January 17, 2012

THEY ARE THE EXCEPTIONS...:

Are Newspapers Civic Institutions or Algorithms? (Dominic Basulto, January 16, 2012, Big Think)

This appification of media is brilliant on two levels. First, these apps make it possible to segment and track your audience, making them more valuable for advertisers. (What Carr refers to as "versioning") Secondly, these apps fundamentally shift the way we think about content - people are no longer consuming media, they are now downloading specialized algorithms. Online, people may not be willing to pay anything for content from the New York Times. In the physical world, they may not be willing to pay two bucks for a newspaper on the newsstand. In the Apple iTunes app store, however, they are willing to pay anywhere from $0.99 to $3.99 for a stylish app that's based on a superior algorithm.

If you think about this for a second, this is a profound change that the appification of media makes possible. Online or in the physical world, your product is worth zero. Add a mobile layer to it, and it's suddenly worth something. Or, as Matthew Yglesias cheekily pointed out on Slate Moneybox the other day, Banal + Smartphone = New.

If you think about the most successful pay walls in the newspaper content business, it is always the big financial newspapers - notably, the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times - that have figured out how to charge for content online. By some estimates, The Wall Street Journal now has more than 400,000 paid subscribers and the Financial Times has 200,000 paid subscribers. The typical argument given for their success is that they have the best journalistic coverage, the best opinion writers and the best international coverage -- all of which combine to make them a must-read. But there is another reason lurking out there - people read the Wall Street Journal because it helps them make money. Among the financial newspapers, Barron's is perhaps the most explicit about this relationship, with one of their taglines along the lines of, "Read us on Saturday, make money on Monday." Yes, financial newspapers are algorithms that help you make money in financial markets.


...because they are business expenses, not out of pocket purchases. 

As for apps, no one is going to buy the app for .99 a day.

Posted by at January 17, 2012 6:43 AM
  

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