During an action-packed week like this one, it almost feels like a tech news roundup can write itself. Major players Bing, Google, Facebook and Apple had much to say about their products—and each other. Here are the must-know headlines this week for the tech set:
The Daily launches
We’ll hit the news about news first.
The news industry has suffered growing pains in the online environment. With numerous failed attempts to find a business model that supports quality journalism in the free info era, News Corp. has launched a digital-only platform for the iPad, The Daily. The subscription runs users less than a dollar a week for daily news delivered in an engaging format made possible by tablets.
This follows the launch of Ongo, an ad-free, subscription-based Web page and iPad app with news from top sources including The New York Times Picks, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, Slate and Associated Press. The subscription is $6.99 per month, though not all stories are available on the iPad app.
Pay walls and subscription services have failed to deliver results in the past, so it will be interesting to see how these price points and technically progressive designs are met by news consumers.
Content value increases
It looks like search engines are hoping to do their part in supporting high quality content with some recent changes to its index or algorithm. Up-and-comer slash-tag search engine Blekko has removed content farms from the index. Meanwhile, Google has culled secondary content sources from its results, meaning a devaluation of sites with low levels of original content.
Like value decreases
The social space is changing, too.
Facebook “Likes,” once holding the promise of the social graph, have been devalued by brands finding ways to coerce Likes from users. By requiring users to Like pages in order to receive exclusive content or promotions, brands have incentivized the Like feature so much that the enthusiasm of the opt-in pool is diluted. The value of a Like gained via promotion is an audience quality indicator that is increasingly important to evaluate.
Facebook ad click-throughs are also shifting in value, as the cost per click rose from $0.27 in 2009 to $0.49 in 2010. At the same time, the click-through rate is declining, down to 0.05% last year from 0.06% the year before.
Then there’s the Google-Bing fight
While it sometimes feels like we’re watching a rollercoaster by following tech news, no one was prepared for our very own search industry drama unfolding for all to see in a soap-opera-esque storyline of sting operation culminating in public flagellation. Once Google accused Microsoft of copying search results, the gloves came off as Microsoft communication head Frank Shaw and Google head of webspam Matt Cutts slung insults back and forth via Twitter.
All the while, the hypocrisy of Google regularly copying competitors’ technologies didn’t escape those watching. One had only to look at yesterday’s announcement about the latest version of its Android operating system, Honeycomb, and a standout feature, the Android Market Webstore. Positioned to compete against Apple’s iPad and app store, Google’s cries for innovation rang hollow. Of course, we’re all eager for the next note to drop.
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See you next week with more tech news, same bat time, same bat channel.