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The NY Post has made a quiet, and very interesting, move. The Post has blocked access to its website via the Safari browser on the iPad. The ONLY way to access Post content is through the iPad app, an app that users must pay for. As of this writing, Post content is still available free via any browser on a PC or mobile phone— but you have to wonder how long that’ll continue.

Of course, the Post is owned by News Corp., which is bullish on charging for digital content.

This is a very interesting move. One of the issues surrounding iPad apps has always been that users can get the same content free via a browser. If browser access is shut off, will that spur app sales? Or, will users go back to their PCs and mobile devices as long as the content is free there? And, will other publishers follow suit and shut off browser access on now only the iPad, but on any device with an Android app?

Stay tuned. The Post very well may have begun a new strategy that could take off.

 

 

Here’s a roundup of happenings in the tablet world in May:

 

Time, Inc., has announced that it has reached an agreement, with Apple,  that allows Time to give its iPad app to its subscribers free. That’s a marked contrast to earlier Apple guidelines that insisted no publisher could give the app away as an inducement to purchase a subscription.

Time issued a release that explained the arrangement; Apple had no comment.

And that silence leads to two big questions:

  • Will other magazine publishers get the same deal?
  • Will other newspaper publishers get the same deal?

No one knows. Stay tuned.

Give Apple credit — its once again quickly cornered the market on a product by hyping it to the point its become a must-have (though few people can tell you why, really). And it looks like Apple’s iPad will stay the dominant tablet for quite some time — certainly though this year, maybe even into next.

The recently concluded consumer electronic show cause much Android buzz. Manufacturers are promising all sorts of devices this year they claim will challenge the iPad for market supremacy.

They’re wrong. Here’s why:

  • Many android devices are killing themselves by joining forces with cellphone companies. In order to buy the Samsung Galaxy — a very well received Android device — who have to also buy a 2-year data plan through Verizon. Why would I do that when I can go month-to-month on the iPad? If other android tabs follow suit and force customers to buy unnecessary data plans, their sales will suffer.
  • The Android tablets will market against themselves as well as the iPad. My tablet has a larger screen size; it’s lighter; it has a better resolution; you can download apps from the Google store; yada yada. So while the up and coming Android tablets flight for market share, Apple will win with a simple message: We were here first. And we’re the best. Now try to beat us
  • Users like familiarity. Apple’s familiar. The new Motorola tablet (whenever that launches) is not. Neither are most of the other tablets coming on to the market.

There are other reasons Apple will win. But these are among the biggest.

 

 

I’m really excited about Android tablets. I don’t like the iPad’s lack of flash,
no USB ports and since I don’t have a Mac, don’t like the lack of compatibility.

And I fear, in the end, I may end up buying one.

It looks as if Samsung, being released Sept. 18, and Motorola, possibly coming
in October, are being released through cell carriers. That scares me. While no
one has said so, does that mean the carriers will require data packages and
contracts in order to get the tablets at a reasonable price?

That’s how the cellphone game works. Get a phone that retails for $549 for $99
as long as you sign a two-year contract and buy a  $29.99 a month data plan.
Will carriers try the same trick with tablets — $299 with a data plan but
$699 without? And will they try to force a two-year contract on all tablet
purchases?

If they do that, these android tablets will be dead on arrival.  Consumers are getting sick of being nickled and dimed for every new gadget that hits the market. That consumer frustration helps Apple. The iPad, for all of its flaws, doesn’t require any contracts and users can buy a data plan month-to- month. That’s enough to make me
change my mind and buy one.

Several of you who routinely read my blog posts have asked why I’ve stopped. It certainly isn’t for lack of interesting things happening in the world. It’s been more a function of time. For those of you who try to blog regularly, you know how time consuming this can be. But enough of the excuses: let’s give this another shot. Here are some random thoughts:

  • Reports seem to indicate that the publishing industry — especially newspapers — is rebounding a little. Revenue projections look better; the advertising slide won’t be as bad in 2010 as it was in 2009. But this should provide little comfort since the traditional sources of revenue aren’t coming back, and publishers are still having a hard time finding new revenue streams.
  • The iPad’s taken everyone by storm. I’ve seen it, used it, and it is a nice device that will have value among a certain segment of the population. But how popular will it be long term? In the end, it looks to me to be a niche product.
  • Tablet computers are getting a lot of press, just like e-readers were a year ago. And, a year from now, some other device will overshadow tablets. It’s the way of the tech world.

I’ll explore all of these in more depth in the weeks ahead.

Here’s the big wish: a limited anti-trust exemption for publishers.

The industry needs this. Badly. In an era in which technology has changed — and continues to change — information delivery, publishers won’t be able to survive if they can’t get together to discuss how to fairly price their products in this new world.

Right now, publishers can’t do that. They can’t get in a room and set the prices they would charge manufacturers for making content available on e-readers, for example. Instead, manufacturers set the price — and it’s a low ball price that doesn’t reflect the value of the content.

Publishers can’t get together and pick a preferred search engine that would access to all content for a price. Publishers can’t get together and discuss whether pay web sites are a good or bad idea.

Technology has changed everything. It’s time for a small change in the anti-trust statues so publishers can extract fair market value for the content they produce.

The views expressed on this blog are mine alone.

My next column for Newspaper and Technology magazine will take a look at the digital media’s rush to judgement, and how that yearning to be first can do more harm than good.

Competition among journalists is a hallmark of the profession. There’s nothing that the exhilirating feeling of getting a scoop, which is the ultimate reward for cultivating sources.

But there’s a big difference in the scoop mentality today. Just five years ago, the mainstream media could afford to sit on a scoop for a day in order to make sure every fact was iron-clad correct. Even in the days when cities had multiple newspapers, the deadline cycle meant journalists had most of the day to check facts, confirm information, and then check again.

In today’s 24-hour news cycle, with competition from entertainment sites and cable opinion shows, journalists now feel they have to rush to get information out as quickly as they can. This rush to judgement can lead to embrassing mistakes, mistakes that further hurt our credibililty.

I’ll have the full column posted in a few days.

The views expressed on this blog are mine alone.

There’s still lots of talk about whether newspapers can make money by charging for content. There’s a debate on LinkedIn, and Reflections of a Newsosaur recently weighed in, too. The positions are still pretty much the same — newspapers can’t because news isn’t a commodity anymore; or newspapers can only charge for certain, narrow content.

I think something different: I believe newspapers can charge for content if they do so as part of a single subscription strategy. In other words, a newspaper’s valuable subscriber gets all news on all devices free — in print, online access, mobile, e-readers (eventually) and other e-pub applications (like Adobe Air). One price and they can access all the content they want, whenever they want, from a number of different devices easily and conveniently. That’s the marketing strategy — ease and convenience.  Convenience, nowadays, resonates with the public more than the news we provide. We should emphasis that through this ease and convenience, we’re making it easier for our subscribers to live their lives, because we keep them informed, help them save money (through coupons) and keeping them abreast of news at it breaks.

Everyone else has to get a subscription of some kind. If they don’t, they don’t get to access our products.

The problem with this strategy is it would require all publishers to play along. That will be a huge challenge. But for the sake of the industry, publishers need to find a legal way to get together and talk about how to make this happen.

The views expressed on this blog are mine alone.

After a hiatus, it’s time to start blogging again.

I anyone surprised that the public perception of the media continues to decline? Recent polls show an astoundingly low number of people who believe in the accuracy of what they read or hear. No wonder. It’s because those polls don’t differentiate between journalists and entertainers.

The reporters at the New York Times are journalists; Rush Limbaugh is not. Bill Moyers is a journalist; Glenn Beck is not. Katie Couric is a journalist; Keith Olbermann is not.

But that simple fact — who is a journalist and who isn’t — is lost on most Americans. They hear vitriol from talking heads with a microphone and confuse them with reporters. It just happened again, when President Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize. There is a legitimate discussion over whether he deserved it. But that discussion wasn’t driven by journalists; it was driven by talking head with an agenda who used the occasion to vent their spleen.

That’s certainly their right, and they certainly have a niche group of followers who hang on every word. At the same time, it’s incumbent on us to separate journalists from the entertainers. We haven’t done a good job at that, and as a result, our profession suffers.

The views expressed on this blog are mine alone.