The Difference

A big-city sports columnist came one day to speak to our journalism class. At the end, there was Q&A, and I had a question: What makes your opinions better than anyone else’s? 

His answer was just as blunt: People pay to read my opinions. 

I recalled that story the other night over dinner with a college classmate, and I laughed to think that now I’m paid to read other people’s opinions.

(Thirty years later, that columnist is now an Anglican deacon.)

Angry Birds Star Wars and the evolution of the app market

Interesting analysis from BGR’s Tero Kuittinen:

The app market has evolved from paid apps to free apps and as it turns out, the free apps proved to be stronger revenue-generators. Except that it’s not quite that simple. There is another, rare category of apps — games as vehicles for merchandising and franchising deals. This requires hundreds of millions of downloads to build brand awareness to the level that persuades major retailers such as Toys R Us and Hot Topic to pledge marketing support. …

A new wave of game vendors has figured out how to foster gradual growth of a loyal user base willing to pay for multiple upgrades inside the game.

Apple Selling Pick Axes

Smart insight from George Buckenham about the rush to build apps.

There are 160,000 developers for iOS. Assuming each one buys an iPhone to develop for ($300 profit) and a single year developer account costing $99, they’ve generated $64 million of profit for Apple before they’ve even opened XCode.

Recall that one of the biggest bonanzas of the California Gold Rush went to Levi Strauss.

Facebook’s About-Face on Sharing

From Wired:

Facebook giveth and Facebook taketh away. App startups have known this for a long time; now The Washington Post and other news publishers are learning the same lesson as Facebook makes it harder for articles to go viral. …

Facebook says it is simply incorporating lessons it has learned about what kind of experience its users want. Specifically, they want more control over sharing.

Control over sharing, huh? Gee, who could’ve seen that coming.

Steve Jobs

After Apple announced Wednesday night that Steve Jobs had died, my Twitter feed became nothing but a long procession of Jobs eulogies, many of them touching.

This morning, I spent a little time reading some of the longer-form appreciations of Jobs (Neven Mrgan and Steven Frank’s are especially good.)

Then I sat back and wondered, when it’s Bill Gates’s turn to pass, will he receive the same sort of outpouring? What will be his eulogies say?

I don’t mean to get all Pirates of Silicon Valley here, but while Steve Jobs made a huge impact on our civilization, Bill Gates did more.

I’d call their first acts a draw, but while Jobs’s second act focused on transforming the wired world, Gates turned his attention to the unwired world, which needed him so much more. Without Gates’s involvement, problems such as sub-Saharan health and underperforming U.S. schools would be even farther off the radar than they are today. His is an awesome record of philanthropy that often gets taken for granted, and I wonder if it’ll be just ignored at Gates’s end.

The Layoffs No One Noticed

It’s true: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal laid off a number of employees on Thursday. How many? The publisher isn’t saying, and the other primary outlets are either taking the stonewall as an answer (AP) or not reporting at all (LV Sun).

Thank goodness for Steve Friess, the former R-J reporter whose blog has become indispensable reading for Vegas followers. He came up with 22 names, then followed up with details on the severance.

But Friess is leaving Vegas very shortly.

No Plans for a Post Paywall

From Romenesko:

At the AAJA convention in Detroit, Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli said “we are quite content being the largest free premium newspaper online” and that a paywall won’t be going up anytime soon.

This position shouldn’t have come as any surprise to any in the audience. Washington Post Company Vice Chairman Bo Jones said much the same last spring, and Post Chairman Don Graham restated that position last December, adding, “We’re not going to be pioneers on those experiments, but we’ll be watching everyone.”