Monthly Archives: February 2011

John Gapper

Sergio Marchionne of Fiat and Chrysler has got himself into a fine mess with one appearance in San Francisco on Friday in which he managed to scandalise two governments simultaneously.

One of his sallies was foolish as well as offensive. Describing the finance offered by the US and Canadian governments to keep Chrysler afloat with taxpayer money as “shyster” loans was an absurd comment (for which Mr Marchionne has apologised).

To state the obvious, Chrysler would have collapsed in 2009 without those loans and no-one else apart from the US government was willing to make them. I still question whether it was a good idea at all.

The fact that it charged interest on behalf of taxpayers was the least it could do, and Mr Marchionne, who as I previously noted enjoys being the centre of attention, was silly to bite the hands that fed him. Read more

John Gapper

The first week of The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-only newspaper has crystallised my evolving view of what does, and does not, make for a successful news publication on the tablet.

What does, I think, is an informative publication with plenty of in-depth content that can be downloaded rapidly because it does not contain a lot of heavy video and data which requires minutes to be transmitted even over broadband.

What does not is an all-singing, all-dancing multimedia production that is probably very impressive but which takes far too long to download and use. Very few people are likely to bother to wait. Read more

Everyone has an innovation policy these days – no prime minister or president is without one. After Barack Obama’s declaration in his State of the Union address that the US faced a new “Sputnik moment”, David Cameron flew to Davos last week to insist that “our biggest ambitions have got to be for innovation”.

John Gapper

To the Guggenheim Museum in New York to watch the launch of The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s new newspaper – or more accurately newspaper-cum-magazine – for the iPad.

My colleague David Gelles has reviewed the first edition of The Daily here, so I will confine myself to the observation that it looks nice and has lot of moving parts, such as video and slideshows, but lacks urgency.

I increasingly find in using my own iPad that I favour lightweight apps that I know will download quickly, and which are easily navigable, rather than the all-singing all-dancing apps that are long-winded and sluggish. Read more

John Gapper

I am keeping a close eye on my seven New Year predictions – and the fact that The King’s Speech has done so well in Oscar nominations is not a good sign – but one thing which appears to be falling in line is pharmaceutical research.

I stuck my neck out in December and predicted that a large pharma company would drop early-stage research and outsource it instead. Not so far, but Pfizer’s announcement that it will cut back its research operations, including closing its UK research laboratory at Sandwich, is an interesting marker. Read more

John Gapper

Reading my colleague Jonathan Guthrie’s Lunch with the FT interview with Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, made me wonder whether more people may adopt their childhood names as their adult ones.

Biz has a snappy ring to it and it also dominates the search results for the name on Google, not only because he is well-known but because there aren’t many other Biz Stones. In fact there are not any that I can identify. Read more