Friday, August 19, 2011

German publisher launches English language app and tablet-only magazine for digital & marketing professionals

The German publisher of Werben & Verkaufen, a 30,000 marketing magazine, has launched an English language iPad app that is partially a web aggregator, as well as an e-magazine. junction – magazine for digital professionals and marketing experts is a free download that also gives readers free access to the content.
The app launched a couple of days ago and I believe has been updated at least once since then as the current version is listed as version 1.2 and includes a new issue of the e-magazine.

The app is designed, like Flipboard, to be highly customizable. In this regard, it is an interesting take on the "my news" concept where the reader picks their own sources. Prebuilt into the app are RSS feeds from AdAge, Brandrepublic, the Financial Times, the New York Times and others. The reader can turn off any of these feeds if they choose, and can add in their own. Whether the publisher has agreements with any of these publishers whose feeds are included here is an interesting question.

There also Twitter feeds here, as well as blog feeds. I found the choices here "interesting", which I suppose is my way of saying questionable, but no matter, they can all be switched off and new ones added if desired.

As for the magazine, there is much to like, and much to dislike with junction (or junct!on).

There are currently two issues available for downloading. The first is 445 MB in size and I never finished downloading it. After waiting ten minutes for it to download I got bored and tapped one of the news stories. Bad idea, this stopped the download, and when I returned to the home page the downloaded started all over again from the beginning.

I then decided to download the most recent issue. This one is about half the size. Once the download started I decided to go and grab some lunch. I returned, finished lunch and waited longer for it to finally finish. Suffice to say that it took way too long. One certainly wouldn't consider downloading an issue while on the run or with a less than speedy WiFi connection.


The magazine itself can be read in both portrait and landscape orientations. The cover, and each of the articles starts with a video animation. This can prove to be a bit annoying simply because they auto-play so returning to the first page of any article starts the video playing again, as will changing the iPad's orientation.

The animations are well done, though not always very relevant, but no matter, clearly there is some talent here.

The legal information page, which also has an animation, by the way, points to SeitWerk as the developer of the app. Their promotional video can also be found on the junction website, as well. (see below)

What's a little weird, however, is that the magazine is in English, but the website is in German. I checked the German App Store and found junction there (link to German App Store app). I expected to see a different app for the German market but it is the same app and same app description as seen in the U.S. store (even the app description is the same, in English).

(It should be noted that the new app description says that "yes, we've put junction on a diet, the size of issue #2 is now down to 270 MB.")

In the end, junction is an interesting app because it is attempting to create something analogous to a web portal for marketing people. Whether other marketing sites will appreciate their RSS feeds being included here is a good question. Maybe AdAge, AdWeek and others should get off their duff and get in the game before its too late?

Below is the promotional video which I assume was created by SeitWerk:

junct!on - Trailer from Verlag Werben & Verkaufen on Vimeo.

Make it stop! Tech sites repeat rumors from rumors sites who then complete the circle by repeating tech sites

Here we are in August, a full seven months out from the usual launch time for Apple's iPad and we are already starting to get the rumors. It is like the press coverage of the candidates for President, only crazier.

It you haven't heard the latest from the rumor sites – passed on by the tech sites – Apple will launch a new iPad next year with a higher resolution display "early next year".

Duh. That rumor about Apple producing a higher resolution display on its next iPad has been around for almost a year. It is a logical next step for Apple since they upped the resolution of their smartphone with the release of the iPhone 4. Way to go out on a limb there, guys.

Now the "news" that is supposed to be coming out of this latest "rumor" is that the release date for this next generation iPad is "early next year". Really? That is as good as the latest rumor that Christmas this year "may" fall in December.

Rumor has it that Apple will up the resolution of its next iPad thanks to its 12-foot large display.

The great thing about rumor sites is that they are always right eventually. Post about the new iPad coming out for the holiday season, early next year, or next week, and you are bound to be right, eventually.

What is amazing is that these rumors get passed around by tech media sites. The problem with this is simply that since rumors can't be trusted, and since every possible launch date has already been suggested, there is no way readers can get anything useful from yet another rumor.

So, please guys, make it stop. Rather than talk about rumors about Apple's next generation iPad, wouldn't it be better to talk about the consequences of what a higher resolution iPad means for online video? bandwidth? storage? etc.

But if you really like rumors here is my rumor: Apple will release a new version of its iPad, one day. There you go. Good luck.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A few quick thoughts on HP's decision to dump the TouchPad and its webOS platform

The decision today by Hewlett-Packard to discontinue producing products that run on its webOS operating system, including its TouchPad tablets, caught many by surprise, and probably rightly so. It was only a few months ago that HP had touted the OS and promised to bring game changing tablets to market.

The tech sites can argue back and forth about why HP's CEO Leo Apotheker announced this move, I'm more interested in how this impacts the growth of tablet publishing. My conclusion is that it doesn't.
Ever since Apple launched the iPad in April of last year there has been on only one viable tablet product on the market that publishers needed to pay attention to, and that was the iPad. While Google's Android has gained traction on mobile phones, the fact of the matter has been that the Android OS environment has been a mess everywhere. The only reason to develop mobile products for Android has been simply because of its market penetration, even if many users of Android phones may not really use their phones as true smartphones. No matter, it is hard to ignore large numbers.

The same has not been true of tablets, however. And so, in my very often stated opinion, it has been the smart move to develop for the iPad first and let the vendors and software providers worry about other platforms. I think this strategy has worked out, Woodwing and others have all done an excellent job of making sure their bases have been covered even if the other platforms haven't really panned out so far.

The problem in publishing, however, is that as an industry we are still divided into three camps: one, let's call it the "Old New Media" camp, doesn't like the iPad, doesn't understand the iPad and frankly wishes it would go away; the second camp knows they need to get in the game but like everything else, seemingly, wants a cheap and easy way out; and finally we have the adopters, be they large publishing houses or independent publishers.

But few have looked at the iPad and tablet publishing as a really new publishing platform. Even many tablet-only publishers have, at least initially, tried to duplicate what they were used to in print and port that experience over to the tablet. But, luckily for iPad owners, there are others, especially in the area of book publishing, that have explored the new platform as something in and of itself.

A few publishers made a wise decision early on to not launch tablet editions of their print magazines or newspapers but to instead launch independent apps, be they special one-time issues, or completely new products. Reduced staff sizes, and the poor prospects at making large returns, probably ended some of these efforts. It is far easier, in the end, to take what you already have and convert it to a new digital platform. But not surprisingly, many iPad owners simply yawned – if they wanted an exact copy of the print product why wouldn't they simply buy the print product, especially if the publisher wasn't offering a discount for the digital version?

As a result some publishers have pointed at the relatively disappointing iPad subscription sales numbers and pronounced the experiment a failure. But tell that to the developers currently building new businesses on the iPad – just because some publishers haven't figured out the platform doesn't mean everyone is in the same situation.

I still believe that there is both room for, and probably a need for, an alternative to the iPad – not because publishers need to get away from big, bad Apple, but instead because a general expansion of the market of tablet readers for magazines and books would be a good thing. But I'm not obsessed with this the way some tech sites are. If Apple can sell millions more iPads that will work just as well for me. All I want is for the market to reach something some sort of point where I know that a publisher can launch, say, a B2B tablet edition in any industry and know they can reach a good percentage of the market.

So goodbye TouchPad, we hardly knew ya – but luckily we know we're not losing any readers because of your demise.

One last thought: many a tech writer is writing absolutely gleefully about HP's troubles tonight. You might want to remember that should you ever hear that their publications are reducing staff in the future.

Another ugly day on Wall Street

Don't look now but the markets are having one of "those" days again. Just a few moments before close the European markets are down over five percent.
As for the Dow, well, it's ugly: the Dow is down just under over four percent. But, hey, its only money. And it's only your retirement, right? So why not go ahead and privatize social security so that on days like today we can experience the joys of investing together?

Speaking of retirement: I spoke to a member of the armed forces last night who is only two years away from retiring, lucky guy. Any move by the Obama administration to privatize the retirement plans of the armed forces would not effect him. But as he told me, a move like this pretty much would make thousands of those currently in the armed forces bolt, immediately.

The perfect tablet magazine, without its own tablet app

In my mind the perfect scenario for any magazine that wants to make money selling subscriptions to its tablet edition would be the magazine that can consistently produce the blockbuster story. The story that gets people to pick up the magazine on the newsstand is the story that will drive single copy and subscription sales.

For other magazines, what will drive sales for their tablet editions is what I would call surfability: the kind of magazine one flips through just for the job of it – whether that might be a fashion magazine or music, these are magazines where no one story is that important, instead the joy in reading the magazine comes from the overall experience of being immersed in the environment created by the editors.

One magazine that I think is perfect for creating a tablet edition is Rolling Stone. It has two things going for it: the blockbuster story, and its entertainment content. It has both things going for it. Yet Rolling Stone does not have a tablet edition at a time when buying single copies of the print edition is getting harder to do thanks to the closing of so many newsstands.

Jann Wenner, the founder and owner of Rolling Stone, has famously gone on record as stating his opinion of tablets and tablet editions. Certainly one can laugh at the total backwardness of Wenner's attitude and understanding of tablet editions, but the real victim here ends up being his own magazine.

Yet in the same interview where Wenner scoffs at tablets, he describes a music business that "screwed itself' because of its failure to embrace digital. Read this then substitute the word tablet here and there and you can see that Wenner is really talking about himself.

"The music business refused to embrace internet technology when it first was introduced just as they first tried to fight and stop CDs, just as they used to fight and try to stop home taping, all of which was known to spread it. So now you have an ironic situation where music is more ubiquitous than ever -- everybody in the world has access to everything ... So it's the music business's fault more than anything else. And then their failure to develop what Apple did develop, which was a good convenient easy delivery system. They fell on their own sword, you know?"

Wenner then goes on to try and convince us that magazines are different from music, but he is really just trying to convince himself.

All this circles back to Matt Taibbi's story this month about the SEC. It is the talk of Wall Street, with bloggers and even the New York Times and The Guardian referring to it. But most readers will be forced, by the magazine itself, to read the story through links through other websites. Efforts to force people to buy the print edition will be futile. Tablet owners, like myself, won't be given the option to buy the issue through the App Store and so will read the story online.

No ads, no circulation costs, kind of like illegally downloading music. Rolling Stone is repeating the same errors of the industry it covers.

New media lesson: don't depend on Wikipedia, or the AP

I just finished reading this story from the AP on the Guardian's website. Quite amusing, if you ask me. Here are details, and then an observation:

It appears that famous French actor GĂ©rard Depardieu has had another little, let's call it, publicity episode. A Paris to Dubin flight was delayed when the actor, as the AP story puts it, appeared inebriated and announced: "I need to piss, I need to piss."

The cabin crew, of course, told the actor to remain seated during takeoff. There upon the actor relieved himself on the floor of the airplane.

OK, so what does this have to do with New Media. Little, but I will do anything to get this story on the blog, so here goes.

The AP story says that Depardieu "a Paris restaurateur and the owner of a vineyard in Burgundy" and Wikipedia says, thanks to some quick editing, that Depardieu "said this is normal behavior for a Frenchman and could not understand what he did wrong."

Well, whoever edited the Wikipedia entry was just having fun, there is no such quote in any of the stories. As for Depardieu owning a vineyard in Burgundy, he wishes. He is, in fact, a part owner of a vineyard in the Rhone.

Ya can't trust anybody now-a-days, huh?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

RR Donnelley acquires Austin, Texas-based LibreDigital; company produces digital books for Apple's iBookstore, and replica editions of magazines for the NOOK

In January of this year LibreDigital CEO Russell P. Reeder was able to announce that the company had secured $4 million in new funding, today the company was acquired by printing giant R.R. Donnelley.

LibreDigital has been working with book publishers to bring their titles to Apple's iBookstore, and it is probably in this area that Donnelley sees potential.

"With this acquisition we uniquely position RR Donnelley to support publishers and other customers with capabilities that include physical and digital production and distribution," John Paloian, RR Donnelley's Chief Operating Officer is quoted as saying in the company's announcement. "For example, we can produce books in quantities from one to millions, prepare the same content for distribution to e-readers and provide valuable business intelligence to our customers throughout the entire process."

LibreDigital's magazine work appears to limited to producing replica editions for Barnes & Noble's NOOK eReader.

Without passing judgement on this particular M&A deal, I think it is interesting to see the different philosophies being used by old and new media companies.

While new media giants like Apple, Google and Facebook make acquisitions based on the skill of the talent that comes with the deal, old media companies are still looking at the client lists and hard assets that come with any deal.

What I mean is this: say you are a print media giant, what is missing from your digital publishing efforts at this point? Often the answer is development skills, a group of people capable of creating new applications in the emerging areas of mobile and tablets. But these are the kinds of deal the tech people make. Apple and Google, in particular, are in new areas because of the people they brought onboard through acquisitions.

There aren't many folk out there who remember Casady & Greene, or their product SoundJam. But that company was acquired in 2000 and today we have iTunes. You get the idea.

For me, replica editions are a commodity. The real growth area is in native app and HTML5 web development.

Plans for TNM through Labor Day, and beyond

New posts will be few and far between starting this afternoon through Labor Day – which for those readers not in the U.S. would be Monday, September 5th.

Torn between a trip to Tuscany and the French Riviera to hobnob with European political leaders, and a chance to brush up on some software skills I have chosen the latter (much to the disappointment of my politico pals).

After Labor Day TNM will change a little bit, more details later. I also will be launching a new site that will have absolutely nothing to do with media, more details later on that one, as well.

In the meantime, I will update the Short Takes section occasionally, and if something important occurs will still create new posts. My guess at this point is that Apple won't launch iOS 5 until after the holiday, and that smart publishers won't launch new mobile or tablet products until then, as well – but we'll see.

B2B publisher SourceMedia experiments with apps through two vendors, each taking a different approach

These are days of experimentation for many B2B publishers in the areas of mobile and tablet publishing. Most are still sitting on the sidelines, but a few have ventured out of their comfort zone and have begun releasing apps into Apple App Store.

SourceMedia has, for instance, released four apps so far this month, three of which were developed by Texterity, the flipbook maker that has been producing replica editions for its customers, and now a new app, released today, for American Banker.
The apps released on my mother's birthday – very nice of them to do that – are Bank Investment Consultant for iOS, Employee Benefit Advisor for iOS, and Employee Benefit News for iOS. As the names would imply, each is a universal app for reading on both iPhones and iPads.

These free apps are the typical replica editions, faithful reproductions of the print products. But SourceMedia has made sure they are being released under their own name, however. Also, unlike some publishers, here SourceMedia has made sure that to access the issues and other content the reader must first sign into their accounts. This is an easy enough process, and the app gives clear instructions on how to do this.

The apps include a "Feed" area where readers can get news from the B2B publication's website making them a bit more useful for checking in on a regular basis to stay on top of the news.

The app seen here is for Employee Benefit News, a 70,000 circulation BPA audited B2B that publishes 15 issues per year.
The newest app, released today, is for American Banker (formerly U.S. Banker) is from ScrollMotion, the company behind the Esquire tablet edition for Hearst. But since that splash the company has been pretty much invisible.

American Banker is a monthly with a BPA circulation of around 35K. This app takes a different approach. For one thing, it isn't universal, despite the fact that it is RSS driven, something that would work just fine on a smartphone. Second, it doesn't offer a replica edition but instead offers a more native app design look, though it is awfully gray, as you can see.

The biggest problem with this approach is a lack of content. A quick look at the different categories finds that many of the stories are duplicated throughout the app. This is a problem I thought about when looking at launching an app for TNM. For the web, an editor wants to tag their stories with multiple category tags in order to make it easier for readers to search for them. But with an RSS feed driven app this leads to the same story appearing in multiple categories.

The solution I thought up was this: add a new category names just for the tablet. For instance, on the front page of the American Banker app we see that the story "FirstMerit See Quick Adoption of Fiserv Mobile Banking" is showing up three times, under Breaking News, Community Banking and Consumer Finance. One might consider creating new categories named "Community Banking 1" and "Consumer Finance 1". The editor would tag the story in all the normal categories for the web, but consciously decide limit the categories for the tablet. The categories that have the added "1" are then picked up by the tablet app and will contain no duplicate stories.

The other option, of course, if this is too complicated for a given editor is simply instruct them to limit themselves to only one category per story PLUS the breaking news category if the story merits it. It is assumed that the breaking news category will go through stories quicker limiting the amount of duplication.

The ScrollMotion app varies on one other major way: it opens with the sign-in form and forces the reader to figure out how to register. Like the other properties, the registration process was easy, but the app didn't offer any clues about how to proceed.

None of the SourceMedia apps break any new ground, and none are very advertising oriented – continuing the sad trend of B2B publishers losing their focus on revenue. But all of them work, all of them force the reader to be qualified (to some degree), so they are at least minor steps in the right direction.

I don't see why SourceMedia couldn't have built these apps themselves, since they are so simple in design. But the only companies that seem to be making money on B2B media apps seems to be the vendors. Hopefully we will soon start to see more in-house developed apps, especially since it is far harder to design an attractive print magazine than it is to port that magazine over for tablets.

Morning Brief: Gannett says it will print its Cinncinati and Kentucky papers in smaller format through the Columbus Dispatch; NPG Newspapers shutters Johnson County Sun

Late yesterday afternoon Gannett let it be known that they had signed a letter of intent with the independently owned The Columbus Dispatch to print two of Gannett's daily newspapers, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Kentucky Enquirer, in a smaller format.
"As a result of research we've done and the feedback we've received from readers and advertisers, we have signed a letter of intent with The Columbus Dispatch to print The Enquirer in a new compact format that would be brighter, more engaging and easier to read," said Margaret Buchanan, president and publisher of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

The two newspapers would be resized to 10 1/2 inches by 14 1/2 inches – almost tablet sized, you might say.

The Columbus Dispatch, owned by the Wolfe family, has also signed an agreement with Pressline Services Inc. to produce the new compact format for the Dispatch, as well, using a press system called 3V(R) developed by the newspaper services company.

News-Press & Gazette Company (NPG Newspapers) last night announced that it would shutdown The Johnson County Sun which serves the suburban Kansas City area from Overland Park, Kansas. Lee Sawyer, executive vice president and coo NPG Newspapers made the announcement Tuesday afternoon.
Twenty Sun employees will lose their jobs in the move. NPG Newspapers, out of St. Joseph, Missouri, also publishes the Atchison Daily Globe, Hiawatha World, Louisburg Herald, Osawatomie Graphic, Miami County Republic, and Kansas City Nursing News in Kansas, as well as the Kearney Courier, Liberty Tribune, Smithville Herald, St. Joseph News-Press, Green Acres Publication, and Daily Star Journal in Missouri.

The BBC magazine sell off has reached a conclusion as they have agreed to sell its 33 titles for £121 million to the private equity firm Exponent.

The deal involves multiple ways the Beeb has divested its magazine properties. For instance, Radio Times and ten other magazines will be sold outright to Exponent, while the BBC branded titles such as Gardeners' World and BBC Wildlife will be licensed to the PE firm. Four other titles, including Top Gear and Good Food, will be retained by the BBC, but will be published by Exponent under a contract publishing agreement.

“The consumer magazines market faces a number of challenges, and this transaction brings a focus and degree of investment that BBC Worldwide alone is unable to provide,” John Smith, chief executive of BBC Worldwide, said in the announcement of the deal.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Keeping the catalog alive in iTunes

The other day, while writing a post about a new media app, I was talking to one of the members of the team that brought out the app. That person asked me how I found their app, they had not yet promoted it. I simply told them that I keep a very close eye on the App Store.

Of course, there is a lot more media in iTunes than the app inside the App Store. All that music, movies and television contact is there and it is well beyond my ability to keep track of what is there, even if I wanted to do so.

So if you will indulge me, and knowing that many TNM readers are interested in music, I thought I'd write something about what I found today and what it might tell us about ways to others are exploiting their back catalogs.

Mosaic Records has been around and releasing incredible box sets of jazz since it was formed in 1983 by Michael Cuscuna and Charlie Lourie. That year, the company licensed some music from Blue Note Records to release their first box set, The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Thelonious Monk, labeled as number 101.

The four LP set was definitely different, it came complete with a well researched booklet and the LPs themselves were pressed using high quality vinyl. Because the music had been licensed from the original record label, the box set would be a limited release – once it was sold out, that was it.

The first box set that got my attention was The Complete Blue Note Recordings of the Tina Brooks Quintet. Tina Brooks was a tenor saxophonist (and a man) who released only one LP in his lifetime but had three other sessions that almost came out on record. This was not unusual for Blue Note Records whose owners would often bring their musicians into the studio in order to keep them employed, releasing most of the material, but sometimes mixing the session for release, then deciding later to not issue the recordings. Sometimes these "almost" released LPs would actually show up in promotional material leading some jazz enthusiasts to search in vain for LPs that never existed.

Daily newspapers in Florida and Utah take different approaches to native tablet edition design

Two newspapers released their initial iPad applications this week, and while both have decided against the replica edition approach, they have ended up producing two very different takes on tablet editions.
The new iPad app for the Cox Media Group newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, is two apps in one: a website news app, and a replica edition of the print edition. Palm Beach Post for iPad is a free app that does not require either registering or paying to access the content.

The website part redesigns their web content into a more native iPad design with scrolling columns. The home page contains one square spot for an, while the stories themselves have a banner running along the bottom. For now at least these are house ads.

The replica part can be found through the top-right navigation where the reader can download that days newspaper, as well as any paper from the past week. Again, there is no charge here and the resulting papers are taken right from the PDFs.
What's interesting about this take on tablet editions is that it brings in both the web and print teams, assuming there is a division there. It does not create a third product, a true tablet edition, but instead tries to port over the two existing editions.

Lee Enterprises app for the Daily Herald takes a different approach. Their app, Daily Herald Utah Valley News, for their 32,000 circulation paper, adopts the box approach which has proved popular since Flipboard launched.

The home page is divided into rows of news from Top Stories at the very top, to News, Video, Photo Galleries, Topics, Entertainment, Opinion, Sports, Weather and then finally Obituaries.

There is a single sponsor on the home page, a square ad, and a banner along the bottom of the article pages – right all are taken by a local grocer.
Both apps have attractive and easy to read article pages, though it would have been nice to have font controls.

Neither paper is charging for content right now. If these were free weeklies I think that would be fine, assuming all the paid ads were brought in. But since these apps are not very friendly towards advertising, I fail to see the long term business model being employed here.

These apps will probably be well received by their readers, though I imagine that the number of downloads will be relatively small for the Utah app simply because of the size of the market being served.

The Cox Media Group app developed for The Palm Beach Post was developed by Mercury Interactive. It should be noted that Mercury Interactive, a company acquired by Hewlett Packard in 2006.

I simply mention this in passing as I found this a head-scratcher.

Morning Brief: Germany's economy weakens; Iraq violence escalates; Brady named editor-in-chief at the Journal Register Co.; American Media offer rejected

Yesterday was unusual for a summer Monday, news from outside the world of politics and the economy suddenly took center stage with Google's announcement that it was spending a fortune to buy handset maker Motorola Mobility.

But today it is back to normal – and normal is not good.

European stock markets are falling on the news that the German economy is showing signs that it, too, will see little to no growth soon. Second quarter GDP growth was revised down to 0.1 percent, essentially no growth.

The German DAX is down again hard this morning, currently down over 2.5 percent, while other markets are marginally better – the FTSE, for instance, is only down 1.3 percent. Dow futures point to a lower opening this morning in the U.S.

Iraq is heating up again. Gunmen wearing military uniforms today pulled seven people out of a Sunni mosque in the town of Youssifiyah, south of Baghdad, and executed them in yet the latest increase of violence in the country. Yesterday 70 were killed in suicide bombings around the country.

The Journal Register Company, which brought on Jim Brady to lead efforts to transform newsrooms at the company for the digital era, have gone ahead and named the former head and founder of TBD its editor-in-chief. Brady also worked at and AOL.

“As we continue our digital transformation the quality of the journalism is key to our growth. We must provide our audiences with original and compelling journalism – that is the power our established brands have in the digital space,” said John Paton, CEO at Journal Register Company, in the company's announcement. “Jim understands this and his leadership will be key in improving the quality of our journalism across Journal Register Company.”

The WSJ is reporting that hedge fund owned American Media Inc., publishers of the National Enquirer, have decided not to see at the this time, rejecting an offer from Apollo Global Management. American Media has recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and so it was assumed that its owners, hedge funds Avenue Capital Group and Angelo Gordon & Co. would see this as a good time to cash out.

Apparently the offer from Apollo was, according to the WSJ, just not good enough. And so the music continues again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Retweet: FOSS Patents adds more logs to the Google fire

I have absolutely no idea what the headline above means, but I liked it the minute I wrote it – very dada – so maybe it will grab some people's attention.

Actually this "retweet" is about a series of posts on the FOSS Patents blog, written by Florian Mueller, concerning Google's Motorola Mobility acquisition and patents surrounding Android. If you'are not a regular reader of his blog you should be.

The first post is about an Android licensing issue. Mueller discusses the consequences of all this – its complicated, but ultimately may be very important if we see more legal action taken to prevent products from being distributed.

Mueller's next two posts about Google reflect on today's Motorola Mobility deal. You should read them in order to get a feeling about what Mueller was thinking about the deal. The first talks a lot about patents and strategy and what the market thinks about the deal. The second hits upong the $2.5 billion break-up fee, which Mueller says "reflects sellers' concern and buyer's desperation".

"I listened to the executives on today's conference call on the deal and they exuded confidence," Mueller writes. "But if they were really so sure that regulatory approval is a slam dunk, there wouldn't be a break-up fee that is completely out of the ordinary. Money speaks louder than words in a case like this."

You get the idea: Motorola wants something if this deal falls apart, Google is desperate for the deal and is willing to sooth Motorola's mind with the break-up fee.

I look forward to Mueller's follow-up posts on all this. For me, one of the reasons Apple is sitting on all that cash is that it knows it may have to make future moves before all this settles out. It has disputes with so many players (as do all the other players here) that it must be satisfying to know that if necessary it can make a move similar to Google's – not that it looks right now like it will need to do so.

Comments are open: busy schedule to limit new posts

Late morning and early afternoon appointments will limit the new posts here today. So to compensate, I have opened up comments.

Normally, because of the amount of comment spam I get, I have things pretty locked down – this even forces some anonymous comments into the spam folder. But I have opened up comments today so have at it.

What do you think of the Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility? Will it hurt or help Android gain a toehold in the tablet market? How do you think HTC and others who have been building Android phones feel about this?

Have you tried out Muse yet? If you are a Photoshop or InDesign person, but don't use Dreamweaver, do you think this could work for you?

What would you like see more posts on?

Did the debt ceiling crisis, or the debt crisis in Europe, force you to cut your Tuscan or French Riviera vacation short? Will Obama's low approval rating force you to rethink your decision not to run for President in 2012? Let us know.

Adobe launches public beta of Muse, promising web design w/o coding for those familiar with Creative Suite

Well, it is the dog days of summer so there really is no important news today, right? Yeah, right. You wake up and find out out Google has bought Motorola Mobility, yikes. But knowing that all the other tech sites are going to be pretty obsessed about that move, and rightly so, let's talk about the new product from Adobe which will likely get little attention today: Muse.
Adobe Muse is a new product that is entering a public beta. It promises to allow users to create websites without coding. It is, basically, a web design product for those already familiar with Adobe's Creative Suite products, but not so much Dreamweaver and other web design options. In other words, this isn't meant to be iWeb, though a notice could probably get the hang of this with a little work.

Muse, as mentioned, is in public beta now, you can download it on the website, and watch some videos that further explain the product.
For most publishers I would not think this will be very helpful in launching your new site unless there are some important changes that expand its utility. But this will help the publisher who is more nimble and aggressive online. Let me explain.

In my experience in web publishing, which really does go back to the beginning of publishing products going online, the biggest problem I've felt has been that launching a website is just too big a deal. It usually involves a web team or outside vendor, and takes forever. I've never understood why media people want to lock themselves into contracts with outside firms that promise beautiful new websites . . . in six months.

What if you want to launch a site now? I mean now? Right now?

Forget it. Most publishers simply can't act that fast.

When I changed hosts for my family website a couple of years ago I forgot to do something - find a new host. I know, I had a brain lock. But I found myself one morning with no website and so needed to act fast. It took me exactly one hour to find the host, contract with them, and load up my site, and for it to appear (mostly). I was rather impressed.

But what if you are a B2B magazine that suddenly gets a great idea and want to add a new section to your website, and have it appear under its own URL. It would take a bunch of calls, a committee meeting, etc.

Why not have your art director work something up in something like Muse? Then launch it using a separate host that you use for these kinds of projects.

In the past one of the issues is having on staff web people. Muse promises to allow the staff you have that can use Photoshop and/or InDesign to efficient design and upload a new site more quickly. Or at least, that is how I could see some publishers utilizing Muse.

Now for some details: Muse is currently available as a beta product for both PCs and Macs. You have to have Adobe AIR already installed (I discovered I already did when I tried to install it again). Otherwise the tech requirements are pretty minimal.

Pricing: well, it's free for now, but that won't last. And if you are looking for a $100 quick fix, this isn't it either.

Adobe wants to go with a subscription model. The prices are not set in stone yet, but the website is pointing to an annual fee of $15 per month, or $20 on a month-to-month basis.

The problem I have with subscription models is that a lot of the software I have I do not use very often, but really need to occasionally. I prefer to just own it and know it is there when I need it. But others who don't want to shell out $200-$500 at a time may feel this is a good solution for them.

Morning Brief: Google buys Motorola Mobility; Obama's approval rating hits all-time low; Iraq, Afghanistan, recession – it adds up to an exhausted electorate

They are definitely in the game now: Google this morning announced that it had acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in a move that not only gives the search giant a handset maker, but gives the company a patent portfolio, as well.
It also makes all those cell phone makers that are using Google's Android platform instant competitors, totally confusing the Android landscape.

"In 2008, Motorola bet big on Android as the sole operating system across all of its smartphone devices," Google CEO Larry Page wrote on the company's official blog. "It was a smart bet and we’re thrilled at the success they’ve achieved so far. We believe that their mobile business is on an upward trajectory and poised for explosive growth."

According to Page, it was moves by Microsoft and Apple in the patent wars that forced the move.

"We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies."

I am wondering how Apple, which once worked closely with Motorola, but ultimately grew exhausted by the company's slow pace of innovation, feels about this move. They may be smiling this morning.

The latest Gallup poll shows that the number of Americans who approve of the President's performance in office has decreased to below 40 percent – his worst approval rating of his term. (The entire CSV file can be downloaded from Gallup here.)

The latest polling from Gallup shows that only 39 percent of Americans say that they approve of the job Obama is doing, while 54 percent now say they disapprove. The poll of 1,500 adults has a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.


George Bush's approval ratings, which were some of the lowest ever near the end of his second term, went below 40 percent consistently in 2006, and was in the 20's at the time of the Congressional elections of 2008.

With Obama's numbers so low, it is possible that Democrats will start to consider the merits of running against both their opponents and the Obama administration in the next elections, making for a confusing and sticky situation. Also, the President's polling numbers increase the likelihood that he may find himself against a primary candidate or two.

It should be remembered that Johnson chose to not run for reelection after winning the New Hampshire primary. But Eugene McCarthey's strong showing in the March 12, 1968 primary was quickly followed by Robert Kennedy declaring his candidacy. Johnson made his announcement that he would not seek a second term on March 31, 1968.

The news out of Iraq appears to be getting worse, as suicide bombings killed 57 people today. The New York Times describes the bombers as "insurgents" but I'm not sure that term really means anything anymore. Who are the insurgents? Sunnis? Saddam loyalists? Al Qaeda? All or some of the above?

It is 2011 and Iraq is still on the front pages of America's newspapers, as is Afghanistan, as is the recession. No wonder Obama's approval ratings are in the tank. Combine all that with the campaign by the White House to distance themselves from liberals and progressives, well, the question really should be who are these 39 percent of Americans who approve of the President's job performance.

The answer, I think, lies in the low ratings the opposition have. CNN's poll from last week said that only 14 percent approve of the work of the Congress – which the WaPo pointed out meant that three and half times as many Americans believe in alien kidnappings as approve of the Congress, an obviously apples and oranges comparison, but amusing nonetheless.