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In two weeks it’ll be 10 years since Andy Grove’s on-stage conversation at an annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, in which he warned the industry of its impending financial meltdown. He wasn’t the first to warn, and hardly the last. But the degree to which he was ignored remains instructive, and sad.
Anyway, here’s what he said (excerpted from the transcript):
You’re where Intel was three years before the roof fell in on us. You’re heading toward a strategic inflection point, and three years from now, maybe, it’s going to be obvious. Things like newsprint giving you a little bit of a lift, a little bit of a hand, are going to run their course. You’re going to be in a profit squeeze, and it’s going to be a very, very difficult time, more difficult to adjust later. All of this sets up what to do. You have to ask what your microprocessor is in the Intel analogy. What is it that you can do for me as a reader that the Web pages or online coverage can’t do? I indicated what my preference is. I’m looking for depth. I’m looking for interpretation, and please don’t give me length instead of depth. A lot of magazine coverage does that. They think they’re deep when they give you a six-page article, and they’re just long.
From a publisher’s standpoint, there’s going to be huge push and pull. This requires more money at a time when margins are going to be under attack. Interpretation requires time and requires research and requires feet on the street, people on the phones calling, studying, going to the library, probably at a time when you’re financially being pulled in the other direction. And my history of the technology industry is you cannot save yourself out of a strategic inflection point. You can save yourself deeper into the morass that you’re heading to, but you can only invest your way out of it, and I really wonder how many people who are in charge of the business processes of journalism understand that.
1. ASNE asked Google CEO Eric Schmidt to keynote this year’s meeting.
2. I don’t know if he accepted, but the meeting was canceled.
Google is pointing from its home page today to a page about World Tuberculosis Day and that, in turn, points to the Stop TB Partnership, a nonprofit organization. A worthy cause, and good for Google for pointing to it.
Consider the power of this endorsement. I suspect that with this single link, Google is channeling more money to the organizations that want to end TB than the sum of all their previous campaigns. This is power of a breathtaking kind.
To help understand why Yahoo has been in such trouble, read Kara Swisher’s latest about the board’s search for a new CEO and especially the last line, which sums things up perfectly:
Said one person close to the situation: “A lot of what has been going on is the board trying to figure out what kind of company does Yahoo aspire to be. That determines the type of person they bring in.”
Seems to me that Yahoo should have known the answer to this a long, long time ago.
At the Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference last year, then-CEO Jerry Yang and Sue Decker, the company’s president were asked for a simple explanation of what Yahoo does. They rambled dismayingly for several minutes.
I had my own answer: “Yahoo is a collection of consumer-Internet services, and first or second in a whole bunch of them, and we make a lot of money.” I still think it’s a decent answer.
NY Times: Apple Denies ‘Citizen Journalist Report’. Apple’s stock took a brief roller coaster ride this morning after a CNN “citizen journalist” wrote that an “insider” reported that Steve Jobs had been rushed to the hospital with chest pains.
Aha! Those infernal citizen journalists are ruining the world!
Calm down. CNN got used. Maybe it was an innocent mistake. Quite possibly, however, this was the work of someone whose intention was to briefly torpedo the Apple share price. If so, there’s a high probability that this person will be caught and, one hopes, punished.
But it isn’t the first time something like this has happened. False reports have been posted to public-relations wires, including the famous Emulex case many years ago when a fraudster — who was caught and punished — pulled just this kind of stunt.
I don’t know too many details about CNN’s iReport internal systems, but I do know that CNN has been running this kind of risk for some time. The labeling of the site has never been, in my view, sufficiently careful to shout at readers that they should not take for granted that anything they see is necessarily true — or that readers who might make any kind of personal or financial decision based on what they see on the site are idiots.
This is precisely the same warning that should (but doesn’t) come with comment boards on major newspaper websites. But you have to believe that no one with a shred of common sense takes the random ranting below, say, a Washington Post article as anything terribly serious.
The “story” quickly moved to financial and tech blogs and traditional media, which probably compounded the damage by giving the report more play. I was on a plane while all this was happening, so all I’m seeing is updated coverage.
The shareholders who panicked are fools. Not the first time. Maybe when enough people get burned after believing things they should ignore, we’ll all recognize that we have to be skeptical of everything — but not equally skeptical of everything.
Media literacy is scarily far behind the curve in a digital-media-saturated world.
Sends quite a message, doesn’t it?
Webmonkey “Maps iPhone App Developers Frustration”:
Apple forces everyone to sign an nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to download the software development kit — the very basic tools needed to start programming for the iPhone. The NDA forbids developers from talking about programming for the iPhone with other like-minded developers. No talking means no community, and you are 100 percent reliant on Apple for all of your development needs. Developers can’t even complain about the NDA under the NDA. Fear of Apple’s wrath gets worse. Once Apple started accepting applications, some apps got through and appeared on the App Store while others did not. It’s not a first come, first served process. There isn’t a thorough vetting process either — some apps get into the store by accident, before they even work. The process seems completely arbitrary.
These are the frustrations that have led some to pursue ad-hoc distribution outside of the Apple App Store. Some developers are also preparing to jump ship and begin coding for Google’s much more open Android mobile OS instead, albeit without the lucrative ecosystem of Apple’s App Store or the volume of potential customers in the iPhone’s user base.
Apple’s arrogance is truly amazing. It’s not content to build an ecosystem; the company wants absolute control over it, too.
Luckily, the folks at the iPhone-dev team, among others, are working hard to delink this control.
All of which makes me, someone who’s currently using an unlocked, jail-broken first-generation iPhone, much more interested in Google’s Android platform than I might have been — and also looking forward to seeing what Nokia does with Symbian, and even wondering if RIM will wake up and make Blackberry a better development platform, too.
Apple does brilliant software. But it’s not the only place where smart people work, contrary to the company’s apparent belief.
Turning its developers into angry critics is simply stupid. The people in Cupertino are acting as if they can get away with this forever. They can’t.
See also Jonathan Zdziarski on “Full Disclosure and why Vendors Hate it” — a must read.
Macworld reports the confirmation that Apple’s iPhone has a ‘kill switch’ that can remotely disable anything on the phone the company deems unworthy. This is utterly, absolutely outrageous — and the Apple fanboys will defend it to the hilt, no doubt.
Can you imagine the reaction if Microsoft put something like this into Windows? It would be ferocious, and the anger would be justified.
Apple’s arrogance just grows and grows.
Meanwhile, I trust someone in the open-source community will give those of us who’ve jailbroken our phones a way to prevent Jobs and his minions from playing games with the devices we — not they — own.
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Let’s see how long they can maintain this…