a multi-band chip that will make it backward compatible with its regular CDMA network.

That is the extent of the MacDailyNews rumor. But let me add that there were so many typos in this report that it is altogether possible that the janitor wrote the post.

New Hampshire Union Leader launches tablet edition; free iPad app is a better eye test than a newspaper

One way to guarantee that your e-editions don't eat into your print edition sales is to offer truly awful e-editions. The new iPad editions from Freedom Communications is one good example of this philosophy at work. And now the New Hampshire Union Leader has offered another good example.
The new iPad app from the conservative daily from Manchester, New Hampshire, gives readers a true replica edition experience: no links, no multimedia, just the print edition shrunk down for the iPad's display. Yes, the app offers pinch-to-zoom so that reading is possible, but since stories in the print edition jump from the front page, the reader will be swiping to find the rest of their stories because, you know, we wouldn't want to make the iPad edition easier to read than the print edition.

One almost gets the feeling that no one at the NHUL actually owns an iPad. If they did they would have been able to see the way good newspaper apps work for other properties and know that a replica edition such as this really isn't a very good idea. I'm not a fan of replica editions, in general, but some European papers have made fairly decent iPad apps by making sure links allow readers to make jumps to finish stories, and have additional photography and sometimes video embedded in them.

But maybe the point here is to show readers that there is no future in tablets. That is probably why this app is free.

Left: a pulldown menu provides some navigation help; Right: tiny page thumbnails are a good eye test for readers, but a lousy way to navigate the app. Imagine what a Thanksgiving edition would look like?!

Morning Brief: Tribune owned shopping site signs Groupon as partner; Google Latitude approved by Apple

Good morning from the fridge Midwest

The recently launched local shopping site,, has attracted Groupon as a partner. The site, owned by the Chicago Tribune, will now feature one new local deal each weekday on the shopping site’s homepage.
“By registering at, you’ll have the option to sign up to receive the exclusive Groupon offer in addition to the feature Groupon highlights on their website each day. It’s the ultimate opportunity for Chicagoland deal-seekers,” said Belinda Englman, General Manager, in a release.

Retweet: Sunday's Media Decoder column by Jeremy Peters is about the success law enforcement is having nabbing criminals thanks to a feature in the free distribution paper the Washington Examiner.

"About once a month, the United States Marshals Service in the Washington area apprehends a fugitive caught with the help of Examiner readers. So far, marshals have rounded up 24 suspects after receiving calls from people who read about a fugitive in the paper," Peters explains.

Later Peter writes that Sometimes fugitives will see themselves in the paper and decide to give themselves up. “They panic,” Mr. Fernandez said. “That flushes them out of their hiding places.”

I don't think we are talking about America's Most Wanted here.

Well, it only took 22 months, but Google has finally gotten its Google Latitude app approved and in the Apple iTunes App Store.

The app allows people to track their friends through their cell phones, displaying their locations on a map. Why someone would think this is a good idea for "friends" is beyond me -- kids maybe, enemies definitely. Maybe this will appeal to the Foursquare crowd.

In any case, Apple originally rejected the app out of fears that the app would confuse users, believing that this app was a replacement for the standard Maps app preinstalled on all iPhones, according to AppleInsider.