Study: Tablet Users Love to Read the News, Still Reluctant to Pay for It


Consuming news ranks, according to a new study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, among the most popular things adults in the U.S. do with their tablets. Reading news sites and watching news-related video is about as popular as sending and receiving email, for example, and more popular than using social networking services. As the news industry struggles to find viable business models in this new world, though, one number that stands out is the fact that only 14% of U.S. adults have paid for news directly on their tablets.

According to this report, though, 23% of users also have “a subscription to a print newspaper or magazine that they say includes digital access.” This brings the total number of those who have paid access to news on their tablets to over 30% (assuming there is some overlap here, too). Only 21% of respondents were willing to pay $5 for news access, though, and 10% would pay $10.

Apps vs Browsers | Project for Excellence in Journalism  PEJ

It’s worth noting, though, that this data was gathered before the launch of iOS5. Some early data suggests that the Newsstand feature Apple built into its new operating system could boost sales for news-related apps. It remains to be seen if this is a real trend or just driven by curiosity as users try out this new feature, though.

More Data About Tablet Users

According to the Pew study, about 11% of all U.S. adults now own “some kind of tablet.” More than 80% of those who owned tablets said they owned an iPad, by the way. 2% didn’t know the brand of their tablet.

Other interesting data points: [list]

  • tablet users tend to be more highly educated and have a higher household income than U.S. adults overall
  • tablet users consume more news than the average U.S. adult and prefers reading news over watching it
  • only 21% of users mostly use apps to consume news.
  • those who download a specific news app mostly do so because they like the brand of the news organization (84%) and aren’t deterred by negative reviews [/list]

The Pew team put together a handy infographic with all the main data points from this study:


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4:36 pm

Getting Facebook to Give You All Your Data is Easy (in Europe)


As Facebook moves to gather more and more data from its users, some people are getting rather anxious to know what Facebook really knows about them. Turns out, you can actually get Facebook to send you a CD with a PDF of all of your activities on the network – as long as you are in Europe. Europe vs. Facebook, a project started by Austrian privacy activist Mac Schrems, provides you with all the necessary steps to get access to your data. Requests for this data are routed through Facebook’s offices in Ireland, where a group of employees sifts through them, compiles these records and then sends them to the user.

data_request_facebookSadly, though, for many users, things are not quite as easy as just filling out this web form and waiting for the response. Not only do you need to know what law to cite in your request (something Facebook could easily figure out itself if it wanted to make things easy for its users), but as Schrems himself found out, even a meticulously prepared request doesn’t necessarily lead to an immediate response. As Germany news weekly Die Zeit reports, Facebook still didn’t want to give him his data. Only after an official complaint to the Irish data protection agency did the social network finally relent.

All Your Data Belongs to Us – Even the Deleted Kind…

Once Facebook sends the data over, it comes in the form of a CD with an unencrypted PDF document on it. Depending on your Facebook usage, that document can be between a few dozen and thousands of pages long (you canfind some examples here).

What’s in these documents? Mostly, it’s the kind of data you would expect (when you logged in, what’s in your “about me” section, credit card information if you use Facebook Credits, phone numbers, your likes and connections, what browser you used, location data, the messages you have sent and comments you have left, etc.). One interesting kink here is that quite a few users who requested this data also found some of their deleted posts in these documents.

How to Get Your Data

If you are in Europe, Schrems compiled a step-by-step guide for getting Facebook to give you your data. Just follow these instructions and be ready to respond to Facebook’s attempts to make you go away (chances are, says Schrem, Facebook will just tell you to log in to your account and see you data there – which, of course, doesn’t include all the metadata and deleted posts it also archives).


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6:41 pm

Unleaked: Former WikiLeaks Spokesperson Destroys Over 3,500 Unpublished Documents


Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German technology activist and former spokesperson for whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, announced today that he has destroyed over 3,500 unpublished documents that used to sit on WikiLeaks servers until he and others left the organization and took the data with them in late 2010. According to a report by German newsmagazine Der Spiegel (Google Translate), which interviewed Domscheit-Berg, this data includes, among many others, a copy of the no fly list kept by the U.S. government, five gigabytes from the Bank of America and US intercept arrangements for over 100 internet companies.

Domscheit berg portrait

Daniel Domscheit Berg (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

According to Der Spiegel, Domscheit-Berg – who was the effective No. 2 at WikiLeaks after its founder Julian Assange – deleted the data and shredded any paper evidence to protect the sources who gave the data to WikiLeaks in the first place. Domscheit-Berg argues that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had been asking Domscheit-Berg to return the data, couldn’t guarantee that the data would stay safe.

Wikileaks’ Reaction

In a statement, WikiLeaks argues that it tried to negotiate with Domscheit-Berg and that he has “repeatedly attempted to blackmail WikiLeaks by threatening to make available, to forces that oppose WikiLeaks, these private communications [the unpublished documents] and to which Mr. Domscheit-Berg is not a party.”

WikiLeaks is also trying to distance itself from Domscheit-Berg and argues that his “roles within WikiLeaks were limited and started to diminish almost a year ago as his integrity and stability were questioned. […] He is not a founder or co-founder and nor was there any contact with him during the founding years. He did not even have an email address with the organization until 2008 (we launched in December 2006). He cannot program and wrote not a single program for the organization, at any time.”

The relationship between Domscheit-Berg and Assange has been rather contemptuous for a while now. After leaving the organization, the German activist also wrote a book about his experience with WikiLeaks and Assange in particular. In it, he does not paint a very favorable picture of Assange. In addition, he also founded a competing whistleblower platform OpenLeaks, which went public last week. OpenLeaks, which plans to make its platform available to newspaper and other organizations, however, did not have a very smooth launch and was heavily criticized by a number of Wikileaks activists.

4:41 am

Hello Moto: Everything You Need to Know About the Google-Motorola Deal


Google today announced that it plans to acquire Motorola Mobility – the Motorola’s cellphone and set-top box division – for about $12.5 billion. This is obviously a major deal and suddenly turns Google from a company mostly focused on software into a hardware manufacturer as well. While Google aims to run both businesses separately – and stressed that even Motorola will have to compete for Google’s business – the fact that Google’s headcount just grew by about 60% shows that this acquisition will have a massive impact on the company in the long run.

The deal, it should be noted, still has to receive regulatory approval from the appropriate agencies in the U.S., Europe and other countries, so it could take a while before this deal goes into effect and the full ramifications of it become clear.

What Did Google Just Buy?

Motorola Mobility: the focus of Motorola’s Mobility unit is the mobile phone business. Until January 2011, this unit was known as Motorola’s Mobile Devices division, but at that point, it was split off from the parent company and became its own business. Once upon a time (in the 1990s), Motorola was among the top manufacturers in the mobile phone business. Since then, though, its competitors like Nokia and Samsung leaped ahead – both with regards to technology as well as sales. Motorola is now the seventh largest handset manufacturer and focuses exclusively on Android-based devices.

With regards to financials, Motorola Mobility’s revenue for 2010 was $11.4 billion with an operating income of $76 million. The company has 19,000 employees (Google itself had about 29,000 until now).


The obvious question to ask here is why Google would be interested in this deal. Motorola itself decided to split its mobility unit from the rest of its business so it could shop it around. This sale itself then doesn’t come as a real surprise – the surprise is that Google bought it.

  • Patents: the current state of the patent system keeps big companies in a constant cold war-like state where the mutual threat of patent litigation keeps all sides from attacking each other. Google, however, doesn’t have many mobile-related patents, so it’s hard for the company to defend Android from attacks (specifically from Microsoft and Apple). Google CEO Larry Page: “Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.”
    Interestingly, Motorola itself was also planning to sue a few of the other Android manufacturers before this acquisition. In a way, Google is protecting its own ecosystem from Motorola by this acquisition, too.
  • Integrating hardware and software to rival Apple: Apple’s success in controlling both the hardware and software side of its business has shown that this is really the way for the mobile industry and that customers – for the most part – prefer this model. While Google regularly releases its “Nexus” reference phones to show vendors what it expects an Android phone to look like, the Android market has suffered badly from the fragmentation of the market – especially when it comes to providing software updates. By controlling both sides of the business, Google can force the other manufacturers to keep up.
  • A foothold in the living room: this has gone relatively under-reported, but as Larry Dignan rightly notes, Motorola Mobility is also one of the world’s largest suppliers of cable boxes. This isn’t a business that moves very fast (how often does your provider update your cable box?), but in the long run, this could allow Google to bring its technology into more living rooms (the GoogleTV project, after all, wasn’t exactly a huge success).

Potential Problems

  • Motorola is no Apple: while integrating the software and hardware business makes for larger margins and hopefully for better products, Motorola hasn’t exactly shown the kind of design finesse we’ve come to expect from Apple. It’ll be interesting to see if Google can turn this around.
  • What will the other Android smartphone makers say? Henry Blodget rightly asks how HTC, LG, Samsung and the other handset makers will react to this. Officially, they all say that they love this deal, but there is surely an undercurrent of anxiety there as well. Are these companies going to feel as if Google is “stabbing them in the back,” as Blodget says?
  • Google is not a hardware company: The hardware business is fiercely competitive and includes far more moving parts than any other business Google has ever entered. Despite its size, Google has never been very good at marketing – something that is essential in the consumer electronics business.
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