Friday, October 19, 2012

Newsweek, Google, Microsoft

I remember a day when you had a choice of three major car brands (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) and three newsmagazines (Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report). Families had loyalties then. We liked Chevrolet and Pontiac; I was partial to Time Magazine because it was the  first such thing I’d bought when in the Army. U.S. News and World Report left the print arena in December of 2010. Today I read that Newsweek will go into virtual mode as well after December 2012, leaving only Time in the ink-and-paper format.

People’s loyalties weaken as those legal persons, corporations, change. We became a Honda family; and today we read a virtually unknown magazine called The American Conservative. I abandoned Time, oh, around about the mid-1960s. I thought that it had thinned out. Its publishers probably through they were adapting—to a friskier, hipper audience. More pics, less print, shorter, brighter. Naw, I said. To hell with news. Harper’s. Atlantic. Substance, please.

Google posted unattractive numbers prematurely yesterday—and because the release was premature, Goggle’s stock plunged. Microsoft reported financial dismalities as well because, in trading eyes (but not really) the PC is, like, an endangered species. And the French are perfecting a law that would protect their ink-and-paper newspapers from being cited in Google searches. Why? To protect the papers from loss of advertising revenues.

Now it is striking that advertising, measured against the economy as a whole, is virtually invisible. In an earlier post (link) I noted than in 2008 it was 0.99 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product. And it is also obvious that the leading business news most days is also about advertising, directly or indirectly. Bad news at Google—directly. Advertising clicks are Google’s only real food. Bad news at Microsoft—indirectly. Mobile devices are cannibalizing the market for larger computers—and the aura of “excitement” that surrounds mobility is caused by the presumed rise of a new advertising market. But the advertising market is not infinitely expansive. There is only so much to go around, and advertisers are like ducks at the edge of the pond when people arrive with bags of dried bread. They flock to the most recent arrival. Newsweek now, U.S. News and World Report two years ago, Time Magazine at some future date are abandoning or will abandon their defining businesses to garner ad-crumbs on the Internet.

So what’s ahead? We’ll probably have, sooner or later, an advertising melt-down on the Internet as well. Easy to predict, actually. Everything changes. Towering growth—exhaustion. I feel a little exhausted this morning. This site permitted, until this morning, Anonymous comments. I’d put that in place to help family and friends avoid having to key in almost illegible test-words before sending a comment. Little did I know. At first a trickle and now an avalanche of comment-spam began arriving. Today a hundred pointless comments, each with a commercial link embedded, caused me to spend three precious minutes erasing all the garbage. Sooner or later even the Russians (who generate most of these comments in sometimes comical English) will grow weary. Which reminds me. I ought to give Putin a heads-up. He is quite reliable when it comes to crushing infamy.

No comments:

Post a Comment