Archive for the 'Tablet computers' Category

21
Feb
11

Why Apple is winning the Tablet Price War

Google can’t seem to market a Tablet under $700. Since when did Apple become the low cost player?

18
Jan
11

Apple and Steve Jobs

Last time stockpickers panicked when Jobs took a medical leave, only to regret it. Apple has a deep management bench and a long term product strategy.

16
Dec
10

Jay-Z’s “Decoded”: The hardcover, The digital edition, The enhanced e-Book, and the app

Wall Street Journal

December 13, 2010

Delivering ‘Decoded’ in Multiple Ways
By JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG
[DECODED]

Buying a new book isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Bertelsmann AG’s Random House Inc., last month put Jay-Z’s memoir and lyric guide, “Decoded,” on sale as a $35 hardcover. It also made a digital edition available at the same price, although Amazon.com Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc. sell it for only $9.99.

The book has been a big hit. Published on Nov. 16, it has 330,000 copies in print, according to its publisher, a significant number of copies in this economy.

But Random House also has come up with a host of other editions, including an application that is expected to be available soon at Apple Inc.’s App Store for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

“We want to deliver content any way the consumer wants to read it,” says Gina Centrello, publisher of the Random House Publishing Group, which includes Spiegel & Grau.

Consumers will be able to purchase a 10-song version of the “Decoded” app for $9.99 with interactive lyrics. If they pay an additional $24.99, they’ll get 26 more songs with lyrics. They can also listen to the actual songs if they have them in their iTunes library—or buy them. The app will work only on Apple devices.

Enough? Not quite. Random House also is offering an enhanced e-book edition for $35 that includes exclusive video interviews with Jay-Z, plus two additional videos. This format is available via the Amazon Kindle app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

So, one title, “Decoded,” but five versions: the book, the digital e-book, the app, the expanded app and the enhanced e-book. And that doesn’t even include the likely paperback edition.

Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at jeffrey.trachtenberg@wsj.com
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page B6

11
Dec
10

Tablet computing prompts a wave of news app innovation

The Wall Street Journal

GADGETS & GAMES
DECEMBER 9, 2010, 9:33 P.M. ET

Read All About It as News Apps Arrive

By SPENCER E. ANTE

In his last quarter as a graduate student in electrical engineering at Stanford University, Akshay Kothari skipped out of school this spring and failed a bunch of his courses.

Mr. Kothari wasn’t lollygagging at the beach. He and fellow student Ankit Gupta used the time to finish up and roll out the Pulse News Reader, a $3.99 iPad application that quickly became the top paid offering in the iPad section of Apple Inc.’s App Store. The two developed the service as part of a class they did attend in the school’s Institute of Design.

“It just sucked up my whole life,” Mr. Kothari, 24 years old, said of the project.

Now, Mr. Kothari is just one of several entrepreneurs who are helping to create a category of news apps that people are increasingly using to consume news and information. In the news category of the App Store, news readers such as Pulse, Flipboard and SkyGrid occupy five of the top 10 positions. Both Pulse and Flipboard say they have at least 500,000 users, while SkyGrid said it is poised to pass one million users during the first quarter of 2011.
[NEWSAPP] James Yang

The rapid growth has attracted top-tier venture-capitalists such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the Mayfield Fund. In July, Flipboard said it raised $10.5 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Index Ventures and several angel investors, including Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and technology-savvy actor Ashton Kutcher.

The makers of these apps say news readers provide a way to keep newspaper and magazine content relevant in a mobile age and might even help provide a new source of revenue for the beleaguered industry by driving traffic back to their websites.

“We can help publishers on the presentation of content and help readers become more engaged,” said Mike McCue, chief executive officer and co-founder of Flipboard.

But the future of news readers has already been darkened by disputes over intellectual property. The Pulse News Reader was pulled temporarily from the App Store after New York Times Co. sent a letter to Apple alleging the app violated the company’s terms of service. Apple restored Pulse a day later, after Pulse removed a screenshot of the New York Times featured on Pulse’s iPad download page.

News readers are built on the news feeds from publishers’ websites. What is novel is how they present the information in easy-to-read formats built specifically for the smaller screens of mobile devices.

Typically, users select a news source or topic to follow, then new articles pop up like tiles in a grid of text and photos.

Clicking on a tile brings up text-only versions of articles or the full articles as they are presented on the Web. News apps also let people easily share articles through Twitter and Facebook.

Jeff Jarvis, a former publishing executive who is now associate professor at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, said news readers could turn into a powerful distribution platform if they can overcome intellectual-property challenges and find a way to earn money for news-reader companies and publishers.

“It is an opportunity to bring a new convenience and a new user interface,” Mr. Jarvis said. “The public has shown they like it. We need to figure out a way for this to work.”

Apple reinstated the Pulse app one day after taking it down, though Apple didn’t explain why. “Our app was reinstated the next day after the huge public support we got,” Mr. Kothari said.

Now, after talking with the New York Times about Pulse, Mr. Kothari said the two sides are looking at ways they can work together. “Pulse has been responsive to any concerns we have had, and we have an ongoing open dialogue with them,” said a spokeswoman for the New York Times.

Mr. Kothari said he was able to stay in business after he explained to the New York Times and Apple that the app wasn’t taking content from the New York Times’s website. Rather, Pulse is using the RSS news feeds from the company, which are available to the public. “It was a misunderstanding,” Mr. Kothari said. Now, he said he is talking to the New York Times about ways they can work together. “It is a very healthy relationship now,” he said.

To make Web content more accessible, some news-reader makers are partnering with media companies. Flipboard has struck partnerships with the Washington Post magazine, Bon Appetit, ABC News and other companies to make customizable templates that convert Web content into a magazine-like reading experience. Flipboard said it plans to release on Friday an iPad version of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. Pulse has a deal with the Huffington Post.

SkyGrid CEO Kevin Pomplun said he is in talks now with publishers to showcase their content on his company’s app. SkyGrid already works with publishers that ask the company to customize their content. Some publishers, for example, want to show full-function Web pages, while others prefer to feature the stripped-down versions designed for mobile phones.

News apps are starting to develop their own business models. Most developers say they will rely on a combination of advertising and premium content or services. “We want to stay away from banner ads,” Mr. Kothari said. “We need to think about ways to monetize that don’t degrade the user experience.”

SkyGrid said it is working with a number of big advertisers such as Sony Corp. and Audi of America Inc., a unit of Audi AG The company runs full-screen ads when a user opens the app, and it also is selling ad sponsorships of various categories.

Flipboard’s Mr. McCue said news apps are likely to ultimately deliver a better way to advertise than traditional banner ads. One reason is the larger screens on tablets allow for more appealing and engaging ads like the ones in fashion magazines. Flipboard is currently working with ad agency OMD, a unit of Omnicom Group Ltd., to test various full-page ads with advertisers such as Pepsi, Infiniti and Showtime.

“The Web needs a face-lift,” Mr. McCue said. “You will see an opportunity for the publishers to do more effective advertising.”

Write to Spencer E. Ante at Spencer.Ante@wsj.com

06
Dec
10

Google E Book Store

Google enters the E Book Fray with an “open ecosystem”.

03
Dec
10

The FT’s John Gapper on the merits of iPad-only publishing.

Why the iPad should rival the web

By John Gapper

Published (Financial Times) : December 1 2010 20:14 | Last updated: December 1 2010 20:14

Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch are entrepreneurs with an admirable record of ignoring conventional wisdom, so it is worth watching when they do the same thing at once.

In this case, they are launching iPad-only publications. Sir Richard bowled into New York on Tuesday to unveil a £1.79 or $2.99 monthly magazine called Project, while Mr Murdoch is about to launch a “newspaper” called The Daily, for which he hopes 800,000 people will pay $1 a week. Both will charge readers in an era when most internet publications are free.

The fact that Mr Murdoch will separate his new daily publication from “the open web” by publishing on the iPad has provoked scepticism and hostility in digital media circles. “Murdoch keeps fighting the internet and the internet keeps on winning,” wrote Mathew Ingram, of the GigaOm technology blog.

This fits into a bigger debate about whether companies are balkanising the web to gain economic leverage. Tim Berners-Lee, the British scientist who invented the World Wide Web, complained in Scientific American about Facebook’s private accumulation of data, and of print publishers’ “disturbing” wish to create closed worlds.

Yet, even leaving business models aside, it is hard to blame them. The truth is that, two decades after Sir Tim pioneered it, the internet has proven a poor medium for publishers who originate a lot of news and information. It has gone further than levelling the playing field between old-style publishers and start-ups – it has given the advantage to low-cost information providers.

This was less clear before the iPad and other tablets came along, but it stares you in the face when you compare the experience of reading a publication with a lot of content on a desktop and a tablet. A regular browser on a computer is good for skimming (“surfing”) among many different news sources, but poor at immersing you in one.

In his book The Shallows, the technology writer Nicholas Carr talked of the internet’s “uniquely rapid-fire mode of collecting and dispersing information” and argued that he was becoming accustomed “to take in information the way the net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles”.

It goes without saying that the internet has great benefits in terms of the amount of information that can now be accessed directly, rather than being mediated by a newspaper or television news show. The idea that anyone could (if he or she chose) read the 250,000 US diplomatic cables soon to be made available by WikiLeaks would have been inconceivable two decades ago.

But there is no such thing as a neutral medium. Just as newspapers, radio and television offered different methods of presenting news and information, with varying degrees of depth, the internet favours some forms of content over others. People tend to skim the home pages of sites rather than delving deeply because browsers work that way.

If you try to dig far into a web publication, the pages often load slowly and it is hard to find your way out again, or even to know where you are within it. ‘The web is an infinite experience. You never have a feeling for what the whole is,” says John Rose, a partner of Boston Consulting Group.

This tends to favour shallow (I mean that technically, rather than as a value judgment) sites with a lot of aggregated material and links, such as Gawker and the Huffington Post, over those weighted towards deep stacks of original content. The line is blurring as upstarts shift towards producing more original material, but the point stands.

The iPad, with its full-screen apps containing a single game or information source changes that, as does the fact that an entire edition can be downloaded at once. This makes it easier to navigate in depth and to know where you are – an experience akin to print.

On a tablet, an edited, in-depth publication has a better chance of competing with the atomised, open-source information flow of the open web. That is what Sir Richard and Mr Murdoch have bet on – that a tablet restores the advantage of depth over breadth.

That may not be enough – many people are happy to live in the world of free, distributed information and will prefer it. “If you think that the day of the editor deciding what you read today is dead then these apps will fall apart,” says Benedict Evans, of Enders Analysis.

My bet is that the two will co-exist, just as new forms of media have always done with existing ones in the past. There is evidence that people are willing to spend far longer – up to 45 minutes in the case of some magazines – with an iPad publication than its website.

Sir Tim would prefer publishers to stick to the rules, and the embedded biases, of the medium he pioneered. But, despite all of the public good the web has brought, that argument has no more moral force than if a print baron insisted on everyone producing newspapers.

If Sir Richard and Mr Murdoch want to offer products in a new medium rather than the old one, let them. It is not as if they have some iron grip over digital distribution. The iPad has a browser and they will be up against many thousands of other apps.

Who knows if either of them will succeed, but someone will find a way to get users and advertisers to pay for in-depth digital content delivered as an edited whole to the iPad. They will be competing with the browser, not fighting the internet. I can’t see anything wrong with that.

john.gapper@ft.com

11
Sep
10

Android is Making Apple change

Look for Flash on your I Pad soon.