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Posts Tagged ‘Sony’

Apple and Amazon Likely Winners in Price Wars

In Entertainment, Media, Technology on June 22, 2010 at 1:14 pm
Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

As I wrote yesterday, Barnes and Noble introduced a new Wi-Fi only Nook and dropped the price on its 3G Nook, undercutting Amazon’s Kindle. As a result, Amazon then dropped the price of the Kindle, undercutting the Nook, if only by $10.

It’s a price war kind of started by Apple when it introduced its iPad.

The iPad, which is not cheap — priced between $499 and $699, started the war because suddenly everyone started questioning why they should be paying hundreds of dollars for devices that are pretty much just e-readers when for a bit more they can have something that does so much more.

By lowering the price of the Nook and the Kindle, Amazon and Barnes and Noble are conceding that point, admitting that while there are people who want to be able to carry large amounts of books with them and really focused on just reading, it’s probably not the majority.

Lowering the price brings the Kindle and Nook much closer to being a legitimate impulse buy.

But is it too little too late?

Barnes and Noble (and Borders, which is about to introduce its Kobo) is a great, old-fashioned, brick and mortar retailer. They’re not a technology company. So, while the Nook with its color screen and ability to lend books is a pretty good device, I can’t imagine they’re making a fortune from it or that they even think they’re going to make a fortune from it.

It seems that the world is moving more toward tablets that do more than just allow you to carry around the complete works of Stephen King, Larry McMurtry, John Updike and a dozen others.I think when it all shakes out, we’re going to see Apple and Amazon at the top of the pile.

Why? I’m not saying Nook and Kobo and the Sony Reader and these other devices won’t be around. I’m just thinking they won’t be playing at the same level as Amazon and Apple.

First, you have Amazon, which everyone already associates with online retailing, especially books. I mean, they weren’t the first but I bet if you ask most people they would guess Amazon was. Second, as I’ve pointed out before, Kindle isn’t just a device, it’s a software platform that operates on several devices.

And it’s actually a really good bit of software.

The funny thing is that while there’s a lot to be said for Kindle the device, it’s really hard to beat Kindle for the iPad when it comes to a pleasant reading experience (despite what Ray Kurzweil thinks).

I think Amazon’s too entrenched in the minds of people to go anywhere and the fact that their software works on several devices will keep them around for quite a while. At the same time, Apple keeps showing they’re building devices to lead the pack. And with the iPad, they’ve created a device that allows for designers to turn books into apps that are fun, creative, interactive (see Alice in Wonderland).

What about Apple’s online bookstore and software, iBooks? One, it’s good but not quite as good as Kindle and two, for now it only works on Apple devices, which limits its growth.

What could change that is if Apple decides to send iBooks out into the world the way did with iTunes, making it available for Windows devices.

The CliffsNotes on Apple's iBooks News

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on June 7, 2010 at 7:37 pm
Apple introduces iBooks for iPad

Image by myuibe via Flickr

Monday was Apple’s big Worldwide Developer Conference and the unveiling of the new iPhone and the new iOS operating system (so named because it runs on the iPad as well as the iPhone).

And while it has lots of new featuresFaceTime, HD video editing, multitasking —  this blog’s really about books and publishing, so let’s let others focus on the big picture.

So, let’s take a look at what the changes mean for iBooks and the iBookstore.

You’ll now be able to download and read PDFs and, in what I — as a user of more than one device — find exciting, you’ll be able to start a book on, say, you’re iPhone and finish it on your iPad. You’ll be able to highlight and annotate text. And, it will work with VoiceOver so you’ll be able to have the contents of a page read to you.

Though, on this last point, there doesn’t seem to be an indication yet of how they’ll avoid the audio rights problem that plagued Amazon with the Kindle.

What’s it all mean?

Well, it looks like the already popular program’s going to become more so.

As Apple Insider pointed out, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that in the 65 days since iPad was launched, more than five million books have been downloaded. Jobs claims that gives Apple 22 percent of the ebook market.

Now, over at The New York Times, they’ve posted an item under the headline “Why Apple’s iBook Numbers Are Meaningless.”

Let’s just assume that whomever wrote the headline didn’t actually read the story because while the articles does talk about how the 22 percent number might be a bit of a red herring — though the reporter’s logic is a little fuzzy; he claims you can’t take the 22 percent number seriously because Apple doesn’t sell books from all publishers but it seems that that actually would make the number more remarkable — it does talk about the fact that Apple’s sales are a “troubling trend for Amazon.”

The fact is that Apple’s selling a lot of books and it looks like the changes are going to help them sell a lot more.

Last week, the president of the digital reading business division at Sony, Steve Haber, predicted that “within five years there will be more digital content sold than physical content.”

Admittedly, these are the people who brought us the Betamax.

At the same time, there are really a lot of reasons to think things are moving in that direction.

I think what’s going to be interesting is when Apple finally releases iBooks for Windows or for Android.

As I’ve pointed out, you can’t really compare Kindle and iPhone/iPad sales figures because right now Kindle is a software platform that works on several devices while the iPhone and iPad are, well, the iPhone and iPad.

It was when Apple released iTunes for Windows that it really took off.

I’m thinking that if I’m Amazon, I might be getting a little nervous.

Everyone Say Hello to 'Alex'

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 at 8:33 am

Think that the E-Reader battle comes down to the iPad vs. the Kindle?

Or maybe the Nook vs. the Sony Reader?

Well, meet Alex from Spring Design who started shipping yesterday.

As cnet pointed out, it probably would have been bigger news had it come out before the IPad. Regardless, it looks like it’s something that deserves notice.

First — take a look at the features and one thing immediately jumps out — the second screen.

It has one for reading and a second, smaller – color — screen that is a fully-enabled, android-powered web browser. So, you’re reading… you want to send an email, no problem. Want to look up movie times and then, maybe take a break from reading? Sure. Watch some videos? Absolutely.

Or maybe you want to listen to music while you read? No problem. Wi-fi? Check. Removable memory? Check.

Laptop Magazine was so impressed with the device, it named it the best E-Reader at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Though, it’s important to point out, that not everyone loves it.

Engadget, in their review,  they point to several shortcomings such as while: “the Alex is chock-full of reading features…we just can’t say the same about its book selection” and “When it came to multitasking, the Alex was just fine for reading a book and listening to some music, but when we threw in web browsing things began to slow to a crawl.”

Endgaget had also taken issue with Alex’s price, which was listed at $399 at the time.

But, now that it’s priced at $359 — right between the Kindle and the IPad — it’s got a good shot at getting attention on the checkout line.

And, as Wired points out, in addition to competing against Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Apple and so forth in the market, Alex is making a point of going after a slice of the market that could prove quite lucrative — Spanish Language E-Books.

So, while a lot of the most creative design work seems to still be being done for IPad, and there’s still the Google Tablet to come, Alex just might be able to find his place in the world.

And, based on their decision to seemingly embrace Spanish-language E-Books, maybe this post should have been “Everyone Say Hola to Alex.”

Anyway, just to give you a heads up about what I’m expecting to make its way from my reading list to news over here… posts about David Foster Wallace, Norman Mailer, Natalie Merchant and so much more.

Thanks for reading.