This Week in Arkansas Business: Education Department to Seek More Scholarship Money

This week in Arkansas Business:

At the rate Arkansas is awarding college scholarships, money in the Arkansas Department of Higher Education’s reserve fund will run out by 2013. So director Jim Purcell says he’ll ask the Legislature this January to provide more money for scholarships or allow the department to cut the number awarded.

Meanwhile, the DHE is investigating how schools waive out-of-state tuition for certain students.

The latest list of the state’s top colleges and universities shows tuition up at most Arkansas schools.

The Log Cabin Democrat in Conway lays off two staffers, leaving a newsroom of six, in the aftermath of parent company Morris Publishing Group’s emergence from bankruptcy.

Go Red Wolves! This Arkansas State University graduate is now a VP at Verizon.

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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.

The Razorbacks’ Infrastructure Plans, Home Design and the Democrat-Gazette Drops the ‘N’ Bomb in This Week’s Arkansas Business

Lots to get to this week’s Arkansas Business newspaper, online now and at your local newsstand (they still have those!):

It’s never enough is it? The University of Arkansas’ athletic department “has earmarked between $250,000 and $500,000 for an analysis of current and future facilities. Commissioning the study is the first step in what could eventually be tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades.” Chris Bahn tell us what they want now.

Sam Eifling rummages through the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s archives to see just how often — and why — the newspaper publishes the dreaded ‘N’ word. Then he gets an e-mail from editor Griffin Smith.

Fox 16 tells us why it just wasn’t worth it to try and get some Sarah Palin video on the sly at Verizon Arena.

It’s never enough is it? Jan Cottingham notes several Arkansas architects who say the state is bucking the nationwide trend toward smaller homes. Bigger is still better!

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

Get Ready for Apple’s iPad With A Look Back at Steve Jobs Keynotes of Yore


Above: The iPhone unveiled, 2007 (part 1). More Apple keynote videos after the jump below.

Well, it’s finally Tablet Week.

After months and months of hype and speculation and rumor and threat of lawsuits, it’s finally here. On Wednesday, Apple will announce its “latest creation,” most likely a touchscreen tablet computer (most likely called an iPad) along with possibly new details of the latest iPhone OS, maybe (but probably not) a new 4G iPhone and (most likely this year but probably not tomorrow) a new version of iTunes that puts your entire music library in the cloud.

It’s a tall order for Apple, whose fan base expects each big keynote to deliver more than the last. And considering Apple’s track record of innovation in the last 10 years or so, expectations are justifiably high.

Another Disruptor?

Gizmodo's Apple Tablet Mockup

Gizmodo's oft-posted Apple Tablet mockup

And Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ tablet (or iPad, or iSlate, or “new” iBook, whatever) has the potential to be another iPod/iPhone-class disruptor, a device that literally Changes Everything. (Jobs apparently believes it’s the “best thing he’s ever done”.) It’s a device that aims at the heart of most major media sectors: software, book publishing, video games, music, movies, TV, newspapers and magazines. It might even alter how we physically interact with computers, depending on what innovations it contains in its user interface, most likely dominated more multi-touch enhancements.

Or, Apple will show up, unveil iPhone 3Gses in assorted colors, “Thanks, that’s all folks,” show’s over and the Internet explodes. Which would be nearly as entertaining!

But seriously, an Apple tablet on Wednesday is a high probability. On Monday, Jobs even commented that the company is “starting this week with a major new product.”

The Classic Keynote

So what market is Apple going for with its tablet? Netbooks? E-readers? Laptops? Portable gaming devices? The answer is probably a mash-up of all of the above, with emphasis on the portability of netbooks and the functions of an e-reader.

In fact, one can imagine the classic Jobs keynote unfolding on Wednesday, where Jobs talks about the current marketplace for both devices, runs through their limitations and shortcomings, and remarks how ugly and cheap those devices are before unveiling his solution: the powerful, elegant, multimedia powerhouse that will be the tablet.

The business models behind the device might be just as compelling, particularly to publishers and developers. Will this device be backed by an ecosystem that allows magazines, books and newspapers to thrive digitally? Will the software’s capabilities add to a publisher’s toolkit, allowing him to create truly interactive, valuable electronic products that finally justify the price of purchase or advertising?

The New York Times has details today:

It will run all the applications of the iPhone and iPod Touch, have a persistent wireless connection over 3G cellphone networks and Wi-Fi, and will be built with a 10-inch color display, allowing newspapers, magazines and book publishers to deliver their products with an eye to the design that had grabbed readers in print.

Whatever Apple unveils on Wednesday, it’ll be another chance at seeing some truly great innovations, leaps in hardware and software that soon reach down into our everyday lives.

To get you ready for Wednesday, we’ve posted videos of some of Jobs’ most notable keynotes, including the first iMac, the first iPod and the Mac Mini, after the jump. Boom.

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Take My Loan, Please! Hocking the Barber Jewelry, Plus More Bad News at Metropolitan Bank in This Week’s Arkansas Business

Your latest edition of Arkansas Business is online now. Among this week’s highlights:

As the Federal Reserve slashes interest rates and banks heavy up on cash, there’s never been a better time to borrow. But an uncertain economy means fewer businesses are willing to take the risk, even at rates that are close to free. Sam Eifling examines the paradox.

Word ’round the campfire is that Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock is set to report another quarterly loss, this one in the $20 million range.

Welspun Pipes adds more than 40 acres to its property at the Little Rock Port.

Capsearch’s new iPhone app puts the entire Arkansas code in your pocket for $3.99. Nifty.

University of Arkansas basketball play-by-play broadcaster Mike Nail is hanging it up. He’ll be honored in some type of half-time ceremony at the end of this season, his 29th. Hm. Why not go for 30? More: This ArkansasSports360.com Q&A with Nail from December.

Keri Barber auctions the bling after her big Chapter 7 bankruptcy filed early last year declaring $16.3 million in liabilities, most of it connected to the defaulted loan on the Legacy Building in Fayetteville. Goodbye Lexus, goodbye Range Rover, goodbye Beluga sterling silver watch …

Mark Rose, only the third general manager ever at KATV-TV, Channel 7, in Little Rock, marks 20 years at the ABC affiliate.

Gwen Moritz on Julie Benafield Bowman, Sandra Hochstetter Byrd, Benton County Judge Dave Bisbee, Wal-Mart and the appearance of impropriety.

Killing the Pass-along: Slate’s Jack Shafer on the New York Times Imminent Paywall

Slate media writer Jack Shafer assess what little we now know about the New York Times’ plan to install a metered paywall on its hugely popular Web site, NYTimes.com.

According to a memo from Times publishers, the site will allow nonsubscribers a certain amount of free article views per month before shutting off access to full articles and asking for some sort of payment or subscription.

The plan is similar to once in practice at the Financial Times. And like the Financial Times paywall, there’s likely to be lots of ways around the New York Times’ paywall and — take note amateur hackers — Shafer spells out most of them in his Slate article.

But whatever the Times does, the question all publisher must ask themselves is this:

… [I]s deterring readers in the New York Times Co.’s best interest? Newspaper publishers have traditionally encouraged free riders. Every newspaper or magazine rate sheet I’ve ever seen crows to advertisers about the phenomenal pass-along rate of their paid circulation. One paying customer, they’ll boast, equals three or four or even five readers! Now comes the Web era and the publishers suddenly want to exile “pass-along” readers?

Journalism doesn’t have an access crisis. It has, like Shafer points out, an advertising crisis. Hm. That sounds familiar.

More on the Paywall

Felix Salmon thinks NYT will offer 15-20 free stories per month, with subscriptions of between $15/month, $99/year [Reuters]

A metered system allows the Times to “maintain not only visibility on the Web, but also still participate in selling a mass audience to advertisers.” [NYTimes’ Media Decoder Blog]

Washington Post Publisher: No paywall for us [NPR]