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New York Times to World: The Party’s Over, Stop Mooching Our Online Content

New York Times appsAre you an online New York Times reader who’s been enjoying those 20 free articles each month? Better get those page views in soon, because the newspaper is tightening the gates around its paywall, slashing the freebies to a mere 10 articles a month starting next month.

The New York Times Company has announced plans to tighten the noose around its pay gate, cutting the number of articles for free users from 20 to 10 each month in an effort to beef up its digital subscriptions, which the company now pegs at 454,000 paying users as of Sunday, March 18.

The Times also announced that beginning in April it would be moving the pay gate at to 10 free articles a month from 20,” the press release reads. “With this change, The Times’s digital subscription plan will continue to allow for access to a generous amount of free content on the Web site and across multiple digital platforms.”

“Last year was a transformative one for The Times as we began to charge for digital access to our content,” explained The New York Times Company chairman and CEO Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. “Today, close to a half million people are now paying for digital content from The Times and the IHT. We knew that readers placed a high value on our journalism, and we anticipated they would respond positively to our digital subscription packages. Our commitment to all of our subscribers, both print and digital, is that we will continue to invest in and evolve our journalism and our products, and we will remain a source of trustworthy news, information and high-quality opinion for many years to come.”

The news for NYT moochers isn’t all bad — access to the Top News section will remain free from smartphone and tablet apps, and “links from e-mail, search, blogs and social media will continue to be able to access those individual articles, even if they have reached their reading limit.”

To celebrate the first anniversary of their digital subscriptions, The New York Times is allowing existing subscribers to gift a friend or family member a free 12-week subscription — to both print and digital — absolutely free. So, hey, you guys are our friends, right? Any of you happen to subscribe to the NYT? Just curious…

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



Reminders: Google Wave is (Still) Dead, Posterous (Still) Acquired by Twitter

Google WaveOur inbox recently got hit with a couple sad reminders of how services can roar onto the scene and then whimper away with far less fanfare over time. Such was the case for Google Wave, which is being turned off on April 30, and the fate of Posterous remains a big question mark.

Google sent out an email on Tuesday to remind users of its Google Wave service that its sun is going down on April 30, 2012 (or is that the final Wave is washing ashore?). The move should come as no surprise, as the search giant served notice to its social experiment back in November, and Wave has been stuck in read-only mode.

“More than a year ago we announced that Google Wave would no longer be developed as a separate product,” the email reads. “Back in November 2011, we shared the specific dates for ending this maintenance period and shutting down Wave. Google Wave is now in read-only mode. This is reminder that the Wave service will be turned off on April 30, 2012. You will be able to continue exporting individual waves using the existing PDF export feature until the Google Wave service is turned off. We encourage you to export any important data before April 30, 2012.

“If you would like to continue using Wave, there are a number of open source projects, including Apache Wave,” the text continues. “There is also an open source project called Walkaround that includes an experimental feature that lets you import all your Waves from Google. This feature will also work until the Wave service is turned off on April 30, 2012.”

We’ve not quite sure who’s still lamenting the loss of Google Wave, given that it was mostly a ghost town after being released on May 19, 2010 — and then pronounced dead on arrival less than 14 months later.

Speaking of “pronounced dead,” the kindly folks at Posterous were also in an emailing mood this morning, sending word to their users about the recent acquisition of the company by Twitter, which we reported last Tuesday. Nothing new here — the email is basically a recap of the company’s blog post of a week ago — but it still doesn’t look good for the microblogging service, who promises to “share clear instructions” for moving your Posterous blog to another service “in the coming weeks.”

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

Apple Announces Dividend and Share Repurchase Program

Apple Inc. logoYou’d think after releasing the third-generation iPad, executives at Apple might get some rest over the weekend, but instead they issued a rare Sunday press release to announce a conference call to discuss its cash balance, which now amounts to nearly 0 billion.

Apple has announced plans to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program later this year, ahead of a conference call Monday morning with CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer. The news will be welcomed by investors and analysts, who have frequently been critical of the company hoarding nearly 0 billion in cash.

“Subject to declaration by the Board of Directors, the Company plans to initiate a quarterly dividend of .65 per share sometime in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2012, which begins on July 1, 2012,” the press release reads. “Additionally, the Company’s Board of Directors has authorized a billion share repurchase program commencing in the Company’s fiscal 2013, which begins on September 30, 2012. The repurchase program is expected to be executed over three years, with the primary objective of neutralizing the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs.”

“We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You’ll see more of all of these in the future,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Even with these investments, we can help in writing an maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program.”

“Combining dividends, share repurchases, and cash used to net-share-settle vesting RSUs, we anticipate utilizing approximately billion of domestic cash in the first three years of our programs,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “We are extremely confident in our future and see tremendous opportunities ahead.”

Further details of these plans are being discussed at a conference call on Monday morning, with Apple warning analysts they “will not be providing an update on the current quarter nor will any topics be discussed other than cash” — which should squash any questions about how the new iPad performed.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



Monday Recap: AAPL Closes at $600, 3 Million New iPads, AT&T’s Good Friday

Apple stock price Monday, March 19, 2012Wow! What a weekend for the new iPad, which Apple announced today moved three million units in 10 countries around the world. But new iPad owners aren’t the only ones happy today — investors liked the sound of Cupertino’s new dividend and share repurchase plan announced early this morning, which is pushing the company ever higher. How high can they go? Is it possible for what goes up to actually stay up? These are questions we may never have the answers to — but have a look at the news for Monday, March 19 and you be the judge.

AAPL Closes Above 0 Per Share

Have a look at that screenshot above from Apple’s own Stocks app — investors must have liked the sound of what they heard during this morning’s conference call to discuss Cupertino’s cash hoard, because they sent AAPL shares flying to heights they’ve never been before, closing at 1.10 per share for the first time in history (and shortly after cracking the 0 barrier earlier this month). Even more remarkable, today’s high comes less than five weeks after the company’s climb to 0 per share on February 13. Which brings us to Apple’s other good news today…

Apple Announces 3 Million New iPads for Launch Weekend

The media was scratching its collective head this morning expecting Apple to announce how many new iPads found a home over the weekend — but none came. Thankfully, Cupertino isn’t keeping us in suspense any longer, announcing Monday afternoon that the new iPad sold three million units since launching on Friday, March 16 in the United States and nine other countries around the world. For those keeping score, the original iPad took 80 days to sell three million units — a feat the new iPad accomplished in less than four days. “The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold — the strongest iPad launch yet,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Customers are loving the incredible new features of iPad, including the stunning Retina display, and we can’t wait to get it into the hands of even more customers around the world this Friday.” That’s right: Apple will roll the new iPad out to 24 more countries come this Friday, March 23, including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Dropbox Announces Sharing to Facebook Friends — On Twitter

Sometimes, the irony is so obvious, you have to wonder how it’s possible for these companies not to see it. The fine folks at Dropbox took to Twitter today to announce that invitations to shared folders can now be sent to… Facebook friends? You’d think that Dropbox would want to get the word out to Facebook users, but they must be covering all their bases by hitting their Twitter feed with the news as well. #LOL

Notes from Apple’s Cash Balance Conference Call

This morning, Apple held an early morning conference call to announce plans for a dividend and share repurchase program that kicks off later this year, much to the glee of investors. While the press release covered most of the basics, MacRumors has gathered notes from the call itself, which included a recap of the company’s current activity. However, the main impetus of the call was on the company’s nearly 0 billion pile of cash, billion of which resides outside the United States. Noting that the company has “been very disciplined with the use of our cash,” CFO Peter Oppenheimer laid out the three prongs of the company’s investment opportunities: “Current income for our longterm shareholders, increase attractiveness to a broader investment base and preserve value from employee equity dilution.” Analysts who dialed into the call were hoping for more details on the company’s future product pipeline, to which CEO Tim Cook noted, “We actually do love to announce new products, we just don’t do it in conference calls.”

AT&T Reports Record “Sales and Activations” for New iPad on Friday

While Apple made it clear that this morning’s conference call would be focused strictly on the company’s dividend and share repurchase program, analysts couldn’t stop themselves from asking about the new iPad’s debut weekend. Despite Apple’s claims during the call that the third-generation tablet had a “record weekend” and remarking that they were “thrilled with it,” Cupertino was curiously quiet this morning, with no press release shouting the initial numbers from the rooftops. Carrier partner AT&T, on the other hand, was quite happy to do it for them, announcing that Friday’s launch day set “a new single-day record for its iPad sales and activations, demonstrating robust demand for the new iPad on the nation’s largest 4G network.”

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



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Mountain Lion Beta 2 Released to Developers, Adds Safari Tab Syncing

OS X Mountain LionAs if Friday wasn’t busy enough for everyone trying to get their hands on a new iPad, developers had an extra treat waiting for them when they returned home: A second beta of the forthcoming OS X Mountain Lion, adding iCloud sync for Safari tabs and requesting permission before accessing contacts.

MacRumors is reporting that Apple released a second developer-only beta of OS X Mountain Lion, the next major version of the Mac operating system which is expected in late sunny summer. Technically Mac OS X 10.8, the new beta squashes some bugs but is still missing a key feature already announced: AirPlay mirroring, which is not supported with the most recent Apple TV software.

However, OS X Mountain Lion Preview 2 does introduce a couple of new features in its place, including the ability to sync Safari tabs between devices, which was originally announced as a feature of the software but missing from the first developer beta. The feature is now included with the second preview, appearing as an iCloud icon. When clicked, a popup displays a list of open tabs sorted by which device they appear on.

Taking another cue from iOS, OS X Mountain Lion Preview 2 also introduces a new prompt when apps want to access your contacts — clicking OK gives this permission, while clicking “Don’t Allow” rejects it. The change follows close on the heels of the same implementation on iOS following the discovery that Path (and other apps) were uploading entire address books without users’ knowledge.

Apple hasn’t announced a release date yet for OS X Mountain Lion other than “late sunny summer,” and plans to keep the fun coming with an annual update schedule similar to the one used by iOS.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



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First One’s Free: “Freemium” Games Lucrative for Mobile Developers

Temple RunHave you ever downloaded a free game on your iPhone and wondered how in the world the developer could possibly be making money with it? As it turns out, the so-called “freemium” business model is actually far more lucrative than charging money, at least for mobile.

The New York Times has an interesting article that throws back the curtain on so-called “freemium” games — the ones you can download free of charge but can ultimately cost users far more in the long run than if they had just paid up front. While free games might come with the stigma “of being low quality or full of annoying ads,” it turns out they’re a great way to hook new users — and keep them coming back.

“When you tell a friend about it and they go to the App Store and it’s free, they download it without thinking about it,” explains Natalia Luckyanova, half of the husband and wife team that created the iOS game Temple Run. “Then there’s stickiness and the addictiveness and people talking about it.”

Luckyanova and husband Keith Shepherd released Temple Run in the App Store last August as a 99-cent game where “players must stay a step ahead of angry apes while avoiding booby traps and collecting coins.” While the first month of sales were decent, it was nothing compared to what happened in September, when Temple Run was offered as a freebie through the Free App a Day website.

Since going free, the app has topped 40 million downloads, and Luckyanova says upwards of 13 million people play Tempe Run at least once every day. Currently perched at Number 14 on Apple’s top-grossing charts, these “freemium” games bait users who might otherwise not spend even 99 cents on a given title — and once they’re hooked, they’ll spend money in “a virtual store to buy new characters, different backdrops and power-ups, or special boosters.”

The concept has proven wildly successful for Zynga, the creators of FarmVille who has expanded beyond their former comfort zone with Facebook and into a billion initial public offering — proving that the drug dealer’s mantra of “the first one’s free” can apply to other types of business as well.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

(Image courtesy of The New York Times)



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FlipShare Rides Off Into Sunset, Hands Video Sharing Keys to Givit

Welcome FlipShare usersRemember Flip, the diminutive digital camcorder whose short life was snuffed out by a combination of mismanagement and the advent of smartphones that could record higher-quality HD video? The cameras are still six feet under, and as of this week, so is the companion FlipShare service.

Flip Video master Cisco Systems has sent an email to users of FlipShare announcing that the sun is finally setting on the video sharing service, which was a companion to the hardware itself and allowed users to share their videos with loved ones as sort of a more private kind of YouTube. It’s a bit of a sad ending to cap off the once-mighty Flip camcorder that just a short time ago revolutionized on-the-go video recording.

“Thank you for your loyalty and support of Flip Video,” the email begins. “Starting March 15, 2012, videos shared through email or FlipShare groups will only be available online for viewing and downloading for 30 days after being sent. At the same time, older videos that you might have shared more than 30 days in the past will also expire.

“Remember, the original videos that you have stored on your computer are not affected and you can use FlipShare to re-share these videos, as well as allowing your friends and family to download these videos for permanent storage at any point in that 30 days,” the notice continues.

While FlipShare may be going away, they’re handing the keys to their castle over to Givit, a mobile video sharing service currently offering an iOS app as part of their business model.

“We know that many of you are looking for a way to store your videos online for a longer period of time,” Cisco explains. “Today we are happy to announce a new offering called Givit, an alternative service to FlipShare, through which you can share and store videos online for more than 30 days. You can also import your previously shared FlipShare videos to Givit to keep them online for your friends and family to view. Givit is a long-standing technology partner of Cisco, but Givit is not part of Cisco.”

More information on the FlipShare to Givit transition can be found on the Givit website, including full details on migrating videos to their service, which comes with 2GB of free cloud storage. Additional premium packages are also available ranging from 10GB (.99 per year) to 50GB (.99 per year), and FlipShare users will get double the storage space with any paid upgrade.

Meanwhile, Cisco will continue to provide technical support for Flip cameras as well as the FlipShare service until December 31, 2013; a FAQ page documenting the changes is available on the Flip support website.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



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The New iPad Arrives Worldwide

New iPad launch in NYCRight on cue, Apple today released the new iPad, which again attracted throngs of buyers — not to mention the media looking to document the experience — in all 10 of the countries where it launched today.

AppleInsider is reporting on the launch of the new iPad Friday, which began at 8am in Australia — technically yesterday for our American readers — and has continued to roll out across all 10 countries getting first crack at the company’s newest tablet.

East Coasters got their first crack at the new iPad here in the U.S. when the doors to Apple’s retail stores opened on schedule at 8am. There were reports of Apple employees offering coffee to the waiting masses prior to stores opening on this brisk March morning, although unseasonably warm temperatures in many parts of the country will surely bring out additional buyers throughout the day.

New York City’s Fifth Avenue Apple store reportedly had a line so long by 8am that it “wrapped all the way up to W. 58th Street,” according to AppleInsider. That line first began on Wednesday as eager early adopters lined up outside the company’s glass cube, and apparently attracted a record number of press and media looking to cover the launch.

West Coasters still have a little wait ahead of them at this writing, but customers at the Westfield Mall in Century City, California got a little surprise when none other than Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak showed up to get in line. Woz is reportedly in the Los Angeles area to speak at an Apple Investor Summit, according to a quick video interview from (also embedded below).

“It’s just sort of like it’s become a ritual, almost,” Wozniak explained as he waited patiently for the new iPad. “Because I’ve done it so many times, I’m doing it again. It’s not something that you have to do. I mean, no nobody has to wait in line. You can pre-order.” When asked why Woz doesn’t simply get an iPad direct from the company he helped found, he dismissed the idea, claiming he’d rather be “genuine, like the real people.”

The new iPad launched Friday in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the UK, along with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — an even larger list of countries will be able to get their hands on one come March 23.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

(Image courtesy of AppleInsider, video courtesy of


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Win a New iPad from Mac|Life!

Now that you’ve had time to take in the news of Apple’s new iPad, you’re probably wondering whether it’s worth waiting in line for it come March 16. Well, why bother doing that when we can give you one? That’s right: we’d like to offer you a chance to win your own iPad 3, without having to wait in line on day one to receive yours.

To win the iPad 3, all you have to do is:

— Go to our Facebook page and “Like” us

— Go to our official Twitter page and copy the About part underneath the MacLife name

— Come back here and paste that paragraph as a comment. Your username on the site will enter you in a drawing to win one of four (4!!!) iPad 3s.

That’s it! All you have to do are these three simple things. You have until the end of this month to enter the contest, and we’ll keep reminding you about it as often as we can. Read the fine print below for more details. Good luck and happy posting!

ETA: As an aside, entering multiple times doesn’t increase your chances of winning.

The fine print:
Mac|Life “Win an iPad 3!” Contest rules: The winner will be chosen at random from qualified entries. All entries must be received no later than March 31, 2012. By entering this contest, you agree that Future US, Inc. may use your name, likeness, and website for promotional purposes without further payment. Employees of Sponsor, its respective parent, subsidiaries, affiliated companies, and agents, and foregoing employees¹ household or immediate family members (defined as parent, spouse, child, sibling, or grandparent) are NOT eligible to enter Contest. All prizes will be awarded, and no minimum number of entries is required. If two or more people enter identical designs and that entry is selected as the winner, the entry received first will be awarded the contest prize. Prizes won by minors will be awarded to their parents or legal guardians. Future US, Inc. is not responsible for damages or expenses the winners might incur as a result of this contest or the receipt of a prize, and winners are responsible for income taxes based on the value of the prize received. A list of winners may also be obtained by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Future US, Inc. c/o Mac|Life Contest, 4000 Shoreline Court, Suite 400, South San Francisco, CA 94080. This contest is limited to residents of the United States. No purchase necessary; void in Arizona, Maryland, Vermont, Puerto Rico, and where prohibited by law.


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Friday Recap: “The New iPads Are Here! The New iPads Are Here!” Edition

Sky Gamblers: Air SupremacyIf it seems quiet across the internet today, that’s because thousands of us are now holding the new iPad in our hot little hands, and we’re probably too busy jumping between Retina Display-enabled apps to do much else. By all accounts, today’s launch is another success for Apple, who appears to have beefed up inventory of the new iPad as many retail outlets still have stock remaining. You know what that means: Skim through today’s recap and then get to the store and buy one! Without further ado, here’s what’s making news for this Friday, March 16, 2012.

App Updates: Sky Gamblers, Mac|Life, Where’s a Retina Instapaper?

Now that the new iPad is finding happy homes in 10 countries around the world, those users are looking for apps to install on them. As luck would have it, Namco pushed out Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy on Thursday night. You’ll recall the .99 Retina-ready app was one of a trio of apps featured during last week’s Apple keynote introducing the new iPad, and now “the ultimate air combat game” is ready to touchdown on your tablet.

While it may not be Retina-ready quite yet, the Newsstand-enabled Mac|Life app also got an update this morning to version 1.9, offering previews of each issue before purchasing (yay!), minor performance enhancements (excellent!) and the ability to print pages via AirPrint (awesome!). Great work, guys — now let’s get cracking on that Retina update, shall we?

Speaking of Retina Display upgrades, fans of Instapaper might be wondering why developer Marco Arment has nothing for them to download to their new iPad today. According to his blog, it turns out that the Instapaper app does indeed include the necessary 2x resolution graphics — but they won’t appear until the app is compiled using the iOS 5.1 SDK. Given that Arment already has a nifty 4.1 update nearly finished, he decided to hold off rushing out a patch release for Retina Display support and plans to submit the new version to Apple this weekend. (And just for the record, text still looks amazing in Instapaper on our new iPad.)

Consumer Reports Says Unlimited Data Plans May Be Costing You More

We’ve always wondered if clinging to our original iPhone’s unlimited data plan through AT&T was worth the each month, and now along comes Consumer Reports saying, “Not so much.” As it turns out, “close to half of AT&T customers with unlimited plans could save a month by switching to a metered plan” — and that’s not exactly chicken feed in today’s economy. According to usage data provided to CR by Validas, a full 48 percent of current AT&T unlimited data subscribers use less than 300MB a month — and by switching to the lowest plan available, they could save 0 over the course of a year (which is 0 over a two-year contract). Granted, most of us don’t want to part with our unlimited plans, which have been grandfathered with each new iPhone, especially since there’s no going back. But given that AT&T is now slowing down your 3G speed when you hit 3GB each month, it’s not like “unlimited” means the same thing it did back in 2007 anyway…

Your New Verizon iPad Can Also Run on AT&T’s 3G Network

We’re among those who opted for a Verizon 4G LTE model with the new iPad, which is why we were quite thrilled to read this report from MacRumors claiming that this model is also capable of using AT&T — but only at 3G speeds. “I was one of the first to obtain a Verizon iPad and can happily confirm that this is allowed,” exclaimed MacRumors forum member jsnuff1 earlier today. “I used my ATT iPhone 4S sim card and took out the Verizon sim, and data worked! You must apply the AT&T APN carrier settings before this works though.” Because AT&T’s 4G LTE uses a different radio band than Verizon, you’ll be limited to 3G — but that includes using the carrier’s HSPA+, which they’ve rebranded as “4G” anyway. So, in a pinch you could yank the SIM card out of your iPhone 4/4S, slap it into your new iPad with Verizon 4G LTE and gobble up some of that aforementioned unlimited data we were just talking about.

This American Life Issues Retraction on Apple Factory Story

Ironic considering the new iPad just hit stores today, but This American Life has posted a retraction on a controversial story the radio show aired back in January about the factory working conditions at Foxconn, Apple’s manufacturing partner in China. The report used content from Mike Daisey’s monologue “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” itself culled from Daisey’s own visits to Foxconn. As it turns out, a Chinese interpreter hired during that visit has disputed a great deal of Daisey’s story, and today This American Life issued a rare retraction to this particular show over what they call “significant fabrications” in Daisey’s one-man show. “Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast,” the TAL blog notes. “That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.” The embarrassing retraction comes after broadcasting what TAL calls “the single most popular podcast in This American Life’s history, with 888,000 downloads and 206,000 streams to date.” Meanwhile, in Cupertino, Apple CEO Tim Cook has another reason to smile today…

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter



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