At first, I thought Hearst’s new iPhone app division sounded cheesy, but the idea is gradually growing on me. The division, called LMK, short for “Let Me Know”, is a lean operation. Five employees churn out apps that cost $.99 to $1.99 for a “few hundred dollars of employee time,” said the division’s executive vice president George Kliavkoff in an article by The Wall Street Journal. This thing is built with one objective, load up the App store with as many products as possible, as quickly as possible and wait for the money to flow in.The app generation operation seems to have emerged out of a destination site called LMK.com, originally built by Hearst Entertainment last year as a growing number of vertical channels supported by content aggregation and curation tactics. The apps are essentially mini content aggregators by themselves. Each is built within a similar template and collects links from a variety of sources on a particular niche topic—specific celebrities, sports teams, etc. “LMK’s five full-time employees simply dig up the best sources of information on each topic area and feed the sources into a common template,” says the WSJ.com story. The only costs apparently are employee time and photo licensing as needed.It’s a corporate approach to everyone’s app creation lottery fantasy. (What if we created an app that didn’t require much work, chucked it into the App store for 99 cents and see if we can sell a few thou?)It’s an adaptable strategy. If it doesn’t work, roll it up and move on. In the meantime, the plan is to eventually have thousands of apps available. At its heart, the plan acknowledges that the store is already bloated with 150,000 apps and aims to tip the ratio in its favor (reports note that Hearst has confirmation from Apple that the apps will not be barred from the store despite their volume and lightweight utility). Second, studies have pointed out that many apps are downloaded, consumed and then discarded shortly thereafter anyway. Why not keep the pipeline stocked as long as the demand continues? As one trend emerges, LMK produces an app. As that trend dissipates, LMK is close behind with another app based on the next trend. Rinse, repeat.Curiously, the strategy hinges on an automated, multi-source aggregation tactic that is reminiscent of similar tactics from other aggregators that frequently draw the ire of big publishers. It’s also a light-weight product, a simple bet that consumers will value an aggregation tool at 99 cents that collects news about a favorite team or celebrity.But it’s a low-cost, under-the-radar operation for Hearst and one that just might produce decent returns.
Eugene D. Kinlow is a candidate for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat. (Photo Courtesy of Kinlow Campaign)Eugene D. Kinlow is one of 15 candidates in the April 28 special election to fill the Ward 8 vacancy on the D.C. Council. He is involved with persuading Congress to grant the District political representation and preventing a private prison and trash transfer station in Ward 8.One of the District’s leading progressive activists, he wants to use his decades of experience to make Ward 8 a viable economic engine that will benefit its residents.Kinlow said that based on his years of advocacy and deep knowledge of the ward, he is the best person for the voters to send to the John A. Wilson Building. “I have lived in Ward 8 since the 1960s,” Kinlow said. “I have the vision, experience, leadership and a plan for the ward. When I was a child, Ward 8 had sit-down restaurants, grocery stores and movie theaters and we don’t have that now and I want to change that.”Kinlow is the scion of a prominent Ward 8 political family. His father, Eugene Kinlow, served as an at-large member, as president of the D.C. Board of Education, and on the D.C. Control Board.The candidate’s wife, Tonya, served on the D.C. Board of Education as an at-large member also.In the 2002 general election for one of the two at-large council seats, Kinlow, an independent, got 9.14 percent of the vote in a race dominated by D.C. Council incumbents Phil Mendelson (D) and David Catania (R).Kinlow said that Muriel Bowser, now the District’s mayor, was an active volunteer in the 2002 campaign. “My family and [the mayor’s family] the Bowsers go way back,” he said.Kinlow has been president of the Bellevue Civic Association and the Ward 8 Democrats, and represented the ward on the D.C. Democratic State Committee. He was a radio talk show co-host of the “D.C. Politics Hour” on WPFW and worked as the public affairs director at D.C. Vote, a non-profit that seeks to get the District a vote in Congress.He served 10 years as a member of the University of the District of Columbia Board of Trustees, is presently vice chairperson of Washington East Foundation, and has been a board member of Cultural Tourism DC, a non-profit dedicated to promoting the District’s neighborhoods and landmarks. If elected to the council, Kinlow said he will focus on developing the land adjacent to the Anacostia Metro Station.“If you look where the Anacostia station is located, it is a crossroads,” Kinlow said. “It is located a few feet from the Suitland Parkway that goes into Prince George’s County, several yards from I-295 that is part of the I-95 system, and short trip to South Capitol Street and right next to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. The station’s location is considered prime and is ripe for commercial, retail, and housing developments.”Kinlow wants to provide more jobs for young people and make massive investments in housing, particularly workforce housing where public employees such as teachers and public safety officers can stay in the city.Kinlow, who graduated from Ballou Senior High School in 1979 after attending Ward 8 schools throughout his childhood, wants all schools in the ward to be of high quality. “We need to stop sending our children to schools in other parts of the city,” he said.Kinlow said he can deliver for the ward at the Wilson Building because he knows all of the council members and they know he means business. “All of the members of the council know that I’m an honest broker,” he said.Sandy Allen, who represented the ward on the council from 1997-2005, supports LaRuby May for the council and has had political fights with Kinlow, but she respects him. “He has the right to run [for the council],” she said. “He has been a resident of the ward for a long time.”Markus Batchelor, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in the ward, said Kinlow is worthy of a look. “His son and I worked on the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute together and I also worked with him on projects led by DC Vote,” Batchelor said. “To me, he was always supportive and a source of encouragement.”