Tablet-mania dominated last week’s news cycle with more than 80 new tablet computers debuting at 2011 International CES. Despite the dust settling around CES and its devices du jour, tablets and the tablet-related economy remain top-of-mind for many in the media and advertising industries.
The particular tablet-topic that everyone seems to be most interested in is Rupert Murdoch’s “The Daily,” an iPad-only publication News Corp. has been feverishly developing. The Daily was reported to be launching next Wednesday with Murdoch and Steve Jobs on stage together, but has now been pushed back several weeks. According to Rex Sorgatz, The Daily’s companion website may have no homepage and be hidden from search engines. That means: articles are there, but you can only find them if someone links to it, furthering our reliance on individual voices on the web for our news and views. If this does happen the implications for bloggers, search engines, social media and twitter will be fascinating.
In more tablet news, the media is still talking about the decline of magazine app sales on the iPad, with The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss looking at that disappointment and some publishers’ efforts to overcome it. Advertising Age’s Simon Dumenco called those sales declines meaningless because the magazine industry and Apple still haven't agreed on a workable,sustainable subscription model. As Dumenco puts it, “Vanity Fair is an awesome, seductive thing in print and it costs me under 20 smackers a year to subscribe, and it's totally worth it. Vanity Fair on the iPad is also an awesome, seductive thing, but it would cost me $4.99 a pop (nearly $60 a year) to buy issues individually, and I'm not subscribing until I get a discount that's comparable to what the magazine industry has trained me to think I deserve.”
Taking a step away from the tablet, Facebook announced this week that it will allow users to like individual authors and topics within sites. ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick said it’s a step toward Facebook being able to do what RSS feeds couldn’t. What’s interesting (and clearly not a coincidence) is that back in September Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg predicted that all media will be personalized in three to five years. This new granular subscription feature brings us one step closer to Sandberg’s assertion. It allows Facebook users to limit their Like to particular authors and a few topics on the site so they can get the news and information from the individual voices they care about the most. With an Internet giant like Facebook taking incremental steps toward a more personalized web experience and with individuals becoming the actual source of content that their friends, co-workers and followers most rely on, Sandberg’s prediction may come to fruition much sooner than we all anticipated.