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Amazon

Some E-Books Now Cost More than Paperbacks

December 15, 2011

Its a staggering concept really - e-books don't need to be printed or shipped and aside from the cost to transmit an electronic book on a wireless M2M network to a non-WiFi Amazon Kindle reader, distribution is a matter of very small bandwidth and cloud charges. We're talking a fraction of a penny or so.

So hearing that electronic books are in some cases more expensive than their print counterparts is a bit surprising. Turns out Apple pushed the major book publishers to set retail prices as opposed to charging a wholesale price and letting book discounters set the price based on market demand.

This is why books on the Kindle have escalated in cost from $9.99 to $18.99 or even more.

Obviously convenience is a factor as not having to lug physical books is a great benefit as is being able to have various devices sync and allow you to continue reading your book on any reader you choose.

But this story is more than one of increased convenience manifesting itself into higher prices - or free markets at work. Turns out Steve Jobs didn't want to compete on discounted book pricing with Amazon so he lobbied book sellers to set retail prices for e-books.







Google Currents Crashes Newsreader Party

December 9, 2011

Flipboard calls itself the pocket-sized social magazine and this is an apt description for a social newsreader so popular that this week when it launched an iPhone edition, it was overwhelmed with traffic and crashed. Obviously there is tremendous interest in this category which explains why in April of this year the company raised $50M at a $200M valuation.

Another player in the space Yahoo! has Livestand, an app which has improved over the months but still has a somewhat non-intuitive user interface.

Dotcom All Over Again?

December 5, 2011

This time domain names = IP addresses and dotcom = cloud

The idea of cloud is not new – think mainfraimes, ADP for payroll and the ASP market of over a decade ago. This time though the investors are behind the move and it seems potentially for good. I say “potentially” because I launched a magazine to educate the market on the cloud revolution called Communications ASP in 2001 and it was a mega-success for a few issues until almost all our advertisers told us at once that their investors no longer allowed them to use the term ASP.

Using Amazon to Compare Kindle Fire to iPad

December 5, 2011

Apple customer loyalty is the stuff of legend as anyone who visited an Apple store this holiday season can attest to and to delve further into this issue Philip Elmer-DeWitt at CNNMoney did some research on Amazon to see which device customers liked better. As the Kindle Fire has only been out a short while it may be unfair to compare the devices as Apple has had some years to improve the tablet’s software. Then again, running on Android, the Kindle Fire does benefit from software updates which have been issued to solve problems faced by other tablet and smartphone makers.

The bottom line is the Kindle fire has 47% five-star reviews and 13.3% one-star reviews.

Big Week for Tor and The Privacy Minded

November 16, 2011

Two big pieces of news are out this week for the privacy minded users of Tor who would like to surf anonymously to keep from the prying eyes of government – first off is a new iPad browser called Covert Browser which sells for $2.99. It is no frills, no Google search bar or bookmarks but you can switch from Tor servers in various locations with a simple drop down list. The list further includes flags so you know which country they are in and server bandwidth speeds are included as well.

Browsing Disney.IN and seeing a list of TOR servers on the right hand side of the screen (click to enlarge image)

Is Content King or is it Platform?

September 30, 2011

The adage about content being king is absolutely true and the precipitous drop in the value of Netflix shares related to losing Starz programming reminds us that distribution can be considered a distant second to content. This is true because the world has flattened with the advent of broadband meaning any content provider can stream directly without the need for cable companies or telcos to take a cut.

Glenn Beck’s recent launch of GBTV for example shows us how a content provider can take his or her show and produce it just fine without the need to deal with traditional distribution.

But from the standpoint of the consumer, having access to a smattering of programs on disparate websites is not the same as accessing them all seamlessly through a single aggregator.

Selling your Privacy Evolves with Amazon Silk Browser

September 29, 2011



Amazon's new Silk browser bundled with its new Kindle Fire will leverage it's own servers for browser proxying meaning that all the websites you surf will go through the company's cloud-based servers. Although browser proxying is not new, it has been used in the Skyfire and other browsers. Its general benefit is allowing web sessions to speed up and providing mobile browsers access to content incompatible with the browser - such as Adobe Flash.

TMC's Tom Keating has more on the privacy concerns and after reading his thoughts I realize just how fast product subsidization is evolving. You see yesterday I explained Amazon is subsidizing its tablets via Amazon Prime and cloud-computing services but now it seems Amazon will also have access to the sites you browse allowing its suggestion engine to to potentially use this data to better target products which suit your interests.

While privacy advocates may be up in arms, the reality is we sell our privacy for free services virtually every day when we use popular web portals, online email and a slew of other services such as browser toolbars.





Amazon's Subsidized Tablets Borrow from Wireless Carriers

September 28, 2011

Will any margin remain in selling standalone computing hardware?

I want to bet against Amazon - not because I don't like the company - I most certainly do. But because coming out with a new line of tablets to take on Apple is not turning into a successful strategy for the rest of the tech world. Both HP and RIM are feeling pain - even though I might add the Blackberry Playbook is a very solid tablet.

When Amazon released a slew of devices today from $79-$199 I was concerned that this is yet another case of a tech company going up against Apple and getting slaughtered. It is worth pointing out however that the HP tablet didn't really start selling until the price was dropped to $99.

But back to Amazon - I didn't think the original Kindle would be very popular and I was wrong.





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