Found! A Magazine Guy Who Yawns at the iPad.

The magazine industry has placed tremendous–very likely, unrealistic–hope in the iPad. One exception: Magazine god George Lois.

Lois influenced generations of art directors during his 10-year tenure at Esquire, which spanned most of the 1960s. You can see several examples of his iconic covers below, and a bigger collection here.

It would be nice to think that Lois is excited about the possibilities creative types could explore with Apple’s (AAPL) new gadget, too. But he’s not. From a New York Observer interview this month:

And what does he think about reading a magazine on the soon-to-be-released iPad? “It’s okay, I guess,” he said. “But magazines will never die because there is a visceral feeling of having that thing in your hands and turning the pages. It’s so different on the screen. It’s the difference between looking at a woman and having sex with her.”

UPDATE: If nothing else, Lois is consistent with his magazine vs. tablet metaphor. Here he is talking to Wired creative director (and tablet enthusiast) Scott Dadich. He also says something quite similar in the newest issue of Wired itself, as Robert Quigley notes.

Conversations with Mr. Lois PART III from SPD Videos on Vimeo.

Good News for the Cable Guys: Verizon Stops TV Push

Waiting for Verizon to start competing with your cable company for your TV dollars? You may be out of luck: The telco has stopped rolling out its Fios TV service in new cities.

Verizon (VZ) quietly announced last week that it was done seeking out new markets for Fios, which means that cities like Boston, Baltimore and Alexandria, Va., won’t ever get access to the service. But the company will continue to expand its footprint in cities it’s already in, like New York.

The telco says it had always planned on winding down its expansion after spending $23 billion to upgrade its network. But its competitors are certainly treating this as a victory, and the halt will fuel speculation that Verizon will end up buying satellite broadcaster DirectTV (DTV) in order to compete with cable guys like Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) coast-to-coast.

More from The Wall Street Journal:

FiOS is Verizon’s counter to the cable companies’ Internet phone service, which has been successful in nabbing away telco customers. Despite FiOS’s presence, cable providers such as Cablevision Systems Corp. have weathered the competitive storm. The other telcos have also been upgrading their networks to deliver more services, but they haven’t been as aggressive…

For Verizon, it’s still unclear whether the bet will pay off. Mr. Kula said that in markets that FiOS is available, it has achieved 25% penetration for television service and 28% for Internet.

Growth in FiOS appears to be slowing. In the fourth quarter, Verizon added 153,000 customers each for FiOS Internet and TV, which was down sequentially and from a year ago. In total, the company has 3.4 million FiOS Internet and 2.9 million TV subscribers.

Facebook Waves Off “Fan,” Gives “Like” a Thumbs Up

Goodbye “fan.” Hello “like.”

That’s the message Facebook is passing along to its advertisers today. In a move that’s both minor and telling, the social network is replacing its “fan” buttons with “like” buttons on ads that direct users to big brands’ “fan pages.”

“Fan pages” are an increasingly big part of Facebook’s business. They’re in many ways a throwback to the branded sites AOL (AOL) set up in its heyday, giving the brands a chance to stake out real estate in the heavily trafficked social network. Brands can set them up for free, but are encouraged to buy Facebook ads promoting the mini-sites.

So what’s up with the verb change?  A couple things:

  • “Like” makes a lot more sense to Facebook users than “become a fan of.” Facebook says users already hit the “like” button in other contexts–in status updates and photos, for example–twice as often as they “fan” something.
  • Facebook is on a bigger push to add the “like” button throughout the Web as a way of funneling more and more interaction onto its platform. Expect to hear more about this at the the company’s developer conference next month.

For more on why fan/brand pages matter to Facebook and its advertisers, see this interview I conducted last year with Buddy Media’s Mike Lazerow.

Below is a mock-up of what the new “like ads” will look like when the change rolls out (click to enlarge), followed by the guts of the letter Facebook is sending to ad agencies today. Below that is a FAQ sheet the social network is also distributing.

Whenever possible we want to try to give you advance notice on changes that may affect your advertising campaigns or Facebook strategy. I am reaching out today to give you a heads-up on an upcoming change to Facebook. This will go live in a few weeks, so until then, please keep this information confidential.

As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the user experience, increase engagement and promote consistency across Facebook, we are changing the language we use when people connect to your Brand Pages. People will soon connect with your Brand Pages by clicking “Like” rather than “Become a Fan.” People already “Like” their friends’ status updates, photos and links everyday. In fact, people click “Like” almost two times more than they click “Become a Fan” everyday.

“Like” offers a simple, consistent way for people to connect with the things they are interested in. These lighter-weight actions mean people will make more connections across the site, including with your branded Facebook Pages.

I believe this will result in gaining more connections to pages since our research has shown that some users would be more comfortable with the term “Like”. The goal is to get the most user connections so that you can have ongoing conversations in the news feeds of as many users as possible.

The core functionality of Pages will not change. For instance, your Pages will still have distribution into your fans’ News Feed and you can still call the people who “Like” your Page, “Fans”-your Fans are still your Fans.


A Web Video Divorce: “Lonelygirl” Creators Eqal Break Up With Spark Capital

Eqal, the Web video start-up best known for the “lonelygirl15″ series, has handed back the money it raised less than two years ago from its primary investor, Spark Capital.

This sounds alarming, but you can think of it as an amicable divorce: Spark gets back all of its bubble-era investment and Eqal gets to keep going, with fresh money from new and existing investors.

Spark led a $5 million series A round in the company in April 2008. Eqal co-founder Miles Beckett wouldn’t tell me how much of the round Spark accounted for, but did say that the VCs were made whole in a transaction that closed at the beginning of this year.

So what happened? As far as I can tell, it’s a straightforward story: Eqal changed directions and Spark didn’t want to stay on board.

Eqal began life as a video-production house spawned by the surprise success of “lonelygirl,” the supercheap, superpopular Web series that crested on YouTube in 2006, just as that site was acquired by Google (GOOG). But by 2009, as the market for Web video ads was slow to develop, Eqal was shifting from developing its own Web video to helping other people make and distribute stuff.

If you want to paint that in a positive light, you can say that Eqal had become a Web video-platform company. A less attractive way to describe Eqal is as a Web video-services company. The difference is meaningful if you’re an investor because “platform” is a scalable business while a service company requires more money and effort and offers less lucrative returns.

Any way you slice it, Spark wanted out. “They wanted to zig and we wanted to zag,” Beckett says. He notes that current management and some original investors, including Ron Conway, helped finance the buyout; Eqal also rounded up new money from investors like Scott and Cyan Banister.

The deal is a much better outcome for Spark than Veoh, another Web video bet, was. That one collapsed in a bankruptcy-protection filing earlier this year. The firm still has money in two other Web video investments: Next New Networks and 5Min.

Meanwhile, I’m still looking for examples of companies that can say they’re doing a booming business by concentrating solely on making original Web video. Anyone?

Here’s a clip of “lonelygirl,” the series that put Eqal on the map. Below it is an example of the company’s new work, a promotional campaign for Kraft’s (KFT) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, starring food celebrity  Paula Deen.

The Return of Merton, the First Chatroulette Celebrity

What’s the half-life of a YouTube sensation? We may get to find out in real time. Here’s the second video from Merton, the guy who became Internet-famous by playing piano on Chatroulette. It went up over the weekend, and by Sunday night, it was approaching 500,000 views.

The first video, as best I can tell, has done around five million views over a few weeks, so that’s encouraging for the still-anonymous musician. Less encouraging is that this clip isn’t nearly so much fun as the first. I don’t know if that’s because Merton put all the best stuff in his first one or because we’re all used to the joke at this point. Maybe both.

There’s also a chance that the footage in this clip was recorded after Merton had already broken big. As he noted in an interview last week, he went back on Chatroulette after his first video was already a sensation and “my experience was very different because everyone knew who I was…it’s more fun one way, and a little less fun another way.”

As with the last one, there’s some swearing here, so view accordingly.

Ben Folds, meanwhile, has yet to release another Merton tribute. Probably on to something.

Is This a Preview of the iPad App Store?

Those of you who pre-ordered iPads should be getting them in less than a week. And this is purportedly what you’ll see when you visit the iPad App store. From MacStories:

Browsing the iPad App Store: A Video [By @viticci] from Federico Viticci on Vimeo.

If you’re impatient, here’s the summary of the 90-second video: It shows a bunch of iPad-specific apps.

Beyond that, there’s not much to say other than the fact that Yahoo (YHOO) and Reuters appear to be the only two media companies that have a spot in iTunes’ coveted “new and noteworthy” showcase. But given that we don’t know if this video is current (or even real), it’s hard to imbue any of this with much meaning.

I do have a request for iPad leakers, though: If you have access to a review copy, could you let us know which Web sites Apple (AAPL) has pre-bookmarked for reviews? Because that may tell us something.

Here’s why: A Web publisher tells me that Apple approached this source’s company this winter and encouraged it to prep its site for the device. That is: Lots of HTML5, no Adobe (ADBE) Flash. In return, the publisher is supposed to get a boost from Apple via endorsements like pre-installed bookmarks and the like. Thanks in advance for your help.

Chinese Game Developer Perfect World Buys Japan’s C&C Media For $21 Million

Perfect World

Beijing-based online game developer Perfect World has bought Japanese rival C&C Media from Atlus Co. for $21 million. While the Chinese online games industry is still growing rapidly, the purchase allows Perfect World (NSDQ: PWRD) to expand into the more established Japanese market. Perfect World develops MMORPGs, and though most of its revenue is generated in China, its licensing agreements extend through Asia and into Europe and South America. The purchase of C&C is Perfect World’s second acquisition in less than two years. In Dec. ‘08, it acquired InterServ Caymans, the Caribbean arm of Taiwan-based game tech company InterServ International for about $23 million. Release