Amazon Kindle in Shotgun Wedding with Apple iPhone/iPod

March 5, 2009

Well, you hardly need my blog to bring you the big news that you can now Kindle your iPhone. It’s all over the place. Should you have missed the news, here’s the New York Times report, as comprehensive as any.

The details of the features and shortcomings of bringing the Amazin’ Kindle to a less capable device are described there and also on a blog entry on the site.

So the only remaining question is WHY?

WHY did Amazon, after all its proprietary secrets and obtuse stories and challenging dealings with publishers suddenly capitulate to the iPod/Phone so quickly after the introduction of the modestly improved and horrendously over-hyped Kindle 2? Surely this will not enhance Kindle sales, although it will surely enhance Amazon’s desired position as the #1 retailer of e-books.

Have a look at this blog entry titled “Apple’s Epic E-Book Fail.”

Digest it.

Then imagine that Amazon got wind of the fact that despite Steve J’s infamous pronouncement, “People don’t read anymore,” Apple may have caught onto Amazon’s attempt to corner a segment of the digital media market that it did not yet control, and that Apple had plans to break in.

Just a thought.

And here, for your edification, a screen shot from the New York Times that reveals the pleasure you can expect from reading a book on an iPhone/iPod:

iPhone-Kindle2.jpg

Update: Ed Burnette’s ZDNet blog entry this morning is titled: “Did Amazon intentionally cripplw the iKindle?” Mr. Burnette writes:

“As soon as I saw that Amazon had released their new Kindle Reader for the iPhone I immediately downloaded it and tried it out myself. My initial reaction: unimpressed…the entire thing seems to be set up to make your phone an extension of your Kindle and not a replacement for it.

“Take shopping for a new book, for example. When you try that from the iPhone reader, the software simply opens up the web browser on the Kindle store at amazon.com. It’s practically impossible to actually order something from there, because the site is not very friendly to the small screen. The real Kindle has a real store that you can use right from the device. Obviously Amazon would rather you do your purchases from there.

“Another glaring omission is search. Searching is one thing you can do with an e-book that you can’t do with a paper book. The Kindle 2 has a physical keyboard for this purpose. They could have supported search on the iPhone with the pop-up keyboard, but didn’t. Why not?

“Kindle for iPhone is nice for people who already have a Kindle or Kindle 2 who might find themselves away from their device with a little time to kill. However, Amazon seems to have taken steps to make sure the iKindle does not cannibalize sales of their $359 money maker. If, as Amazon claims, the big-screen Kindle e-ink reading experience is so much better than reading books on a phone, then why bother crippling the phone reader?”

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The Biggest Threat to Windows is Netbooks

February 17, 2009

Two very interesting blogs/articles on ZDNet cover a fascinating story from slightly different angles.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes points out something that I never imagined happening in my lifetime: The price of PCs, in particular of netbooks, is dropping so fast that soon the operating system (at least the Windows operating system), threatens to become more expensive than the hardware.

Meanwhile Dana Blankenhorn, in a piece called Netbooks Killing Windows Faster Than Expected, reports that “IDC figures from the fourth quarter show a rush toward inexpensive Netbooks and away from Windows laptops. Take out sales of the Atom processor running many Netbooks and total shipments were down 20%, figures showed.”

Meanwhile, as reported February 2nd on MacDailyNews, “Net Applications‘ Operating System stats for January 2009 show Apple’s Mac hit 9.93% share of the operating systems visiting Net Applications’ network of websites worldwide. The stats also show Apple iPhone with a new all-time high of 0.48% share and Apple iPod with a new all-time high of 0.11%.”

Net Applications’ January 2009 Operating System Stats:

Microsoft Windows: 88.26% (vs. May 2006: 95.09%)

Apple Macintosh: 9.93% (vs. May 2006: 4.43%)

Linux: 0.83%

090202_netapps_jan09_os.gifThe trendlines are obvious, although clearly Microsoft Windows is not on the verge of disappearing. It’s less clear what this means to the future of publishing. Software will continue to play an essential role in the ongoing developments in the publishing world, but the operating system that the software runs on is decreasing in significance. So too the hardware.

When Apple introduced the Macintosh and the LaserWriter, Adobe introduced PostScript, and Aldus introduced PageMaker, the seeds of the current publishing revolution were sewn. We’re moving into another era, where creativity in publishing is not primarily about do-it-yourself on a desktop computer, with a printed artifact the outcome.

Exciting times. Exhausting times!

Update: February 18, 2009

In a blog on ZDNet today, Andrew Nusca reports that a chip maker called Freescale “has announced that it will use Google’s Android operating system for a new type of Netbook by next quarter.

“Though Google’s Android software was originally developed for smartphones, Freescale believes it can use the flexible OS to make a new class of less-expensive mini-notebooks and Netbooks.”

…”The company expects the amount of Netbooks sold this year — already an explosive amount of growth — to double to about 30 million. [Mobile research firm ABI Research has a higher forecast of 35 million.]”

Freescale expects the retail price to be $199!

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Steve Jobs and the Future of Publishing

September 11, 2008

By now it’s widely-accepted that few if any publicly-traded companies are as inextricably linked to the fate and fortune of their commander-in-chief as is Apple Computer and its CEO Steve Jobs.

It’s almost a fairy-tale story: the early growth of the company, Steve’s adoption of and then ousting by that soft drink man followed by his triumphal return, the results of which have been nothing short of miraculous.

Say what you will about Steve Jobs, the man (and plenty has been said); the results speak loud and clear. Apple Computer would certainly not be where it is today without him.

But there’s the issue of his health…and there is much concern. Try googling this week’s modest announcement about the iPod, and almost all of the coverage makes reference to concern about Steve’s health. Why is that?

Well, if you missed logging in earlier this year, the word emerged that Steve had in 2003 been stricken with pancreatic cancer. He was lucky. It was a treatable form. Not that he chose to have it treated in a conventional way. According to a March issue of Fortune magazine, Steve, being a Buddhist and a vegetarian, chose for nine months to “employ alternative methods to treat his pancreatic cancer, hoping to avoid the operation through a special diet.” This failed, and he eventually agreed to an operation, and the result was apparently successful.

What many will find shocking in the Fortune article is that Apple’s bigwigs “secretly agonized over the situation — and whether the company needed to disclose anything about its CEO’s health to investors. Jobs, after all, was widely viewed as Apple’s irreplaceable leader, personally responsible for everything from the creation of the iPod to the selection of the chef in the company cafeteria. News of his illness, especially with an uncertain outcome, would surely send the company’s stock reeling. The board decided to say nothing, after seeking advice on its obligations from two outside lawyers, who agreed it could remain silent.”

The Fortune article later notes that “the SEC requires that any public company disclose material information to investors so that they can include it in their calculation of whether to buy or sell a stock. But there are no specific guidelines governing health issues, and the SEC has never taken action against a company in this area.”

I am not a lawyer, no penalty was levied against Apple in this case, so it is up to each reader to make their own judgment.

My point in creating this blog entry is that the future of publishing is not just the story of major issues and influences, but sometimes the story of one man. Looking at Apple Computer, the future of publishing is going to be strongly influenced by whether or not the CEO who made the company what it is can remain at the helm. And in these small tales, there are much larger stories to be told.

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