Apple

Apple $450 million e-book settlement gets final court approval

22 November 2014

From Reuters:

A U.S. judge on Friday gave final approval to Apple Inc’s agreement to pay $450 million to resolve claims it harmed consumers by conspiring with five publishers to raise e-book prices.

During a hearing in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote approved what she called a “highly unusual” accord. It calls for Apple to pay $400 million to as many as 23 million consumers if the company is unsuccessful in appealing a ruling that found it liable for antitrust violations.

The $400 million comes on top of earlier settlements with five publishers in the case, which provided $166 million for e-book purchasers.

. . . .

Apple agreed to the settlement in June, ahead of a damages trial set for two months later in which attorneys general in 33 states and territories and lawyers for a class of consumers were expected to seek up to $840 million.

Link to the rest at Reuters

Apple updates iBooks Author, adds in support for importing ePub and InDesign files

20 October 2014

From Talking New Media:

he eBook publishing platform from Apple, iBooks Author, received an update.

. . . .

The update, which brings the program up to version 2.2, fails to introduce iPhone support, the one thing publishers have been asking for from the beginning. But there are a number of interesting new features.

The update for iBA now allows designers to import ePub files. It also allows for the importation of Adobe InDesign IDML files, which may prove a big help for seasoned designers expert at Adobe’s publishing design program.

. . . .

Maybe the biggest improvement, and one often requested from publishers, is the addition of an auto-pplay function for media such as video, Keynote presentations and other HTML widgets. Readers will probably start to see pages come to live at open almost immediately – and, hopefully, designers won’t over use this feature to drive readers crazy with videos that play at open and really shouldn’t.

. . . .

The two big improvements eBook publishers would love to see are support for the iPhone, especially now that the iPhone displays are getting bigger, and cross-platform support. One understand why Apple is hesitant to support other platforms, but why it fails to support the iPhone is a mystery. It seems that one, simple solution, might be to simply add iPhone templates.

Link to the rest at Talking New Media

To Siri, With Love

19 October 2014

Nothing to do with books, but interesting:

From The New York Times:

Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his B.F.F. Obsessed with weather formations, Gus had spent the hour parsing the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms — an hour in which, thank God, I didn’t have to discuss them. After a while I heard this:

Gus: “You’re a really nice computer.”

Siri: “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

Gus: “You are always asking if you can help me. Is there anything you want?”

Siri: “Thank you, but I have very few wants.”

Gus: “O.K.! Well, good night!”

Siri: “Ah, it’s 5:06 p.m.”

Gus: “Oh sorry, I mean, goodbye.”

Siri: “See you later!”

That Siri. She doesn’t let my communications-impaired son get away with anything. Indeed, many of us wanted an imaginary friend, and now we have one. Only she’s not entirely imaginary.

This is a love letter to a machine.

. . . .

 In a world where the commonly held wisdom is that technology isolates us, it’s worth considering another side of the story.

It all began simply enough. I’d just read one of those ubiquitous Internet lists called “21 Things You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do.” One of them was this: I could ask Siri, “What planes are above me right now?” and Siri would bark back, “Checking my sources.” Almost instantly there was a list of actual flights — numbers, altitudes, angles — above my head.

I happened to be doing this when Gus was nearby. “Why would anyone need to know what planes are flying above your head?” I muttered. Gus replied without looking up: “So you know who you’re waving at, Mommy.”

Gus had never noticed Siri before, but when he discovered there was someone who would not just find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, buses, escalators and, of course, anything related to weather) but actually semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly, he was hooked. And I was grateful. Now, when my head was about to explode if I had to have another conversation about the chance of tornadoes in Kansas City, Mo., I could reply brightly: “Hey! Why don’t you ask Siri?”

. . . .

[L]ike many autistic people I know, Gus feels that inanimate objects, while maybe not possessing souls, are worthy of our consideration. I realized this when he was 8, and I got him an iPod for his birthday. He listened to it only at home, with one exception. It always came with us on our visits to the Apple Store. Finally, I asked why. “So it can visit its friends,” he said.

So how much more worthy of his care and affection is Siri, with her soothing voice, puckish humor and capacity for talking about whatever Gus’s current obsession is for hour after hour after bleeding hour?

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Tom for the tip.

Samsung and Amazon Tied for Second Place in Tablet Market as Apple’s Shares Fall

15 October 2014

From MarketWatch:

In advance of Apple’s event this week, Parks Associates announced new research today showing Amazon and Samsung are locked in a tight race for second place behind Apple in the tablet market, which overall shows signs of cooling even as adoption remains high.

. . . .

“Over 60% of U.S. broadband households now have a tablet, and 52% own both a smartphone and a tablet, up from 25% in 2011,” said Tejas Mehta, research analyst, Parks Associates. “Tablet sales in recent quarters have been hampered by a longer replacement cycle compared to smartphones’, a lack of new features, and the popularity of phablets, which negatively affects sales of smaller-sized tablets.”

Parks Associates analysts noted that these findings point to more price-based competition and potentially less revenue in the tablet market if tablet brands fail to innovate.

Link to the rest at MarketWatch

Amazon to open retail store in NYC

10 October 2014

From Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY

Could this be Amazon’s Miracle on 34th Street?

Online retail giant Amazon will take on Macy’s and other Herald Square retailers with a physical store of its own for the holidays in New York, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing people familiar with the plans.

The Manhattan location would function as a “mini-warehouse” for same-day delivery in New York, product returns and pickups of online orders, according to the report.

Amazon has shaken up the retail world by offering lower prices than many brick-and-mortar stores and offering comparison app tools that brought forth the trend of “showroom buying” — folks going to a physical store to see the item, then going home and ordering it online to save money.

The E-tailer, now with a line of its own tech products — several Kindle e-readers and tablets, a TV set-top box and new smartphone — would be able to put its homegrown goods in front of more eyeballs and tout its growing offering of same-day delivery. That service is available in 12 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Phoenix.

Richard Doherty, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group, says New York attracts many foreign tourists who shop on Amazon back home, but find many products only sold here.

****

“There’s still a segment of the population that’s touchy-feely,” says Bajarin. “They want to see the product up close, and have it shown to them.”

By opening in New York during the holidays, Amazon “gets high traffic, and the kind of feedback it needs to see if it wants to expand.”

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, says Amazon wouldn’t just stock its own products. “Even the Apple Store carries non-Apple products,” he says. “They’ll showcase Amazon, but also show off the breadth of Amazon’s catalog.”

According to the Journal, the address for the store is 7 West 34th Street, across from the Empire State Building and a block east from busy Herald Square, home to the flagship Macy’s, and site of the classic 1947 Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street, about a Santa Claus put on trial for believing that he is indeed Kris Kringle.

Read the rest here.

From guest blogger Randall, who has been unhappy with Santa since the forth grade.

High tech guys want low tech for their kids.

6 October 2014

From the New York Times:

When Steve Jobs was running Apple, he was known to call journalists to either pat them on the back for a recent article or, more often than not, explain how they got it wrong. I was on the receiving end of a few of those calls. But nothing shocked me more than something Mr. Jobs said to me in late 2010 after he had finished chewing me out for something I had written about an iPad shortcoming.

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

I’m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow.

Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.

Read the rest right here.

Then check this out. Again from the New York Times:

LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

Here ya go.  Take a gander. We have a saying in California- All these high tech guys send their kids to Waldorf schools.

Julia

Authors Guild Met With DoJ to Seek Investigation Into Amazon’s Practices

2 October 2014

From the Wall Street Journal (content may be behind a paywall):

The Authors Guild, the country’s largest advocacy group for writers, met with Justice Department officials in early August, people familiar with the matter said. The Guild, which has more than 8,500 members, raised concerns that Amazon is violating antitrust law as it puts pressure on Hachette Book Group in a dispute over revenue from e-books.

The meeting took place after the Authors Guild emailed Bill Baer, head of the antitrust division of the Justice Department, requesting that the department open an investigation into Amazon, one of the people said.

Meanwhile, Authors United, a separate group that counts more than 1,000 members, including some of the country’s most prominent writers, said it is readying a letter it intends to send to the Justice Department—also requesting an investigation into Amazon’s business practices.

The government has intervened in the e-book industry before.

In 2012, the government filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against five publishers and Apple Inc., accusing them of conspiring to raise digital-book prices. The five settled, paving the way for Amazon and other retailers to resume discounting e-books. Apple went to trial, was found liable in a civil case, and is appealing.

Sending a request to the Justice Department, however, may be a more sensitive matter to some members of Authors United. Mr. Preston, in an interview, said that a dozen or so writers have already contacted him requesting that their names not appear on a letter requesting DOJ intervention.

Read more over at the WSJ.

It’s worth noting that the WSJ pointed out that the DOJ has intervened in the ebook industry before, specifically the collusion case against Apple and the Fivetones. While the WSJ did manage to get the number of publishers correct, they failed to identify Hachette as one of the named defendants. That is surely an unfortunate oversight.

~ Dan

Why NOT self-publish exclusively through Amazon?

20 September 2014

From TeleRead:

Essentially, Amazon provides a number of added benefits and incentives to writers who publish exclusively via Amazon either temporarily or continually: free giveaway days, or inclusion in e-book subscription services such as the Kindle Owners Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited that pay a fee per checkout, for example. Amazon has allowed some top-selling authors, including Howey, to try the service out temporarily withoutgoing exclusive to see how the numbers stack up.

After a couple of months, Howey reports that the readership gains he’s seen from Kindle Unlimited “more than covered the readership I gain from the iBookstore, Nook, and Kobo combined.” He might be earning slightly less money, he writes, but gets considerably more fans out of it.

. . . .

I’d love to see some decent competitors to Amazon spring up, but at the moment, nobody really seems to be even trying to compete. Apple locks its books into one specific platform—and what’s more, it even requires writers to use that platform only if they want to upload their books directly rather than via an intermediary!

. . . .

Sony’s thrown in the towel. Barnes & Noble’s just taken a major step backward in consumer-friendliness. Kobo…well, the most I can say about Kobo is that I haven’t heard about them doing anything overtly stupid lately, but I haven’t heard about them doing anything especially smart lately either.

. . . .

The only answer I can come up with is to try to keep limits on Amazon’s power by supporting its competition. But is that really Howey’s job? Why should he be obligated to support a bunch of lackluster companies who don’t even seem to be interested in trying to compete themselves?

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Apple and Amazon Take Baby Steps Toward Digital Sharing

19 September 2014

From The New York Times Bits blog:

Quietly nestled in Apple’s new iOS 8 mobile operating system is a feature called Family Sharing.

It lets you share books, movies, music and apps that you’ve bought at iTunes, iBooks and the App Store with up to six members of your family who are logged in using their own iTunes accounts.

So if you bought a song, app or book you really like, and you want to share it with your spouse or child or maybe a sister, you can register their email addresses with Apple and enable limited sharing of digital media.

Amazon announced a similar feature on Wednesday called Family Library, although it applies only to digital books, apps, movies and TV, and audiobooks bought through Amazon or its Prime Instant Video service — not music. And the sharing is restricted to the accounts of two adults and four children.

In theory, these services sound like a great benefit because if you’re an Apple user you don’t have to let your family log in with your iTunes account.

. . . .

But this seemingly generous allowance could also be viewed as a limit that’s a result of rigid copyright laws and licensing restrictions.

In the physical world, you can share a book or DVD or CD that you bought with as many friends and family as you like. You can even sell those items if you want, thanks to the first sale doctrine.

But digital media has been excluded from that doctrine, because, essentially, when you buy a digital song or movie or book, you’re being granted a license to use that media, but you don’t actually own it.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

How Many New Customers Will Apple iBooks Get From the New iOS 8?

18 September 2014

From Digital Book World:

Some time today, Apple will start updating its mobile device operating system to iOS 8 for all its users. For ebook publishers, it’s the most important update yet, as iOS 8 will come pre-loaded with iBooks, a new development.

According to an Apple spokesperson, some 150 million Apple mobile devices have iBooks installed as of June 2013, the latest figures available. As of June 2014, the company had 800 million iOS devices in circulation, and 90% of them had iOS 7 installed, the latest version.

Assuming that even half of the 650 million Apple users who do not already have iBooks on their devices install the new operating system by the end of the year, that’s potentially 325 million new iBooks customers — and that’s not even counting the millions of iOS users Apple adds every month and expects to add with thelaunch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The company can’t expect all those people to convert over to paying iBooks users, but if even a tenth of one percent does, that’s over 300,000 new iBooks customers. If just one percent does, that’s over three million new paying customers, something that iBooks, which now looks like the No. 2 ebook retailer in the U.S. (and likely worldwide), can cheer as Amazon continues to press its advantages here and around the world.

By comparison, Kobo, likely the No. 3 ebook retailer in the world, had 21 million users as of August, according to chief content officer, Michael Tamblyn. Amazon does not share how many Kindle customers it has.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Next Page »