Yesterday comScore released a market share report on Android tablets that revealed that Amazon's Kindle Fire had claimed a 54.4 percent share of the Android-driven tablet market. The report failed to compare that side of the market with Apple's iPad share, but I think many observers know instinctively that there is a battle for share being fought on the Android side, but not much of a battle at all when one looks at the tablet market overall… Apple still dominates.
But another finding comScore reported does have some relevance for publishers looking at the tablet market. comScore studied the browser usage of tablet owners and found that the size of the device impacted pageviews.
"Analysis of page view consumption by screen size found a strong positive association between screen size and content consumption. Specifically, 10″ tablets have a 39-percent higher consumption rate than 7″ tablets and a 58-percent higher rate than 5″ tablets," the comScore study reported.
"With the emergence of a growing number of smaller-sized tablet devices, advertisers and publishers will need to understand whether these devices limit the opportunity for advertising compared to their larger-screen counterparts, or if they are able to build incremental reach and engagement by presenting different use cases," comScore concluded.
Studying pageviews on browsers is probably as close as a researcher can come to studying media consumption on different tablets. It would be difficult, for instance, to study the reading habits of tablet editions since the apps can differ so greatly – a Kindle edition on one device versus a fully native app on another, for instance.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Yesterday comScore released a market share report on Android tablets that revealed that Amazon's Kindle Fire had claimed a 54.4 percent share of the Android-driven tablet market. The report failed to compare that side of the market with Apple's iPad share, but I think many observers know instinctively that there is a battle for share being fought on the Android side, but not much of a battle at all when one looks at the tablet market overall… Apple still dominates.
Interweave launches their own tablet editions by converting their desktop digital magazines into iPad apps
Since September of last year the Loveland, Colorado based publisher Interweave has been launching digital editions for the iPad of some of their titles previously designed for the desktop. As of this morning, Interweave has 20 iPad apps as well as five mobile apps inside Apple's App Store.
The newest of these is Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Magazine, one of five titles in its jewelry line. Interweave also has iPad editions inside the Newsstand for Interweave Crochet Magazine, Beadwork Magazine, Quilting Arts Magazine, Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine, as well as what I believe to be a special issue of Quilting Arts, Quilting Arts in Stitches.
In addition to these Newsstand apps, the company has released additional stand alone apps including its first such apps, Colorways and Collage in Color.
Interweave has been producing what it calls (and says it has trademarked) eMags since early 2010. These digital products, designed for desktop reading, are created using Adobe InDesign and Adobe AIR. From this comes the app versions.
Because of this, all the apps are to be read in landscape – because that is the shape of your computer monitor. One might call these new apps replica editions of digital desktop editions. Unlike standard Flash flipbooks, these editions have much more interactivity. Lapidary Journal, for instance, has built in slideshows and the ability to move and zoom into photos.
The difference between what you see on your iPad and what would be seen on your computer monitor is that the navigation is native to the tablet – that is, one can scroll down within articles rather than simply clicking to reach the next page.
It is an interesting approach, and though a bit limiting, is certainly a better take on the replica model. Because the pages are designed to be read in a desktop environment, the fonts tend to be a bit small (and there are not font adjustments available), but I found it fairly easy to read on the new iPad, and because one can pinch=to-zoom, one could use this to make reading of text easier.
New tablet editions: Portugese digital publisher brings an English edition to the Newsstand and Android markets
The Portugese company DigitalMags launched an English version of their tech magazine. The Portugese version of iTech was released into Newsstand two weeks ago and this morning an English version which is being called iTech - first person technology (because Apple requires that each app have a developer have a separate name) premiered inside Newsstand.
Digital Mags may be more comfortable on the Android side of things, their two version of iMags appeared in Google's Android store a month earlier than the iOS side.
An example of this would be Canada which has foreign ownership rules that have stood in the way of U.S. B2B publishers coming in and establishing lines of publications in the country. Foreign ownership is not banned outright, but advertisers can not deduct their advertising unless the company they are advertising with is also Canadian. But a magazine that has a paid content strategy would be less reliant on advertising and could, in fact, get enough multinationals to support the digital product that it could prove a workable model.
In any case, back to iTech. It has created a promotional video with music that I would consider bad enough that you might want to lower the volume before clicking. Here it is:
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Amazon reports Q1 earning results: income falls 35%, though revenue was up 34%, beats analyst estimates
Income and revenue goes up and down, but what is more important – actual results or beating the estimates? Based on trading after the close, it appears it is beating analyst estimates.
Amazon reported its Q1 earnings after the bell and reported that net income fell 35 percent in the first quarter, though this was better than many analysts expected based on the company warning of absorbing added costs in their search for gaining customers and driving sales.
Revenue increased nicely, 34 percent to $13.18 billion in the quarter, which beat the estimate of $12.9 million. Margins, though, fell to only 1.5 percent.
Earlier today today comScore reported that Amazon's Kindle Fire had zoomed to a 54.4 percent market share on all Android tablets – reflecting both the growth of Amazon's tablet, as well as the weak sales of most Android tablets.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab line of tablets, which late year could claim the number one spot, fell behind and now have a 15.4 percent market share according to comScore's report. The Motorola XOOM continues be a minor player at 7.0 percent, while all other tablet lines are basically standing still.
Tablet advertising: Fast Company splits the difference with its approach to its tablet edition for the iPad
The iPad app for Fast Company initially had some bugs that prevented some readers from logging into their accounts (and some recent reviews seem to be saying the issue continues), but the most recent issue of the magazine inside the app offers enough goodies that many readers would be wise to persevere and download the issue.
The May issue of the iPad edition features some of the work of Joe Zeff Design (see interview with Joe Zeff) and the digital magazine provides an interesting example of one approach to both tablet advertising and native tablet design.
The Fast Company Magazine iPad is to be found inside Apple's Newsstand where individual issues can be bought for $4.99, while an annual subscription will cost $12.99.
The app takes a hybrid approach to design in that it is a replica edition as far as advertising is concerned, but a native tablet edition as far as editorial content is concerned. The mixed approach leads to a modest download for the May issue of 198 MB.
I have to assume that the advertising is all exactly as would be found in the print edition (I don't have a print copy to compare it to – my local bookstore was a Borders).
As the tablet edition can only be read in portrait, this leads to both the smaller file size and the ads fitting the display (though they appear slightly short of full screen). I did not see any digital enhancements to the ads at all, which some readers might find strange – after all, once the reader sees that the issue will have embedded multimedia and animations, the reader may expect to see the same approach taken with the advertising.
The upside to taking this approach – replica edition for advertising – is that the publisher is basically saying that when you buy advertising in our magazine you get both the print and digital editions. So, it would be argued, if the print distribution goes down, but the digital goes up, the rate base would stay the same, and the publisher can say they are delivering what they promised. The next question would be whether they charge for swapping out ad copy for the tablet edition, which I think more progressive agencies would insist on.
Replica advertising becomes an issue when one looks at digital ads with small text and 2-page spreads. The Jaguar ad below (left) features small text, and while the issue as a whole has been optimized for the new iPad's higher resolution display, the Jaguar ad has not. Frankly, it looks terrible on my iPad, with text that looks bad even before one zooms in.
The next ad is a 2-page spread for Dow (middle and right) that makes little sense when one had to read in portrait.
Hopefully the developers of the Fast Company app will work out all the bugs readers have mentioned in the App Store. It would be a shame if all those one-star reviews scared off readers to the digital edition of Fast Company.
Here is a three-minute walk through of the May issue of Fast Company as seen on the iPad:
There was a farmer who awoke one morning to tend to their orchard. His apple trees were ready to produce fruit but his pears had all been harvested.
What distressed the farmer was that the price of pears was so much higher than apples that he knew his income would now go down. But as he walked through his orchard he noticed some bruised apples that looked a bit like his pears and so an idea was born.
The farmer took the bruised fruit to the market along with his apples and presented his fruit to the seller. "I've got this new crop of apples, and also my new crop of pears," the farmer said.
"They look like apples, to me," the seller said. "Yeah, pretty cool, huh?" said the farmer. "They're a new hybrid." And so the farmer sold his fruit.
One week later the farmer returned to the market, but this time with only apples. "Where are those new pears?" the seller asked. "My customers love them. At first they said they were only bruised apples but when I told them they were a new hybrid eventually they were all sold, and at a higher price!"
"I didn't harvest any this week, but maybe there will be some more next week," said the farmer.
"Bring me more of these pears and I'll double what I paid you," said the seller.
And so the farmer went back to his orchard and told his staff that they needed to harvest the apples, take half of them to the barn and begin throwing them against the wall in order to bruise them.
But one day the seller appeared at the farmer's orchard and saw what the farmer was doing. "That's a terrible thing to do the apples!" the seller said.
But the farmer asked the seller if he was able to sell the new "pears", and if he was making more money selling those as pears than if he sold them as bruised apples?
The seller thought for a moment and reached down into a basket of apples, pulled one out and hurled it towards the side of the barn.
at 9:34 AM
Two years ago, when the first iPad was launched, the tablet publishing platform held such promise. But two years on the carpetbaggers appear to have almost total control of the platform. Sure there are a few decent tablet editions out there. But a look at the App Store, and specifically the Newsstand, will reveal that the vast majority of magazines are simply wasting space.
I suppose this is a great argument for the old newsstand model. Those cursed middle men, in turns out, probably saved the public from lots of inferior products and focused the reader's attention onto quality publishing (OK, maybe that is going too far.)
But let's be honest, two years on, what does one see when they look at the App Store and the newly launched Newsstand?. As of today there are 2,470 titles on the iPad side of the Newsstand, and the a huge number of these titles were not designed to be read on tablets, they are replica editions made with graphic files that offer the reader a very poor reading experience. Those gorgeous ads Apple commissions that show the wonder and "magic" of the iPad are really false advertising, aren't they, if the actual content available falls so short.
MAZ Digital, the company behind MagAppZine, says right on their home page "Upload your PDF" and "Sit back and relax" They aren't beating around the bush, their digital publishing solution is all about replicas. For $99 per month a publisher can have an app created that will display the PDF version of their title; for $299 per month they get the privilege of adding some links and can control their own pricing. If no one downloads their digital edition that appears to be the end of the costs. But if anyone downloads a copy the costs pile up as the company charges 20 to 30 cents a download, depending on the model you choose.
After the publisher sees that their magazine hit the App Store they might notice that they have essentially sold off their magazine as the only company name visible is that of the vendor.
Chapel Hill Magazine, one of titles to hit the Newsstand this morning, is being sold under the MAZ Digital name. The name of the publisher, Shannon Media, is not to be found.
Recently I was at a publishing industry event and was sitting down eating a lunch of rubber chicken when the discussion turned to digital publishing. The discussion centered on the perceived difficulties of creating tablet editions – in particular the staffing issues associated with creating new digital editions.
To a man (there were no women at the table) each publisher said they wanted an "easy" solution. Finally I could stand it no more, I asked "so, is your job easy?" I went on to ask why this should all be "easy", is putting out a print magazine every month "easy"? Yet this was the obsession of this group of professionals. Further, I asked, had anyone asked their art directors if they wanted an "easy" solution? If not, why not talk about this with the staff, they might be surprised to learn that someone currently on board would love to get more intimately involved in digital edition creation, may have even read up on the subject.
Then I added, but if that happens, I suppose you'd have to give that person a raise. I swear I saw everyone's head drop.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Ancestry.com announces it has acquired Archives.com for about $100 million in cash and assumed liabilities
In a move that will help the company consolidate the market, Ancestry.com Inc. announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire the family history website Archives.com. The deal was announced as being priced at approximately $100 million in cash and assumed liabilities.
"Archives.com has built a fantastic and fast-growing business that we think is highly complementary to Ancestry.com's online family history offering," the president and CEO of Ancestry.com, Tim Sullivan, said in the company's statement. "We love their focus on making family history simple and affordable, and we are excited to help the talented Archives.com team continue to grow alongside Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, and Family Tree Maker."
Archives.com is owned by Inflection LLC, a Silicon Valley-based technology company that in addition to Archives.com also owns the PeopleSmart.com, and Identity.com branded sites, and is backed by Matrix Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures.
According to the announcement, the plan is to continue the Archives.com website brand and "multiple" Inflection employees are expected to join the new company. (I suppose that means there will be layoffs, no?)
Medical publisher Bryn Mawr Communications launches two replica edition apps using the Paperlit platform
The medical publishing firm Bryn Mawr Communications today launched their first tablet edition apps inside Apple's Newssstand. The medical journals Endovascular Today and Cardiac Interventions Today each has seen its apps premiere in the App Store.
Both apps use the Paperlit platform to create the replica edition apps. The basic fees to create an app, according to the paperlit website, is € 2,000 per app and monthly license fee of € 100 per month, though the site does warn that the monthly fee is determined by the number of active readers using the app.
Like most replica editions, these suffer from the same drawbacks usually seen: pages designed for print are harder to read on a tablet and require pinch-to-zoom, two-page spreads are not obvious when reading in portrait, the left page/right page numbering makes little sense on a tablet, etc.
The good news here is that the apps do, in fact, use pinch-to-zoom, and that the fonts appear clear, even on a new iPad (something that can't be said of all replicas).
Not all the Bryn Mawr medical titles appear to be audited. I found many of them inside the BPA website, but not any audit for Endovascular Today. I mention this, of course, because these apps are free to download and the content is free, as well. That means that the readers who access these issue may, or may not, be considered qualified readers. But this might not be a serious concern right for the publisher as the desire to make these medical journals available might have been the sole goal at this time.
McClatchy reports Q1 earnings: a net loss on the quarter as advertising revenue falls a further 6.8%
The owner of the Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee, The McClatchy Company, today reported its first quarter earnings. The media company said that it recorded a net loss on the quarter of $2.1 million on total revenue of $288 million, a decline of 5.1 percent.
Advertising revenue continues to fall at the newspaper publisher. McClatchy saw its ad revenue decline a further 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Last year, McClatchy reported that its ad revenue fell 11 percent, and in 2010 its Q1 ad revenue fell 11.1 percent, though the company did report a profit that quarter.
"We continue to make progress on our digital initiatives and the strong revenue results in the quarter demonstrate that digital continues to be a high-growth opportunity for the company," McClatchy's CEO Gary Pruitt said in the statement accompanying the earnings report.
"Digital-only advertising revenue increased 14.0 percent in the quarter. Total digital advertising, which includes digital advertising both bundled with print and sold on a stand-alone basis, increased 2.7 percent compared to the 2011 quarter," Pruitt said.
Pruitt said that digital ad revenue now accounts for 22.2 percent of all ad revenue – I calculate that to be $46.6 million. Last year, digital accounted for 20.1 percent of all ad revenue, or $45.2 million. If your math is good you can see that print print revenue fell about 9.2 percent in the quarter.
Pruitt is leaving McClatchy on May 16 to become president and CEO of The Associated Press. His replacement will be Pat Talamantes, the current CFO.
The Globe's head of digital products, Jeff Moriarty, discusses the origins of the new BostonGlobe.com and the temporary lowering of the paywall
The Boston Globe announced on Monday that it was lowering the paywall on its new website, BostonGlobe.com. This temporary offer will last two weeks, through May 6, and is being sponsored by Coldwell Banker.
Originally launched in September of last year (see original TNM post here), the new website is famous for its use of responsive design and its paywall strategy. The new site was developed by the Globe with the assistance of two local design firms, Filament Group and Upstatement (Upstatement also credits Ethan Marcotte and Mat Marquis as working on the project, with the Globe's digital design director Miranda Mulligan leading design efforts).
Since its launch, the Globe has managed to acquire 18,000 new digital subscribers, according to the last New York Times Company quarterly earnings statement. While this hardly puts a dent into the dramatic losses the paper has experienced in its print subscriber base – from 472,668 in March 1998 to 205,939 in September 2011 – it is, nonetheless, a step in the right direction.
But now the paper has opened up the new site again.
"We wanted to have another window of time where people could really experience the site, use some of its features that maybe they've heard about but not been able to experience." Jeff Moriarty, Vice President, Digital Products at The Boston Globe, told me yesterday.
"It's really about getting more people to see the product, and sample the product."
If new readers to BostonGlobe.com like what they see they will pay just 99 cents for the first eight weeks of access, then the regular rate of $3.99 per week thereafter.
The site's design has been written about extensively (which is why I hesitated writing again about the site). Its responsive design was built using six different design configuations: 1200 pixels, 960px, 768px, 600px, 480px, and 320px, which accommodate a wide display, the iPad in both portrait and landscape, and the iPhone in both portrait and landscape. For further reading about the specs and the design of the site, I would refer you to this blog post on the Upstatement site.
Now that the site is open again, it is worth comparing the Boston Globe's vision of a modern website with that of the Chicago Tribune, a site I have criticized in the past. Well, I guess there is no comparison, as the BostonGlobe.com site is clearly the more attractive and readable site, no matter what device is used.
Jeff Moriarty joined the Globe as Vice President, Digital Products in August of 2010. Previously he had been at About.com (also a New York Times Company property) where he was SVP, Product Management. Prior to that he was Vice President, New Media at the New York Times Regional Media Group.
But his appointment was a return to Boston, where he previously worked on Boston.com, the paper's website prior to the launch of BostonGlobe.com.
I asked Moriarty to walk me through the origins of the new site.
"It's been a relatively long lead up to launching BostonGlobe.com. It started prior to me getting here almost a year and a half ago," Moriarty said. "Obviously every newspaper is look for a pay model, at ways to monetize their content."
Moriarty said they have are developing a two-brand strategy with their websites.
"We've had Boston.com since 1995, it's grown to be one of the biggest portals in the country, if not the world," Moriarty said. "So there's been a lot of things Boston.com has done right over the years and one of those was that it wasn't just a newspaper, it was something more than that, and I think that 's why it has succeeded well beyond a lot of newspapers of our size.
"At the same time, the Globe was always a component of Boston.com, it was a piece of it, and the content was all free within Boston.com, but it was all under the Boston.com brand."
Moriarty described the three types of readers the paper believes it attracts online.
"One we called print engaged: print engaged readers favored a format and an approach that was similar to the newspaper," Moriarty said. "They liked hierarchical decisions by editors. They like to be shown what's important today, are familiar with print, enjoy print and the format." These account for about 20 percent of their readers, Moriarty said.
"The next biggest category was what we called online and mobile engaged: these were users who some people call news surveillance who tended to use a circuit of sites to find what they are looking for on any given day. They're very digitally savvy," Moriarty told me.
"There is some willingness to pay for content online. Print engaged audience had the most willingness toy for the right content and the right experience. This group was somewhere in between print engaged and the last group which was casual. Casual readers are not willing to pay for content necessarily. They're heavy users of social media. They are real snackers of content, they come in and out."
Well, if you haven't heard by now it may well be too late: Apple has announced its WorldWide Developer Conference (WWDC) for June 11-15 in San Francisco.
The WWDC, despite the $1,599 ticket price, is expected to sell out fast.** You can check out the conference here, though developers should have received an email alert directly from Apple today.
WWDC features over 100 sessions on iOS and Mac OS X development, covering such topics as sessions on Mountain Lion, AppKit, Core Location, etc.
Students can apply for a WWDC Student Scholarship which will get them into the conference free. Applicants must be currently members of the iOS developer program, or iOS university program, or part of the Mac developer program. The students must be 13 years or older, a full or part-time student, and must provide proof of enrollment at their school.
**Update: You dawdled, didn't you? Sorry, but WWDC is already sold out, just a couple of hours after the event was announced. Can't say I didn't warn you!
Morning Brief: Rupert Murdoch testifies in front of the Leveson inquiry; Newsweek adds 'retina' support to its iPad edition; Quark updates its tablet magazine, Jabber
This afternoon (GMT) Rupert Murdoch is testifying in front of the Leveson inquiry and the thread of inquiry appears to be Murdoch's power behind the scenes in U.K. politics.
While yesterday's testimony centered on emails obtained as part of the investigation, and the direct ties between News International and the Tory government, today's testimony is all about the very public influence Rupert Murdoch has on U.K. politics as the owner of powerful media properties. So far the testimony has been about meetings and parties held, as if the inquiry is simply trying to get on record.
What is really happening, however, is that the inquiry is exposing the true way powerful media companies deal with the government, calling politicians to inform them of stories in advance so that they, too, get information and consideration. The inquiry is merely revealing what many media consumers already know, the entire system – both government and large media – are corrupt to the core.
Newsweek has updated its iPad edition this morning to make the app 'retina' compliant. The weekly digital magazine utilizes native tablet layouts and interactive features, rather than being merely a replica of the print product.
Subscriptions remain at $2.99 per month, or $29.99 for an annual subscription. Individual issues are available at $4.99.
The app also offers PDF versions of archived issues at $0.99 per issue.
Quark this morning updated its own branded magazine, Jabber. Interestingly, Quark has not decided to move its company book into the Apple Newsstand.
The magazine is produced quarterly, and this may be why the company has decided to keep it as a separate app, but one owuld think the publishing solutions company would want to demonstrate support for Newsstand through its own branded magazine app.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Apple announces 11.8 million iPads sold in fiscal year Q2; 94% increase in profits on $39.2 billion in total sales
Apple has just announced its Q2 earnings and the top line shows a 94 percent rise in net profits on $39.2 billion in revenue, $11.6 billion in net profits for what is its second quarter of the year.
iPad sales came about where they were expected: 11.8 million units. Here where iPad unit sales stand to date:
Apple's iPad sales represent a 151 percent increase over the sale quarter last year, quite a disappointment for those naysayers who hate the name "new iPad", no doubt, but less than some analysts were forecasting. (Analysts, what can one say about analysts.)
2010 Q4 4,188,000
2011 Q1 7,331,000
2011 Q2 4,694,000
2011 Q3 9,246,000
2011 Q4 11,123,000
2012 Q1 15,434,000
2012 Q2 11,800,000
Total units = 67,086,000
The company also reported 35.1 million iPhone sales in the quarter, a 88 percent increase over the same quarter in 2011.
“We’re thrilled with sales of over 35 million iPhones and almost 12 million iPads in the March quarter,” said CEO Tim Cook, in Apple’s announcement. “The new iPad is off to a great start, and across the year you’re going to see a lot more of the kind of innovation that only Apple can deliver.”
The earnings conference call will now follow (5 EDT), and the team at BI, who have been bad mouthing the stock all week, will be slitting their throats shortly thereafter. (No, they are just turning around and pretending none of those posts were ever written. Amazing.)
Later note: I don't own Apple stock so have no skin in this game. But those websites that obviously have a conflict of interest in their reporting need to just go away. Stop playing the forecast game and start just reporting. (It will never happen, I know.)
New report from comScore and Pretarget suggests advertisers should move away from 'an addiction to clicks'
The research firm comScore is promoting a new study that was conducted with the intent targeting company Pretarget that says that it is more important that Internet display ads are seen rather than whether they are clicked on, stressing "ad viewability" over clicks or impressions.
“Your ad being seen matters more than your ad being clicked – if you have a back-end conversion metric,” said Pretarget Founder Keith Pieper said in the press release accompanying the study. “After all, what good is an ad that can’t be seen? It’s intuitive that an ad must be seen to make an impact, and it’s even more intuitive than someone hovering and engaging with an ad might convert, even absent a click.”
The takeaway from the study (an infographic can be downloaded from the Pretarget website) is that "ad hover" interaction and "viewable impressions" had a higher conversion rather than mere gross impressions. The comScore/Pretarget concludes that "advertisers and media planners ought to break their addiction to clicks and instead look to more meaningful metrics for evaluating campaign performance."
"The Pretarget study helps illuminate several critically important findings for the digital advertising community,” said Kirby Winfield, SVP of Corporate Development, comScore.
“First, it once again demonstrates the perils of relying on click-throughs for measuring the performance of display ad campaigns, with this metric showing virtually zero correlation with total conversions," Winfield said. "Secondly, it highlights why the viewable impression – which is now easily measurable through vCE – is significantly more meaningful than the unvalidated impression. Finally, this study shows why other non-click metrics of engagement, such as interaction or hovering, may be much more important in evaluating campaign performance than the click ever was. It’s time to start measuring the impact of campaigns using metrics that really matter, not just the ones that are most easily measured.”
The show is over for today, James Murdoch has testified at the Leveson inquiry and tomorrow his father appears. The Guardian's team of David Leigh and Nick Davies have done the work of summarizing what was revealed today and what it might mean in this article just now posted to the paper's website.
For most Americans, I fear, the revelations would prove to be a yawn – the expected, I suppose. For me this latest twist was to be expected: it is always the politicians that come crashing down first. The media moguls, in the end, still have their hands on enough strings to make sure that face is all they lose, not their heads.
Update: to say that the British press is having a field day today would be gross understatement. This post on The Telegraph's site, though, shows the political backlash that has just started brewing: "James Murdoch has admitted for the first time that he and David Cameron discussed News Corporation’s controversial bid to buy out BSkyB at a Christmas dinner..."
at 12:45 PM
It is almost completely pointless to continue writing posts this morning while all the good stuff is happening on U.K. television as James Murdoch testifies before the Leveson inquiry. If you haven't been paying attention this morning to your Twitter feed, then a trip over to the BBC or Guardian site might be in order to get caught up.
What is proving embarrassing is how often U.K. government officials were willing to act on Murdoch's behalf, giving Murdoch little tidbits of news about what was going on inside the government. There are no surprises except that there are no surprises, if you will.
As John Gapper, columnist at the Financial Times, said through Twitter, the Leveson inquiry "has crossed the Rubicon, so to speak, into examining conduct of British politicians. Not pretty."
Murdoch, meanwhile, is alternatively saying "I don't recall" and "this is all just normal business". Some have speculated that the Murdoch's are trying to bring down the Tory government as some sort of revenge for their lack of support. But that seems like giving James Murdoch far too much credit for a "strategy" rather than what really appears to be a sloppy attempt to explain away typical business practices.
at 10:51 AM
America's newspaper business grew with a printing press strapped to the back of a wagon; maybe it's time to take that approach once again
I recently had a rather animated discussion of the news business with a newspaper manager, unhappy with my snarky comments about their approach to digital publishing. "So what the hell would you do?" this person asked, though he didn't wait for an answer as he resumed telling me of their 'digital first' approach to the news business.
It's too bad I didn't get a chance to answer because I've always thought the answer was to "strap the printing press to the back of the wagon and go west."
That answer, in case you want to know, originates in this wonderful graphic by the Rural West Initiative, Bill Lane Center for the American West, at Stanford University. I created an animated GIF of the Flash-based graphic so I could always refer to it – and here it is:
|Click on photo for larger version|
The relavant point here, though, is that someone made that printing press – that was probably where the money way, rather than printing newspapers themselves.
Today, far too many news executives are not turning to the guy trying to sell them a press, but are instead turning to vendors who want to actually make their newspaper for them. You see, in the old days, buying a press put you in business. After that you would have to buy paper and ink, but basically you were in the news business.
Today's equivalent would be the newspaper that invests in its own digital media by staffing up with digital developers, buying digital publishing software or solutions. But rather than invest in their own production, many are choosing to outsource their production to third party vendors. It would the equivalent of the old west publisher going to an existing printer to have their paper's printed. It happened, I'm sure, but the only one who made money on the deal was the printer.
Today's media executives are, well, media executives – rather than media entrepreneurs. Rather than strapping the press to the back of the wagon, they are heading out on horseback hoping their is a printer in the next town.
If the future of digital is the web, mobile and tablets, publishers need to own and control the production process. They need to put down roots and stake their claim (OK, that was a bit much). Otherwise, they are just renters.
Morning Brief: James Murdoch again in the dock, testifying at the Leveson inquiry; WoodWing confirms CS6 support; Boston Globe opens up its web and tablet content for two weeks thanks to a single-sponsor
James Murdoch is again front and center at the Leveson inquiry, testifying about what he and News Corp. knew about the phone hacking occurring occurring at properties under his management.
"One of the big lessons learned here," Murdoch admitted this afternoon (U.K. time) "no matter where something comes from, even if it's a commercial rival or someone who has a political gripe, that being more dispassionate, forensic, understanding ... those circumstances don't make an allegation untrue," Murdoch is quoted as saying by The Guardian, the paper Murdoch is referring to in his testimony.
The Guardian is once again live blogging Murdoch's testimony here.
Yesterday Adobe announced the introduction of Creative Suite 6. This morning its digital publishing partner WoodWing made sure its customers knew that it would be supporting the new Adobe flagship product – as if there would be any doubt.
"Adobe InDesign CS6 is the first major update of InDesign in the tablet publishing age, and users will benefit from new digital publishing fundamentals in the core of InDesign,” said Erik Schut, President of WoodWing Software. “These additions also allow us to further raise the level of efficiency in our Enterprise multi-channel publishing system. CS6 has been a major driver behind WoodWing's strategic DPS partnership with Adobe, and as a result, we can now take maximum advantage of this new Digital Publishing foundation."
WoodWing said it would be providing a pre-release version of its Enterprise 8 product in early May, as well as its content management application Content Station, both supporting the new version of Creative Suite.
BostonGlobe.com and its enhanced replica edition iPad app, The Boston Globe ePaper, developed by NewspaperDirect, will both be free of charge for the next two weeks thanks to the single-sponsorship of their advertiser Coldwell Banker.
Readers will need to supply their email address during the sign-up process, but otherwise they can enjoy both the website and tablet application free until May 6.
The tablet edition, originally looked at here, is both a replica edition and a native app in that the reader experience begins with the print edition reproduced as one would see it in print, then allows for the reformatting of the stories for easier reading on the tablet.
While it is, again I'm afraid, indicative of a stubbornness inherent in many newspaper executives that all readers really want the print edition, it is, nonetheless, a step forward from the straight replica editions produced by vendors such as Technavia.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Racy new tablet edition from Cyprus hits the Newsstand; Civil Engineering provides another B2B media example
I'm on the prowl for new media examples from Greece since I will be there in the summer. If possible I'd like to meet with some publishers or editors who are launching new mobile or tablet editions. Let me know if you know some I should be meeting when in Athens.
Unfortunately, a visit to Cyprus is not on the agenda, otherwise I could meet with the team from SPP Media who have just released their first iPad app for MAN Magazine. The company's name translates from the Greek into Special Editions, but translating Greek is, of course, difficult online and in the App Store. The publisher's name appear there as N.D.D EIDIKES EKDOSEIS LTD, and on their site as ΕΙΔΙΚΕΣ ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ.
|New iPad hi-res image.|
It is also the type of magazine that Apple might have rejected back in the early months of the App Store. But despite being a bit racy, with a few suggestive photo spreads, there is nothing here that needs to be hidden from the kids.
The app edition itself is pretty interesting. It is almost a replica, but with a few pages reformatted in native tablet design style. The pages that are brought over from the print edition suffer, however, from text that is too small to read – and without pinch-to-zoom or adjustable fonts to help out.
The issue comes with another magazine baked into the April issue, as well: the car magazine 4Wheels. Of course, all of this is in Greek, so if you are looking for reading material you better be bi-lingual. TNM's interest, as always, is in what the publisher is doing with the platform, and how this tablet edition is unique.
Earlier today there appeared a post on the new tablet edition for HOTELS Magazine. One point I made concerned the B2B circulation model, and how giving away (or selling) tablet editions sometimes conflicted with the qualification model employed by most industry magazines.
An example I often use in conversations with other B2B publishers is Civil Engineering magazine. That particular magazine is the voice of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and a magazine I am very familiar with from my days as a publisher with McGraw-Hill and as the publisher of Roads & Bridges magazine.
Civil Engineering is received by member of the ASCE as part of their dues. Everyone else has to pay to receive the monthly magazine. Because of this I would think that the magazine might appear in Newsstand as a paid magazine, but would allow members to sign in to access the issues for free.
As it turns out, Civil Engineering has its own app inside the App Store. The app, Civil Engineering Magazine, is a universal app produced by the digital flipbook maker Texterity. While this particular app appears under the ASCE name, many, many others can be found under the developer's name including the magazine from the AARP. That app has the incredibly ridiculous name of AARP The Magazine APP. Feel Great, Save Money, Have Fun. (the name includes that ending period, as well).
The app does not support Apple's Newsstand, so issue do not download automatically, and rather than selling issues inside the app, the app serves simply as a "reader" app – the reader downloads the app and must sign into their ASCE account in order to access the issues. Once there, of course, one gets the usual replica edition.
B2B magazine HOTELS launches replica edition app into the Newsstand; app was built by the printer, RR Donnelley
One way some B2B publishers are making their debuts onto tablets is through their Flash flipbook makers or through the new services their printer can offer.
RR Donnelley, for instance, is not only creating Flash-based flipbooks for some of its print customers, but has launched 22 separate tablet editions into the App Store. One of the problems all these apps have, as far as this former B2B publisher is concerned, is that they appear under the RR Donnelley name rather than the publisher's. They are all, of course, replica editions, designed originally to be read not on a tablet but in print form. But more importantly, none of these vendor created apps try and tackle the biggest issue surrounding B2B magazines on tablets, the issue of qualification versus free access.
A good example of this is the app for Building Design & Construction, the B2B title that used to be owned by Reed Business Information, but was resurrected SGC Horizon. (Disclosure: I worked for both RBI and Scranton Gillette in the past.)
I ran a post on the app back when it first launched in September of last year and not much has changed since that time. The app is a really minimal replica edition – minimal because there is no pinch-to-zoom, making the app edition totally impossible to read (and calling into question the authenticity of the five-star reviews in the App Store). With no accommodations made at all to the tablet, and with no font adjustments possible, one must have 20-20 vision and a new iPad to have any hope to read the magazine (I have a new iPad, but not 20-20 vision!).
But the main issue remains qualified readership. The app and its issues can be downloaded by anyone, meaning that the publisher loses control over who will read the digital edition and the important subscriber information that comes through the qualification process. I suppose that the good news is that the app edition is so hard to read that few would choose the digital edition over print. But then this begs the question "why would you launch the app in the first place?"
Another B2B publisher who is also letting RR Donnelley** create their online flipbooks and now their tablet editions is Marketing & Technology Group. They have just released a new app for HOTELS Magazine. But whereas the app from SGC appears under the printer's name, the Chicago-based Marketing & Technology Group has secured an Apple developer account so that their new app will appears under their own name.
The app description also states that there is a free sample issue available, but none could be found at the time I reviewed the app (I'll check back later).
It is possible that the vendor or publisher simply was not ready for their app to appear in the App Store – this happens quite regularly. A sign that this might be the case is the fact that under "What's New In This Issue" is this helpful text: "0066ff, standard". If you don't recognize that, it is web color code.
I can certainly understand why the publisher would want help from their printer to launch an app edition. A look at the HOTELS website shows that this is not exactly a very digitally oriented publishing company (their website looks like something from 1995). But the company now has a developer license so that means that the world of mobile and tablet publishing is now open to them. Hopefully, they take the next step and begin to explore what is possible on the platforms.
Another magazine app also appeared today in the App Store that appears to be from RRD: Commonwealth Magazine from the Virginia Association of Realtors. Because it, too, appears under the publisher's name – in this case, the real estate board – one wonders if RRD is making this a standard practice now – it appears so since most of the apps under the RRD name were released originally last year.
** While these apps appear to come from RR Donnelley they all have the same line at the bottom of their app description: "Inclues patent-pending Media Deck technology". I've always associated that with the firm BlueToad. But RRD recently bought LibreDigital so I must admit to not knowing all the details of who really is responsible for these apps.
TNM talks to Gregg Hano on his recent move from S.V.P. of Bonnier's Technology Group to the new CEO of Mag+
On Monday of last week it was announced that Gregg Hano, S.V.P. Corporate Sales & Technology Group at Bonnier, would become the new CEO of the digital publishing solutions company Mag+, replacing Staffan Ekholm, who will be returning to Sweden.
TNM caught up with Hano on Friday and discussed the history of the company he will now lead, as well as the issues that confront publishers moving into the tablet platform.
Hano holds a J degree from Ohio University. His LinkedIn profile shows that he worked for Hearst at Popular Mechanics until 2000 before becoming publisher of Popular Science in 2001 – at the time still owned by Time Inc. That title, and the rest of the Technology Group, were sold to Bonnier in 2007 and since then Hano has served as the head of that group until the decision to move to Mag+ as CEO.
It should be noted that six months ago I interviewed Mike Haney who had been executive editor at Popular Science and part of the Bonnier team that worked on the development of Mag+. He had left Bonnier to concentrate on promoting the digital publishing platform and in our talk he discussed the origins of the platform.
I felt now would be a good time to get Hano's recollections of the early days of the Mag+ system.
Gregg Hano:At this point, the efforts of the team at Bonnier started to merge with the news that Apple would be launching its first tablet, the iPad. In December of 2010 a video hit YouTube from Bonnier R&D. That video, referred to as the Berg video, featured Jack Schultze from the British design firm that was working with Bonnier on design concepts for tablet editions.
In mid-2009 an article was in Popular Science's "What's New" section on the coming of tablets, and I remember seeing that. I went over to Mark Jannot, who is the editorial director of the Tech group, and I'm like "is this for real?" and he's like "absolutely. No, this is coming, and we think it is coming pretty soon."
I said we needed to get our heads wrapped around what our content is going to look like on tablets.
So we pulled a small group here – it was myself, Mark Jannot, Sam Syed, the creative director of the Tech group, Mike Haney and Jake Ward – and Haney obviously was with Tech and Jake still is – and we began to conceive what, and how, we would build a digital magazine.
We at that time partnered with Zinio to develop three — our original goal was four – three magazines for screens. It was, of course, for laptops at the time. Two of them were not particularly good, I must admit.
But the third one was called Greening Your Home Guide (The Green Home Guide), how to make your home environmentally friendly – and we put video in there, and links, and some service, and we got a sponsor, Eveready batteries sponsored it. We were really happy with that product.
So at a Bonnier conference, some time later, we shared that product, and as a result of sharing it with other international publishers we were connected with the Bonnier R&D team in Stockholm who had also been thinking about what to do in the space.
The woman who directs R&D, here is Sara Öhrvall. Sarah and the R&D team had been thinking about this. What they then went on to do was do an international competition between four different Bonnier groups – one magazine from Sweden, one from Denmark, ourselves here in New York, and then our TransWorld team out in Oceanside. We ended up winning that competition,s o ended up being the beta for Mag+.
I asked Hano about where things went from here – from beta, to the development of Mag+, to the first issue of Popular Science for the iPad.
Gregg Hano:Today all the magazines inside the Technology Group use the Mag+ platform – they include the apps for Popular Science, of course, as Popular Photography, American Photo and Sound + Vision.
So 2010 was pretty much a year of research. The SDK for the iPad 1 came out in December of 2009 for a launch on April 4, 2010.
The Berg video came out around December.
We set about that winter to building the platform, and working hard to get the April 2010 issue of Popular Science, the one with the windmill, on the tablet at launch. That was our rush, you know, our push.
We worked with Berg. There were a lot flights between New York, Stockholm, London.
We were given one iPad that was chained to a radiator in Stockholm to work on. We had to sign all kinds of NDAs, and there were only three people who were allowed to see it, and all the rest of that sort of thing – which was kind of cool in its own little way.
We did launch on time, and we got the April issue in, and we've been on schedule ever since – we've put out every single issue April 2010 on.
What happened during the later part of '10 is that we started seeing single copy sales grow and we were excited about what we saw. It was during that period that not only we, but other Bonnier titles in Denmark, in Stockholm, and the TransWorld titles, went ahead and started putting some product on it.
We began to think that maybe there was a business here beyond just the publishing P&L, beyond the brands being able to put themselves on tablets, but that the Mag+ business could be a business of licensing software.
So Staffan (Ekholm) joined the organization as a project manager as this moved from the R&D stage to the productization stage, and I might have my dates slightly off, but I think it was in there late summer and fall of 2010. I remember being in Stockholm in October of 2010 and Staffan was on board, and we had migrated to code base then, from Berg to CCI, a Danish firm that writes code.
So it was also during that late summer, early autumn time period that it began to migrate to the beginnings of a company, and was then spun out of Bonnier January '11.
But not all the magazines at Bonnier are using the Mag+ platform. Some are, instead, producing replica edition apps. I asked Hano about how the decision is made what platform to use for any given title.
Basically you have to prove that you have a business case because there is some incremental expense to developing more sophisticated apps.
We are a publishing company that has some smaller publications, very vertical, where we are not 100 percent certain that the incremental work to make it (the tablet edition) an interactive app is the best route to take at this exact time. And then there are other brands that may migrate towards Mag+ soon.
But what the decision has been on some of the other titles is to do replicas in what they call the Bonnier Reader, which is a different product. It's a basic replica product, but it does have the research and metrics baked in, and you can sell it both through iTunes and directly through your website.
So the direct answer is that it is really a conversation between the group publishers and the senior execs.
Adobe today will unveil its latest version of its suite of design and web production software tools at an event in San Francisco.
Adobe Creative Suite 6 will remain a heft investment for design professionals with Design Standard going for $1,299, Design & Web Premium and Production Premiere priced at $1,899, and Adobe's Master Collection at $2,599 for full copies of the software suites. Those still working on Creative Suite 4 or older are not being offered upgrade option, while an upgrade from CS5 Web Premium to the new version will cost $749.
Adobe will also be introducing its own cloud service, Creative Cloud. This $50 per month service is an attempt to move away from the purchase model to a subscription model where the user gains access to the software suite as well as training and support services.
This new subscription service may well be the way to go for many professionals who have been priced out of the ability to keep their software up to date by Adobe's pricing.
As a former publisher I can not overstate the problems this upgrade may cause with those in the publishing community which have delayed or cancelled outright much of their investment in technology over the past decade. It has always been the case that keeping design software up-to-date has been expensive and many a budget battle has been fought over expenses tied to Adobe software and Apple/PC hardware.
Over the past few years, however, hardware upgrades have become somewhat less of an issue as many professionals find that their older Macs and PCs still have enough power to handle most new software solutions. But to upgrade Creative Suite every 18 months or so is a tougher task when the package, even at upgrade pricing, costs the equivalent of a new laptop.
As a result, many art directors at smaller publishing firms may be discovering this morning that their old version of Creative Suite can not be upgraded to CS6 and are wondering how they will stay up to date. One question that immediately comes to mind is whether the digital publishing solution providers such as Mag+, Aquafadas, CoverPage and others will continue to support the older versions of CS. If they do, this will lessen costs in the short run. If not, they this could drive more and more publishers into the arms to those third party vendors looking to convert PDFs of print pages into digital tablet editions.
at 9:00 AM
The start of the week: The French go to the polls, and the results have commentators busy; both France and Greece will vote again on May 6
Yesterday's results in France can be seen as a either a danger warning to the banking establishment, or else a warning to all of democratic Europe.
The French system requires that the new President receive 50 percent of the vote plus one in order to be duly elected, so it was not a surprise that yesterday's vote count will require a run-off election on May 6. As expected the incumbent, President Nicolas Sarkozy, and the Socialist leader, François Hollande, were the top two vote getters – Hollande coming out on top with around 28 percent of the vote, versus 27 percent for the Sarkozy.
But it was the third place finish by Marine Le Pen, head of the Front National (FN), that has many observers concerned. As the votes were being counted it appeared that Le Pen might hit 20 percent of the vote (she fell just short), and sorry commentary on the French electorate if you believe this reflects that one in five French are sympathetic to fascism.
Le Pen, the daughter of the party's founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, campaigned on an anti-Euro, anti-immigrant platform that obviously found resonance with many French – though which part of that platform the voters may have liked may reveal the motivation behind the votes.
Sarkozy has, along with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, been the symbol of the Eurozone, and an advocate for austerity and financial control by the financial community. The anger at Merkozy, as the two of them are known in Europe, is widespread, but sometimes without popular representation. For instance, in the French election, Hollande may represent a break with Sarkozy, but the socialists are hardly anti-Euro, even if they are vocally critical of the role of finance in the affairs of France. This means those who want an end to the use of the Euro must find a home for their views, and Le Pen's FN may have been that home.
Most polls show that Hollande should win the run-off election on May 6. If these polls are correct, then many of those who supported FN yesterday can be expected to sit out the vote or split between the two candidates. For Sarkozy, his only chance at remaining President may be to move hard to the right to attract voters who think Le Pen an attractive choice. But even that might not work if it turns out that many who voted for Le Pen did so to protest five years of Sarkozy.
On the same day that the French return to the polls to choose between Sarkozy and Hollande, Greece will be voting. The Greek Parliamentary system will not require a party achieve the 50 percent plus one mark, of course, and so the party that gets the most votes will scramble to try and assemble a working government.
The last public poll prior to the election was released last week and it shows that New Democracy, the center-right party, had 21.9 percent support, while PASOK, the socialist party, was at 17.8 percent. Both parties are seen as pro-Euro, and supporters of the austerity measures that have made much of the populous angry.
But despite the two parties not reaching the 50 percent mark, if the results are as polled, New Democracy and PASOK would still reach a majority level in parliament – though barely. This result might be satisfying to those who are in favor of the Euro and the bailouts negotiated over the past year, but it could create a charged atmosphere where many who voted feel their voices have not been heard.
Adding to the situation, the extreme right-wing party, Golden Dawn, is polling at a level high enough that they may enter parliament for the first time, polling 5.5 percent in the final poll before the May 6 election.
at 8:24 AM