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March 29 2013


March 28 2013


At The Wall Street Journal, a smartphone app has reporters on board for shooting video

The text-based web is dead, says Michael Downing. When AOL CEO Tim Armstrong announced his intention this month to transform the company into a platform for video, Downing heard a death knell — one he’s been expecting for some time. We are, after all, as he says, on the precipice of “the rise of the visual web.”

Downing has a dog in this fight; he’s the founder of Tout, a video sharing website and app that makes it easy for users to upload and share short — under 15 seconds — videos in real-time. Although originally designed as a consumer device, it also appealed to publishers: The Wall Street Journal approached Downing with the idea for a proprietary app that reporters could use as a news gathering tool. With the addition of some analytics tools and a centralized management function that allows editors to quickly vet clips before they’re published, that became WorldStream, which we wrote about in August.

“Consumer behavior has become much more accustomed to consuming the news they want as it happens,” says Downing. “The WSJ was trying to be much more in line with real-time news and real-time publishing.”

More than half a year later, how’s WorldStream working out? The Journal seems pretty happy. On the business side, WorldStream point man and WSJ deputy editor of video Mark Scheffler describes the project as a “destination but also a clearinghouse.” While all of the WSJ’s mobile videos are first published to the feed, many go on to live second lives across a wide variety of platforms. Some clips follow reporters to live broadcast appearances, while others are embedded into article pages and blogs. Andy Regal, the Journal’s head of video production, said that they don’t break out WorldStream views from the newspaper’s overall video numbers, which he said total between 30 and 35 million streams per month.

That kind of traffic across platforms draws the attention of advertisers. The WSJ says video ads generate “premium” rates, meaning somewhere around $40 to $60 CPM. Says Tim Ware, WSJ director of mobile sales, of the Journal’s broader video strategy: “We’re very bullish on the growth of WSJ Live this fiscal year, and thus the growth in video ad revenue. We’re also starting to contemplate some one-off sponsorships within our overarching video coverage of select events and stories.” (After spending about a total of about an hour on WorldStream, however, I only saw one ad — for a “smart document solutions” company — repeated about a half dozen times.)

But the surprise, both for Downing and WSJ management, is how readily — and ably — the WSJ’s reporters have taken to the new medium; getting reporter buy-in has been a struggle for many newspaper video initiatives. “It started out as an internal tool because we didn’t know how many people would be able to accommodate this kind of approach with the technology and the software,” Regal says, “but they think about it as part of their daily work now.” Armed with iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Android devices, hundreds of WSJ staffers have filed video clips via Tout; in the 229 days since launch, that’s 2,815 videos. In many cases, Downing said, the reporters didn’t even need training: “They just jumped right in and started using it.”

Charles Levinson has been reporting for the Journal from places like Syria “What are the assets that give us an advantage over the competitor? We have 2,000 reporters around the world,” he said. “How do you parlay 2,000 reporters into good video?” Levinson says the Tout app is helping the WSJ avoid print media’s tendency toward “mediocre” video production.

Christina Binkley is a style columnist at the WSJ who first experimented with the app while reporting on New York’s 2012 Fashion Week. She says there’s a lot of pressure on reporters to be producing a huge variety of content — articles, columns, blogs, Instagrams, tweets. She said, unlike some other apps, WorldStream has really stuck with her: “I can add a lot of value to my column very quickly without having to mic somebody up.”

Scheffler says some of the reporters have gained basic video shooting skills so quickly that the footage they file can be edited together into longer clips that could pass for more traditionally produced video. Going forward, Scheffler hopes to put better mobile editing tools in their hands: “Being able to be full-fledged creators on a mobile platform is something that we’re just going to continue being at the frontier of,” he said.

Regal’s focus, meanwhile, will be to make sure none of that prime footage is being lost in the ever quickening deluge that is the WorldStream feed. He’s considering a “Best of WorldStream” weekly digest, and a variety of other news packages that make that valuable content more findable, and more shareable.

News organizations have been chasing the promise of video advertising for years now, and the rise of apps like Vine illustrate the rise of social video sharing. But Downing says he isn’t worried about the competition. “Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the existing video sharing apps have to do with self-expression,” he says, comparing Vine to something like Instagram. Tout’s enterprise apps skip the idea of sharing with friends and focuses on fast, concise updates from outlets that users follow based on broader personal interest.

“It’s a real-time, reverse chronological vertical feed of updates,” says Downing, “Whether it’s Twitter or LinkedIn, that is becoming the standard form factor for being able to track that information that you curate yourself.”

Since partnering with The Wall Street Journal last year, a number of publishers have pursued similar agreements with Tout — CBS, Fox, NBC Universal, WWE, La Gardere and Conde Nast are among them. By the end of 2013, Downing expects to host around 200 media outlets, including some of News Corp.’s other brands. Downing says these publisher agreements are now the company’s “primary mode of business,” not the consumer product.

What does Downing see coming in video? He confidently points to Google’s spring 2012 earnings report, when for the first time, its cost-per-click rate fell. “That was the sounding bell. That was the beacon. That was the one clear signal to the world that the era of the print metaphor defining the web experience…was over.”

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March 25 2013


“Post Classic”: The Washington Post integrates its print edition into a new iPad app

What if you had an old-school newspaper newsroom where the digital producers were at the core of the operation, and the task of putting together the print newspaper was the side job?

The Washington Post’s Cory Haik, executive producer for digital news, says that’s “exactly what we are trying to do,” with the new iPad app the paper launched Monday as a step in that “one web” direction. (Disclosure: I freelance regularly for Post.)


But the Post is also trying to find ways to bring along less digitally oriented readers. The new app includes a print replica edition — so you can still read the daily paper in its entirety from A1 to the back page — but with the display of each story still optimized for the tablet, rather than frozen in awkwardly static PDFs or in ungainly digital presentations. (The replica includes puzzles, comics, and Sunday magazine, plus a 14-day archive so you can dig back into recently published material.) Plenty of newspapers offer a replica edition for the iPad, but most are separate from their “traditional” iPad apps. (Can we say “traditional iPad app” yet?)

“The app features the new ‘Post Classic,’ which yes, is an entire replica of the broadsheet newspaper,” Haik told me in an email. “This was something users had been asking for since our first version of the iPad. They wanted the complete Washington Post. The mobile teams worked hard to create something that delivered across the board. It’s more than a PDF reader — we thought a lot about the UX and flow from the ‘Post Classic’ version into our iPad reading experience.”

(Coke Classic jokes are left as an exercise for the reader.)


The app also represents a move to Newsstand for the Post, which means Apple will get a 30 percent cut of any subscription revenue generated using in-app purchases. (The app is free in the Apple Store for now, but the newspaper is rolling out a paywall this summer.) The Post’s decision to go that route had less to do with money, though, and more to do with giving readers what they want. Haik explains: “It’s part of Apple and delivering on the platform. We have to meet our users where they are.”

Not everyone is thrilled about the move. Commenters in the Post’s announcement about the app have already expressed annoyance that Android users are being left out. Here’s Haik: “As for other native tablet apps, those are surely conversations that are active. It was just time for an upgrade to our iPad product and Newsstand was a natural step for us.”

The meet-the-audience-where-it-is mentality is also what prompted the Post to bring its moderated commenting system, The Forum, from its politics iPad app to the new flagship app. “Our goal was to create a ‘lean-back’ and synthesized view for an iPad audience looking to digest the conversation without all the noise,” Haik said. In other words, it’s a way to foster engagement without subjecting Twitter-averse readers to the firehose of that platform.

“When we think about building out social, it’s important to think about users who are not on social as well,” Haik said in a later online chat. “And [The Forum] can be customized, but we tried to do the heavy lifting for folks.”

Other notable aspects you’ll find on the app: live video and live chats, photo galleries, sports scores, and the ability to read offline.

“We have an entire producer crew that is dedicated to desktop and mobile platforms — 24/7,” Haik said. “Right now there is a big focus on making sure the app is ready at night and then throughout the day.”

August 30 2012


Amazon Appstore rollout across the EU: U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain

Amazon :: Amazon.com :: today announced the launch of its Amazon Appstore in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain, giving European customers access to Amazon’s broad selection of Android apps with the convenience of shopping on Amazon from their Android phones and tablets. Customers can get the Amazon Appstore for their Android phones and tablets by visiting www.amazon.com/getappstore.

Announced here: press release, phx.corporate-ir.net

HT: Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Tags: Amazon Android

August 22 2012


Flickr update its Android app: New tabbar, metadata editing & more

The Next Web :: Launching in September 2011, Flickr’s Android app took its time to come to the platform and since then has lacked behind its iPhone counterpart. However, Yahoo has pushed an new update today, overhauling its UI to add a new tabbar, new ways to explore, the editing of metadata and whole host of other new features.

A report by Matt Brian, thenextweb.com

August 17 2012


Google updates Android Voice Search to support 13 additional languages

The Next Web :: As the battle over voice continues to unfold, Google has today announced it has updated Voice Search for Android devices to support an additional 13 languages, bringing the total to 42 languages and regional accents in 46 countries.

A review by Matt Brian, thenextweb.com

Tags: Android Google

April 26 2012


Gallery: Google's slides on Android quarterly report in the Oracle patent case

The Verge has published images of "Google's slides on Android quarterly report in the Oracle patent case." Included are spreadsheets with the busines projections for smartphones and tablets and an ad revenue forecast model.

Continue to browse the slides here www.theverge.com

Tags: Android Google

Mobile strategy: LinkedIn gets new Android and iOS apps

The Next Web :: At the end of Q4 2011 15% of the daily visitors to LinkedIn.com came via mobile. At the end of Q1 2012, that number had grown to 22%. The mobile platform is the fastest-growing consumer service at LinkedIn. In fact, the site sees 19 people searches every second via mobile devices, and 41 LinkedIn profile views every second across its current 150 million members.

LinkedIn's mobile strategy - Continue to read Brad McCarty, thenextweb.com

April 25 2012


Instagram for Android hits 10 million downloads

The Next Web :: Downloads of Instagram’s Android application continue to grow at an impressive rate, today hitting 10 million downloads on the Google Play Marketplace, just 22 days after it launched on the platform.

Continue to read Matt Brian, thenextweb.com

April 22 2012


Google to enter tablet war against Apple and Amazon

The National :: The search giant Google is understood to be planning to release its own tablet computers in a move that would take it toe to toe with the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle Fire. Google is expected to use the smartphone and tablet maker Motorola Mobility, which it acquired for US$12.5 billion (Dh45.91bn), to co-brand tablets running Google's Android software to sell online via the Google website. Its strategy is to try to counter what it sees as attempts by rivals such as Apple and Amazon to carve out huge, exclusive chunks of the internet market.

Continue to read Tony Glover, www.thenational.ae

April 21 2012


Jay Yarow: Android is suddenly in a lot of trouble

Business Insider :: The mobile story for 2011 was the rise of Android. It looks like the mobile story for 2012 is not going to be so good for Android. It appears as though the operating system is in choppy waters, and is suddenly facing a lot of trouble. We're going to lay out all the small and big problems we're seeing for Android in this post.

[Jay Yarow:] The next big trend that's bad for Android: It has been a complete and utter disaster in the tablet space.

Continue to read Jay Yarow, www.businessinsider.com

Tags: Android Apple

April 20 2012


Russia's leading search engine, Yandex accuses Google of abusing its dominance

Guardian :: The co-founder of Russia's leading search engine, Yandex, has accused Google of abusing its dominance to shut out competitors in cyberspace. Responding to comments made to the Guardian by Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder, about threats to the open internet, Ilya Segalovich described the US search giant's popular smartphone platform, Android, as a "strange combination of openness and not openness" and its Chrome web browser as anti-competitive.

Continue to read Josh Halliday, www.guardian.co.uk

April 19 2012


Baidu in talks with device manufacturer Foxconn: To build a Baidu-branded phone?

Tech In Asia :: Rumors in the Chinese tech industry say that Chinese search engine Baidu has been in secret talks with the manufacturer Foxconn, almost certainly discussing a mobile device. If true, it would suggest that Foxconn – which makes gadgets for brands such as Apple, HP, Best Buy, etc – is being tagged to make a Baidu-branded device for its Android-based Baidu Yi platform.

Reported by - Continue to read Steven Millward, www.techinasia.com

April 18 2012


'App' your Wordpress blog? UppSite's ‘one-stop-shop’ for creating mobile apps

VentureBeat :: The number of people consuming web content on mobile devices is growing at a rapid pace. UppSite, one of the startups presenting at VentureBeat’s 2012 DEMO spring conference on Wednesday, has an easy solution for sites. Its service will optimize a publisher’s website across multiple mobile platforms by creating native applications for iOS, Windows Phone, Android, and even a standard web app.

Continue to read Tom Cheredar, venturebeat.com

April 17 2012


Read It Later rebrands as Pocket: But with free Android, iOS and Kindle Fire apps now

TechCrunch :: Read It Later, an app that allows you to save articles and other content on the web to read them later, is debuting a new version of its service and rebranding as Pocket.” While Read It Later was previously a paid app, with today’s relaunch, Pocket’s Android, iOS and Kindle Fire apps have been set free.

Continue to read Leena Rao, techcrunch.com

April 16 2012


Crowdfunded - Pepple: $2,965,439 pledged of a $100,000 goal for an 'E-Paper Watch'

The facts: Pepple's "E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android" in numbers (Apr 16, 07:47 CET): Backers: 20,914 - $2,965,439 pledged of $100,000 goal and still 32 days to go.

AmandaPeyton.com :: Back to the Pebble watch. Consumer electronics are among the most well-funded projects on Kickstarter despite the fact that it’s dubious whether they should even be included in the scope of fundable projects. Which is really fascinating because that to me means that consumer electronics as a market has been ripe for disruption all along. That said, it’s ridiculously not obvious that disruption would come from the same place that allows an artist with a sharpie, a hotel room and a webcam a way to make the art she wants.

Continue to read Amanda Peyton, amandapeyton.com

March 30 2012


Android tablets sales have been horrible: Time to launch a Google tablet store

Business Insider :: Why is Google opening an Android tablet store? Because sales of Android tablets have been horrible. In the smartphone market, Google was able to partner with carriers to push Android-based smartphones. These distribution channels were effective, and Android quickly amassed the leading global market share (although in the U.S., Apple has been clawing back share and closing the gap). On a positive note, Google making its own gadgets could begin to cure the Android fragmentation problem.

The tablet distribution market, however, is completely different.

Continue to read Henry Blodget, www.businessinsider.com

Tags: Android Google

February 04 2012


Poorly designed interfaces might hurt users response to ads on Android

ClickZ :: New stats from Jumptap suggest that poorly designed interfaces on Android devices may be hurting ad performance. Jumptap's Mobile STAT report for January 2012 found that Android surpassed the Apple iOS in number of users. Even though Android surpassed the iOS in terms of share, Apple devices' traffic on Jumptap's network nevertheless tripled. Android's more than quadrupled. For marketers, the size of the addressable market is only part of the story. Android's share may be increasing, but its users' response to ads is dropping. According to Jumptap, the latest Android 3.x has a .59 percent CTR, compared to iOS 5 with approximately .9 percent.

Continue to read Susan Kuchinskas, www.clickz.com

January 27 2012


Amazon Kindle lights the Android world on fire

Flurry :: In just two years, tablet computing has gained unprecedented traction.  According to research firm Strategy Analytics, global tablet shipment more than doubled during the last three months of 2011, rising to 26.8 units, up from 10.7 million a year earlier.  And while Apple continues to dominate the tablet category, having sold a record 15.4 million units during the final quarter of 2011, Android OS tablets have increased their share of the tablet category, growing from 29% in Q4 2010 to 39% in Q4 2011. The increase in market share is due largely to the entry of the Kindle Fire by Amazon

Continue to read Peter Farago, blog.flurry.com

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