Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Title: 10 most important eReader developments in the other 2010

Body: t’s fun to wonder what the biggest eReader developments for the rest of2010 will be. Here are the 10 developments that, in my opinion, wouldhave the most impact.Potential new Kindle for ChristmasThisis wild speculation – and yet, if Amazon releases a super Kindle or acolor Kindle for Christmas that wins it the holiday season then Amazonwould get a death grip on the dedicated eReader market. Amazon’sfirst option is to create a game changing new super Kindle that has oneor more killer features that absolutely destroy the competition (color,an absolutely brilliant new screen, dual-mode screen, flexibletouch-screen). This combined with the Kindle Store and the Kindleservice (WhisperNet, free browsing, etc.) would make the Super Kindlethe clear #1 option. It would also entice more casual readers to buythe Kindle as they could get over non-reading related objections suchas the lack of color and the lack of touch. The second option is tocreate a multi-purpose Kindle (in addition to the dedicatedKindles) that takes on multi-purpose devices directly. The defaultreading app would be Kindle for Kindle (perhaps the new Kindle shouldbe called Kindle Impure) and Amazon would lock in ebook revenue fromcasual readers. Strategically, it’s the most effective approach tocounter the iPad (though an expensive one) as it changes the Kindle vsiPad conversation to - Kindle Impure vs iPad if you want a multi-purpose device and Kindle vs Nook if you want a reading focused device.The third option is to ensure that Kindle 3, software updates, andservice updates are enough to keep the Amazon Kindle the #1 readingoption for readers. This is the riskiest strategy as Amazon riskslosing casual customers to multi-purpose devices and also faces therisk that B&N or Sony release a super Nook or a very impressive newSony Reader and that new eReader becomes the #1 eReader for the holidayseason.eBooks hitting 15% of Book Sales RevenueeBooks were 2.84% of the market a year ago, now they’re 8.48%, and they are probably going to keep growing.If they hit 10% by the end of the year it’ll be a landmark event –though not important enough to be #2 on this list. The really big eventwould be if they could hit 15% market share by end of the year. Thatwould really shake things up. Authors are making only 8 to 15% fromphysical books. They are making 25% or so from ebooks when they aresigning over rights to Publishers. With the Kindle Store they can makeas much as 70% by going solo. Compare 15% of 85% (physical books,12.75% of book sales revenue) with 70% of 15% (ebooks, 10.5% of booksales revenue) and you realize the difference isn’t that much.When ebooks hit 15% of the market Authors start making almost as much from ebooks as they do from physical books.Authors will start wondering a lot more about a world where it’s allebooks and they can get 70% or even 50% of book sales revenue ratherthan the current 15%. At that point something will change – Authorswill either decide to start focusing a lot more on ebooks or they willrebel and force Publishers to give them more from both ebooks and books.Google EditionsMuchlike Judge Chen (who’s making the settlement decision) everyone seemsto have forgotten about Google Books and Google Editions. Itsarrival is going to be a seismic event – It’ll be the first time thatanother eBook store has more new books than the Kindle Store. In fact,Google are claiming 2 million new books. Sony is probably going to makeGoogle Editions its main store, the Nook supports ePub (there’s alsothe browser option), and there will be an iPhone App. We’ll alsosee Google Editions’ model of read from any browser work well andthey’ll make Google Editions the default option for Android and the 1stsearch result for every book search. It’s going to be huge and if therumored Google Tablet arrives before end of the year it’ll provideanother channel on which Google can set Google Editions as the default.If the Book Settlement is approved then it also leaves Google as theonly (for now) store with orphaned works. People don’t seem to realizejust how big of an advantage that would be.iPad MiniWe have to go through this with every Apple product release – The supposed death of eReaders.Willthe iPad Mini succeed where the iPhone and iPad have failed? Willpeople prefer to read their books on a LCD screen because it has colorand animations and videos and more pixels and is sprinkled with magicpixie dust? This is mostly important because it leads to moreebooks bought by people who would never buy a dedicated eReader andless ebooks bought by people who buy the iPad Mini instead of adedicated eReader. It also weeds out the smaller eReader companiesand forces eReader companies to improve their products and the valuefor money they offer. It’s great for readers. If the rumors aretrue we will see a 5.6″ iPad Mini and a 7″ iPad Mini by end of 2010.They are also supposed to be more focused on reading and that probablymeans shiny, happy people getting all teary eyed in libraries or atgraduation and Sam Mendes choosing Apple money over making meaningfulmovies.Kindle App StoreThis is the dark horse of 2010.A lot of people point to Facebook Apps and iPhone Apps as amajor reason for the wild success of each. It’s hard to argue as thereare a lot of reasons this is probably true – features customized tosmall groups of users, lots and lots of value add, developers workingfor free, all those developers buying and promoting the device,differentiation from competitors, the device/platform being taken inamazing new directions. Basically, there’s nothing like providing aplatform on which developers can play freely and also make money -you get all their best ideas and their hard work and you get it forfree. There’s also nothing quite as effective as letting users vote onfeatures with their money – users choose apps that add the mostvalue to their experience. Finally, you have the ‘individually tailored device’angle. Each person can choose what they most value and developers canmake apps targeted at niches so small that they would never get servedwithout an App Store. The Kindle App Store has arrived rather latefor the App Store party. It does, however, promise to provide a fewthings we haven’t seen before in eReaders – lots ofindividual developers and companies of all sizes offering new featuresto users, attempts to expand the usefulness of the Kindle withouttaking away too much from the focus on reading, use of the wireless forfeatures other than book downloads and basic browsing, the ability tocater to the needs of specific demographics, personalization andcustomization. All it takes is a few killer features - killerfeatures that give the Kindle an unassailable lead over every othereReader. We’ll probably get at least 3 killer apps - if the Kindle AppStore releases this year Amazon might have to do nothing to win the2010 Christmas season.Kindle 3This doesn’t make the Top 5 (it’s 6th) because it seems rather likely that Kindle 3 will be Kindle 2.7.If the rumors of an August release are true and the Kindle DX 2 is areliable indicator we’ll be looking at the Kindle 2 getting the KindleDX 2 eInk Pearl screen and not much else. It’ll be cheap, have thePearl screen, and may add 1 or 2 killer features. It’ll be the besteReader around - yet it’ll be incremental evolution rather than arevolution. Kindle 3 will be death by relentless incremental progress – in both the good way and the bad way.Amazon may very well surprise us and release an absolutely astoundingKindle 3. Yet the release of an incremental Kindle 2 and the release ofan incremental Kindle DX 2 indicates that Amazon would rather focus onimproving the Kindle service and software than put a lot of effortinto improving the hardware. It almost seems as if Amazon hasdecided that the aim is to replace paper and not to produce arevolutionary new eReader for $300. At the end of the year itwouldn’t be a surprise to see a $125 Kindle 3 with pretty much the samefeatures as Kindle 2 plus the new eInk Pearl screen and a $250 to $299super Kindle that adds on a lot – including, perhaps, the ability to domore than just read. Qualcomm’s Mirasol screens look really pretty anda 5.6″ color Kindle would fit in very well next to the 6″ Kindle 3 and9.7″ Kindle DX 2.Nook 2 for ChristmasNook wasa huge hit last year – except for the part where they announcedfeatures 5 weeks before release and sold out of stock in the middleof Christmas shopping season. It’s hard not to be impressed by how the Nook’s features included nearly all of the features on Kindle owners’ ‘Most Wanted Features’ list – PDF support, LendMe, SD Card slot, ePub, WiFi, replaceable battery, custom screensavers. It also came in at $259.Amazon got enough time to respond and added PDF support and some otherfeatures to fight back. It also pulled off the biggest magic trick –staying in stock while Nook and Sony Reader ran out. B&N alsohurt themselves by releasing a Nook that wasn’t very polished – bugs,freezing, slow page turns, sluggishness in the controls, andunintuitive user interface. The questions are – Will Nook 2 beas much of a surprise as Nook 1? Will B&N take Amazon by surpriseor will it again reveal its strategy months in advance? Will there beenough Nook 2 stock? Will B&N release a very polished Nook 2?This would be right at #2 if it weren’t for my low confidence inB&N’s software abilities. B&N’s software team is costing it theeReader War and the recent delayed launch of the B&N iPad App seemsto indicate B&N either doesn’t realize it or doesn’t care.New Sony Reader modelsSonyhas had to watch as a market it first ventured into has beenstolen from its grasp by Amazon and then B&N and Apple have almostmade Sony an after-thought. Most of Sony’s problems stem from two simple, fundamental mistakes -Valuingfeatures over readability and thus releasing two consecutivegenerations of products (Sony 700, Sony 600) that were hampered by thereflectivity of the touch screen. What use is touch if the glare and reflection makes the screen hard to read?Thinkingof it as a contest to produce the device with the most features asopposed to a device and service that help create the best readingexperience. Sony produced the most impressive eReaders and thenpromptly ignored the fact that people want lots of cheap ebooks to readand they want a service (like WhisperNet) that adds value through easydownloads and syncing. You have to think that at some pointSony will stop repeating the same mistakes and figure out that it hasto let the eInk screen shine figuratively not literally. That peoplewant to read books on the Sony Reader and not show it off (there’s aniWhatever for that).Nook opening up to Android AppsTheKindle App Store might give the Kindle an unassailable lead. There area few reasons that isn’t a certainty – there may not be enoughdevelopers participating, Nook can play the Android card. If theKindle App Store is released before the end of the year B&N should,and almost certainly will, open up the Nook to Android Apps – probablyto a sub-set it feels are relevant to reading and the Nook. It may ormay not be enough - the Kindle App Store has been in beta sinceFebruary 2010 and Android Apps are not built for eInk. A Nook AppStore may damage B&N more than help it - B&N might rushto release a Nook App Store before Amazon’s App Store is out andrelease a half-baked version, it may open up the Nook to lots ofreading apps including Google Editions, Android brings a very strongculture of free and B&N may inadvertently create a loophole forpiracy. There are also certain reasons a Nook App Store might bevery powerful – There are a lot of Android Apps and a lot of Androiddevelopers, people who prefer a dual-screen ereader with a second LCDscreen are likelier to be open to apps, B&N might give apps a lotmore freedom than the Kindle App Store (perhaps even let them createPDF readers and ePub readers). Sooner or later B&N will have toopen up the Nook to Apps – there’s no way around it. The good news isthat by choosing Android as their OS they are well placed to movequickly.End of the Agency ModelThe AgencyModel is not working and it’s working. There aren’t very many $14.99books doing well and there are lots of $9.99 books doing well – thereare also a fair number of $12.99 books doing well. The Greedy 5 arestill sticking to the Agency Model – However, we haven’t had much interms of ebook sales figures from them which hints there isn’t muchgood news to share. There is a chance that by the end of the yearPublishes give up on $14.99 entirely and shift to a mix of $12.99,$9.99 and $7.99 for new books. There are a few reasons this isn’t asfar-fetched as you may think – lots of backlist books being released asebooks, indie authors continuing to sell books at $1, smallerpublishers and new publishers taking advantage of Amazon and Apple’s70% cut model. The competition is brutal. The Agency Model isbased on the assumption that there is a limited supply of quality books– with every passing day this assumption becomes weaker and weaker. Thepromise of a 70% cut, publishers like Open Road and Rosetta Books thatoffer 50%, Literary Agents that want to try selling ebooks themselves –there’s an endless stream of quality books about to flood the market.The end of the Agency Model in 2010 is quite possible – There are,however, 9 developments (the above ones) that might mean more to thefuture of eReaders and eBooks.From: All PDF Tools

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