The New York Times Is Preparing For The Future

With all of the turmoil about the future of journalism, the New York Times is taking a proactive role in staking out it’s future in what might be a newspaper-less world. Today the company released a downloadable Adobe Air application that brings together the immediacy of the online world with the serendipity and browsing of the physical world. See a video demo of the application in action.

Times Reader 2.0 Front Page

The Times Reader 2.0 is a slick product with an advertising and freemium business model. The tool offers some sections for free, like the front page, while charging $14.95 a month for access to others. John Biggs from Techcrunch is thinking about making the switch to all digital from paper delivery which is costing him $40 a month in Brooklyn. I’m curious as to how many people will put up with a seperate app dedicated to news sitting next to their web browser and e-mail client. And how many will be willing to shell out $15 a month for the same content that is already available for free on their website.

I think this is the first step to the New York Times setting up a pay wall like the Wall Street Journal. Unlike the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times looks to be pushing a monthly fee over a micro-payment business model which will ultimately fail.

The other interesting idea involved the Research and Development group at the newspaper. First off, the fact that a large media company has a R&D group boggles my mind but it totally makes sense to tackle the new technology that will be shaping their business in the coming years head on. Second, the New York Times is very interested in making their content work on the slew of portable media devices that are popping up everywhere like netbooks, the Kindle, and mobile phones. The video below taken by the Nieman Journalism Lab shows how they’re experimenting with e-ink readers and figuring out how their content will work on devices that aren’t even invented yet.

The future of media is not a single medium with one or two supporting business models, but one with many outlets tailored to different devices with just as many different ways to monetize it. The New York Times is building the infrastructure to handle this, it’s the smaller news outlets that are going to have a tough time adopting to this new, fragmented world.

Adobe Air Reaches 1.0, Twitter Clients Blossom

Adobe Air Logo
Adobe released it’s Air product today making it official and peeling off the cliche` beta title. Adobe Air allows developers to build desktop applications using web technologies like HTML for structure, CSS for presentation, and JavaScript for behavior. Flash and Flex, Adobe’s own web technologies, are also rolled up in the mix. Professional authoring tools like Flash CS3 and Dreamweaver CS3 saw updates today to allow development within the popular tools. Aptana also offers a free plugin for their open-source development tool Aptana Studio.

I have been playing with Air apps for the last couple of months while the product was still in beta. There are a lot of clever applications that are more like widgets then conventional full-blown desktop programs. For example, the Adobe sample app PixelPerfect was a simple ruler overlay letting you measure anything on your screen. This little tool comes in handy for web development where there aren’t any rulers on the side or measuring tools like in Photoshop. Powerhouse auction site eBay created their own Air app that banishes the concept of refreshing the page so bidders can watch their auctions in real time. But perhaps the biggest crowd of Air apps belongs to Twitter clients. Thwirl, Spaz, Tweetr, and Snitter are just a handful.

Snitter Next To Tweetr Couresy of Andy Piper

I thought John Ballinger had let his Twitter client, Tweetr, go to pasture without an update since the end of November. With each new Air beta release more functionality would break edging me towards Jonathan Snook’s Snitter. But alas, Tweetr is alive again with version 3.0 launching today to coincide with the official Air release. I’m happy as a clam to have my favorite Twitter client back and to see so many great ideas that have seemingly sprung out of Air.