links for 2010-07-29

  • Kevin: Adam Tinworth pushes back at the idea that you can't buy subscriptions for content on the iPad, contrary to a piece in the Wall Street Journal's All Things D saying that Time Inc was struggling because it could not come to an agreement with Apple on how to handle subs. Adam says that there are routes for selling subs, but he also says that Apple could be clearer on what those routes are.
  • Kevin: A good, critical but not overly negative look at Demand Media, Associated Content and Suite101 by Emma Heald. She concludes: "The majority of content farms' content is not news-related, and those searching for news topics are unlikely to come across it. Everybody in the media industry is aware of the differences between hard news stories and the content farms' how-to pieces, making it doubtful that the latter will devalue the former. A critical eye on such developments is justified and indeed necessary, but how much of the concern is actually rational?" It's a good look at these companie and what they do and don't do. It's one of the more balanced pieces on these companies, often called "content farms", that I've seen.
  • Kevin: Chris Brogan has a though provoking short post on loading up on RSS feeds. "But for most of us, staying current on several dozen (or several hundred) news feeds isn’t our job. It’s a way to feel current, but it doesn’t always positively impact our decisions and plans." The bottom line: Does consuming all that information help you make better decisions and be more successful in your business?
  • Kevin: A good look not only at a leaderboard of social games in China but also the businesses that are creating them and their market goals for the near term. Chinese social games developers are finding monetisiation difficult and are looking to enter the Japanese market where average revenue per user is 12 times higher. They are also looking to Korea and Russia as possible markets. However, they will face competition from other companies such as Zynga and Playfish as they try to expand outside of their home market.
  • Kevin: Matthew Buckland looks at Google's Newspass content payment system and compares it to the system that Rupert Murdoch has instituted at The Times. He compares Newspass to a cable television subscription in which a consumer makes a one off, predictable payment to receive a package of content each month. Of course, this makes much more sense than a lot of payments to different providers or micro-payments for individual pieces of content. The big question as Matthew highlights it is whether a significant number of publishers will choose to join Newspass or create their own payment system (could they considering anti-competition laws). Knowing publishers, I would expect them to lobby for a relaxation of anti-competition laws in their own countries to make such a system possible rather than partner with Google, which they have as Matthew rightly points out, a love-hate relationship with.
  • Kevin: Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb asks off of the back of a Forrester research report that location based social networks such as Foursquare, Brightkite and Gowalla are dominated by a small group of young men. Only about 4% of US online adults have ever used these services, and only 1% of people use these services more than once a week. The market is fragmented. However, there are still opportunities there, Sarah argues even if Forrester concluded that "the potential doesn't match the hype yet".
  • Kevin: Forrester researcher Melissa Parrish looks at location-based social networks such as FourSquare and Brightkite (an early network that as of July 2010 still has more users than FourSquare). The market is quite nascent but can connect marketers with "right-time, right-place marketing by connecting people and nearby points of sale with geotargeted media", she writes. The early adopters are very skewed to males in the 18-25 demographic, and it is a highly competitive emerging market with no established player.
  • Kevin: Adina Levin has an excellent post looking at the narrow appeal of FourSquare and other location-based services based on games. A Forrester research study found that 80% of its users are male and 70% are aged 19-35. (I also wonder if it skews heavily male because of issues of privacy and personal safety. As a male, I'm not fussed about revealing my location. However, I know many female friends who have questioned revealing this, especially if a former partner is involved.) Adina says: "When adding game dynamics to software, it’s important to consider the varying motivations of potential users." She says that location will probably evolve to take into account a wide variety of motivations. For companies looking to explore location, they should take into account these motivations and see if they map well for their customer base, she says.
  • Kevin: An excellent article at MIT's Technology Review by Erica Naone looks at new location based services and networks. Hameed Khan, the CEO and lead developer of face2face, says, "Location is more a platform than it is a particular service." As the author of the article says: "In other words, simply sharing location information isn't enough–it also needs to be incorporated into a useful application." This is key. Many of the current generation of location games add competition and appeal to narrow demographic as shown by recent Forrester Research. This article looks at an excellent range of new services that have broader appeal and deliver more value to users.
  • Kevin: A deep look at non-profit journalism start-up Texas Tribune. Like other non-profit news groups, they have a number of different sources of revenue, from foundation and large donor support to events. They have also had a lot of success with publishing data. One thing the article talks about in great length is the risk taking culture at the Tribune. Multimedia editor Elise Hu said: “Instead of being in a place where I feel like I don’t have a lot of control over the hierarchies and bureaucracies that are in place,” she says, “here we can say, ‘Let’s try this. Let’s just go ahead and do it, and if it doesn’t work, let’s fix it.’?”
  • Kevin: Michele McLellan writing at the Knight Digital Media Center corrects a Time piece she was quoted in and calls out "replaceniks" who try to judge the value of new local media start-ups as replacements for local newspapers. She criticises studies that try to compare the new class of outlets to existing outlets. "I think such studies fail to assess other sources of news and information, and I think these all complement, rather than rival, traditional news media. Also, a traditional newsroom of any size is going to produce consistently better journalism than a lone blogger but I think overlooks the idea that it only takes one determined digger to uncover an important story that a larger outlet might miss." And she says that she never told time that 1 in 10 hyperlocal outlets were producing "good" content.
  • Kevin: A look at updates to the BBC's CPS content management system. I used to use it when I was the Washington correspondent for BBC News Online. It has definitely progressed in the three and a half years since I left the BBC. The interface is much cleaner. They have now moved away from table-based layout to CSS in part because it will help them add more meta-data to the layout.

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