Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interface Magazine: a "friendly science magazine" has an excellent tablet edition released into Apple's Newsstand

The last new tablet edition TNM will look at before it begins its summer break is this excellent new digital edition from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel for their "friendly science magazine" Interface.
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This is a well-designed and executed tablet edition that offers the reader good native tablet design, interactivity, embedded animation that adds to the reading experience, and good, if a bit complicated, navigation.

The video I produced of the beginning of the digital edition was not the first attempt to capture the navigation of the magazine. I stumbled around a bit. But it should be said that what looks awkward in a short video, is actually just fine from the perspective of the reader.

Interface Magazine is a free download that also gives readers free access to the issues. Because it is being placed inside the Apple Newsstand, readers can also subscribe for free to make sure they get their latest edition automatically downloaded.

And because it is free, there is no reason publishers about to launch their own tablet edition shouldn't download this iPad app to see what the publisher was able to accomplish.

Retweet: the Economist demonstrates a good understanding of the differences in digital platforms

I highly recommend reading this post from The Economist Group on the company's digital strategy.

The first sub-head says it all: "Lead-forward web and lean-back digital editions."

The post is an excerpt from The Economist Group’s annual report 2012 and briefly lays out the history of digital media and the important developments that they feel have occurred more recently.

It describers very well the reading habits of its web readers and, therefore, the appropriate strategy to serve these readers:

The web provides a completely different experience from print. Yes, visitors to Economist.com do read content there, but the web offers an interactive, snacking, lean-forward and, increasingly, a social and shared experience. That realization has taken us in a completely different direction online, where we now focus on giving readers the opportunity to read our journalism but also to engage with our journalists and with each other, not just on Economist.com but on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere too. Happily, therefore, the web has been additive to the business rather than replacing print, and it has given us the ability to reach millions more people with our distinctive journalism and to begin to build a community among our readers.
But the next paragraph talks about the rise of tablets, and the very different vision of what is needed on that platform:
What is revolutionary for magazines like The Economist, however, is the reinvention of long-form reading triggered by Amazon when it launched Kindle in 2007 and fuelled dramatically by Apple’s iPad. We are fortunate because tablets, e-readers and smartphones allow our readers to enjoy the ritual, lean-back, immersive experience of reading The Economist that they love in print. Many of our readers tell us that this experience is, in fact, even better than print, because as well as being lean-back, digital editions are delivered immediately and reliably (much more so than via the postal service); the backlit screens display images, maps and charts beautifully; and the devices offer opportunities to innovate and deliver more functionality—so, for example, our tablet and smartphone apps also deliver the full newspaper in audio each week.
The entire post is worth reading as it also reviews some data TNM readers have seen before, but it entirely appropriate when discussing digital media strategy.

If this excerpt is indicative of what usually can be found inside the company's annual report I'll be a regular reader of what is usually a droll and merely obligatory publication.

Amazon sends invite to developers to submit their apps for distribution in Europe later this summer

Amazon has sent out an email to its mobile app developers inviting them to begin submitting their apps for future distribution in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain later this summer.

Amazon also promises that more countries will be added to the list "in the near future."

"You now have the ability to select the countries where you would like your apps to be sold and can set your list prices by marketplace," Amazon informed its developers. "If you are already participating in the program, you will automatically have your apps made available for sale internationally by default. And you can easily change international availability for your apps via the Distribution Portal if you don't want your apps to be sold in select countries. Developers allowing Amazon to sell apps internationally are responsible for ensuring their apps comply with all applicable export and import restrictions and the laws of the countries in which the apps are sold."

Amazon said that while it will not require its developers to submit their app in the native languages of the countries of distribution, "we would encourage you to consider localizing your apps with language translations for different regions and to think of creative ways to deliver great experiences to your international customers. Just as in the U.S., developers that sell their apps in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, and Spain will benefit from Amazon's trusted 1-Click purchasing as well as the easy to integrate In-App Purchasing API."

Amazon also said it was changing the terms of the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Agreement. Beginning next month, developers will earn 70 percent of the apps sales price. The prior agreement stated that the developer would earn 70 percent of the sales price or 20 percent of the list price, whichever was larger.

The second change allows developers to control the timing of their app submissions, allowing them to determine which apps would be available to which customers and when those apps would become available.

New York Times issues iOS app updates as users complain of being locked out of the apps

The New York Times this morning issued app updates for its main mobile and tablet news apps for the Apple platform. Yesterday the company updated its Android phone app.

Both the iPhone and iPad apps were updated, with the app description stating that the app fixes "a new issue where subscribers were unable to access full content."

But users in both the Apple App Store and Google Play are complaining of not being able to access their accounts to gain content. While it appears that the reviews inside iTunes were written prior to the update, the new reviews inside Google store appear to have been written after the Android update.

Over time I have found that both the mobile and tablet apps to be far less useful than the website, no matter what device used. So my own use of the NYT apps has fallen off dramatically.

The New York Times company has not proved to be a leader in media app development, something than could prove especially harmful if the Apple TV is opened up to third party apps.

NY Post iPad paywall wasn't a stupid move, it was a manipulative one – iPad paywall policy now reversed

I'm most definitely not a reader of the NY Post, as any TNM reader would understand. The Post is quintessentially New York, which means totally irrelevant to the rest of the country.

But it's most definitely part of the newspaper industry, and subject to the same financial pressures to perform – this includes its need to prove it can adapt to the new digital technologies such as tablets.

So when the Post decided to force iPad owners who wanted to access the Post's website via the tablet's Safari browser to download its app, completely blocking access, the move was all about driving app downloads. And it worked, the Post's iPad app has consistently been in the Top Ten in paid apps since its launch.

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The NY Post's $1.99 iPad app
The app, New York Post, certainly takes a unique approach: it is one of the few newspaper apps that require a reader to pay for upfront, $1.99 for the privilege of accessing the app, then paying again for a subscription ($9.99 per month, $54.99 for six months, $99.99 for the year).

It's audacious, that's for sure. But it is consistent with the business philosophy of Rupert Murdoch: make 'em pay.

How successful the strategy has been is hard to say, as News Corp.'s newspaper properties have not been immune to the financial woes facing the industry, in general.

But now the Post is opening up its website to iPad owners. This shouldn't be a surprise as more and more web traffic is coming from iPad owners. TNM receives about 11 percent of its traffic from iOS devices, not counting the TNM for iPhone app. This would be a lot of traffic to deny if the Post's numbers are about the same. But now readers who own an iPad can now access the Post's site and read such journalistic excellence as Sexcapades of Ponzi felon. Lucky ducks.

Future PLC issues string of updates to its tablet replica editions for social networking & navigation improvements

Yesterday Bonnier issued a long list of updates for its iPad editions, today it was the turn of Future Publishing. Future, which had started so promising with its original Mac|Life iPad app, decided last fall to go the replica route, releasing over 50 tablet editions into the Apple Newsstand in October of last year.

Today the company issued over 60 updated iPad apps – hey, that has to be a record.

Some of the magazine apps to be updated include Guitar Aficionado, Guitar Legends and Guitar World Magazine, as well as The Knitter and Simply Knitting. Also updated is the newer, replica edition app for Mac Life Magazine.

The company had decided to go this route in order to create individual branded apps in bulk – they had previously been selling replicas exclusively through Zinio. According to Future's Mike Goldsmith, the company would go replica, evaluate their success, then decide which magazines would get native design apps like the one created for Guitarist.

The problem with the approach is that the enhanced editions are priced above the price of the replica edition – though both versions are below the cost of print.

Since the mass launching of replicas Future has put out an interesting tablet edition for Cycling News (see here for original post).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bonnier issues a string of tablet edition app updates, plus a new iPad app for Cycle World outside the Newsstand

International magazine publisher Bonnier has issued a series of iPad app updates for its portfolio of titles, as well as a brand new app for Cycle World. Interestingly, the new app resides outside of Apple's Newsstand.
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The new tablet edition for Cycle World Magazine currently only offers the Buyer's Guide edition, which may explain why the app is not inside the Newsstand. It's possible that the app will be updated in the future to begin offering individual issues and subscriptions. For now, the app, while free, requires that the reader pay $5.99 to access the buyer's guide.

Bonnier has plenty of other iPad apps that reside the Newsstand, many of them are custom publishing projects for clients of their magazines.
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The publisher also issued updates for a string of their titles: Garden Design Mag, Saveur, Ski Mag, Snow Mag, Salt Water Sportsman Mag, Skiing Mag, Boating Mag, Cruising Mag, Science Illustrated Magazine, Scuba Diving, Florida Travel + Life Mag, Sailing World Mag, TransWorld WAKEBOARDING, Field & Stream Mag, Sport Fishing Mag, Yachting Mag, Caribbean Travel + Life Mag, Marlin Mag, Outdoor Life Mag, Sport Diving Mag, WaterSki Mag, Parenting School Years, Parenting Early Years Magazine, Working Mother Magazine and Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Mag. (No guarantees that I got them all!)

All the updates, and the new Cycle World app are for Bonnier's magazine titles that have chosen to go the replica route. The updates are designed to improve the app start-up when opened for the first time.

The apps for the technology group – that would be titles like Popular Science and Popular Photography – use the Mag+ platform and were last updated in April to bring in 'retina' support for the new iPad.

The big "what if": Microsoft's tablet efforts may be for naught, but success would require adjustments to publisher and vendor app plans

While the tech media world continues to make its predictions about the Microsoft Surface tablet, it would be nice to think that media executives have been paying attention, doing their own calculations about whether the Redmond software giant can succeed in the tablet market, and what impact that would make on their own digital media efforts. But, honestly, I doubt many media execs are paying that much attention.

For decades, the pace of change in media technology was glacial. The move from hot type to cold was seen as revolutionary, yet it took place over a long period of time, with newspapers and magazines able to slowly transition from one to the other.
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Even the growth of the web, seemingly an earthquake in the media world, was a fairly slow event. The first time I recognized that the web would impact newspapers was in 1993 when AOL 2.0 for Mac was launched – that got my attention. But the first website for the New York Times did not launch until the end of 1996, and the first site for the Chicago Tribune appeared two years after that.

Think about how different the digital media landscape is today: the first NYT mobile app for the iPhone launched soon after Apple began to allow third party apps. The first NYT iPad app launched the same day as the iPad.

One of the reasons for this is simply that Apple wanted media partners. Despite the nonsense written by the 'digital first' crowd, Apple has always worked with media partners in order to insure their products are launched with worthwhile content (even if those partners didn't always like the terms of the relationship).

Media executives today, though, had best be up to speed in the changing landscape of technology. For most, the thought of having to build products for yet another tablet platform (Windows) is not attractive – and I can certainly understand that. But most media companies, knowing that Apple and Google are directing the growth of the tablet platforms are not even registered Apple or Android developers – choosing to outsource that work to others. How many of these have experience developing in the Windows environment?

The good news for those who depend on their digital media vendors is that many of these understand that their clients will want a presence on any device that is successful in the market. Porting over their production solutions may not be a monumental task.

But one media pro asked me this morning what he thought he should be telling his own boss about the new Microsoft tablet. My answer was "how do you feel about how well your company is currently positioned to develop for iOS?" His answer was an abrupt "we're nowhere". At least he was being honest, and it made the question of another new platform pretty irrelevant.

Polish agency Apella releases a tablet edition for its banking magazine client, Gazeta Bankowa

Here is a magazine my grandfather could have read, though being a Detroiter tied to the car industry I doubt a banking magazine would have been of much interest. Gazeta Bankawa is a Polish monthly magazine for the financial industry, established in 1988.
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Today its first tablet edition has been released into Apple's Newsstand by Apella S.A., an agency from Gdynia, north of Gdansk.

Gazeta Bankawa is an app built using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, and therefore one can expect native tablet design – in this case, a landscape only edition, complete with scrolling text boxes, animation and embedded video.

The one issue currently available for download is June and weighs in at 282 MB. The issue is free to download, though future issues will cost 4.99 €, with quarterly subscriptions priced at 9.99 €, and annual subscriptions at 34.99 €.

I believe this is the first magazine from Poland that I have written about here at TNM – certainly the first one using a digital publishing solution that is native rather than replica.

If there is any criticism of the app it is that the tablet edition is being "sold" under the agency's name rather than the publisher's. Certainly it can be expected that the agency would be the one more likely to have the Apple developer account, but creating one for the client would have been easy enough.

In any case, here is a brief walk through the beginning of the June issue:

Microsoft reenters the tablet game with Surface; touted as a "full PC" solution, with innovative construction & design, but without an announced launch date and firm pricing

Microsoft, everyone admits, has been late to the tablet game, and so it is trying hard to rectify that by unveiling its own hardware at a press event in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon (west coast time).

The Redmond company, though, doesn't really have the hang of these things, starting its own event over 40 minutes late. But when they finally got going the company was able to show off something that was actually pretty interesting – the Microsoft Surface.

Before getting into the specs and my own thoughts on the product, it is important to point out something: once again Microsoft previewed a product without being able to announce a hard launch date or pricing.

If you haven't read all the details about Microsoft's new tablet here are some details: Surface will come in two flavors – just like Windows – one running Windows RT, one running Windows 8 Pro.

The Windows RT tablet was the one demoed, as thin as an iPad, with a 10.6" display. The RT version will come in the typical tablet storage sizes of 32 GB and 64 GB, and will come with the Home & Student version of Office built in.

The Windows 8 Pro version will be significantly thicker and come with USB 3.0 and will be powered by Intel’s i5 Ivy Bridge CPU. It will sport more storage, as well: 64 GB or 128 GB. In reality, the Pro version is a thin laptop with a touchscreen. But lots of specs are missing (besides price), like battery life.

Several times during the presentation one heard the phrase "full PC", though Microsoft also stressed that their product was a tablet, as well. This split personality might be very attractive to buyers who want to replace their PCs with a tablet, but fear that they won't be as productive with a tablet. In fact, for these buyers especially, the Surface's Type Cover will be an attractive feature.

The tech press was very excited last night, finally having something nice to write about concerning Microsoft. But the lack of a launch date (Surface is promised to arrive around the time Windows 8 launches) and without solid pricing, means that excitement may well wear off. But at least the possibility exists that Surface will be an exciting product.

Consumers who would want to test drive Surface for themselves will find that hard, even once products are actually launched: Microsoft said Surface would be available at Microsoft stores and online. Maybe this situation will change before launch, but if this remains the same, Surface won't be found at your local Best Buy. (And what about markets outside the US? Apple always makes a point of talking about launch dates in other countries.)

Pricing remains key. Microsoft says that the Windows RT model will be priced "like comparable tablets based on ARM," while the Windows 8 Pro model will be will be "priced on par with Ultrabook-class PCs."

It should be remembered that Ultrabook pricing is above a grand, putting this version of Surface in a whole new category, though maybe that's the point.

Which all begs the question: is this aimed at Apple or Microsoft's own PC hardware partners? I'd guess that the answer is both. One has to target Apple today, with its market position so strong.

But the PC makers have fumbled their own tablet attempts and seem bogged down in creating products with outsourced engineering and development work, so it is possible Microsoft has concluded that their partners have dropped the ball and now Microsoft will lead. (It should be noted, though, that a number of nice Windows running very slim "ultrabooks" have been released lately. Does this move risk PC makers rethinking their Windows PC plans?)

To truly compete today innovative tech companies must get into custom design and proprietary components. Microsoft has done that with the Surface. In fact, much of yesterday's presentation was spent talking up the engineering and attempting to convince the tech press gathered that Microsoft could be a hardware company.

Ultimately, the success of Microsoft's attempt to get into the tablet game will depend on whether they can actually deliver, create an attractive ecosystem, lure developers, and price competitively. That's a tall order, but as you will see in the video below, and read in posts on tech sites, they're off to a good start.

(But I still don't get the idea of a product event without launch dates and pricing.)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Tablet edition for Bloomberg Markets: native app takes unique approach to portrait/landscape layout dilemma

Most magazine publishers, in order to save production time and limit file size, have decided to create their new tablet editions with only portrait page layouts. Today, however, Bloomberg has launched a first tablet edition for its title, Bloomberg Markets, that takes a different approach.
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Rather than recomposing the editorial pages for landscape, Bloomberg Markets+, simply lets them flow inside the landscape page unchanged. Amazingly, the approach works fine.

The beauty of the solution is that if, like me, you prefer to read in landscape, you can. One could argue that a lot of real estate is wasted, and it is, but since the page layouts are designed specifically for the tablet, the reading experience is just fine - no need for pinch-to-zoom like a replica.

I believe the Bloomberg team is using the Mag+ platform to create their new tablet edition. But whatever solution it might be, the native approach leads to a very enjoyable read in whatever orientation one chooses.

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The ads, it should be pointed out, are reformatted to take advantage of both portrait and landscape.

Despite the dual orientations, the file size of the latest issue available inside the app is only 143 MB. The download is fairly quick, making it a reasonable download for business travelers looking to load a magazine before a flight.

The new app allows print subscribers to access the digital ads for free, while offering new digital subscribers two options – $2.99 per month or $29.99 for an annual subscription. Annual subscribers get an extra month for free – and that price and that offer is exactly what Bloomberg is promoting for new print subscriptions, as well.

This wise approach to pricing and digital access will most likely lead to very positive reviews inside the App Store as both existing and new readers know they are getting a square deal, as well as a good new tablet edition.
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OPA study highlights explosive growth of tablets, claims Android OS levels are equal to the iPad

A study commissioned by the Online Publishers Association (OPA), and conducted in partnership with Frank N. Magid Associates, says tablet ownership in the U.S. has reached 31 percent. The study also makes the claim that Android tablets now enjoy an equal market share with Apple's iOS.
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The new study, A Portrait of Today’s Tablet User – Wave II (PDF), surveyed 2,540 people in March of this year to find whether they owned, and how they used, their new tablets. The survey found that tablets only had a 12 percent penetration in the U.S. last year, that level has increased to 31 percent. The OPA study predicts that tablet penetration will reach 47 percent by the end of next year.

The OPA is highlighting its findings concerning paid content, the survey finding that owners are more than willing to pay for apps and subscriptions.

“The growing base of tablet users is also showing a healthy appetite for paid content with 61% having purchased tablet content in the past year,” said Pam Horan, President of the OPA. “Considering tablets have only been available for a little over two years, the findings of this study truly underscore the possibilities for publishers to grow their business as consumers are willing to open their wallets in order to have original content at their fingertips.”

One area of the survey may prove to be controversial. The new study claims that Android tablets are now on equal footing with the iPad, with 52 percent of those surveyed and who own a tablet saying they own an iPad, while 51 percent say they own an Android driven tablet. In fact, the survey shows that 28 percent claim to own a Kindle Fire. Only 8 percent said they owned a new iPad - though it should be pointed out that the latest version of the iPad did not ship until mid-March. That means, if the survey is to be believed, that the new iPad reached 8 percent penetration in the only two weeks.

From an advertising perspective, the study points out that tablet owners are (not surprisingly) more likely to enjoy higher household incomes than those not owning a tablet. While 41 percent of those surveyed had household incomes above $50,000, 59 percent of tablet owners were above this level – 20 percent above $100K, versus only 12 percent of those homes where no tablet is owned.

A PDF copy of the survey, as well as a press release, can be found on the OPA website.

Two things, I believe, skew the results of this survey: first, the timing was closer to the introduction of the Kindle Fire (the holiday season) than the introduction of the new iPad; second, tablet surveys will get interesting results due to the fact that many Kindle owners upgraded to the Kindle Fire, but are still using their new tablets as eBook readers. Likewise, many website owners are having trouble tracking Android tablet use because Android devices often trigger mobile websites rather than their desktop version.

Google's official blog details government requests to pull down links, calls increased requests from countries such as Spain and Poland 'troubling'

Google last night publishing a post on its Official Blog detailing what it describes as "troubling" increases in the number of requests from governments to pull down links.

Google posts online its Transparency Report which details the number of court ordered, or government agency issued requests to pull down content. The report also details the frequency in which Google complies with those requests.

"Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different," wrote Dorothy Chou, Senior Policy Analyst. "When we started releasing this data in 2010, we also added annotations with some of the more interesting stories behind the numbers. We noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not."

Chou says that the frequency of requests has increased in recent years and that those requests are coming from "Western democracies not typically associated with censorship."

"For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors," Chou detailed. "In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it. We didn’t comply with either of these requests."

Huffington Post's new tablet-only magazine gets a little marketing boost from Apple inside the App Store

If you want to get a little marketing push from Apple inside its App Store it helps to be a major brand - and that, apparently, is what The Huffington Post is now.

Huffington., the tablet-only digital magazine from The Huffington Post premiered last week and today Apple has included the new app in its group of publications being promoted in the Newsstand section of the App Store.
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in addition to Huffington., Meredith's Better Homes and Gardens, Condé Nast's The New Yorker and The New York Times, as well as a general "New Magazines Added" section for Time Inc. are all promoted this morning.

Marketing support from Apple is a huge boost, if only because of the mess that is the App Store. A redesign and reorganization of the App Store and the Newsstand, in particular, are expected with the next version of iOS to be released this fall.

Media app updates: Washingtonian Magazine upgrades UI of its tablet edition; Aquafadas issues a quick update to its 2.0 system viewer app

Several media companies issued updates to their tablet apps this weekend, including Hearst which continues to roll out updates for its magazine titles – Road & Track and CFG: Cosmo for Guys being the latest.

Washingtonian Magazine, which bills itself as "the magazine Washington lives by" (does that mean if we kill off the magazine we kill off Washington?), issued a major update to its iPad app that contains major changes to its UI.

From the app description:

Washingtonian Magazine, Version 3.0.0 includes the following features:
• Newly designed high resolution Cover Gallery featuring list view, thumbs view and large thumb view options.
• A description of each issue now appears in the Thumbs View.
• Newly designed contextual menu system (menus now overlay the page content without obscuring the page).
• Issue downloads now work in the background, or when the device is sleeping.
• Keychain Access to remember login information on the device.

Washingtonian Magazine is now optimized for The New iPad with the following enhancements:
• Upgraded graphics to take full advantage of the crispness of the Retina Display.
• High resolution icons loaded for App Store and Desktop.
• Smaller file size.
• Reduced download time.
PhotobucketWashingtonian continues to only offer a monthly subscription option – $1.99 per month – rather than an annual subscription option. One would think this would lead to some drop off in subscribers, though I know of no research done on this issue to date. Single issues can be bought for $3.99.

The Next Web also issued an update for its tablet-only magazine, TNW Magazine. The update brings 'retina' display support for owners of the new iPad. (See original February look at the tablet-only magazine here.)

The digital publishing company Aquafadas, which recently introduced version 2.0 of its tablet publishing platform, updated its viewer app again this weekend. This brings the myKiosk for iOS to version 2.0.1.

The update fixes some bugs that are often found in first generation versions.

For those not familiar with the Aquafadas solution, here is a video look from the company of its AVE Appfactory:

Morning Brief: Greece, France, Egypt

Three nations went to the polls this weekend and the results were a move to the right, a move to the left and a move into the Dark Ages – human beings remain beyond understanding.

In Greece, the second round of voting took place on Sunday, forced by the failure of the major political parties to form a working government following the vote in May. Despite poll numbers that showed that the leftist upstate SYRIZA could attain power, voters decided to vote for the status quo. New Democracy, the center-right party that vows to keep Greece in the Euro and to implement the austerity measures required by the bailout, won the largest share of seat in Parliament. SYRIZA came in second and now has cemented its position as the main opposition party. PASOK, the socialist party in power at the time the "memorandum" was negotiated was punished a second time and finished third.

This Samaras will also
face the Germans
The election represented a victory for the school of thought that the Euro equals Europe, and only by remaining in the Euro can Greeks realy be European. As a result, Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, will now work this week to form a working government, mostly likely with the help of one or more opposition parties – PASOK or Democratic Left.

One wonders what the impact of the Greek victory over Russia in Euro 2012 had on the election. Needing a victory to avoid elimination, Greece won the closely fought battle 1-0 to advance into the knock-out round where it will face, ironically, Germany.

As for investors, the news was, not surprisingly, a relief and seen as a victory for lenders. European markets are marginally higher today, though the Athens Stock Exchange index is sharply up over 5 percent in Monday trading.

In France, a country both geographically and philosophically at the heart of Europe, voters gave the Socialists a majority in the legislature. The move to the left was made easier by the fact that the issue of "Europe" was not at issue. Whereas the voters of Greece were presented by many media outlets and the leading parties with the view that the election was a choice between austerity and isolation, in France the issue was simply the wisdom of austerity versus a more growth oriented policy. Growth won, at least at the polls.

In Egypt, the center of the Arab spring, voters went to the polls and gave its votes to the Muslim Brotherhood. But the vote may be of little consequence as the military consolidated its power by granting itself new powers prior to the voting.

The move tightened the military's control of the state and may, in the end, kill off the notion that the Arab spring brought real democracy to Egypt.