Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TNM's Year in Review: Q1

Next week marks the two year anniversary of Talking New Media, a website launched a little over three months before Apple shipped its first iPads, but more than a decade after the first newspaper and magazine websites appeared online.

2011 was a very eventful year in world news, but in some ways it was a simply a continuation of 2010 where media critics continued to debate the paid content versus advertising strategies, and where the gurus of aggregation and layoffs, disguised as 'digital first' proponents, continued to hold sway – despite any evidence that their philosophy could translated into profit publishing models.

January:

News:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) shot
Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, goes on medical leave

The year started with the tech and media website proclaiming the death of the tablet magazine – really. It may be hard to believe, but with only 10,000 iPads in circulation, the fact that Wired's tablet sales were down to 23,000 an issue was already cause to give up on the new medium (at least according to the critics; many publishers simply moved on).
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In January, Sporting News signed a deal with AOL
to takeover Fanhouse.


The Dallas Morning News announced that it would construct its own paywall, following similar announcements from other papers, including the NYT, which had not yet launched its own metered paywall by January. Note: we're still waiting on announcements that these paywalls are successfully leading the expansion, rather than contraction, of newsroom staffs.

The CEO of the Flemish Newspaper Association, Patrick Lacroix ripped Apple's 30 percent commission structure in a blog post on Mediargus.be – to not avail.

"30% is neither a reasonable nor a suitable remuneration for the distributor who only adds a limited value. If Apple wants to take part in the conversation about subscriptions it will have to be at least ten times less that percentage," Lacroix wrote in January.

February:

News:
Al Jazeera web traffic soars as readers follow events in Egypt
HP unveils the TouchPad
Borders Group files of bankruptcy
A Scottish Deerhound wins Westminster (personal favorite of all the news items)

The Daily, Rupert Murdoch's iPad-only newspaper, was unveiled at an event at the Guggenheim Museum on February 2. The paper initially was offered free of charge.

While the news product's right wing politics have limited its success, The Daily continues on, showing that there are probably enough fans of the Fox News model to keep the product going, at least for a while.

Motorola unveiled the XOOM in February and after a week or so I was able to test it out for myself – I was not impressed.

Random House became the latest big name publisher to agree to adopt the agency model whereby the publisher sets the price for their digital products and the seller (Apple) collects the commission. “The agency model guarantees a higher margin for retailers than did our previous sales terms. We are making this change both as an investment in the successful digital transition of our existing partners and in order to give us the opportunity to forge new retail relationships,” Random House said in a statement at the time.

TNM mentions Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue web app: traffic at TNM soars.

March:

News:

An 8.9 earthquake hits Japan, followed by tsunami
Massive protests in London in reaction to government cutbacks
Steven Brills sells Journalism Online to R.R. Donnelley
NYT launches its metered paywall

Apple released iOS 4.3 in March, which brought lots of new goodies, and the AppleTV update added MLB.TV and other apps. Prior to the update, only a select few apps could stream content, but iOS 4.3 allowed AirPlay compliant apps to begin streaming. Soon developers began issuing app updates to include the new features.

Zinio suffered a major meltdown in March, caused by an outage at one of its data centers.

The Boston Herald launched its baseball app
 just in time for Opening Day.

The long awaited New York Times paywall finally launched at the end of the month, but the paper made sure many of its most frequent users got through for free, thanks to a deal with the car maker Lincoln. The NYT has bragged that its digital subscriber numbers have soared, but late in December it was announced that its CEO, Janet Robinson, would step down at the end of the year – related? who knows.

The original announcement for the paywall was in May of 2010, by the way.

Apple begins shipping the iPad 2 for delivery on March 17.

Meanwhile, a survey showed that 16 percent of consumers had cancelled their newspaper subscriptions due to the recession.

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