How NOT to create an advertisement that will appear in a screen publication

bad-ad-2During the early days of the web, it wasn’t unusual for a company to develop a website that worked only if someone used a specific browser. Land on that site using the wrong browser and you’d be instructed to download the correct browser (for their site).

Over time, reality set in: The web belongs to users.

Using the iPad app of the Wall Street Journal today, I was “swiping” through screen pages when I ran into the screen ad appearing at the left. (The name of the advertiser is pixelated because my point is not to single them out, but to use it as an example.)

The advertiser uses its first impression to do what? Tell me how to use an iPad differently than how I’ve used it for a couple of years. No thanks.

Lesson: The iPad has an accelerometer built into it to serve the reader, not the advertiser. Because the makers of the iPad and Android tablets and most smart phones have provided users such control over their devices, each individual user of an iPad, et al, has been able to determine the way he or she prefers to use it. So remember this, screen publishers and the advertisers that pay to appear in them: You may be a horizontal person. I may be a vertical person. It may be easy to rotate the device around. But not as easy as it is to go to the next page.

Vive la différence. 

My predictions for the future of print magazines

Published in 1741, Ben Franklin's General magazine shut-down after six issues, making it the first example in the U.S. of why there is no future in print magazines.
Published in 1741, Ben Franklin’s General magazine shut-down after six issues, making it the first example in the U.S. of why there is no future in print magazines.
On the Hammock blog, a post I wrote was added this morning that outlines 14 predictions I have for print magazines. It’s rather long, but I felt the need to collect several threads into one post.

Several of the themes will sound familiar to the 12 readers of RexBlog.


“I’ve found that doubts about the future of print magazines typically occur when the people who say, “I love reading the newspaper in print” realize they spend more time keeping up with news via a screen than they ever have with print. Or, more noticeably, when they discover the practicality of reading books on a screen. One day they start thinking about how their personal reading habits have changed, and they begin to wonder what’s going to happen to the daily newspaper or print magazines they never look at anymore.

“The personal experience these people are having with digital and print media is a good indication of what the “beginning” of the future of media is.”

I will re-post it here later, but we’re tweaking (and by “we’re tweaking,” I mean “not me” but the person who is capable of doing it) some CSS code so that the “tooltips” (the pop-up messages that appear when you hover over a link) that are in the version will work here.

Until then, you can read it here.

[Graphic: Published in 1741, Ben Franklin’s General Magazine.]

Remember this article from the New York Times

Snow Fall-800

The New York Times article “Snow Fall:The Avalanche of Tunnel Creek” is being touted, and deserves to be, as a breakthrough in multimedia story-telling. As I am a consistent “linker” to the digital work of the staff, I will add my “wow” to the story, as well. It demonstrates how multimedia can be used to enhance and extend a story — and not merely “because it can be.”

However, there are a few things about the story I haven’t seen mentioned — while not negative, I find them interesting.

On the notable side, it’s the first time I’ve seen a story from a legacy media company (one that existed before the www) that so effectively ignores the metaphor of the page. The page, while a helpful measure of the location one may be while progressing through a physical book or article, is, nonetheless, a measurement that originated with the [tippy title=”printing press” style=”u” header=”off” bgcolor=”#FFF200″]Clay tablets were all one page and scrolls used location markers that weren’t “pages”[/tippy] and which made its way to the internet by that person who first hung the label “web page” on what, if you’ve ever scrolled to the bottom of a page on, you know has nothing to do with physical length.

(Sidenote: One of the reasons I love the app Instapaper is its use of mobile devices’ [tippy title=”accelerometers” reference=”” header=”off” color=”blue”] In this context, I’m referring to the gravity sensors that enable the devices to know “up” from “down” and to measure the velocity of the speed at which you’ve just dropped your iPhone onto a concrete sidewalk. See Wikipedia for more accelerometer info.[/tippy]  to enable “tile scrolling,” the best example I have to demonstrating the complete uselessness of multiple metaphoric “pages” on text content appearing on screens.)

No matter. It’s a great piece of story-telling and a great example of how online and digital media can be used correctly.

Marco Arment’s Master Plan to Revolutionize the Future of Publishing

The MagazineActually, Marco, the developer of Tumblr and creator of Instapaper, says he doesn’t have a plan, nor is his new creation, The Magazine, a model for “how it’s done.”


“A publication’s app should be designed and built with purpose and consideration. The Magazine works because I based decisions not on what everyone else was doing, but on what would be best for this magazine. Every publication has its own unique needs, audience, economics, and style, so their apps should reflect that.”

While Marco Arment may not have a master plan, the things he does without a plan are far more intriguing than are those attempted by people who wear suits and spend hundreds of millions of dollars on what they think are master plans.

A tale of two announcement press releases: The iPad vs. Surface

The press release below, on the left, accompanied the January 27, 2010 announcement of the Apple iPad. The press release on the right accompanied today’s announcement of Microsoft’s  Surface. While both releases follow in a tradition that seems to dictate that  press releases be among the worst content created by large corporations (right up there with instructions if “some assembly is required” and cease-and-desist letters), reading a few paragraphs of these two releases can help you understand why Apple is Apple, the brilliant marketing company; and Microsoft is, well, a wonderful American company we can all be proud of, bless their heart  (as we say where I live).Here’s what to look for (and again, these are press releases, not actual “writing,” so forgive the “constructed-by-committee” mule-ish style of both):From the get-go, Apple positions the iPad as a “Magical & Revolutionary Device at an Unbelievable Price.” Microsoft, on the other hand, calls Surface, “Microsoft-made hardware to be available starting with release of Windows 8 and Windows RT.” In other words, the Apple press release is talking to consumers while the Microsoft release is talking to the industry.The entire Microsoft release is dedicated to listing features and attributes of the Surface. The Apple release focuses on the magical things a person can do with the iPad.

The essence of Apple is found in this excerpt:

Reading and sending email is fun and easy on iPad’s large screen and almost full-size ‘soft’ keyboard. Import photos from a Mac, PC or digital camera, see them organized as albums, and enjoy and share them using iPad’s elegant slideshows. Watch movies, TV shows and YouTube, all in HD or flip through pages of an e-book you downloaded from Apple’s new iBookstore while listening to your music collection.”

The essence of Microsoft is found in this excerpt:

“Conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, and building on the company’s 30-year history manufacturing hardware, Surface represents a unique vision for the seamless expression of entertainment and creativity.”

Readers of this blog know I am a fan of Apple products. However, I’ve also always made it clear that I want products like the Microsoft Surface to succeed (and, too, Android tablets). Competition is good. Competition with the Surface will make the iPad even better. So even if Microsoft reveals its soul in a lousy press release, that has no bearing on whether the Surface is going to be a wonderful device, or the Zune of tablets.

However, I am saying this to you savvy marketing executives out there: If you want to succeed in today’s marketplace, the content your company creates and shares with the world needs to talk about how awesome people can be — and the awesome things they can do — if they own your product.

Talking about how great your product is may sound pleasing to the CEO in a press release co-written by corporate communications and legal — but it’s not going to motivate any customers.

Apple Launches iPad

Magical & Revolutionary Device at an Unbelievable Price

SAN FRANCISCO — January 27, 2010 — Apple today introduced iPad, a revolutionary device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, enjoying photos, watching videos, listening to music, playing games, reading e-books and much more. iPad’s responsive high-resolution Multi-Touch display lets users physically interact with applications and content. iPad is just 0.5 inches thick and weighs just 1.5 pounds— thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook. iPad includes 12 new innovative apps designed especially for the iPad, and will run almost all of the over 140,000 apps in the App Store. iPad will be available in late March starting at the breakthrough price of just $499.

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

iPad features 12 next-generation Multi-Touch applications. Every app works in both portrait and landscape, automatically animating between views as the user rotates iPad in any direction. The precise Multi-Touch interface makes surfing the web on iPad an entirely new experience, dramatically more interactive and intimate than on a computer. Reading and sending email is fun and easy on iPad’s large screen and almost full-size “soft” keyboard. Import photos from a Mac, PC or digital camera, see them organized as albums, and enjoy and share them using iPad’s elegant slideshows. Watch movies, TV shows and YouTube, all in HD or flip through pages of an e-book you downloaded from Apple’s new iBookstore while listening to your music collection.

iPad runs almost all of the over 140,000 apps on the App Store, including apps already purchased for your iPhone or iPod touch. The iTunes Store gives you access to the world’s most popular online music, TV and movie store with a catalog of over 11 million songs, over 50,000 TV episodes and over 8,000 films including over 2,000 in stunning high definition video. Apple also announced the new iBooks app for iPad, which includes Apple’s new iBookstore, the best way to browse, buy and read books on a mobile device. The iBookstore will feature books from major and independent publishers.

Apple also introduced a new version of iWork for iPad, the first desktop-class productivity suite designed specifically for Multi-Touch. With Pages, Keynote and Numbers you can create beautifully formatted documents, stunning presentations with animations and transitions, and spreadsheets with charts, functions and formulas. The three apps will be available separately through the App Store for $9.99 each.

iPad syncs with iTunes just like the iPhone and iPod touch, using the standard Apple 30-pin to USB cable, so you can sync all of your contacts, photos, music, movies, TV shows, applications and more from your Mac or PC. All the apps and content you download on iPad from the App Store, iTunes Store and iBookstore will be automatically synced to your iTunes library the next time you connect with your computer.

iPad’s brilliant 9.7-inch, LED-backlit display features IPS technology to deliver crisp, clear images and consistent color with an ultra-wide 178 degree viewing angle. The highly precise, capacitive Multi-Touch display is amazingly accurate and responsive whether scrolling web pages or playing games. The intelligent soft keyboard pioneered on iPhone takes advantage of iPad’s larger display to offer an almost full-size soft keyboard. iPad also connects to the new iPad Keyboard Dock with a full-size traditional keyboard.

iPad is powered by A4, Apple’s next-generation system-on-a-chip. Designed by Apple, the new A4 chip provides exceptional processor and graphics performance along with long battery life of up to 10 hours.* Apple’s advanced chemistry and Adaptive Charging technology deliver up to 1,000 charge cycles without a significant decrease in battery capacity over a typical five year lifespan.**

iPad comes in two versions—one with Wi-Fi and the other with both Wi-Fi and 3G. iPad includes the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi, and the 3G versions support speeds up to 7.2 Mbps on HSDPA networks. Apple and AT&T announced breakthrough 3G pre-paid data plans for iPad with easy, on-device activation and management.

Continuing Apple’s dedication to designing and creating environmentally responsible products, each iPad enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy-efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. iPad contains no brominated flame retardants and is completely PVC-free.

Apple today released a new Software Development Kit (SDK) for iPad, so developers can create amazing new applications designed to take advantage of iPad’s capabilities. The SDK includes a simulator that lets developers test and debug their iPad apps on a Mac, and also lets developers create Universal Applications that run on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Pricing & Availability

iPad will be available in late March worldwide for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model, $699 (US) for the 64GB model. The Wi-Fi + 3G models of iPad will be available in April in the US and selected countries for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad will be sold in the US through the Apple Store® (, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. International pricing and worldwide availability will be announced at a later date. iBookstore will be available in the US at launch.

*Apple tested wireless battery life by browsing web pages and receiving email over an AirPort network, never letting the system go to sleep during the test, and keeping the display at half brightness. This is a typical scenario of use on the go, resulting in a battery performance number that is very relevant to mobile users.

**A properly maintained iPad battery is designed to retain 80 percent or more of its original capacity during a lifespan of up to 1,000 recharge cycles. Battery life and charge cycles vary by use and settings.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.

Microsoft Announces Surface: New Family of PCs for Windows

Microsoft-made hardware to be available starting with release of Windows 8 and Windows RT.

LOS ANGELES — June 18, 2012 — Today at an event in Hollywood, Microsoft unveiled Surface: PCs built to be the ultimate stage for Windows. Company executives showed two Windows tablets and accessories that feature significant advances in industrial design and attention to detail. Surface is designed to seamlessly transition between consumption and creation, without compromise. It delivers the power of amazing software with Windows and the feel of premium hardware in one exciting experience.

Advances in Industrial Design

Conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees, and building on the company’s 30-year history manufacturing hardware, Surface represents a unique vision for the seamless expression of entertainment and creativity. Extensive investment in industrial design and real user experience includes the following highlights:

  • Software takes center stage: Surface sports a full-sized USB port and a 16:9 aspect ratio – the industry standard for HD. It has edges angled at 22 degrees, a natural position for the PC at rest or in active use, letting the hardware fade into the background and the software stand out.
  • VaporMg: The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.
  • Integrated Kickstand: The unique VaporMg approach also enables a built-in kickstand that lets you transition Surface from active use to passive consumption – watching a movie or even using the HD front- or rear-facing video cameras. The kickstand is there when needed, and disappears when not in use, with no extra weight or thickness.
  • Touch Cover: The 3 mm Touch Cover represents a step forward in human-computer interface. Using a unique pressure-sensitive technology, Touch Cover senses keystrokes as gestures, enabling you to touch type significantly faster than with an on-screen keyboard. It will be available in a selection of vibrant colors. Touch Cover clicks into Surface via a built-in magnetic connector, forming a natural spine like you find on a book, and works as a protective cover. You can also click in a 5 mm-thin Type Cover that adds moving keys for a more traditional typing feel.

An Amazing Windows  Experience

Two models of Surface will be available: one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT, and one with a third-generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8 Pro. From the fast and fluid interface, to the ease of connecting you to the people, information and apps that users care about most, Surface will be a premium way to experience all that Windows has to offer. Surface for Windows RT will release with the general availability of Windows 8, and the Windows 8 Pro model will be available about 90 days later. Both will be sold in the Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and available through select online Microsoft Stores.

Contributing to an Expanded Ecosystem

One of the strengths of Windows is its extensive ecosystem of software and hardware partners, delivering selection and choice that makes a customer’s Windows experience uniquely their own. This continues with Surface. Microsoft is delivering a unique contribution to an already strong and growing ecosystem of functional and stylish devices delivered by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to bring the experience of Windows to consumers and businesses around the globe.