Tag Archives: Microsoft

If You Have News, It Will Be Aggregated and/or Curated

The Pew Research Center has come out with a massive new report on the state of media as part of its Project for Excellence in Journalism, and it comes to a number of conclusions about where the industry stands—including the fact that Twitter and Facebook are still driving a fairly small amount of traffic to media outlets (although this segment is growing quickly) and that such tech giants as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft control almost 70 percent of online advertising. But one other thing that becomes clear from the Pew report is just how big a role aggregators of all kinds—both human and machine-powered—are playing in news consumption.

Despite the growing evidence to the contrary, many newspaper companies and other traditional media outlets still seem to think the vast majority of their audience comes to them directly and prefers to read their content above all other sources. More than anything else, this is the core philosophy behind the rise of paywalls—which more and more papers are implementing—and also the millions of dollars media companies have poured into developing iPad apps and other walled-garden-style approaches to news delivery. The assumption is that readers will want only the content that comes from that specific outlet.

For many consumers, however, aggregators of various kinds are the way they consume their news now, whether through Web-based portals like Yahoo News or Google News, or through a variety of newer aggregation-based apps and services, such as Flipboard, Pulse, or Zite for the iPad, as well as News.me, Summify (which was recently acquired by Twitter), and Percolate. According to the Pew report, almost 30 percent of consumers get their news from a “news organizing website or app,” compared with the 36 percent who go directly to a media company’s website or app.

In effect, many users seem to be looking to generate their own digital-newspaper-style overview of the world rather than accepting one from a single media outlet, and if the content they are looking for comes from an aggregator like the Huffington Post because the original is behind a paywall, then so be it. The problem for media companies is that this kind of behavior is in direct conflict with most of  the business models they’re relying on for revenue, whether it’s advertising or app- and paywall-based subscription services—which is why such media moguls as News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch continually accuse Google of “piracy.”

And the problem is actually even bigger than that, since the Huffington Post and Google News are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aggregation and/or curation. Although Facebook and Twitter may not be huge factors in terms of news consumption at the moment—as my colleague Staci has pointed out at paidContent—with only 9 percent of users saying they get their news from those networks, that figure has grown almost 60 percent in the past year alone and is likely continuing to increase.

To some extent the curation phenomenon is helping mainstream news organizations, because people are sharing links that get clicked on and drive traffic back to news outlets. This is especially the case with Twitter, since the Pew report notes that a larger proportion of users follow official media sources there, while a majority of Facebook users get their news from friends and family members. But just as with aggregation apps and services, the content that any single media company produces just becomes part of the sea of content that is distributed through these networks.

On top of that, Facebook itself is becoming much more of an aggregator of news, through the “social reading” apps it offers from such outlets as the Washington Post and the Guardian. Although both newspapers have bragged about the number of people who have registered for their apps and shared content through them, the reality is that much of the benefit from that activity ultimately goes to Facebook—in terms of the time users spend on the site, the advertising they are exposed to, etc.—rather than the news outlet.

Emily Bell, the former Guardian digital editor who now runs the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, noted in a response to the Pew report on Twitter that social platforms like Facebook are becoming “frenemies” with media companies, since they generate traffic but also suck up much of the benefit in terms of advertising.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-03-19/if-you-have-news-it-will-be-aggregated-and-or-curated

Microsoft eclipses Yahoo in US search for 1st time

Microsoft Corp. has finally reached a long-sought and expensive goal – its Bing search engine now ranks second behind Google in the Internet’s most lucrative market. Bing and Microsoft’s other websites fielded 2.75 billion search requests in the U.S. during December, catapulting in front of Yahoo Inc. for the first time in the jockeying for runner up to Google Inc., according to statistics released Wednesday by comScore Inc. Bing’s December volume translated into a 15.1 percent share of the U.S. search traffic, comScore said. Yahoo processed 2.65 billion search requests, representing 14.5 percent of the U.S. market. Google remained Internet’s go-to place for information, with 12 billion U.S. requests in December. That works out to a 65.9 percent market share. Other research firms track the Internet search market. But comScore’s numbers matter the most to industry analysts and the companies trying to attract queries so they can make more money from the ads that appear alongside the results. Google’s dominance of online search is the main reason it has established itself as the Internet’s most profitable company. Analysts have expected Microsoft and Yahoo to flip-flop their positions in Internet search since they announced a partnership in July 2009. The 10-year agreement has enabled Yahoo to save money by relying on Microsoft to provide the bulk of its search technology. Microsoft wanted the deal so it would have billions more search requests to analyze each year, giving it a better chance to learn about people’s tendencies and preferences.

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/01/12/microsoft-eclipses-yahoo-in-us-search-for-1st-time/

Microsoft Web TV subscription plan on hold

Microsoft Corp has put its talks with media companies about an online subscription service for TV shows and movies on hold, according to people familiar with the discussions. The technology giant had been in intense talks with potential programming partners for over a year and was hoping to roll out the service in the next few months. But it pulled back after deciding that the licensing costs were too high for the business model Microsoft envisaged, according to these people. Early versions of Microsoft’s TV service included a range of advanced features such as being able to change channels with voice and motion control. Similar to Netflix Inc, Microsoft’s service also would have allowed users the option of paying a monthly fee for a package of programming from someone other than a local cable or satellite TV company. But unlike Netflix, Microsoft had hoped to offer current shows and live networks on its service, which made it a much higher cost proposition. Microsoft is still working closely with the TV business to distribute shows over the Web, but rather than playing a role in helping consumers replace their cable TV packages it is focusing on delivering programming via its Xbox gaming system to existing cable subscribers

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/11/us-microsoft-video-idUSTRE80A1KL20120111

Google faces antitrust review for its ranking of websites

Google’s methods for internet search and ranking of websites are being scrutinised by the Texas’s Attorney General – yet another case of authorities closely looking at the core business of the company. The Attorney General’s move comes in the wake of allegations from small companies that they were not fairly ranked by Google when their names come up during the Internet search. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office, which is conducting an antitrust review of Google,” the search engine major’s Deputy General Counsel Don Harrison has said. In a blog posted on Friday, Harrison pointed out that the firm works hard to explain its approach to Net search and how its ranking works. Abbott’s office has asked for information about a number of companies, including British price comparison site Foundem, which claim that Google’s algorithms demote their site “because they are a direct competitor to our search engine“. According to the blog, Foundem is backed by ICOMP, an entity that is largely funded by Microsoft. Going by reports, the European Commission is also looking into a complaint against Google.

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/internet/article615502.ece

Apple TV takes aim at Web-connected living room

Apple Inc unveiled a smaller, cheaper version of its Web-to-TV device on Wednesday, stepping up a battle with Google Inc and Microsoft Corp for control of the digital living room. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs also rolled out a completely overhauled lineup of iPod media players and the latest version of iTunes, with a new logo that does away with the outdated image of a CD. The new Apple TV device, which accesses content from the Internet and plays it on a TV, will sell for USD 99. It is a quarter the size of the original, which cost USD 229. The 4-inch-square device allows users to rent TV shows for 99 cents and first-run films for USD 4.99. Earlier models, which allowed users to only buy shows, failed to find a major audience. Alongside renting TV shows and movies, Apple TV users will be able to stream content from video rental site Netflix Inc. Analysts were lukewarm toward the device, though some saw it as only a small, initial step in a much more ambitious plan

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE6805HY20100902

Yahoo! Japan adopts Google search engine

Top Internet portal Yahoo! Japan on Tuesday announced a search alliance with Google, in a deal that would see both giants dominate the Japanese market in a possible blow to Microsoft. The deal would see Yahoo! Japan switch to Google’s search engine from the Yahoo! Inc. technology used previously. It will maintain its current user interface while also using Google’s online advertising and distribution system. Yahoo! Japan is 40 percent owned by telecoms operator Softbank, while Yahoo Inc. holds a 35 percent stake. It is therefore not directly affected by the Internet search partnership reached last year between Microsoft and Yahoo!, an alliance aimed at boosting competition with Google, which has two-thirds of the global market. Inoue added that Yahoo! Inc chief and founder Jerry Yang gave him the green light to pursue the tie up with Google in Japan. However, if Yahoo! Japan and Google team up, Microsoft is likely to try to block the deal from gaining regulatory approval in Japan, Dow Jones Newswires said. Yahoo! Japan currently has about a 57 percent share of the search market and Google has about 31 percent, Inoue said. Microsoft has almost a three percent share.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jp0bw-8CeRS2PnxBrZtn3xx8GcWg

Ex-Google and Bing engineers create personalised mobile newspaper for the iPad

A personalised mobile newspaper for iPad users has been launched by a team of former Google and Bing engineers. Apollo News, the first product from Hawthorne Labs, aggregates content based on a user preferences algorithm, in a similar way to how Pandora recommends music for its users. The app was created by Evan Reas, Shubham Mittal and Prasanna Sankaranarayanan, who together have an employer history which includes Google, Microsoft and Bing. Reas told Journalism.co.uk that their idea came from their own frustrations with accessing interesting content online. The app costs users $4.99 for unlimited usage. The team now plans to make the app available on the iPhone as well as on the web itself, but says future developments will reach much further than the Apollo app. “Our hopes are more for the future of the company than just this one app,” Reas said. “We want to create a company with the main daily destinations (mobile and non-mobile) of news for consumers”.

http://www.journalism.co.uk/2/articles/539686.php