Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Countdown begins...

Can't get enough excitement? ABC has a video which shows glimpses of third-party apps, including a brief interview with the inventor of the Smule Ocarina

And Walt Mossberg gets to play with all the good toys before the cool kids. In his review:
After spending hours and hours with it, I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

iTunes 9.1 available

Adds support for the iPad and iBooks!

Lulu self-publishing to iBooks

According to DigitalBeat, Lulu has also told it's authors (or some of them) that they will be able to publish to the Apple iBookstore on April 3rd.

More on publishing on the iPad

MacWorld has a follow-up on the reports of Smashword's agreement with Apple for publishing to the iBookstore. Interestingly, thought Smashwords sent out an email to some of it's authors, it refused to comment when contacted by Apple.

MacWorld: Getting your novel on the iPad for free

Which Keyboard?

I'm not really sure whether I need a real keyboard for the iPad or not. Do I plan to do a lot of typing while using it? I'm not sure. I am planning to get the Pages application (and probably Keynote and Numbers) but I'm not sure how much serious work I'll do with it.

Still, Apple has a kayboard/doc combination that will be out in mid April, and I was thinking that might be worth getting to have here at work...though maybe I'm deluding myself.

Watching the Apple demo video's yesterday, a comment about the iPad working with a Bluetooth (wireless) keyboard intrigued me, and I went and checked Apple's website:
Apple Wireless Keyboard
The completely cable-free Apple Wireless Keyboard uses Bluetooth technology to connect with your Mac or iPad.
Now I'm wondering if the Bluetooth keyboard might not be a more useful tool. Interestingly, they both list for $69 and though you'd need some kind of stand for the iPad (or long knees) I think it would offer more flexibility.

I guess I'll wait and see what it's like using the iPad; see how I use it, and also wait for the keyboard/dock to appear in stores so I can try it out and see how that works.  Maybe I'll have to get both...

Amazon: Apple Wireless Keyboard

On it's way....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Self-publishing on the iBookstore

Looks like self-publishers will be able to get into the iBookstore through Smashwords. According to DigitalBeat:
Smashwords, a site where writers can publish their own e-books, said today it has signed a distribution deal with Apple to put its books into the iPad iBookstore. Mark Coker, chief executive of Smashwords, said in an email to authors that his company has been working on the deal ever since the iPad was announced. And, yes, this means that unpublished authors can sell their work on the Apple iPad at virtually no cost

DigitalBeat: Self-published e-books to make it to Apple’s iPad for almost no cost

Should you buy an iPad

A chart at Wired will help you: Need Some Help Making That iPad Decision?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Apple bookstore loads up on public domain books

Apple has reportedly filled up its upcoming iBook Store for iPad with a wide variety of free ebook titles curated by Project Gutenberg, heading off any attempts by third parties to profiteer on literature in the public domain.

Source: Appleinsider/

The excitement mounts...

As we get closer to release date, all kinds of things have been bubbling up....CBS is testing HTML 5 iPad video, the Wall Street Journal is rumored to be considering a price of $17.99 a month (ouch!) and Random House is evidently wary of getting it's toe in the iPad world. Something to do with price wars and lower prices...

My friend who reserved a 32GB WiFi iPad (the same model I ordered) is having second thoughts and wonders if he should get the 64GB model. I wonder if I should get the 3G model, but am pretty confident I made the right decision.

The iPad case I ordered is still expected to ship April 3rd (despite reports that there's now a delay on those.) I'm told it's a cheap and nasty thing (despite costing $40) but all of the other cases I've seen cost way more, or don't really appeal to me, so I guess I'll just live with it.

It's an exciting time; and yet we really still know so little. But in a little over a week, we'll know a lot more!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kindle for iPad

Amazon is hard at work creating a Kindle for iPad application. As long as Apple approves it (which will be interesting, because in the past they have rejected iPhone apps that mimic existing features i.e. web browsers) then this will be a good thing for users.

Competition will provide more choices (and better prices!) for consumers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Apple accepting iPad apps

Apple is now accepting applications to the approval process for iPad apps.

But no word on how you get books into the iBooks store...

Kindle for the Mac

I downloaded the Kindle reader for the Mac beta yesterday to try it out, and was immediately reminded of why I don’t read books on my computer.

Installation was simple enough, and then you hit a button and it opens a web browser page at Amazon where you can buy books (I bought a free book; the Complete Sherlock Holmes.) A few seconds after purchase the book appeared back in the Kindle app, and I could open it.

The page looks pretty much as you’d expect (see screen shot.) You can adjust the width of the page, as well as the font sizes. You can move from page to page by clicking on left and right arrows, or you can drag up and down and scroll through the pages. I found the later very disorienting.

In fact, I found going from page to page a bit disorienting no matter what method I used. There didn’t seem to be an obvious indication of being on a specific page as you changed pages; you sort of had to take it on faith that the next page followed the previous one. This was particularly so with the scrolling, where I completely felt like I had no idea where I was jumping to.

It’s surprising how tiny little details can have a huge impact on user experience.

I do read a lot of stuff on the screen (on web pages, and when I’m writing) so I think I can read a book on screen. This just didn’t make me want to do it.

I don’t know if the iPad will make me feel differently. I’ve been hoping it will, but I’m actually having second thoughts now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How to make an eBook for the iPad

A recent post on the Lulublog covers producing ePub format books: How to Make an eBook Anyone Can Read with ePub. The article explains the basics of ePub and it's file structure from a brass tacks point of view, but assumes you'll use something like Text Edit or Notepad, rather than a more friendly tool.

But over at The Quiet One blog, Amy Less writes about her initial experiments with ePub: ePub-ing for an iPad. She looks at eCub and Calibre and decides Calibre is the one for her

The lack of Flash

As we anxiously await the arrival of the shinny new toy, some of our time is spent in speculation: will all my iPhone apps work on the iPad? Should I have ordered the 3G model? Will it be easier to best my high score in Flight Control with a larger screen or will my hands get sore having to draw larger flight paths? How much of a drag will it be not to have Flash?

No one knows. But there are signs that the lack of Flash may not be such a big problem. Apple might have enough clout that most sites will produce versions of their sites that are iPad friendly. NPR and The Wall Street Journal are reportedly already working on versions of their sites that will be iPad friendly.

It will be interesting to see how many others do the same thing; and whether we will miss Flash.

MediaMemo: For NPR, the iPad Means a New App–And a New Web Site

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Delays, and other things

AppleInsider reports that there are delays on the Keyboard dock and the 10W USB power adapter to sometimes in April. They also report that the iPad soft case, which was supposed to ship on April 3, has been delayed until mid-April.

I just checked the status of my order, and at least at the moment, the case is still listed as "Ships: BY APRIL 3RD" so I wonder if they are now just back-ordered on the cases?

I'm curious about the keyboard dock; but decided to wait until I can see and try one in a store before risking buying one of those...

Can the iPad make it as an e-textbook reader?
While Apple has already announced deals with several publishers, mainly of bestsellers, and with The New York Times for its iBookstore, the business model for publishing digital textbooks hasn’t really emerged for most e-readers and tablets. “Overall, I’m unimpressed with the value proposition for textbooks on e-readers,” said Carl Howe, an analyst at Yankee Group Research Inc.
Source: MacWorld

VIV's Living Magazine for the iPad Combines Magazines and Movies
[The] video shows you how the spread, which is an article about five common sex fears, would look and behave when viewed on the iPad. The video below shows how they made it, including shooting the models with the RED camera and creating all of the environments to stick them in.
Source: Gizmodo

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dissecting the Numbers

People are guessing at what the pre-sales are for the iPad, and coming to different conclusions from the same guesses.

Over at AppleInsider, their article frames the order numbers as falling: excitement is estimated to have dropped considerably on days two and three and that no more than a half-million preorders and reservations will be taken before the April 3 launch.

Over at Engadget, they look at the same numbers (taken from Daniel Tello) and come up with: For those keeping track, it took the original iPhone 74 days to hit 1 million. Quite an accomplishment if these numbers pan out (and that's a big if!)

So from the same numbers, and two different articles, you could infer that either things are going quite well, or not that well.

Note that it appears these numbers are based on actual pre-orders, and not on reservations.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

iPad battery replacement

I'd been wondering what the story on battery replacement for the iPad was, and now Apple has announced that for $99 you can send in your iPad, and they will send you a replacement one (not necessarily new..)

Interestingly, the gadget sites Engadget and Gizmodo have two different takes on it. Gizmodo seems to think it's a good deal:
The Battery Replacement Service FAQ on Apple's site outlines their policy for handling iPads with diminished battery capacity, and its surprisingly generous: for a $99 service fee, they'll send you a brand new iPad.
while Engadget isn't so happy:
Whoa, Nelly! Isn't this something? Apple has just posted details on its iPad battery replacement service, which is really not a battery replacement service at all.
The odd thing is what has their noses out of joint is that your data won't be preserved, and Apple says you should use iTunes to backup before sending the device in.
you'll be waving goodbye to every morsel of personal data on the device that you send in -- unless you backup beforehand, of course
Now if you've had your iPad engraved or otherwise personalized, then I can understand being upset about not getting back the one you sent. But complaining about the data not being on the computer when it comes back is a little misguided.

You should never send or take in a computer for repair without backing up your data, and you should always assume the data could be lost or destroyed.

It's just the way it is. Often - particularly with hardware problems - the memory can get corrupted/swapped out/reformatted while the repair/diagnostics is being performed. And given that the iPad has to be dissembled and reassembled, I can see why Apple might want to save some time in the process by just sending out a replacement immediately.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Reserving an iPad

A friend has gone the reserve-at-a-store route.

He picked the store he wanted to pick it up at, and - with his Apple account - was able to reserve one. It doesn't appear that a credit card was specifically asked for (as it was when I ordered mine from the Apple Store) though many people do have a credit card attached to their Apple account.

He said that they told him he has until 3pm on Saturday to pick it up; after which that it will be released to the general public; so there's no grantee that there will be one available after 3p.m.

Now we are in a competition; will he get down to the store and pick his up before mine is delivered?

I hope he doesn't get a free goodie and I miss out :(

Meanwhile, Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune estimates that Apple sold 50,000 iPads in two hours.

No ePub support in Pages

It was a tiny, tiny hope of mine that Pages would be able to save to ePub format, but the information page at makes no mention of it, so I guess it's official. Okay, I know that Pages doesn't have any sort of HTML export either, but still...

More on iBooks

The iBooks page at has a few more details about the app:
  1. It appears you will have to download it from the store.
  2. You can add your own ePub titles to iTunes and then sync them to the iPad.

So clearly there's going to be an iTunes update (since I don't think you can put ePub into the current version of iTunes.)

No notice...

Interestingly, when Apple announced the iPad and put up information about it on their website, they had a "Notify Me" button (since they weren't taking orders at thee time.)

Here we are, an hour after they started taking orders, and not a peep from Apple in my that was useful.

[UPDATE] 9:38 Got an email from Apple that iPad is coming. The email has a "Reserve Now" button too so you can reserve to pick up at an Apple Store.

Just ordered...

Just as was reported, the Apple store went down this morning, and came back up at 8:30am EST. I ordered a 32GB Wi-Fi model.

There was no option (that I could find) to pick it up at a local Apple store, though it said that (at least based on my address) it would be delivered on 4/3 (signature required.)

The iPad Case I ordered is listed as shipping by April 3rd.

Also, while some accessories were offered, there was nothing about iWork....which confused me for several moments, and then it occurred to me that I'll have to buy that through the App store!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

iPad orders start at 8:30am (EST)?!!!

From LoopInSight:
Apple on Friday will begin accepting pre-orders for the Wi-Fi iPad on Friday morning at 5:30 am Pacific Time. You can get more details in an email Apple is sending out to those that signed up to be notified of pre-order news.
But I haven't received any email from Apple yet!!

And I still haven't made up my mind which model to get!


eBooks: B&N eReader for iPad Coming Soon
Designed specifically for the iPad, our new B&N eReader will give our customers access to more than one million eBooks, magazines and newspapers in the Barnes & Noble eBookstore, as well as the existing content in their Barnes & Noble digital library. (That includes eBooks and content customers have downloaded to their nook™ eBook reader.)
Source: B&N Community

Behind The Scenes Of Apple's iPad Launch
...behind the veil that obscures all Apple product debuts, the company is making last-minute changes to its book-selling categories and its process for certifying iPhone applications to work on the new, larger device, says mobile media research firm Busted Loop.
Source: Forbes

Apple's iPhone 4.0 software to deliver multitasking support
People with a proven track record in predicting Apple's technological advances tell AppleInsider that the Cupertino-based company has developed a "full-on solution" to multitasking on the iPhone OS but offered no specifics on how the technology would optimize resource conservation and battery life -- two of the most critical issues surrounding the matter, alongside security.
Source: AppleInsider

“E-book ISBN Mess Needs Sorting Out,” Say UK Publishers
On March 3, a group of publishers focused their minds on the challenge at a meeting in London organized by the UK Publisher’s Association and tried to answer the following question: Should publishers assign a different ISBN to each e-book format, or will a single ISBN suffice?
Source: Publishing Perspectives

To buy or not to buy

Over at ZDNet Blogs Matthew Miller is wondering if he should get an iPad, and he comes to the same conclusion about which model to get as I have:
If I was to buy one I would go for the 32GB (16GB doesn’t give you enough room for media content) WiFi only model (I have multiple ways of tethering it via mobile WiFi hotspots) that would cost me $599 plus $60 in sales tax.
But he's still not convinced, and I can understand his hesitation. If I wasn't so interested in producing for the platform, I probably wouldn't be chomping at the bit to pre-order as well.

Of course, how will this translate into sales trends?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gizmodo on eBook formats

Summary: Everyone uses ePub except for Amazon, Apple's using it's own DRM, the buyers will get screwed.
Oh, and PDF is cool!

Giz Explains: How You're Gonna Get Screwed By Ebook Formats

Apple iTunes LP format a failure?

Paul Bonanos at GigaOm reports that the iTunes LP format has been a bit of a dud:
Six months later, however, iTunes LP doesn’t prompt much consumer recognition, and none of the industry sources with whom I spoke said they viewed it as being anywhere close to game-changing from a format perspective. Rather, it’s considered more of a curiosity.
I can't say I'm surprised. After it was announced, I was very curious about this format, and I actually purchased the Dave Matthews Band's Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King partly because I'm a fan, partly because I was curious, and partly because it was one of the albums featured at Apple's big unveiling, so I figured it would be one of the better ones.

My reaction was one of disappointment. You can read my thoughts here: iTunes LP – Is that all there is? And I haven't bothered seeking out any more iTunes LP content, though I did appreciate the extra tracks included with the package.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Books in the age of the iPad

Craig Mod takes a look at the iPad and wonders about the future of book design, and whether the iPad will be better at Definite Content (content with a well defined form) than Formless Content (i.e. novels.)

It's an interesting discussion, though really it's just the beginning of the discussion, and we don't know enough about the tools Apple is supplying. If the ePub format is the only thing Apple is promoting, and it's standard ePub, then it's not going to do Definite Content very well - composing graphics within text is going to be hit or miss.

Unless you use PDF. Or you use your own content viewer. Using PDF is still limiting, and we don't even know if Apple's iBookStore will support it; and making your own content viewer means that buyers have to find you in the app store, not the book store.

I think we have to wait a couple of weeks before we can really have a meaningful discussion...

Monday, March 8, 2010


Apple's Ipad delay is down to a software problem
John Gruber at Daring Fireball claims the software has taken longer to finish than they'd hoped. The problem apparently is in the timing of turning out the software. Obviously on a scale with Duke Nukem on one hand and being on time on the other, a couple of weeks is nothing.
and don't miss the finishing snark:
...if you buy this low-powered, overpriced Ipod Touch you sacrifice any credibility you might have as someone who knows technology and your mind is out to lunch with some pathetic bloke who twitters his abject worship of Steve Jobs at the Oscars.
Source: The Inguirer

Apple iPad: Did just accidentally leak the UK price?
ElectricPig reported that a search of Google Products showed Play listing the iPad - and while clicking through just led to placeholder pages, the Google page showed Play listing prices of £499 for the 16GB WiFi-only version, and £699 for the 64GB model.

Oscars Ad Hints at How Apple Will Position the iPad
Instead of the stark white void in which all iPhone ads are based, this iPad lives in a house. Specifically, on a sofa in a house, in a kitchen, at a breakfast table -- and definitely not in a home office. That's a much different pitch to consumers than if, say, a business traveler had been pictured checking his email from an aisle seat, or kids playing a game from the back of a minivan.
Source: Newsweek

The Fall of the Internet and the Rise of the 'Splinternet'
If the last ten years were a heyday for open content on the Web, the next ten years could be the age of platforms. Today to reach the universe of new mobile browsers, you can't assume that your audience is using only a laptop to access the same version of your content. So it won't be enough to have just a magazine website. Instead you'll need a website and a Kindle App and an iPhone/iPad app and another app for another device that has a distinct audience and requires a specific template.
Source: The Atlantic

3G second thoughts

I realize that I'm probably going to change my mind about twenty times before I actually order an iPad.

But I really thought I'd come to a clear decision, and then yesterday I was out at a meeting, and I was sitting there checking email with my iPhone and I realized I wouldn't be able to do that with the iPad (as there was no Wi-Fi.)

Now the reality is, I could do it quite fine on the iPhone, and since I'm in this situation maybe only once a month, for me it doesn't make much sense (do I really want to spend $15 a month to check email on the larger device?)


Apple Ad

Apple unveiled a new ad that was shown during the Oscars. Nothing really "new" revealed that I could see, though I did notice something I'd missed in other reports: the animation/presentation of multiple emails in the mail program. The video shows selecting multiple messages and the three images sliding out and forming a "stack"

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Which iPad?

With iPad ordering just a week away, I guess it's time to figure out which model to get.
The 16GB models don't make much sense to me; I have a 16GB iPhone, and I have already had to switch to manually managing the music on it because my iTunes library got too big. I'm not really sure that I want or need to put my iTunes library on the iPad (I'll still have the iPhone, and I'm assuming I'll still use that for music most of the time.) But, I suspect that I'll put more video on the iPad - like the complete collection of Top Gear episodes - and video really sucks up the GB.

On the other hand, even though the 64GB version is only $100 more than the 32GB, the reality is that I'll never have enough space for everything. It might take me a little longer, but the 64GB version will get just as full as the 32GB one. So to save a bit of money, I'm thinking the 32GB version is a good compromise.

And when it comes to 3G or not 3G, well, as I already said, I have an iPhone, and though the built-in 3G could be handy, I don't think it will be imperative. So I'll save another $130, and get the 32GB Wi-Fi version.

Of course, I know that I could be wrong, and that extra 64GB might be the difference between having my entire  iTunes library, and having to manually manage music. And I might find that the 3G could be damn useful for all kinds of tasks when out and about with the iPad. I just don't know.

But I'm never going to know the answers to those questions until I've had the thing for a month or two, and I have to make a decision now. With limited information.

So I'm going to go with the 32GB Wi-Fi version and see how it works. There's always eBay. Alternatively, I'll just wait for the next version and give this one to my daughter.

No Tethering - this is news?

Someone sent Steve Jobs an email asking if the iPad could be tethered to an iPhone, and he sent back an email with a five word answer, and four of them were "Sent from my iPhone." The other one was - No. And now a bunch of sites are reporting on it; which makes me wonder why they bothered? Is that news? Isn't it a bit like sending him an email asking if you can get the iPad with an e ink screen? I mean, it's an interesting question, but don't we already know the answer to that as well - No?!

Yes, Apple added the technical capability for tethering back when the 3.0 OS came out, but AT&T hasn't offered a tethering plan (and with them having network problems in certain cities as it is, they probably aren't going to do it any time soon.) So right now, you can't tether an iPhone to anything.

And whatever you think of AT&T/Apple and their inability/unwillingness to provide the service, if you can't tether an iPhone to any other device, why did anyone think you'd be able to tether it to an iPad?!

Okay, I get it....we're all desperate for something to write about while we sit here waiting for the iPad to be released, but don't we have to draw the line somewhere?

AppleInsider, Engadget

Friday, March 5, 2010

eReader buyers giving serious thought to the iPad

According to AppleInsider, a study by ChangeWave reports that some 40 percent of people who are considering buying an e-reader in the next 90 days will buy an iPad. The Kindle trailed with 28 percent.

This would be a significant change, as the study points out, because at the moment 68 percent of respondents who already own an e-reader, own a Kindle.

Even more interesting; we still know so little about what the iPad will really be like as an e-reader. Other than the intro demo, and some pictures, there's so little information out there about what the reader interface is really like, about how big the book store is going to be, etc., that's it's almost amazing that the number is that high!

Source: AppleInsider

And yet...

It's interesting that now we know the release date and the ordering date, but there's no more information from Apple about the iBookStore or how they are using the ePub format.

iPad launch on April 3rd!!

Pre-orders on March 12th!

Once again, the rumors were wrong; the iPad is coming out a week (and a day) later than had been predicted.


Ro Ye at the CU Blog takes a whack at the "things we don't know about the iPad" list, so here's my take on some of the questions he raises:
Ten hours of battery life, Really?
Yep! But then, do any estimates of battery life translate to your own experience? It never has for mine...the iPad will be just the same.
"Almost all" iPhone apps?
Well, "almost all" iPhone apps work on the iPod Touch, so, you know, the same applies.
Magazines on the iPad?
Are coming.
AT&T? Really?
Why not? I know, we all love to hate the carriers. But even AT&T thinks people will mainly use the iPad with WiFi (which i'm not sure if that's wishful thinking on AT&T's part, or they have some good information on that. Maybe they're just hoping that iPad users in New York will stick to WiFi.
How much for those accessories?
Way too much. That's why God invented third party manufacturers.
Why no Webcam?
Version 2!
How comfortable is the typing?
Pretty awful. Don't go writing War and Peace on it. But for web surfing and stuff, should be fine.  Blogging?  hmmmm.
Having more than one program open at a time?
Nope, nope, and nope. Live with it a little while longer.
Source: ComputerUser

How Apple's iPad Can Help The New York Times
Below we explain the importance of the online advertising division for New York Times, and how Apple’s iPad could increase unique visitors to in the future.
Source: Seeking Alhpa

Pearson sees future in Apple's iPad, e-readers
The iPad, is being touted as an educational tool by many including Apple. In recent years, Pearson has introduced range of digital learning products including eCollege, Power-School, MyLabs and Edustructures, many of which are likely to be ported and developed for Apple's iPad, which goes on sale later this month.
Source: The Industry Standard

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Minor delays?

AppleInsider reports that there is a delay in iPad production:
The second report in a week claiming Apple has experienced iPad production delays surfaced Thursday, with the latest suggesting the company is currently able to produce between 200,000 and 250,000 devices per month.
Source: AppleInsider

Apple iPad delay rumours possibly confirmed by Foxconn suppliers?
Although news reports suggest that Foxconn, the parent company of Hon Hai Precision, has claimed that “supplies are on schedule”, the numbers of iPads due looks set to be higher than analyst Misek’s claim of only 300,000 iPads, but less than Apple’s target of 1,000,000 in March – so is there lower production or not?
Source: ITWire

revMobile: another iPhone development environment

Development environments for the iPhone seem to be proliferating. First Adobe announced that CS5 Flash would support exporting to the iPhone environment, and now RunRev Ltd, developers of the Rev development environment, have revMobile, which work with a number of mobile environments including Windows Moble and the iPhone (no word on the iPad.)

They're got an Alpha program going (which will set you back $799) and according to the FAQ, it won't be publicly available until November (and will then cost $999).
revMobile will be the fastest way to develop mobile applications. it will be a cross-device product, so you will be able to use the same code to deploy to multiple mobile platforms, while still providing a native experience on each device.

The article "revMobile for the iPhone: the pre-alpha is here!" provides an overview of working with revMobile, taking you through implementing multitouch support in an application.


The Apple iPad Isn't Going to Revolutionize the Display Industry
...the choice of LCD technology also means that, in spite of the vast library of e-books that will be available for the iPad, this device is no e-book reader. While I’m not an e-book convert myself, the folks I know who carry Kindles everywhere read them outdoors as much as in, often in sunlight, and that just won’t be possible with the iPad’s LCD screen.

The Electronic Display of the Future
Kindle, iPad, Droid—these compact mobile devices are essentially all display. But the screens aren't all we'd like them to be. Yet.

Apple iPad May Overtake Amazon Kindle
A recent survey of e-book reader owners and intenders shows that prior to the release of the iPad, Apple ranks just behind Amazon in the US and UK in terms of preferred brand; and if the iPad provides a compelling eReader experience, it may overtake Amazon’s Kindle.
Source: iPhone Developers Journal
If it provides a more compelling eReader experience, then the rankings probably don't matter. The real issue is that the Kindle has less functionality than the iPad, so it will have to compete on price (or it has to rely on the fact that the iPad isn't as easy to read in direct sunlight, but most buyers won't really factor that into their buying decision unless Amazon mounts a huge campaign about it.)

Can Apple's iPad succeed? Just ask Nintendo's Wii
What the Wii does manage to do rather well is wipe the floor with the Xbox and PS3 when it comes to selling game consoles. Nintendo sells roughly twice as many consoles as either Sony or Microsoft and has consistently outsold its competitors since the Wii's launch. Games consoles for non-traditional gamers are spearheading console sales - the market has been turned on its head. So much then for 'serious gaming'.
Functionality, by itself, isn't the issue. A Windows netbook is bound to be more functional - able to do more things - than an iPad. But if it's easier - and more fun! -  to use for what people are typically doing, then it could succeed.

Apple iPad Is Too Late to Save Print Publishing
The notion behind putting magazine articles on an iPad is that, assuming people are willing to pay, publications can still afford to produce quality material without taking a financial bath. But the question is, are people willing to pay? Does quality matter? Or have we passed the point of no return, where fast and cheap trumps fast and good, and everything else be damned?
Source: PCWorld
His argument that people are so used to crappy content on the web that's free, and that they aren't willing to pay for it is semi-compelling. But people are willing to pay -maybe a little - for some content, and if publishers start making money doing some things, some of the free content wells might dry up.

Rupert Murdoch confirms WSJ for iPad
Rupert Murdoch has confirmed, in a Q & A following his announcement of a New York 'metro' section for the Wall Street Journal, that an app for the iPad is under development
Source: TUAW

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Look: How Penguin Will Reinvent Books With iPad

“We will be embedding audio, video and streaming in to everything we do. The .epub format, which is the standard for ebooks at the present, is designed to support traditional narrative text, but not this cool stuff that we’re now talking about.

“So for the time being at least we’ll be creating a lot of our content as applications, for sale on app stores and HTML, rather than in ebooks. The definition of the book itself is up for grabs."

Check it out to see a video demo.


No iPad delay, on course for March 26 release?

According to Chinese newspaper digitimes, Hon Hai Precision's suppliers have revealed that the manufacturer is on course to deliver 600k - 700k iPads this month, followed by a further one million units in April.
The figures contradict recent reports that suggested only 300k units would be available in March...

Source: Hexus

AT&T CEO sees iPad mostly used on Wi-Fi

Reuters has an article with a quote from AT&T's Chief Executive, who doesn't seem to think the iPad will drive a lot of business their way:
"My expectation is that there's not going to be a lot of people out there looking for another subscription," he said during a webcast of an investor conference, adding that the device would be a mainly "Wi-Fi driven product."
Source: Reuters


iBooks, iPad Apps, Kindle, E-Ink: An Intro for the Perplexed
...will the iPad really save the publishing industry? And more importantly, are companies really clear on the baffling new lexicon of digital print – the iBooks, E-Ink, ePub, and eReader App world they are now forced to come to grips with? Where should publishers focus their efforts – An iBooks App? A customised iPad Native App? A Kindle App? Or even an ePub or proprietary Kindle/Nook format release?

And perhaps most importantly – which content format is appropriate for each new platform?

Source: Entropy Digital

E-Book Piracy on the iPad: Some Thoughts
Finally, and here's why book piracy both disturbs and intrigues me on some bizarre, visceral level—it's just text. The most low-bandwidth medium of all. If, in a few years, we get to the point where we have the equivalent of a premium torrent site for books, one could download an author’s entire life work formatted for their preferred e-reader for free in literally seconds, rather than minutes or hours for audiovisual content. Combine this with a publishing industry that’s learned nothing from the RIAA/MPAA’s mistakes and we have an environment where a culture of book piracy could mature exponentially faster than we’ve seen before.
Source: Apple Matters

Comparison of e-book readers
A features table comparing the iPad, Nook, Kindle 2, Kindle DX (but no Sony Reader?!)
Source: Social Compare

Apple trying to store your video in the cloud
Apple has told the studios that under the plan, iTunes users will access video from various Internet-connected devices. Apple would, of course, prefer that users access video from the iPad, the company's upcoming tablet computer, the sources said.
Source: CNet

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sales to start March 26?

AppleInsider says March 26th is the probable release date of the iPad, though it's only described as "very likely."

There's also mention of a "special gift" for those that camp out for the iPad.  Camp? Really? Or just turn up on the day? My guess is that if it's anything, it's a T-shirt...or a coupon for a free electronic book...

The other shoe

In his column "15 iPad mysteries remain" article Mike Elgan asked: Will free Internet content cost money on the iPad? and noted:
Publishing companies such as Hulu and a wide range of media companies are apparently mulling the idea of charging for content delivered to iPads that they give away on the Internet.
My response was:
Hulu may be planning to charge for content, but that's not an iPad issue. That's the reality that content publishers are all trying to figure out how to make money from the stuff they are currently giving away. And they'll have to either charge for it on the "free" internet as well, or provide some kind of added-value on the iPad.

Well, another shoe has dropped. The New York Times reports that Viacom will that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report of Hulu.
Unable to make the digital media dollars add up to their liking, Viacom will remove “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and other Comedy Central television shows from Hulu next week.
Source: The New York Times


The Problem With iBooks – The Platform Is Very Limited
Paul Colligan makes a big leap in his column: The Problem With iBooks:
iBooks only works on the iPad. Kindle products work on the iPad, the iPhone, PCs (Macs coming soon), and Blackberries.
I don't know where he got any specific statement that iBooks will only work on the iPad, but I just can't imagine it's true. That Apple wouldn't make iBooks available on Macs (and PCs as well) through iTunes is inconceivable. The iTunes store, and all the Macs and PC users that access it, is one of Apple's biggest assets. The idea that they wouldn't want to exploit it is nonsensical. The iPad may be Apple's first eBook platform, but it's not the only equipment they have that can be used to read electronic books.

If Apple doesn't announce some kind of support for the iBookstore content to those on Macs and PCs when their Bookstore opens, look for it to happen soon after; Apple isn't going to leave all that business to Amazon. it just doesn't make sense.

iBookstore and the Format of eBooks
Others are wondering about whether to use ePub or standalone apps for dealing "printed" material [Hey! What happened to PDF?! -Ed]
I think its becoming increasingly clear that the ePub format is not going to work equally well across all the many devices that the eBook proponents want it to travel. Part of the reason for this is that the standard file format was designed to solve a problem of how to make 'reasonably straightforward chapter based' books flow and reflow across multiple screen-based systems. The original specification did not allow for the fact that scores of different and somewhat incompatible reading engines would be implemented so that the same text looks so different across different platforms.
 Source: Exact Editions Blog

Publishers Ready for iPad, Worry about Apple-Adobe Flash Support
While it's clear that digital magazine applications for the iPad and iPhone will be exclusive for the platform, versions developed using Adobe Air or Flash would work on tablets running Microsoft Windows, such as the HP Slate introduced in January. However, interest in tablets running Windows is not as high as the buzz the iPad has generated.
Source: Yahoo/PC World

Apple iPad lassos AP, Conde Nast for special apps
Now two more major outlets, the Associated Press and Conde Nast, have said they will target users of the iPad and other e-reading devices. In a statement released today, the Associated Press unveiled AP Gateway, which will allow the wire service to sell articles and videos directly to reader
Source: Christian Science Monitor

Apple iPad 'to cost £389'
The Geeky Gadgets website reports that the entry-level iPad, which has Wi-Fi and 16GB of flash memory, will cost £389. The 32GB version will cost £439, while the 64GB version will cost £489. The rumoured UK prices are significantly more expensive than Apple's US iPad prices – there, the entry-level model costs $499 (£326), the 32GB version costs $599 (£392) and the 64GB model is $699 (£457).

What the iPad might mean for libraries
The critical question for me right now is whether, given a choice, without a nurtured bias for paper books, children would select a traditional, printed volume or a digitally enriched electronic version. Not what we would select, but what our students would choose.
Source: School Library Journalk

Monday, March 1, 2010

E-book cost breakdown

The New York Times has a comparison of the economics of producing a book. It suggests that publishers make $4.05 on a typical $26.00 hardback book and $4.56-5.54 on a $12.99 eBook.

Interestingly, the authors make less on an eBook, while the publishers make more? That seems a bit odd! And do most authors really get $3.90 per book?

A quick search turned up some different rates, but seemed to be between 5 and 10% of the cover price, which suggests an author royalty on a $26 book is more likely to be around $2.60, and maybe even less (my own experience with trade paperbacks suggest it's less.)

This suggests that publishers are making more like $5.35. Not that I think publishers are having an easy time of it.

iPad manufacturing bottleneck?

AppleInsider reports that analyst Peter Misek with Canaccord Adams has sited an unspecified production problem that will limit availability of the iPad, and may even delay it's release (maybe that's why they haven't started taking orders?)
"An unspecified production problem at the iPad's manufacturer, Hon Hai Precision, will likely limit the launch region to the US and the number of units available to roughly 300K in the month of march, far lower than the company's initial estimate of 1,000K units."

"The delay in production ramp will likely impact Apple's April unit estimate of 800K as well. It is also possible that, given the limited number of units available in March, the launch will be delayed for a month."

15 iPad mysteries

Mike Elgan has written a "15 iPad mysteries remain" article, and I think he's stretching a bit. Here's my response to some questions I don't think are really mysteries:

2) When can you pre-order one?
My guess is a little under 30 days prior to when they know they can ship them. If they don't start in the next two weeks, then either they have changed their minds and aren't going to accept pre-orders, OR there's a delay in release. (which is his first question; When can you buy one?)

3) Will AT&T delay the 3G version?
No. His example of tethering being delayed is a different technical/billing issue. If the iPad 3G is delayed, it's more likely a hardware/manufacturing issue, than because AT&T gets cold feet about all that new business.

4) Where will the missing iPhone apps show up?
I'm betting they haven't been rewritten - that's why they didn't make an appearance at the demo - so they'll run as they currently do. Of course, maybe they will have been rewritten to be full-screen apps, but I'm thinking that's unlikely. When you look at these apps, they aren't doing that much; scale them up to full size apps would almost cry out for more functionality, and I can't see why Apple would want to expend effort on that.
His suggestion that the Weather and Stock apps might be available on the 3G version but not the wi-fi only version ignores the fact that those apps are on both the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

5) Will there be new 'gestures' we don't yet know about?
No. While there will be some new gestures we aren't familiar with (I suspect there will be gestures in iWork for selecting multiple things, etc., which we haven't encountered before) I don't think there will be many new gestures for the "mundane" tasks he mentions.

7) Will Apple censor TV, movies and magazines?
8) Will Apple stop censoring apps?
9) Will Apple set up strong parental filters for the iPad?
That's the same question, written three different ways. But he probably didn't want to make this the 13 iPad mysteries.
Clearly, Apple needs to do something about adult material, even if it's just the "R" rated stuff. There have already been reports of Apple putting an Explicit category in iTunes (and then removing it) which suggests Apple is "experimenting" with this issue. But this may not happen at the time the iPad is released; It's an ongoing issue that Apple is wrestling with which is exacerbated - but not created - by the iPad.

11) Will iPhone apps run side-by-side on iPad?
No. This is multi-tasking, and Apple would have made a big thing of that functionality if they were going to support it.

12) Will the iPad have free-floating windows?
No. The way this is written makes it sound like an app can run in it's own window; but why do that? It makes very little sense unless you have multi-tasking.  The iPad isn't going to do it. Multiple windows in an app makes sense, but not windows holding the entire app; not unless they add multi-tasking.

13) Will iPad crash the mobile Internet?
Translation: will it bring AT&T's network to it's knees? New York and San Francisco are already so iPhone saturated, even a little boost from iPad traffic will only make things much worse. But for the majority of the country, I suspect a lot of that extra iPad traffic will go through the wi-fi network.
But this is a question we really have to wait and see, because no one really knows how people will be using the iPad.

14) Will free Internet content cost money on the iPad?
Hulu may be planning to charge for content, but that's not an iPad issue. That's the reality that content publishers are all trying to figure out how to make money from the stuff they are currently giving away. And they'll have to either charge for it on the "free" internet as well, or provide some kind of added-value on the iPad. People are not going to be happy if they can see something for free on their MacBook, but not on the iPad. The question is; if that were the case, who would they get angry at?

15) Will we see Microsoft Office for iPad?
Not this year. Maybe never. Microsoft would have to put a lot of effort into it, and there's big questions whether people will want to spend big bucks for Office on the iPad. As long as Apple offers apps that can open Office files while users are on the road, that may be enough.
And remember, Microsoft has been a little iffy about the Mac market through the years, so they'd need to be convinced there was a big enough install base.

To 3G or not 3G

Apple Sky has a discussion of the question; get the 3G, or don't? The article does a pretty good job of summing up the issues. One question they raised - and maybe glossed over - is something I hadn't considered:
At this point, it is assumed that since you are buying the device contract free, that it will also be an unlocked device. This would mean that as other companies all over the world announce their plans, you should be able to also purchase micro-SIMs for networks all over the world, and hopefully they will also have monthly plans.
Interestingly, the ultimate conclusion - for that writer - is to get the non 3G version. I'm actually leaning strongly in the same direction, for similar reasons; I mainly plan to use this at home or where there will be wi-fi, I already have an iPhone, so the times I'm "mobile" I have that, and finally, though the $130 price difference seems reasonable, and the $14.99 a month price isn't bad, I'm actually worried that I'll end up using it more than I plan to just because of the convenience. And that $15 a month can quickly add up!

The iPad A4 processor

[...]perhaps most likely reason behind Apple's silence, is that the A4 just isn't anything to write home about—and on this second point, I actually know a thing or two. If Apple were to tell you what's in the A4, most of the focus would be on what the chip is not, rather than on what the iPad is. 
But it turns out that the the A4 is a 1GHz custom SoC with a single Cortex A8 core and a PowerVR SGX GPU. The fact that A4 uses a single A8 core hasn't been made public, but I've heard from multiple sources who are certain for different reasons that this is indeed the case. (I wish I could be more specific, but I can't.)  
Source: Ars Technica

Condé Nast preparing iPad Magazines

The first magazines for which it will create iPad versions are Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Glamour, the company plans to announce in an internal memorandum on Monday.
During the test phase, the company will sell the digital magazines through iTunes.

Source: New York Time

While this is exciting/interesting news, I think that dedicated apps is ultimately the wrong way to go; imagine if rather than having the single iTunes application on your iPhone, you had to launch a separate application for each record company that you had bought albums from? It's okay if you have - for example - a subscription to Wired, but what if you buy single issues of different magazines? You're going to end up with lots of little single apps that you run infrequently.