MediaFile

Sports Illustrated unveils another digital app subscription plan

sports illustratedTime Inc’s Sports Illustrated unveiled the details of another subscription plan for the Samsung Galaxy tablet computer and Android based smartphones — the print version of its  parent Time Warner Inc’s “TV everywhere” idea currently touted by Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes.  Like TV Everywhere, magazines everywhere charges one price for access to content across print and digital platforms.

The SI digital and print subscription plan comes on the heels of  a Time Inc announcement about a similar subscription plan for SI and People for  Hewlett-Packard’s forthcoming tablet device the TouchPad.

“The key to the media business is habituation,” said Time Inc EVP and Chief Digital Officer Randall Rothenberg.

Indeed, the SI digital app subscription plan is available everywhere with one glaring exception: Apple’s iTunes store.

That was the elephant in the room this morning when  Time Inc executives showed off the SI app on various devices. Currently, only single copy editions of SI are available on the iPad and iPhone. It’s a sore point among publishing executives who depend on subscriptions for circulation and more important, advertising revenue.

Wild news on Apple, Google changes? Not if you’re an analyst

It has certainly been an interesting week in Silicon Valley as two of the most closely watched companies in the world shuffled their executive suites. On Monday, Apple announced that its chief executive  and charismatic leader Steve Jobs was taking a temporary medical leave – his third since 2004  — a day before Apple released its quarterly results.  On Thursday, Google reported a stellar Q4 and dropped that Larry Page would be stepping into the role of chief executive, as Eric Schmidt takes up the executive chairman position.

Big news, right? So it’s surprising then that analysts who have the opportunity to quiz management during earnings calls failed to mention anything about the changes. Not one analyst asked about the C-suite during the Google and Apple calls. Google even made its three top executives, Schmidt, Page and Sergey Brin available for short period on Thursday’s call. The three analysts in the queue pitched questions about the following subjects:  Google’s real estate purchase in New York,  government outreach and social networking plans.

New York Times aware of buggy iPhone app

iPhone Frequent users of the New York Times iPhone application likely have noticed that the app has been a bit buggy of late. The New York Times developed a nicely designed means to get the latest news on your smartphone — when you can update it that is. 

This reporter, who uses the app almost daily and depends upon it to catch up on news during subway rides, noticed that the app is having problems refreshing.  Apparently others have noticed too. 

A sample of some comments about the NYT from Apple’s App store:

 

  “Freezes a lot”

“Cmon nyt pls fix the “no update” problem otherwise it’s a great app” 

Liveblog: Verizon set to launch the iPhone. Finally.

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Verizon is set to launch the iPhone today — January 11, 2011 at 11am ET. Cheeky.

Will antennagate be fixed? Will Verizon launch a 4G version by summer? Will Steve Jobs make an appearance on stage or by hologram? Can Verizon Wireless’ network survive the crush? Will AT&T customers in San Francisco stop dropping calls?

We’re live blogging and analyzing the event today. Joining us for the liveblog from New York will be NPD analyst Ross Rubin, Gartner’s Michael Gartenberg and Ritsuko Ando, Reuters correspondent. Sinead Carew of Reuters will also be on scene in New York covering the announcement.

Today In Music: Labels still looking forward to Google Music, Spotify less so

So 2010 was the year that wasn’t as far as a major revolutionary digital music launches were concerned. Label executives have been hoping fervently for some real competition to take on Apple’s iTunes. Not that they don’t want iTunes to do very well but having one company control 70 percent of recorded music sales in your biggest markets like the US and UK is perhaps not best for industry growth.

Andy Rubin GoogleThis has meant that whenever it looks like there could be real competition — remember the hopes for Microsoft’s Zune? There’s always been an overreaction from the labels in the hype department. Remember how Amazon would be a true digital rival? Today it’s market share hovers around the 15 percent mark.

So when Google started talking to labels about a music servicethe labels got very excited. So far we know Google has proposed a download store and a digital music locker which will allow you to access music you own wherever you are. They had hoped to have it up and running by Christmas but dealing with labels takes time. In the meantime Google has been getting its house in order for become more a content middle-man media company by promising to work harder on issues like copyright.This is likely because it would like to have more mainstream content for its Android wireless phones and tablets if it is to be a more complete competitor to Apple’s iTunes/iPhone/iPad/iOS ecosystem.  We’re hearing the labels are still very confident that Google will get something up and running sooner rather than later despite the delays. Google is also still looking for people to run its music service, though negotiations have been led by Android founder and Google VP of engineering Andy Rubin (pictured, above).

Apple’s Mac Store cuts the clutter

a screenshot of Apple's Appstore. REUTERS/ Apple Inc1000 apps might not seem like a lot compared to the 300,000 offered for Apple’s iPhone, but there’s enough on offer at Apple’s new Mac App Store to cover most software bases, some of it deeply discounted.

The Mac App Store interface is easy to navigate, much like the iPhone and iPad sections on iTunes, with app icons arranged in rows.

However, if you’re not running OSX Snow Leopard on your Mac, you won’t even get that far. The store isn’t offered on computers running older Mac operating systems. The solution is to upgrade your OS, but that will run you $29. And you can’t download it, so you’ll have to have it shipped to you or pick it up at one of Apple’s retail outlets.

Mobile sales are helping eBay, but is it enough?

EBAY/eBay said Wednesday that the value of goods sold in the U.S. through its mobile applications surged 133% to $100 million during the month before Christmas. Globally, the growth was even stronger: Up 166% to $230 million worth of goods.

That is good news from one angle. eBay is having success using mobile devices to sell goods during the busiest retailing period of the year. But it obscures another fact: Mobile sales may be a growing market, but it’s a tiny portion of eBay’s overall sales. And overall sales don’t appear to be growing nearly as fast.

eBay’s Gross Merchandise Volume (the total value of all goods sold through eBay) was $48.3 billion in 2009, excluding car sales, and that figure is likely to top $50 billion in 2010. The $230 million GMV of mobile sales is equal to only 0.5% of eBay’s total GMV last year.

Privacy matters more when you’re mobile

A woman walks past icons for Apple applications at the company's retail store in San Francisco, California, April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Robert GalbraithPrivacy concerns are nothing new if you use the Web to tweet or facebook. But with Apple’s mobile platform joining the fray and speculation that Google’s might be next, should you be worried about how your personal information is being used on that 3G-enabled iPad or Android-powered smartphone you picked up over the holiday season?

Apple shareholders don’t seem to think so. Shares in the iPhone maker closed up on Tuesday and were unchanged in midday trading on Wednesday.

And with revenue from mobile apps sales forecasted to see 60 percent compound growth to 2014 and an expected increase in the number of apps downloaded worldwide to reach 76.9 billion in 2014 from 10.9 billion in 2010, there’s good reason for wider investor optimism.

Lawsuits will pressure Apple and Google to protect user privacy

On December 17, the Wall Street Journal published an investigative story that detailed how popular iPhone and Android apps like Pandora, The Weather Channel and Angry Birds breach user privacy. Less than a week later, the first lawsuits were filed.

So far, two suits seeking class action status have been filed, pushing for a ban on the sharing by apps of personal data like geo-location and phone numbers with advertisers. They also seek monetary compensation. The defendants include the developers of the apps in question as well as Apple. Google, which developed the Android platform, may face similar suits.

Smartphone owners who are concerned about advertisers receiving personal data without their consent may be encouraged if these lawsuits lead to stronger protection. But for Apple and Google they complicate matters. There is a fundamental tension between making mobile ads a valuable platform for advertisers and respecting the privacy of mobile device users. It’s going to take a long time to untangle the whole mess, and the lawsuits apply pressure to find a quick solution.

Apple, Wikileaks and the new debate on civil disobedience

Apple has removed from its iTunes store an app that let people read WikiLeaks’s site and follow its Twitter feed on their iPhones and iPads. The app had been approved only three days earlier, and the move is largely symbolic because anyone with an iPhone or iPad can still access the same content through a Safari or Opera browser.

In doing so, Apple is in some pretty good company in the tech industry. PayPal blocked donations to WikiLeaks and Amazon kicked Wikileaks off of its cloud. And all made their moves for similar reasons: Wikileaks broke the law, and these companies don’t support those who break the law.

There is little question that the release of government documents by Wikileaks was unlawful. The real debate is elsewhere: whether the benefits of leaking the recent State Department documents are larger than the costs; and, more broadly, whether the ideal of free speech is worth breaking laws to uphold. In other words, this is a debate over civil disobedience.