Digital media

Robert Cookson

The New York Times Company and Axel Springer are hoping that a little-known Dutch start-up called Blendle may hold the key to making money from news online.

The two media groups have paid a combined €3m to acquire a 23 per cent stake in Blendle, which was founded last year and styles itself as the “iTunes for journalism”.

Blendle was launched in the Netherlands in April and sells individual articles from a number of newspapers and magazines to internet users through its website and app. On average an article costs 20 cents. The pricing per article is set by the publishers and revenues are split 70:30 between the publisher and Blendle. If a reader doesn’t like an article, they can ask for a refund. Read more >>

There is something peculiarly impressive about the video below of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, talking in Mandarin to students at Tsinghua University in Beijing. If nothing else, it shows a dedication to the country’s customs that very few foreign business leaders can match.

Mr Zuckerberg clearly has business motives for making the effort, in addition to his personal connections – Priscilla Chan, his wife, comes from a Chinese family and her mother speaks mostly Mandarin. Facebook is blocked in mainland China, along with other US internet companies, and wants restrictions to be loosened. Read more >>

John WrenTelevision’s $70bn advertising business isn’t dead yet. So says John Wren, chief executive of Omnicom, one of the world’s biggest advertising companies.

But Mr Wren’s message on Tuesday may be cold comfort to network executives who are seeing digital outlets grab more money once firmly earmarked for broadcast and cable.

“I believe that trend will continue. I don’t think TV’s dead,” Mr Wren told investors on Omnicom’s earnings call on Tuesday. He is the latest industry executive to acknowledge that the digital ad business is getting a boost from the proliferation of online content and from the valuable targeting data held by companies like Facebook. Read more >>

Barely two months after Apple admitted it was storing users’ data online in mainland China, reports emerged that hackers have tried breaking into its iCloud data.

Apple representatives in China declined to comment on the reports of the hacking attack, which were posted on GreatFire.org, a group that conducts research on Chinese internet censorship.

The revelations, if true, would be little surprise to China observers. But it would be a comeuppance for Apple whose decision to store users’ data in mainland servers underlined the tenuous balance that foreign tech companies must strike between commitment to customer security and the realities of the Chinese market. Read more >>

First it was Vice, then came Buzzfeed. Now, Ozy has become the latest news start-up aimed at young, digital natives to ramp up its offering on the back of a new injection of cash.

The California company backed by German publisher Axel Springer and Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, is stepping up advertising and has hired Jonathan Dahl to become news editor from the Wall Street Journal. Read more >>

Google faces a lot of questions on Europe’s new right to be forgotten ruling.

Should it notify a news website that it taking down links to one of its stories in its search results? Can famous people remove links to information about them created before they began to make headlines? Should those who fail to understand Facebook’s privacy settings be able remove information held in their social network profile from Google’s search results?

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At London swing of Google's advisory council hearings on #rtbf. Unlike the search engine, lots of questions, few answers

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These were among tricky dilemmas put today to Google’s “advisory council”: a group of independent experts advising the company on how to implement the European Court of Justice’s controversial decision in May. The court gave people the right to ask internet search engines to remove sensitive or embarrassing links to websites for queries that include their name. Deluged with hundreds of thousands of such takedown requests, Google wants the council to help develop policies to deal with the most difficult of cases.

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Richard Milne

Angry Birds may be in free fall but two of the executives most responsible for its success are spreading their wings.

Just days after the company behind Angry Birds cut 16 per cent of its workforce amid disappointing growth, two former Rovio executives are launching their first game backed with $5m of venture capital money.

Andrew Stalbow, former head of strategic partnerships at Rovio and now chief executive at Seriously, said he hoped Thursday’s launch of Best Fiends would be the start of creating a mobile phone-centred entertainment brand. Read more >>

Apple’s latest iPhone has been has been hailed as the thinnest and biggest mobile device it has created yet. But those qualities may have created an unexpected problem: the gadget may have a tendency to “bend”.

Lewis Hilsenteger of product review site Unbox Therapy has published a video that has gone viral (over 3m views and counting), in which he conducted a not-so-scientific “bend test” on the phone. Using his hands to apply pressure on the back of the device while pulling the edges back, he found that the device was warped.

“Will this happen in your front pocket?” asked Mr Hilsenteger. “That probably depends on how tight your pants are.”

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Russian internet group Mail.ru has paid $1.47bn to acquire the 48 per cent of social media website VKontakte that it does not already own, ending a battle for ownership of Russia’s equivalent to Facebook. Read more >>

If you thought flying a Flappy Bird was fiendish, just wait until you try swooping Swing Copters. So say new addicts of the latest free app from cult Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen, who this week overcame his famous revulsion at his previous creation to release what looks like another hit.

Droves of instant Swing Copters devotees took to Twitter Friday to bemoan how guiding the propeller-headed hero through a landscape of deadly swinging obstacles was even closer to impossible than navigating Flappy Bird’s famously exasperating arrays of killer pipesRead more >>