‘The Daily’ Show: News Corp.’s iPad-only News App

The Daily

The Daily, announced today

Today’s the day News Corp. unveils its iPad-only news publication, The Daily. New Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch will make the announcement today in New York along side Apple’s head of Internet services, Eddy Cue. What do we know so far?

The other part of this, which is what publishers will be watching, is whatever new subscription model Apple may allow for apps in its App Store. There’s no ongoing subscription system that allows regular, automatically billed payments via the App Store. Speculation is that Apple will tweak is App Store model for publishers looking to do this very thing.

What They’re Saying

Sight unseen, media pundits are already weighing in on whether The Daily will work:

Forget Ping for Now; Apple TV’s the Real News

Apple TV

Apple TV

… iTunes in the context of Apple TV is vastly more interesting—in fact, Apple TV is by far the most enthralling thing Apple announced this week, a model for what Apple products should be more like.

Apple TV’s integration with AirPlay and an upcoming, more powerful new Remote app soothes a lot of the anxiety about the inexplicable sense of disconnect between various Apple products.

The Seeds of Apple’s Cloud – Gizmodo

There was peculation that Apple would make good on its purchase of Lala this week by finally putting iTunes in the cloud, allowing you to stream your music library from anywhere. That didn’t happen. But the connectivity heralded by the new Apple TV to all IOS devices is a really cool step in the right direction.

Despite it’s “meh” debut, the undercooked Ping might pay off farther down the road (name another social network that has more than 100 million credit card numbers already on file). The bigger announcement this week was the new Apple TV — not so much the odd “rent and don’t purchase” model, not even the Netflix integration, which should have been part of Apple TV from the git-go — but the way it easily brings together files on your Mac, iPad, iPhone and every other AirPlay enabled device third-party manufacturers can crank out.

You could argue that other services like Boxee already do this and even allow more customization and better access to wider variety of file formats. But like everything else from Apple, the new Apple TV makes it easier, particularly if you’re already part of its ecosystem. And if you’re not, this might make you want to be.

Cable Sees Its Worst Subscriber Loss, Which Makes Perfect Sense

Cable suffered its worst video loss, shedding 711,000 video subscribers in the second quarter, as six of the eight biggest cable firms reported their most dismal three-month period. Overall, cable, satellite TV and telecom providers shed 216,000 video customers in Q2 compared with a 378,000 gain in the same period a year earlier.

SNL Kagan estimates that almost 3 million U.S. households will use Hulu and other Web TV options as their primary video solution by the end of the year, up from 1.5 million in 2009. For 2011, the company expects that figure to hit 4.3 million. (There are about 115 million TV households in the States.)

– Cable’s decline an incentive for Yahoo, Hulu deal

This has been a long time coming, of course. People can only put with with subpar customer service and expensive, overstuffed channel packages for so long. Add to that the rise of Web-enabled TVs with apps that allow streaming from Netflex, Vudu, YouTube and Hulu and you’ve got all kinds of reason to dump traditional cable.

Mad Men on iTunes

No AMC? We've decided 'Mad Men' is worth paying for, so we get new episodes via iTunes.

Here’s how it’s been working at my house this summer after a move necessitated dumping Comcast. Now we get the four major networks, in HD, and any of their secondary digital channels over-the-air via digital antenna for free. We supplement  that with an $11 per month Netflix subscription, which gets us one DVD or Blu-ray at a time, plus unlimited streaming of Netflix’s Watch Instantly library.

We access streaming content via our Samsung Blu-ray player, which comes equipped with a Netflix app, along with other services like Wal-Mart’s Vudu, Blockbuster, Pandora and YouTube. It’s connected to the Web with our $35 per month SuddenLink high-speed Internet access.

Any other shows we’re missing, we can always connect the MacBook Pro to the TV to access iTunes content or, really, anything else out there for free on Web.

Continue reading

Rupert Murdoch Loves His iPad. But Is It A Revolution?

Apple iPad

The iPad

New Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch is all a-twitter about the first round of numbers on Wall Street Journal subscriptions on Apple’s new iPad.

In a conference call about the company’s latest results, Murdoch notes that WSJ subs on the iPad are much more profitable on the iPad than the Kindle, with the WSJ keeping all the $18 sub fee, while Amazon’s Kindle splits the proceeds. Murdoch says:

Unlike the Kindle, we keep 100 percent of the revenue from the iPad.

In the first month, the WSJ had 64,000 iPad subscribers.

Meanwhile, numbers from Apple show 1 million iPads sold in 28 days — more than twice as fast as the original iPhone. Apple CEO Steve Jobs says demand for the device continues to outpace supply.

So is the iPad truly a revolution? Perhaps no tech device  in recent memory has been this controversial. Some deride it as a giant iPhone that discourages creativity and corrals users in Apple’s restricted, Flash-less walled garden, while others say it introduces a revolutionary new form factor that puts an end to the PC era.

In the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal this week, guest columnist Steve Hankins, CEO and co-founder of tech firm Accio.US, notes people’s grumbles with the iPad but says like it or lump it, this thing’s a revolution:

While all of the criticisms of the iPad are technically correct, the point they make is that the technology status quo is again being threatened. This latest threat has finally caused the core technology people to rise up from their trees and get a view of the forest. And they don’t like what they see.

What most technology critics fail to understand is this simple concept: Most people want to use technology, not work on technology.

The convergence of the major trends in computing is changing the world that most technology people love into one that they are not so familiar with. Devices like the iPad do not seem to require the intervention of a technology person to enable the owner of the device to actually use it.

You read Hankins’ complete column here.

We’re So Jealous! Follow These Arkansans at #SXSWI

Emily Reeves and Charles Crowson

Emily Reeves (@reeves501) talks via Skype from Austin to Today's THV This Morning's Charles Crowson.

So this is happening.

The opening day of the South by Southwest Festival’s Interactive conference — coupled with pre-order day of the Apple iPad — make today, Friday March 12th, perhaps the geekiest day of the year! And you certainly don’t want to miss out on that, do you? Of course you don’t!

Fortunately, we’ve got Arkansas Tweeple on the ground in Austin, Texas, home of #SXSW. Among them, Emily Reeves of Stone Ward of Little Rock, who’s tweeting and Skyping from the event. This morning, live from Austin, she checked in with Today’s THV This Morning’s Charles Crowson to give us an overview of what’s happening at this year’s event.

We expect more updates via her @Reeves501 Twitter account and her personal blog, Ms. Adverthinker, where she’s already posted her insane schedule, which we kinda hope is really only for keeping up appearances. There’s not near enough time in there for boozing and partying and geeking it up with fellow geeks, which is really what SXSW is all about, right? Right.

Also in town, another friend of the blog, Bryan Jones and Wade Austin, both of CJRW of Little Rock. Both are tweeting from there as well, and Jones will be providing daily wrap-ups on his blog, Flairification.com.

Any other Arkansas Twitterers in Austin at the festival? Let me know, and I’ll list them here.

So what’s on tap for Friday? You can the full schedule here, which includes seminars on pay TV vs. the Internet, developing apps for iPhone, Internet analytics, Web typography, Gen Y entrepreneurs, social media marketing for business and much more.

You can also expect the usual complaining about AT&T’s inadequate data network as thousands of iPhone-equipped geeks jockey for bandwidth during the entire event. You’ll also hear lots about Foursquare this year, as everyone checks in at every conceivable site in Austin. And, as Emily notes in the video above, folks will be waiting to hear what Twitter co-founded Ev Williams has to say about his coming revenue model for the microblogging service.

Of course, the elephant in the room, the phantom hanging over the entire proceedings, is the Apple iPad, which won’t even hit the streets for another month. Nevertheless, it will likely dominate most chatter at the event.

Related

Ah, Austin. How we love you!

Wal-Mart Has to Make Digital Downloads Work. Vudu is Step 1

Vudu and Wal-Mart

The Vudu that you do so well

They’ve tried movie and music downloads before, and the world’s largest retailer is about to try it again with Vudu (which some say the retailer paid $100 million for).

Wal-Mart, the biggest seller of physical media — CDs, DVDs — has known for some time that the model is dying. Check out the shrinking shelf space for CDs and DVDs at your local Superstore. It absolutely has to make a splash in downloadable content.

While its previous foray into MP3 sales was an abject failure, movies could be a different story.

If Wal-Mart can sell TVs and Blu-Ray players preloaded with this Vudu app, then they’ve got a fighting chance alongside other services like Netflix, which comes as an included feature for many Blu-Ray players these days, a possibly an advantage over cable on-demand, in that you don’t need a cable connection to receive it — only broadband Internet.

Some analysts see Wal-Mart in an uphill battle:

Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media, an independent research firm in Tampa, argues that Vudu’s offerings of downloadable movies may be too limited.

Why would consumers buy a pricey new TV or DVD player just to gain online access to movies when they can already do that with services from Netflix, Amazon.com and that little company in Cupertino, Calif. named Apple .

“The Vudu acquisition is a realization that TVs and other entertainment appliances need Internet capability. But on the whole, consumers want unlimited access, not just movies. You can already do this with a Mac mini or Windows-based laptop connected to your TV,” Leigh said.

I disagree. I think that for most consumers — particularly Wal-Mart’s bread-and-butter core customer — hooking up a Mac Mini or Windows-based laptop to a TV — to say nothing of using services like Hulu and Boxee — is still too complicated.

An app like Vudu, built right into the new HDTV you just bought for a super-low price at Wal-Mart, seems much easier to use. And with Wal-Mart muscle, you can expect Vudu’s content deals with Hollywood studios to improve.

The next possible challenge for Wal-Mart, then, would be to get broadband Internet access to more of its core customers, many of whom come from rural areas where high-speed Internet access is little more than a rumor. Could we see the world’s largest retailer throwing its weight behind rural broadband initiatives one day?

More

Wal-Mart Picks Up Digital Vudu – What’s next? [BusinessWeek]

Wal-Mart’s Buying Vudu After All [Gizmodo]

Wal-Mart Takes a Swing at Amazon [ArkansasBusiness.com]

The Apple iPad: The Morning After

Talking iPad with Charles Crowson on Today's THV This MorningSo, the iPad’s out. What do we think?

Looking at our wholly unscientific surveys from yesterday, the majority of respondents think that 1) Wednesday’s keynote, when compared to other Apple keynotes in the past, simply did not live up to the months and months of hype, 2) while the iPad might indeed prove to be a significant device, it’s certainly not game-changer on an iPod or iPhone level and 3) the iPad is not a device many of us think we need to buy immediately, as soon as it’s available.

In the above video, accessible via the screenshot, I share my first impressions of the device on “Today’s THV This Morning” with Charles Crowson. Basically, while I think iPad is another beautiful, cool, amazingly well designed piece of technology, I can’t imagine who the device is for. What is the market for the iPad?

Instant Appeal

The iPod and iPhone had instant appeal to an array of users for several reasons. Among them, they each fundamentally changed the way we consume certain media and conduct everyday tasks. (The iPod changed how we listen and buy music; the iPhone brought the full Web to our handsets and created a new software ecosystem with apps.)

The iPad, while well-designed and beautiful, does neither. All it does is build on existing technologies to deliver media in a not-entirely-new form factor. If you’ve got an iPhone or iPod Touch, you’ve seen these tricks before. And if you have a laptop, you can do all the things the iPad does — and more — on a more robust machine.

Apple iPad

Flat-out cool. But who's it for?

Why?

So why the iPad? Apple is trying to create a device optimized solely for consuming all types of media in a quieter, less distracting operating environment. This is part of the reason why there’s no camera on the iPad, nor can it run more than on application on the device’s souped-up iPhone OS. With the laptop, you work, you create media. With the iPhone,  you answer calls and e-mails, stay in touch and work on the go. The iPad is what you pick up when you get home and want to unwind.

The delineation is fine one. Many people simply won’t see it. And if they do, why plunk down at least $500 (or add to your money data bill if you invest in a 3G version) for what amounts to a mobile media device? I’m not sure Apple has made a compelling case for that.

But — is it Apple’s responsibility to make that case? I’m not entirely sure. Part of what could make the iPad a hit is what’s already made the iPhone and iPod Touch indispensible: the App Store.

*Some Innovation Required

In my mind, it’s going to be up to content providers, including newspapers and magazines, to create fully optimized, multimedia content that exploits every advantage the iPad brings to bear to make the platform work. As it stands, iPad already looks more attractive e-reader than the Kindle or the Nook. If publishers fully embrace the multimedia capabilities now at their fingerprints to create valuable interactive publications, the iPad could very become the media consumption device of choice of readers, college students, young video-gamers and more.

And while we see signs that the video game industry is excited by the new form factor their App Store games can know inhabit, newspapers and magazines’ reactions have so far seemed, well, boring. The New York Times app demoed at yesterday’s keynote was underwhelming at best, particularly compared with what NYTimes.com offers on the Web. Guess what publishers? You still need to innovate. Even on Steve Job’s magical device.

Without innovation from all content providers, the iPad — however beautiful, unique, cool, whatever — will become merely another niche device that only a few of us ever use, a far cry from the revolution it’s billed as.

More

Blake Rutherford on the iPad, technology and politics

Gizmodo – Why the iPad is the device you never you needed

David Carr – The game changed today

NY Times – Device blurs the lines

GalleyCat – Publishing experts weigh in on iPad

NY Times – Another data hog for AT&T?

LA Times – No revolution, but ‘great promise’

Wired – Where’s Verizon?

AdAge – The hard questions for publishers drooling over the iPad

The Wrap – What Apple got right and wrong with the iPad

BusinessWeek – Apple’s effects on content partners, the good and bad

LA Weekly – Should Hollywood be afraid of iPad?

TechCrunch – How iPad will put Kindle out of business