Neither wind, rain nor a classroom will keep iPhone fans away

iphone.jpgHere we go…

Two days before the iPhone’s launch, fans around Asia are queuing up to buy Apple’s latest offering. They don’t seem to care that it’s raining or freezing cold or if lining up early means missing work or school.

The July 11 launch will be the first chance, after all,  for Asian consumers to own an iPhone.

“I’ve told my professor I was going to go buy an iPhone, and he gave me permission,” said Hiroyuki Sano, a 24-year-old graduate student who early on Tuesday arrived in rainy Tokyo from Nagoya to be first in line. Sano, speaking to Reuters, and incidentally wearing a T-shirt with an Apple logo, described his professor as an equally big Apple fan. “He sent me off cheerfully.”

The United States has already been through this, when the iPhone first went on sale a year ago. As the New York Times recalls, “TV news coverage was relentless. Hard-core fans camped out to be the first in line. Bloggers referred to Apple’s new product as the ‘Jesus phone’.”

The paper adds, “This time, though, when the iPhone 3G goes on sale in AT&T and Apple stores, iPhone Mania will be considerably more muted. That’s partly because the mystery is gone, partly because the AT&T service costs more and partly because there aren’t many new features in what Apple is calling the iPhone 3G. ”

More newspaper cuts… anyone surprised?

tribune-tower.jpgSo Tribune Co is cutting jobs at The Sun in Baltimore and Hartford Courant.

Not to sound callous, but by this point should anyone be surprised by news that a publisher is getting rid of jobs? After all, this is shaping up to be one of the worst years in memory for the newspaper business.

The upshot: The Sun will lose 100 jobs, 60 of them in the newsroom, and the Courant will cut about 60 jobs. (Don’t forget, Tribune is also cutting jobs at the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune)

But it’s not just Tribune. It seems everyone is cutting jobs as advertising revenue plunges thanks to the one-two combination of a weak economy and competition from the Internet for marketing dollars.

Look out, Yahoo!

spider.jpgRemember those scary movie close-ups of a fly caught in a spider’s web, or some tourist who steps into quicksand, or another variation of the same? How with each twist and turn to get free, the captive enmeshes themselves deeper into the trap? 

We’re starting to get that uncomfortable feeling about Yahoo as it dodges the embrace of Microsoft while trying to orchestrate a partnership with Google that won’t encroach on its own business. The New York Post says today that a deal with Google, already at the “any minute now” stage for almost a month, could be sealed next week.
Some of the moves could provide a boost down the line, like a new ad-trading partnership with WPP Group, the world’s second largest advertising services company. 
[N.B. WPP chief Martin Sorrell said last week it was a shame Yahoo and Microsoft couldn't work it out, since their break-up just leaves Google the biggest kid in the playground]
But Yahoo does not have that much more time to prove it can go it alone. Yesterday, Yahoo stood up to billionaire Carl Icahn, who officially launched his proxy fight to deliver the company back to Microsoft. That means there must be some resolution by the time Yahoo’s shareholders meet on July 3. (Reuters)

Keep an eye on:    
* “Gossip Girl” can’t save ratings for the CW network. (WSJ)
* Fox embraces Less Is More principle, cutting ad time for two new shows. (Hollywood Reporter via Reuters)

WPP won’t be left out of takeover drama

It may not seem as sexy as Yahoo-Microsoft, but there is another notable takeover saga brewing in media. This one is between WPP, the British advertising group, and Taylor Nelson Sofres, the market research firm.

Why does WPP want TNS badly enough that it continued to urge the research firm to engage in talks even after its $1.9 billion bid had been rejected?

It’s partly because research has become so much more essential to advertising these days. With so many media outlets, it doesn’t come as a shock that advertisers are desperate for more information about their products and markets.