Friday, May 18, 2012

BBQ - Black Business Quarterly: South African quarterly magazine goes really big inside the Apple Newsstand

One of the issues many publishers worried about when Apple launched its new iPad was digital issue sizes – would the higher resolution tablet require that already large files become even larger in order to take advantage of the new iPad's display? May publishers have chosen to create digital editions that work in only one orientation, thus cutting file sizes while allowing for interactivity and higher resolution graphics.

BBQ – Black Business Quarterly is a new tablet edition released yesterday into Apple's Newsstand. The South African journal profiles black business leaders and is described in the app description as "the mouthpiece of South Africa’s business community through its projection of excellent editorial on happenings within the ever-evolving black business fraternity."
BBQ is published by Cape Media which has two additional titles inside the Newsstand, as well: Service Magazine and Leadership Magazine (which for some reason currently has no app icon).

BNQ employs a hybrid model approach, similar to US Weekly (see here for report): the advertising is reproduced as seen in print, while the editorial pages employ native tablet design.

The big difference with BBQ is that, unlike most other hybrids, this magazine can be read in both portrait and landscape. While the digital magazine has only minimal interactivity (live links plus at least one animation) the dual orientations and 'retina' resolution graphics leads to a very large file size.

How large is BBQ on the iPad? The issue currently available weighs in at 657 MB, and not surprisingly, is a very long and slow download.

For a quarterly publication such as BBQ this might be acceptable. But readers of monthly (or weekly!) titles would probably not accept such sizes.

As for the digital magazine itself one can say that it is gorgeous and very well done - and because the magazine is free, it might be smart to download BBQ for yourself to take a look. Just give yourself some time for the download.

Left: BBQ takes advantage of the new iPad's display with great photography and native tablet designs for the editorial content in both portrait and landscape; Right: in landscape, however, single page ads are floated on the tablet page.

Apple gives Wenner Media's US Weekly a little love, and a bit of a push into the tablet publishing platform

Maybe Apple has read those interviews with Jann Wenner, too. It would appear that way, as the tech giant today added the first tablet edition from Wenner Media into their iPad App of the Week section.

The added promotion will no doubt increase downloads and possibly give those inside Wenner Media the ammunition needed to continue their app development efforts.
The US Weekly Magazine app was released yesterday (see TNM's report) and has so far received mostly positive reviews from readers inside the App Store.

As I predicted, the biggest complaint is that print subscribers are forced to buy the digital edition if they want to read the magazine on their iPad. There are four written reviews of the app that give it a one-star rating (the lowest possible) and all of them are complaints about the inability of print subscribers to log into the app to read their magazines.

The app is a hybrid app whereby the print ads are reproduced as seen in print, while the editorial content is reformatted for the tablet, making reading much easier and more pleasurable than a straight replica edition.

Morning Brief: Media begins to catch up to events in Greece; markets mixed as Facebook sets its IPO price

Now that the second round of elections have been set for June 17, the media seem to have finally caught up a bit with the story in Greece. Falling stock prices, and fleeing bank deposits have a way of waking up even the sleepiest of news organizations.

But now the media seem to be oh-so-sure that Greece will be leaving the Euro, where as before, such a thing seemed unimaginable.

But if the previously held belief, that Greece would endure austerity measures and remain inside the Eurozone was so easily accepted and proved wrong, then today's media chorus, that Greece is about to exit, is equally wrong. This story has yet to be written.

Listen to SYRIZA's party leader, Alexis Tsipras: "We don't want Greece outside the Eurozone. We want Greece inside euro and inside eurozone."

Of course, to remain, Greece will have to renegotiate the bailout agreement, and all the parties will have to go along.

So it may be true that Greece is heading out the door, so to speak. But before everyone assumes this, one might want to let the Greeks cast those second ballots. Polls being released are contradictory – one saying SYRIZA is heading for victory, another showing results very similar to the first round of balloting.

European stock markets are mixed this, except in Greece where the Athens Stock Market General Index is up solidly.

In the U.S., stock market futures point to a higher open as investors cheer on the Facebook IPO. The stock, which will trade under the ticker "FB", has been priced at $38 a share, making it the highest valued U.S. company at the time of its IPO.

Retweet: Heather Horn writes in The Atlantic this morning about the way the European press is now writing about its political leaders. Under the headline European media go a little overboard sexing-up continental politics, Horn says that the media is now treating its politicians more like television stars.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jann Wenner may be no fan of tablet publishing, but Wenner Media's first tablet edition is surprisingly good

It is commonly understood that Jann Wenner is no fan of the iPad, or at least that is what all the headlines read. But Wenner also said that the "tablet itself is a really fun device. Some people are going to enjoy it a lot and use it." Then adding that "some people aren't."
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AdAge must have a great relationship with Wenner because they recently posted another story, this time about the release of the first iPad edition from the publisher. That article previewed the new app and quoted the editor, Mike Steele, as describing the new tablet editions as "it's just a basic replica."

Well, the new iPad app has now been released and, as it turns out, it isn't a "basic replica." I would describe it as a hybrid tablet edition: the advertising is pretty much as seen in print, but the editorial pages are reformatted somewhat for the iPad. Maybe the Wenner Media team is just trying to be a bit sly.

The app offers readers the ability to pay for a single edition at $3.99, the same price as the print edition. Subscriptions are available at $5.99 per month, a 6-month subscription will cost $32.99, and an annual subscription is priced at $59.99.

The initial issue available, dated May 28, weighs in at a modest 168 MB, mainly due to the layouts being exclusively in portrait.

The publisher's lack of enthusiasm towards the tablet platform can be seen in their decision to not give print subscribers a break – they'll have to pay for the digital edition just like everyone else (and you can be sure they will howl about it inside the App Store).

But US Weekly, I would guess, is a magazine that relies very much on single copy sales, so this might not be a big deal. But if Wenner Media releases an app for Rolling Stone, and tries to pull the same crap, readers will let them know of their displeasure.

As I would consider US Weekly one of those magazines that tries to kill off the brain cells of its readers, I am not be what the publisher would consider a prime target for this tablet edition. But I think loyal readers of the magazine will be pretty happy with the app overall. The most common complaint will be about pricing. But while Jann Wenner may not be enthusiastic about the tablet platform, someone at the company is apparently wise enough to make sure the publisher's first magazine tablet edition wasn't an embarrassing mess.

Left and Right: The editorial layouts are reformatted for the iPad, with simple navigation that does not involve scrolling; Middle: the advertising, on the other hand, is seen on the iPad as in print.

New study predicts that local advertising will grow 2.6% through 2016, but will shift to mobile and online

TNM normally doesn't reproduce press releases, but this one seems worth reproducing in full. It is a new study that looks at local advertising growth and where those dollars will be spent.

According to BIA/Kelsey's Media Ad View reports, local advertising spending will experience a compound annual growth rate of 2.6 percent between 2011 and 2016, with revenues climbing from around $132 billion to more than $150 billion. BIA/Kelsey, adviser to companies in the local media space, expects spending to increasingly shift from traditional media and direct advertising to digital alternatives. Mobile and online will account for the largest increase in local ad spending, nearly doubling from $11.1 billion in 2011 to $21.8 billion in five years (cagr:14.4 percent).

BIA/Kelsey's Media Ad View reports provide a detailed picture by advertiser category of trends and competitive market intelligence across the entire local advertising spectrum. The Media Ad View analysis shows the major source of advertising in the mobile and online space will be technology/telecom, which will spend $5.1 billion by 2016 (up 80.7 percent). Other top spending categories include retail ($4.5 billion), automotive ($2.6 billion) and health care ($815.3 million).
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"While we expect to see changes in ad spending in some advertising categories, it is significant to note that television and radio continue to hold their own, while out-of-home, online and mobile are having an impact on the overall share," said Mark Fratrik, vice president and chief economist, BIA/Kelsey. "Newspapers are also positioned very well to continue to drive online ad revenues."

This year's Media Ad View revenue reports break down 12 primary categories for advertisers into 94 detailed business categories, further analyzing the spending in each of the 210 local television markets and the U.S. Census' 362 Core Based Statistical Areas. The results provide a detailed picture of the spending in each market around business categories like automotive, education, financial/insurance, general services (i.e., legal, accounting, design), government/political/religion, health care, leisure/recreation, media, real estate, restaurants, retail and technology/telecommunications. The reports also include an analysis of online spending distribution to examine what dollars are being spent online and where.

BIA/Kelsey defines local media advertising as advertising placed on local media outlets, including national, regional and local ads on radio stations, television stations and newspapers. One of the fastest growing categories, technology/telecommunications, will increase by $2.9 billion by 2016. The reports illustrate the industry will increase its investment in online and mobile advertising by 35.1 percent, while reducing its spending in newspapers and magazines, direct mail, TV and radio.

"Media buyers require not only the big picture but the granular one as well," said Fratrik. "Our approach to Media Ad View this year was to analyze and report it from every possible angle to help ad managers better understand where the money is flowing in both the national and local markets. Our online breakout will be particularly important for understanding the competitiveness and pricing of online advertising."

Using retail furniture stores in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL-market as an example, Fratrik says that in 2011, $2.3 million in advertising was spent across classifieds/verticals (45.4 percent), local search (38.5 percent), other display ads (11.2 percent) and video (4.9 percent). In 2016 that profile is forecast to become a $3.7 million spend across local search (42.4 percent), classifieds/verticals (37.5 percent), video (14.7 percent) and other display ads (5.4 percent).
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BIA/Kelsey advises companies in the local media space through consulting and valuation services, research, Continuous Advisory Services and conferences. BIA/Kelsey's Media Ad View reports rack local advertising spending by media for the most recent year and five years out (2011-2016) for every local market.

Best Buy offers the iPhone 4 for $49.99 as rumors heat up about this fall's launch of the iPhone 5

I have to admit that I like my new phone plan: each year my wife and I get new iPhones and we then pass down the old iPhones to the kids. Everyone seems happy with the plan, especially AT&T, who keep up locked in. But how does Apple, and the retailers, break through the cost of a new iPhone and encourage new customers to take the plunge?
The answer, of course, is through continuing to sell the older model, but at a discount. That is why the iPhone 4 continues to be available.

Since the launch of the iPhone 4S, carriers and retailers have been selling the iPhone 4 at $99.99 (for the 8 gig model). The discounted iPhone is the only way Apple and their partners can compete against the huge range of free and low priced Android phones being offered.

Now Best Buy has slashed the price even further, now promoting the iPhone 4 at $49.99.

This low priced iPhone isn't targeted to you and me. Techies and those who monitor these things know that a new iPhone will arrive in the fall, as usual. Who wants an iPhone that is two generations behind, and will be three generations behind by the time the 2-year contract expires? Well, lots of people, that who.

It still remains true that lots of consumers are still lugging around dumb phones. And each year kids continue the annoying habit of growing up, and thus becoming consumers (what every American kid dreams of).

The fact that the iPhone has not changed its basic design since its launch in 2007 means that older models don't look like anything other than an iPhone, and are therefore still attractive to buyers (besides, the OS is updated, unlike that Android phone they may be dumping).

This is constant design and the built-in marketing advantage it represents is one argument for dismissing the rumor that Apple will be going to a 4-inch display with the new model. Any larger iPhone, even if the actual size is only slightly increased (or not at all), might mean some consumers will see the older models as truly outdated.

But I'll go out on a limb a little by stating that the 4-inch display rumor is one of the few I tend to believe (a lot more than the 7-inch tab rumor). The reason is simple: the current design of the iPhone allows for a slight lengthening of the display without the phone itself having to grow much in size – though some mock-ups on rumor sites are simply growing the phone itself rather than shrinking the wasted space on the phone.

Usually media professionals who have built mobile and tablet apps don't need to concern themselves with the implications of new hardware – it is the software changes that concern them more. But a basic change in the display of the iPhone may prove to be as disruptive as the higher resolution of the new iPad has been. It is almost enough to keep a developer up at night, and one can expect a flood of app updates if Apple truly does change its iPhone display.

Morning Brief: Weather Channel updates iPhone app with all new design; claims over 1 million downloads; Dish's 'Hopper' has the networks fuming

The Weather Channel has been a frequent updater of its its mobile and tablet apps and this morning the popular network released an update for its iOS mobile app that introduces a new design.
The Weather Channel 5.0 for iPhone (the official name for the app is still "The Weather Channel®") brings in a new look and feel for the app.

The update now changes the navigation for switching between locations: where previously one pulled down a menu of pre-designated locations, the user now swipes from to reach a different location. The feature is nice, but if one maintains a long list of cities it does require more work.

The app now features a built-in camera button on the home screen which allows for quick picture taking and sharing through iWitness, Twitter, Facebook, email, and, of course, with The Weather Channel.

Photobucket announced that users had downloaded over 1 million iPhone and Android versions of its mobile app.

The app's success should no surprise. Newspapers have all but abandoned classified advertising, even when the rise of mobile and tablets opened up the possibility of recapturing some of the revenue lost through mismanaging their web operations., after all, did not launch its first iPhone app until June 2011, giving newspapers a one year head start.

"With our mobile apps, our objective is to create a ubiquitous experience for car shoppers on the go, and the rate of adoption and usability trends of our apps is proof that users are finding them valuable," Jose Ignacio Puente, director of product strategy for mobile, said in the company's announcement. "We pay close attention to user feedback and improve our products to ensure that they are getting an optimum mobile experience."

The WSJ is reporting that the networks are not exactly happy with Dish Network's new "Auto Hop" feature or the company's new "Hopper" digital video recorder. The new features allow television viewers to automatically skip commercials on programs recorded on their Dish DVR.

In response, Fox Network has warned the satellite TV provider that it will no longer air Dish Network ads (spelled "adds" in the WSJ story, by the way).

CBS, too, has expressed displeasure. "How does Charlie Ergen expect I produce CSI without advertisements?" CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves is quoted as saying

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WatchESPN app now works for Comcast customers; ESPN denies talks with Apple to bring WatchESPN to the Apple TV; Comcast turns on Skype in Boston & Seattle

The cable sports giant, ESPN, updated its WatchESPN universal iOS app last week to include the fact that Comcast cable customers can now utilize the app.
WatchESPN, which will work on any iOS device, allows cable TV customers to use the app to access live television so long as they are paying customers of Bright House Networks, Time Warner Cable, Verizon Broadband, Verizon FIOS TV – and now Comcast's Xfinity service.

Since I have Comcast service, I have not been able test out the app. After using the app for a while I can see that is far better on the iPhone's small screen than on the iPad's 9.7 inch display – the resolution is just too low. But since the app would be used in a mobile setting I doubt that there would be too many complaints.

In fact, the vast majority of complaints being throw at the app's way involve either a problem with logging in, or that a particular provider has still not signed on (like DirecTV).

One of those cable services, as you can see, is Time Warner Cable. On Monday the head of that service, Glenn Britt, was quoted by the New York Times as saying "“I’m not sure I know what AirPlay is." Britt might be interesting in knowing that the WatchESPN app allows you to stream the content to an Apple TV via AirPlay (whatever that is).


Bloomberg has today updated a story it posted late last night concerning talks between Apple and ESPN about bring the WatchESPN feature to the Apple TV.

The story quotes ESPN executive Sean Bratches as saying that the network would be open to putting its WatchESPN app onto the Apple TV.

“We’re a platform-agnostic content company,” Bratches is quoted as telling Bloomberg. “To the extent that in the future there’s an opportunity with Apple to authenticate through the pay-TV food chain as we’re doing with Microsoft, that’s something that we will participate in.”

But Bloomberg's story has since been updated to include a statement from an ESPN spokesperson, Amy Phillips, that downplays things a bit.

“We’re not having conversations with Apple about authenticating WatchESPN,” Phillips told the website.

No surprise there. Content providers are very careful concerning these deals with companies like Apple. Google and TV set makers. The cable companies and ISP are as popular as lawyers, journalists and politicians, and many viewers, especially young viewers, can visualize a day when cable is no long needed because all content is streamed.

Speaking of cable providers, and Comcast in particular:

Today the cable giant announced that it had switched on a new service, Skype on Xfinity, an HD video calling service. The VOIP service will now be available in Boston and Seattle, with the service introduced in Atlanta, Augusta, Ga., Chicago, Detroit, Harrisburg, Pa., Indianapolis, Miami and Pittsburgh later this week.

"We're continuing to build innovative communication services like Skype on Xfinity that will allow our customers to interact in new ways with the people they care about the most," said Tony Werner, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Comcast Cable. "Through our close collaboration with Skype, we focused on delivering a new product that brings family and friends together through a high-quality video calling experience like never before."

The service will cost Xfinity customers $9.99 a month – plus you must be buying the Xfinity Triple Play bundle.

I am a current Xfinity Triple Play customer and can tell you that I consider my current bill way, way, way too high as it is. Adding Skype, when I can use it free on my computer or mobile devices, seems like another step to debtors prison. But, if money is no object, this service might be perfect for you. But then again, do the rich use Skype?

Here is Comcast's own video for the new service:

For LA Times Magazine, the future is not digital, it is oblivion; iPad edition has been dead since October

The Tribune Company strikes again. Yesterday it was learned that the company will be shutting down LA Times Magazine, the once weekly, then monthly, now nothingly Sunday magazine. MediaBistro's FishbowlLA reported the news, which comes as no surprise to those who downloaded the LA Times Magazine iPad app – it hasn't been updated since the October 2011 issue.
“I think it’s fair to say there were revenue issues,” Nancie Clare, the magazine's editor, told Matthew Fleischer. “It’s still a tough economic climate, especially for print. I don’t think they got rid of us because they don’t like us.”

The Sunday magazine has been mismanaged for quite some time, having its frequency cut, the content shifted from under the control of advertising and then back to a small editorial team.

In March of 2011, the Tribune Company launched an iPad app for the magazine (see original post). The app was a stand-alone app (Apple did not launch its Newsstand until the fall of that year) and so never could benefit from automatic downloads. But by the time Apple launched its Newsstand, the app stopped being updated. The reason may be that the app edition was not a straight conversion of the print edition, in other words, it was not a replica edition. Because of this there was production work to be done. In the end, I guess, management (or the editor) decided it was not worth the effort.

Now, though, there is no digital alternative to fall back on and so the magazine's staff of seven* will be laid off. The June issue, which one guesses has already been put to bed, will be the final issue seen in print.

I was tempted to pick up the phone and call Nancie Clare to ask her about the closure of the magazine, but I will admit that doing postmortems is a bit too depressing for me. In my career in the newspaper industry I have never been involved in the closing of my title – in fact, with the exception of my time at Hearst Newspapers, my experiences have always been that our paper was thriving. Even so, believe it or not, none of the newspapers I worked at are still in existence. None.

What killed each and every one of those newspapers was not the Internet, not the economy, but mismanagement – gross mismanagement. But today the biggest excuse given for closing products such as LA Times Magazine is advertising - the lack of advertising. (See quote above.)

In the case of the Sunday magazine at the LA Times, the responsibility, it appears, for generating revenue fell to a person in the national advertising department, and the hope that the retail staff would help out. One can see immediately that this will result in failure. There is no analysis necessary – if you have one person in charge of generating revenue for a product with a circulation of 400K you better hope that person has supernatural powers.
LA Times Magazine
media kit

In the journalism world there is a saying that any news product that doesn't have its own dedicated editorial staff will suck. Well, I worked all my newspaper career on the ad side, and I can tell you that any product that has no dedicated ad team will die.

The alternative to a dedicated ad team is someone who can wield a stick and force the ad team, in general, to sell the product. A team leader, an ad director, who can go on local calls, talk to local businesses, evangelize for the product. Maybe this magazine had that, but it doesn't look like it.

At the LA Herald Examiner, a Hearst Newspaper, we also once had a Sunday magazine, like many papers of the time. I thought at one time that working for the product would be a great move. But before that could happen the ad team was broken up and incorporated into the retail and national ad staffs. Not surprisingly, the magazine was soon shut down.

The media kit for LA Times Magazine says that advertisers should call their ad rep or the one person listed as representing the magazine. That means that, at least in theory, the local staff could sell into the magazine. They clearly didn't do that.

It is fashionable today for journalists that think they are oh-so modern by promoting paid content strategies and talking about the end of a reliance on advertising revenue. This thinking is producing results: journalists are losing their jobs.

* The LA Times site lists nine staffers at the magazine, not counting the ad person listed in the media kit. The FishbowlLA story mentions that the staff is seven.

WoodWing's president, Erik Schut, advises publishers to 'exploit the multimedia and interactive possibilities' of the new digital magazine publishing platforms

Last week I asked several digital publishing solutions companies to respond to this post by Technology Review's publisher Jason Pontin, titled "Why Publishers Don't Like Apps." Here Erik Schut, president of WoodWing Software, expresses some thoughts on the subject.

The production of digital 'replica' magazines as PDF or JPG versions of the printed editions is, in our view, appropriate to offer back issues on tablets or an easy way to make your first steps into digital publishing. It is certainly not the future of publishing though.

Digital magazines should exploit the multimedia and interactive possibilities to create an engaging reading experience. A digital magazine should give its readers more of what they love about that publication in print, they demand more than just plain text and images.
Essential for this is to use a powerful platform, like Adobe and WoodWing offer. Initially it seems pretty easy to develop an app in-house, but this will result in high costs for limited functionality and user experience. The Adobe DPS platform has the most extensive feature-set on the market including bookmarking, social sharing and built-in analytics.

Another major issue is the creation part. Many of these in-house developed solutions offer a limited degree of interactivity, and the creation process is quite cumbersome – which will turn out to be a bottleneck when issues need to be produced on a regular basis. This is where WoodWing jumps in with efficient tools, which are used by hundreds of publishers to create digital publications every month, week or even daily. They can quickly enrich their publications with scrollable areas, hotspots – also nested, slideshows, widgets, video and audio and much more. For all that they don´t need programming skills, they can produce this using existing teams and resources. And, via social sharing they can broaden the reach of their digital publications.

Yes, publishers will need to put in some extra effort, but with the right tools this can be done efficiently, not only for tablets, but for all channels.

As for generating new revenue, a lot of possibilities have not yet been exploited, also not in full interactive apps – think of sales of reviewed products, music or tickets for concerts in the agenda. Think of offering in-depth stand-alone articles, or cross-selling other publications.

All of this will help keep existing customers and attract new readers. It also contributes to providing an attractive platform to advertisers. The tablet publications created by Hearst, Meredith and Time Inc. are positive examples in this regard. Hearst has just reported that they sell 600.000 tablet magazines every month.

Finally, it should be noted – if publishers don’t bring an engaging tablet experience they can be sure new players will step in and disrupt the market.

Erik Schut is the president of WoodWing Software, a Netherlands-based multi-channel digital publishing solutions company. Their customers include ACP Magazines Limited, American Express Publishing, Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, and others.

Former Nielsen Business Media titles, resurrected after divestiture, now will be going digital-only

Two former Nielsen Business Media titles, shut down in the fall of 2009, only to be resurrected by a new owner, have decided to go digital-only. Multi-Housing News and Commercial Property Executive will be ceasing production of their print editions and beginning in July will be pointing readers to their existing online digital flipbooks.
The two trade industry titles, tied to the depressed housing market, were caught up in Nielsen's divestiture of B2B titles that occurred in 2009. Some of the magazine properties were sold off, while others were shut down. Those closed, like Editor & Publisher and these two titles, were resurrected under new owners that came from outside the small circle of major B2B media companies.

In the case of Multi-Housing News and Commercial Property Executive, the titles were acquired by one of the magazine's largest advertisers, Yardi Systems, a Santa Barbara, California-based property management software company.

But two and a half years into the new ownership the magazines have announced that they will be going digital-only.

"We determined that the resources associated with printing and delivering are better allocated to giving our readers the absolute best content in the business. Readers of both MHN and CPE have told us they want more information and faster than we can provide it in a printed, monthly magazine," Daniel Waldman, the publisher of both titles, said in the press release announcing the move.

Suzann Silverman, who joined Nielsen in 1995 and became the editor-in-chief of what was then Commercial Property News, told TNM that the plan is to take their basic Flash-based flipbooks and begin enhancing them. Their digital magazines currently online are created using the BlueToad publishing platform.

Diana Mosher, the editorial director of Multi-Housing News alluded to this in the press release: "We're excited to continue this tradition on an interactive digital platform. We'll now be able to link directly from our digital edition to our popular MHN TV segments, webcasts, Facebook chats and blog," Mosher is quoted as saying.

Both B2B titles are currently BPA audited, with Multi-Housing News reporting a qualified circulation of 24,522 in its December report, and Commercial Property Executive reporting a qualified circulation of 30,518.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

PC World launches a tablet edition into the Newsstand; model is the same as its sister publication, Macworld

Five weeks ago Macworld launched a tablet edition into the Apple Newsstand. That app, built using the Mag+ platform, uses a hybrid model where the advertising is reproduced as you would see it in print, but the editorial content is reformatted for the tablet. (You can read my report on the app here.)
Now IDG has released a new app for PC World. Like Macworld, PC World had previously released a news app, PCWorld Daily, which was built off the feeds from the website. PCWorld Digital Magazine, on the other hand, is built off the print magazine and, again, uses the hybrid model.

The hybrid model has a lot going for it as it doesn't require advertisers to create new artwork of the tablet edition – though I would hope that it might encourage a few agencies to realize that they should really be adjusting to the times and producing more interactive advertising for tablets. My assumption is – and I would be shocked if I were wrong – is that print advertisers are not being charged extra for the digital edition.

Unfortunately, that is not the case for print subscribers – they get screwed, something many publishers seem to get a kick out of. Yep, if you subscribe to the print edition of PCWorld they will make you pay again: $6.99 per single issue, or a monthly subscription of $1.99. (Currently a print subscription can be had for $19.99 a year.)

The current issue weighs in at 267.2 MB, which seems large for a magazine without multimedia content and with only portrait layouts. The reason is probably that the books is fairly large and all those 'retina' resolution graphics are going to eat up storage space.

Is this tablet edition good enough to make you want to cancel your print subscription? No.

Like the Macworld tablet edition, this new PCWorld digital magazine is not an imaginative take on the tablet platform. The layouts are nice and well produced (though there appears to be a black "page" in the middle of the Security Alert section). But the editors have let their readers down here by not visualizing the tablet edition as anything other than a simple conversion from print. The PCWorld app may not be a replica, but the thinking behind it is replica all the way.

Left: PCWorld uses a hybrid approach whereby the ads are taken directly from print. Here, the first "page" of this ad makes no sense until you swipe to the adjoining page; Middle: The TOC and the rest of the editorial content is reformatted for the tablet; Right: Illustrations look fantastic on the new iPad, and the layouts are well done.

Red Bulletin updates its U.S. edition app; a look at the June issue; Aquafadas updates MyKiosk viewer app

The Red Bulletin, the digital tablet magazine from beverage company Red Bull, currently has four different language editions inside Apple's Newsstand: English, German, French and Spanish. Each app has been updated within the past two weeks, with the English edition update released today.

Click here for hi-res new iPad image.
TNM readers are no doubt familiar with Red Bull's tablet magazine. The digital magazine has been somewhat of a tour de force example of the tablet platform, with embedded videos, native tablet design, etc.

The latest issue, June is no different. The issue weighs in at 242 MB, its size reduced by the choice of offering the magazine strictly in landscape (though the library page works in portrait, as well).

Red Bulletin is always a great digital magazine to show publishers unfamiliar with what innovative publishers are doing on tablets. Besides the multimedia, the issues usual feature good examples of story telling through utilizing the tablet platform, as well as more traditional appearing layouts reformatted nicely for the iPad.

Red Bull now has 13 apps for the iPad, 14 for the iPhone – most are universal apps (meaning that there aren't really 27 separate apps in the App Store). Besides the digital magazine, the company has also released apps under the games, music, sports and entertainment categories.

Here is a brief look at the app and the front of the June issue:

Aquafadas, the French digital publishing solutions company, issued an update to its view app and users of the production system should update.

myKiosk for iOS is the view app that lets designers view their work when using the AVE format. The Aquafadas system works using a plug-in for either QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign.

The new update features bug fixes as well as a few enhancements.

Retweet: Google's Chrome browser is said to be coming to Apple's iOS platform; default settings with limit use

The tech site GigaOM is reporting on the possible launch of the Google Chrome browseer for iOS devices. More accurately, they are passing on information from Macquarie (USA) Equities Research. No matter, the launch of Chrome for iOS would be a very good thing.

I use both Chrome and Safari every day, and while I hate how much Safari hangs up when it launches a new tab, generally Safari is a better performing browser (barely). But Chrome has at least two things going for it that puts it head and shoulders ahead of Safari for what I do every day: search by typing within the URL form, and built-in translation.

While using a search box is not such a horrible thing, it is a waste of real estate – Chrome's solution is superior.

But built-in translation is something Apple should have built into its OS – it astounds me that they are so far behind in this area. The reason is simple: Apple works with content providers worldwide, decent translation services open up so many possibilities for international publishers that the fact that Apple hasn't recognized (or at least acted on) the possibilities confuses me.

GigaOM's best point in its post, authored by Kevin C. Tofel, is that the introduction of Chrome for iOS maybe just the incentive Apple needs to upgrade Safari by adding in the above mentioned Chrome features – we'll see.

Oh well, Chrome for the iPad and iPhone would work for me. But as GigaOM points out, the big drawback to wide acceptance of Chrome on iOS devices is that Apple currently doesn't allow the user to change the default browser setting – and I doubt they will for quite some time, or ever.

Morning Brief: Rebekah Brooks to be charged in hacking case; Human Rights Law Review details wrongful execution in Texas; Greek party leaders meet in last-ditch effort to form coalition government

The former head of News International, the British division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is to be charged today with obstructive of justice – as in Watergate, it is the cover-up that gets you.

Also to be charged will be Charlie Brooks, her husband, as well as several other News International employees including Mark Hanna, head of security, and the Brooks's her chauffeur, Paul Edwards.

All are accused of concealing evidence from investigators last July including removing computers and documents. Three separate charges are being leveled, all said to be conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

It was bound to happen, one day a case would be reexamined and revealed that the wrong man was executed in the United States. Today the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, a journal of Columbia University, published a book and launched a website dedicated to their findings in the case of Carlos DeLuna – described on the website as "a poor Hispanic man with childlike intelligence who was executed in Texas in 1989."

Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman and a team of students conclude after investigating that DeLuna was an innocent man.

The case involves the murder of Wanda Lopez, a poor Hispanic single mother, who in 1983 was stabbed to death at a convenience store in Corpus Christi where she worked.

The comprehensive website, entitled Los Tocayos Carlos – The Wrong Carlos – features access to the book itself in digital form, timelines, maps and other supporting material. It also includes video interviews of many of the people involved in the case including police detectives, relatives of the executed man, and others.

The new website is brilliantly designed organized. But the conclusion of the book, that an innocent man was executed, will be what is talked about. This morning web posts appeared on The Huffington Post and The Guardian, though nothing is to be found on the NYT site, or other major news sites in the U.S. Whether this changes during the course of the day will be interesting to see.

Leaders of the political parties represented in the Greek parliament – minus the communist and fascist parties – met for almost two hours this afternoon Athens time. They were attempting to see if it is possible to form a government and avoid a second round of elections, mostly to be held on June 17. No word has leaked as of yet as to the success of the talks.

The hold up has most likely been the unwillingness of SYRIZA to join in a government that would end up implementing the bailout memorandum. Three parties, New Democracy, the center-right party, PASOK, the socialist, center-left party, and the Democratic Left, have enough seats to form a working coalition. But this would leave SYRIZA as the leading opposition party, and none of the three parties seem eager to be in a position where they will be blamed for further austerity measures.

While polls show that SYRIZA would gain seats in a second round of voting, the polls still show that no party could count on getting more than 25 percent or so of the vote. The nightmare for many would be that a second round of voting still does not lead to a stable government. On the other hand, no one party appears to be in a position to speak for the majority of Greeks in negotiations over the terms of the nation's debt repayments.

Nonetheless, a second round of voting would seem the most likely outcome of the talks.

Update: It is confirmed, Greece is heading for a second round of voting.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gannett taps Larry Kramer, founder of, to become President and Publisher of USA Today

Gannett's president and CEO Gracia Martore today announced that she is bringing on Larry Kramer, founder of and former president of CBS Digital Media, to become president and publisher of USA Today.

The move is an interesting one for a company known for hiring internal candidates.

Kramer will be responsible for the newspaper title, as well as the USA Today Sports Media Group, the Travel Media Group, the newly acquired, and the Sunday magazine USA Weekend.

Kramer founded CBS in 1997 where it survived the Internet bubble and was sold to Dow Jones in 2005 for a boat load of money ($530 million, to be exact). He then became president of CBS Digital Media until 2007.

He recently penned a piece that appeared on his own C-Scape blog which talked about news apps on the iPad, including the USA Today app (text unaltered):
Finally the USA Today Ipad App is also very clean. The good and the bad news about the USA Today app is that it is a close cousin to the look of the paper. While it captures some of the design feature of the paper, some have become tired. The site loses a sense of urgency and news judgement by stacking stories with essentially the same look and feel as each other. The larger layouts in the print version of the paper are often the most attractive devices in the newspaper, and they are not translated to this platform. Photos dominate the visuals, and the reader gets little interactive or even passive, graphic presentation that approaches what is so great about the print paper. The page looks the same every day. USAToday’s IPhone app is slicker and faster to use.
The choice is certainly an interesting one. Kramer has never held a publisher's position, though if he brings on the right team members this may not be important since he clearly will be working to transform the media brand.

Kramer is a far more positive advocate of both digital media overall, and the iPad, in particular. This may prove to be an interesting choice.

In an earlier announcement today, Gannett announced that senior vice president and chief financial officer Paul Saleh resigned to join Computer Sciences, also as CFO. Saleh had joined Gannett in November of 2010 as CFO as Gracia Martore, the previous CFO, had been promoted to president.

The move is to a bigger and more profitable company (and one outside of media, of course).

Hearst Communications updates Food Network app but ignores reader's one major complaint

Without exception, the apps from Hearst Communications for their magazine titles receive as many or more one-star reviews as they do five-star reviews. For print subscribers, Hearst apps are a rip-off as they force print buyers to once again pay for access to their issues. For non-print readers, the apps provide a discounted digital tablet edition that gets good marks inside the App Store.

This weekend Hearst updated the iPad app for Food Network Magazine and wrote in its app description that they are responding to user feedback:

We have made a number of improvements and taken your feedback into account with our newest version of the Food Network Magazine app. Please update to benefit from the latest enhancements and bug fixes, and please keep the feedback coming.

The app description text, though, will probably only make current subscribers even madder as the update does not change the basic Hearst policy: everyone pays for digital. In this case, annual subscriptions go for $19.99, monthly subscriptions go for $1.99.

I've never understood the policy of making print subscribers pay twice. I would think that the total number of print subscribers that would pay again would be so small as to make the risk of alienating customers too high. But I'd love to see some research in this area.

Independent film producer and marketer launches their own digital magazine: Go Social Film Magazine

The concept of content marketing is quite "in" how-a-days, and is very much of the focus of many B2B media meetings. Quite simply it is the idea that companies can create their own magazines, newsletters, websites, and the like, with the purpose of promoting their products and services. B2B magazine publishers see it as direct competition and often wonder why it is being promoted so heavily by their own trade association. (As one publisher told me recently "we seem to be obsessed with driving ourselves out of business, and our own trade association is helping quite nicely".)

The growth of tablets will no doubt prove to be a good, low cost way to create custom content digital publications, but it won't just be brands that want to use this platform in promotional ways.
Take, for instance, this new tablet magazine called Go Social Film  Magazine. The just released app for this tablet-only digital publication, GS Film Mag, is free, and its content is free, as well.

It is the creation of Jason Rogan who is both a film producer of "unique and highly entertaining films on modest budgets and short production cycles", as his LinkedIn profile states, as well as the co-founder of Go Social, "a California based social media marketing agency helping filmmakers around the globe promote and sell their films using advanced social media strategies and tools."

The two activities go hand-in-hand, of course: make films, promote films – and what better way to promote films than through a magazine? or in this case, a digital magazine created for the iPad.

GS Film Mag is a modestly produced digital magazine – it would be called a replica were there a print magazine created before it. The premiere issue inside the app weighs in at just over 40 MB. The issue is designed for portrait reading and looks pretty much like a print magazine – a bit too much like one in that the text is a bit small and light. Since every page is simply an image, the reader can pinch-to-zoom. All pages are to be swiped, there is no scrolling within the issue. So in this regard, this is the simplest of digital designs, something that could be created using any of the DIY app platforms.

The theme of the digital magazine, of course, is film. Swiping from page to page one eventually reaches the video content which can then be viewed either within the app, or streamed to an Apple TV for viewing on an HDTV.

One can expect lots more apps such as this one: they are easy to produce and serve the promotional purposes of their creators.

Left: the library page where one can subscribe for free and download issues; Middle: the navigation instruction page; Right: a page with embedded video.

Retweet: AdAge says Wenner Media will launch iPad app for US Weekly on Thursday; 'it's just a basic replica'

AdAge has posted an interview with Jann Wenner, owner of Rolling Stone, Men's Journal and US Weekly. The company plans on launching an iPad edition of US Weekly later this week and AdAge refers to it in the same breath as the magazine's NOOK and Kindle editions – the app "will be a relatively unenhanced affair,' Ad Age's Nat Ives says.

Wenner is fairly famous for dismissing the iPad, and he has apparently not changed his mind. Wenner's attitude towards tablet editions is, ironically, not far off from some of this things record producers said about rock and roll.

"It's a nice marginal revenue stream if you don't spend too much money on it. But I think publishers have learned what I said long ago: a replica is a good thing, but you don't want all kinds of videos and interactive features on it. That's not what you buy a magazine for. You don't get satisfaction from turning the page and seeing a TV show or a video game," Wenner told AdAge.

But what Wenner is describing, of course, has nothing to do with tablet magazines. He doesn't, I guess, see enhanced digital editions as magazines at all. Fine, one can argue about the term to be used, but the reality is that digital publications, if you will, are growing and are the future. That doesn't mean print will go away – though it's possible – just that a new platform has been created and Wenner wants no part of it.

I'm glad. Wenner Media shouldn't be creating tablet editions. In fact, please, please, don't launch that US Weekly app. Who needs another replica edition thrown inside the Newsstand anyways?

But I have a feeling there is a battle going on at Wenner Media over the future of digital editions as some editors try to convince management that there is a future in digital editions. You can almost read it in the way the editor of US Weekly describes the new replica edition app.

"Right now it's just a basic replica, but over time we'll see and make adjustments," Mike Steele, editor-in-chief, is quoted by AdAge as saying. But adding in some video or audio to a replica is hardly creating a tablet edition, it's like putting a headlight on a horse, how very modern – and if Wenner has his way it's doubtful there will be any money allocated to the editorial staff to do even that.

World markets falling as financial, political uncertainly grips European countries; JPMorgan Chase bankers resign; Yahoo a CEO but not a computer science grad

The stock markets remain weak this morning as major indices are falling thanks uncertainty in Greece and the JPMorgan Chase trading debacle. The Athens Stock Exchange General Index is down over 5 percent again today with the index trading around 575-580. One year ago the index was at 1376.82, representing a 56 percent decrease in one year.

Other European markets are also falling sharply. The German DAX is down over 2 percent, as are the British FTSE 100 and the French CAC 40. It should be noted, however, that all three indices are well above their 52 week lows, reflecting a run up in prices so far this year (unlike the Greek market).

Over the weekend countless meeting were held involving party leaders as efforts continued to form a coalition government. But SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras continues to refuse to join unless the other parties agree to scrap the previously negotiated bailout agreement. If no agreement is achieved, a second round of balloting would take place in June.

Paul Mason of the BBC has posted backgrounder of sorts on SYRIZA this morning.

U.S. stock futures are also down on the news from Greece, but the JPMorgan Chase trading loss is also dropping stocks, with JPM trading down 1.4 percent.

The $2 billion loss, announced on Thursday, has claimed its first executives, the NYT reported this morning. Ina Drew, a 55-year-old banker, has tendered her resignation. The NYT reports Drew earned "roughly $14 million" last year, so don't shed too many tears for the veteran JPM banker. Two traders who work for Drew will be leaving, as well, according to the NYT.

On Sunday Yahoo's chief executive Scott Thompson resigned after only four months on the job, following a bit of scandal over a trumped up résumé. According to Thompson, he never submitted a résumé that that said he held a degree in computer science. But the executive search firm, smelling possible trouble, quickly disputed the claim and told Yahoo that he had, in fact, offered the résumé.

No doubt Thompson has been well rewarded for leaving his post, showing that résumé padding does, indeed, pay – at least if you are an American executive.