Tag Archives: Technology coverage
by Chris Roush
It’s true: After 13 years at the New York Times, I’ve accepted a new job.
Leaving The Times is a big deal. My years there coincided with the explosion of just about everything important in today’s tech — the Web, social media, e-books, smartphones, tablets, duck-faced selfies. It’s been an amazing ride.
It’s not easy leaving the Times, especially when you admire it as much as I do. No matter what happens to prose on paper, the Times itself, as a gatherer and curator of news, will always be necessary and important. The culture may be changing, and the readership may be shifting, but this paper steadfastly focuses on responsible journalism, irconclad ethics and superb writing. I’ll always be a loyal ally.
I learned so much, personally and professionally, from the four editors who guided me over the years,: Jim Gorman, Kevin McKenna, Damon Darlin and Suzanne Spector. And their bosses. And the Web and video producers who’ve encouraged me to infuse my sophomoric humor into everything I do. (Remember the Pogueomatic?)
But 13 years is a long time to stay in one place; we all thrive on new experiences. So I was intrigued when Yahoo invited me to help build a new consumer-tech site.
Actually, “site” doesn’t even cover it. I’ll be writing columns and blog posts each week, of course, and making my goofy videos. But my team and I have much bigger plans, too, for all kinds of online and real-world creations.
Here is the announcement from Times business editor Dean Murphy:
David Pogue, who has written reviews for the “State of the Art” column for 13 years, is leaving to help launch a consumer-tech site at Yahoo.
David picked up “State of the Art” duty from Peter H. Lewis in 2000, when the column appeared in the erstwhile stand-alone Circuits section. In 2006, the column moved to the BizDay section front. David has also been blogging for our technology page, and he has made regular video appearances.
David has been a valued member of our technology team, and his columns have been a delight to read. We thank him for a great run, and wish him well in his new adventure.
by Chris Roush
The Chicago Tribune announced Wednesday the launch of Blue Sky Innovation, a website and newsletter.
Blue Sky Innovation will offer news and information about Chicago’s business innovation, high-tech and entrepreneurial scene.
Blue Sky Innovation’s goal is to educate and inspire, bringing together innovators from small and large companies alike through interviews, profiles, case studies, a calendar of events and Blue Sky gatherings.
“Blue Sky is for an audience interested in business innovation — from startup entrepreneurs to innovative executives in established companies,” said Tony Hunter, CEO and publisher of Chicago Tribune, in a statement.
“Chicago Tribune is constantly developing new ways to meet the needs of consumers,” Hunter said. “We are focused on relevant, differentiated content areas for niche audiences.”
Blue Sky will be offered on chicagotribune.com. A sampling of Blue Sky content will also appear in the Chicago Tribune print edition in the Monday business section.
Developed after research with consumers and thought leaders in the innovation community, Blue Sky looks at how innovation affects business — and life — through reporting, curating content from other respected sources, and hosting of events to connect local innovators.
Read the release here. Crain’s Chicago Business broke the news about the site on Sunday.
by Liz Hester
After nearly a year of searching, Apple hired the CEO of Burberry to run its retail and online stores. Angela Ahrendts will be the highest-ranking woman at Apple.
USA Today had this story:
Apple is dipping back into the fashion world for its latest hire, plucking the CEO of luxury brand Burberry to manage its retail and online presence.
The company announced Tuesday that Angela Ahrendts will join the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant as senior vice president of its retail and online stores. Ahrendts will manage the direction and expansion of its stores when she takes over in the spring.
“I have always admired the innovation and impact Apple products and services have on people’s lives, and hope in some small way I can help contribute to the company’s continued success and leadership in changing the world,” said Ahrendts in a statement.
Ahrendts, 53, served as president of Donna Karan International and executive vice president at Liz Claiborne prior to taking over as CEO for Burberry in 2006.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the once innovative Apple stores are in need of revamping as same store sales are falling:
In an intriguing marriage of fashion and technology, she will arrive as Apple seeks to rev up a brand whose devices have become ubiquitous and whose stores have lost some of their initial novelty. Apple has aggressively opened more stores as competitors have mimicked the format of its brightly lit spaces. Rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. have stolen some of Apple’s flair with distinctive products and glitzy marketing. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, an oversize smartphone announced last month, includes a stitched-leather look on its back.
Sales at Apple stores fell in the three months ended June 30 compared with the prior year for the first time since 2009, according to Apple financial disclosures. Apple doesn’t report specific same-store sales figures. For the nine months ended June 30, sales per square foot in Apple’s stores fell 4.5%, according to Customer Growth Partners.
The New York Times chose to focus on the online stores and the work that she’ll need to do there to update an experience that hasn’t changed much recently:
Apple’s over 400 retail stores have been instrumental to the company’s success. With a minimalist design and destination sites in far-flung places like Shanghai and Rome, the stores have become both a retail and marketing channel for the company.
In the last few years, Apple has added many upgrades to make its stores more high-tech, like the ability to pay for a product with an iPhone. But its online store has not changed much — Apple usually brings the store offline temporarily whenever it adds new products, an approach that seems dated.
Ms. Ahrendts will probably be expected to make shopping online and in stores more seamless, and help make the customer service experience similar whether consumers are walking in or logging on to an Apple store.
She will bring with her a deep knowledge of retailing. Under her watch, Burberry put technology in the forefront of its brand strategy. The company established a strong presence on Facebook and other social media and built a unified experience for its online marketplace and store.
People in the fashion industry credit Ms. Ahrendts with expanding Burberry into an international fashion brand while maintaining its heritage, and said Apple could use some of that magic.
NPR pointed out that Ahrendts plans to focus on customer service and she has experience in China, a target growth area for the company:
In a statement accompanying a news release, Ahrendts said she would work to improve customer service at the company’s stores. Browett had taken criticism for moving to cut staffing costs at Apple’s storefront operations.
Ahrendts “also has experience expanding into China — where Burberry now has more than 70 stores in the country against Apple’s eight,” reports Britain’s Telegraph. “Slow growth in Apple’s Chinese retail operations was pinned as another reason for Mr Browett’s departure.”
This summer, Ahrendts made headlines when it was revealed that she earned more than $26 million — far more than any other top executive at Britain’s largest companies. A large part of the payout, as The Daily Mail reported, came from selling accrued shares of Burberry’s stock.
The move could mark a shift in strategy, the New York Times said. After introducing lower priced phones this year, hiring a luxury retailer to run the stores could mean that Apple is planning to move to higher-end goods. It will be interesting to see how she chooses to redesign and reposition Apple’s stores – both retail and online.
by Chris Roush
Michelle Quinn, who had been covering technology news for Politico, is returning to the San Jose Mercury News to be its technology columnist.
Betsy Rothstein of Fishbowl DC writes, “Michelle Quinn, Politico Pro’s Silicon Valley reporter and the publication’s only full-timer anywhere other than New York, Boston and D.C., leaves Politico after today. She’ll be a technology columnist for the San Jose Mercury-News, where she was previously employed.”
For 15 years, she covered Apple, Hewlett-Packard and digital entertainment for the Los Angeles Times, the Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle. Most recently, she wrote a general news blog for The New York Times and worked as a media adviser to Jerry Brown in his capacity as attorney general.
She’s a native of Wilmington, Del., and a graduate of the University of Delaware and the University of California, Berkeley.
Read more here.
by Liz Hester
Google Inc. is trying something new with their advertising – having it feature you. Users of Google+, the social media site, may now have their photos pop up next to advertisements in an attempt to make them even more personal.
Here’s the story from ABC News:
Google+ users may now see their pictures plastered next to advertisements for a range of products, without compensation.
The company announced on Friday that users’ names, profile photos and endorsements may appear on “reviews, advertising and other commercial contexts” by default, under the new terms of its service that kick in on Nov. 11.
The policy changes mean that every time a user over 18 reviews an album or bakery online for example, they may become brand ambassadors for their recommendations, which are then broadcast to others within their Google+ network.
Google explained that “shared endorsements” help people “save time” and improve results.
“We want to give you — and your friends and connections — the most useful information. Recommendations from people you know can really help,” the company said on its website.
But the move has raised a host of concerns about privacy and the use of unlicensed advertisements, The Wall Street Journal reported:
Many of Silicon Valley’s most popular sites say that such social-context ads are more useful—and maybe even less annoying—than traditional types of online advertising. But they have raised the hackles of privacy advocates, and advertisers have yet to fully buy into their effectiveness.
Even before Google’s latest privacy change, when users clicked the “+1″ button—Google’s equivalent of Facebook Inc.’s “like” button—their endorsement might have appeared in an ad.
Now it is expanding the type of content that may appear in ads—for example, ratings of songs in the Google Play store, or restaurant reviews posted to its Google+ social network.
Moreover, users who sign into third-party applications using their Google account may also see their activity used in Google ads. The company hasn’t specified which apps, what actions or where such ads might appear.
“We think it’s a problem,” says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “It’s a commercial endorsement without consent and that is not permissible in most states in the U.S.”
In response, Google said in a statement: “The privacy and security of our users is one of our top priorities. We believe our Terms of Service updates are a positive step forward in clarifying important privacy and security details for our users, and are in full compliance with the law.”
The Washington Post pointed out that the Federal Trade Commission would look at the use of sponsored stories — once the government re-opens:
Last month, the Federal Trade Commission said it would review whether Facebook’s push into sponsored stories violated the company’s 2011 privacy settlement with the federal government. That agreement required Facebook to give adequate notice of changes in privacy policies and to make sure users aren’t misled about how their data is being used.
Due to the government shutdown, the FTC said it could not respond to a question on whether its investigators would also examine Google’s new advertising practice.
Google said its new advertising policy would apply only to the 390 million people who have signed up for Google Plus, the company’s social network. The company can also draw on endorsements made with Google’s +1 button, which is similar to Facebook’s “like” button and appears on sites across the Web.
A user who wants to limit the reach of his or her advertising endorsements could adjust settings so that a positive review for, say, a car is shared only with a small circle of friends on Google Plus, the company said.
Some privacy experts commended the way Google is rolling out the feature by giving users a month’s notice of the changes and options to decline.
CNN also makes an interesting point that only positive reviews and endorsements show up in the advertisements, since obviously companies won’t pay for negative press:
Other social media companies have toyed with featuring their users’ photos in ads. If you Like a company on Facebook or post a positive review on its page, that can be used in that company’s Facebook ads.
You may have noticed a sponsored post in your News Feed that shows which of your friends have liked a particular brand. As with Google+ reviews, the key to not appearing in these types of ads is not endorsing brands. (Unlike Google, there’s no opt-out option for sponsored stories on Facebook.)
The idea of promoting a brand and sharing positive opinions could appeal to many Google+ users who are already actively leaving reviews. Some people just really love brands, whether they’re sports drinks, smartphone makers, movies or video games. They want to broadcast that love to the world, sharing their positive opinions wide and far.
Negative opinions can be equally useful information for their friends and families, but those bad reviews are not usable by advertisers. And for now, there’s no -1 button on Google+ or Dislike button for Facebook.
At least Google is giving users some time to think about how they’d like their information shared and the ability to opt-out. It’s another way for companies to make money off the vast troves of personal information they collect and store via social media tools. Who needs a secret anyway?
by Chris Roush
Wall Street Journal global technology editor Jonathan Krim sent out the following staff announcement on Wednesday:
I’m delighted to announce two important additions to our technology team in San Francisco:
Doug MacMillan will join us as a reporter, focusing primarily on the raft of pre-IPO consumer Internet companies that are changing much of how we do things in life, from Uber to AirbNb to Pinterest and more.
Doug comes to us from Bloomberg in San Francisco, where he spent the last four years delivering regular scoops on Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook, among others. His reporting on the high-profile IPOs of Zynga and Groupon required those companies to add disclosures to their prospectus documents.
When he wasn’t breaking news, MacMillan wrote smart analysis and trend pieces for Businessweek, the publication he joined in 2007. For BW, he contributed to sweeping profiles of Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, and Groupon’s Andrew Mason, and spotted cultural oddities of Silicon Valley’s latest boom, such as the rise of alpha-male computer programmers he called “brogrammers.” His 2009 cover story on apps, co-written by our own Spencer Ante, coined the term “app economy” and accurately predicted the software industry’s tectonic shift toward mobile and social platforms.
MacMillan also became a driving force behind Bloomberg West, the daily TV show he appeared on regularly to discuss the day’s top stories in tech.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a graduate of Vanderbilt University, MacMillan began his career eight years ago in New York as an intern at Rolling Stone. To support that unpaid gig, he once in a lower east side speakeasy until getting fired for striking up a conversation with Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder.
Outside of work, MacMillan is a conservatory-trained percussionist who has played in settings as varied as a college rock cover band and the Greenwich Village Orchestra in New York. Before one performance of a Philip Glass timpani concerto, he made the mistake of denying entry to one very important audience member: Philip Glass. You can follow him @dmac1.
Jeff Elder also joins us as a reporter, with an investigative bent, from the San Francisco Chronicle and SFgate.com, where he currently serves as social media editor. Prior to the Chronicle, he held editing and writing positions at the Charlotte Observer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and other news agencies. He was news editor of The European Stars & Stripes during the Balkan Wars, when the paper’s reporters helped to uncover the genocide then taking place in Bosnia. In 2004, Elder wrote a story from the National Institutes of Health breaking news on the way stress rewires the brain toward depression.
In Jeff’s own words, he also was “the world’s worst nightclub bouncer, once coming to in time to hear a cocktail waitress remark, ‘I knew he’d get decked.’ Other jobs Elder failed at in his youth include: dumptruck driver, movie theater marquee changer, lumberjack, quiche chef, pizza delivery driver and telemarketer. But while working at a bookstore he met Johnny Cash, who asked him, ‘Son, where are your books on trains?’ That made it all worthwhile.” A native of San Jose, you can follow Jeff @JeffElder.
Please join me in welcoming Doug and Jeff.
by Chris Roush
Molly Wood, the executive editor at tech news site CNET, has resigned and is leaving after 13 years.
Wood writes, “I’ll be pursuing independent projects that I’m extremely excited about. More details on that will be forthcoming, and you can check my blog, TheMolly, for more.
“I’ve had an incredible and, looking back, incredibly long journey at CNET. I think it’s never been stronger — whether with new pursuits like Appliances and the Spanish-language sites or its sterling cast of reviewers, reporters, and the TV team. I’m proud to call these people my friends and colleagues, and I’m excited to watch and support this remarkable brand from afar.
“I never intended to become a tech journalist. I studied journalism at the University of Montana and had dreams of being a foreign correspondent, or of moving to D.C. to take over Helen Thomas’ chair at the White House. I went to work for the Associated Press, where I covered all kinds of crazy hard news and a little sports writing, too.
“And although I loved news, I didn’t love the hours, the lonely late nights in the newsroom, and the depressing stories. So, when a friend needed a roommate in Oakland in 1999, I packed up my truck and I drove to California. I got a job at MacHome Journal, where I got a crash course in tech reporting. I attended my first MacWorld, got mesmerized by Steve Jobs, reviewed the iMac DV, and discovered that I’d been dating nerdy boys for a reason. I was a geek, deep down inside.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
CNBC Digital is looking for an experienced business journalist to inspire and shape its technology coverage and ensure CNBC is a must read and a must share among investors, business decision makers and industry cognoscenti.
The technology editor will be responsible for all tech news, feature and opinion coverage across CNBC’s digital platforms. The successful candidate will work with a small team of digital and TV reporters and contributors to make sure CNBC leads as well as follows the stories and issues of the day.
The technology editor will be focused on offering compelling and engaging journalism that draws on a variety of storytelling formats, from articles to videos to slideshows. This is a key position on the CNBC Digital enterprise desk, reporting to the Deputy Managing Editor, Enterprise.
Specifically, the technology editor will generate ideas, assign articles, challenge reporters to come up with original story angles and decide which ones merit focus. The editor will have an appreciation for the role of voice and edit stories for news, clarity, context and engagement.
He or she will be deeply sourced, and be familiar with key influencers and opinion shapers in technology, whom he or she will commission to offer blog posts and opinion pieces. The tech editor will be an active participant on the social web, tapping into social platforms to report and drive audience engagement while delivering highly shareable content.
The technology editor will maintain relevant section pages and ensure our material employs SEO best practices. The role will require someone with extensive text editing experience and deep knowledge of at least one business news beat, preferably tech.
To apply, go here.
by Liz Hester
Twitter is hoping to turn its 140 character social information-sharing network into $1 billion by selling shares to the public. While the offering has been expected, an official filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission typically reveals some of a company’s finances and inner workings. The business press was definitely paying attention.
Here are the initial details from Wired:
Twitter has filed to go public, saying it will sell shares under the name TWTR. The IPO will initially seek to raise up to $1 billion.
In its first public disclosure of financial performance, Twitter revealed it is growing revenue fast but losing money. In a registration filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, known as a “form S-1,” Twitter says its revenue increased to $316.9 million in 2012, from $106 million in 2011. Its net loss for 2012 was $79 million.
In the first six months of this year, according to the filing, it pulled in $253.7 million in revenue, up from $122 million in the first six months of 2012. But its losses appear to be widening. The company lost $69 million in the first six months of this year, not far from its total loss for all of last year.
The company said it had 218.3 million users per month, on average, for the three-month period ended in June. That’s up from 85 million users per month in the same period last year.
The New York Times took a much more entertaining approach to the story, invoking Lady Gaga in the lead:
Twitter, which was built on messages so short they could be texted on a cellphone, revealed on Thursday just how central smartphones and tablets are to its business — underscoring the technology industry’s rapid transition to a mobile world.
But despite the evidence that it is increasing its revenue from mobile advertising, the company also disclosed that it has not yet turned a profit, and has been steadily losing money, and that its user growth has been slowing significantly since the end of last year.
The Wall Street Journal added this context and background about the highly anticipated offering, noting that Twitter has a lot more room to grow than Facebook:
In seven years, Twitter has grown from a wobbly startup to a social phenomenon where in just 140 characters its 215 million monthly active users tap out more than 500 million messages each day.
The short-message service serves as a global forum in which users break news, organize protests and gripe about what they ate for lunch. As early as 2008, Twitter turned eyewitnesses into “citizen journalists” who reported on a terrorist attack in Mumbai.
Now, once-elusive public figures including the pope, Warren Buffett and Kanye West “tweet” their thoughts and interact with other users. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo uses the service to answer users’ troubleshooting queries. Businesses, stock pickers and politicians alike analyze the sentiments expressed on Twitter as important indicators.
Despite its ubiquity, Twitter remains an immature business. The filing showed Twitter has far fewer users and generates less revenue per user than Facebook .
When Facebook filed for a public offering, the company revealed sales of $3.7 billion and a profit of $1 billion for 2011. It also had 845 million monthly active users, a huge bragging point as it pitched itself to investors.
Twitter’s growth is also a question. The majority of Twitter’s revenue, about 75%, is from the U.S., even though three-quarters of monthly users are outside the U.S. Facebook also has a wide gap between its usage and its ad revenue outside the U.S., where advertising businesses typically are less mature.
Bloomberg Businessweek had a great piece that analyzed several key points in the S-1, including the advertising information:
Tallying the Advertising Haul: Twitter says it made $253 million in the first six months of this year. Since advertisers spend more around the holidays, if we use last year as a proportional guide, it seems reasonable to project that Twitter will make somewhere around $655 million in total revenue over all of 2013. The vast majority of that revenue—87 percent—currently comes from advertising, with the rest tied to licensing deals with marketing services for Twitter data. So that would means Twitter is set to make $570 million from advertising this year—slightly less than the widely cited eMarketer estimate of $582 million.
But as it makes more money, Twitter also spends more money. The company reported a 41 percent larger loss in the first six months of 2013, compared to the year before. It is spending more than twice as much on sales and marketing than it did last year. Ditto for research and development. So far in 2013, the company says it has lost $69.3 million. —JB
Big name IPOs are always exciting, generating much buzz. While Facebook has finally climbed above its initial offering price, many retail investors may be wary of getting into another hot name. It remains to be seen how Twitter prices, but I’d wager the banks on the deal will also be more careful after several admitted mistakes on the Facebook offering. Twitter may end up looking smart by letting Facebook go first and work out all the kinks in the process, giving investors a better sense of how to evaluate the revenue potential for the company.
by Chris Roush
Wall Street Journal technology editor Jonathan Krim sent out the following staff promotion on Monday:
I am excited to announce that Scott Thurm has been named Senior Deputy Technology Editor.
Scott will play a crucial role as we build out our global technology expansion and post-AllThingsD initiative. He brings a powerful combination of keen analytical thinking, expertise with data and company forensics, and experience covering Silicon Valley to the task. He is also a natural-born editor and creative leader.
Scott’s been a Senior Editor since 2010, and was part of the team that produced the Journal’s What They Know project on digital privacy. Previously, he was chief of the Journal’s Management bureau, supervising a bi-coastal group of reporters in New York and San Francisco.
Scott joined the Journal in 1998 as a reporter in the San Francisco bureau, and later was deputy chief of the bureau. He previously worked at the San Jose Mercury News and the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he was part of a team of reporters that won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for general news reporting.
Scott will start his new role Oct. 7, and you can follow him @ScottThurm. Please join me in congratulating him.