Friday, May 6, 2011

Wisconsin State Journal launches tablet edition that requires subscription, gives incentive for opt-in data

The Wisconsin State Journal, published by Madison Newspapers Inc., has launched its first tablet edition today. The app is free to download but requires a paid subscription to get beyond the headlines.
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The newspaper has taken a unique approach to charging for the app's content. The app opens up to a look fairly similar to other native designed newspaper apps: a NYT look where the content is fed in through RSS feeds. At first blush the app looks like you would be able to read the content for free. But tapping on an article immediately produces a pop-up which informs you that you must buy a subscription: $3.99 per month, $21.99 for six months, or $39.99 per year. A home delivered subscription would cost you $65 according to the paper's website.
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Additionally, the pop-up says that an additional month will be added onto your subscription term if you click "allow" when asked if it will be fine to have Apple share your basic account data. (click at left for enlarged screenshot)

This is one approach to getting customer data – the other being a direct request for information in the form of a customer survey within the app's content.

One major thing missing, however, is a way for current print subscribers to get access to the app for free. This is a strange features to be missing, and will no doubt make a number of the paper's subscribers pretty unhappy – after all, this is the home to the University of Madison, and I would guess that a good number of State Journal readers are iPad owners.

On the other hand, it is possible that this was a strategic decision on the part of the publisher to drive iPad owners towards a digital edition. If not, oops.

As for the actual app: I did not end up buying a subscription as I am not a local resident of Madison and it certainly looks like the paper's content is not very relevant to me. But I certainly would be interested to know what residents think of the app and the subscription policy. So far, however, there are no reviews inside the App Store.

Final note: the newspaper currently has a link promoting its iPad app. It takes you to the iTunes store directly, not to a promotional page on the paper's website. This is fine because the developer wrote a pretty good app description which spells out the subscription plans. The support page in the App Store, however, takes you to a complete irrelevant web page – this will have to be fixed. I mention all this both to point out the good app description, but also because I was trying hard to figure out if the publisher is trying to explain why they are charging all iPad owners for content access, even their print subscribers.

The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing; editors at the NYT confused by the latest economic data

The editors at the Times are having few problems deciding today if the economy is gaining steam or slowing down - such is the conflicting news on the economy.
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For while the editors have splashed the news about a decent hiring report as the lead on its website, buried inside in the business and opinion sections are additional articles that tell the opposite story.

Paul Krugman's column today expresses doubts about any recovery, for instance.

"From G.D.P. to private-sector payrolls, from business surveys to new claims for unemployment insurance, key economic indicators suggest that the recovery may be sputtering," Krugman writes, adding "And it wasn’t much of a recovery to start with."

Krugman's problem with the state of things is that he does not see much emphasis on job creation, while he sees an overemphasis on inflation fear mongering.

"What does Washington currently fear? Topping the list is fear that budget deficits will cause a fiscal crisis any day now. In fact, a number of people — like Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairmen of President Obama’s debt commission — have settled on a specific time frame: terrible things will happen within two years unless we make drastic spending cuts," Krugman writes.

Well, I am sure that there are opposing views, but it is interesting to note that the editors of the news pages don't seem to be reading the columns by their economics columnist.

Morning Brief: Commodity prices fall as investors fear worsening recession; RIM says 'Amateur hour is over'

The latest jobless claim numbers were surely a sign to many investors that their hopes that a strengthening economy would increase demand were going to be in vain, as a result many starting dumping their holdings in commodities, driving down the price of oil, silver, sugar and coffee. The price of oil, for instance, fell below $100 for the first time in two months.

“Pop goes the bubble,” Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, was quoted in the New York Times.

Jobless claims grew by 43,000 to 474,000 in the last reporting week, a sign that the economy continues to struggle. Another factor weighing on commodity prices were comments made by the head of the European Central Bank who stated that interest rates overseas would not be rising until later this year, leading to a weakening of the Euro. This lead to gains by the dollar, forcing down the price of many commodities priced in dollars.

(This morning, however, the Labor Department reported that the economy added 244,000 new jobs – a pretty strong report.)



So what does this mean for ad dollars here in the States. My own contacts have been telling me that the ad picture has gotten more and more gloomy as oil prices have risen, in part because some producers, such as food, are so sensitive to transportation costs. As a result, ad budgets were being tightened in response. Any move downward in oil prices would be considered helpful in easing fears among executives thus preventing further cuts to marketing budgets.

In any case, 2011, which has shown modest to healthy revenue recovery for some consumer publishers has been at risk lately. B2B publishers, meanwhile, continue to see very little growth. The Q2 numbers will be a very important indicator for whether the year as a whole will be a good one.



Speaking of advertising: have you see this ad on the NYT website?

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I don't know what the headline is referring to, do you? But the ad itself is pretty cool. The ad opens up to a fullscreen shot and is very inspired by, if I should say, iPad design. Ironic, huh?

In any case, RIM is spending big dollars trying to tramp down all the bad reviews it has received for its BlackBerry PlayBook. I could say that it won't work, but, you know, I am a big believer in advertising!



Most of yesterday was spent trying to get my iPad to work properly. Any attempt to back-up the device after being plugged into my computer failed. This system failure has never occurred before and began to happen immediately following two events: the installation of iOS 4.3.3 and my downloading the latest version of Adobe Creative Suite (5.5, which I have not opened up yet).

Restoring my iPad did not solve the problem so I began to look elsewhere for a cause. That was when another symptom appeared: my Time Machine back-ups to an external hard drive were also failing. One wouldn't think that the two things would be related but it turns out that they were. (At first I thought that the external hard drive was failing, but I could read and write to the drive with no problem. But any attempt to delete a file there literally took hours to accomplish.)

I was very close to reinstalling my Mac OS, something that I really didn't want to do, when I came upon an online chat between two people who were discussing a solution to his Time Machine woes. The online conversation turned to doing this: turning off Time Machine, switching the back-up drive to "none", and reformatting the external hard drive – then turn TM back on. Voila!

What was the problem? Probably a corrupt file in the Time Machine back-up folder. Starting from scratch was like unplugging a drain. Once that occurred my computer could deal with back-ups, in general. Strangely, though, I wasn't experiencing any problems with my iPhone back-ups.

Update: Ugh! My iPad problems continue. Clearly this is an iOS issue since this problems started with the last update, and now I know my computer is functioning fine.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Publishers need to be aware of App Store best practices including good app descriptions and screenshots.

In between battles with my iPad this morning and afternoon, I downloaded a few new apps that I thought I might want to take a look at. One of them, Mining Weekly e-magazine, I downloaded simply because I have a soft spot in my heart for B2B magazines, there being so few of them in the App Store.

Unfortunately, this new app from Creamer Media International, the South African publisher of this magazines, as well as Engineering News, is simply a replica edition with some embedded audio and video. The free app is the first from the company and is actually not an issue but a reproduction of a special section the publisher produced for an event that took place in early March.
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So if there is not much to learn from the app itself there are some things that immediately struck me about the app description inside the App Store.

Take, for instance, the app description itself:

Mining Weekly e-magazine.
Featuring mining activity worldwide
That's it, including the lack of a period at the end of that second line.

Now if you are one of those media executives that has not been personally involved in launching an app, or if your company has not, the process of getting an app into the store is very simple (even I did it, after all), even if the app approval process is less opaque.

As part of submitting the app one needs to fill out the app description, select categories, etc. The good news is that this information can be revised as often as you would like (though the updated copy will not appear immediately in the App Store).

So it is very possible that the publisher of this particular app, now that it is live in the App Store, may well go back into their account and redo their app description. Tomorrow you might see a virtual novel used as the app description.

But there are other things other than just copy to consider, as well. For instance, in the iTunes App Store only the first few lines of the description appear before the "More" appears, forcing the reader to click it to reveal more about the app. There are developers who are very adept at making sure those few lines, three to be exact, sing. (In the App Store as seen on the iPad, the first five lines appear, and on the iPhone the whole description appears!)

Then there are the screenshots: here the publisher included only one, the cover. Three should be considered the bare minimum, but there things to consider other than simply the number. For instance, does your app include radically different layouts in portrait and landscape, then you would want to include screenshots of the app in both orientations. Are there multimedia elements you want to point out like video or unique animation, etc.

For those developers who have experience at this sort of thing this is all first grade stuff – I hope I didn't insult your intelligence with this stuff.

But I wonder how many media managers are delegating these decisions, leaving it up to the developers. At the very least these things should be brought up in conversations with the team that is handling the App Store account. I doubt there are any publishers out there that would launch a magazine without looking at the first promotional material, the media kit, etc. An app launch should be no different.

The Telegraph iPad update converts current app from free to one requiring a paid subscription for non-print buyers

Today The Telegraph updated its iPad app, turning the same designed app from a free one to paid. No doubt some savvy iPad owners will simply bypass the app update and continue with their "Best of The Telegraph" app to continue to receive content free of charge.
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The Telegraph for iPad remains a free app, but now the publishers are requiring that readers pony up for the privilege of reading that day's paper. Individual editions will cost £1.19 ($1.99 in the US App Store) or £9.99 for a self-renewing monthly subscription ($16.99 US).

For print subscribers, however, there is good news as they will be able to sign into their accounts to access the content free of any additional charges.

So what has The Telegraph added to this update to make it worth paying for?

What's New in Version 2.0
- Greater depth of content including video, picture galleries, graphics and cartoon archives.
- Quick and Cryptic interactive crosswords.
- 30-day archive.
- Night-reading mode.
UK iPad owners don't appear to be buying into the plan, however, as the reviews are universally negative. But I suppose this is to be expected: one day you're getting something for free, the next you are required to pay for it. (To be fair, there are some minor changes in the newly updated app involving design and typography.)

But the mistake here was probably in launching a free app to begin with, not in trying to charge for content. At £9.99 a month for the iPad edition, this does represent a nice discount off the price of a home delivered subscription price currently offered on the paper's website of £6.60 a week.

So what would I do? Probably the same as The Telegraph's publisher, only I would have tried to make it seem like the newspaper really did upgrade the app. Maybe a nice introductory video from the queen perhaps?

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Left: The introductory page that explains the app's navigation; Middle: the new page where readers buy individual editions or a monthly subscription, or else sign into their print accounts; Right: the navigation for accessing different sections and their articles.

The web, mobile and tablets may all be 'digital', but they are still not exactly the same medium

My iPad is currently being "restored" – what a pain. So my look at the new app from The Telegraph may have to wait awhile. In the meantime, I was thinking about what it means to have "digital" media experience, and is it really relevant to some of today's publishing challenges.

Imagine for a second that you were about to launch a new daily newspaper in NYC. What an enormous project, right? To get things started you decide to hire a new publisher, so you begin the interview process. After talking to lots of candidates you make your choice: you have decided to bring on the former publisher of a city/regional magazine. Your reason for the hire? The person has "print" experience.
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Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, right? Well, that is because having "print" experience is not the same thing as having metro daily newspaper experience. "Print" is a generic term for a very large segment of the media industry.

So what does it mean to have "digital" experience? Sadly, many media executives are lumping all digital media together as if experience with the web is the same as mobile or tablets. As a result, many of the new digital products being produced are simply porting over the web – both in content and publishing philosophy – into the new platforms without considering that not all digital platforms are the same.

Additionally, not all print mediums treat the web the same way, so why wouldn't they treat mobile and tablet platforms differently as well? For instance, a newspaper's website mirrors its print product pretty exactly, if only temporarily. Both display the most important stories that the editors rank highest at that moment. A lead story in the print edition will definitely be the lead story online, if only for a few moments at least.

But do magazine publishers treat their websites as exact copies of their print editions? Not necessarily. A magazine may consider its interview with Tom Hanks, for instance, as their lead print story, while going with something more current and newsworthly online, saving the celebrity interview for print only.

Handing over the creation of a tablet publication to someone you think has "digital" experience may mean handing over the job to someone who has only thought "web". The result is that many new tablet apps are basically new ways to read the product's website. They are, in essence, replica editions of the web.

What I find fascinating about mobile and tablets are that they are both new territories for exploration by media companies, yet they are most assuredly unique products, deserving their own consideration. Yet there continues to be a tendency by many publishers to frustratingly demand that only the device has changed, the content or its presentation need not change. This mistake is being made just as often by "digital" people as it is "print" people.

I think this explains the outright resistance many digital media gurus have had to creating tablet editions. These media writers have become as wedded to the web the way some some people have accused editors and publishers of being too print oriented. What is that old phrase about the pot calling the kettle ...



Here is an interview with Matthew Carlson, principal of experience strategy and design at Hot Studio Inc., that appeared yesterday on the O'Reilly Media area of the Forbes website.

There is much here I agree with – but I also find it interesting that Carlson points to new tablet products that are really, in essence, new ways to package web content. In the end, I think Flipboard and Zite will influence web design far more than they will tablet "magazines". Why? Because a true magazine is the product of a publishing vision (like that of Hoodgrown, seen above), not an aggregation of content. I think there is room on tablets for both kinds of products, and more.

Morning Brief: The Telegraph launches new paid tablet edition; Apple iOS update a load of trouble for some users

If you downloaded the iPad from the The Telegraph a few months ago I would hang onto that app if I were you, it is now a collector's item. This morning The Telegraph launched a brand new iPad app that requires users to either buy single copies, a paid subscription, or else log-in using their print subscription information.
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I've downloaded the new app and will have a full report later this morning.

The old app, which was free and gave readers free access to the content, still works as of this morning, presumably because it was RSS driven and those feeds still work. The old app was along the lines of the NYT Editor's Choice app: limited content, in a rather native layout, boring but effective.

The new app, of course, touts "greater depth of content", but is really the result of the fact that many publishers are realizing that listening to their digital people and using the web as the model is a very bad idea. More on that later.



Have you updated your iOS device to 4.3.3? If not you may be in for a bad surprise.

Back-up times for some devices are taking ridiculously long times, and sometimes freezing altogether. I don't know if this is the result of encryption or a bug, but some uses are not going to be happy about this update.

Later update: now I can no longer sync my iPad at all. Look for another update real soon. I'm being forced to do a complete restore, which I find to be a pain because it will take close to an hour to complete, though I will admit that Apple makes this all pretty easy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

drums & percussion: German music magazine releases an English language iPad edition

One of the things I love most about looking at new mobile and tablet media applications is discovering new magazines published outside the U.S. A trip to Borders to visit the magazine stand just isn't going to produce many surprises. So here is one of those surprises you can find in the App Store:
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The German magazine publisher Reiner H. Nitschke Verlag, a relatively small media company, publishes several motorcycle and music magazines, drums & percussion being one of them.

Yesterday the company had its first iPad app for the magazine appear in the App Store. The app is free to download, and after a lengthy download time, the February issue will appear. The issue weighs in at 170MB which is incredibly large for a replica edition. The reason for the size may have to do with the few added features the reader will find in the tablet edition.

Like most replicas, the user can read the issue in both portrait and landscape (another reason for the size of the download) and the reader can also tap on any photograph and a full screen version of the picture will appear.

There is also something called Reading-mode which brings up a text version of any story. Why would you need Reading-mode? Well, that's self explanatory, isn't it? Replicas are convoluted conversions of print editions so in order to make them work most of the time you need things like Reading-mode to make sure the reader can easily read the stories.

In this case the resolution of the magazine is fine so Reading-mode is probably not necessary. But I can see where the idea came from. Look on the magazine's website and you will see that the publisher offers a flipbook version of the magazine using to tools from FlashFlipPage.com. Here is the last flipbook and as you will see, it is absolutely unreadable. I suppose the publisher here wanted to make sure they did not create an iPad version of this same flipbook.

I can lament the creation of replica editions all I want, but I know I can't stop publishers from continuing to make them. So I guess I should be happy that I can now read this magazine at all. (Oh yes, I forgot to mention that the iPad version of drums & percussion is in English, though I guess the headline gave away that part of the story.)

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Left: the replica edition in landscape works well when there are two-page spreads; Right: the same story in "Reading-mode".

Apple issues iOS update to address location controversy

After reading this article (via Daring Fireball) about how companies that wish to compete with Apple should take care to provide their users with timely updates I found out that ... Apple has issued another update for its iOS devices. Amazing timing, no?
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The update is a fix for the location database issue that had many iPhone users up in arms and that forced Apple is issue a rare statement about the controversy, in which the company denied that Apple was tracking users and seeking to explain why their devices were compiling location information.

The fixes contained in the iOS 4.3.3 update reduces the size of the database cache, no longer backs up the cache to iTunes and deletes the when user turn off Location Services. The update can be accessed through iTunes when a user plugs in their phone, iPod or tablet to their computer. If an update alert doesn't immediately appear the user can manually click the Check for Update button.

Schwabische Zeitung creates a native iPad app for its print newspaper; daily editions will be available the evening before the morning print edition hits the street

Every day I talk to people in the media business who are dealing with the transition to digital publishing platforms such as tablets. Often I get the feeling that some of these managers feel like New Media publishing is like a trip to the dentist, something that is sometimes necessary, but not very enjoyable. And then, occasionally one talks to an enthusiastic New Media professional who looks at the present era in such a positive light that it is hard not to get swept up in their excitement.
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I haven't spoken to the publishing team over at the German newspaper Schwäbische Zeitung but the picture of the team holding up their iPads kind of reveals the general positive feeling the team appears to have about creating their first tablet edition.

Schwäbische Zeitung is a free download that will eventually give readers access to daily editions late in the evening, before the morning's print edition appears. For now, however, the only edition available is a free sample edition. Eventually readers will be able to buy individual editions for 0.79 € per day.

(It is possible that the app's appearance in the App Store caught the publishing team by surprise, that certainly happens a lot. But since the app was released yesterday I would expect the first paid issues to be available as soon as tonight – I'll be sure to check.)

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The digital edition currently available is only 28 pages in size and contains one ad which contains some embedded video (see above right). The navigation is simple, sticking strictly to swiping rather then a mix of swiping and scrolling – in this regard it is very much like the New York Times app. But the overall look reminds you a little of The Daily in that articles take up a full page or two, much more like a magazine than a newspaper.

The newspaper's app landing page on its website states clearly that the publisher of this iPad edition sees this as a separate, if related product:
Eine eigene, multimediale Zeitung nur fürs iPad - das ist die Idee hinter der App der Schwäbischen Zeitung, die heute erstmals im App Store erhältlich ist.

A separate, multimedia newspaper just for the iPad – that's the idea behind the app for the Schwäbische Zeitung, which is available for the first time today in the App Store. – Google Translation.
Although I don't speak German, and know next to nothing about the newspaper, I will be curious to see how they handle daily editions.

AOL releases iPhone app for Autoblog.com

Sadly, I have to admit, this mobile app blows away our own app for TNM (you've downloaded it, haven't you?). But then again they have actual developers at AOL, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that this app would be more useful.
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The app description calls the free Autoblog.com app four apps in one: In addition to Autoblog, read green news with AutoblogGreen, check out new technology with Translogic, and find the Best Deal on your next car with AOL Autos.

In addition tot he blog material, the app also contains a built-in loan calculator, adding a feature that makes it more useful for mobile users. Otherwise, without the added mobile features, you would think a blog app would be better on a tablet.

Additionally, there are lots more goodies under the More tab: podcasts, for instance; as well as links to the other AOL developed mobile apps available in the App Store.

Although the app only debuted today, already there are plenty of five-star reviews inside the App Store, as well as one one-star review, most likely from whoever competes with Autoblog.com.

As of today there is no Android equivalent, though there is an app called Autoblog.nl in the Android store (the Dutch app description kind of gives it away that this isn't the same as the AOl app). But since AOL has been releasing apps for Android one would think that an Autoblog.com app will eventually make its way into the Android Market.

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Traffiq Media Calculator purports to assist media buyers, though it may end up confusing them in the end

I had to download this app, TRAFFIQ Media Calculator, a iOS and Android app that says it was designed to assist media buyers in their digital media planning.
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Unfortunately, as you can see in the screenshot at right, the app is more an embarrassment than a useful tool. Yes, the app really does say "Caculator" within the app, though the word is spelled correctly elsewhere.

I downloaded the app then had someone I know try it out – they are in the digital media sales business. They, too, was impressed that someone had come out with a digital media buying tool. They quickly calculated a simple media buy then moved on to the KPI tab. There they tried to calculate the number of impressions they would need to achieve certain campaign goals. It was there that they stopped in their tracks.

The calculations were correct, but they were not converted. That is, the math was right, but the developer failed to understand that a CPM calculation would have to convert the final results to thousands. In the case, the answer was 11,111 impressions, but it should have then been multiplied again to get to the final answer of 11 million impressions, not 11 thousand.

In the end, the sales executive's evaluation was that if you are truly a media professional you should probably stick to your old methods of calculating digital ad campaigns. In the meantime, maybe the developer here will bring on a proofreader.

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Metropoli launches a series of replica edition apps for its Italian weekly newspapers

Replica editions will certainly test the loyalty you have for your tablet as they offer nothing that can't be found in print, and are most often much harder to navigate and read. They are, in a nutshell, a mismatched product.

But that is not stopping publishers from continuing to launch replicas. Today the Italian publisher behind the Metropoli weekly newspapers in Italy has released a series of iPad app for their papers.
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The free apps for Metropoli Week - Prato, Metropoli Week - Campi-La Piana, Metropoli Week - Chianti, and Quotidiano Viola iPad Edition (The Daily Purple) all create libraries where the user can then preview (barely) the issues and then buy them for € 2,99.

I wouldn't go so far as the say these replica editions are bait and switch, the app description (in Italian) does mention that you have to buy a subscription, but there is no in-app purchases shown in the App Store, and the publisher doesn't mention the price in their description.

The only interactivity in the app is pinch to zoom, so the iPad edition really adds nothing to the experience. Having said that, I suppose an advantage of having a tablet edition like this is easy access for those who already are print subscribers. Print subscribers can log into the app for free access to content.

The app says it was "powered by Virtual.com Interactive" – whether that means they are actually the developer of the app, or simply assisting I do not know as the publisher, Sette Mare SCARL, is listed as the seller.

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Morning Brief: McClatchy paper announces job cuts; Hearst Magazines to partner with AOL on large ad format

The News & Observer of Raleigh, NC announced it will cut 20 jobs due to continuing declining revenue. The daily newspaper is part of the McClatchy chain.
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McClatchy reported first quarter performance last week: a $2 million loss for the quarter, with ad revenue down close to ten percent. The chain has been one of the last to launch a program of mobile and tablet applications; currently the company has 14 apps for the iPhone, but no tablet apps at this time. Their latest iPhone app is for the Fresno Bee.



Hearst Magazines Digital Media, part of Hearst Magazines, announced it will partner with Pictela, an AOL unit, to deploy the IAB Portrait ad unit. (The style guide for ad unit can be downloaded here at the IAB website.)

The new large digital ad unit had previously appeared exclusively on AOL owned website such as StyleList, Moviefone and AOL Travel.

“Pictela has proved to be a highly strategic partner for Hearst, starting when we worked with them last year on the IAB Pushdown units,” said Kristine Welker, chief revenue officer, Hearst Digital Media in the company's announcement. “Pictela continues to create high-quality, innovative ad solutions that drive measurable results, and we’re thrilled to be the first magazine company to offer these premium ad units.”



The rumor that Amazon would launch a tablet to compete more directly with Apple's iPad got some reinforcement yesterday when DigiTimes reported that Amazon has placed an order with Quanda Computers. Quanta, a Taiwan-based compact computer maker, also works with RIM and Sony.

Amazon.com has several advantages over others in the field in that, like Apple, it has a successful web-based retail system that is proven, customer-friendly, and well designed. But unlike Apple, Amazon is not in the business of developing its own complimentary software. That is, don't look for an Android version of GarageBand from Amazon in the near future.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Late afternoon briefs: Simon & Schuster reports eBooks sales profit growth; Portugal reaches bailout agreement

The publishing unit of CBS, Simon & Schuster, today reported that eBook sales grew a modest 2 percent in the first quarter of 2011, but that total digital sales now account for 18 percent of the unit's business. Revenue grew to $155 million from $152 million last year.
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The publisher said its operating income "more than doubled to $7 million, driven by lower shipping, production and returns costs from the significant increase in digital sales as a percentage of total revenues," the company said in its earnings press release.



The caretaker government of Portugal, led by Prime Minister Jose Socrates, announced this afternoon that it had reached deal with officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF for a bailout worth around 78 billion euros, or $118 billion. The three-year loan agreement has been signed off by opposition parties, according to the BBC.



One of the first apps I looked at here at TNM was for a trade show. Now a company has created a do-it-yourself app development tool. Guidebook allows event organizers to development their own mobile event guide, offering both a free and a premium service.

"Offering a guide for smartphones is quickly becoming a must-have for events," said Guidebook CEO Jeff Lewis. "Event organizers are finding that it no longer makes sense to rely solely on printed schedules and maps that are expensive to create, difficult to update when information changes at the last-minute, and impossible to integrate with interactive features and social media."

The free app allows for only 500 guide downloads, with 1000 more costing $250. The premium package starts at $750, though it too limits downloads to just 2500, with unlimited downloads at $500 additional. This pricing might be fine for most events, though it might be a bit pricey if your event involves some serious techies.



It will be Barcelona in the Champion's League final after it secured a draw against arch rival Real Madrid, advancing 3-1 on aggregate.

You may recall the post here concerning the first match between the two teams when a player was sent off for Real Madrid. That led to a 2-0 victory for Barca at Madrid, making today's result pretty much a fait accompli.

TNM doesn't normally report sports news unless it involves the Giants. But since TNM traffic always spikes whenever there is a non-media story, or when sports and media are combined, I figured it was worth reporting the results today. (The Boston Herald Baseball app was one of the most popular posts here in March.)

While the American media slept, Canada voted; a look at the victory of the Tories and the strong results by the NDP

Canadians went to the polls yesterday – not that you would know it here in the U.S., as very few media outlets bothered to even mention it, let alone report on the results. And those results were interesting, indeed.

The main headline is that Stephen Harper, the head of the Conservative Party, will remain as prime minister after the party swept into the majority yesterday with 167 seats. This new majority will mean that for the next few years Canada will be moving to the right.
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But much of the news in the Canadian news media is around the strong showing by the New Democratic Party (NDP) which jumped up from its traditional third place finish to end up second with 102 seats. The Liberals, on the other hand, were trounced, retaining only 34 seats in Parliament. As a result Michael Ignatieff has resigned as leader of the Liberal Party saying the “only thing Canadians like less than a loser is a sore loser.”

But the Liberals were not the only losers yesterday as the Bloc Québécois, the separatist party of French-speaking Quebec, only were able to retain four seats as many Quebeckers voted for the NDP in an attempt to hold off a Conservative majority. Party leader Gilles Duceppe has also resigned, as a result.

Ironically, there are those who think that the prospects for a separate Quebec may have just increased. With the Tories now no longer needing partners to pass legislation, the prospects of more rights-wing governance may push the French part of the country further away.

"We will implement what we laid out in the budget, our plan for jobs and growth without raising taxes," Harper said last night, sounding very much like a Republican. High on the Conservative agenda are bills to toughen crime laws, more foreign ownership of businesses, and looser firearms regulation.

Putting the "digital" guys in charge will not turn around old media companies; sorry, it's just not as simple as that

I read a tweet this morning that immediately got my attention as it had something to do with putting "digital people in charge of everything." But in the end it was just a tweet, not something that should be taken all that seriously as an argument.

But the issue of who should be running operations at many publishing firms is still an issue of importance, and I believe is very much unresolved. The reason for this is that too many media executives are looking for easy answers.

The whole digital versus print debate is bogus to begin with. Anyone who can reduce the whole state of the industry to as simple a formula as digital versus print is not to be taken seriously.
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A good example of this can be seen at one newspaper company, recently emerging from bankruptcy. I don't want to get personal here so there is no reason to name the company, you'll get the idea. This company recently brought on a bunch of digital gurus and its CEO is well known to be an advocate of digital media. But is this, by itself, a formula for success? Hardly.

A quick look at the management team shows the same weaknesses many media firms have: it is a company run by old, white guys. As for the digital gurus, I would hardly call them a forward thinking bunch if they continue to advocate for strategies straight out of the last decade. As a result, this company has yet to launch mobile or tablet applications, and their websites are some of the ugliest on the net. Some digital strategy!

The point is not to criticize fellow New Media folk, but to point out that the road to success won't be reached through so simple a formula. Have digital people run things (and I'm one of those) is great . . . if the digital folk have some track record of success; also, if those same people can write, edit, sell, produce and distribute. They can't, you need a team in this business.

That is why it is important that media executives understand that the biggest issue revolves around disruptive management: new ideas, procedures and rules placed on top of a stagnant workflow. Every reporter, editor and sales person wants to success digitally, they just often don't want things to change very much personally. This problem has existed for more than a dozen years now – the ol' issue of change.

The web is old enough now that we have digital gurus who are so wedded to web publishing that they are closed off to the new platforms emerging at an accelerating pace. Their advice is often to not get drawn into the new platforms but to instead concentrate on areas where they feel more comfortable. As a result, there are media companies out there right now who think they are digital leaders but are looked at from the outside as dinosaurs.

One thing that I have learned in the 15 months of publishing TNM is that there is a whole new generation of talent that needs to be incorporated into the old newspaper and magazine management structure. Smart, young, creative individuals whose ideas need to be unleashed within the industry. Instead, we forcing these brilliant people to become competitors. It won't turn out well for the old guys.

(Note: don't read too much into the Flipboard graphic. I just used it as an example of creative thinking for a new digital platform.)

The essential news app: Rapture Detector promises to give users 30 minute head start on the competition

It is a sad fact that God does not issue press releases, a reason why there is so little good religion news in modern newspapers. But fear not: a developer has just released an app that can help.
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Dubbed Rapture_Detector_1.0, the 99 cent app promises to give you a heads-up 30 minutes before the rapture – very useful for those editors in charge of their news site's content. At 99 cents this app seems like a bargain, but then again it can only be used once.

The app also comes Android and Windows Phone 7 versions, thank God.

"Partying and wild living can be yours again with Reverend Billy Joe Estes, Holy Manifestation House of Worship Rapture Detector," the app description states.

Looks like a winner to me. But since I will be one of those "left behind", I am sure I will be condemned to watching reruns of the rapture each night on TNT when they substitute it for Bones.

Morning Brief: Time Inc. start rolling out app updates for its magazines; how to dress for the Supreme Court

Time Inc. began rolling out app updates for its magazine titles, adding the ability of current print subscribers to sign-in to their accounts in order to access the tablet editions free of charge.
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As you can see here with the screenshot, the Sports Illustrated Magazine received an update last night. The reaction from iPad owners has so far been positive: "Thanks for listening, SI. I hope other magazines follow your lead," wrote one reviewer in the App Store. The reviewer, Pebav, then proceeded to give the new app a one-star rating. Sometimes you just can't win.

Time Inc. also updated their apps yesterday for TIME Magazine and FORTUNE Magazine, as well. The Fortune app gives readers a free issue with the download, giving me a chance to look at it for the first time later today.


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Giant fans hoping for a repeat of last year's World Series are already resigning themselves to another disappointing season as the team current can't hit the broad side of a barn.

Yesterday, before losing yet again to the Nats, some members of the team visited the Supreme Court. Seen here at left is closer Brian Wilson, who dressed appropriately for the occasion.

I took the screen capture on my iPad as I was using the MLB.TV app of a game being broadcast by Comcast Bay Area. At first I just took it for myself, then realized that there is a lesson here somewhere for media folk – something about how their products will be accessed and copied in new ways thanks to the new digital platforms.

As for Brian Wilson, he might as well stay dressed in jeans since it is doubtful he will get much work this year thanks to the poor hitting Giants.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Let's move on to the Third; retweet for 'Above & Beyond'

Today is not really a good day for intelligent conversation about New Media thanks to the events of last night. So let's just move on to the third of the month, OK?
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In the meantime, here is a retweet of sorts, in case you missed this post from this morning.

TNM's contributor from Portugal, Pedro Monteiro, discovered this new app from Joe Zeff Design, Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz which features innovative design using the WoodWing Digital Magazine Tools. The app can be found here, while Monteiro's look at the app can be found over here.

I normally do my own screenshots, but must admit that in order to give TNM readers another look at this app I have grabbed this one from the Joe Zeff Design website.

So you tomorrow.

Copart releases car sales app for the iPhone and iPad as consumers continue to find ways to NOT buy newspaper classified advertising

It might be tempting to say that the rise of the Internet is solely responsible for the decline of classified advertising in the newspaper industry. But as a former CAM (that's classified advertising manager, for those of you on the outside), I've always looked at the decline a little differently - if newspaper executives weren't so against the new digital platforms themselves they might have hung on to the business. Instead, the loss of ads also ended up meaning that newspapers became more and more irrelevant to their clients, resulting not only in the loss of ad revenue, but in the loss of customers in general. CAM always claimed that many readers picked up the paper for the classified ads, and circulation numbers don't dispute this claim.

Now, customers – both readers and advertisers – are being conditioned to go elsewhere when they want their classified ads. But we could go on and on with this subject, and I'm not sure what good it would do – too many newspaper executives believe they are in the "newspaper" business rather than the news delivery business, and as a result just can't get their heads around any new platform that arises. But here is an easy picture to understand: classified revenue since 1960, care of the Newspaper Association of America:
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One can see two dips, one after 1990, and another after 2000. Interestingly, despite the growth of the Internet, newspapers were able to ride a rising economy to new growth twice following recessions. But the after a decade of surrendering auto, real estate and help-wanted advertising to new electronic competitors, the industry is at a disadvantage this time around.

And that is truly too bad: because the rise of both mobile and tablet publishing platforms should be a new opportunity to become competitive again.

In May of 2009 Steve Outing asked the simple question: How’s your classifieds mobile app coming along? It was a bit of a rhetorical question because the message was that the rise of smartphones meant an opportunity to create for the classified market. Sadly, newspapers have once again let an opportunity pass them by (though, I would suppose the opportunity hasn't completely disappeared yet).


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Looking at new mobile and tablet apps, such as this one from Copart, should make smart classified ad people drool knowing they could do better. But can they? Are they involved enough in the discussions going on at newspaper companies to be able to convince executives that there is a huge opportunity?

This free app, Copart Sell My Car, violates just about all the rules for the new digital platforms. It opens with a page that says "Call Us Now!". Gee, thanks, I really needed an app to tell me that.

If you bypass this first effort to get you outside the app, you can fill out a form about the car you want to sell. It immediately asks for lots of information that eventually leads you to sending them an email.

Yep, this app is basically a way of writing an email.

If you are a CAM you should definitely download this app. Then ask yourself this: "we're losing to these guys?"

'Above & Beyond': Inspired design work, interactive graphics, helps bring the work of master photographer George Steinmetz to the iPad

The new app from Joe Zeff Design is a nice example of thinking out of the box. Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz is a photography-based application like we haven't seen since The Guardian Eyewitness app.

The application takes us right on to the picture world of George Steinmetz, a well known photographer that flies the world on a motorized paraglider. George's pictures have been featured in National Geographic, Geo magazine, etc.
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Many lines have been written about the iPad's amazing display for photographs and this application only show us how those lines where right on spot.

What I really like about this application is to know that it was built using Woodwing's Digital Magazine solution. I've been working with Woodwing for six months now and I wasn't able to 'see it' on the Above & Beyond application. This alone can tell you something about the inspired design work that went on the making of George's app.

For each picture, within a set of pictures from literally around the world, we can hear an audio comment by George Steinmetz himself, we can also access the geographic data of where the picture was taken - with the added feature of being able to see the area where the picture was taken on Google Earth, we can scroll around a resized version of the picture (I would like to have bigger zoom here, or the possibility to zoom with the pinch gesture - something that is not included on Woodwing's 'arsenal' of solutions, but coming soon, as far as I know) and finally, we can also share the pictures, by email, with whomever we want to.


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Left: Grid View of app navigation; Right: the Map View.


The navigation for this application is really simple, you have a grid based table of contents that can be access from every page of the content and you have the buttons for the previously described actions. That's it... And it works like a charm. Swipe from right to left to change pictures.

On the end of the application we are presented with a very nice biography of the author, George Steinmetz, and a clever interative info graphic on George's motorized paraglider.

As I've stated before, this application teaches us that, even if you're using the same publishing tools as so many publishers out there, you can still make a difference by thinking out of the box and pay real attention to what the content 'needs'. I think that Joe Zeff Design deserves a great share of congratulations here. Their previous app, The Final Hours of Portal 2, was also something worth checking and the studio looks like it's nailing some nice reviews out there.

To end, I would like to urge all TNM readers to go to the iTunes shop fast, since Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz is being sold at a special price introductory of $1.99 until May 15th.
Pedro Monteiro
Monteiro is digital art coordinator at Impresa Publishing,
and the publishes the newly launched website Digital Distribution.



Here is the promotional video from the Joe Zeff Design website:

Morning Brief: OK, but will it really change anything?: Time Inc. to offer free access to iPad magazines to print subscribers through in-app subscriber verification

You know what I mean by that first headline, right? He's dead. 'bout time, and all that. But were we really in Iraq because of ObL? Of course, not. We're not bombing Libya because of ObL. The war on the middle class, unions, all things government related, affirmative action, education, social security and medicare, did not happen because of ObL. So why did all this happen in the last ten years?
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As Jack Reed would have said: "profits".

In this regard, nothing has changed.

So I guess I strongly disagree with Richard Engel, correspondent for NBC, who wrote this morning on Twitter: "The end of the Global War on terrorism, the GWOT, which has defined our nation, our economy, our military for a decade."

But Engel also asks: "Today is certainly a big day for US troops... but some may ask, if Osama was in Pakistan, why they served so many tours in Iraq?" (Tweet corrected)



Not a great day for posts about the media world, what with everyone writing about you-know-who, but we will be continue on.

Contributor Pedro Monteiro has a post about the new photography app Above & Beyond ready to go, and we'll look at other new electronic products recently released, as well.



The WSJ is reporting that Time and Apple has "agreed" to a deal whereby print subscribers can log into their print accounts on the iPad in order to access the content for free – though I am confused as to why this is new since other news apps have allowed this, as well.

But no matter, this is another example of a publisher that sees tablet publishing not as a new platform to be exploited, but as a way of saving their print business. The problem, of course, will be that non-native tablet publications will have a hard time completing with native publications down the line. I don't normally make predictions but that is one I feel pretty good about.

Remember that "Amos 'n' Andy" was once put on television because early television executives saw that medium as simply an extension of radio. Now we have print publishers making the same mistake. iPad owners have no interest in saving the print products of publishers.