Monday, December 31, 2012

Morning Brief: Apple opens back up iTunes Connect; TNW hears back from Android owners; The Tribune Co. emerges from bankruptcy with a broadcaster's board

Apple opened up iTunes Connect over the weekend, releasing a handful or more of app updates including updates for several newspaper mobile apps such as those from the LA Times and MediaNews Group's Tri-Valley Times.

One hoped the week off would be accompanied by a rethinking of Apple's new policy of promoting only apps from big media companies or developers, but, sadly, this morning the App Store remains the same as it was before Christmas. It is hard to overestimate what a terrible decision Apple has made and how much this will drive away new developers.

On Sunday The Next Web published its own story on why it has decided to stop producing its tablet-only magazine for the Android platform (see TNM's story here) and will, at least for now, be iOS only.

The story has, and the decision, has generated quite a number of comments, as you would expect. While most readers are complaining about the decision, quite a number of them are also acknowledging that they were not even aware The Next Web had a tablet magazine available on the Android platform.

Some of this criticism is not justified – TNW promoted the digital product on its website regular, if I remember. But others said that they could not find the TNW magazine on their devices or within Google Play. This criticism has plenty of validity.

With the redesign of the App Store by Apple a huge opening has arisen for both Google and Amazon to attract developers. The issue is not the number of apps in either of Apple's competitor's stores – both platforms have plenty of apps at this point – but whether those apps can be found and whether the platform will, in the future, be a good place for media companies to appear.
Google's own App Store is terrible for media app developers. The store is built to promote replica copies of print magazines inside its newsstand, or else whatever Google chooses to promote within its app section.

Amazon's own store is a bit better in that one can still search for the newest releases. But developers are less than impressed with the company's developer program.

Finally, there is the fact that the iPad (along with the Kindle Fire) continues to outpace other tablets. This is probably what has enabled Apple to begin to act like Microsoft. (But, hey, how is Microsoft doing today?)

The Tribune Company has emerged from bankruptcy with a new board of directors made up of creditors and broadcast veterans – reinforcing the rumors that the company may divest itself of its newspaper properties, though the company's announcement tries to beat that rumor back.

"Tribune will emerge from the bankruptcy process as a multimedia company with a great mix of profitable assets, strong brands in major markets and a much-improved capital structure," said Eddy Hartenstein, Tribune's current chief executive officer and publisher of the Los Angeles Times.

The new chief executive is expected to be Peter Liguori, a former News Corp. and Discovery Communications executive. Other board members are all from creditors such as Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

(Ask any B2B company owned by a PE firm how being owned by a financial institution which only looks out for its own financial interests works out. This will be ugly.)

Meanwhile, the news today should be dominated by whatever developments occur in Senate negotiations surrounding the so-called fiscal cliff. Today is D-Day and if the two sides can not get together to solve the budget issues one suspects any announcement of the fail won't be released until well after the markets have closed for the New Year's holiday.