Saturday, May 29, 2010

Are iPad News Applications Merely Glorified CD ROMs?

The iPad news application is an eye-candy business model. But fancy page-flips, large icons, large photos, interactive advertisements that track your activity won't force users to pay up in the long run. For people like me, long weaned on a free, hyper-linked internet, aka the web, iPad applications are nothing more than expensive, glorifed CD ROMs of the mid-1990s era.

Google News has a basic page flip and you do not need to pay up. When broadband becomes ubiquitous, what's stopping websites in having all the bells & whistles in the iPad style?

Interfacelab analyzed Wired magazine much-hyped iPad app, which sold upwards of $100,000 in first 4 hours of sales, basically due to the 'novelty factor'. Interfacelab says about Wired's application:

The only real differentiation between the Wired application and a [1990s] multimedia CD-ROM is the delivery mechanism. While providing little interactivity other than a fancy page-flip, the application is made of XML and images, including two for the text of each page in portrait and landscape mode. This seems to be why the application is 500MB.

On the other hand, an iPad application that has lots of 3D models and visualizations is something that users might like. Are news organizations listening?

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How to fix Digg?

Digg revolutionized Social News Sharing. But, somewhere down the line, the great Digg dream declined. The traffic is there but the quality is hardly monetizable.

Earlier we thought Digg might eclipse Slashdot. Six years onwards, the quality of conversation on Digg is still nowhere Slashdot. To be fair to Digg, few online conversation spots are as intelligent as Slashdot.

Now, Kevin Rose is desperately trying to inject fresh life into Digg. However, people have been quick to point out that merely copying from other sites is not the way forward. Alexis Ohanioan, co-founder of (he sold the site to Condenast and moved on) says about Rose's new plan,

An open letter to Kevin Rose: this new version of digg reeks of VC meddling. It's cobbling together features from more popular sites and departing from the core of digg, which was to "give the power back to the people."

I think one way Digg can get its act together is to cut down on expenses, social news doesn't require millions in salaries.

With a smaller team in place, there will less pressure on Rose to bring in the money, and then Digg can implement the top 100 users leaderboard openly, putting some checks and balances against abuse, and making the top 100 act more like the Techmeme leaderboard, as well as Top 100 Digg members acting as topic editors.

That is what I would have done.

Relate Mediavidea stories on Digg:
Why Digg needs editors Part 2

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