• Apple Treats The New York Times the Same as Farmville

    With a single statement, Senior Apple Executive Eddy Cue, summarized Apples stance in the recent antitrust suit, and the current state of traditional media in the digital world.

    "I don't think you understand. We can't treat newspapers or magazines any differently than we treat FarmVille." — Eddy Cue
    The rest of the Article written by L. Gordon Crovitz (his first name wasn’t good enough?) lays out a convincing argument in favor of the agency model. Crovitz argues the agency model allowed traditional bookstores like Barnes and Noble, as well as other publishers to compete with the juggernaut Amazon in the e-book marketplace. He’s right that competition leveled out once publishers controlled the price of e-books and that Amazon’s share of the e-book market dropped to 60 percent. But, this doesn’t show that the agency model was directly responsible, it doesn’t show causation.

    The rest of the argument laid out ignores Apple included a clause in the original agreement that prevented publishers from pricing their books lower than the price found in Apple’s iBookstore. The author also forgets to mention the emails and communications between publishers that aimed to kill the “wretched $9.99 price point” according to the suit. The Agency model isn’t illegal. Apple requesting 30% isn’t illegal even if it might bite them in the butt down the line. But, actively colluding to decrease the options available to consumers is. Having dinner, making phone calls, and emailing each other about raising prices to harm consumers is collusion.

    Whether or not you agree with the legitimacy of the Department of Justice’s antitrust suit, the more disturbing issue for content producers is how Apple and the rest of the digital world views newspapers, and magazines. What was once the voice of the people, and purveyor of the public sphere is viewed on the same level as a farming simulator or a bunch of malcontent birds. Whether you read the newspaper or not the cheapening of newspapers, and magazines continues. The fourth estate is being strangled, and much of it is their own fault. They along with the recording industry failed to innovate and held on to antiquated business models to the detriment of their existence.

    However, when the newspapers and magazines fail, and their digital counterparts inevitably choke to death as well, who is left inform the public and help maintain the public sphere? What happens when the public sphere becomes so fragmented collective action becomes impossible?

    The transition to a completely networked society and age of digital content is hardly complete, and hope is not lost. I just wish those controlling the press would have embraced internet communication technologies earlier.

    Source: WSJ
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