Tag Archives | News Corp.

Daily Downward?

How many people are reading The Daily, News Corp.’s new iPad-only, for-pay newspaper? Only Rupert Murdoch and company (and Apple) know for sure. It is, however, possible to determine how many Daily readers are tweeting from within it–and that number is going down, not up.

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8 Quick Takes on The Daily for iPad

Tablets now have their first exclusive newspaper in The Daily, which News Corp launched today for Apple’s iPad. It’s not a radical re-imagination of the news, but it goes a bit further with interactivity and multimedia than the existing batch of swipe-to-read apps from media giants like NPR and the New York Times.

I checked in remotely to the live video of Apple and News Corps’ joint press event, and then took a spin through the app itself. Read on for some quick impressions of The Daily.

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News Corp. Buys Skiff

This is intriguing: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has bought Skiff, a spinoff from the Hearst Corporation that’s behind a still-unreleased platform for digital magazines and newspapers. I saw Skiff’s e-reader at CES in January and thought it was a pretty slick Kindle rival. Even then, I found Skiff as a platform more interesting than Skiff as a device. And that was before we entered the Technicolor world of the iPad, which makes even the nicest monochrome E-Ink devices look profoundly retro–especially for magazines, which cry out for color.

There hasn’t been much in the way of Skiff news since CES, except for the announcement of a partnership to put its reader software on Samsung phones–for instance, the release date and price of the Skiff gadget remain unknown. I still think that open standards like HTML5 will eventually eliminate the need for proprietary technologies designed to make digital reading materials look pretty and approachable. In the short term, though, Skiff has an opportunity–there’s still a need for what it’s doing. Here’s hoping that it’s hard at work on software for the iPad, Android tablets, and Windows–and that it’s the whole ecosystem rather than the E-Ink reader that got News Corp. excited.



Will Microsoft Pay Murdoch to Opt Out of Google?

It’s just a rumor, but a fascinating one: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is supposedly talking to Microsoft about some sort of deal that would involve Microsoft giving News Corp. a boatload of cash to block Google from indexing its news sites, so Microsoft’s Bing could step in and become News Corp.’s official search engine. I have no idea whether there’s any truth to it, but the idea plays into the  whole “Google should be paying content companies” meme that Murdoch and others have been pushing.

If Murdoch was to yank his news sites out of Google’s index, that would only leave…well, all of the world’s news sources except for those owned by Rupert Murdoch. You gotta think that the harm to Google would be minimal, and that the harm to Murdoch’s sites might be considerable. If most of the world uses Google to find stuff–and it does–don’t you want your stuff to be there? Or can you imagine saying to yourself “Hmmm, I want to make sure that the New York Post shows up in my search results–guess I’ll use Bing?”

As a consumer, the notion of search engines cutting deals with content companies to opt in or opt out of certain engines leaves me antsy. If the practice caught on, we’d be left with a scenario in which no search engine could aspire to be comprehensive, and we’d be stuck having to use several engines if we wanted to find everything of value.

Even so, I remain in the apparent small minority of pundits who would like to see Murdoch do something about the supposed relentless persecution of his poor, struggling business by a bullying, thieving Google. If that something involved an alliance with Microsoft, everybody involved would learn a lot, no?


Mr. Murdoch, Build Up That Content Wall!

MurdochwallLike many media moguls, Rupert Murdoch keeps accusing Google of unfairly monetizing his sites’ content by indexing and selling ads next to search results that contain links to it. Now he’s talking about fighting back, by taking the simple step of instituting fees for access to News Corp. online properties and then blocking Google from indexing them.

As Staci Kramer of PaidContent points out, it’s not entirely clear what Murdoch is talking about, or even that he knows what he’s talking about. He says this strategy would be similar to what the Wall Street Journal does, but while the Journal does indeed have a pay wall, it actually lowers it for visitors who arrive from Google.

As far as I know, no major media sites are currently actively preventing Google from crawling their content or otherwise trying to prevent the company from helping people find stories and making money along the way. (A half a decade ago, some publishers–including IDG, where I worked at the time–checked to see if visitors were arriving from Google and told ones who were to come back via the home page–but the experiment was futile, self-destructive, and short-lived.)

I’m probably in the the minority among my media-industry peers here–and it may be a minority of one–but I (A) think Murdoch’s plan is a silly, self-defeating idea, and (B) hope that he does indeed put it into action.

Here’s why:

  • I’m tired of hearing media executives whine about Google without doing anything about its alleged misconduct. It’s extremely easy to configure a Web site to prevent Google from crawling it. So why don’t these sites that are so nonplussed about being in Google’s index opt out? If Murdoch blocks Google, he’ll at least be safe from charges of inconsistency and/or hypocrisy.
  • I’m in favor of multiple business models for content sites. Technologizer is doing fine as a mostly ad-supported enterprise, thank you very much, but the media business will ultimately be healthier if there are multiple potential revenue streams–ads, monthly subscriptions, maybe even pay-per-use for some stuff. You know, kind of like TV. If News Corp. goes through with this, I’ll at least give it credit for experimenting rather than dithering.
  • I’m willing to pay for some stuff. Yes, that attitude is colored to some degree by the fact that I’m in the media biz myself, and no, I can’t think offhand of any News Corp. properties I’m dying to shower in money. (I don’t even have a WSJ subscription at the moment.) But I’d rather live in a world in which some consumers get used to paying for some online content than in one in which sites are doomed if they can’t make a go of things based on advertising alone.
  • Watching other people gamble is constructive. If the Murdoch paywall flops as spectacularly as most folks think it will, it’ll be a useful confirmation that everybody was right in the first place. If it’s disappointing, but less so than everyone expects, that’s useful information, too. And if it somehow pays off, other media sites can claim they knew it would all along, and rush to imitate the News Corp. approach.

But enough about my reaction to Rupert’s ruminations. You?