Snippets From A Fast-Changing World

An independent observer looks at things differently to someone who is right in the middle.

Why I, Jeff Bezos, Keep Spending Billions On Amazon R&D

Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com CEO

Random forests, naïve Bayesian estimators, RESTful services, gossip protocols, eventual consistency, data sharding, anti-entropy, Byzantine quorum, erasure coding, vector clocks … walk into certain Amazon meetings, and you may momentarily think you’ve stumbled into a computer science lecture...more

The New York Times’ R&D Lab has built a tool that explores the life stories take in the social space

By Megan Garber

Some of the most exciting work taking place in The New York Times building is being done on the 28th floor, in the paper’s Research and Development Lab. The group serves essentially as a skunkworks project for a news institution that stands to benefit, financially and otherwise, from creative thinking; as Michael Zimbalist, the Times’ vice president of R&D, puts it, the team is “investigating the ideas at the edges of today and thinking about how they’re going to impact business decisions tomorrow.” (For more on the group’s doings, check out the series of videos that we shot there a couple of years ago.)...more

9 Women Can’t Make a Baby in a Month

by MARK SUSTER on MARCH 30, 2011

I’m a very big proponent of the “lean startup movement” as espoused by Steve Blank &Eric Ries.

The part of the movement that resonates the most with me (in my words) is that entrepreneurs should keep their capital expenditures really low while they’re experimenting with their product and determining whether there is a large market for what they do.

In the initial phases of any new market you’re developing a product (hopefully with a minimal set of features), getting feedback from customers, refining your product based on user feedback and then re-launching your product. Rinse & repeat. Nobody really knows whether or not the idea is yet going to be big, so I believe in not over capitalizing too early. This benefits you, the entrepreneur. It’s the whole basis of my investment philosophy, which I call “The Entrepreneur Thesis.”...more

The app divide between casual readers and news junkies

By Andrew Phelps

Can a single app please both casual news readers and news junkies?

That’s the question I found myself asking upon rereading that report from a couple weeks ago on iPad users’ reactions to The Daily.

The report was put together by knowDigital, a division of market-research firm Coleman Insights, which asked more than 40 iPad owners to download The Daily and use it for two weeks. Sam Milkman, the head of knowDigital, interviewed participants afterward, and he found that even in a group that small, the needs of users were split...more

Inside the NYT Lincoln Deal: It’s About Dollars, Traffic and Conversion

Apr 7, 2011

So, it looks like an intriguing deal.

Ford Motors’ Lincoln is subsidizing 100,000 new NYT digital subscriptions. Well, it is an intriguing deal, but it’s more nuanced than it seems, and in that nuance, we see some of the next models for how the digital circulation business and the digital ad business will newly intertwine, and open up new revenue streams and new marketing opportunities.

It’s just one deal, but it points to the fact that the new business model in creation will be based more on digital advertising than digital circulation. Making that new interplay work is as important as setting prices and deciding how to restrict content accces for anyone putting up a pay wall, pay fence or pay obstacle of any kind...more

The newsonomics of the digital cafeteria

By Ken Doctor

Here’s how newspapers sell what they do to would-be readers.

You can get the whole paper, now sometimes including digital access. We’ll sell you Sunday only, or the weekend, or 7-day, but you have to take our whole paper. That’s what we sell; that’s our one-size-fits-all product. It fit your grandparents and your parents, so why shouldn’t it fit you?

If newspapers were in the restaurant business, they’d be out of business quite quickly. That’s not much of a menu. There’s practically no à la carte, other than single copy, which is again the whole thing, but just once. It’s prix fixe, with early-bird specials for introductory signups...more

Bing’s new iPad app is a newspaper in disguise

by Damon KiesowPublished Apr. 11, 2011 Updated Apr. 12, 2011

Microsoft’s new Bing iPad app, released Thursday, does more than search — it begins to remake the newspaper experience in digital form.

The app is not being marketed as a news platform, but journalists should consider it one because it offers a great local information utility for the iPad age...more

RIAA v. Limewire: Record Labels Will Get Paid Twice For Some Downloads

Joe Mullin twitter @joemullin Apr 8, 2011

The Limewire file-sharing service was shut down last year, and the only thing left now is to figure out how much money the now-illegal service owes the record labels that first sued it back in 2006. The judge overseeing the case made two key rulings this week that strongly favor the record labels. The orders are responding to a flurry of motions filed by both sides, as Limewire and the RIAA each try to get the early edge in a trial over damages scheduled to begin May 2. The most recent order will allow the RIAA to “double-dip” and get paid twice for more than one hundred songs....more

The newsonomics of WaPo’s reader dashboard 1.0

By Ken Doctor

Don’t call them pageviews— call them pages read.

Don’t call them unique visitors — call them readers.

Welcome to The Washington Post’s new foray into understanding — and acting on — how readers actually consume digital news.
I wouldn’t quite call it a revolution. But it’s a firing shot in an effort to bring a modicum of science to the art form we editors like to believe we exercise so gracefully. It’s The Washington Post’s reader dashboard 1.0.

“Journalists like to believe that readers read every story they write,” says Raju Narisetti, one of two managing editors at the Post and head of washingtonpost.com news operations. “We’re disturbing that illusion. We’re also saying that focusing on the numbers doesn’t equal pandering.”...more

Hulu Plus to Exceed One Million Subscribers in 2011

By JESSICA E. VASCELLARO

Hulu LLC’s subscription video service will surpass one million subscribers in 2011, chief executive Jason Kilar said in a blog post Monday.

Mr. Kilar also reiterated that the company is on track to approach $500 million in revenue in 2011, up from $263 million in 2010. Its first-quarter revenue grew 90% from 2010...more

Millennials Still Prefer Newspapers for Political News

By Jim O’Sullivan Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reports of the demise of newspapers may be greatly exaggerated.

According to a new Harvard study, the denizens of the digital age — 18-to-29-year-olds — would prefer to get most of their political news about the next presidential campaign from — believe it or not — major national newspapers....more

Backlist E-Books Find an Audience

By JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG

Last October, suspense writer Jonathon King launched “Midnight Guardians,” the sixth novel in his Max Freeman crime series. Unlike the previous five titles, this one didn’t have a major publisher or a cash advance.

Instead, “Midnight Guardians,” available at Amazon.com for $14.99 as a digital text and $23.08 as a print-on-demand paperback, was issued by Open Road Integrated Media LLC, a digital upstart that has also reissued Mr. King’s entire backlist...more

Where Microsoft went wrong – by Paul Allen

March 31, 2011 1:15 am by Richard Waters

The details of Paul Allen’s testy personal relationship with Bill Gates have been the most eye-catching part of his forthcoming memoir. But it is the Microsoft co-founder’s damning critique of the company’s current problems that could well prove more telling.

In a draft of the forthcoming book, seen by the FT, Mr Allen writes: “How did a company once at the forefront of technology and change fall so far behind? It’s a thorny question, with roots that go back decades, but I believe it boils down to three broad factors: scale, culture and leadership.”...more

Popular Science iPad Edition Has Sold 10,000 Subscriptions

Popular Science magazine sold the 10,000th subscription to its iPad edition sometime on Sunday, nearly six weeks after accepting Apple’s terms for selling subs on its tablet. That’s a speck compared to the title’s nearly 1.2 million print subscriptions, but a significant early foothold for digital magazine subscriptions on the iPad.…more

News International shows digital readership rise

By Salamander Davoudi Published: March 29 2011

The Times and The Sunday Times had a combined total of 79,000 monthly digital subscribers at the end of February, up almost 60 per cent over the past four months, according to unaudited figures released by News International.

The total was up from 50,000 last November and included subscribers to the two newspapers’ digital sites as well as to The Times’ iPad and Kindle editions.…more