MediaFile

Rupert Murdoch’s long crusade to make digital news pay

Rupert MurdochOn the first day of one of my journalism classes, the teacher produced a large metal ring with a short rope fastened to it. The ring was made to be installed in a bull’s nose, he explained; and the rope – called a lead – let you guide him wherever you wanted. The point was clear, if somewhat condescending: Writing a good lead lets the journalist guide the reader around like cattle.

That illustration was a lot more powerful before the web, during an era when closed media like print newspapers and television limited interactivity and left consumers with no choice but to passively accept the news as presented. It doesn’t make sense on the web, where any reader can challenge news content or even become a publisher in a matter of minutes.

Rupert Murdoch still lives in a world of nose rings. The News Corp. CEO has had remarkable success in print and television, but he has stumbled again and again on the web, most notably with the great fizzle that was MySpace. Even today, the company is backing away from Project Alesia, its ambitious plan to create a digital newsstand, after other publishers showed little interest.

But as reports emerge on his latest digital venture – The Daily, a newspaper designed for tablets in general and the iPad in particular – it’s clear that Murdoch isn’t giving up on making digital news work on his terms – that is, in a tidily contained format that demands readers pay for it.

That model is working for the Wall Street Journal, more or less, because the publication is still regarded as a must read for many. But it’s not clear it will work for a publication built from scratch. Initial reactions lean toward skepticism, particularly the $50 annual subscription and the newspaper-like publishing schedule. One terse summary of the reaction: “Wonderful! Slower news — and at a higher price.”

A “completely new” iPad, says Jobs, for the holidays

APPLE/The iPad will have just a smattering of competition for the holiday season, but nonetheless, Steve Jobs says he is basically reinventing Apple’s tablet as consumers prepare to hit the stores over the next five weeks.

Apple on Monday announced the latest software update for the iPad, bringing multitasking, AirPrint and a few other goodies to the touchscreen tablet.  While these features are certainly nice (they came to the iPhone earlier this year), Jobs took it a bit further. And he of course didn’t pass up an opportunity to smack his tablet rivals, which include Samsung and Research in Motion.

“iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product, just in time for the holiday season,” Jobs said in a news release. “Once again, the iPad with iOS 4.2 will define the target that other tablets will aspire to, but very few, if any, will ever be able to hit.”

Should you trust Facebook with your email?

INTERNET-SOCIALMEDIA/PRIVACY- Michael Fertik is the CEO and Founder of ReputationDefender, the online privacy and reputation company. The views expressed are his own. -

Facebook already knows a massive amount about you.  They know your age, what you look like, what you like, what you do for fun, where you go, what you eat, whom you know, whom you know well, whom you sleep with, who your best friends and family are, and, again, how old they are, what they like, and so on.

On top of that, Facebook has a well-known history of privacy breaches or at least snafus.  Publicly they seem committed to the notion that privacy is dead.  Their CEO and Founder has said as much.

from Entrepreneurial:

TechStars’ founder predicts accelerator implosion

Less than two months from launching its New York program, TechStars co-founder David Cohen is already anticipating a critical mass being achieved in the startup-mentoring space within the next five years.

Cohen said that when he and two friends first launched TechStars in Boulder, Colorado four years ago there were just a handful of these accelerator programs. Now he said there are upwards of 60 across the country and he expects that to triple before the bubble bursts.

"There will be a run up to a couple hundred and then we’ll probably see a run down to 10 would be my guess over the next five years," said Cohen, who has expanded TechStars to Boston and Seattle in recent years and has invested in more than 70 startups since launching the program. "There will certainly be a little mini accelerator bubble."

FT hearts tablets so much, it’s spreading the joy among staff

SINGAPORE/It’s not hard to see why newspaper companies, saddled with plunging circulation and big iron presses , are so ecstatic over tablet devices. They bring a form of hope that hasn’t crossed this industry’s path since newspapers dominated classified advertising in the 1980s and 1990s making them fat with revenue and profits. Tablet computers, like Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, just might spark renewed interest in wilted newspapers among consumers and help ease the legacy costs of paper and ink.

Consider News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch who has often expressed his love for the iPad and is busy building a team to produce a tablet-only newspaper The Daily.

The  Financial Times is just as enamored and is spreading the joy offering its employees a nice chunk of change to go toward the purchase of an iPad or other tablet.

Orb TV: the latest device bringing web to TV

Orb TV alonephotoAdd Orb TV to the list of devices that is attempting to bring the web to the TV. The Oakland, Calif.-based company launched the product on Thursday — a hockey puck shaped object (pictured on the left) that promises to deliver all sorts of content  available on the Internet straight to your TV.

Orb TV is selling for $99 (purchased only through its website)  and can help you find any show regardless of the source including content from Hulu, YouTube and CBS or from your computer like photos, according to Orb TV.  Users control the device through a smartphone app and can search simply by typing in a show like “Glee.”

“Our belief is that the evolution of digital media has been stymied,” said Orb TV CEO Joe Costello. “The whole premise it that it should be enjoyed anywhere, anytime and to make it simple. The last part hasn’t happened.”

What would Frank do? Quattrone sheds light on the art of M&A

Frank Quattrone, the mustachioed dealmaker that helped generate multi-billion bidding wars for clients 3Par and DataDomain, says the technology industry is ripe for more acquisitions. Quattrone

The reason is simple: a top tier of tech companies have loads of cash in their coffers and many of those companies are interested in buying a much broader range of companies than in the past, Quattrone explained during a rare public speaking engagement at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

“Instead of having one or two buyers within each sector, now if you’re a networking company you might be bought not just by Cisco, but by Oracle, by IBM, by Dell, by HP, now there are five or six big companies that want to buy almost no matter what you are,” he said.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg on relationships with big companies

Facebook has had its differences with Google and Apple in recent months. FACEBOOK/

And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried his best not to comment directly on the budding rivalry with the two tech titans during his appearance at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

But Zuckerberg did offer some clues about Facebook’s philosophy towards working with big companies that might offer some insight into its relationships with Apple and Google.

“If you’re a very large company and supporting you is going to cost us tens of millions of dollars, then we want to at least have an understanding of how you’re going to use what we’re doing, and that you’re not just going to import the data but also try and contribute back to the ecosystem and make people’s Facebook experience better.”

I hear you, says AT&T

speechrecognition

Anybody who’s been at the wrong end of a automated customer service conversation may understandably have doubts about speech recognition technology. Personally I’ve been frustrated by systems that couldn’t understand something as basic as whether I’d answered “yes” or “no.”

But AT&T says that after working on speech recognition for more than 20 years, it’s come a long way, in improving  accuracy and in developing cool applications.

After years of profiting handsomely from touchscreen technology in the form of Apple Inc’s iPad, maybe voice will be the next hot mobile interface for the operator?

Google and the last days of the credit card

The future is no longer in plastic.

Or such was the message from Eric Schmidt when he was talking at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Credit cards are about to become as obsolete as the Sony Walkman in the age of the iPod. Replacing them will be the smartphone – Android phones in particular.

Next week, Google will release a new version of its Android mobile operating system software, called Gingerbread. Gingerbread will support near-field communication, a technology that marries allows the smartphone to act like a credit card. The technology relies on a chip with a range of several inches that allows wireless payment transactions much more simply and, according to Schmidt, securely than a standard credit card.

The thing with near-field communication is, the whole notion of location takes on a new meaning. Now I can just tap I don’t have to take a picture I don’t have to scan a barcode… We think the overall mobile market which is already exited about these payment systems, will benefit from having this because it’s a secure element that is very hard to steal. And the theory is you can take these mobile devices and walk into a store and it will be able to figure out where you are with your permission. Effectively to bump for everything. And eventually it will replace your credit cards.