(There wasn’t much buzz about this outside GB and the US yesterday, so you may find it noteworthy, too.)
Pearson, the publisher of the Financial Times, reported some astonishing numbers yesterday – for those of us who work hard on transforming analog into digital media business:
For the first time, the FT counted more digital than analog subscribers. While 300,000 readers already chose the digital only edition (for £6.79 per week, or £5.19 excluding the ePaper), just 299,000 pay £10.00 on top to get also the print edition (for £16.00 per week, price structure varies regionally). Digital and services account for half of FT Group revenues now.
Digital subscriptions grew by a whopping 31%. The number of registered users (who can access a limited amount of stories for free) grew by 29% to 4.8 million readers with 2.7 million using the great FT web app now. A quarter of them visits ft.com with a mobile device.
The new numbers, again, seem to make a case for metered models, which let you read some (and search crawlers all) content for free.
The New York Times, which also works with a similar access scheme, just reported a 81% growth in digital subscriptions (compared to the year before) now reaching 509K (versus 800K in print). Even the total US newspaper subscriptions seem to grow a little thanks to digital (but I am not totally sure that this growth isn’t partly virtual due to the funny digital counting scheme of the Audit Bureau of Circulations).
While the adjusted operating profit of the FT group even shows a little growth, digital paid content won’t compensate the year over year declining ad market.
So even if a complete digital turnaround of some of the big quality media outlets is on the horizon, the future pure digital players may have a third of their historical analog peak size.
For the third time in a year the Holy Trinity of Google, Facebook and Twitter killed one of my favorite products – by sheer acquisition.
Facebook bought Push Pop Press in August 2011 – until today by far the best answer to the question how tablet media should look like. PPP immediately stopped product development and we still don‘t know what the former team is up to at Facebook. (OK, there is some unconfirmed buzz about patent issues.)
In January 2012 Twitter acquired Summify – until today the best answer to the question how social news filtering should work. (Their old service shut down just a month ago. Products like News.me just can’t compete.)
Today, Google bought Sparrow – the best GMail client for MacOS and iOS and one of my favorite software products. Again, Sparrow should be around for a while, but there will be no progress.
The strategy of the digital giants to buy startups just to get fresh talent and some concepts to improve their own products is a nuisance for consumers.
In April 1995, the World Wide Web may have consisted of some 15.000 servers with 5 to 10 million documents.
For tech reporters it was easy to do research on the foundation of the web – the people interested in this field met at small conferences with some hundred participants to discuss, for example, the upcoming “crawler” and “spider” technologies.
On the third World Wide Web conference (WWW3) in Darmstadt with around 1000 attendees it was still possible to just step up to creator Tim Berners-Lee and chat with him about the basics of his concept.
Some 17 years later (while moving house) I discovered this piece of paper. TBL plotted the exponential growth of the Web on it (on a logarithmic scale) – as far as I remember, to show me that this exponential growth started long before the browser Mosaic hit the web.
I asked TBL how he felt about the just beginning huge success of his idea.
Answer: “You can write: I am happy that it worked.”
I had the pleasure to give a talk at the meeting of Europe’s Online Publishers Associtation in Hamburg (June 22nd).
Here are the slides – which make some but not too much sense without the accompanying spoken word.