Monday, October 3, 2011

Late afternoon news briefs: Latest trial of the century; Greece, Greece and more Greece; Apple event tomorrow

Although it has been covered somewhat in the U.S. press, the appeal hearing of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito has been huge news in Italy and the U.K. Both have been in prison for four years after being convicted of the murder of U.K. student Meredith Kercher. (Here is the Wikipedia entry for the case.)
Today both won their appeals and will be set free immediately – Knox to return to the U.S. asap.

Since TNM is not a crime blotter site I will not go into the issue of the crime itself and the evidence. But for The Guardian and the BBC this has been the big story for the past week. Both The Guardian's U.S. and U.K. sites are making this the lead, but the U.K. site is giving the appeal hearing and the verdict more real estate than the U.S. site.

Will this Greece story ever go away? The Athens News today leads with the headline Despair and resignation as more pain looms as the country moves into its fourth year of recession.

The story is not exactly uplifting. Amalia Dougia, a 45-year-old single mother, talks about her two daughters currently at university.

"The oldest wants to leave the country, but where would I get the money to help her out? I've given up planning for the future. I just accept life as it comes," she said. "I've thought about suicide, but I have to look after my children."

The Alphaville blog on is talking about a report that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has thought about resigning. As John McDermott, who writes the blog says, "Well, wouldn’t you?". The post is pointing to a story on FT Deutschland (not owned by the Financial Times) that speculates on such a move by Papandreou, so it certainly should be read with a healthy does of skepticism.

In any case, both the U.S. and European markets tumbled again today. If this were a few years ago a drop in the Dow of over 250 points would have led the news. Today it is business as usual.

The Apple rumor mill is churning out lots of material today, but the big one is the WSJ's story about Sprint which says that Chief Executive Dan Hesse has "bet the company" on the iPhone*.* According to the report, Sprint has agreed to purchase 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years and that Hesse has told the Sprint board not to expect the company to make money on this deal until 2014.

According to the WSJ story the lack of the iPhone is "the No. 1 reason customers leave or switch," Mr. Hesse said at an industry conference last month.

Four years ago I left Sprint for AT&T precisely so I could get an iPhone, much to the disappointment of the rest of the family who weren't getting iPhones! Now everyone owns an iPhone except one daughter who uses an Android phone (and hates it).

9to5Mac earlier today posted this interview with Norman Winarsky co-founder of Siri, a company acquired by Apple in 2010. Siri makes (or made) personal assistant software. That would be the voice control software that allows you to say something into your phone and your phone recognizes it and responds.

Apple is rumored (yet another rumor) to be adding advanced voice controls in the new version of the iOS software to be released any day now.

Winarsky says "Let me first say I have no knowledge of what Apple plans to do with the Siri purchase."

He then amazingly goes on to say "Make no mistake: Apple’s ‘mainstreaming’ Artificial Intelligence in the form of a Virtual Personal Assistant is a groundbreaking event. I’d go so far as to say it is a World-Changing event."

I found that pretty funny. "Hey, I don't know anything. But ..."

But what is important for media people to understand is that most of the talk about Apple tomorrow may center around hardware, new carrier deals, and the like. But inevitably what will effect consumers and media companies more will be software. iOS5 may be where the real action is.

Unfortunately there will once again not be a live video stream of the Apple event tomorrow apparently. It begins at 10 PDT, 1 EDT. Most of the major tech sites will live blog the event, while TNM will talk about the implications of any news as it effects publishers after the end of the event.

If the whole thing turns out to be a dud I'll talk about the Badgers victory over the Cornhuskers instead (big news in these parts).