Friday, September 30, 2011

Morning Brief: U.S. airstrike reportedly kills al-Awlaki in Yemen; Samsung surprises with a new tablet introduction; Touch Press releases new interactive story book app

The AP's Kimberly Doziere is among those reporting that a drone attack has killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American born cleric and prominent al-Qaida leader.

While most reports have been clearly slanted towards the view that the killing of al-Awlaki is a positive thing, the AP report at least bring up the very thorny issue of al-Awlaki's American citizenship:

Al-Awlaki's death is the latest in a run of high-profile kills for Washington under President Barack Obama. But the killing raises questions that the death of other al-Qaida leaders, including bin Laden, did not.

Al-Awlaki is a U.S. citizen who had not been charged with any crime. Civil liberties groups have questioned the government's authority to kill an American without trial
The issue is one of whether targeting a U.S. citizen for assassination is a violation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution which states that no "person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury".

It will be interesting to see whether the U.S. media plans to seriously deal with this aspect of the story.

Samsung continues to flood the market with smartphone and tablet products, apparently desperate to see if something, anything will finally break through. Today the company introduced the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus – though what the "plus" might be was not clear.

"Building on the success of the Galaxy Tab, we're now delighted to introduce the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus reloaded with enhanced portability, productivity and a richer multimedia experience" JK Shin, President and Head of Samsung's Mobile Communications Business said in the company's announcement.

If by "success" Samsung means that they actually launched the product rather than simply announced it then the company is clearly right to call its Galaxy Tab a success. Otherwise, that statement might be stretching it.

The new tablet will be launched first in Indonesia and Austria starting at the end of October (presumably because Austria is their primary target market*). The product will then be "gradually rolled" into other markets, including the U.S., after that.

In other other Samsung related news, Bloomberg is reporting that the company has made an offer to Apple in an attempt to resolve its patent disputes with Apple. Apple has successfully prevented Samsung from selling some of its products in various countries due to alleged patent violations (and outright copying of Apple's products). It would be nice if all these patent wars would come to an end, but like all wars, they seem to have a momentum of their own that prevents any kind of resolution.

*Yes, that's snark.

Despite lots of talk of a resolution to the Euro crisis, investors just aren't buying it. After yesterday's mixed market performance, European markets are sharply down today. The German DAX is down nearly 3 percent while both the FTSE and CAC 40 are down, as well.

The WSJ is saying the U.S. stock futures are down, as well, blaming an inflation report in Europe that showed the inflation rate rising to 3 percent. But the story also admits that U.S. markets were negative even before the report was issued.

This leads to the obvious question of how the markets could be reacting to a report that hadn't been even issued?

This slanting of the news in the WSJ is occurring more frequently as the paper begins to use its news sections as editorial platforms. Under the previous ownership of the WSJ a pretty solid wall was constructed between the newsroom and the editorial board – that wall is pretty much rubble at this point.

Touch Press has released a new interactive story book. March of the Dinosaurs is a $7.99 interactive story book that is currently being promoted by Apple inside the App Store. March of the Dinosaurs is already appearing in the top paid apps list, though no customers have posted their impressions of the app as of yet.

Touch Press is the same digital publisher behind such popular and well-received book apps as The Waste Land and Solar System for iPad.

Each of those app were priced at $13.99 so it would be interesting to know if this app is experimenting with pricing or if it contains less material. Unfortunately TNM did not receive a promo code so I have no experience with the app (and I usually don't go begging for promo codes from publishers).