MediaFile

The good news & bad news about news consumption on tablets

There is some heartening data and some other data that should strike fear in the hearts of publishing executives about how people consume news on tablet devices, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Project in Excellence in Journalism and the Economist Group.

Let’s get to the rosy stuff first. The survey polled about 1,200 tablet users and 900 people  who use them to read the news. It turns out that consuming news — defined as skimming headlines to hunkering down and reading long-form articles –  is one of the most popular tablet activities (at 53%) nearly edging out sending emails (at 54%) but definitely whopping social media activity (39%), gaming (17%), reading books (17%) and watching videos (13%).

But the apps aren’t pulling in the most readers. Interestingly, while two-thirds of those surveyed have news apps, about 40% of those polled said they get their news through web browsers compared to only 21% who get their news through apps.  For newspapers this piece of information should be a wake up call to keep pricing consistent.  (Magazines would fit in this category though most don’t have a decent websites.)

If a publisher is going to charge for an application — and why not? — they should also have some sort of pay strategy in place for the website. Otherwise people are going to circumvent the app and just go straight to the browser for free news. Thus the publication once again misses another potential revenue opportunity.

Now for the bad news. The study found that “revenue potential for news on the tablet may be limited.” Here’s why: Just 14 percent of tablet news users have paid to access the news. Those who have news apps said that being free or low cost was a major factor in their decision to download the app in the first place.

What’s in store for Dropbox after receiving a big pile of cash

Dropbox, one of the most watched companies in Silicon Valley, officially announced on Monday that it raised an astounding $250 million in a Series B round led by Index Ventures, reportedly valuing the virtual file cabinet company at a whopping $4 billion.  This massive round stands in contrast to the first bit of money raised — about  $7 million –  from early investors including Sequoia Partners, Accel Partners, and Hadi and Ali Partovi.*

Founded in 2007, Dropbox is virtual storage that allows consumers to access documents, photos and videos from several devices.  So if you happen to snap a picture on your Android operated phone and store it to your Dropbox, you can pull that same photo on your iPad or laptop, for example. It eliminates the need for thumb drives or even email as long as you download a storage box on each device.

The company has about 45 million users. Dropbox provides a certain amount of storage for free before charging people for extra capacity. People can also get more storage by referring friends. Dropbox won’t reveal revenue or profit figures.

AOL, Yahoo, Demand Media set sights on the ladies

It’s early October in New York which means that Advertising Week, which kicked off on Monday, is officially in full churn.   This year, the organizers of the conference that attracts all stripes from publishing outfits to retailers to ad agencies  may as well have slugged the event Ladies Week given the number of companies pitching to women.

Specifically that would be AOL, Yahoo and Demand Media all of which launched in the past couple of days “premium” video channels catering to the women, and, by extension, consumer packaged goods companies looking for a means to place their online advertising dollars.

AOL rolled out more than 15 original Web series some aimed at the ladies with such titles as “Little Women, Big Cars,” ” A Supermodel Stole My Husband,” and “Jocks & Jills.” (An aside: AOL also touted its “You’ve Got” one minute series lumping in President Barack Obama with other “notables” such as Kevin Bacon and Paula Abdul.)

Amazon lights a fire, Apple ices the cake

That was the week that was.

I can imagine saying that in years to come about the eight days that began on Wednesday with Amazon’s paradigm-busting entry into the tablet business, its deeper walk into the cheaper e-ink e-reader woods with less expensive Kindles, bookended next Wednesday by Apple’s latest iPhone(s) reveal.

Both unveilings have lots to do with “everywhere” consumption, and both have aspects of evolution. But a counter-revolution began this week, and we’ll be talking about for years to come.

Dare I say it: Amazon’s $199 “Fire” tablet may not make us forget Apple’s tablet, but it could very well be the first credible answer to the question: “Why wouldn’t I buy an iPad?”

Murdoch in good times and bad

By Sir Harold Evans
The views expressed are his own.

There is a clear connecting thread between the events I describe in “Good Times, Bad Times” and the dramas that led so many years later to Rupert Murdoch’s “most humble day of my life.” I was seated within a few feet of him in London on July 19, 2011, during his testimony to a select committee of MPs with his son James at his side. Not many more than a score of observers were allowed into the small room at Parliament’s Portcullis House, across the road from the House of Commons and Big Ben. A portcullis is a defensive latticed iron grating hung over the entrance to a fortified castle, the perfect metaphor for News International, which perpetually sees itself as beset by enemies.

Murdoch, as chairman and only begetter of the giant multi-media enterprise News International (NI), was called on to defend his castle and himself as best he could for the outrages of hacking and police bribery inflicted on the British public by his News of the World and the cover-up that he and his company conducted over nearly five years. The paper Murdoch most affects to despise, the Guardian, was the instrument of his undoing.

It persisted with the unraveling story almost alone in the face of repeated denials, defamation and threats and the sloppy exonerations of News International by Scotland Yard and the Press Complaints Commission. Among those waiting patiently – one might say humbly – for admission to the Portcullis House committee room was Nick Davies, the back-packing Guardian reporter, who led the paper’s investigation courageously sustained by his editor Alan Rusbridger. It was cheering to think of the impetus for good contained in Davies’ little notebook as he assiduously scribbled away during the hearing.

Boston Globe sets pricing for new website

Another one of the New York Times Co’s newspaper properties is preparing to officially roll out a pay model for its website.  The Boston Globe launched  bostonglobe.com and starting Oct. 1 it will charge $3.99 per week for a digital-only subscription (print subscribers can read the site for free).  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage New England is sponsoring a free trial subscription through Sept. 30. Unlike its sister site NYTimes.com, a subscription for bostonglobe.com is required to access all content.

The flagship New York Times rolled out in March a pay model for its digital products allowing readers to access up to 20 articles per month for free. After hitting that limit, a reader must shell out for a digital subscription to read more, anywhere from about $15 to $35 a month depending on the package. Print subscribers get free access to the site, mobile and smartphone apps.

The experiment is a being closely watched in the U.S. newspaper industry as a guidepost to see if general interest newspapers can successfully charge for digital content. The early data seems encouraging: As of the New York Times’ last earnings report in July, the company said that the NYTimes.com had 224,000 digital subscribers.

WSJ pushes further into video with free app

The Wall Street Journal has launched a new video application “WSJ Live” that pulls from the content from its stable of live programming.

WSJ Live is another push from the Journal into video programming — which represents some of its most valuable advertising inventory, said Alisa Bowen, general manager of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network. Ad inventory on the video network has been sold out and WSJ Live is free to watch on WSJ.com. That is part of the reason that the Journal plans to keep WSJ Live free of charge, unlike some of its other content, but that could change in the future, Bowen said.

Six advertisers have signed up for the sponsorship of the app: Aetna, AT&T, Citi Simplicity, Cognizant, FedEx, and Fidelity.

A simple plan to save Yahoo, by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman

In Silicon Valley, it’s not tough to find someone to offer advice on how to save Yahoo, the struggling Internet portal that fired CEO Carol Bartz last week.
But one voice that the Sunnyvale, California-based company may want to pay attention to is Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn-turned-venture capitalist, and one of the most respected players in the fast-growing social networking market.
While investment bankers and private equity advisors are circling around Yahoo, looking for the best way to break the company into little pieces that can be auctioned off to the highest bidder, Hoffman thinks Yahoo may still be able to pull off a comeback.
“I think renovation and rebirth is possible and I think that’s the play you make,” Hoffman said, citing the Apple example, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Monday.
How would he do it?
First, Hoffman said he’d focus on investing the resources to make big technological innovations on Yahoo’s most popular online assets, such as its Web-based email product, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Groups.
Then, he suggested, Yahoo to end its reliance on online brand advertising and get creative about how it makes money.
“There are other kinds of business models that I think we have yet to invent on the consumer Internet,” Hoffman said, citing Zynga, which has developed revenue from new sources, such as the sale of virtual goods that enhance the experience of Zynga games.
So there you have it, a simple two-step plan to revive Yahoo. Perhaps Reid Hoffman should call Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang directly…

Arrington Exits TechCrunch; Takes jab at Arianna Huffington

From the TechCrunch conference in San Francisco, this post is brought to you by Alexei Oreskovic and Sarah McBride:

Michael Arrington, one of the most high-profile figures in the world of tech blogging, has lost the TechCrunch soapbox he built. But he’s found a new way to get his point across: T-shirts

Arrington took the stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference on Monday, moments after parent-company AOL announced that he was no longer part of the company due to his new role heading up a $20 million venture capital fund.

Inkling launches digital textbooks 2.0 for iPads

Apple dominates the tablet market — its iOS tablet software accounted for more than 60 percent of the tablet market in the second quarter, while Google’s Android made up about 30 percent, according to Strategy Analytics. So it’s no surprise that more than 40 educational institutions  in the United States either require or recommend in-coming freshman or first-years come equipped with an iPad.

For example, that list includes  the medical schools at Brown, UC Irvine, Cornell and UCF; undergrads at Boston University, Abilene Christian University and Georgia Perimeter College; business students at Hult Business School, Lamar Business School and Seton Hill. Even prep schools are in on the act including South Kent, Princeton Day School and Madison Academy.

Certainly it’s appealing to slip an iPad into a backpack rather than massive tomes that students need to lug around campus.