Tag: news corp

Interest in the Daily is plummeting

Hopes that the Apple cargo cult would save the print industry are proving groundless as sales in the tablet based Daily have tanked.

Rupert Murdoch placed his faith in Apple and launched his e-rag onto the world. Initially there was a bit of interest, but it looks like dedicated followers of Apple are looking elsewhere.

According to a Nieman Journalism Lab analysis, which is based on Twitter sharing activity, after an initial spike of interest, then an app upgrade which eliminated some technical problems, the Daily is in “decline, plateau, and decline.”

Nieman author Joshua Benton could not count readers, and News Corp is not going to tell anyone.

News Corp said a month ago that downloads were in the “hundreds of thousands.” However it was issuing it for free and there is no indication that many people paid for a subscription after the trial period.

Nieman admits that tweeting volume needn’t necessarily correlate with subscribership in an intuitive way. But it does seem logical. If tweeting from The Daily goes up, it might only mean that people are tweeting more. If tweeting goes down, it might mean that there are fewer subscribers.

However tweeting from within the app has dropped and Nieman claims to have found a worrying trend.

Benton said that while a certain amount of decline would be expected after the initial rush of attention, the fact that there’s never been an appreciable, sustained uptick in sharing isn’t cause for optimism.

In the middle of the monitoring period, Jobs’ Mob released iPad 2 which should have bought millions of new Daily customers into the fold. It didn’t.

The Daily had a high-profile launch following weeks of media interest in the publication. It had a $100 million start-up budget and a number of top hacks signed up for it. Techeye started up with a bit of loose change in the bottom of Magee’s pocket and Nick Farrell signed up for it. Yet it would appear that we have more readers.

Tech industry gets drunk on SXSW's fumes

If you thought CES was weird, with its giant neon alien babies and quesadillas, then you haven’t been to South by Southwest.

A two week technology, music and film festival, nerds met hipsters this week in Austin, Texas to kick off the interactive portion of the festival.

When people use the word “meeting” here, it’s code for cocktail party, which is why finding a quiet space to conduct an interview becomes troublesome.

Perhaps that’s why TechEye spotted Apple and News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch’s love child The Daily’s UI creator Whurley dragged into the bathroom at Fogo de Chau’s Brazilian churrascaria by two women.

We later found out that the entire interview was recorded on the toilet, redefining crap content.

Sunday at the Austin Convention Center was a day for keynotes, the most anticipated being Groupon CEO Andrew Mason’s talk entitled “Strange Business: Corporate Creative that Doesn’t Suck.”

What did suck though, was the fact the CEO was a no-show for his own 12:30 pm panel. Instead, Aaron With took his place focusing on the fun corporate culture over at Groupon. Perhaps the CEO had a little bit too much fun the night before as the city of Austin was host to a plethora of parties and concerts where the beer was flowing and tacos teeming. Daylight savings time certainly didn’t help the cause.

To top off the weird, last night’s Diggnation party attracted the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore who took the opportunity to flaunt the once reigning prince’s love for social media.

When TechEye asked a source if they had fun partying with Demi and Ashton, she replied “Yes, but they are crazy.”

Our source described getting stuck in a conversation with Demi about her “purse monkey,” a small stuffed animal that lives in the celebrity’s purse and only comes out to play for TwitPics and videos.

And what is the ultimate goal of the Indecent Proposal’s shining star out at SXSW? It’s trending “purse monkey” on Twitter.

AOL to launch iPad magazine "Editions"

AOL is to launch an iPad magazine called Editions, making it the second of what is expected to be a long list of iPad-exclusive digital titles on the cards.

It is described as delivering a daily magazine based on user interests, but that’s a vague description which could mean a completely different magazine for every person on the planet.

That appears to be what AOL is aiming for. You can rank your favourite interests and the app will search the web for content that matches those and delivers it in a magazine format.

AOL’s magazine will join the already announced newspaper by News Corp called The Daily. This title was recently delayed due to subscription problems, giving AOL the possibility of bringing out its title first. With two titles already announced for the iPad, Google will have to up its game to bring similar content to Android.

Editions has the rather unusual tagline of “The magazine that reads you,” which sounds not exactly dissimilar from a Yakov Smirnoff bit. The idea is that it reads your interests and presents a customised magazine back to you.

A teaser video was posted on Youtube to accompany the teaser website. It shows the AOL team at their West Coast headquarters in a setting and style similar to an episode of The Office, with Sol Lipman, Senior Director of Mobile at AOL attempting to come up with an alternative tagline: “The app for when you crap.” 


News Corp, Apple delay iPad newspaper

News Corp and Apple have decided to delay the launch of the iPad-only digital newspaper, according to sources close to the Wall Street Journal.

The paper, called The Daily, was supposed to launch next Wednesday, but now it will be delayed for an undetermined period of time while the partners work out some difficulties.

What these difficulties are is not clear beyond a mention that they need more time to test their subscription service, which will need to work flawlessly come launch day, since the publication will be beyond a paywall.

The delay was confirmed by News Corp, but both it and Apple are remaining tight-lipped about exact details.

The sudden delay could be due to more than just extended testing, however. The duo may have fallen out over the implementation of the newspaper or the royalty percentages either party wants. News Corp has been lauding the iPad for months, suggesting it wanted this deal for quite some time, but Apple may not be so keen.

Another possibility is that Apple wants The Daily to launch on its upcoming iPad 2, which is rumoured to launch on February 1, giving the second generation device another selling point over its still relatively new predecessor.

Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB buy gets green light from EC

News Corp, the media conglomerate owned by Rupert Murdoch, has won approval by the European Commission to take over British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) further expanding Murdoch’s unholy media empire.

The European Commission said that the buyout would not “significantly impede effective competition”. The word “significantly” is pretty er significant here – it amounts to an admission that it will have some effect on competition. Hardly surprising considering the size and reach of News Corp and the dominance of Sky’s broadcasting services in the UK.

Despite the approval, the Commission said that the UK government is free to interfere with the decision to protect “media plurarlity”.

In addition to its stake of BSkyB, News Corp owns The Sun, News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times

Ofcom, the UK telecoms and broadcasting regulator, has launched an antitrust probe into News Corp’s expansion. It will make its decision before the end of the month, which could either back the Commission’s approval or reject it entirely.

News Corp already owns just over 39 percent of BSkyB and was offering £7.8 billion ($12.1 billion) to buy out the remaining 61 percent. BSkyB was not so keen, believing it is worth more, but negotiations were frozen until regulatory approval is completed. The Commission’s decision today is one further step in bringing Sky fully into Murdoch’s hands.

Rupert Murdoch and Steve Jobs hop in bed for iPad paper

News Corp will launch a dedicated iPad newspaper called the Daily that it believes could save the floundering newspaper industry.

Following months of cooing over the iPad, the device Murdoch has described as a “game changer”, media mogul Rupert Murdoch gave a clear indication that he will continue his love-in with Apple’s chief exec Steve Jobs as he acknowledged the existence of the new enterprise on the Fox Business Network.

Up until this point there had been unconfirmed rumours that a major launch was on the horizon, with two employees saying that a launch is expected before the end of the year, though the interview last week was the first explicit mention of the Daily’s existence.  When asked during the interview what “exciting projects” News Corp was currently working on Murdoch cited the Daily, although no further details of the newspaper were given at that time.

According to the Taipei Times it is thought the total staff on the project will amount to somewhere in the region of 150, with $30 million set aside for the first year of its launch.

A number of names have been bandied around for various positions including Jesse Angelo, executive editor of the New York Post, Richard Johnson, former editor of a gossip page for the Post, and Greg Clayman, former head of Viacom’s digital division who is thought to be head of business operations at the Daily. Meanwhile Sasha Frere-Jones is believed to be being enlisted as culture editor, leaving her post as music critic at The New Yorker Magazine.

Murdoch clearly has high hopes for the touch screen tablet, seeing it as the perfect vehicle for his drive to enforce paywalls throughout the newspaper industry, calling the device a “glimpse of the future”.  

“There’s going to be tens of millions of these things sold all over the world. It may be the saving of newspapers because you don’t have the costs of paper, ink, printing, trucks,” said Murdoch.

“I’m old, I like the tactile experience of the newspaper,” he explained, but “if you have less newspapers and more of these, that’s OK.  It doesn’t destroy the traditional newspaper, it just comes in a different form.”

It has not been mentioned so far how any paywall would function precisely, but it seems inevitable that some sort of pay structure will be enforced with virtually all News Corp publications charging some sort of a subscription fee, including access to online versions of The Wall Street Journal and The Times.

The recent Webby Debates prompted discussion about the need for paywalls, though it seems that whatever your point of view it is clear that their proliferation is inevitable to some degree.  But what is creating increasing concern is the growing links between the mainstream media and Apple

With concerns being voiced over a potential media bias already, quite how the Daily will be able to provide objectivity is hard to fathom.

Murdoch and North Korea partner up for games venture

Rupert Murdoch and Kim Jong-Il have teamed up to boost North Korea’s fledgling games industry, one of a few industries most of the world didn’t know it had.

The games were developed by the General Federation of Science and Technology in North Korea, making them a state-run business, but then that’s not much of a surprise in the tightly-controlled environment of North Korea. They were then marketed by Nosotek Joint Venture Company, ending up being published by a subsidiary of News Corp.

The games are far from top-sellers, but they are based on several big name films, including 1998 cult classic The Big Lebowski and Men In Black. North Korea developed a mobile bowling game based on the pivotal scenes in Lebowski, while the Men In Black game was called “Alien Assault”.

The choice of games may have no significance, but because it’s a state-run venture we cannot help put wonder if Dear Leader actually likes to be called The Dude instead, or if he believes North Korea’s real threat is from aliens and not Americans.

A big problem arising from the investment, however, is that News Corp may now suffer scrutiny from America and Europe, as it appears Murdoch is actively investing in the country while Obama and others are increasing sanctions. It is not illegal to invest in North Korean companies under United Nations sanctions providing they are not linked with the arms trade, but it is still likely to upset a number of people who might consider it an endorsement of the Pyongyang regime.

“From the government’s point of view, foreign currency is the main reason to nurture and support these activities,” said Andrei Lankov, a scholar on North Korea in Kookmin University, Seoul. “These activities help to fund the regime, but at the same time they bring knowledge of the outside world to people who could effect change.”

This is a very important point, as while the money is undoubtedly going towards Pyongyang’s coffers, the extra exposure with the outside world might be just what is needed to help its beleaguered people.

North Korea has been slowly creeping onto the digital map lately with the establishment of Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube accounts, not to mention the registration of over a thousand IP addresses. However, it still restricts its citizens severely, who only have access to a closed-off state intranet. At least they can do a spot of virtual bowling or alien hunting. That’s something.

Rupert Murdoch writes a letter to himself – the iPad is great!

Rupert Murdoch is talking to himself in his old age, telling himself that his paywalls will work and that he has nothing to worry about with an article appearing in News Corp owned The Australian and syndicated in his own Wall Street Journal quoting himself. iPads are the future. iPads are the future. iPads are the future.

In what is essentially a letter to himself and his staff, he said to The Australian that there are already tens of thousands of downloaded apps for The Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Australian on the iPad.  He reckons that bedmates Apple will sell over 40 million iPads by 2012, so there’s a definite market for putting his papers on tablet PCs. Rupes also said he’d be exploring other tablet PCs.

“The argument that information wants to be free is only said by those who want it for free,” Murdoch said of his paywall that recently went live in the UK. However The Digger has put up the rate for the White House to gets its Wall Street Journal subscription to $600,000. Not to do with offsetting lost dosh or anything like that, of course.

Since the iPad’s launch Rupert has made no secret of his love for tablet PCs. He was quoted several months ago saying paid press subcriptions are the way forward compared to Google aggregating and nicking all of his precious news, though in a sense the strict paywall is stopping his UK monopoly from getting his stories to spread virally through social notworking.

Times Tweeters such as columnist Caitlin Moran have microblogged defending the paywall – we’re paraphrasing but to the effect of the great unwashed complaining: “Waah, waah, we can’t get any more free news.”

But Google is trialling a similar service in Italy which has a far more flexible pay option so the Digger may be shaking a fist at ‘Ogle from the Aussie Outback yet.

When the iPad launched in the UK, The Times decided to dedicate half a page splash on page 3 not on the Lahore Mosque attacks at time of print, and not even carrying on its front page lead until pages 8 or 9, but to the iPad’s launch. There was thinly veiled advertising masquerading as copy promising that The Times’ “iPad Edition” would feature “beautiful picture galleries,” “spectacular interactive graphics” and claiming that “in other words, it will be the newspaper, but with even more.”

It then dedicated a double page splash starting page 18, another advert for The Times’ iPad app and a column bylined by Nic Fildes titled “Readers are willing to pay for best news sites,” shamelessly printed just to the right of the app advert.

And so the iPad, applications and News Corp outlets get promotion from one to the other, disguised as copy, in an effort to build up the paywall. News Corp papers are different enough in style for the casual reader to not bat an eyelid, but we have a feeling if James Murdoch wasn’t looking after The Sun on News’ behalf, it would fall over itself to run a man with news empire monopoly in bed with man with technology monopoly shocka. 

Google argues the toss about print and online journalism

Search giant Google issued a response to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which essentially consists of a lengthy screed telling publishers why it’s not evil and what they can do about it.

The paper consists of comments on the FTC’s draft called Potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism and kind of misses the point in all sort of ways.

It kicks off by saying that “Google is committed to helping news organisations develop innovative ways to serve consumers and foster revenue generation models that will sustain the continued vitality of the news industry”.

It says that is sents four billion clicks every month to news publishers through Search, Google News and other products. “Each click – each visit – provides publishers with an opportunity to show users ads, register users, charge users for access to content, and so forth.”

It continues: “Google is currently working with news organisations that want to create online subscription services about ways to use our tools to achieve their goals.”

Google also helps publishers generate revenue, it says – it shared over $5 billion with its Adense partners and DoubleClick also helps them out.

It is true to say that Google News does make it a lot easier for online publishers, including small publishing outfits like TechEye,  to be on the same ground as the big boys. That really does open the field up and it must annoy the hell out of big news organisations that a tiny outfit can hit Google News headlines while they don’t necessarily do so themselves.

But there are some questions about the algorithms that Google uses that the company simply refuses to answer, claiming that revealing the proprietary information would give its competitors – are there any competitors? – an edge. People on the hunt for news may trust Google News to deliver the information they want, whether it’s in the realm of technology, energy or whatever. But the Google News actually has a news agenda of its own, determined by algorithms that are secret.

In truth, large publishing organisations with a largely print based legacy face the dilemma that the internet has changed the rules of the game. When I set up the INQUIRER, the initial investment in the site was minimal – I needed a CMS, a design, and a place to host the site. And I needed content. Unlike, say News Corp, Reed or many other traditional publishers, the INQUIRER did not have the huge costs of paying printers and distributing papers and magazines. The Register, which I co-founded, broke all the rules and the INQUIRER carried on successfully in the same manner.

Large print organisations are dinosaurs and the decision to put a paywall in front of the Times of London is a rearguard action that we suspect will come to nothing. The Wall Street Journal – now owned by News Corp too – has always successfully operated a paywall but that’s because it offers access to heavyweight stuff and to data that it was hard to get from anywhere else.

Google’s paper suggests that publishers can win by offering excellent online content but journalists and freelancers worldwide know that wages are lower than they’ve ever been, conditions are tougher and people are expected to work longer hours.  Under these circumstances, and on the Google News carousel, scoops and quality are forgotten and regurgitation and churnalism is the name of the game. The FTC, we hope, will ask Mr Google about its famous “algorithms” to ensure no Wizard of Oz is sitting behind the curtain pulling business levers.

The Google conclusion that it is optimistic about the future of journalism – “The Fourth Estate is too crucial a part of a functioning democracy and the internet too powerful a medium, for journalism to die in transition to a web-first approach.” Many journalists of my acquaintance who have lost their jobs or been reduced to minimum wage level, would laugh hollowly at that glass half full approach – to many, journalism is already dust.

Google says in the paper: “Google believes that by helping users more efficiently find different points of view they can better inform themselves as citizens. Quality content is complementary to Google’s search services – if there is better content on the Web, people are likely to do more searches, which will be good for Google’s business and for users.”

This is all a little bit disingenuous. While old style publishers are trapped by the twin albatrosses of print titles and huge overheads, what Google is essentially doing is dictating not only the news agenda but the advertising agenda too. Google does have something of the Big Brother about it. And the FTC is right to look at Google with something more than just a passing interest.

You can find Google’s comments, here.

Google trials monetising online journalism

Poor old Rupert Murdoch. News Corp isn’t happy with the huge media monopoly it has and has put up paywalls for The Times very recently. iPad apps are the way forward, and Google News is killing, uh, news.

He won’t like this: Google is launching something called Newspass over in Italy which will let readers use just one log-in to access a slew of subscription websites, and you’ll be able to pay either by subscription or by individual micropayments.

And the range of titles will all be searchable under the Google Newspass moniker. At the moment it’s Italy only, but it could be a more effective way to charge for a large range of content online rather than weeing money up the wall for The Times when all you want to do, really, is read a Giles Coren anecdote loosely tied in to restaurant reviews or Caitlin Moran taking on Lady Gaga.

La Republicca says that later on this year, Google will launch its payment system which will allow users to buy with one click, while publishers will be able to use a single infrastructure to get their content across on web, mobile and tablet platforms. Google is apparently already in touch with publishers to see who wants in on the trial.

It’ll be interesting to see how Rupe’s plans for paid sites pan out. If a system like this takes off, it’ll be less a case of Google “stealing” – as Rupes puts it – his news, and instead a willingness from the newspapers to have their content aggregated for a fee. Google won’t be killing news, but it could be killing News Corp. The potential’s there. We saw this at the  Press Gazette