Microsoft Won’t Save Barnes & Noble

May 12, 2013

After a vague but vaguely credible report earlier this week from TechCrunch there’s no end to the discussion about whether Microsoft really intends to purchase the portion of Nook Media still held by Barnes & Noble and what that could mean to both companies. (more…)

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Running the Numbers on Barnes & Noble

April 13, 2012

In the wake of media speculation of the impact of the Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin and the secondary speculation of the impact on Barnes & Noble I thought I’d run a few numbers and see what story they might reveal. (more…)

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Don’t Compare Specs, Compare Content

October 4, 2011

Thinking of the Amazon.com Kindle Fire as an iPad killer doesn’t illuminate the issue of how tablets and e-readers are impacting the future of publishing. Fire is aimed first at Barnes & Noble and its Nooks, and to a much lesser extent, at every other hardware company that thinks it might succeed in the tablet space. (Apple has already closed off the high end. Amazon has now effectively closed out the low-end to mid-range market.) (more…)

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Apple vs. Adobe, Round 3

May 1, 2010

Please read my previous post to catch up on the story thus far. Last Thursday Steve Jobs lobbed the big grenade with a major public attack on Adobe’s Flash. On Friday Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan replied via a 15-minute video interview with Alan Murray at the Wall Street Journal. Shantanu is gracious and assured, even going so far as to compliment the iPad as a good first-generation device. You can hear (or read — it’s subtitled) the interchange for yourself, but his key point is that the Flash issue is a smokescreen designed to conceal Apple’s desire for proprietary lock-in versus Adobe’s open “multi-screen,” “multi-device” business model. Ultimately, Narayan concludes, Adobe will let consumers decide.

There are lots of others voicing opinions in the last two days. The plot thickens. Supporting Narayan’s statement (although written before the interview appeared), Computerworld‘s Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka “Cyber Cynic,” blogs:

It’s this, not whether Flash itself is allowed on Apple devices that’s the real crux of the disagreement between Apple, Adobe and many other ISV (independent software vendors). Jobs, and all the other analysts, who have tried to turn this into a debate about whether Flash is, or isn’t good, enough for the future of mobile video are misleading us. That’s a red-herring. The real issue is who controls access to the platform. And, behind all the rhetoric, Apple wants absolute control.

He then quotes Charlie Stross, a science-fiction author and technology blogger. Stross wrote:

The App Store and the iTunes Store have taught Steve Jobs that ownership of the sales channel is vital. Even if he’s reduced to giving the machines away, as long as he can charge rent for access to data (or apps) he’s got a business model. He can also maintain quality (whatever that is), exclude malware, and beat off rivals.

Simeon Simeonov, founder and CEO of startup advisory FastIgnite, offers another insightful look at the battle on the VentureBeat site. Simenov writes:

Apple is taking advantage of what essentially amounts to a cross-subsidy: using the economic and market momentum of its combined hardware/OS platform to do two things:

1. Force developers to heavily, perhaps irreversibly, invest in Apple’s platform and in the process avoid alternative tool, services and runtime platforms, an area where Apple has traditionally had no expertise and where Adobe and others have a substantial advantage.

2. Provide some breathing room for the fledgling Apple advertising business, which the company obtained through the acquisition of Quattro Wireless for $275M, soon after Google signaled that mobile advertising is going to the big leagues by buying AdMob for $750M.

A paragraph later he looks further at the advertising angle:

Flash is a favored format for delivering interactive and video advertising — dozens of companies offer measurement, analytics, ad selection, targeting and delivery solutions based on Flash. Adobe also recently acquired analytics powerhouse Omniture for $1.8B. By blocking access to Flash, Apple is blocking a big portion of the advertising ecosystem from its platform, giving itself a substantial short-term advantage. Emily Steel reports in the Wall Street Journal that Apple is planning on milking that advantage.

Meanwhile, the great unwashed masses are raising their hands also. A new Facebook group called “I’m with Adobe” as of tonight has over 11,000 members. There are five different “I’m with Apple” groups, with a combined membership of 25.

imwithadobe

The Wall Street Journal polled readers as part of its coverage. The result is essentially a tie vote:

screenhunter_01-may-02-00191

Mashable ran a similar poll. I took screen shots of the results about four hours apart, and someone is stuffing the ballot box! 

mashablepoll

Isn’t that illegal?

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A Look at the Apple Hype Machine

February 2, 2010

Steve Job is considered one of the great showmen in the business (showpersons?), and the reputation is, I think, well-deserved. I’ve watched him live many times, and saw that the secret of his success on stage is no accidental talent. As one first hand, in-depth article points out, in U.K.’s The Guardian:

Steve starts his preparation for a keynote weeks in advance, reviewing all the products and technologies he might include. Although development and release schedules are set far in advance, he still has to satisfy himself that the chosen products are keynote-ready. For software, this can be hard to decide: the engineering work is usually still underway, so he will make a preliminary determination based on seeing unfinished software. More than once this has caused some tense moments in rehearsal when programs haven’t behaved.

Several reporters at the recent iPad launch wrote that when the doors opened they were nearly trampled by the crowd forcing its way into San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center, hoping for front-row seats.

Despite this success, I cringe at one thing that Steve also launched into the business. He has mastered the overuse of superlatives, designed mainly to get the docile, loving audience whipped into a frenzy of belief that what they are seeing truly is “amazing,” “fantastic,” “magical,” “revolutionary,” and more. With thanks to my colleague Jon Robinson, I saw this lovely YouTube video today, which well-illustrates the point:

Steve can get away with this stuff, and keep ‘em coming back for more. Some of you have no doubt had occasion to cringe watching similar efforts from lesser presenters.

Steve has reached the treasured pinnacle that most presenters can only dream about. Even if you find yourself doubting that the launch will be a success, and remember that Jobs has never batted 1000, you’ll soon be reminded by a colleague, blogger or journalist that “It rarely pays to bet against Steve Jobs.”

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