Will newspaper companies finally smarten up?

Take a look at this bankruptcy scorecard for newspaper companies and you’ll get a snapshot of some of the disastrous business decisions made in the publishing and newspaper businesses. Too much debt and a complete misunderstanding of the new media landscape led to doom for many lenders in this space.

The good news is that many of these companies have dramatically reduced their debt, so perhaps now they can make rational, long-term business decisions. Hopefully they won’t be stupid enough to erect pay walls on their content, and focus instead on finding new sources of revenue from things like the iPad and other tablets where they can charge for the convenience of delivery, rather than charging for online access to their content.


iPad a hit with the elderly

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27: An event guest plays with the new keyboard on a Apple iPad during an Apple Special Event at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts January 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California. CEO Steve Jobs and Apple Inc. introduced its latest creation, the iPad, a mobile tablet browsing device that is a cross between the iPhone and a MacBook laptop. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BusinessWeek is reporting that the iPad is becoming a hit with the elderly, even though there aren’t hard numbers to back up the claim.

The company has sold 3.27 million iPads since its launch in April, but doesn’t break down sales figures by customer age, making it impossible to know with certainty how many seniors are buying them. Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s a hit with the elderly. Marti Weston of Arlington, Va., bought her father one for his 87th birthday in May. “This ‘book-sized’ pad has become my news and entertainment source,” her father, the Reverend Elmo Pascale, raved in a comment on Weston’s blog.

The iPad’s intuitive interface makes it appealing to senior citizens around the world, says Takahiro Miura, a researcher at the University of Tokyo: “The iPad is a good tool for the elderly because it’s very forgiving of mistakes.” Miura’s team uses computers to help train senior citizens to rejoin the workforce. “Unlike the PC, it doesn’t require prior knowledge,” he says.

This makes sense, as ease of use is a critical factor for older computer users. The device is less intimidating, and we can see the logic of seniors becoming enthralled with the device, just like younger users.


Google vs. Facebook

The battle between Google and Facebook is heating up. Google is working on “Google Me” – a social network alternative to Facebook. This article explains some of the perceived threats. It really boils down to a battle between two of the biggest titans on the web, and the decisions of these two companies will have huge implications on how we use it going forward.

Google has already had a dud with Google Buzz, and it seems clear that they don’t understand the concept of social networking. They understand math and algorithms, but they seem to have little understanding of how humans interact with one another. They seem to avoid human input at all costs, always trying to solve problems with an algorithm.

We’ve seen this with some of the heavy-handed tactics used by Google with users of services like Google Adsense. If Google perceives a problem with an account, that account is shut down automatically, and the user is forced to endure a bureaucratic as they implore Google to restore their account.

If Google wants to compete in the social network space, they will need a team that understands this very different environment.

Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly on “lockdown” as Zuckerberg rallies his team to deal with the coming threat.


Mark Hurd’s accuser revealed

Silicon Valley is still in shock we suspect over the sudden resignation on Friday by Mark Hurd, CEO of HP.

Now more details are coming out, including the identity of the woman behind the sexual harassment allegations that got the whole thing moving. Jodie Fisher has worked as an actress, so The Business Insider found photos of her on IMDb. As Henry Blodget points out, why was their an allegation of harassment is she isn’t alleging they had sex?

I suspect we’ll be hearing much more about this attractive blonde and the events that led to Hurd’s ouster.


Henry Blodget fights back

BusinessWeek has a great profile on Henry Blodget and how he’s fighting back with his web properties after his disgraceful exit from Wall Street after the tech bubble burst.

Henry Blodget is a man who will be neither easily riled nor insulted. When, in March, he learned that a blog had labeled a section of The Business Insider, the gossipy financial website he founded three years ago, “The Hooters of the Internet,” Blodget waited a couple hours before tweeting: “The Hooters of the Internet. I like that.” In May, Blodget predicted on his website that within just a few years, The Huffington Post will take in over $100 million in advertising revenue—more than triple the $30 million the site says it will bring in in 2010—and that by 2015 or so, it would be generating more from advertising than The New York Times. In an endnote, he disclosed that Kenneth Lerer, a co-founder of The Huffington Post, is also an investor in The Business Insider, or TBI as it is known by its readers. “Thank you for the disclosure,” someone called The Truth typed in the piece’s comments section. “Unfortunately, it invalidates everything you write. You’re a mouthpiece.” It took Blodget less than a minute to post his response: “Thank you!,” he wrote, like a fraternity pledge embracing his hazing.

Blodget was busted back then by then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who has since had his own problems. Spitzer now has a TV show premiering soon on CNN, so it looks like everyone can get a second chance.

The Business Insider, along with niche areas like Silicon Alley Insider, is an excellent online magazine and news resource, so Blodget appears to be on his way.

I agree that HuffPo will keep growing as well, though at some point they might want to scale back those ridiculous and often misleading headlines.


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