Friday, September 23, 2011
  • Gavin O'Malley, September 23, 2011, 12:19 PM
  • Business Insider just raised about $7 million -- or just enough to earn the ire of Reuters columnist Ryan McCarthy. Not pulling any punches, McCarthy essentially calls Henry Blodget's media company an unprincipled, blood-sucking, over-aggregatoring chop shop. Sure, McCarthy commends Blodget's staff of 60 for attracting 12 million visitors a month, citing BI's internal stats. "But there's reason to be concerned about what Blodget's team has sacrificed along the way," McCarthy writes.

    Ethics and good journalism -- that's what BI is sacrificing for rapid growth, according to McCarthy, who strongly suggests that BI's aggregation techniques regularly "go against the basic principles of fair use." On a deeper level, McCarthy hints at the possibility that venture-backed media companies are predisposed to poor ethics, production shortcuts and ultimately inferior content.

    "It's worth noting that venture-backed media companies can very much be in a race against time for growth," McCarthy writes. "Investors want a return on their money and, given the economics of Web news, that almost always requires exponential growth in uniques and pageviews." Read the whole story...
  • Google just debuted its latest Product Search homepage, which, Search Engine Land admits, looks quite "stylish." Along with short text descriptions for each product image and rows of featured products below the fold, "It looks like an actual major department store Web site," Search Engine Land writes.

    According to Google, additional search product search pages are being redesigned, beginning with the apparel category, "where images are larger and new options such as searching by color, silhouette and genre are available," notes SEL. Also, a "visually similar" search has been added to show apparel and accessories from other designers that resemble an item that the searcher is viewing.

    "Google says that these changes mirror what's available on the Boutiques.com shopping site that Google launched almost a year ago," SEL adds. "In fact, the company says it's planning to close Boutiques.com as of October 14 and redirect shoppers to the new Google Product Search." Users of Boutiques.com can expect an email shortly with details about saving data before the switch takes place. Read the whole story...
  • Can media companies exist without Apple's App Store? Not only that, but they can thrive, as evidenced by the success the Financial Times is having sans Apple. According to Reuters, more than 700,000 people now use the Financial Times' Web-based mobile application to access news and other content -- making it more popular than the version sold in Apple's App Store.

    "The business newspaper ... made a gamble in June when it prepared to ditch the App Store with the introduction of its Web-based app," Reuters reminds us. "The FT was one of the first major publishers to reduce its dependence on Apple Inc and go out with an HTML5-based mobile application that can be read by any browser, thus bypassing the App Store."

    What's more, as FT.com Managing Director Rob Grimshaw tells Reuters: "People who are using the app are spending much more time with the content ... They are consuming about three times as many pages through the app as they are through the desktop in an average visit." The FT's Web-based mobile app now accounts for 15% of FT.com subscriptions, and 20% of total FT.com page views from mobile users. Read the whole story...
  • This afternoon, All Things D expects Dish Network to debut a Netflix-style streaming service a la Netflix. Any such service would be bad news for Netflix, which has already had a rough past few months. "You don't have to be terribly perceptive to see this one coming," according to All Things D, explaining that Dish's invitation for today's event jokes that Dish and Blockbuster - which it recently acquired -- plan to offer a "stream come true."

    It was also widely assumed that the only reason Dish paid $320 million to buy Blockbuster out of bankruptcy back in April was in the interest of a large content play. And, as if that weren't enough, "there's the fact that Dish itself has said, on the record, that it wants to launch a Netflix-streaming competitor," All Things D reminds us.
    Read the whole story...