ENTRIES TAGGED "apple"
The connections between readers and potential readers matter most
I spoke at the “Frankfurt Digital Night” at this year’s Frankfurt Book fair, making essentially three points (see slides embedded below): first, publishing requires – and has always required – a commitment to creating and courting communities of readers. Second, there are new digital tools emerging for creating and courting these communities. Third, in this context, openness in terms of APIs is becoming a feature.
Investor confidence is likely buoyed by past performance
I’m a big fan of The Week news magazine. It’s one of the last print products I still subscribe to (and I prefer the print version over the digital one). They deliver short summaries of what’s happening around the world and they’re careful to provide all sides of every story. Most of the content delivered in The Week is excerpted from other news sources.
The Android ecosystem shares some of the same obstacles
Ebook vendors enjoy a closed loop ecosystem. They have millions of reader/customers who are satisfied with EPUB 2 display capabilities and devices. Amazon readers, for example, are largely content with the offerings in the proprietary Kindle store; they’re not lining up with torches and pitchforks to push for improvements. While publishers wait for eReader device manufacturers to add new features and EPUB 3 support, eBooksellers are just as happy to wait.
The only resource you need for current conditions & future projections
One year ago we published the first edition of our Global Ebook Market report. We focused on the major English language territories but also featured coverage of several other popular languages as well.
The Nook price reduction may not be too late, but it's most certainly too little.
Ahead of its 7-inch Nook HD and 9-inch HD+ release this week, B&N has reduced the price of its Nook Color and Nook tablets. The Nook Color dropped $10 to $139, and the tablets dropped $20 to $179 for the 16GB model and $159 for the 8GB model. The price reduction might make a tiny wave for advertising purposes for a few days, and it brings the Nook pricing more in line with Kindle pricing Amazon already had, but $10-$20 is hardly going to leave a mark on the tablet market — and B&N sorely needs to make a mark at this point.
Even iOS can lead to a content access and support dead-end
One reason some consumers haven’t jumped on the ebook bandwagon is because they’re concerned the format they select might become obsolete in a few years. Others dismiss that as unfounded pessimism but I have an example of how it can happen, and not with some fly-by-night platform. This problem happened on Apple’s extremely popular iOS platform.
Here’s a link to a problem one of our customers recently reported about our iOS ebook apps. As you’ll see, when iOS 6 arrived it broke our book apps by preventing readers from going beyond the first page of any chapter. This problem was caused by a chain-reaction of events:
- We hired a third-party to develop our iOS book apps. This was a pretty popular developer btw, used by many other publishers as well.
- That third-party developer was was acquired by someone not named Apple.
- Not surprisingly, it became quite clear after the acquisition that support from this developer would evaporate, especially for products on competing platforms like iOS.
- When iOS 6 hit and created this problem we had no way of updating the apps.
When the problem was reported my colleague Adam Witwer jumped in and offered the solution outlined a bit further down the thread. In short, we’re removing the apps from iTunes and offering free multi-format ebook bundles to anyone who previously bought the iOS apps.
Rather than being stuck with an iOS-only version our customers will now have access to the content in all major formats (e.g., PDF, EPUB and mobi). It was a painful lesson but it shows that even a platform as rich and robust as iOS can lead to a dead-end for ongoing content access and support.
Horace Dediu addresses the Amazon-Apple threat level.
With its recent release of the new Kindle Fire HD tablets, some have argued that Amazon has declared war on Apple and its iPad. But how serious is the threat? Are the two companies even playing the same game? I reached out to analyst Horace Dediu, founder and author of Asymco, to get his take. Dediu will speak on all this and more at TOC Frankfurt on October 9, 2012. Our short interview follows.
How disruptive is the Kindle Fire to the low-end tablet market?
Horace Dediu:The problem I see with the Kindle is that the fuel to make it an increasingly better product that can become a general purpose computer that is hired to do most of what we hire computers to do is not there. I mean, that profitability to invest in new input methods, new ways of interacting and new platforms can’t be obtained from a retailer’s margin.
Also, there is a cycle time problem in that the company does not want to orphan its devices since they should “pay themselves off” as console systems do today. That means the company is not motivated to move its users to newer and “better” solutions that constantly improve. The assumption (implicit) in Kindle is that the product is “good enough” as it is and should be used for many years to come. That’s not a way to ensure improvements necessary to disrupt the computing world.
Lastly, the Amazon brand will have a difficult time reaching six billion consumers. Retail is a notoriously difficult business to expand internationally. Digital retail is not much easier than brick-and-mortar. You can see how slow expansion of different media has been for iTunes.
Every ebook purchased today makes it harder to switch platforms tomorrow
In the age of the e-reader and tablet, every person that purchases an Amazon Kindle, Nexus tablet or iPad should be viewed as a customer Barnes & Noble will likely never get the chance to serve again.
That makes me wonder what goes through a consumer’s mind when they’re deciding which device to buy. I figure they’re mostly focused on brand, price, feature set, and perhaps what their friends and family recommend. But as Arico goes on to say:
Today, when a person decides which e-reader or tablet they’re going to buy, they’re also committing to the online retailer to supply books and other content.
You could argue that Amazon and B&N are making the decision less painful by offering reader apps on all popular platforms (e.g., Mac, Windows, Android, iOS). So the Kindle ebook you buy from Amazon can be read just about any modern device.
But what if Apple decides they’re tired of Amazon customers buying ebooks outside iOS and reading them on an iOS-powered device? Maybe Apple removes the Kindle app from their platform. (It could happen.) Or what if Amazon has a falling out with Google and the Kindle app disappears from all Android devices? You could replace “Amazon” with “B&N” in either of those examples and have the same problem.
Let’s look at this a bit differently: What if B&N comes out with a killer tablet that has all sorts of terrific features not found on any other device? And what if you’ve spent the past 5 years building your Kindle ebook library but the B&N device doesn’t support the Kindle app? Unless you’re prepared to abandon your library you probably won’t purchase and enjoy that new B&N tablet.
This doesn’t seem to be on many people’s radar right now but every ebook purchased today makes it harder for that customer to switch platforms tomorrow. Or, as Arico says later:
A customer who purchases an e-reader is paying for admission into a store they may never leave.
What do you think? Consumers may not have buyer’s remorse today but is this platform lock-in something they’ll eventually regret?
Apple's legal victory over Samsung is just the latest chapter in the platform's saga
It’s “platforms” month here at TOC and we covered the current state as well as future predictions for iOS in an earlier article. Now it’s time to shift the focus to Android. It didn’t take too long for me to figure out who we need to talk with about Google’s OS. Brian Jepson is senior editor of Make books here at O’Reilly and he lives and breathes Android.
Depending on who you ask you’ll discover that Android is either crushing iOS or so splintered that it’s having little impact on Apple’s momentum. What does all that mean for publishers? That what I set out to learn in this conversation with Brian.