Monday, 30 March 2009

The Future of Information Business – Google

Digitized 'information business' is a hard one. There are more losers than winners. Many old business models and even industries are in ruins or at least in jeopardy, because of the internet, and the ongoing economic downturn. The shift of the advertisements from the newspapers into the net has been especially dramatic, and disastrous for the print media in the U.S.

What has not changed is the need for information, and advertising has proved to be the best source of revenues for the old and new media companies. In digitized world the most convenient and efficient way to find information is to use search engines and their algorithms. The winner of this game, so far, has been Google (including the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin) from Mountain View, California. According to the Financial Times (27.3.2009) search advertising business is holding up far better in the recession than other forms of online advertising, being more precise $10.5 billion for 2008, up 20% (WSJ, 30.3.2009).

It is paradoxical that Google with its mission and ambition to share all world’s information for free has been one of the most secret companies in the world. It took years for reporters to enter for the first time to the Googleplex. According to The New York Times (14.6.2006) Google's inclination to secrecy began in its days as a private company in an effort to keep its rivals from determining the profits it was making from Web search advertising. But since that its culture of secrecy has grown to pervade virtually all of itsdealings with the news media and even its business partners.

It can be argued that the future of the information business is Google. As media entrepreneur Jeff Jarvis has said “Google defines the new digital economy” (The Guardian, 17.11.2008). Therefore, we need continuously, and critically, research what Google is doing, and what are the impacts and implications of its maneuvers in information business. There is a genuine danger that Google starts act like an information monopoly if not challenged or regulated.

Table: MediaPost, 31.3.2009
(C) Photo by Turo Uskali, 12.5.2006 @ Google Press Day

Latest News

Daily Telegraph: Google under investigation for alleged breach of EU competition rules (24.2.2010)

"A Paris court has found Google guilty of copyright infringement in a ruling which could have ramifications for its plans to digitise the world's books. - - This court case will be seen as a victory for critics of the plan who fear Google is creating a monopoly over information. "
BBC News: Fine for Google over French books (18.12.2009)
Surge in search innovation.

CEO, Eric Schmidt: “The brutal economic answer is that the Internet does in fact change other people’s businesses because of this massive distribution.”
The New York Times: How Good (or Not Evil) Is Google? (21.6.2009) Google Reinvents Email, Docs with 'Google Wave' (28.5.2009)
Google (DEMO): Google Waves (1.6.2009, 120 min)
The NYT:
Preparing to Sell E-Books, Google Takes on Amazon (31.5.2009)

"Google's co-founder, Larry Page, admitted today that the company has been losing out to Twitter in the race to meet web user's demand for real-time information."
The Guardian: Google 'falling behind Twitter' (19.5.2009)

The Guardian: Google faces antitrust investigation over $125m book deal (29.4.2009)
Forbes: Why Google Is The New Pirate Bay (17.4.2009)

"Spending on US search advertising will decline this year, the first time the market – dominated by Google – has faced a serious downturn, analysts predict."
FT: Search ad spending predicted to fall (9.4.2009)

The newspaper industry can dig itself out of trouble – but only if it starts innovating. - - Turmoil in the print industry was the result of newspapers failing to keep up with the pace of change – and ignoring their readers' wishes."
The Guardian:
Newspapers must keep innovating, says Google chief Eric Schmidt

"Google's net income in 2008 was $22 billion, just under half of the entire newspaper industry (roughly $45 billion). Newspapers operated at 10 to 11 percent margins, Google at roughly 20 percent."
The Biz Blog/Poynter:
Google CEO Should Pledge Help at NAA; AP Targets Aggregators (6.4.2009)

BuzzMachine/Jeff Jarvis:
Why Google should want Twitter: Currency (5.4.2009)

Forbes: Murdoch Wants A Google Rebellion (3.4.2009)
Google Starts Venture Capital Fund (31.3.2009)

WSJ: Google Aims to Connect Ads for TV, YouTube (27.3.2009)
LAT: Google changes search results, snippets (24.3.2009)

Latest Interviews

"We are advertising company."

"We think the 20 percent time is really the only way that we have been able to maintain our innovations as we get larger."

Charlie Rose: Google CEO Eric Schmidt (Video, 6.3.2009)

Latest Comments:

"I urged Google to come up with a revenue-share plan using Google News as a platform and opening the ad spigot. It would benefit itself by turning on another revenue source, and help news publishers by paying them according to the number of clicks through to their content by Google News users.

Steve Outing: How can newspapers help Google? (12.4.2009)

Eric Schonfeld (TechCrunch/WP):
Does Google Really Control The News? (11.4.2009)


Auletta, Ken. 2009. Googled. The End of the World as We Know It. The Penguin Press, New York.
The New York Review Of Books/Robert Darnton
(12.2.2009): Google & the Future of Books
Jarvis, Jeff. 2009. What Would Google Do?
Vise. A. David & Malseed, Mark. 2006.
The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time.
Battelle, John. 2005. The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Future of the News - Twitter and Wikipedia

The traditional news agencies like Reuters, AP and AFP have bee
n challenged by amateurs in breaking news situation at least since 2004, but the competetion has never been as fierce as now.

First, there were several ad hoc blogs, which break the news and images about the devastating influence of 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami. Later, 2005 Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that also the local news media New Orleans' Times-Picayune could organize a succesful news blog ( in times of a disaster. After the London bombings 2005 the Londoners used their mobile phones to take and send images to the news media hours before professional camera crews arrived to document the aftermath.

But now, it seems, that mainly two citizen media platforms, or services, are used in breaking news situations: Wikipedia and Twitter.

The Wikimedia Foundation (founded 2003) relocated its headquarters from St. Petersburg, Florida, to San Francisco in the early 2008. It has been argued that Wikipedia beat the traditional news media for example in Shootings at Virginia Tech, April 2007 . However, Wikipedia's strenght is in its ability to collect, and organize effectively large amount of timely and relevant information.

The newest addition into the tool box of breaking news for the accidental witnesses is Twitter (founded 2006). The instant message service from San Francisco has grown rapidly in recent months, and not least because of the positive feedback, and strong media attention after these news events:

October 2007: The fires in California
May 2008: Nasa inform the public about the Mars Phoenix Lander mission
November 2008: Mumbai attacks
January 2009: The inauguration of president Barack Obama (and his use of Twitter during his election campaign)
January 2009: US Airways Flight ditched in the Hudson River in New Yor City (first photo)
April 2009: Protesters used Twitter as a rallying tool in Moldova
June 2009: To organize protests against the disputed results of a presidential elections in Iran, to convey information to the outside world, and
Real-Time criticism of CNN's Iran Coverage
September 2009: Typhoon in Philippines
January 2010: Haiti Earthquake and aftermath

I will predict that by using these two San Franciscan social media tools, the network of millions of textmessaging, and photo-shooting citizens will easily beat the professional journalists several times in the future. Twitter is in the frontline of real-time news, and Wikipedia is the almost-real-time Encyclopedia of current events. Linking these two new "news wires" together one can be easily update the breaking news. It is no wonder that Google, Facebook, and the other news aggregators need hastily upgrade their information-gathering processes in order to compete with Twitter. In the attention business the new global pastime is: real-time twittering.

According to the Los Angeles Times: " It’s a public messaging system — more like radio than e-mail — you don’t need to be real-life ‘‘friends’’ with a person to tune in to his feed, you just need to be interested."

Latest news

TechnologyReview: Can Twitter Make Money? (March/April 2010)
Blog Maverick:
Rupert Murdoch to Block Google = Smart = Twitter has changed it all (9.11.2009)

Twitter Finds Growth Abroad With 58.4 Million Global Visitors In September (26.10.2009)

C/Net: Twitter hits 5 billion tweets (19.10.2009)
RotorBlog: Social Media Tools that Save Lives (30.9.2009)
The San Francisco Chronicle: Is e-commerce the answer to Twitter's future? (19.6.2009)
The Washington Post: News Finds Fresh Niche On Twitter, Site's Users Spread The Word in Real Time (15.6.2009)
Scientists warn of Twitter dangers (14.4.2009)

NYT: Putting Twitter’s World to Use (13.4.2009)
C/Net: Worm infiltrates Twitter (11.4.2009)
comScore: Twitter Traffic Explodes...And Not Being Driven by the Usual Suspects! (7.4.2009)

TechCrunch/Washington Post: YouTube Adds A Twitter Button (26.3.2009)
WSJ: Business Week Jumps on Twitter Bandwagon (23.3.2009)
MSNBC: Twitter Could Predict Next Flu Pandemic? (19.3.2009)
CNet: Nielsen: Twitter's growing really, really, really, really fast (19.3.2009)
The Washington Post/TechCrunch: Twitter Experimenting With Text Advertising (16.3.2009)

"Biz Stone told Reuters on Wednesday that Twitter aims to figure out a revenue model in 2009, an acceleration of its previous 2010 timetable."

Reuters:Twitter not seeking merger, co-founder says (12.3.2009)

"The not quite 3-year-old San Francisco-based company says its user base has grown by 900% in the last year alone. Last month the company accepted an additional $35 million in venture capital, too, a hint that investors see potential where skeptics don’t."

Los Angeles Times: On Twitter, mindcasting is the new lifecasting (11.3.2009)

The Washington Post/TechCrunch:
The Amount And Value Of Twitter Traffic (12.3.2009)
Yes, CEOs Should Facebook And Twitter (11.3.2009)
CNet News:
PR firm launches Twendz: A Twitter trend analyzer (11.3.2009)
Chicago Tribune:
Celebrities take to Twitter, but for most, it's a one-way tweet
CNet News:
Hands-on with the new Facebook home page
New Website Aims to Make Twitter History - and $1 Million
AFP via Google: San Francisco mayor "tweets" as California politics goes Twitter (11.3.2009)

Latest video interviews

"Only about half users are from the U.S. Japan is big for us. - - The UK has actually exploded recently, UK is the second biggest."

"We did terrible first year and half, actually, when the site went down a lot, was slow alot. And it took a long time for us to get out of that. It almost killed us, I think."

"What can be really interesting is when you get the crowd, and sort of have the collective intelligence. You synthetize that and do more with that. We have a search function that which is really popular. The Mumbai case you could type in and see what everyone was saying. I think there is really interesting potential if we can synthesize more intelligence out of that. - - It has to be algorithmic, or crowd source editing, somehow. We can detect signals about what is interesting, depend on how people react to the content, and reputation systems." (Evan Williams, 27.2.2009)

Charlie Rose: Evan Williams, CEO and Co-founder of (27.2.2009)

Extra listenings, readings

10, 000 Words: Beyond Twitterfeed: Innovative uses of Twitter in the newsroom (6.4.2009)
CNet/The Real Deal: Intermediate Twitter (podcast, 10.3.2009)
10, 000 Words: The top 7 mistakes new Twitter users make (11.3.2009)
Jimmy Wales (Ted Talks/YouTube): How a ragtag band created Wikipedia


Twittervision 3D

Fun about Twitter

YouTube: Flutter: The New Twitter (3.4.2009)
SuperNews! Twouble with Twitters
The Daily Show with Jon Steward: Twitter Frenzy (2.3.2009)

PS. See my modest Twitter-feed: NewsBusiness

Monday, 2 March 2009

The Future of the Print Media - Amazon's Kindle

First, Apple from Cupertino, Silicon Valley, designed and marketed iPod to us. Now, we are used to have all our music in our pockets. Next, we will easily carry with us all print media, books, newspapers, and magazines with the help of Amazon's Kindle. I will argue that the Seattle online retailer will transform the print publishing in coming years like Apple did with the music industry. Please, watch and listen the visions of the founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Interestingly, he laughs a lot during these interviews. Interpretation: He must enjoy his work, creating the future, indeed.

"We had many failures... If you want to be inventive, you have to be willing to fail. You have to be willing to do experiments."

"We underestimated the demand.. Our forecasting abilities need improvments".

"The big blue sky, is the vision: every book, ever printed in any languages all available in 60 seconds. That's big, it's super cool, I think it is really good for the world. And I think it is good business". (Jeff Bezos, 26.2.2009)


Interview after Kindle 2
Charlie Rose: A conversation with Jeff Bezos, (26.2.2009)
Interview after Kindle 1
Charlie Rose:
A conversation with CEO Jeff Bezos (19.11.2007)

Latest News:

San Francisco Chronicle:
Apple iPad can be a game-changer in many fields (29.1.2010)
WSJ: Amazon's Profit Soars 71% (28.1.2010)

Amazon Kindle DX International: Too Late? (6.1.2010)

One reason that the Kindle has done well in spite of its limitations is that computers are made for drilling into data, not reading. The tablet represents an opportunity to renew the romance between printed material and consumer. - - A large number of publishers will have to step to the other side of the pay wall if paid digital content is going to gain any traction." NYT: A Savior in the Form of a Tablet (3.1.2010)

WSJ: Condé Preparing E-Reader Version of Wired (19.11.2009)

"There is, however, a device on the horizon that could really disrupt the e-reader market, and may even render them irrelevant in the near future. The mythical Apple tablet (or iPad) is the poster child for these devices."
(Tim Bajarin/PC Magazine: Can the Apple Tablet Kill the Kindle? 26.10.2009)

The Newspaper Isn't Dead YetWhy newsprint still beats the Kindle (18.6.2009)
MarketWatch (WSJ): Amazon shares jump on earnings surprise (24.4.2009)
TechCrunch/WP: 300,000 Kindle 2s Sold To Date (16.4.2009)
TechFlash: USA Today loads more content onto Amazon Kindle (15.4.2009)
MarketWatch: Amazon developing Kindle with larger screen - report (10.4.2009)
Barnes & Noble: Developing A Kindle Competitor? (8.4.2009)
Rupert Murdoch wants to apply Kindle Model to Newspapers (6.4.2009)

The New York Times:
Is This the Future of the Digital Book? (4.4.2009)
MobileMagazine: Rupert Murdoch Wants to Challenge Kindle with Four-Color E-Reader (3.4.2009) E-readers: can Plastic Logic bring in e-revenue for newspapers?
The New York Times:
Amazon to Sell E-Books for Apple Devices (4.3.2009)

"It signals that the company may be more interested in becoming the pre-eminent retailer of e-books than in being the top manufacturer of reading devices."

The Guardian:
Amazon caves to Authors Guild over Kindle's text-to-speech reading (1.3.2009)

Hearst Planning Electronic Reader Alternative To Kindle (27.2.2009)


Lance Ulanoff/PC Magazine:
Amazon Kindle 2: It's Not Like Print (15.4.2009)
Silicon Alley Insider/CNN Money:
10 Things We Love And Hate About Amazon's Kindle 2 (23.3.2009)
Farhad Manjoo/Slate:
iPhone vs. Kindle (Video, 12.3.2009)
Steve Rubel:The Amazon Kindle is the Great White Hope for Monetizing Print Media (9.3.2009)
Walt Mossberg/WSJ: Amazon’s Kindle 2 Improves the Good, Leaves Out the Bad (25.2.2009)

Extra Readings:

Newsweek: Stopping the Presses (20.2.2009)
The Economist:
Electronic books are becoming popular. Will newspapers follow? (12.2.2009)
The Economist: The growing popularity of electronic books could offer hope for newspapers (12.2.2009)
Newsweek: The Future of Reading (26.11.2007)

Original source of the image: