April 30th, 2013
07:24 AM ET

iTunes at 10: the cracks are showing

Wait, the iTunes Store is 10 years old?

It's true, the digital media store was launched a decade ago this week - on April 28, 2003.

These days, it sells TV shows, movies, apps and books. But back then, it only sold music and marked a sea change for the recording industry.

iTunes became the largest music retailer on the planet by 2010. According to NPD, iTunes is currently responsible for 63% of all digital music sales - putting it well ahead of rivals like Amazon and Google.

The iTunes music store may still be the leader of the digital music arena but according to Nilay Patel, Managing Editor of The Verge, the cracks are starting to show.

The business model has hardly changed over ten years and a number of music streaming and subscription options are out there, grabbing the attention of a younger demographic.

After a decade of success, can Apple continue its dominance in digital music?

With competition coming from Pandora, Spotify and others that stream music online, Patel says, "iTunes itself needs to change to become a more Internet-centric service."

Apple is starting to move in that direction. But there's no time to lose.

April 19th, 2013
01:27 PM ET

Watching #BostonMarathon unfold online

The manhunt is ongoing.

Officers in Boston are going door to door, searching for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing. He is at large and believed to be armed and dangerous. The first suspect is dead. Residents in the area have been urged to stay indoors.

This dramatic turn of events took place shortly after the FBI released to the public additional photos and videos of the suspects at the site of the blasts that killed three people and wounded 180 people.

What role did social media play in tracking down the suspects? To what degree was the FBI investigation crowdsourced? And what have we learned about the suspects from their own digital footprints on various social media channels?

Earlier this week on News Stream, I talked to our regular contributor and NewYorker.com editor Nicholas Thompson about the role technology and social media has played - from disaster communications to offering help to the victims to communing during a time of senseless tragedy.

But given events in the last few hours, it's a conversation that begs to be revisited.

April 12th, 2013
02:27 PM ET

PC sales down but not out

You've seen the report by now. Research firm IDC says global shipments of PCs fell 14% last quarter - nearly twice as bad as expected.

The report says consumers are putting their money on mobile devices instead, adding that the sector is at "a critical crossroads."

OK. PC sales are declining, but is the PC really going away?

Regular News Stream contributor Nicholas Thompson, editor of the NewYorker.com, is a defender of this technology in decline.

He points out that PC sales will still outnumber tablet sales in the next two years and that, paradoxically, one of the reasons why PC sales are declining is that they simply last longer.

"In 5 years, when we fully enter the mobile era, there will be many of us with desktops," says Thompson.

Call me a PC-hugger. I plan to be one of them.

April 11th, 2013
02:03 PM ET

Will people flip to make their own magazines?

Want to be a magazine publisher? There's an app for that.

Popular news aggregator Flipboard has launched a new version with a "curation" feature that allows anyone to run their own magazine inside the app.

Sounds cool. But why would an average joe with a smartphone want to do that?

"A lot of people have a lot to say. There is a desire to curate and organize content," says Flipboard co-creator and CEO Mike McCue.

"They don't want to create a blog, it's too technical. This gives them a very easy way to do that."

McCue says there have been "hundreds of thousands" of magazines created so far by Flipboard readers around the world on topics ranging from profesional equestrian sport to the latest research in cancer genetics.

It's a development that's prompted one media commentator to call it a major threat to established publishers akin to "a giant iceberg lurking in the path of the media."

But McCue insists he wants high quality journalism and content to thrive online, adding that "the future has never been brighter for publishers."

The Flipboard chief says the company works with over a thousand different publishers to help them reach a new generation of readers on mobile devices to "take their media operations into a new realm."

But could the smartphone-wielding news junkie supplant the publisher in both news creation and spinning money from the business?

"We are thinking about how to let individuals, the people who are curating magazines, to be able to generate revenue," admits McCue.

"But the first priority is to enable publishers whose content can get curated inside these magazines to get revenues. That's priority one, and then we will look at how individual readers can participate in that economic scenario."

Traditional media execs, you have been warned.