Friday, January 14, 2011

End of the week odds and ends: Sporting News signs deal to take over AOL's FanHouse; report says Windows Phone 7 launch results disappointing; and more

Here's a few items from around the world of media, aggregated, chewed on, and spit out here. Watch your step:

I really like the way Sporting News publisher Jeff Price is expanding the reach of the venerable brand. This morning's NYT reports that Price has struck a deal with AOL to license the FanHouse name and take control of the content.

Unfortunately, the move will involve quite a number of layoffs of FanHouse employees, the Times reports.
The integration of FanHouse into Sporting News will take place in March, and the result should be a huge gain in traffic of Sporting News, and the spreading of their reach into new quarters.

Sporting News continues to publish a daily iPad publication through their partner Zinio. Unfortunately, the iPad publication mimics print to such a degree that the tablet product looks more like a replica edition, though no print product actually exists. Nonetheless, it has been positively received and does not suffer the same fate many other magazine have in getting criticized for their subscription policies (read: Sports Illustrated) -- though this whole situation may change soon when iOS 4.3 comes out.

(I noticed that with the coming of 2011 all my back issues of Sporting News (tablet edition) have disappeared from my iPad, and restoring seems not to bring them back. Luckily they are still available online, though this doesn't really help much since I don't like reading magazines using my computer.)

Pocket-lint (yep, that's the site's name) reports today that a representative of LG expressed some disappointment in the launch of Windows Phone 7. The person quoted, James Choi, the marketing strategy and planning team director at LG Electronics, said he believes Windows Phone 7 is an easy platform for consumers to deal with -- so much so that it is a bit boring. (Click here to read the whole post which I found very interesting.)

My own experience with Windows Phone 7 was when I needed to find a new phone for my daughter who insisted that she wanted a physical keyboard -- so much for the iPhone. Since she had little experience with smartphones I assumed a Windows Phone 7 would appeal to her. To my surprise she picked out an Android phone, a Motorola Blur. Besides the keyboard, my daughter said that she didn't like the way the Windows phone forced her to accept a certain look -- maybe it had simplified things too much, even for a first time smartphone buyer.

No more Freakonomics at the NYT. Jeff Bercovici, who seems to break a whole lot of good media stories, reports that the economics blog will migrate to its own website at (right now the address bounces over to the NYT based blog).

Bercovici also has heard that the Times paywall won't go up until early February -- that makes a lot of sense to me. My guess is that its timing may be a bit linked to other events, such as a new iPad and iOS (because the Times has promised a new app, as well).