baltimoresun.com

January 24, 2012

Abell Foundation: Waiting for a sustainable online journalism site to fund?

Robert_c._embry%2C_jr.jpgWhen you run in fast local media-gossip circles like I do (ha!), you can't resist the opportunity to ask a local power player whether his foundation is still interested in buying The Baltimore Sun.

Yesterday, I interviewed Robert C. Embry Jr. (left), president of the Abell Foundation, about the philanthropic institution's increasing emphasis on funding local technology startups. Abell has just committed $75,000 to a new group called the Innovation Alliance, which will use the funds to conduct a big survey of what the tech community wants and needs.

Toward the end of my interview with Mr. Embry, I asked if Abell still has any interest in buying the Baltimore Sun. (Abell was reportedly part of a team of local investors, led by Ted Venetoulis, who had floated the idea of buying the Sun about five/six years ago.)

Embry told me that the Tribune bankruptcy (Chicago-based Tribune Co. owns the Baltimore Sun, as well as the Chicago Tribune, LA Times and other papers) muddled the prospects for an acquisition several years ago. Indeed, bankruptcy is a sort of limbo for companies in most cases.

If and when Tribune emerges from bankruptcy, Embry said, "then we would re-open the question."

I also asked Embry if Abell, which has funded high-tech energy and biotech companies lately, has any interest in funding new online journalism startups?

Said Embry: "We've spent a lot of time considering that. A lot of people have approached us with ideas, but we haven't been presented with any that are self-sustaining."

I don't know what Maryland-based online news sites have presented themselves to the Abell Foundation for funding, but I can rattle off a bunch off the top of my head that are a steady part of my local media diet.

There's Baltimore Brew (which did a fantastic job raising $24,624 on Kickstarter -- well over their $15,000 goal.)

There's CityBizList, for Baltimore area business.

And MarylandReporter.com, for state house politics news.

Are these sites "sustainable"? I don't know. At this point, they seem to have had some longevity. They are veterans, in terms of online years. That counts for something.

In fact, in addition to the Sun, which still dominates, there's still a healthy selection of print and online sources of good journalism and opinion-ating around Baltimore, and a little beyond. There's CityPaper, the Daily Record, Caroll County Times, Urbanite, the Patuxent publications, the Gazette, the Washington Post, and Center Maryland. (Update: Yes, I'm sorry, I forgot to mention the Patch sites.)

The not-so-hidden players in the local media scene anymore are Twitter and Facebook. The public has more power than ever before to push stories to the top of a traditional reporter's agenda. And the public can respond to a story -- and the newsmakers behind it -- with online persistence and inquisitiveness.

In the old days, journalists would work hard to find new angles and keep a good story alive every day. (We still do.) Today, the public does the same thing on Facebook and Twitter, if the story means enough to them (us).

Just yesterday, I watched as a story I wrote about the Abell Foundation and the Innovation Alliance immediately got some push-back in the comments section of the Baltimore Tech Facebook group.

Within a couple hours of posting the story, Newt Fowler, head of the Innovation Alliance, was immediately responding to questions from the tech community.

This is truly a revolution in news, information-sharing and accountability.

Sure, we lost the Examiner a few years back, but we've actually seen the remaining publications -- and new ones, including us at The Baltimore Sun -- start to adjust to the online world.

Anybody can make and break news, and anybody can immediately question the newsmakers -- and the news writers. This rocks.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:46 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Media, Social Media, Startups
        

October 20, 2011

NYTimes Paywall: "Hold....Hold....Hold....NOW!!!!"

braveheart-hold.jpg

Well looky here once more! The New York Times, watching its revenues and profits drain out to the web, took a gamble in erecting a paywall -- and it seems to be holding.

Better still -- they're actually gaining digital subscribers.

William Wallace would be proud. New York Times execs have not yet had to drop their sharpened spears and nicked shields in the face of the everything-should-be-free-on-the-Internet hordes and head for the last refuges of newspapers executives, that is the twin ivory towers of academia and public relations.

In its third-quarter earnings release today, the NYT reported that digital subscriptions rose to 324,000 -- compared with 281,000 in the previous quarter, according to Bloomberg. [Here is the NYT official news release on their earnings today.] In total, the NYT has 1.2 million regular digital users.

Meanwhile, even as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Baltimore Sun (and Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News....) turn toward digital subscriptions, the Washington Post's publisher today told Politico that that paper ain't going paywall anytime soon.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:33 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Media
        

May 19, 2011

LinkedIn IPO launches into stratosphere

linkedin.jpg

Buckle in, folks! It's gonna be a wild ride from here on in.

LinkedIn Corp., the social media network for workers, went public today and its shares, which started out priced at $45, zoomed up to $90.50 in morning trading. It's currently at around $85, as of 10:40 a.m. today. That means, on paper at least, LinkedIn was valued upwards of $8.5 billion.

The Wall Street Journal story this morning noted that investors are hungry for similar IPO stories. By "similar stories," the WSJ probably means everyone is waiting to see how IPOs for Facebook, Twitter, Groupon and Zynga might do.

LinkedIn has been the under-rated, less sexy social media company, compared with those other four. But it was the first one to go IPO. I'd hate to be the last of those companies doing an IPO. Who'll have money to invest at that point?

Seriously though, I have to wonder if how well LinkedIn performs in the next couple of quarters will either whet investors' appetites for more social media companies on Wall Street, or turn them off on such company stocks. It's not a given that a big first day in the stock market for LinkedIn presages successful IPOs for Facebook, Twitter, Groupon and Zynga. LinkedIn, for one, has a lot of work to do for those investors who bought in between $45 and $90 today.

As Michael Moe, chief investment officer of GSV Capital Management in Woodside, California, told Bloomberg News yesterday: “The valuation for LinkedIn is rich. To earn the valuation, it has to continue to grow very, very fast.”

A lot can happen in the next couple of quarters. Internet competitors and the speed in which the market changes is faster than the speed at which Wall Street bankers operate. If LinkedIn knocks it out of the park the next couple quarters, that bodes well for its peers. If not, well, maybe we'll see more IPOs. Or maybe instead we'll see some acquisitions and mergers.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

May 18, 2011

LinkedIn IPO frenzy -- would you buy the stock?

The coming LinkedIn IPO -- expected tomorrow -- may be a resounding success, as frothing-at-the-mouth investors appear eager to throw their money at big social media companies. The company is expected to prices its shares tonight and make them available on the stock market tomorrow, under the New York Stock Exchange ticker LNKD.

Potential share price: $42-$45.

Potential valuation: ~$4.25 billion.

So, here's the question: Would you invest in LinkedIn? This Reuters article outlines some of the risks in the marketplace for LinkedIn, including the fact that it has struggled with losses and profitability.

What happens when LinkedIn becomes directly accountable to Wall Street when it's public? Will it cut expenses and investment in future growth drastically to produce better profit margins?

In this Bloomberg video, Jonathan Merriman, a tech investor, explains the LinkedIn IPO and talks about the risks. Interesting stuff:



This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

May 12, 2011

Facebook's Careless Whispers Against Google: Reports

George-Michael-Careless-Whisper.jpg

What Would George Michael Think?

The Daily Beast and USA Today report on the unmasking of Facebook as the company that hired a huge PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, to spread exaggerated tales about Google infringing on users' privacy.

A nasty whisper campaign? No surprise there. But Burson-Marsteller, your two PR guys were careless about it.

Blogger Chris Soghoian posted the email exchange he had with Burson-Marsteller for all to see.

Kudos to Chris and others in the media for not being used as PR pawns.

I wonder if Facebook feels guilty about doing this -- or just foolish for getting caught. Will it ever dance again, as George Michael sings in the chorus:

I'm never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it's easy to pretend
I know you're not a fool

UPDATE:Not only do I have "Careless Whisper" in my head, my editor also pointed to this awesome Youtube vid I had never seen before:


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:56 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Media
        

March 17, 2011

New York Times Metered Paywall: It's real and it's spectacular

NYT-building.jpg


The New York Times, arguably the last great hope for quality "traditional" journalism in a Web/blog/Twitter/Facebook world, took the covers off its "metered" paywall strategy today.

It's real and it's spectacular. No really. I kinda like it. Do I think it'll work? I wouldn't bet on it. But it's probably the best attempt at just doing something by a mainstream, big-time general circulation newspaper (i.e. not the Wall Street Journal and its pay model.)

Their strategy takes effect in Canada today (those Canadians are the NYT's guinea pigs. Ha!), and will come to the U.S. on March 28.

From the NYTimes' description of the new way of consuming its news online:

On NYTimes.com, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features). After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.

• On our smartphone and tablet apps, the Top News section will remain free of charge. For access to all other sections within the apps, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber.

• The Times is offering three digital subscription packages that allow you to choose from a variety of devices (computer, smartphone, tablet). More information about these plans is available at www.nytimes.com/access.

• Again, all New York Times home delivery subscribers will receive free access to NYTimes.com and to all content on our apps. If you are a home delivery subscriber, go to http://homedelivery.nytimes.com to sign up for free access.

• Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit. For some search engines, users will have a daily limit of free links to Times articles.

• The home page at NYTimes.com and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all users at all times.

For more information, go to www.nytimes.com/digitalfaq.

Clearly, this is a strategy that lets casual users still partake in Times content. The Times doesn't value those users as much, of course. But if you're checking out Times content more than 20 times a month, that means you're likely a believer in their product and wouldn't mind ponying up some cash to keep it coming. Or would you?

Here's how much cash we're talking about -- from the FAQ:

All digital subscription options will be available globally on March 28, 2011

An NYTimes digital subscription provides ongoing access to our digital content. We offer three options, each of which provides unlimited access to the Web site. The differences between the options are based on which smartphone and/or tablet apps are included. The options and pricing are as follows:

NYTimes.com Plus Smartphone App:* $3.75 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $15.00)

* Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any device
* Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android-powered phones

NYTimes.com Plus Tablet App:* $5.00 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $20.00)

* Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any device
* Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for iPad, plus Times Reader 2.0 and the NYTimes App for the Chrome Web Store

All Digital Access:* $8.75 per week (billed every 4 weeks at $35.00)

* Unlimited access to NYTimes.com, plus smartphone apps and tablet apps
* Unlimited access to NYTimes.com from any device
* Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android-powered phones
* Unlimited access to the NYTimes app for iPad, plus Times Reader 2.0 and the NYTimes app for the Chrome Web Store


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:36 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: *NEWS*, Media
        

January 5, 2011

Millennial Media, hot on mobile ad trail of Google/Apple, raises $27.5 million

Millennialfounders.jpg
Pictured: Millennial Media co-founders: Chris Brandenburg (left) and Paul Palmieri



Millennial Media, a Baltimore startup that's a top player in the growing mobile advertising industry, said Wednesday it raised $27.5 million in new investments from several venture capital firms, which it will use to continue to fund its growth.

The new funding round was Millennial's largest since it was founded more than four years ago. It has raised more than $65 million from investors. The new money comes from several existing investors in Millennial, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, Charles River Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.

The company said that it plans to use the new equity investment to fund the company's global growth plan this year. It also plans to build on its acquisition of TapMetrics, a mobile analytics company it acquired last year, and consider additional acquisitions this year.

The new funding comes as Millennial, which is competing toe-to-toe in the mobile display advertising market with Google Inc. and Apple Inc., said it tripled revenues last year, though the privately held company does not disclose specific revenue figures.

A recent report by market research firm IDC showed that Millennial had 15.4 percent of the mobile display advertising market, behind Google (19 percent) and Apple (18.8 percent). Mobile display ads are showed to cell phone users while they are perusing other content, usually on mobile websites.

The company says its mobile ads reach more than 85 percent of mobile users in the United States. The total mobile ad market was estimated at more than $1 billion last year, and is expected to grow quickly over the next few years.

The mobile ad market attracted Google and Apple, who have both bought competitors of Millennial for hundreds of millions of dollars. Several months ago, Millennial was rumored to be in acquisition talks with Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry smart phones, but the negotiations reportedly fell through.

Paul Palmieri, Millennial's chief executive and co-founder, sees the mobile advertising industry applying to many different kinds of devices, from smart phones and tablet computers to appliances.

"The mobile model continues to expand beyond the phone, and is becoming the new, device based Internet via apps on everything from refrigerators to tablets to televisions," Palmieri said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun.

Millennial currently has offices in New York, London, and San Francisco, plus sales offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

January 3, 2011

Baltimore's tech community and its rising political voice

I've been keeping this blog for about 18 months now, and I've noticed one overarching trend during this time in Baltimore: the "tech" community is expanding and pulling in excited people from all walks of life in the metro area. Social media (Facebook/Twitter, mainly) are connecting locals more than ever before.

Perhaps most importantly, the still-relatively-small community of tech/social media geeks are organizing for different goals, from business-oriented networking events to social projects. The fact that such organization is happening, so efficiently and quickly, leads me to believe in one thing: the Baltimore tech community is developing its own influential voice -- so much so that politicians are noticing.

It may not be one unified voice. But great power potentially resides in those who know how to maximize the use of technology and the Internet.

It is nowhere more apparent than last year's local effort to organize a Baltimore application for the Google Fiber for Communities project. It started as a grassroots effort that grew to the point where it made sense for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to embrace it. Suddenly, Baltimore was gussying itself up trying to impress Google, a West Coast company who's looking to build a spanking-new fiber optic network as a test bed for new technologies.

(We also shouldn't forget how, statewide, the tech community organized to defeat passage of a tech services tax a few years back -- one of the organizers was Tom Loveland, Baltimore's "Google Czar.")

dave-troy-head-shot.JPG
Now we see another step in the political awakening of Baltimore's tech community: Dave Troy's endorsement of mayoral candidate Otis Rolley on Jan. 1. Troy (pictured) is a Maryland Renaissance man, dabbling in various entrepreneurial and startup projects, public/social endeavors, and big-idea thinking. He's got the business chops and the technology chops to make stuff happen, and increasingly, he's paying attention to who's politically in charge. (And politics watcher Adam Meister is now watching him.) Troy helped pull together Baltimore's Google Fiber effort, along with Tom Loveland.

And Dave, mind you, is well-connected to geeks across the land, not just Maryland. Geeks know how to work the Internet and social media -- and political candidates like Rolley and Rawlings-Blake, I think, recognize that they'll increasingly need the geeks in their corner.

President Barack Obama tapped the geeks for his campaign, with great success.

"[T]he use of the Internet for political and community organizing will usher in an era of unprecedented change in American cities," Troy writes. He says of Rolley:

I support Otis Rolley in his candidacy for Mayor of Baltimore in 2011. At 36, Otis is part of the new guard. He’s qualified – he has a masters’ degree in City Planning from MIT. He has been in Baltimore since 1998. He served 10 years in the public sector and two in the private sector. As an executive, he led the Baltimore City Department of Planning and – shockingly – produced the city’s first actual master plan in 39 years.

If more geeks, in addition to Troy, break Rolley's way, we could see a very interesting and robust Internet-based campaign season break out in Baltimore for the mayoral election later this year.

Rawlings-Blake, for her part, has pushed for more transparency in city government using technology. The last we heard, her administration is working to unveil large sets of data from city agencies that will give the public -- and eager tech geeks -- material to create new Web mashups that inform the public about government operations.

For more info:

* Rolley's Website.

* Rawlings-Blake's Website.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

Amy Webb bringing Awesome to Baltimore

amy-webb-awesome.jpg


Hey, Happy New Year!

Did you catch the Q&A I did recently with Amy Webb, digital media consultant with Webbmedia Group in Baltimore? She's bringing something called the Awesome Foundation here to Baltimore. And she's an interesting and ambitious individual to boot.

Read on:

Amy Webb believes in the power of awesomeness so much that she wants to bring some to Baltimore.

As the founder of Webbmedia Group, a Baltimore-based digital media consulting firm, Webb moves in technology circles, where the idea for the Awesome Foundation originated.

The Boston-based foundation, begun in 2009, is encouraging the creation of chapters around the world. The idea is that a "dean" and 10 trustees at each chapter give $1,000 grants every month to a project in their community that they deem, ahem, awesome. Each board member is required to donate $100 a month to fund the grants.

Webb is the dean of the Baltimore chapter and is now recruiting trustees to help her fund Baltimore-based community initiatives each month.

A graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Webb is a former reporter for Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal in Asia, where she covered emerging technology. When she's not volunteering on boards and organizing events in the digital media world, she's advising corporate, nonprofit and government clients on how to harness the power of the Web and social media.

In a recent interview with The Baltimore Sun, Webb talked about the Awesome Foundation, her work and technology trends.

Question: Tell us about the Awesome Foundation. What's it about?

Answer: Rather than trying to reward people for huge projects that could take a long time to implement or ultimately not work out, the idea is to give people a chance to come up with something creative that somehow makes the city more awesome. The way we think about it is if the MacArthur Foundation had micro-grants to award for geniuses.

It's not a gigantic initiative. It's a way to help creative communities flourish and bring creative ideas into a city. People feel excited about the project. A thousand dollars is not a ton of money, but it's meant as a way to help get ideas off the ground.

Continue reading "Amy Webb bringing Awesome to Baltimore" »


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

August 11, 2010

Has Baltimore's Localist.com found a business model?

LocalistLogo.jpgI've been watching Localist.com grow up in the tech wilds of Baltimore the last couple years, and something tells me the guys behind this Internet startup are finally on to something.

You may remember, if you've ever sought out event listings in Baltimore, that Localist was a  social-networky, one-stop-shop website for events in the region.

But now, the company's Web technology is being made available to organizations to power their own event listings.

The latest big news for Localist: the new hyper-local news site in Washington, TBD.com, is using Localist's web platform to power its entire entertainment section. TBD.com is owned by Allbritton Communications, the same company that owns the successful Politico.com.

Selling its Web tech to other companies is a strategic change for Localist, which is based in Canton's Emerging Technologies Center.

Localist realized that to grow beyond the region into a national events listing site would have required more capital and scale. Good luck getting easy money in a recession.

So instead, what Localist inadvertently ended up finding is that its Web-based event listing technology was actually attractive to universities and other organizations (i.e. tourism boards) that needed to keep track of a lot of events.

Last year, "some schools and tourism boards approaching us and asked for white labeling [using the technology under their own brand name]," said Mykel Nahorniak, co-founder and president of Localist. "It was our a-ha moment."

Other clients include Johns Hopkins University, the College of Notre Dame, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the University of Maryland.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:56 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, Media
        

April 9, 2010

Wikileaks: the whistleblowing website speaking truth to power

wikileaks1.jpgI've watched and been fascinated by the growth of Wikileaks.org, a lean but powerful site that whistleblowers can use to submit information all over the world.

Governments and corporations have tried to undermine the site over the last couple years, to no avail. Thanks to the Internet, one can arguably say the planet has never had such a powerful source for disruptive news and information as Wikileaks, founded by Julian Assange.

The Washington Post's Story Lab highlighted a great article in Mother Jones that profiles the Australian man behind the site. Take a look here.

To whet your appetite, here's the first paragraph from the Mother Jones story. Go read!

The clock struck 3 a.m. Julian Assange slept soundly inside a guarded private compound in Nairobi, Kenya. Suddenly, six men with guns emerged from the darkness. A day earlier, they had disabled the alarm system on the electric fence and buried weapons by the pool. Catching a guard by surprise, they commanded him to hit the ground. He obliged, momentarily, then jumped up and began shouting. As the rest of the compound's security team rushed outside, the intruders fled into the night.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Media
        

March 18, 2010

The year of the Internet on your TV?

This may well be the year of the Web on your television.

Now there's word that Google is looking to partner with Sony and Intel to bring Web videos and other apps to the television through a set-top box. The New York Times reports that Google plans to base the platform on its Android operating system for smartphones.

Televisions are being sold now that that can hook up to the Web and use at least some apps, such as social networking sites. There's also the set-top boxes made by Roku (I own one) and video console systems like the Xbox, Wii and PlayStation that have some Web connectivity.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch theorized that Google's entry into this area would finally spur Apple to do something more with its own offering, called Apple TV. Apple TV, which is a very closed system right now, has a long way to go because, I think, people will want variety in their TV/Web offerings (Netflix, Amazon video, etc) -- and not just a commitment to Apple's iTunes environment alone.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Apps, Media, Web Dev & Apps
        

February 5, 2010

XFinity -- It's Comcastic!

xfinitylogo.jpgStarting next week, Comcast will be rolling out a new brand name -- Xfinity -- for its cable television, telephone and Internet connection products beginning in Baltimore and 10 other markets.

The company is NOT changing its corporate name to Xfinity -- it's just the product offerings that will carry that new brand.

So, if you're a subscriber to any of its services, you may see the new name on your bill, but your money will still most definitely be going to the same ol' Comcast.

Comcast basically said the new name reflects all the changes and upgrades they've made to their cable, voice and Internet offerings in recent years.

Other markets that will see the name change and Xfinity-branded services include: Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Chicago, Portland, Seattle, Hartford, Augusta, Chattanooga, parts of the Bay Area and San Francisco, with more markets to come later this year, Comcast says.

 So, what do you think of the name?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:13 AM | | Comments (13)
Categories: *NEWS*, Media
        

February 1, 2010

A free Hulu makes the Web great

hulu-logo.jpg Nothing casts a chill in the heart of a fancy-free Web surfer than all this talk lately of Hulu incorporating some type of a subscription model.

Yes, you heard me right. That free site of the latest (and even archival) programs you love to watch is trying to figure out how to squeeze a buck or two (or more) out of you each month.

Fight the tyranny of the subscription rate! Free Hulu!

But seriously, Hulu shows some of the best video content on the web. This stuff is in demand and people are watching -- you're telling me they can't command healthy advertising rates due to all their users? Come. On. Or are they just getting greedy?

Here's a Tribune story on the topic, titled For Hulu, Free May Soon Turn Into Free. Looks like whiney cable companies are at least partly behind the push to make people pay for the content. But of course.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:56 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*, For The Home, Media, Web Dev & Apps
        

January 27, 2010

LIVE Apple iPad coverage today

For updates via Twitter, follow @gussent.

Apple-media-invitation-2010-01-27-580x393.jpgHit refresh every minute or so!

Whenever possible, BaltTech will be featuring live reports from the Web to participate in covering Apple's big event today, where the company is expected to unveil a new "tablet" computer. Other sources of info include Engadget and Gizmodo.

PLEASE HELP: I will be looking to feature (and embed) live streaming video OR audio of the Apple event in this blog, so you can watch it in real-time. So if you find such a feed, please shoot me a Tweet with the link at @gussent or leave in the comments. In the meantime, check out The Sun's Read Street blog for a live Twitter feed!Many thanks!

IF a tablet is announced today, here are some questions I'll have about it:

* How much will it cost?
* How does it interact with existing iPhone apps? (And does it run a version of the iPhone operating system?)
* What kind of e-book experience does it offer?
* What kind of gaming experience does it offer?
* Does it do live video-conferencing?
* How will the iTunes store change to accommodate it?

What other questions do you have about the device? Drop a note below.

Live blog updates:

1:00 pm... Huge applause
1:03 pm ... Steve Jobs... we have over 140 apps on app store and 3 billion downloads from users.
1:04 pm ... Jobs talks about huge revenue gains for apple in last quarter....
1:04pm... revenue from ipods, iphones, macbooks... "apple is a mobile devices company... that's what we do." Jobs.
1:05pm Jobs: Apple, by revenue is the largest mobile device maker in the world... (when you talk about mobile/portable in total)
1:06: Now let's get to the main event (jobs teasing the crowd... instead, takes crowd back to 1991 and the first powerbook, as the first modern laptop computer)
1:07 Is there room for another category of devices? Of course we thought of this question for years as well (brief outage
1:09: third category of device have to be better at gaming, e-media than a laptop or a smart phone... some people say 'that's a netbook.' the problem is that netbooks aren't better at anything... they're just cheap laptops. (big laughs)
1:10: We call it the iPad
1:11... it's the best browsing experience you've ever had... (it looks like a big fat iPhone, folks)
1:12: describes how to email... almost lifesize keyboard.. "it's a dream to type on."
1:12: iPad is an awesome way to enjoy your music collection... (Jobs running through the various applications...i.e. YouTube in high-def...)
1:13: Jobs making lots of comparisons and saying it's better navigation experience than a smaller smartphone (Leo Laporte's feed just fuzzed out)
1:14 Jobs shows how easy to easy to buy movie tickets with iPad ("grab the tablet that's in the kitchen...")
1:18: Jobs shows off closeup of the virtual keyboard
1:19: shows off how to manage photos on the iPad
1:20 (Editorial: So far, folks, I think we're about par for the course here. .. No huge surprises if you've been following the tablet rumor mill the last few weeks)
1:21: Built in ipod in the iPad... no surprise there. (Leo Laporte's audio feed is glitchy again)
1:22: Jobs showing off the calendar function
1:24: Jobs showing off Google Streetview and how to find restaurants (sushi in San Francisco, for example)
1:24: Showing off video now, i.e. Youtube in HD.
1:27: movies, tv shows, music videos [so far, this device is heavy on pushing iTunes and YouTube content]
1:28: ipad is half an inch thin and weighs 1.5 pounds. 9.7 inch display ("super high quality", Jobs says)
1:29: Jobs going over tech specs of the iPad [appears to be around same size as Amazon's Kindle DX]
1:30: wireless networking
1:30 Ten hours of battery life [commentator asks, are those Apple hours or real hours?]
1:31 Now talking about the Apps and the Apple Apps Store
1:32 New apple exec explains how the iPad can automatically increase the size of apps originally designed for iPhone so they can be used on the iPad
1:35 Editorial: will this iPad be an ergonomic nightmare for people who try to type with it?
1:40: [Experiencing some technical problems on the live feed]
1:40: Showing off the gaming experience on the iPad.
1:41 [Editorial: Listening to Leo Laporte's feed... I have to say, if Apple prices this at $999, I don't think it'll be a winner. Just my 2 cents]
1:42 NYTimes content looks really nice on the iPad.
1:44: Electronic Arts about to show off games on the iPad
1:48 Very cool racing game being demo'ed... [Game console makers may have something to fear from this portable device]
1:49 Now Major League Baseball will show off what it has to offer on the iPad
1:52... here we go: the ebook reader. Jobs makes direct comparison to Amazon Kindle ... new app is called iBooks. ("we're going to stand on their shoulders," Jobs said of Amazon.)
1:53: will have five of the largest publishers in the world supporting iBooks... "and we'll open up the floodgates for the rest of the publishers this afternoon."
1:55 Jobs explains how to navigate on the ebook pages...
1:56 "And that is iBooks..."
1:57 [FYI: Gizmodo has some good, clear photos of the iPad over at: http://live.gizmodo.com/]
1:57: Jobs introduces updated iWork software productivity suite for the iPad
1:59 New versions of Keynote, Pages and Numbers software....
2:02 [Editorial: I'm not sure anyone was expecting Apple to configure iWork to work on the iPad....pleasant surprise? This device can also be used to do some productive work, too.]
2:06 Showing off how to use Pages to make spreadsheets.. [Aside: Imagine that: making spreadsheets with your fingers!]
2:10 $9.99 for each of the three iWork software apps... [Cheaper than I thought -gus]
2:12 Back to Jobs: syncing with iTunes.... 3G wireless data built in... Now what's it cost for data: U.S. Telecom typically charges $60 a month ... we 've got two awesome plans... first gives u 250 MB per month: just $14.99, or an unlimited plan for $29.99... AT&T providing the data .... No contract. you can cancel anytime....
2:23: Okay, folks, I'm stepping away from second-by-second blogging of the event... what do you think so far of the iPad?? Drop comments below!!


Leo LaPorte's live broadcast from the Apple event:
Live Broadcast by Ustream.TV


Live Videos by Ustream



First-person iPhone footage of the Apple event today:
Free video chat by Ustream


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:23 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Gamers, Geeks, Media, West Coast, Wireless
        

January 25, 2010

Was Apple inspired by Aol?

You gotta wonder -- at least I did -- if Apple was inspired by the creative doodlings of AOL in crafting their invitation to their press event on Jan. 27, where the highly anticipated tablet, or "iSlate", device is expected to appear.

A similar artistic sentiment appears to be at work in both instances. You've got bursts of bright colors that encase the company's logo (Apple) or name (Aol).

Both sets of corporate art work want to yell at you: look at how whimsical and creative we can be with bright colors!

Check 'em out side by side: What do you think? appleInvitation.jpg

AolLogos.jpg


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:27 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Media
        

January 20, 2010

The NY Times they are a-charging!

Parking_meter_1.jpgThe New York Times said today they plan to move to a "metered" pay model, where heavy users of the site can be expected to be charged for access depending on the number of stories they click on.

The newspaper was careful to publicize the cautious deliberations they went through in making their announcement, which is expected to take effect in January 2011.

Indeed, it'll be a closely watched effort. I have to guess that many, many publishers who've contemplated moving their content behind a paywall may now wait to do so until they see how well the NYTimes does with it.

News publishers are a notoriously conservative bunch who look to the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal as trend-setters, to a certain extent.

Overall, though, I like the Times' idea so far. I think part of the success will depend on how many articles they choose to make freely available to casual users of their site and if they can propose a reasonable price structure for those who may be willing to pay a little for their content.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:03 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Media
        

December 31, 2009

Top 10 reasons I'm not doing a Top 10 "year in tech" blog post

10) It was a mediocre year in tech at best -- teleportation is still centuries away from reality.

9) Why give Apple anymore publicity?

8) I can't remember what I ate for breakfast this morning, let alone what happenend in January 2009.

7) Focusing on simple tasks is too hard -- still dizzy from watching "Avatar" in 3D.

6) Hey, Rip Van Winkle. Did you sleep through the year? Figure out for yourself what you think was important. Sheesh.

5) Using my time to craft a blog post on how Google will torpedo another half-dozen industries over the next year with its "free" business model.

4) Why bother? You're too busy playing FarmVille to read it.

3) The only list worth making is my grocery list.

2) I'm a PC -- and not doing a list was my idea.

Annnnnd, the top reason I'm not doing a year in review list:

1) I'm too busy Tweeting. Please RT.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:12 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, Geeks, Media
        

December 23, 2009

Why you can't ignore the email newsletter as an online publishing model

I spent several days recently researching a story about the business of email newsletters. Greg Cangialosi, CEO of Blue Sky Factory, an email marketing agency in Baltimore, gave me some great insight. gregcangialosi.jpgI asked Greg (pictured left) about the business model approaches of email newsletters vs. Websites, from an advertising and monetization perspective.

He said, in a nutshell: "The difference between Website and email advertising is the targeted nature of the [email] list of people. If that list demographic fits the target of the advertiser, they're going to get a good response rate."

Greg pointed to successes like Daily Candy and Thrillist as successful email newsletter companies, and talked about two of the local ones his company provides email newsletter services to: CityBizList in Baltimore and ExecutiveBiz in Washington D.C.

One of the big advances in recent years in email newsletter technology, Greg said, are the features involving sharing with a social network.

Companies disseminating email newsletters can embed them with options that allows the user to share the information on Twitter and Facebook, thus helping them grow their email subscriber base organically and through word of mouth. Pretty cool stuff.

Hit the jump to check out my full story on the topic.

Continue reading "Why you can't ignore the email newsletter as an online publishing model" »


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

November 19, 2009

Why are utility apps so juicy for advertisers?

MobileInAppCTRchart.jpg

One of the more interesting nuggets to come out of Millennial Media's latest monthly report (called S.M.A.R.T.) on smartphone ad-market analystics was this above chart showing average click-through rates in five (not four) app categories: games, social, entertainment, utility and navigation.

The chart above compares the smartphone platforms of Apple, Google's Android and Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry.

A click-through rate of 2 percent for ad campaigns is considered "very successful." So which category blows the others out of the water? That's right: utility. All three smartphone platforms showed a high click-through rate for advertisments that ran in utility apps.

I'm a newbie to these ad analytics for mobile, but I'm very curious to peel back a few more layers of this onion, to see why smartphone users are more inclined to click on in-app ads in the utility apps, compared to the other categories.

So how about that Millennial and MobClix? What are your theories on what's going on with these utility apps and why are smartphone users more inclined to click on in-app advertising with them?

(Note: Millennial's monthly S.M.A.R.T. report was put together with statistics from MobClix. The above data are year-to-date figures.)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Apps, Media, Research, Smartphones, Wireless
        

November 16, 2009

Millennial Media scores new round of funding

millennial-media.gifToday, Baltimore's Millennial Media, which started up in 2006, announced it raised $16 million in new financing from some venture capital firms, including New Enterprise Associates. (Check out my story here.)

Last week's news that Google was buying mobile advertiser AdMob for $750 million probably didn't cause venture capitalists to throw money at Millennial (such deals usually take more than a week to put together), but it also probably didn't hurt the growing little firm.

The conventional wisdom now is that Google's purchase of AdMob "validates" the nascent mobile advertising industry. When a big company like Google drops a ton of dough on a small company in a still-emerging market, you know that will attract many more serious investors and players to the industry.

According to eMarketer stats via the Interactive Advertising Bureau, here's what the mobile ad market looks like:  

emarketerMobileAdstats.bmp

 

I'm gonna bet that the Google-AdMob acquisition, though the first big one in the mobile ad space, won't be the last. My guess is we may be a few months, perhaps even weeks, away from similar acquisitions of smaller mobile ad firms by big Google-esque-like competitors. What do you think?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

November 4, 2009

Two Washington-based tech blogs to read

On Monday, I had the chance to meet two very smart tech reporters who are plugged into (bad pun...sorry) the Washington tech-and-policy scene: Kim Hart and Cecilia Kang.

Hart, until a few months ago, was a tech reporter at the Washington Post who wrote a column (which I followed) called The Download. She is now at a congressional daily paper called The Hill, covering technology and writing a tech blog called Hillicon Valley (great name.)

Kang is a Post reporter who is covering tech policy and recently start her blog, PostTech. In a previous job, she wrote about the dot-com boom and bust for The San Jose Mercury News.

Congrats to both reporters for carving out this niche of the tech beat in our nation's capital and launching blogs to keep us all updated. It's absolutely necessary. They are playing to the strengths they have in their backyard, which is access and proximity to the politicians, lobbyists and tech-geeks who are instrumental in shaping technology policies across the country.

Good luck, Kim and Cecilia!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Coast, Media
        

September 16, 2009

Would you pay for the mobile version of the WSJ?

The_Wall_Street_Journal_app_270x404.jpgI never understood why the Wall Street Journal, which charges for its online edition, launched an iPhone app (two, if you count All Things D) that gave away its content for free.

Now we know that free doesn't mean free forever.

The Journal's owner, Rupert Murdoch, said the news publisher plans to charge non-subscribers $2 a week for the mobile version (on BlackBerries and iPhones), and $1 per week for online-only subscribers.

Subscribers to both the print and online editions would get it for free, according to this <ahem> free report from Reuters.

I used to have a WSJ online-only subscription, until they more-than-doubled my rate over the course of two years.

I was stupefied they gave away their content on the iPhone for free. But now that experiment in free appears to be over.

And I, of course, wonder how many people who are not already subscribers will be willing to pay to read it on their smartphones.

The truth is, though it was free, I didn't really use the WSJ iPhone app that much. The content that was funneled through it was good, but not overwhelmingly special.

All Things D satisfied my tech itch, and I hope that stays a free app. But even if not, there are still numerous sources on the Web and on my iPhone that will fill the gap.

What do you think? Would you pay for the WSJ app now that you've had a chance to experience it for free for so many months?

(photo credit: Image of WSJ via CNET)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:26 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Apps, Gadgets, Media, Smartphones, Web Dev & Apps
        

August 27, 2009

Discovery Communications working on a Kindle competitor?

Discovery Communications, which produces such cable channels as Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, may be working on its own e-book reader, according to a U.S. patent application made public today.

The diagrams included with Discovery's patent application, which was filed in February and made public today, depict a rectangular device with physical controls for user navigation. The device would be for reading e-books and "providing for e-commerce," and would be a direct competitor to the Amazon Kindle electronic book reader and the Sony Reader digital book reader.

Below is a sample diagram from the patent filing:


discoveryebook.jpg


A phone call was placed this afternoon to Discovery's corporate communications office seeking comment. I'm waiting on a return call.

The Silver Spring-based company holds a patent on some security and copy protection features, and earlier this year sued Amazon for their alleged infringement of them with their Kindle and Kindle 2, according to this CNET article.

But it appears the disclosures in the patent filing today are the first signs that Discovery is seriously considering entering the e-book fray.

Hit the jump to learn more about the Discovery patent filing.

Continue reading "Discovery Communications working on a Kindle competitor?" »


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:02 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, Gadgets, Media
        

July 8, 2009

A quick round-up from the local blogs

I've been a little busy the last week putting together some print stories, but finally today got a chance to do some catching up on my blogroll. With a cup of coffee and a cup of instant oatmeal in hand (one at a time) I took a quick cruise through the Baltimore/Maryland/DC tech blogosphere. Here's a snapshot of what people are writing about:

* DCTechEvents. Scads of events and meet-ups all week, except for Friday, when apparently all the DC Techies just drink alone.

* UMBC's Ebiquity blog takes a look at the "high impact factor" of the Journal of Web Semantics.

* Entrepreneur Dave Troy takes a look at Baltimore from the train in his simply-titled post: "From the train, Baltimore looks like hell."

* Beltway Startups covers some local tech-company news, such as Merkle (of Columbia, Md.) buying Cognitive Data, and Cognitive Data buying CMS Direct. Is this a case of big fish eating smaller fish, which ate an even smaller fish?

* In one of the more pleasantly insightful Michael Jackson-inspired blog posts, local tech guru Mario Armstrong writes about the recently deceased pop singer's patent on special shoes that would help give you the illusion you're leaning forward at a 45-degree angle.

* One Fine Jay gave himself a new blog look, and he's got a post about how Twitter hashtag contests are hurting the free service. Amen, brother. Oh, and he thinks the phenomenon of bloggers generating mindless lists also stinks. Double amen to that. (I haven't done any lists for this blog, I think, though I'll concede you might see me generating an occasional list or two here; I will try, try, try to make them absolutely useful, One Fine Jay. I promise.)

* Want to learn more about Wolfram Alpha (that new computational search engine)? Somewhat Frank sat down with one of its co-founders for an interview, with video. See below.

* Technosailor, taking a cue from the Steve McNair death coverage, urges the mainstream media to report important breaking news even if it's a rumor, to hedge your bets.

* Things are looking up for Technotheory, who is off to Barcelona for the summer. Good luck! Have fun! Eat lots of tapas for me.

* EastCoastBlogging writes about Tweetdeck and Evernote as a match made in heaven. I haven't gotten into using either app yet. Should I?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:39 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: East Coast, Good Reads, Media, Social Media
        

June 29, 2009

Introducing: BaltTechies on Flickr!

sourcefire..jpgFire up your digital cameras, Web cams and smartphone-cams, mi amigos, because the BaltTech Flickr group is here!

Here is the link: http://www.flickr.com/groups/balttech/.

Please join and start posting techie-related photos from your work and play here in Maryland.

I'll be looking to feature fun, interesting photos of folks and how they use technology and gadgets. (Left, I took that photo at Sourcefire Inc. in Columbia, with my iPhone.)

Calling all inventors and creators of interesting digital and tech stuff -- show us what you're doing via your best pics.

I know that may sound overly broad, but I'm interested to see what you come up with. Who knows -- I may end up even writing stories off the stuff I discover with your help on Flickr.

At the very least, I'll feature a variety of your Flickr pics here at BaltTech. Bring it on!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Media
        

June 15, 2009

The new tools of a young journalist

tylerwaldman.jpg While covering Constellation Energy's press conference on how they think the PSC screwed up last week, I got a tap on the shoulder from this guy on the left.

He's Tyler Waldman, a student at Towson University and an intern at WBAL Radio. Notice I said radio.

Yet Tyler (who keeps the Tyler Tech blog) is carrying a little Flip Mino video camera, which of course is branded with the W-B-A-L. logo. 

Tyler was kind enough to introduce himself to me at the presser. Previously, we were only virtual acquaintances, on Twitter (he's @aresef).

I was heartened to see that as an intern at a radio station, he's also learning to shoot video, even if it's with a teeny-tiny camera (which, apparently, shoots some pretty darn good high-def video, I hear.)

The Web has torn down the walls among different kinds of media (print, TV, radio) and given us all the same level playing field. 

It's so important for the next crop of journalists, like Tyler, to get early experience in doing journalism with whatever tools can help him tell the best story, and one that can be consumed by the most amount of people.

Kudos to Tyler. Keep at it. Just remember to keep lots of spare batteries on hand for the gadgets you'll have to carry!


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Gadgets, Media
        

June 11, 2009

The Daily Show, "Aged News" and the New York Times

The clash between old and new technologies is perhaps nowhere most evident than in the field of publishing. Specifically newspaper publishing vs. Web publishing.

Comedy Central's The Daily Show pokes some fun at newspapers in this video. It's a must-watch. The New York Times was a good sport. (What company dares to let the Daily Show film crew in the door?!)

Whatcha think of the vid? 

(Thanks to Amy Webb, @webbmedia, for bringing to my attention earlier today)


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
End Times
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorNewt Gingrich Unedited Interview

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:36 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Media
        
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
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