Did Apple Screw Up?

July 8, 2010

I always follow the ZDNet blogs to keep up on certain segments of the future of publishing saga. ZDNet’s coverage of new hardware & software, top companies, e-readers, infrastructure and security issues is timely and excellent. Here’s the latest on the iPhone 4.


“…the antenna problem on the iPhone 4 isn’t a software issue. It’s a design defect…either live with it or return it.”

UPDATE: July 12, 2010

Lab tests: Why Consumer Reports can’t Recommend the iPhone 4

“…Apple needs to come up with a permanent—and free—fix for the antenna problem before we can recommend the iPhone 4.”

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The State of the News Media 2010

March 15, 2010

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpolitical, nonpartisan research institute, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, has just released its 7th annual The State of the News Media (2010 edition). The 25-page Executive Summary is available for PDF download, but the entire study, running some 700 pages, can only be printed section by section from here.

The stated goals of the report “are to take stock of the revolution occurring in how Americans get information and provide a resource for citizens, journalists and researchers to make their own assessments. To do so we gather in one place as much data as possible about all the major sectors of journalism, identify trends across media, mark key findings, delve deep into each sector and note areas for further inquiry.”

Among the cheerful news on page one of the Executive Summary:

The numbers for 2009 reveal just how urgent these questions [about the future of the news media] are becoming. Newspapers, including online, saw ad revenue fall 26% during the year, which brings the total loss over the last three years to 43%.

Local television ad revenue fell 22% in 2009; triple the decline the year before. Radio also was off 22%. Magazine ad revenue dropped 17%, network TV 8% (and news alone probably more). Online ad revenue over all fell about 5%, and revenue to news sites most likely also fared much worse.

Only cable news among the commercial news sectors did not suffer declining revenue last year.

Have you noticed that the online newspapers you still read seem to have not only fewer stories of interest, but also an awful lot of typos? No wonder:

…we estimate that the newspaper industry has lost $1.6 billion in annual reporting and editing capacity since 2000, or roughly 30%. That leaves an estimated $4.4 billion remaining. Even if the economy improves we predict more cuts in 2010…Staffing at the news magazines Time and Newsweek since 1983 is down by 47%.

More to follow, but I’ve got an appointment with my psychiatrist which I think takes precedence.

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The Rise of 3-D

March 8, 2010

Grab it before it heads behind The New Yorker‘s firewall, Anthony Lane’s marvellous overview of the history of 3-D, taking us right through to Avatar and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (did you know that this film was shot in 2-D, and converted to 3-D during post-production? Cheater!), and speculating beyond.


It’s difficult to condense the history in this long article, but let me quote from the conclusion:

True, these are early days; I watched a DVD of “My BloodyValentine,” which came with a pair of crummy anaglyph glasses, and it was like having my eyeballs rinsed in lemon-lime Gatorade. Word is, though, that Blu-ray disks offer a better service by far, and who’s to say, in any case, that feature films will be the major draw? An outfit called 3ality Digital has produced a three-dimensional broadcast for the N.F.L., and before long it won’t be just the halftime commercials during the Super Bowl which require us to don our glasses. It will be the game. We will rise magically above the end zone, at the climactic play, and watch the football rifle toward our eyes. And if we feel like grieving at the end, and need to stream some 3-D porn to cheer ourselves up, it will not be because our team lost; it will be because the vision is over for the night. Those members of the “Avatar” audience who said that they felt blue, in every sense, as the movie ebbed away were the most accurate critics of all. 3-D will ravish our senses and take us on rides that no drug could match, but my guess is that, like so many blessings, it won’t make us happy. It will make us want more.

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U.S. TV Viewing at 141 Hours per Month

September 2, 2009

While blogging the previous post on the decline in ad spending in the first half of 2009, I found a story that struck me as even more depressing.

The interesting aspect for the future of publishing is that “watching video on the Internet averaged 3 hours and 11 minutes among viewers 2 plus, while mobile viewing was at 3 hours and 15 minutes.”

The depressing fact for all is that “U.S. TV viewing is at another all-time high — some 141 hours per month.” Shall I divide that by 40, the standard number of hours in a working week. American are watching three and-a-half working weeks of television in a month that contains, on average, 4.35 working weeks.

I’m sure it is mostly educational programming.

Say no more.

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Ad Spending Growth in 2009

December 9, 2008

Well, let’s start with the pundits’ top projection: ad spending in Brazil will increase by 30% in 2009!

Apparently ZenithOptimedia’s analyst doesn’t read The Economist, which noted on November 6, 2008 that “a few months ago, Brazil’s economy was growing at its fastest pace since the mid-1990s, driven by record commodity prices and record credit growth. The country’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, declared confidently that “Bush’s crisis” in the United States would not affect Brazil. It all looks very different now. Credit is becoming scarcer and banks more suspicious of each other….” Or perhaps advertisers will ignore these problems.

In my years following the crisis in the future of publishing I’ve never met optimists like the advertising prognosticators. There could be a giant meteor heading for Manhattan on January 1, 2009 and they’d still forecast only a modest decline in ad revenue for the year.

In AdAge’s December 8th article, “Forecast for 2009: It Could Have Been Worse,” we’re treated to the relatively upbeat projections not only from ZenithOpti(mistic)media, but also from Group M (I kept thinking I saw Robert Coen’s name in there somewhere, but I can find it now).

Of course the challenge with these forecasts is that they’re global ad spend forecasts, and most U.S. publishers are not particularly interested that Russia is projected to have 5% ad growth next year.

What about the U.S.?

ZenithOptimedia expects a 6.2% drop in the U.S., while Group M is placing its chips on a 3.2% drop.

Interestingly, while both project significant growth is Internet ad spending, both have ratcheted their projections down by 50% or more.

And as a final note to those who expect all old media to kneel to the Kindle tomorrow, “Despite all the talk about newspapers (23.8%) and TV (38.3%) losing their appeal as ad media, ZenithOptimedia expects both to still garner the lion’s share of ad dollars in 2009.”

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