Netflix, Amazon, Apple…it’s this week’s media news in review
Another busy week in the media realm, and another opportunity for us to delve deep into all the activity over the past seven days to reflect on what happened, where it happened and who made it happen…
It was a tumultuous week in the eBook space, with The New York Times noting that the US government’s decision to pursue Apple and major publishers on antitrust charges has put Amazon in a pretty strong position, as it may now get to decide how much an eBook will cost. And the wider book world is quaking over the potential consequences.
“As soon as the Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it was suing five major publishers and Apple on price-fixing charges, and simultaneously settling with three of them, Amazon announced plans to push down prices on e-books”, wrote David Streitfeld. “The price of some major titles could fall to $9.99 or less from $14.99, saving voracious readers a bundle.”
Things were to get worse too. As PaidContent reported, Apple and a slew of publishers were also to be targeted by Connecticut and 15 other states, with them too filing an antitrust lawsuit against the six firms.
As Reuters reported, Apple and a number of international publishers have sent proposals to the European Commission with a view towards solving an eBooks anti-trust case, launched by the EC late last year to determine whether the companies were colluding to raise the retail price of eBooks.
Elsewhere (kind of) Amazon’s in-app purchasing was rolled out to all Android and Kindle Fire developers, meaning that anyone will now be able to offer digital content for purchase within apps, including subscriptions, but also one-off transactions for in-game currency, expansion packs, upgrades, and magazine issues.
Finally, the perennially popular travel guidebook brand Lonely Planet finally launched country guide apps, with the new iOS range kicking off with Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, Australia and Costa Rica. Each edition costs $9.99 USD (£6.99 GBP), and true to form the guides contain content and recommendations from experts with intimate knowledge and experience of the destinations. Sweet.
Netflix is continuing its gradual shift into every societal nook, launching an international version of its app for Windows Phone, increasing the number of devices it runs on in the UK, Ireland and Latin America. Similarly, the global version of BBC iPlayer finally got its first piece of sporting content with the Oxford/Cambridge boat race, and it quickly followed this up by announcing that the Grand National and London Marathon would also hit the service.
In Google land, YouTube announced it was adding monetization options to its live streaming platform, including the ability for publishers to charge for live events, whilst later in the week its Partner Program was opened up to everyone across the twenty countries that it’s available in, meaning it’s not just those with the popular videos who are invited to join the scheme.
Finally, it would be rude to at not least mention that Instagram was acquired by Facebook for a cool $1bn, and The Next Web’s Drew Olanoff argued that Instagram is the YouTube of photos, so the acquisition isn’t a surprise at all.
We’ve previously written that the death of the printing press doesn’t mean the death of the press. However, media organizations must evolve and work in new ways, a message that is starting to trickle throughout the press. With that in mind, PostDesk launched this week, to give long-form journalism and online discussion a shot in the arm.
PostDesk professes to offer a platform for long-form editorial content, drawing on all the meaningful discussion and debate that (theoretically) goes with it. “We’re doing this to create a rich editorial experience, which gives many in-depth angles and perspectives to a given topical story,” says Sam England, PostDesk’s founder and Project Manager. “PostDesk is designed to give absolutely anyone with a desire to write – whatever their background – a platform in order for them to get the exposure they deserve.”
Its much bigger and more established media counterpart The Guardian apparently lost $5om last year, with Alan Rusbridger, its Edit0r-in-Chief, saying that if things don’t pick up, it might be forced to fold in five years. Crikey.
Washington Post, Associated Press, PA running Guido releasing Operation Motorman files.British press coverage 12 hours later: zero.
— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) April 10, 2012
Over on his blog, Fawkes (Paul Staines) wrote about Britain’s Biggest Establishment Cover-Up, with thousands of crimes committed by more than 300 journalists protected from exposure by a judge and newspaper editors. He published details of more than 1,000 alleged requests by News International journalists to the private investigator Steve Whittamore for information, including ex-directory telephone numbers, criminal record checks and vehicle registration details.
The UK press reported on this story itself, but Fawkes said that the British media was trying to keep the damning revelations from hitting the wires.
“Currently in Britain the newspapers are neither naming nor shaming because the criminal enterprises are the newspapers themselves, who understandably do not wish to report their own crimes,” he said. “Their silence is a matter of self-preservation.”
Finally, this week also saw Google announce that its Google Currents app was being rolled out worldwide to any country that has access to the Google Play or App Store markets. The app had previously launched in the US, where 400 publisher editions and 14,000 self-produced editions are available.
If you’re an international publisher using the Producer app, you can begin adding local content. You can choose whether to publish it in a local language, or whether to enable automatic translation using Google’s services. Several publishers, including The Guardian in the UK, LaStampa in Italy, Financial Times Deutschland in Germany, ABC News in Australia, Neue Zürcher Zeitung in Switzerland and Hindustan Times in India are already producing local editions in the new Currents.
Music to our ears…
The big(ish) news this week from Spotify was that it was opening its music to the Web with a new embeddable Play Button.
Whilst it is nice and could serve a purpose, we argued that despite it being an awesome idea, it’s not as good as it should’ve been. And the main problem is this. Even in countries where Spotify is legally allowed to stream its music to the masses, you still need the Spotify desktop app installed on your computer to play the embedded music. So let’s assume you stumble upon a Spotify playlist on your favorite blog, and it looks like you can just ‘click and play’, it won’t play if you are not already logged-in to a Spotify account. It will invite you to log-in to Spotify, or you can download it if you don’t have it already.
Elsewhere, Amazon‘s Trade-In Program now includes CDs, having previously only been available for a range of electronics such as iPads. This marks the first time users have been able to trade recorded music for Amazon’s gift cards.
Nobody likes plagiarism, but an interesting nugget emerged this week. Poynter reported on a Fast Company blogger who said that he meant to steal from someone else when he was accused of plagiarism.
Author Josh Linkner was busted for stealing the opening lines of a blog post by Chris Dixon. Now, Linkner did respond on Twitter and moves were made to amend the ‘mistake’, but the comment he posted to explain/justify the non-attributed use of someone else’s text sounded a little…schoolboy-ish – he said a friend had sent him the excerpt. So let’s assume a friend did send him the excerpt…why wasn’t it attributed to him?
We’ll let you decide what really happened…