The Financial Times's has published an article on T-Mobile's soon-to-be-released Googlephone. It paints an accurate picture, if not a pretty one: "When the first of Google’s long-anticipated Android mobile phones hit the stores in a matter of weeks, they will land with a fizzle rather than a bang." We can just imagine the lunchtime whispers at the Googleplex about it. Readymade for lunchtime consumption, here are the paranoid programmers' talking points on the anti-Google media conspiracy:
In an articled headlined "Microsoft unveils fruits of online shake-up," the Financial Times set me up for something big, trumpeting Microsoft's "new development intended to boost the pace of innovation in its online services group as it tries to close the gap with Google." But then I read the rest of the article.Doing so, I learned that three years after Microsoft poached him from his role as head of research at Yahoo, a guy named Gary Flake and his 150-person Live Labs team have come up with a product called Photosynth, which stitches images together to create larger images. But as you can tell by the above image — results for a search on "Mission District, San Franciso"— its search function doesn't really work. Also, none of it works on a Mac. Disappointing. Not Microsoft's product, which is about what we'd expect from the software giant. No, I'm chastened by the FT. On New York's subway system, the pink paper it's printed on is supposed to signify that one looks down from high even on the guy holding the WSJ to your left. But being seen reading articles like this make one a laughingstock even to Murdoch's masses.
The Financial Times is offering a free 12-month subscription to its website (worth $109), renewable for up to four years, to any college student that adds its Facebook application. The FT says the deal is "part of the general trend to making [FT.com] free — but in a segmented way." Why don't they just pay college students to read the paper? That seems easier. [PaidContent]
Trying to keep the Poors out of its exclusive social network, the Financial Times is charging £2000 for an annual membership in the "FT Media and Technology Executive Membership Forum." This includes discounts on FT conferences, where all the real networking is done anyway. Really, can you imagine joining this site and messaging another exec because you don't have enough pull to e-mail them? I can, and that's why this is such a terrible idea for anyone with valuable time.
The Financial Times has seen the writing on the wall — the pay wall, that is. That's the term bloggers use for the barrier newspapers like the FT and the Wall Street Journal put up around their content, preventing nonsubscribers from reading it. With the Journal, one of the few success stories in charging for content, contemplating getting rid of its pay wall, it's no surprise that the FT would follow suit. But the British financial daily is taking a surprisingly clever tack in doing so.
The best piece of the weekend concerning Rupert Murdoch's takeover of Dow Jones came from former Journal employee Joseph Nocera, who wrote (behind the TimesSelect wall, naturally) about how the takeover happened through the lens of a disgruntled Bancroft family member and Murdoch himself. Essentially, the Bancrofts were too divided and dysfunctional to ever stand a chance against the rapacious Rupert. "I just didn't realize that they were so disorganized," says Murdoch, who promises not to fiddle about too much with the paper ("I won't meddle any more than Arthur Sulzberger does."). Nocera buys it. But oh yes there is more!
At the end of last week the Financial Times ran an amusing "Dear Economist..." column. The premise of the feature is that it's a tongue-in-cheek advice piece from an economic perspective. Anyway, a gentlemen wrote that, as an immigrant in London, he always carries an umbrella with him, though the natives do not. When he offers to share space under the cover, "Foreigners always accept. Indeed, one New Yorker actually links her arm with mine as we walk. But those whose families have lived here for generations prefer getting soaked." Why, he wondered, is that the case?
The Guardian says that shareholders are unlikely to get behind consumer publisher and Financial Times owner Pearson's attempt to block Rupert Murdoch's takeover of Dow Jones, since the company "has debts of over £1bn and has made a number of large purchases in the educational publishing sector over recent years." Financial Times staffers are also unhappy, WSJwith good reason: "The easiest way to meet the cost-savings goals would be for the newspapers to cut their biggest expense—journalists." But is Rupert showing the strain of all this wheeling and dealing and potential sabotage?
General Electric is in talks with Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times to present an opposing bid to News Corp.'s offer for Dow Jones. The attempt to thwart Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the Wall Street Journal may involve "the Bancroft family retaining a 20 per cent stake in Dow Jones, with the remainder held by Pearson and GE, thus continuing the family's involvement with a company the family has controlled for more than a century." While the bid seems unlikely (Murdoch's $5 billion offer is more than a third of Pearson's total market capitalization), it makes strategic sense: G.E. owns CNBC, which will face a strong challenge from News Corp.'s imminent Fox News Channel, and a resurgent WSJ can only hurt the FT.
"Very early on I realised the trick of pageviews on the internet. People only clicked on pictures of blonde women. Or blonde transvestites (sometimes people clicked more on the transvestites). Prostitutes that were blonde? Those would be the biggest pageviews of the month. If I put my own picture on there? Forget it. Negative pageviews." [FT]
It's a fairly slow Murdoch-Dow Jones news day, even though we're only in day four of the friendly proposed takeover standoff. The biggest item of the day is a New York Times interview with Rupert Murdoch himself. Reading from notes at times, Murdoch says he would leave current Journal staff in place, he just wants to meet with the Bancroft family, he would be a hands-off owner, if the deal goes through he would insert the word "Journal" into the name of his Fox Business Journal, and that long stories in the paper bore him. (We sympathize.)
If you've flipped through Esquire or GQ recently—or even Time's Style & Design supplement last week (which is surprisingly much, much better than T)—you'd have seen that bewildering "Great Minds Think Alike" two-pager by Italian suit specialists Ermenegildo Zegna. In it, four basically indistinguishable guys appear to be standing single-file on an airport moving sidewalk. One presumes they are dressed quite nicely, but it's really impossible to tell from the image, since it's so overwhelmed by a bizarre Twilight Zone conceit: everyone's reading the Financial Times!