CNN has a headline about this evening’s cancellation of Law & Order, and the front page of Google News has seven of them – but neither has any front page mention of this evening’s cancellation of Heroes. The choice of headlines stands in sharp contrast with Twitter, where “NBC cancels HEROES” has been the number one most talked about topic on the social networking service all evening, according to the trending topics list, while Law & Order hasn’t even cracked the top ten. So what’s spurred the vastly different prioritizing of the simultaneous cancellations of two NBC dramas? That’s a good question.
Age differential could explain it, as mainstream television writers may be more likely to be of an age to have recalled Law & Order’s heyday as an adult, while much of Twitter’s younger-skewed userbase were still schoolkids when Law & Order made its debut twenty years ago. But does that paint the whole picture? While the Law & Order cancellation is news primarily because of how long the show lasted and what kind of impact it had over that long run, Heroes was the more recently popular – and relevant – of the two. So perhaps it’s as much the fact that social networking conversations tend to skew more toward the present than the past that explains this evening’s reporting chasm. Then again, social networks are the reason eighty eight year old Betty White made it onto Saturday Night Live, and recently deceased legend Lena Horne was a Twitter trending topic on the day of her death.
It may come down to the fact that Law & Order, despite having an episode structure considered radical when it first launched, was very much considered to be a traditional standard show (complete with several spinoffs) by its end. Heroes, in contrast, never quite fit the mold of anything and was, for better or worse, very much a twenty-first century experimental television show from start to finish.
No doubt NBC pushed out all this bad news on a Friday afternoon so that the negative headlines for the struggling network would be at a minimum one way or the other, as by Monday morning the headline writers and the tweeters alike will have found another topic to obsess over. Then again, come to think of it, the fact that the Law & Order news leaked out unofficially on Thursday gave the traditional headline writers all day Friday to prepare their Law & Order epitaph pieces if the news indeed turned out to be official, while the Heroes cancellation articles weren’t able to be written in advance.
So much for these being hard times where no one wants to pay for a product unless it’s been discounted. Apple reported its quarterly earnings this afternoon which included $13.5 billion on overall revenue, three billion of which was profit. Compared to the same quarter a year ago, revenue was up forty-nine percent while profit was up an eye-popping ninety percent, confirming that consumers are increasingly willing to pay Apple’s asking prices for its products even in instances where competing products can be found at significantly cheaper price points.
So how did Apple pull it off this past quarter? Nearly nine million iPhones were sold, more than double the number being sold this time last year, along with nearly eleven million iPods – which represented a perhaps humorous one percent drop in year ago sales, presumably as longtime buyers of classic iPod models increasingly find their way to the iPhone instead. These sales numbers do not reflect the iPad, which went on sale after the reporting quarter had ended. Apple also sold 2.94 million Macintosh computers (desktops and laptops combined) during the stretch, representing a thirty-three percent increase over the previous year.
Referring to it as the best non-holiday quarter in the company’s history, Apple CEO Steve Jobs remarked “We’ve launched our revolutionary new iPad and users are loving it, and we have several more extraordinary products in the pipeline for this year.”
These are the numbers as Apple has reported them. We’ll crunch them further to try to put them into greater context, and see if there’s any bad news hidden anywhere within what appears to have been all around good news for the company.