Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More publishers launch iPad apps: Financial Times and La Repubblica

As the iPad's European debut nears, more publishers are preparing their applications for Apple's much anticipated tablet computing device.
Italian daily La Repubblica announced that it is launching its "very first version" of its iPad application in advance of the device's release in Italy, "for the sake of the many Repubblica readers in the US and elsewhere who already have an iPad." The application is free to download for this first phase. Later versions will contain "many new elements and functions" on an interface which will provide "still more important surprises." The paper already has a subscription-based iPhone app.
The Financial Times is planning an imminent app launch, reported last week. The app will be free to download, said, but the same subscription tiers that exist online and for its other mobile apps will be in place for access to content. It will be customizable by region.
The app is designed to look like the newspaper, and has horizontally scrolling columns. It will also have an HD video section. There will be no links out or comments, according to The iPad will reach parts of Europe, Asia and Australia on May 28, and has been selling well in the US so far, according to reports in recent weeks. Several news organisations have rushed to create applications, although as Alan Mutter recently noted, user rankings of the apps have so far been "middling" and there seems to be room for improvement.

Source: La Repubblica, launches free iPad app

The Financial Times has today launched a free iPad app to provide access to video, markets data, investment portfolios, news and analysis.
The launch follows the FT rolling out an iPhone app, last year, which has so far been downloaded 300,000 times.
The new app integrates with the limited access model, the company said today, giving unregistered users access to a limited number of articles each month.
The iPad app allows readers to download a daily digital version of FT for offline reading and for the first time offers video on an FT mobile product. It also features a Markets Data section with macromaps highlighting markets across the world.
Watchmaker Hublot is sponsoring the app until the end of July.

Source: The Wire

The Times expected to cut up to 50 jobs

Guardian reports that in preparation for its June paywall, the Times, will be reducing its editorial budget by 10% and implementing a number of voluntary redundancies that could leave up to 50 journalists out of work.
In a lunchtime meeting at the Times last week, editor James Harding revealed that sister publication, the Sunday Times, would also be cutting its editorial budget by 10%, which could lead to the elimination of 30 jobs. The grand total of redundancies could reach 80.
Staff at the Times have two weeks to apply for voluntary redundancies, this is the only News International publication to offer these, and those who decide to take the offer, would receive four weeks' salary for every year worked plus a four-month notice period.
The Sunday Times staff will also be hearing about the paper's cost saving plans soon, which could be cutting £4.5 million from the current editorial budget of £42.5 million a year, would go into effect on July 1st. It is estimated that The Times and the Sunday Times lose up to £240,000 per day. The company has blamed these losses on an advertising downturn.
After his lunchtime meeting announcement, James Harding emailed his staff and wrote that Times Newspapers (to include both Sunday Times and Times) are suffering "unsustainable" losses, according to Guardian.
"We cannot ensure the long-term future of this paper and our futures in journalism if we cannot make a viable business out of the Times."
"We are clearly in a period of galloping technological change and we need to ensure that we have the resources to invest so that we can lead the market in digital journalism," the editor of the Times said. "Today, we are starting a process to cut costs, reduce our losses and free up resources for the future of our journalism."
Interestingly enough, the newspaper's decision to cut back on staff and editorial budget comes just a few weeks before the newspaper erects a paywall around its website. The Times will start charging for access to its online content in June, before The Sun and News of the World, also owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International.

Sources: Guardian

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BlackBerry Tablet to Launch This Year

Research in Motion is set to enter the tablet computing market with plans to unveil a 8.9-inch BlackBerry device later this year.
According to Boy Genius Report, there are some big differences between BlackBerry’s tablet, the iPad and the now-confirmed Google tablet — most notably a lack of cellular networking. Instead, the device will utilize your existing BlackBerry’s connection, communicating with the device via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth().
Beyond that, the features sound much like those we’ve come to expect from other tablet devices; BGR cites “e-books, emailing, web browsing, and photo viewing” among the device’s capabilities. The reported lack of cellular networking would seem to make the device an odd choice versus its current and future competitors though, who are offering built-in 3G through carrier partners.
Nonetheless, the second half of the year could shape up to be action-packed in the tablet space as we learn more about Google()’s plans, see what Microsoft does in the wake of nixing the Courier, and await direction from HP following its acquisition of Palm, which many believe could result in the launch of webOS-powered tablets. There’s also potential for Apple to cut prices on the iPad in an effort to stay way ahead of the competition. Stay tuned.

Source: MashAble

iPad to hit Australia by end of May

The device, which includes an e-reader application through its integration with Apple's iBooks online store, is being touted by some as a 'print-killer' due to its ability to deliver printed content such as books and catalogues digitally.
Apple has said it will have the devices ordered through its store in the hands of customers before 28 May, adding that it will ship its full range of iPad accessories before that date.
The iPad ranges in price in Australia from $629 to $1,049 including GST. The starting price is about 11% more than its US retail price, but cheaper than in some of the other eight countries where it will be released on 28 May. New Zealand will not have access to the device until July.
Telstra has become the first Australian carrier to offer a 3G data plan for the iPad, which starts at $20 for a gigabyte of traffic a month.
The vendor's iBooks application will be made available as a free download to Australian customers.
Apple said it has sold more than a million iPads, 12 million apps and 1.5 million e-books since the device was released in the US last month.
Printing and publishing companies such as Blue Star and Geon got their first look at the iPad at an event in Sydney last week.
Mark Mina, business development manager for mail at Geon, told ProPrint that the creation of a new marketing channel "will come at the expense of some printing".
Book printers expressed concern to ProPrint earlier this year that the iPad could increase the popularity of e-books and hurt print, while catalogue printers are also said to be under threat from the new device.

Source: ProPrint

The Straits Times goes 3D

TODAY'S edition of The Straits Times comes with a little something extra: An added dimension, if you will.
Scattered throughout the newspaper are news photographs, information graphics and advertisements that have been printed in 3D.
All told, there are more than 30 pages with 3D elements in today's paper.
To view the extras - which are marked with a logo bearing the words 'Best viewed in 3D' - a pair of disposable 3D glasses has been provided, and you will find it stuck to Page 3 of the Life! section.
This foray into 3D makes The Straits Times the first English newspaper in the region to tap into such technology on such a large scale.
The 3D elements were all rendered by journalists and other staff of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) using the latest technology, and enhanced for newspaper publication.
The process of rendering images in 3D is a time-consuming one, said The Straits Times' art editor, Ms Angelina Choy.
For example, the image of characters from the movie Toy Story 3, which appears in Page 7 of the Life! section, took about 1-1/2 hours to process.
For photographers, getting shots that were suitable for 3D required a trained eye - they had to look for subjects that were set against a clean background, for instance.
Besides allowing ST's 1.4 million readers to get the news from a different perspective, the 3D issue is one way the paper is constantly looking to improve, said its editor, Mr Han Fook Kwang.
'The Straits Times has introduced many new features over the years, and we are continually trying to improve the paper to keep up with our readers' needs and expectations.'
He said ST will gauge the response from readers and advertisers and decide how best to make use of the new feature: 'It is a new area for us, and we intend to find out what works and what does not.'
A 3D newspaper also opens up new avenues for advertisers, said Mr Leslie Fong, SPH's senior executive vice-president of marketing.
He said: 'Our foray into 3D publishing is another example of our determination to show that the game is far from over for print.
'There is still a lot of fight left in newspapers yet - and our newspapers will continue to deliver the kind of unrivalled reach and impact our customers have come to expect of us.'
Source: Straits Yimes Singapore

The Independent may go free in London as new owners seek profitable business model

The new owners of The Independent may turn the title into a free in certain regions, according to Evgeny Lebedev, chairman of the paper's new board.
He said he was considering taking the paper free within the M25 region, which would boost distribution and make the paper a more compelling proposition to advertisers.
However, his father, Alexander, is quoted in today's Media Guardian as saying he has no plans "at the moment' to make The Independent free.
In his first interview since becoming chairman of Independent Print Ltd, the holding company set up to buy the Indy and its stablemate, the Independent on Sunday, Evgeny told the Financial Times that the papers could not continue to run as now.
"We will have to do something. The Independent can't stay in its present form because it will continue losing money," he said.
[As I report in today's Guardian, the Indy and Sindy have very low "proper" circulations, selling only 95,050 and 82,667 at their full cover price in the UK. Advertising revenues fell 33.1% in 2009 year-on-year, and the papers made an operating loss of £12.4m].
Lebedev spoke of the need to find a better business model as "the only way forward" and said the company was considering a range of strategies.
He also revealed that Simon Kelner, reappointed as the Indy's editor this month, would only hold the position for an "interim" period.
He said: "There's an understanding between Simon and us... it could be a few months or a few years. In the long term, both him and I, we have a joint understanding that there will be another editor."
Lebedev also reSourcevealed that some of the Indy's operations may be merged with those of the London Evening Standard. Though he mentioned "synergies" between the papers, a full-scale merger was unlikely.
"For example," he said, "with the World Cup coming on, rather than sending four reporters from one paper and four from another, you could send five altogether to cover the whole thing and then share the information. That's a possibility."
Both Lebedev père and fils believe the Standard's fortunes have been transformed since they turned it into a free in October last year.
Though they sacrificed £14m in annual circulation revenue, Lebedev suggests the new model appears to be paying off.
In recent weeks, advertising revenue has exceeded the combined advertising and circulation revenue generated in the same weeks a year ago. So Lebedev hopes the Standard will now break even in 2011

Source: FT/Media Guardian

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Verizon, Google Developing iPad Rival

Verizon Wireless is working with Google Inc. on a tablet computer, the carrier's chief executive, Lowell McAdam, said Tuesday, as the company endeavors to catch up with iPad host AT&T Inc. in devices that connect to wireless networks.
The work is part of a deepening relationship between the largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers and Google, which has carved out a space in mobile devices with its Android operating system. Verizon Wireless last year heavily promoted the Motorola Droid, which runs Google's software.
"What do we think the next big wave of opportunities are?" Mr. McAdam said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "We're working on tablets together, for example. We're looking at all the things Google has in its archives that we could put on a tablet to make it a great experience."
Verizon Wireless declined to discuss details on the timing or the manufacturer of a such a tablet. Google's role in the tablet wasn't immediately clear, though Mr. McAdam mentioned it in the context of the discussions the two companies have about bringing new smartphones to market.
A Google spokesman declined to comment on the Verizon tablet, but said anyone can use the company's mobile software to create phones and other devices.
Google has said it is working with hardware makers and carriers to create lightweight computers that run its software. As rivals such as Apple Inc. introduce tablets like the iPad, the Internet giant is seeking to spur the adoption of its online software and advertising system through its own partnerships.
The wireless business is still largely about phones. But devices such as tablet computers, netbooks and e-readers are a fast-growing, if tiny, part of carriers' operations.
Consumers are increasingly interested in wireless devices that can surf the Internet or run software applications, and carriers are trying to tap that interest to offset falling revenue from phone calls.
Mr. McAdam acknowledged that Verizon has some catching up to do in the field. AT&T is the carrier for Inc.'s popular Kindle and the new iPad.
"They were able to get out of the box faster," Mr. McAdam said. Verizon has been handicapped by its CDMA network technology, less common than AT&T's GSM, but the executive said his company will have devices ready to show early next year once its new network is in place.
That new network promises much higher speeds for transferring video, for example. Verizon says it will be running in 25 to 30 cities by the end of the year.
The new network will likely bring a shift from current unlimited-use pricing plans.
"The old model of one price plan per device is going to fall away," Mr. McAdam said, adding that he expects carriers to take an approach that targets a "bucket of megabytes."
With multiple devices, customers are likely to end up paying more for connecting their gadgets to the next-generation network than they do today, he said. "It's not out of the question," he said.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Publishers become animated as the iPad arrives in London

Apple’s iPad might not officially launch in the UK until 28 May, but as anyone not living under a rock in the last month will be able to tell you; the iPad is here and already walks among us.
It’s hard to believe that pre-orders of the touch-screen, tablet-style computer only went on sale today.
Haymarket Brand Media’s new desk has had a steady stream of invites from newspaper and magazine publishers keen to demonstrate their apps for weeks.
The electronic handheld device also dominated proceedings at the PPA Magazine Conference last month. The annual event quite literally began and ended with talk of the iPad, padded out by the obligatory soul-searching.
Representatives from the country’s largest magazine publishers simply couldn’t get enough of it.
Pre-eminent business hack Juan Senor admitted carrying six iPads into the conference in his opening address, and called its arrival nothing less than “revolutionary”.
He went on to warn publishers that Apple’s entire business model depends entirely on the tech giant being able to leverage publishers’ content.
Andrew Walmsley, founder of the now defunct digital agency i-Level called it a “significant step” and believes over time the industry will witness “an erosion, or rather shift,” to new such platforms.
David Rowan, editor of Wired, gamely reminded us the iPad is “not going to save publishing”, but added the industry didn’t need saving anyway.
He preferred to view its arrival as yet another platform to reach more consumers on, and one that could help solve some distribution problem areas.
He also admitted to being excited by the multimedia aspect of the device, with its audio and visual and GPS opportunities that could offer new ways to interact with readers/audiences.
But a “magazine on steroids” approach was warned against by Senor, among others, who suggested consumers will respond best to titles that manage to recreate the magazine experience, and offer readers time and space in their digital digest. A far cry from the all-singing and all-dancing model Sports Illustrated is currently demonstrating in the US.
There was general agreement that the first generation iPad represented just the first step in what will become a very competitive market, but concern was raised over the power Apple would have if iTunes, or its equivalent, became the only distribution outlet for publishers.
More than 50 tablet-type devices are expected to launch this year, and most will not have the iPad’s purposefully inbuilt shortcomings, like not being able to use Flash, having no USB ports, or no camera.
Barry McIlheney, PPA’s new chief executive charged with reigniting both the trade body itself and a deflated industry, admitted he’d never known such a device cause so much excitement – and the former Smash Hits editor has been around the block more than once.
‘Expert advice’ came from the American contingent, after all they could boast almost a month’s real-life experience.
Joan Sola, president of Zinio International, ensured he had everyone’s attention when he reported that the digital magazine services provider had launched 2,500 magazines onto the iPad since 3 April. Sales of any UK content following the launch was reported to have doubled since the move.
A cynic might suggest the iPad’s ability to hijack the magazine conference so completely, smacks of desperation from an industry blighted by comprehensive slumps in copy sales and advertising revenues.
But who could blame them? John Zieser, chief development officer at American women’s powerhouse Meredith, reported how initial experience and research had found that far from taking away from print, iPad adoption had served to boost magazine pick-up.
It was also mooted that the arrival of the iPad could take the onus away from digital circulation figures, a development that would prove quite timely for News International as it prepares to erect its paywall.
One delegate pointed out that publishers had been working in close co-operation with the global paper/forest industry for years to ensure the healthy replenishment of resources.“Had anyone given any consideration to the environmental impact of the tablet?” she asked: Silence all round.
Regardless, the iPad is coming.
And with more than one million devices sold in the first month in the US; and with data compiled by Yahoo confirming that 10% of iPad traffic is currently coming from outside the US, despite not having launched anywhere else yet, it looks set to make a significant splash.

Source: MediaWeek

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Apple iPads hurt democracy: Obama

President Obama, who ran the most tech-savvy presidential campaign in history, took a surprisingly hard line against Apple products Sunday in a graduation speech that touched on the importance of education in a world being revolutionized by technology.
"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama told graduates at historically black Hampton University in Virginia on Sunday.
"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you. It is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
Obama is certainly the most tech-savvy president we've had. His presidential campaign used YouTube, mass texting, Facebook and blogs to energize grass-roots support in an unprecedented way. During the campaign, Obama was photographed using an iPhone (he now uses a BlackBerry), and his wife, Michelle, said she bought the family MacBooks so they could stay in touch while he was on the road, an Apple fan site gleefully noted.
All of which makes it surprising that Obama not only suggested he didn't know how to use iPods and iPads in his speech, but also criticized them for turning users into a powerless audience that consumes instead of creates.
Obama's remarks echo those of some technology critics when the iPad went on sale in April. Canadian tech blogger Cory Doctorow called the device "infantilizing," and media critic Jeff Jarvis said it was controlling consumers by turning them back into a passive audience. Both dislike that the company sells only Apple-made applications, instead of using open-source software.
"That is why media companies and advertisers are embracing [the iPad] so fervently," Jarvis wrote, "because they think it returns us all to their good old days when we just consumed, we didn't create, when they controlled our media experience and business models and we came to them."
Obama's campaign website ran on open-source software, but his swipe at Apple is probably more about Apple products' role in channeling the 24-hour media culture he often criticizes than a philosophical debate about technology.
By blaming gadgets for turning information into entertainment, Obama expands his ongoing criticism of the 24-hour news industry, which he says spreads misinformation and polarizes the public in its quest for higher ratings.
"With so many voices clamoring for attention on blogs, on cable, on talk radio, it can be difficult at times to sift through it all; to know what to believe; to figure out who's telling the truth and who's not," he said in the speech, encouraging graduates to use their education to arm themselves against misinformation.

Source: Yahoo

World Newspaper Congress called off, World Editors Forum postponed

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has been forced to call off the World Newspaper Congress and postpone the World Editors Forum, planned for Beirut from 7 to 10 June next, due to the failure of the Lebanese host organisation to meet its financial commitments.
"It is with immense disappointment that we are forced to call off our events in Beirut, but it was simply impossible to go ahead without the commitment of our Lebanese colleagues, who were responsible for security and other significant infrastructural and service expenses," said Gavin O'Reilly, President of WAN-IFRA. "We deeply regret that we cannot bring these events to Lebanon, particularly as this will cause immense inconvenience for our members, but this is not feasible without a local partner."
The local host, An-Nahar newspaper, has just informed WAN-IFRA that it was unable to provide the agreed funds to meet its obligations in the aftermath of the 2009 financial, economic and political crisis in the region. The cost of the venue, security and other local expenses was estimated to be 1.6 million euros and could not be covered by registration fees alone.
The World Editors Forum will be rescheduled from 6 to 8 October next, to be held in conjunction with the IFRA Expo in Hamburg, Germany, which runs from 4 to 6 October. Both Congress and Editors Forum delegates will be invited to attend the rescheduled event, which will feature key elements scheduled for Beirut, including the Golden Pen of Freedom presentation, World Press Trends update, and other presentations. Full details can be found at
The World Newspaper Congress, World Editors Forum and Info Services Expo will be held in 2011. Delegates to the Beirut events will also be invited to attend other WAN-IFRA events in 2010 dedicated to the issues that were on the Congress programme. Details of these and other events can be found at

Source: WAN-IFRA press release

Steve Jobs reportedly says the iPad's ability to print 'will come'

Steve Jobs reportedly replied to an Apple customer's e-mail, saying that printing would eventually make its way to the iPad.
According to a report in MacRumors, Jobs responded to a customer who asked him why the ability to print wasn't available.
"Why no printing on the iPad? What gives?" the customer asked, according to the report.
Jobs' simple reply: "It will come."
Unfortunately, Apple's chief executive didn't give a time frame on how long it would be before the feature makes its way to the iPad. But one thing is certain: It should be coming sooner rather than later.
The ability to print is arguably one of the most glaring omissions in the iPad. Those attempting to print documents or e-mails will quickly find that there's no way to communicate with a printer. And although Apple has stayed relatively tight-lipped about the matter, it's becoming increasingly likely that the ability to print will come to the tablet. At this point, it's a matter of timing.
But before the rumor mill starts up, it's important to take caution with the MacRumors report. Jobs has been more frequently responding to customer e-mails lately, but there's still no easy way to authenticate the e-mail exchange. So like with anything Apple has yet to announce, a certain level of skepticism should be maintained until the feature is officially confirmed by the company.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

Source: Don Reisinger

After delay, iPad ready for international release

International customers hoping to get their hands on Apple's iPad will be happy to know that they will only need to wait a little while longer.
Apple announced Friday that it will release both the Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad and the 3G model to customers in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland on May 28. The company will start taking pre-orders this Monday.
Apple's announcement of the iPad's international availability has been a long time coming. Originally it was supposed to be released to international customers at the end of April, but was delayed indefinitely because of what Apple said was unexpectedly high demand in the U.S. More than 1 million iPads have sold nationwide since the device's April 3 launch.
This roll-out is just the beginning of Apple's international push. It plans to bring both iPad versions to more places -- including Mexico, Austria, and Hong Kong -- in July.

Source: Don Reisinger

iPad news offerings have room for improvement

Consumers have given mainstream media only "middling grades" for their iPad applications so far, according to Alan Mutter, who looked at ratings on the iTunes Store. For the ten most frequently-downloaded news apps (in order of popularity: USA Today, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Associated Press, NPR, BBC, Reuters, France 24 and China Daily) the average number of stars was 2.8 out of 5. It must be noted that many news outlets have not yet released iPad-specific applications.
The apps with the most stars were three publicly-funded news outlets. France 24 was rated highest, with 4 stars. The French government-funded TV news channel offers news in English and Arabic as well as French. Next came the BBC and NPR with 3.5 stars.
The top-rated newspaper was USA Today, sharing a 3-star ranking with Reuters and ahead of the NYT and WSJ, both on 2.5 stars. The AP and China Daily both scored a less-than-positive 2 stars and Time was last with 1.5. This could well be a result of its price, which is $4.99 per issue.
The iPad and the plethora of table devices that are expected to follow have been hailed as a potential newspaper-saviour by many in the industry, as it provides the chance to make money by selling high-quality multimedia news applications.
And indeed, sales of the device have been significant so far. Reports last week noted that with one million sold in its first four weeks, the iPad is being sold faster than the iPhone did when it was first released in 2007. By early May, iPad users had downloaded more than 12 million applications on the gadget. Following its release in the US on April 3, the iPad will reach parts of Europe, Asia and Australia on May 28, it was announced last week. Its price will be higher for its European customers than in the US, starting at £429 in the UK and at €499 in France.
Frédéric Filloux wrote about his iPad experience so far in his Monday Note newsletter, noting that "Compared to my computer, I realize I'm using the device in a different way. No mail (too clumsy), no writing, no twittering. Just reading stuff, the longer the better." He wonders whether tablet computing could be the "missing link" that could make "long form reading in a digital format" into a profitable business. He comes up with an interesting proposition for news media: create e-books on the important issues that need a longer explanation. In the age of tablet computing, these could be a useful extra revenue stream, he argues.
Tablets like the iPad clearly have potential, and if sales remain high it is likely that more and more news organisations will create apps. How much money they can make remains to be seen, however. As Mutter said, "Premium [paid] apps must have premium features and services to have a prayer of succeeding."

Source: Reflections of a Newsosaur, Monday Note