Friday, June 25, 2010

Developers love iPhone and iPad but are excited about Android's upside

Among mobile developers, the iPhone is still the most favored platform, ahead of Android smart phones. But the future may tilt in the favor of Android, according to a new developer survey by Appcelerator.
Developers see the iPhone and increasingly the iPad as the hot opportunity right now, with their shared iOS operating system coming out on top in seven of ten categories including best app store, biggest market for consumer apps, best devices and best near-term outlook.
But the Android operating system, which placed second in all seven of those categories, came out on top for most capabilities of an OS, most "open" platform and best long-term outlook.
Programmers seem to say that Android has potentially a bigger upside, with its operating system more open and possibly able to span not just phones and tablets but a host of other devices like TVs, set-top boxes and even cars.
The survey not only notes the potential for Android, it also highlights the increasing interest in tablet computers. Developers said they were most interested in developing for the iPhone 90 percent, followed by the iPad (84 percent), Android phones (81 percent) and Android tablets (64 percent).
Interest in the iPhone was up just 3 percentage points from a similar survey in March and the interest in Android phones remains the same from the previous report. But interest in the iPad jumped from 53 percent in March to 84 percent in June while Android tablets, which were not included in previous surveys, did incredibly well despite the fact there are no Android tablets on the market yet.
Taking a step back, it's clear that these four device platforms form the top tier of developer interest, illustrating how Apple and Google are running away with the mobile developer market.
Developer interest falls off markedly after the iPhone and Android devices, with BlackBerry (34 percent) Windows Phone 7 (27 percent) and Sybmian (15 percent) the next most popular platforms. Even with its acquisition by HP, Palm's webOS garnered only 13 percent interest from developers though that number could shoot up if HP lays out ambitious plans to embed webOS in a bunch of devices.
Appcelerator, which offers a platform for making applications, conducted the survey of 2,733 developers from June 15-17.

Source: SFGate

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Towards the virtual newsroom... in 2015.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

iPad Ad Requests Soared In May

The iPad remains hot with advertisers two months after its release, with ad requests across the Apple device up 160 percent in May from April, according to the latest monthly Mobile Mix report from mobile ad net Millennial Media. And yet, Apple, the leading device maker on Millennial’s network since September ‘09, decreased nearly 10 percent month-over-month with approximately 25 percent share of impressions in April. In the meantime, Android is doing well, as ad requests for the Google mobile OS grew 15 percent month-over-month, with a 338 percent more ad requests since January. As Apple prepares to fully launch its iAd system on July 1, it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts Millennial Media’s tallies.
Other highlights from the ad net’s report included:
—In May, 90 percent of developers were creating apps for a single platform—56 percent of that was focused on Apple, and 29 percent on Android.
—While the media have been more focused on the growth of smartphones, consumers are still looking to feature phones and connected devices, which actually make up more than half of Millennial’s US Device OS Mix (see the chart on the left). So it’s important for advertisers to keep this in mind when they’re creating mobile ad strategies – Smartphones alone do not hit the mass of consumers using the mobile web.


Apple’s iPad Makes Japan Debut

Apple Inc. on May 28 released its new iPad product in Japan, following up on roaring sales of more than 1 million iPads in under one month from their U.S. release date in April.
Some Japanese newspaper publishers, including the Mainichi Shimbun, the Sankei Shimbun, and the Nikkan Sports, are distributing their content via the iPad tablet computer. Many broadcasting companies are also preparing to target the iPad for delivery of their programs and related content, including news reports.
On May 29, the Mainichi Shimbun launched a digital magazine titled “photoJ.” exclusively for iPad users. PhotoJ is a monthly e-publication that costs 350 yen per issue. It delivers a combination of photographs and original feature articles. Subscribers get access to movies, as well as photo slideshows. The Mainichi also plans to sell ads to appear in the digital magazine. To issue the digital magazine, the Mainichi introduced a cross-media publishing system controlled by WoodWing Software of the Netherlands. The U.S. magazine TIME uses the same software to format and deliver its electronic edition for the iPad.
The Sankei has started issuing an electronic edition of its daily paper for iPad users at a price of 1,500 yen per month. By the end of June, the service will not start charging. By making optimal use of the iPad's vivid color display, the resolution of the page images can be raised much higher than that of the company’s existing service for iPhone users. The Sankei says it plans to continue delivering its free electronic edition for the iPhone as well. The Nikkan Sports has started delivering articles and photographs for the iPad, free of charge. Users can also search the sports daily’s news through articles and photographs viewed on the iPad
Some major broadcasting stations are also following the iPad fad. TV Tokyo, a Tokyo-based major TV network, on May 28 began offering an iPad application that displays a summary of its weekly documentary program “Jounetsu-no-Keifu” (The Genealogy of Passion), which traces the background of contemporary celebrities from various walks of life. The Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) has developed an iPad application for browsing news while listening to Internet radio channel OTTAVA, which specializes in classical music. That iPad application is due to be released by mid-June. Osaka-based Mainichi Broadcasting System will start delivering its new TV drama “MM9 ? Monster Magnitude,” for the iPad in July. Users will be able to watch the program on the iPad free of charge, at the same time as the program airs on TV.
Not to miss the boat, the Mainichi, the Sports Nippon and the Nishinippon Shimbun have begun providing daily news content for the “Viewn” newspaper and magazine content service. That service for the iPad is operated by a subsidiary of the cellular phone company Softbank Corp, which operates iPhone services in Japan.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

China Rips Off The iPad With The iPed

Readers are willing to pay to get access to the best news websites

The way that the British read news online appears likely to change greatly over the coming years. As The Times and The Sunday Times prepare to charge readers for the online editions of their newspapers, the titles point to growing evidence that Britain is more willing to spend money online than almost any other nation.
It is argued that, with news sites now accounting for 3 per cent of the time that we spend online, charging for content represents a natural step for the press and publishing industry.
Nearly 16 million people in Britain visited a mainstream newspaper website in February. Figures from the market researchers UKOM/Nielsen show that a quarter of those users have already paid to access news online or would be willing to do so. A third even said that they would be willing to pay for web content that they had already paid for offline, if it was substantially better than what was on offer free.
As is the case in the music industry, the move toward paid-for services reflects the rapid increase in the time that we spend online and the content we now consume.
Alex Burmaster, an analyst with Nielsen, said that only a few years ago the thought of buying holidays or clothes online was anathema to most people. The rapid increase over recent years in the availability of broadband, however, has combined with an improvement in the quality of online products and services to create a “perfect storm”, whereby people have become dependent on the internet.
The introduction of the iPad this week could do to publishing what the iPod did to music and transfer another part of our lives online. The ability to refresh newspaper pages while on the move could capture the imagination of a British public that has already proved more open to online services than in other countries. Very few nations spend more time online than Britain.
“It’s permeated everything we do. There’s no part of daily life that hasn’t changed,” Mr Burmaster said.
British internet users are also more likely to spend money online, with usage of large online retailers such as and Amazon up nearly 50 per cent over the past three years.
That British internet users are spending an increasing amount of time and money online is thanks to the massive increase in the availability of high-speed broadband in the past decade.
Only six years ago Britain was something of a broadband laggard in global terms, but the country has quickly caught up, and overtaken, other countries. Yet the big concern for Britain’s increasingly digital population is that of being left behind. A survey by Ookia suggests that British networks are already straining under the pressure of increased internet usage. It ranks Britain’s broadband speeds as only the 33rd fastest in the world.
BT has just started work on the country’s new network and expects to have connected two thirds of the population to superfast broadband by 2015. However, it is mostly doing no more than plugging the new network into the local exchange, as opposed to directly into the customer’s house, meaning that the speed available will still be a fraction of that in countries such as South Korea and Japan.

Source: TimesOnline

Big names reach out to grab iPad opportunities

Stephen Fry, BMW, The FT and Ministry of Sound are among the first major publishers and brands to roll out UK iPad apps ahead of the device’s much-anticipated European launch tomorrow.

Stephen Fry, BMW, The FT and Ministry of Sound are among the first major publishers and brands to roll out UK iPad apps ahead of the device’s much-anticipated European launch tomorrow.
Apple, which shifted 1m iPads in its first month on sale in the US, has garnered support from key publishers looking at the tablet media player as the next evolution in online content distribution.
Publishers are preparing to experiment with a number of business models including launching ad-funded, sponsored and premium iPad apps. But they also say app developers have upped their prices as they become inundated with short-deadline work as brands rush to create content for the platform.
Broadcaster and technophile Stephen Fry has launched a series of iPad apps, including one for his blog, a tie-up with Harper Collins and Framestore CFC for animated readings of Oscar Wilde short stories, and another featuring quotations from Fry himself.
SamFry, the company that manages Stephen Fry’s website, is working with The Digital Tribe to sell ad spots around his content.
Andrew Sampson, joint-MD of SamFry, said, “The iPad presents a great opportunity. With these apps we’re looking to push the boundaries with the Apple API and show where you can go with it.”
The Financial Times hopes to win younger readers by making its premium content free for two months via its iPad app after signing a sponsorship deal with luxury Swiss watch-maker Hublot.
Steve Pinches, FT’s lead product development manager, said, “We’ve been live for a few days now and have seen a fair number of downloads from the US [where the app has also launched]. The sponsorship model slots quite nicely into our paid content strategy.”
The Telegraph is also looking to launch on the iPad but is wary of simply migrating its iPhone app to the device. Head of mobile Maani Safa said, “The business model should take into account that people are more likely to spend more time on the iPad than iPhones, and advertisers are willing to pay for that.
“The sponsorship model on the iPad is definitely something we’re looking at, but I don’t know whether or not we’ll go for it,” he added. “I think a lot of publishers have simply tried to replicate the newspaper experience on the iPad. This gives you less content in a less intuitive manner, so we’re trying to provide a completely new experience that has nothing to do with the web.”
Magazine publishers are also looking to launch on the iPad. Dennis Publishing has appointed digital agency PixelMags to launch an iPad app for its Apple-specialist title Mac User. Paul Lomax, chief technology officer at Dennis, said, “We’re looking at doing something for most of our titles. With some we’ll go into more depth, so there might be more than one app for some brands.”
He added, however, that because publishers have been rushing to launch apps, “Finding people to work on iPad apps at a reasonable rate has been a bit of a challenge.”
This Friday’s nma Live will focus on new content and ad opportunities for brands brought about by the iPad. See for details.

Source: newmediaage

Guardian's Eyewitness iPad app tops 90,000 downloads

The Guardian’s Eyewitness app for the iPad has been downloaded 90,000 times since launching on the US App Store last month, according to Guardian News & Media.

The Canon-sponsored app, which showcases the Guardian’s photography, is now available on the UK store and is the second Apple app the title has launched.
Emily Bell, outgoing director of digital content at Guardian News & Media, said, “To have our app on so many iPads in the US is a fantastic achievement that has enabled us to reach new audiences. We’re looking forward to even more people downloading it now the device is available outside the US.”
The Guardian iPhone app was the company’s first paid-for mobile product and has been downloaded more than 100,000 times since it launched last November.
Guardian News & Media hasn’t announced plans to launch mobile apps on other platforms, such as Android and Ovi, but has launched a mobile-optimised version of its website.

Source: newmediaage

Apple: More Than Two Million iPads Sold

Apple continues to sell iPads at a rapid pace, breaking the two million mark the same weekend the device debuted in the UK, Canada and seven other countries for at least $1 billion in sales. The company is bragging that it took less than 60 days to sell that many but that claim is skewed by pre-orders that were made weeks before the iPad actually went on sale in the U.S. April 3. Still, it’s an impressive number for a new device, especially one that starts at $499. For those keeping track, it took 28 days for Apple to claim one million sales; by comparison, it took 74 days to sell one million iPhones.

Unlike earlier milestone announcements, Apple left out other data some of us are interested in—like the number of app downloads and the number of downloads from the iBookstore. This time, all the company said is that there are more than 5,000 new iPad apps—the same number it offered on May 3. That’s about 2.5 percent of the 200,000-plus apps approved for the iTunes store. It’s not clear if it includes iPhone apps optimized for iPad as opposed to iPhone apps that will run on iPad Steve Jobs may well offers some more details, as has often been his custom, when he appears at WWDC with what is expected to be a launch date for the iPhone 4G.
Second question: What would the sales number be if Apple kept iPads in supply across the U.S.? And how fast would the iPhone break one million if Apple announced a Verizon version?


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pay-per-click is the new online paradigm

As the Times and Sunday Times prepare to go behind a paywall, print publishing must face up to reality – major online adjustments are needed.

One of the major shifts in the consumption of media over the past decade is the transfer of control from publishers and advertisers to the consumer. TV viewers screen commercials using DVR systems; radio listeners customise their programming using internet or satellite radio; and internet users use ad-blocking software or just train their eye to ignore display ads all together. The result is that the old paradigm, where ads are imposed on the audience, is losing its effectiveness.
Instead, a new paradigm is emerging. Since the consumer is no longer passive, advertising
models are learning to take into account the interests of all stakeholders: the advertiser, the publisher and the consumer.Search advertising and its adjacent ads model fully incorporate this new thinking. From the advertiser's point of view, this pay-per-click (PPC) model shifts some of the risk to the publisher, who only gets paid if the user took action and clicked on the advertisement.
In an article published in this newspaper a few weeks ago we proposed a new online monetisation model for newspapers. The idea is that papers will learn how to use their unique advantage online – credibility – by presenting relevant advertisers next to the products, services and activities they review. Some of the reactions voiced ethical concerns. "I can see why the shift you argue for would make sense from a publishing perspective," said Jill Drew, a former business editor for the Washington Post, "but for me it crosses a line between commerce and journalism that I'm uncomfortable with."
One possible solution for these concerns is that in this model the newspapers often don't or shouldn't work directly with the vendors but rather with aggregators who represent multiple retailers. The New York Times, for instance, linked the 10 best books of 2009 it recommended on its "Holiday Gift Guide" to three possible buying venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and local booksellers. Another solution is using automatically generated contextual ads. Google's Adsense algorithm, for instance, knows how to fit relevant ads to such content and it works as a firewall between the newspaper and the vendors. When consumers click, the ad aggregators share the revenue with the newspaper.
Moreover, newspapers always had to handle commercial pressures that threatened to compromise their integrity. Whether it is a newspaper that publishes a negative story about a bank that is also one of its biggest advertisers, or a television network that exposes a safety issue with a car manufacturer, the ethical threat has always been there.
Other naysayers suggested that such a model will result in consumer sections being all that's left of journalism. But this won't make much sense for newspapers, as a big part of their authority is a result of their non-consumer-oriented coverage. If you search on Google for "British government", no ad appears, yet the search engine chooses to include such data in its index as part of creating its authority. The revenue is generated when searching for "London hotels". That doesn't mean that the first search is less important.
Another reaction wondered whether an article criticising a political party will click through to a page where one could contribute to a choice of rival parties. Well ... why not? The Huffington Post is running a similar concept these days in its Impact section in what can be called "inter-activism": sponsored links enable interested readers to take action. In this model, readers can be presented with a range of sponsored actionable articles, implicating different levels of involvement, such as signing a petition or donating money.
The print publishing industry can no longer afford to make only minor adjustments for the new media. The basic rules of the game are changing, calling for collaboration between advertisers, consumers and publishers. Whether the leveraging trust model is a valid solution or not, any solution to newspapers' financial crisis must consider this new stakeholder paradigm. If the consumer and the advertiser have nothing to gain, the publisher will gain nothing as well.

Source: Guardian

10 Things We Love And Hate About The iPad

The iPad really is a gorgeous device and using it is a true pleasure.

1. The iPad really is a gorgeous device and using it is a true pleasure.

The display is incredibly beautiful, and both text and graphics look very nice on it. Web pages are fun to zoom around. It's zippy. And the battery life is more than enough. The iPad user interface -- in some senses, a sized-up version of the iPhone, but with new techniques -- was really done well. The natural textures, which grace the UI in a few places, are a nice touch.

2. But, we're still not really sure what we're supposed to use this beautiful thing for.

After testing out a bunch of apps, and playing some games, watching a few minutes of a Netflix movie, surfing the Web, and reading a few chapters of an e-book, we had a bit of a feeling of, "Now what?" Sure, that's going to happen with any new gadget. But in this case, for something we'd been anticipating for so long, we still felt like we were missing bigger marching orders. No doubt over time, developers and Apple will make some really interesting, useful applications for it. And, of course, the Web is great to have. We think we'll definitely use the iPad on a regular basis, and probably won't have to worry about it just collecting dust. But we're going to need better things to do than using the Kayak app to look up prices for plane tickets we've already purchased -- our sad excuse for "product testing" last night.

3. Meanwhile, the amount of media already available for the iPad is impressive.

It's clear that in the early stages, this is going to be more of a media consumption device than a productivity tool. (Though there are some cool media creation apps already, such as painting and music apps.) So it's very nice that Apple and developers have loaded the App Store with actual substantial media apps, including ABC's and Netflix's. And, of course, Apple's iTunes music and video store.

4. But the iBookstore is still a ghost town compared to Amazon's Kindle store.

Apple's e-reader app looks nice, and its built-in store is an advantage over Amazon's rival Kindle app, which boots you into the Web browser to buy books in a less-optimized environment. But so far, we're not impressed by the selection in the iBookstore. None of the books we wanted to buy this weekend were available. No "Rework" by the 37Signals guys. (Its publisher, Random House, still isn't onboard.) No Tokyo guidebooks for our upcoming vacation. (No real "Travel" section at all, actually.) No "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain. No "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis. (Okay, that's not out for the Kindle, either.) No "Liar's Poker" by Michael Lewis. Maybe we're looking for the wrong books. But we're not finding what we're looking for. So for now, we'll keep shopping with Amazon.
My iPad just killed my MacBook. And my iMac is the only Mac I need now.

My iPad just killed my MacBook. And my iMac is the only Mac I need now.

I personally don't like laptops, so this isn't going to fly with everyone. I've always been a fan of desktop computers, which have bigger and better displays, typically cost less for better performance, and have faster hard drives. And now that I have an iPad to carry around, the 27-inch iMac on my desk is the only "real" computer I need. Specifically, I don't think I need a laptop anymore, and when my MacBook eventually burns out, I probably won't replace it. The iPad will be good enough for all the "work" stuff I need from the laptop -- email, Web, light text-editing, light photo editing, even capturing pictures from my digital camera. And obviously all the "fun" stuff I need from the laptop -- watching videos, distracting myself on the plane, etc. I don't think the iPad is a laptop killer for everyone. Apple's MacBook line is not going away -- plenty of people still prefer notebooks to desktops. But it probably will be the end of laptop buying for me.

6. But, hey Apple... Where's the alarm clock?

There's a lot of stuff missing from the iPad. We don't really care that Apple left off the Stocks and Weather apps from the iPhone. But we're a little confused as to why it left out the World Clock app. Besides being a cool app to have, it's home to the all-important iPhone alarm clock. So there's no alarm clock on the iPad. What the heck, guys? Sure, if you always have an iPhone around, perhaps you won't need a separate alarm on the iPad. But it would be nice to at least have the option. Especially because we think a lot of people will keep their iPad near their bed. An executive from Vertu, the luxury phone line from Nokia, once told us that the alarm clock is the third most-used feature on a phone, after calls and messaging. Maybe that's changed over the last few years, but it seems like a feature the iPad should at least offer one. It's especially lousy because an alarm clock is one of the few apps that a third-party developer could not offer very well: Only Apple apps are allowed to run in the background on the iPad (so far; this may change with a software update). You wouldn't want to be stuck using an iPad alarm clock app from a third-party developer that you were required to remember to leave running all night.

Already, developers are building some REALLY cool stuff for it.

7. Already, developers are building some REALLY cool stuff for it.

Our favorite example of how the iPad is a visitor FROM THE FUTURE is the Scrabble app by Electronic Arts. Specifically, we're impressed by its multiplayer mode: It's built to take advantage of the fact that several populations have incredibly high iPhone penetration. Players can download a free Tile Rack app for their iPhone, and use it to store their tile rack of letters for the game they're playing on the iPad.

8. But the missing Facebook app left us frustrated.

Facebook is the most popular iPhone app but it's not on the iPad. That left us feeling that something big was missing.And we're not the only ones who were looking for it: The no. 9 best-selling paid iPad app right now is some crappy $3 (!) app called Facebook Ultimate! for sale by someone named Dilraba Ibrahim. That person definitely had a nice weekend.Yes, the iPhone app could work on the iPad, but it looks crappy. Yes, works in the iPad's Safari browser, but we kept getting logged out and kept clicking the wrong things. Very frustrating. The iPad -- like the iPhone, and the Web -- needs its own user interface. We understand these things take time, and better late and awesome than early and buggy.But it seems between this and infrequent updates to Facebook's iPhone app, the company has dropped the ball a bit in mobile. The Facebook app for the iPhone has an incredible 31 million monthly active users, or more than a third of the roughly 75 million iPhones and iPod touch devices on the market. So we and many others will be excited to use it when it launches.

9. It's going to be a great companion for watching TV.

People -- especially Americans -- still watch a disgusting amount of TV. This is a perfect place for the iPad to be a complementary device. If there's actual stuff that you can do on your iPad to enhance the TV experience, it could be neat. For example, we'd love to be able to play the same "Wheel of Fortune" game that's on TV, and see if we're really as smart as we think. Or for discussion and commentary, this is an opportunity for a startup like Hot Potato to build a really great app for discussing what you're watching on TV. Twitter is a solid start, but not ideal. This probably isn't a situation for which you're going to want to watch other video on your iPad. Though maybe a few other angles of a baseball game, if synced perfectly, could be cool.

But, yes, typing is a pain in the butt. And the screen is full of fingerprints.

10. But, yes, typing is a pain in the butt. And the screen is full of fingerprints.

When you touch a screen all day, obviously, it's going to pick up some fingerprints. But even with obsessive hand washing, ours looks really marked up. We suppose this would be much worse if Apple didn't include a "fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating" on the display. And it's not so bad when the display is actually on. Mostly a it-looks-creepy-when-it's-turned-off thing. But we're going to need to invest in a nice cleaning cloth. Especially if this thing is going to live anywhere near the living room or kitchen. As feared, typing on the iPad -- especially in portrait mode -- is not very fun. Especially if you're holding it up with both hands and trying to type with your thumbs. The keys in the middle of the keyboard are especially tricky to reach. But this is a tradeoff we're happy to make. Just as on the iPhone, the extra screen space (and lighter weight of the device) is well worth the extra clumsiness when typing. We don't think we'll be writing very much on the iPad, and we're happy to have a lighter device and bigger screen to read the Web and play games with, even if it means typing.

Source: Business Insider (SAI)

Apple App Store Analysis: Here's The Difference Between The iPad And The iPhone

What's the difference between Apple's new iPad tablet and its iPhone?

Based on a quick analysis of the apps people are buying on the devices, it's pretty simple: The iPhone and iPod touch are for games. The iPad is for a lot more. And people are spending a lot more (per app) on iPad apps than iPhone apps.
  • 82% of the top 50 iPhone/iPod touch apps are Games, versus 36% of the top 50 iPad apps.
  • The top iPad app categories among the top 50 are Games (36%), Content (28%, includes news, video), Productivity (20%), and Utilities (16%, includes weather).
  • The top iPhone app categories among the top 50 are Games (82%, includes gag apps) and Utilities (18%, includes weather, social networking).
  • The average top-25 paid iPhone app was $1.51, versus $5.79 on the iPad (almost 4X difference).

(How'd we get these numbers? We looked at the top 25 paid and top 25 free apps for each system, thus the "top 50." We also recategorized some apps that we thought were tagged with the wrong category. And we took some liberties merging "games" and "entertainment" apps, etc.)

To be sure: Obviously, there's a lot more going on peoples' iPads and iPhones than just the apps they are buying. App Store sales stats are hardly the same thing as device activity stats, and we'd love to look at those. No doubt, people are using the iPad a lot for its web browser and email capabilities, and the iPhone to make calls and send text messages. But we think the App Store records are a good directional indication of what's happening.

Source: Business Insider (SAI)

A defensive experiment: How the Times of London and the Times in New York diverge on paid content

When Rupert Murdoch arrived at The Wall Street Journal, the word on the executive floor was that would soon become an entirely free site. After Murdoch was given a look at the numbers by the business side, the subscriptions remained.

Remembering that, I figured Murdoch’s talk of a draconian, all-or-nothing paywalls for The Times of London and The Sunday Times was saber-rattling aimed at the likes of Google, Microsoft and his own competitors. This would be the Journal experience in reverse, I assumed: News Corp. would talk up an absolutist paywall locking its content away from casual visitors and automated spiders alike, but then look at its own property’s success with a relatively porous, search- and link-friendly paywall and implement a more-nuanced approach.

But I was wrong. (And Alan Rusbridger, you were right.) As Tim Bradshaw writes for the Financial Times’ techblog, when the paywalls go up on the Times and the Sunday Times in a few weeks, all but the homepages will become invisible unless you pay £1 a day or £2 a week. There won’t be a meter like the FT’s or the one The New York Times plans to implement next year. You’ll be in or out. (And News International’s Paul Hayes has a pungent prediction about his own fate if too many people choose “out.”)

Sneak peek in Wapping

Bradshaw was part of a group of journalists and bloggers News International invited to a sneak peek (as was the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones), and he writes that “some members of the Times team seemed as keen to know what we thought of the plans as we were to see them.” And indeed, some of the comments made to Bradshaw read as simultaneously hopeful and a tad defensive. Assistant editor Tom Whitwell praised his publication’s spare, print-like look (which I agree is elegant and quite readable) and said that the Times would throw fewer stories at people than most sites, which he portrayed as a better alternative than “Google News showing you 4,000 versions of the same thing.” (Apples to oranges, as Google News is for searching, not browsing the news.)

Comment editor Danny Finkelstein, for his part, seemed unconcerned by the possibility that his articles will no longer be part of the online conversation, retorting that news organizations without a paywall “won’t go viral, they will go out of business” and adding that “we are trying to make people pay for the journalism…I want my employer to be paid for the intellectual property they are paying me for.” When a Twitter correspondent called the redesign very nice but said he wouldn’t be paying for it, Finkelstein responded: “Sorry to hear that. Our alternative is???”

Well, a number of things — including alternatives that seem far more promising for attracting new readers, keeping news organizations and writers like Finkelstein from being sidelined, and that aren’t such big gambles on traffic and ad dollars. The Times could emulate the Journal’s own model, setting up a relatively porous paywall that has retained subscribers (and thereby boosted ad revenues) while allowing Journal content to be discovered and read through search and shared through email, blogs, and social media. Or the Times could opt for a metered model like that of the FT, in which readers can see a certain number of articles per month for free, after which they’re asked to subscribe. That model zeroes in on a news organization’s most-frequent visitors — who one would assume would be the most-loyal, engaged members of its audience — and asks them to pay. (Disclosure: Perhaps because of my DNA, I’ve long advocated or at least not opposed paywalls and meters, and I now consult for Journalism Online.)

Closed vs. open

Where the Times U.K.’s model is closed, the Times U.S.’s model seems as open as possible. All Things D’s Peter Kafka notes that the Times’ meter won’t count links from third-party sites such as blogs. (Well, as a Times spokeswoman notes in a comment, actually they will — but if you’re over the limit you can still read a story via an outside link. Which would seem to indicate they won’t.) As Kafka notes, it’s a bit confusing, but the aim is that bloggers won’t be deterred from linking to the Times and readers won’t be trained not to follow such links.

Can that system be gamed? Of course — just as people can bypass the Journal’s paywall by searching for headlines in Google. But worrying about gaming is looking at paid content from the absolutist point of view: Everybody pays and maybe we make some exceptions. The metered model starts from a very different place: Figure out who’s most likely to pay, try to convert them, and don’t worry about the people who won’t pay anyway.

Between iPad apps and the renewed interest in subscriptions, metered models, and paywalls, the next 12 months are going to see a lot of ferment and experimentation in paid content. That experimentation is a good thing for the news industry, and there’s no reason an absolutist paywall shouldn’t be one of those experiments. (Particularly since News Corp. can pay for it out of a sliver of “Avatar” royalties.) But there are experiments designed to explore possible successes, and experiments designed to confirm probable failures. The Times U.K.’s paywall seems likely to be one of the latter.

Source: The Nieman Journalism Lab

Facebook beats newspapers in Arab world

There are now more Facebook users in the Arab world than newspaper readers, according to research by Dubai-based Spot On Public Relations.

It finds there are more than 15m subscribers to the social networking site while the total number of newspaper copies in Arabic, English and French is just under 14m.

The survey of 17 countries showed that the largest number of Facebook members are in Egypt, with 3.5m users, followed by conservative Saudi Arabia.

The findings should come as no surprise because the majority of the region's more than 300m people is young and internet use is on the rise.

Sources: SpotOn PR/BBC/CyberJournalist