Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Late afternoon briefs: Amazon's unique version of Android; tablet-only news app 'The Daily' not reaching critical mass; Village Voice Media confirms staff lay offs

My conclusion after reading all the reports about the Kindle Fire is that Amazon has taken the Android OS and is using it against Google more than against Apple, though this tablet will definitely bite into iPad sales (at least somewhat).

The reason I've come to this conclusion is that the new Kindle Fire does nothing to expand the Android OS because it creates yet another iteration of the platform. Rather than using the Honeycomb version of Android, the new Kindle Fire is a custom version. Any apps built for a Honeycomb driven tablet won't run on a Kindle Fire (if reports are true). In fact, all apps will have to be bought through – so much for the openness of Android, more like the anarchy of Android.

In order to push its own ecosystem, Amazon is willing to price its tablet at a low price (and possibly lose $50 per unit). Will that cause PC makers to consider tablets an unprofitable business if the new tablet is a hit? In that case, the Kindle Fire might actually slow the growth of the Android tablet market, rather than expand it. Meanwhile, Apple goes on its merry way.

Note: for two long looks at the Kindle Fire from two writers who are admittedly in the Apple camp (generally), read Andy Ihnatko's take here (doesn't the Sun Time have editors who can proofread?) and from John Gruber on Daring Fireball.

Bloomberg is reporting that News Corp's The Daily is averaging about 120,000 readers per week – and even that number seems questionable as the report says this is actually what it calls "unique weekly visitors", which would include both paid and unpaid readers.

Ken Doctor, of Newsonomics, is quoted as saying “The Daily’s proving to be a great R&D experiment but probably not a viable business...It’s not breaking through the national noise.”

The problem with The Daily, almost from the beginning, was not its design or even its pricing. It was very simply that it was very much a Rupert Murdoch publication: highly partisan, divisive, a niche.

But with the market for tablet publications so small at the time of its launch, wouldn't it have made sense to launch a product with the broadest possible appeal rather than simply add to the News Corp. portfolio of partisan publications? (It's anti-union, anti-teacher, anti-working class campaign in Wisconsin forced me to finally delete The Daily app on my tab. There is only so much hate I can deal with in my day.)

That's not to say that News Corp. isn't doing some good work in the area of tablet publishing - it's just that The Daily editorial work is an example of that work.

Village Voice Media confirmed today that it has laid off 19 reporters across its properties. Journalists at the Seattle Weekly, SF Weekly, City Paper, and the Dallas Observer.

Richie Whitt at the Dallas Observer wrote online about losing his position at the alt-weekly:
As of this morning, the Dallas Observer is out of the sports business, at least on a full-time basis. Though I'm not technically being fired ("laid off" is supposedly less damning), the paper and its owner, Village Voice Media, have decided to eliminate its full-time sportswriting position. It's called downsizing. And yes, it sucks.

1 Comment:

BDalton said...

The reviews I read the more I think the Kindle Fire is still a work in progress. Why, for instance, could no one do a hands-on demo of it? Could you imagine Apple not letting people demo a new product at one of its launch events?