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The New York Times iPad Application

April 6th, 2010 No comments

It is interesting to note that the user interface on the iPad is not as effective as in iFlex due to the limited range of control provided by the original iPhone gestures list. On the iPhone the swipe gesture was only used to spin through a list. As a result the only swipe gestures provided are either horizontal or vertical to spin through a displayed list. You can not swipe up and down in a list that is displayed as sequence of horizontal screens.

In the iFlex user interface the user moved within an article by using the arrow keys to scroll vertically and with the left and right keys to scroll to the next article in the section. This provided a great user experience as scrolling down within an article was natural and scrolling left to right to skim the above the fold view of each article provided ideal article surfing.

With the restriction to a single left right swipe for the scroll through a list, the developers have been forced to only allow scrolling through an individual article, and then forced the user to use a very awkward button to return to the front page. Pressing a button is not directional, so doesn’t allow the next or previous article to be selected, and interrupts the surfing experience with the need to press a small button instead of using a swipe.

In the absence of multi-dimensional swipe, the iPad has a drag gesture which would allow movement both vertically and horizontally with gestures. It isn’t clear if the iPad presentation layer would allow this to be used to flip to the next item rather than providing a location for a moved object but this may provide an interim solution. The long term solution would be to switch to a swipe gesture which allows movement in both dimensions and a return to an elegant surfing of the content.

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I Love TED

March 9th, 2010 1 comment

Some favorite TED bookmarks:

No message but you should watch these three humorous minutes by Renny Gleeson on social phone use; or some game theory regarding Iran; or even using house plants to provide air quality.

My all time favorite is the discussion of the developing world illuminated by some great graphics.

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Can advertising pay for bandwidth costs?

September 8th, 2008 No comments

The internet isn’t free. If you have a significant amount of traffic your hosting provider will start charging you or constrain your account in some way. When it comes to video content most amateur producers are using the likes of YouTube or BlipTV to distribute their videos. They are getting approximately half the revenue where there is any.  The adds are typically a single placement before or after (‘preroll’ and ‘postroll’) or small adds popping up during the content (‘overlay’).  The problem is that the infrastructure has to be paid for. In the case of YouTube it is being subsidised by Google as well as its original venture capital like the other players. Major players such as TimeWarner are receiving revenue from preroll and postroll advertising and probably paying fairly directly for their infrastructure and production overhead which is a large part of the slow provision of these services.

What that infrastructure costs isn’t clear but as a guide we know that at the retail level traffic costs are as low as 25c/Gb. A typical recurring video might be anything from 0.1Gb to 1Gb depending on the duration and resolution. That gives a cost of 2.5c to 25c per viewer. Google has bought a lot of fiber and will be able to serve video at a significantly lower cost by providing their own network. Others will be using brightcove etc. in order to get economies of network scale at some unknown cost. The retail figures give a range of cost range per thousand viewers of $25 to $250 for traffic charges.

Television advertising typically realises $30 per thousand viewers (CPM) but can vary from $5 to $50 depending on the region, time of the week and program. Internet video advertisements typically realize less than one dollar but fall within the range of $0.25 /CPM and $5.00.   Television programs in the US typically include 12 minutes per hour or approximately 8 advertisements of 30 seconds in twenty minutes of air time. So television might realise $240/CPM for twenty minutes. Internet video might realize for preroll,postroll and overlay as much as $1.50 to $6.00 /CPM across a much smaller audiance.

So infrastructure costs need to be significantly lower or somebody else needs to be paying them to allow the current advertising revenue model to be profitable. There are legitimate reasons why internet advertising realizes a much lower CPM due largely to the low barriers to entry and resulting low premium.

There is an assumption that advertising will support internet video because television is supported by advertising but this doesn’t necessarily follow. The constrained access to television made it a premium product and added credibility to the content and advertising. The economics of broadcast television, which is still what provides significant theoretical viewer numbers to television, was based on a cheap distribution method which could be paid for with commercials. This isn’t necessarily true of an infrastructure which requires physical installation to the consumer’s premises and servers which consume over 1% of the electricity in the US. The energy costs aren’t decisive. It is the infrastructure cost that needs to be reduced, both for the servers and the distribution, if advertising is to be the sole basis of the model.

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