But it sure looks like the Times is charging online readers if you visit Apple’s iTunes Store, which is selling two different New York Times (NYT) iPhone apps at 99 cents a pop.
The Times has nothing to do with either app, both of which are called the “New York Times Mobile Reader.” And both are supposed to do the same thing: Spit out the paper, along with other Web content like podcasts, in iPhone-friendly form.
You’d think the Times would want Apple (AAPL) to remove the miniprograms, if only to protect the value of the paper’s own app, which is both free and very good.
When I pointed out the apps to a Times spokeswoman on Tuesday, she asked around and later confirmed that the two apps “are not authorized and our legal department is looking into the matter.” But as of Thursday morning, the apps are still there, ranked No. 14 and No. 18 on Apple’s list of top paid news apps.
As Josh Quittner notes, hijacking publishers’ names and content and turning them into paid apps isn’t uncommon at iTunes. I count at least eight such offerings among the top paid news apps at the online store.
But it shouldn’t be that hard for Apple to put the kibosh on this stuff. For instance: It ought to be fairly obvious that developer Chad Rivoli, who has produced one of the “New York Times” apps–along with ones that boast brands like CNET, Fox News, the BBC and the Drudge Report–is not authorized to do so.
But Apple’s approach to this is weirdly passive. Here’s the statement I got from Apple PR’s Trudy Muller yesterday:
As an IP holder ourselves, we understand the importance to developers of protecting their IP. We have a process in the App Store for developers to alert us to possible IP infringement. When we’re notified, our policy includes the removal of the infringing app until a resolution is reached between the parties.
If this approach sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a lot like the one Google (GOOG) takes toward YouTube copyright complaints: Put it up, then take it down if someone complains.
In Google’s case, the company claims it has no idea what people are uploading to YouTube–anyone can throw anything up there. And that approach may well be protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (we’ll see). But Apple knows exactly what it’s selling via iTunes because it approves every new app individually.
Maybe the Times isn’t hell-bent on griping to Apple because it has other priorities, like working with Apple on something for the upcoming wondertablet. And maybe every other publisher whose stuff is getting repurposed for profit doesn’t want to bother Apple either. Hard to believe there is really big money being made here, after all.
All I know is that this situation wouldn’t last long at all on the regular Internet: Good luck starting a “New York Times” Web site and charging people to visit–or even just linking to the paper while using its iconic “T.”
What’s different about iTunes?
UPDATE: At least two other publishers are aware, and unhappy, about unauthorized apps. CNET tells AdAge that it has asked at least one of the developers using its stuff to take it down, apparently without success.
And Fox News says it complained directly to Apple in December, says MediaWeek. In that case, though, it seems to had at least some effect: “Mobile News Pro — Fair & Balanced” is still available in the app store, and still aggregates Fox News content, including radio feeds. But the app’s description does note that it has “removed FOX wording per FOX request.”
Digitalsmiths is primarily known for enabling film studios like Warner Bros. to manage and distribute large video files with advanced metadata and search capabilities attached — but that could change with the newest version of its VideoSense platform. That’s because the company has built new clipping and editing capabilities into VideoSense 2.5, which could open up a whole new market opportunity for Digitalsmiths with news and sports organizations.
“Once an asset’s in the system, [our customers] don’t just want to get it from point A to point B, but they also want to be able to edit that asset,” Weinberger said in an interview with NewTeeVee. So the company developed a clip editing system within VideoSense that allows customers to quickly chop up a master file into shorter segments, creating whole new video assets to be managed within its system.
Because VideoSense recognizes different scenes, faces and objects to create metadata, the system can even suggest segments within a file for users to clip. And because the platform associates all metadata with a timestamp within the master file, when those segments are created, only the metadata that’s relevant to an individual clip will be transferred to the new video asset.
With the new editing and clipping capabilities, Digitalsmiths isn’t just serving film studios and TV programmers anymore — the company is also picking up customers in the news and sports industries. “This is a very powerful tool for them. They no longer need to have an editor sitting down with expensive editing equipment to create these clips,” Weinberger said.
The video clipping functionality is somewhat unique to Digitalsmiths in the white-label video management space, although TV indexing firm Critical Media offers similar capabilities to news organizations through its own Syndicaster platform. While Critical Media doesn’t have the same type of distribution capabilities as Digitalsmiths, it has a partnership to enable customers to distribute clips directly into Brightcove’s video management platform.
In addition to the new editing and clipping features, VideoSense 2.5 adds a couple of other product enhancements, including a new reporting and analytics dashboard that’s fully integrated into the publishing system. The new reporting system is designed to provide granular viewing data across all of an asset’s distribution points, while also enabling publishers to track viewership by metadata. By having access to that data, customers should be able to better monetize their assets, while also being able to make better future publishing decisions, Weinberger said.
Finally, the new version of VideoSense provides a direct way for users to upload an asset from their desktops, doing away with the need to move it between various FTP sites or watch folders. Using technology from Aspera, the direct upload feature also enables more efficient file transfers than customers would see otherwise.
Tweet: What does the post-page, post-site, post-media media world look like? @stephenfry, that’s what.
The next phase of media, I’ve been thinking, will be after the page and after the site. Media can’t expect us to go to it all the time. Media has to come to us. Media must insinuate itself into our streams.
I’ve been trying to imagine what that would be and then I was Skype-chatting with Nick Denton (an inspirational pastime I’ve had too little of lately) and he knew exactly what it looks like:
Spot on. Fry insinuated himself into my stream. He comes to us. We distribute him. He has been introduced to and acquired new fans. He now has a million followers, surely more than for any old web site of his. He did it by his wit(s) alone. His product is his ad, his readers his agency. How will he benefit? I have full faith that he of all people will find the way to turn this into a show and a book. He is media with no need for media. I was trying to avoid using Aston Kutcher as my example, but he’s on the cover of Fast Company making the same point: “He intends to become the first next-generation media mogul, using his own brand as a springboard…. ‘The algorithm is awesome,’ Kutcher says…”
That’s media post-media.
This view of the future makes it all the more silly and retrograde for publishers like Murdoch to complain about the value of the readers Google sends to them. Who says readers will or should come to us at all? We were warned of this future by that now-legendary college student who said in Brian Stelter’s New York Times story (which foretold the end of the medium in which it appeared): “If the news is that important, it will find me.”
If a page (and a site) become anything, it will be a repository, an archive, a collecting pool in which to gather permalinks and Googlejuice: an article plus links plus streams of comments and updates and tweets and collaboration via tools like Wave. Content will insinuate itself into streams and streams will insinuate themselves back into content. The great Mandala.
The notion of the stream takes on more importance when you think about your always-connected and always-on device, whatever the hell you call it (phone, tablet, netbook, eyeglasses, connector….). I recently saw a telecommunications technology exec show off a prototype of a screen he says will be here in a year or so that not only has color and full-motion video and can be seen in ambient light but that takes so little power that it can and will be on all the time. So rather than hitting that button on the iPhone to see what’s new, your post-phone post-PC device is always on and always connected. You don’t sneak it under the table to turn it on now and again. You leave it on the table and it constantly streams.
Is that stream news? Only a small portion of your stream – whatever you want, whatever you allow in – will be. Just as publishers’ news is only a small portion of the value of what Google returns in search, we mustn’t be so hubristic to think that the streams flowing by readers’ eyes will be owned, controlled, and filled by media with what they declare to be news. They will be filled with life.
The real value waiting to be created in the stream-based web is prioritization. That’s part of what Clay Shirky is driving at when he talks about algorithmic authority and what Marissa Mayer talks about when she says news streams will be hyperpersonal. The opportunity in news is not to try to mass-prioritize it for everyone at once – impossible! – but to help each of us do it. To make that work, it will have to be personal and personal will scale only if it’s algorithmic and the algorithm will work only if we trust and value what it delivers. So how do you learn enough about me, who I am, what I do, and what I need so you can solve my personal filter failure and show me the emails and tweet and updates and, yes, news I’ll most want to read? What tricks can you bring to bear, as Google did and Facebook did: the wisdom of a crowd – perhaps my crowd? the value of editors still?
So imagine this future without pages and sites, this future that’s all built on process over product. If you’re what used to be a content-creation – if you’re Stephen Fry, post-media – you’re all about insinuating yourself into that stream. If you’re about content curation – formerly known as editing – then you’re all about prioritizing streams for people; that’s how you add value now.
Getting people to come to you so you can tell them what you say they should know while showing them ads they didn’t want from advertisers who bear the cost and risk of the entire experience? That’s just so 2008. Now it’s time to go with the stream.
While online video coverage of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing is unlikely to drive the same spikes in traffic as the recent Michael Jackson memorial, we realize there is a contingent of people who want to watch our government in action.
Fans of political theater can find “gavel-to-gavel” coverage amongst the usual news site suspects: MSNBC, CNN, FOX News, ABCNews.com and CBSNews.com. Live-streaming began for most a little before 10 a.m. ET this morning. And it looks like online is picking up the broadcast slack. Though the cable nets are carrying live coverage on oldteevee, the traditional broadcast networks are not.
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