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July 14 2010

19:58

A BROKEN ROLLS-ROYCE? IN BARCELONA? THE SILENT RECALL OF THE IPHONE 4

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Reading this post about the “silent recall” of an iPhone 4, an old true story came to my mind.

A friend in Barcelona (Spain) bought a 1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn Sports Saloon like the one in the picture above.

One day, the huge and imposing car stopped and my friend left the Rolls-Royce in the street, called to London and a nice voice just asked him about how to locate the car and his private address.

“Don’t worry, in a few hours one of our engineers will be in Barcelona and will fix the problem”

Oh, boy! That was good service.

Two days later he got another nice call from London and the message was: the car is ready in front of your home.

Our friend went to the street and there it was.

Shaning, like a new car… and working.

Well done!

But as he was waiting for the bill for many months, he decided to call again to London, asking for the bill.

To his surprise, another nice voice said to him without any doubt or consultation:

“A broken Rolls Royce? In Barcelona? I’m sorry Sir, but we don’t have any record that any Rolls-Royce, anywhere in the world had ever any problem. Thank you for your call.”

So perhaps Steve Jobs has decided to follow the old Rolls-Royce tradition.

June 15 2010

09:58

June 07 2010

19:26

Apple’s impact: What Steve Jobs’ WWDC announcements mean for the news industry’s mobile strategy

Apple CEO Steve Jobs just stepped off the stage in San Francisco at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference. His announcements focused squarely on the new iPhone 4, about which you’ll find no shortage of information at Apple’s site and elsewhere online.

But what do Apple’s announcements mean for the news industry, which increasingly looks to mobile product — Apple’s in particular — as a new delivery mechanism and (fingers crossed) a revenue driver? Here are five takeaways from Jobs’ keynote that will have an impact on news organizations.

Apple’s spate of satire- and morals-related rejections of apps rejected from the App Store appear to be a pretty low priority for the company.

Apple’s come under a lot of criticism from developers for how it manages its App Store, the major platform for reaching iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad owners. An Apple rejection can mean the investment of building an app is rendered worthless, and it’s not always clear why, precisely, an app is being rejected.

Here’s what Jobs had to say about the App Store approval process, paraphrasing from gdgt’s liveblog of the event:

We get about 15k apps submitted every week. They come in up to 30 different languages. Guess what: 95% of the apps submitted are approved within 7 days. What about the 5% that aren’t? Why don’t we approve them? Let me give you the three top reasons.

The number one reason: it doesn’t function as advertised. It doesn’t do what the developer says it does, so we tell the developer to change the app or the description.

The second reason: the developer uses private APIs. … If we upgrade the OS and the app breaks, we won’t have a happy customer.

And the third most frequent reason: they crash. If you were in our shoes, you’d be rejecting apps for the exact same reasons.

I just wanted to give you the facts — sometimes when you read some of these articles, you may think other stuff is going on.

Maybe number four was “violates Apple’s sense of morality,” and number five was “makes fun of powerful people.” But we don’t know that, because Jobs didn’t mention either. News orgs are fine with the technical guidelines he outlined, but App Store rejections based on rude editorial cartoons or an artfully bare nipple are harder for them to take.

Apple still has not done the obvious: state clearly what is allowed and what is not in terms of morals and satire. Not doing so, of course, maximizes Apple’s power because it can decide on a case-by-case basis. But it also means that content producers can’t have any confidence in the system, and open platforms like Android will have increasing appeal.

Apple’s become a big player in the ebook space very quickly — and that’s a space news orgs want to be in.

In the two months since the iPad launched — and with it Apple’s new ebook platform, iBooks — Apple has taken over a remarkable 22 percent of the ebook market. (That’s based on data from five of the six major publishing companies; the sixth, Random House, isn’t on the iPad.)

In one sentence, Jobs revealed more hard data about ebook sales than Amazon has in 2.5 years of the Kindle. (I exaggerate, but only slightly. Amazon still hasn’t unveiled any hard numbers on Kindle device or ebook sales. Maybe this will prompt them.)

Those Apple ebook sales are based on the 2 million iPads sold, which are the only Apple devices that have iBooks. But iBooks is coming to the iPhone and iPod touch later this month — around the same time Jobs said the 100 millionth iPhone OS device will be sold. In other words, iBooks’ momentum is about to get punched up.

I continue to maintain that ebooks are a huge potential opportunity for news organizations. Ebooks favor timeliness and quick turnarounds in a way that traditional print books can’t, and the digital format means that expectations for length are tossed aside. There’s not much of a print business model for a 50-page printed prose book — but there absolutely can be one for a 50-page ebook. And people feel comfortable paying for ebooks, much more so than for anything labeled “news.” A growing ebooks market with dueling distribution systems (Amazon and Apple) fighting over content is a good thing for news organizations.

Better mobile screen quality could be a push away from print.

The new iPhone 4 features four times the pixels of its predecessor in the same space, which Jobs promises creates images and text far crisper than ever before. The images on display at the demo looked really impressive. And while the iPhone appears to be in the lead now, undoubtedly its competition will catch up soon enough.

Pro: A better screen means more people will find using mobile devices more pleasant. That could lead to more use of news orgs’ apps and websites on them.

Con: A better screen limits the salience of one of print’s best selling points: higher visual quality. Jobs said 300 dpi is the limit for what the human eye can typically detect. Past iPhones have been at 162 dpi. The new iPhone 4 is 326 dpi — a level Jobs says is indistinguishable from print. (“Text looks like you’ve seen it in a fine printed book, unlike you’ve ever seen in an electronic display,” Jobs said, paraphrasing.) We’ll see about that, but newspapers and magazines are still a lot more effective monetizing print publications than digital ones, so devaluing one of print’s best qualities probably won’t help.

The “mobile” part of mobile video will increasingly mean editing, not just shooting.

Jobs unveiled a version of iMovie for the iPhone; a version for the iPad can’t be too far off, even though the iPad (currently) lacks a camera. There have been editing apps for video on the iPhone and other platforms before, but iMovie looked both powerful and relatively simply. Reporters in the field getting iPhone video will find it easier than ever to do their own edit before shipping it back to headquarters. I wouldn’t want to be Flip right now; the reasons to have a Flip in addition to a smartphone seem fewer now.

Even before launching, iAd is proving to be a big gorilla in the mobile display advertising space.

I’ve written about iAd before. It’s Apple’s new immersive, interactive advertising platform being offered up to iPhone developers to put into their apps. Today Jobs showed off a sample iAd, and the crowd seemed to like it.

But the most stunning datapoint was Jobs’ claim that iAd would take in 48 percent of the U.S. mobile display advertising business in the second half of 2010. Remarkable if true, although it’s derived from some questionable math (dividing Apple’s hard-dollar sales numbers into a JP Morgan estimate from the start of the year — see page 46 of that document for the origin). And mobile display advertising is only a small slice of overall mobile advertising — in the same report, SMS advertising is a $3.2 billion business and mobile search advertising is another $321 million.

But in any event, it’s a sign that Apple is here as a big player in yet another market. For large news organizations that could afford to do their own mobile ad sales, Apple’s probably a competitor. For smaller ones that would have a tough time breaking into the mobile ad game, getting 60 percent of iAd revenues — the share Apple is promising — might not be such a bad deal.

June 03 2010

21:59
21:31

June 02 2010

18:10

Steve Jobs: If your app does not fit, you must resubmit

Last night, Apple CEO Steve Jobs spoke at All Things Digital’s D8 conference, where among other topics he discussed the touchy matter of apps being rejected from the iTunes store for political content. Jobs essentially made the case for rejected developers to simply submit the same app again until it makes its way past Apple’s app evaluators.

The context is a story we reported in April on how an iPhone app created by Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Mark Fiore had been rejected by Apple the previous fall on the grounds that it “ridicules public officials.” Fiore had thrown up his arms and gone back to his cartooning, not bringing the issue back up until we asked him about it. The news spread like wildfire, and, within a week, Apple responded, inviting him to resubmit his app, unchanged, which was swiftly approved and made available in iTunes. Jobs himself called the original decision a “mistake” in an email to an Apple user.

Then last night Jobs insinuated that perhaps Fiore could have solved his own problem if he had just resubmitted his app, rather than doing nothing in the months between the rejection and winning a Pulitzer. Here’s a paraphrase of Jobs’ comments from All Things D’s liveblog (emphasis mine):

“We have a rule that says you can’t defame people,” says Jobs, noting that political cartoonists by virtue of their profession sometimes defame people. The cartoon app was rejected on those grounds, he adds. “Then we changed the rules…and in the meantime, the cartoonist won a Pulitzer….But he never resubmitted his app. And then someone asked him, ‘Hey why don’t you have an iPhone app?’ He says we rejected it and suddenly, it’s a story in the press…Bottom line is, yes, we sometimes make mistakes…but we correct them…We are doing the best we can, changing the rules when it makes sense.”

The problem here is that Apple sent Fiore an email outlining the rule and telling him to change his app if he wanted in. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the email (again, emphasis mine):

If you believe that you can make the necessary changes so that NewsToons does not violate the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review.

Why would he think to disregard those instructions and just submit again? In the following months, Apple made no announcement about a change to the defamation rule; the rule, in fact, still exists today as Jobs mentioned. Less than two weeks ago, another political app was rejected under similar defamation grounds. If there was a change, it wasn’t communicated publicly and it is still being dealt with inconsistently. As Dan Gillmor has written repeatedly, Apple has hardly been a model of transparency on what makes it through the App Store process and what doesn’t, and as Apple platforms become an increasingly common vector for the distribution of news, it’s in everyone’s interest for that to change.

The message from Jobs here is that, yes, Apple makes mistakes — but if you want one fixed, don’t count on them to contact you or speak about it publicly. Just disregard that rejection email and just try again.

April 14 2010

18:04

THE APPLE IPAD: AN ALMOST SOLD OUT TABLET

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Good news for Apple.

Bad news for its European fans.

Good news for their shareholders.

Bad news for Steve Jobs critics.

Bloomberg reports that Apple shipped more than 500,000 iPads during the first week and expects demand to exceed its supply for the next several weeks, according to a statement today.

So the iPad will be not sold outside the United States until the end of May.

The reaction of the markets was, again, very strong and the Apple shares hit new record numbers.

At $245.75, the investors were trading Apple very confident about the prospects of a tablet that could be in a few days another sold out product.

As Bloomberh said:

Apple has suffered from shortages before. Its iPhone 3G was sold out at almost all of its U.S. retail outlets 10 days after it was introduced in July 2008. A year later, soaring sales of the iPhone 3GS left it with too few units to meet demand

April 03 2010

21:05

STEVE JOBS SHOWS UP AT THE PALO ALTO APPLE STORE AND FINDS A LOT OF HAPPY SHOPPERS

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30-minute ago the San Jose Mercury News reported:

“In Palo Alto, shortly past noon, shoppers got more than a new shiny object – Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed up and hispresence gave everyone a giddy brush with Silicon Valley high tech fame.

Wearing a black hoodie and jeans, Jobs , who came with his wife and daughter, scanned the displays of tech goodies and watched Apple employees give ipad how-to demonstrations.

And of course he drew amazed gazes from shoppers already expressing excitement overload – the equivalent of a sugar high for Apple fans.

“I love the ipad,” one twenty something female shopper said to Jobs.

To which he happily replied, “good!”

Many in the crowed pulled out cameras and iphones to capture the most magic Silicon Valley moment.

Jobs also chatted with a handful of other shoppers, but in the end most did not allow the 30 minute appearance — even by Apple royalty — to get in the way of the serious business of buying new iPads.”

Soon we will see the first real pictures on Flickr.


April 02 2010

18:32

Why The iPad Is A Hit (And Why I Won't Buy One Yet)

Even before any consumers had received Apple's iPad, it was being proclaimed a hit. I didn't find that surprising, because from the beginning there were signs this day was coming. Here are a few:

  1. There was a business and tech press feeding frenzy since before the initial announcement of the impending device. The announcement had the same kind of shoulder-to-shoulder gaggles, breathless blog posts, videos shot by reporters from their handheld cameras and tweets that I saw for Kindle announcements running up to unveilings by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, a couple of which I attended.
  2. The knowing skepticism and whining was similar to what greeted the iPhone, pointing out faults (the lack of a camera, a phone, some kinds of connectivity and the ability to view objects produced in Flash) but missing the larger points that make people love Apple devices: the sleekness, the game-changing nature of the way they bring an "experience" into one's hands, that it's one step closer to the Holy Grail of that one thing you can easily carry that does it all (sound, pictures, books, editing, connectivity) with the form factor, shape and colors that Apple seems to get so right. (Here's a love poem from USA Today's tech reviewer, if you need convincing.)
  3. Apple's typical buzz-creating genius in the staging of the rollout. There were rumors that may or may not have been leaked that some sort of whiz-bang thing was coming, shifting rumors about dates and times, word spread to reporters to save a date for an announcement, negotiations with publishers (some of whom talk to the press), the big unveiling with CEO Steve Jobs at the center.
  4. There were rumblings of book and magazine publishers and other media companies scrambling to learn about the platform and build new apps for it.
  5. It was seen as a challenge to the Kindle -- something I feel is sorely needed -- and that Apple is the one that can do it.
  6. Apple these days doesn't so much invent truly new things as bring a clarity that makes their version of them vastly more pleasing than any that have come before. The iPhone wasn't the first smartphone, any more than the iPod was the first music- or hand-held video player. They were just the ones that combined great technical acumen with design beauty. The iPad fits the pattern.
  7. They created low- to high-priced versions of the machine. You can have it at the lower price, but you really want the one that costs more.
  8. They overcame the need to buy a two-year contract, by allowing people to subscribe to 3G connection plans on an as-needed monthly basis (though it is with AT&T).

The Drawbacks

Still, I won't be buying an iPad right now, even though I won a bet with my friend and colleague Brian Reich that the iPad would be a hit.

For one thing, the iPad will be missing important features incorporated into later versions. There have been complaints over the device's lack of openness and the fact that people will have to buy new versions of software they already own for their computers to make certain documents work.

There will be more tittering about the lack of a camera, and other things the device is missing -- so far, we know it has no USB port, the battery is not replaceable, and the other deficiencies noted above. Apple will, predictably, do a lot to make the next version(s) better and address at least some of the most loudly expressed concerns. It will also, no doubt, anger others who have bought the early version of the iPad and be told that they'll have to pay again to get a newer one with more features. (A Kindle spokesperson once shrugged and told me that, well, I could just sell my old one on Amazon, and apply that money toward a new Kindle.)

Meanwhile, there's speculation that Apple is manipulating their production run in order to create the appearance that demand outstrips supply. It's been reported, too, that some stores are being sent limited quantities which means, no doubt, lines and a few scrums, all causing more predictably breathless coverage and further spurring demand.

Whatever the device's shortcomings or Apple's market manipulations, though, you can believe that anyone seen gliding their fingers across the screen of their iPad will garner longing glances from those around them.

And I knew I'd won the bet when Brian decided to help our friends at We Media with their event that will explore how the iPad is going to change the media world as we know it.

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about how the iPad will change the media industry:




Fill in the blank: The iPad will ______ the media industry.poll

Dorian Benkoil is consulting sales manager, and has devised marketing strategy for MediaShift. He is SVP at Teeming Media, a strategic media consultancy focused on helping digital media content identify and meet business objectives. He has devised strategies, business models and training programs for websites, social media, blog networks, events companies, startups, publications and TV shows. He Tweets at @dbenk.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

15:51

STEVE JOBS ON THE IPAD: “IS MAGICAL”

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Steve Job to Stephen Fry in Time magazine:

“I think the experience of using an iPad is going to be profound for many people,” he says. “I really do. Genuinely profound.” That rings a bell. “I’ve heard it said that this is the device for you,” I reply. “The one that will change everything.” “When people see how immersive the experience is,” Jobs says, “how directly you engage with it … the only word is magical.”

March 30 2010

22:10

What Do You Think of Apple's iPad?

Apple CEO Steve Jobs says the new iPad will be revolutionary. Pre-orders have sold well, Apple stock is soaring, and Apple Stores will likely be jammed this weekend for the April 3 launch of the device. But can the iPad really follow in the footsteps of the iPhone and change our media habits in a radical way, whether it's reading books, watching video or playing games? Do you plan on buying one or skipping the hype? What's your reason to love it or ignore it? Answer our poll below about how the iPad will change the media industry, and then post a comment below with your own detailed take on it.




Fill in the blank: The iPad will ______ the media industry.poll

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

February 25 2010

20:13

WHAT’S NEXT: APPLE BUYS NINTENDO?

Apple-nintendo-logo

Why Apple keeps cash and its short-term and long-term investments coming in at $40 billion?

Apple is holding onto cash to take “big, bold” risks, Jobs said at the company’s shareholder meeting today

One financial website says: perhaps because Apple wants to buy Nintendo!

Not a bad idea.

19:37

25 APPLE STORES IN CHINA!

iphone-china-talks

Big news from the Apple shareholders meeting today in Cupertino:

Very soon, 25 Apple stores in China.

iPhone now in 70 countries.

Apple is now the top notebook provider to education in US.

Elmer-DeWitt reported the best line of the meeting:

“Steve is as feisty as ever (suggesting that questioners come to an actual question) and in good humor! …Another shareholder then asked a long winded question about what Apple/Jobs fears, “What keeps you awake at night?” Jobs deadpans: “Shareholders meetings.” Audience erupts in laughter.”

After the annual meeting, the Apple shares are UP.

2010-02-25_2000

WOW!

February 24 2010

12:52

STEVE JOBS IS 55

steve jobs birthday

Today is Steve Jobs 55-year birthday.

Tomorrow is the annual Apple shareholders meeting in Cupertino.

Last year Steve was absent.

But tomorrow he will be there.

Expect some good news about the iPad.

February 22 2010

17:29

US Digest: paidContent 2010, Tiger Woods, Scientology vs. journalism, and more

Starting today, the editor’s blog will feature an afternoon roundup of all things media from over the pond. From the hugely important to the very inconsequential, check in for a choice of America’s journalistic goings on.

paidContent 2010

The issue of paid content was high on the agenda at the end of last week with the paidContent 2010 conference in New York. In attendance were big names from the New York Times: Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., chairman and publisher; Janet Robinson, president and CEO; and Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations, who were interviewed at length by ContentNext’s Staci D. Kramer on “metered news and more”.

According to the paidContent coverage, “while they were willing to buy lunch, they weren’t ready to feed the appetite for detail about plans for NYTimes.com to go metered in 2011″.

See the video here

And the full conference coverage from the paidContent site here

“Does the bleeding ever stop at 425 Portland?”

image by Stephen Cummings

Presumably, ways of making newspaper journalism pay were also high on the agenda over in Minneapolis at the end of last week, where the Star Tribune announced that five voluntary redundancies would be offered to reporters and editors. “Does the bleeding ever stop at 425 Portland?” asks MinnPost.

Staff memo here

Pessimistic stories of this kind, including this one, continue to be thoughtfully aggregated by blogger and pessimist extraorinaire Fading To Black. Not featured on this chronicle of US newspaper decline was the story that down in South Florida, rather than asking him if he’d like to pack his things, the Sun Sentinel handed production maintenance manager Bob Simons a $25,000 spot bonus and a Caribbean holiday. Simons’ suggestion of a different supplier for equipment apparently saved the paper $1 million.

A very different staff memo here

AP underperforms on non-profit content distribution

An interesting story from the Nieman Jounalism Lab reports on the outcome of Associated Press’ decision to distribute content from America’s top four non-profit news outlets: ProPublica, Center for Public Integrity, Centre for Investigative Reporting, and the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

The six-month project was launched back in June 2009 at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Baltimore, “with great fanfare” according to Bill Buzenberg, executive director of Centre for Public Integrity.

It seems however that the scheme hasn’t been successful so far, with admissions from both the AP and the non-profit directors that very little content has made it into print. A poor distribution model is to blame apparently, with new non-profit content not being sufficiently flagged.

“They haven’t done the technical backup work to really make it work,” said Buzenburg. “They haven’t made it a priority.”

However, hope remains for the project from both sides. Buzenburg added: “This is a good idea. I’d like it to work [...] The potential of this remains.”

“It’s early yet – we’re only six months into it,” said John Raess, AP’s San Francisco bureau chief.

“We want our celebrities to show a little leg”

image by Jim Epler

Much of the weekend’s media coverage in the US was given over to Tiger Wood’s much-publicised public apology on Friday morning. Mediabistro nailed the best format for coverage by inviting readers to pen Haikus for the Mediabistro facebook page. Submissions include this clear frontrunner from Pamela Ross:

“Questions? Don’t go there.
My Thanksgiving meal was ruined.
Thanks. Now. Watch this swing.”

With more syllables at his disposal, David Carr of The New York Times’ Media & Advertising pages goes into a little more detail, considering the relationship between celebrity sportsmen and the media:

Athletes and actors would like for us to focus on the work, while reporters know that their editors and audience want more, because while the work is visible, we want our celebrities to show a little leg.

But once this bit of leg, so strictly concealed by Woods for so long, has been shown, why are the media who feed on it so relentlessly owed some sort of apology?

Those of us who have had some experience with human frailties all know why Tiger Woods did what he did last Friday, which was to get in a room with people he had hurt or embarrassed to say he was “deeply sorry” for what he had done. That part made sense, the beginning of a process of amends.

I just don’t know what the rest of us were doing there.

A sentiment echoed this side of the pond by Charlie Brooker today in the Guardian.

There are those that must hope that, now this enigmatic character has addressed his hushed audience, and delivered his much anticpated talk, that the hype, rumour, pontificating, and endless media coverage will die away.

Apple wields knife over TV show prices

It is fair to say that at least a few people thought exactly the same thing about Steve Jobs’ unveiling of the iPad. But the so-called saviour of the newspapers is back in the media spotlight this week with news that Apple are considering halving the current price of television shows on iTunes from $1.99 to 0.99 cents. Media commentators have hailed the iTunes store’s 125 million registered customers as a potential liferaft for sinking newspaper publishers, and major networks may be wary of waving a pin anywhere near that customer base by rejecting the move, instead gambling on even a small percentage increase in those paying for TV offsetting the significant price drop.

image by curiouslee

Meanwhile, Adobe and Conde Nast have jumped right aboard the good ship iPad, unveiling “a new digital magazine experience based on WIRED magazine” at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California.

The Church of Scientology vs. the St. Petersburg Times, Round 1

And finally, from Howard Kurtz’s Media Notes at the Washington Post, the improbable story that the Church of Scientology, in a tit-for-tat response to investigations by the St. Petersburg Times of Tampa Bay, has organised some investigative journalism of its own.

image by Ben Sutherland

The church has officially hired three ‘veteran reporters’ – a Pulitzer Prize winner, a former “60 Minutes” producer, and the former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors – to look in detail at the newspapers’ conduct. Steve Weinberg, the former IRE executive, who was paid $5,000 to edit the study, says that the agreement stipulates the church publish the study in full or not at all.

Weinberg claims that in spite the study being bankrolled by the church, it would be objective. Neil Brown, executive editor of the St. Petersburg Times, thinks otherwise:

“I ultimately couldn’t take this request very seriously because it’s a study bought and paid for by the Church of Scientology.”

Brown seems to feel a bit hard done by in this instance:

“I counted up something like six or seven journalists the church has hired to look into the St. Petersburg Times. I’ve just got two looking into the Church of Scientology,” he complained.

No fair.

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February 03 2010

23:04

DESIGN ACCORDING TO STEVE JOBS

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“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Steve Jobs

08:53

THE APPLE iPAD EFFECT

2010-01-28_2130apple efect

The traffic of this blog has increased dramatically in the weeks before the Apple iPad’s launch.

We had more visitors and visits than ever.

With 523 links registered by Technorati (Buzzmachine has 657, and Reflections of a Newsosaur 617)

That was the iPad effect!

February 02 2010

09:38

NEGATIVE REACTIONS TO THE iPAD

original

Tweetfeel has done some research about the negative reactions to the iPad.

They analyzed half million tweets after the Steve Jobs presentation of the new Apple device and they found that 60% of them were positive and 40% negative.

The chart shows the negative ones.

Nothing that Apple cannot fix.

So, I am very optimistic.

January 27 2010

23:20

Why we should not underestimate Apple’s iPad


Within minutes of the end of Steve Jobs’ announcement of the Apple iPad, I was getting emails and Twitter messages, asking me for my take on the device.

Like so many thousands, I followed the presentation through the live blogs from Engadget and the Neiman Journalism Labs, as well as Twitter.

Ahead of today’s unveiling, there was so much hype about the device that you could be forgiven for being a little underwhelmed. One study found it has been mentioned in more 25,000 articles online so far this year.

The tablet had been touted as the saviour of print, publishing, or just about any media industry going through a period of upheaval.

The irony is that a device alone is not going to save these industries and it is wrong to see Apple some white knight.

Apple’s secret is in marrying form and function into devices that are focused on the user experience. The iPhone has demonstrated how a device can serve as a platform for new media experiences.

On first impressions, the iPad appears to offer an ideal platform to rethink journalism in a more visual, interactive and multimedia direction.

Considering the screen as just another way to display print is simply recycling the norms and conventions of one medium onto another. And embedding video in a text story falls far short of reimagining both the journalism and how to present it.

Bobbie Johnson of The Guardian tried the iPad shortly after the announcement and wondered:

The big problem I had was in trying to understand what the iPad was for: the answer, it seems, is everything.

This is exactly what is right, and wrong, about the iPad. It may seem puzzling, but by doing everything it offers a platform for individuals to tailor to their specific needs. So whatever you may want to do, there will be an app for that.

This is the first iteration of the iPad, so it is important to consider what this device offer in subsequent incarnations.

I suspect we may end up underestimating the long-term impact of this device, both on what we consider personal computing and on we interact with media.

15:11

Why the iTablet isn’t the saviour of journalism as we know it

The hype surrounding Apple’s new touch-screen mini-computer, predictably, is huge. Just like film studios, book and textbook publishers, news producers are hoping the i/Tablet/Pad/Slate/Thing can boost the online, mobile content marketplace.

Here’s a “source”, who purports to have worked with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, telling the Wall Street Journal exactly what it wants to hear:

Mr. Jobs is “supportive of the old guard, and [he] looks to help them by giving them new forms of distribution”.

One publishing CEO was even moved to write poetry about it (via Moconews.net) and Apple fanboys and news executives will no doubt be glued to their screens when Jobs takes the stage at around 6pm (GMT) tonight to announce the details.

But when the hype dies down, will the journalism business really be in better shape? These people have taken a welcome dose of reality juice:

  • Craig McGill, a former journalist now plying his trade at digital PR firm Contentlymanaged, quite reasonably asks who is going to create all the content for new organisations’ multiplatform mobile packages given all the job cuts in news publishing in the past year.
  • Forrester analysts Charles Golvin and James McQuivey consider that maybe the iTablet won’t be all it’s cracked up to be: “It is flawed in meaningful ways: It’s a computer without a keyboard, it’s a digital reader with poor battery life and a high price tag, and it’s a portable media player that can’t fit in a pocket.” (via paidContent.org)
  • I couldn’t put it better than David Campbell, a professor of cultural and political geography, did this morning: “Information and distribution are separate. Journalism is information, tablet distribution. Can help journalism circulate but can’t ’save’ it.”

Much is made of iTunes and its successful monetisation of mobile applications and music – the Financial Times is even planning to imitate (via PCUK) its “pay-per-view” micropayments model, although FT.com told Journalism.co.uk last week that paid-for day passes would come first.

The model is attractive: there are more than 100 million iTunes accounts with users’ credit cards pre-loaded and ready to go. A new shiny, powerful device – somewhere between an e-reader and a netbook – could just persuade people to buy the news subscriptions the New York Times and Rupert Murdoch so desperately want to sell them.

But Apple’s new device is just another distribution platform for words, pictures, videos and data, just like PCs, mobiles and print. Recreating a print experience on another device is not going to solve the economic crisis news finds itself in: Google will still be more efficient at selling advertising and will still point readers to free content.

The future of news is about distributing content as widely as possible and monetising not just content but relationships. Devices will be a big part of that, but they’re not the answer.

Photo credit: Mike McCaffery, from Flickr, via a Creative Commons licence.

Patrick Smith is a freelance journalist and event organiser, and formerly a correspondent for paidContent:UK and Press Gazette. He blogs at psmithjournalist.com and is @psmith on twitter.

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