- The Morning Coffee – 23 January 2014
- Sony Announces a 6.4″ Smartphone Sans Phone
- Sources Say B&N’s Nook Division Lost Its CTO, Head of Nook Press
- Adobe Releases New Epub DRM
- Intel Launches New Educational Tablet, Laptop
Posted: 22 Jan 2014 09:30 PM PST
Top stories this Thursday morning include The Millions satirical clickbait book titles (link), a new update from Pocket (link), another look at the South African ebook market (link), a better analysis on why ebook customers are loyal (link), and more.
Posted: 22 Jan 2014 03:22 PM PST
Here’s a bit of news that makes me wonder whether the smartphone market is fizzling. Remember Sony’s strange FCC filing from November?
It looked like Sony was sending a Wifi only version of their Xperia Z Ultra smartphone through the FCC as a tablet, and as it turns out they really were. Engadget reported yesterday that Sony has shipped a new version of the Xperia Z Ultra in Japan. It has no cellular connection, making it effectively an Android tablet with a 6.4″ screen.
The new tablet otherwise looks to have the same specs as the phablet, and it will reportedly have a rather princely price tag: 52,000 yen (about $500). There’s no word on the US release.
According to the press release the tablet version of the Xperia Z Ultra runs Android 4.2 on a 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Krait 400 processor with 32GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, and an unknown amount of RAM. It has a 6.4″ screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (slightly higher than the 2013 Nexus 7), and comes equipped with a pair of cameras (8MP rearcam and 2MP webcam), Bluetooth, LTE, and GPS.
The screen, high resolution cameras, and powerful CPU makes this a high-end tablet. Does it justify the price? Well, when you factor out the taxes that are collected in Japan (5%), maybe. In some ways this is a better tablet than the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – or at least it would be if there were a Galaxy Note 7 tablet and not just the slightly smaller smartphones.
But never mind that; here’s a kitten standing on an Xperia Z Ultra:
I’ve been wondering why Sony tried this crazy stunt ever since the Xperia Z Ultra cleared the FCC back in November. My best guess was that the phablet market wasn’t as big as expected, but it wasn’t until a couple days ago that I had data to back that up.
The latest estimates are showing that phablets aren’t nearly as popular as you might expect. A recent report from Juniper research estimated that around 20 million phablets shipped in the year 2013.
That’s actually a rather small number when compared to the global smartphone market, which was estimated to exceed 250 million units in the third quarter of 2013 alone. IDC estimated that the tablet market accounted for about 46 million units in that quarter.
When you look at the numbers, it’s pretty clear why Sony decided to turn this phablet into a tablet. The non-phablet smartphone market is doing great, and the tablet market is coming along nicely, and if you put the 2 points together then you might conclude that people don’t want phone functions on their 6″ and larger mobile gadgets.
The only question I have now is whether anyone will follow Sony’s lead. Would you care to take a guess?
Posted: 22 Jan 2014 12:02 PM PST
Barnes & Noble has been getting a lot of press lately over the departure of several senior managers of Nook Media, but it turns out that the 3 names previously mentioned in the press are only the tip of the iceberg.
In addition to Jamie Iannone, Jim Hilt, and Bill Saperstein, all of whom plan to leave or have left, I have also learned that Nook Media has also lost a couple other senior managers.
My source, who is one of the many engineers that left Nook Media in the back half of 2013, has told me that Nook Media CTO Ravi Gopalakrishnan no longer works for the company. I was also told that Avi Nolan, the head of Nook Press, was booted some time back. If these reports are true then Nook Media is seeing more than just the normal level of reshuffling; people are jumping ship or being made redundant right and left.
This would arguably be a sign that the company is going down and the smart people jumping ship; it’s certainly not a sign that these ex-managers and ex-employees have any confidence in the long term survival of Nook Media.
At this point a sale is probably out of the question (it would have happened by now), so we could be looking at either worst case scenario that Nook Media will be shut down, but the more likely scenario is that it will be allowed to wither on the vine.
Unfortunately I have been unable to confirm either story because B&N has declined to comment on this story. I have also been unable to confirm that Avi Nolan is or was the head of Nook Press, though that position does appear to be available. Also, Ravi Gopalakrishnan’s LinkedIn profile still shows him as the CTO of Nook Media, which would tend to prove my source wrong.
At this point all I have is an unconfirmed (and undenied) report that these senior managers are no longer with Nook Media. Should I get confirmation (or a denial) I will update this post.
The post Sources Say B&N’s Nook Division Lost Its CTO, Head of Nook Press appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 22 Jan 2014 10:21 AM PST
Rumors have been circulating since at least October 2013 that Adobe was planning to release a new version of their DRM for Epub ebooks, and it looks like the rumors have come true. Adobe has released a new version of Adobe Digital Editions yesterday, and guess what?
The features page says that along with improved CSS support and better support for vertical languages (Japanese, for example), Adobe DE 3.0 also includes a new DRM which is described as now being “hardened and made more secure”.
Yes, after over
Some are panicking over the news that there is new DRM, with my competition suggesting that this will drive readers into the arms of Amazon, but I have decided to take a more realistic approach.
Yes, there’s a new type of DRM out there, and yes we will eventually see ebook readers and apps that support it. But for the near future the devices and apps that do not support the new DRM (and frankly, never will support the new DRM) will far out number the newer gadgetry that does. And that means that the vast body of existing ereaders and apps is going to drive the market. eBookstores will want to sell to the largest number of potential customers, so they will continue to offer the older DRM.
They already know that they’re losing customers to Amazon, Apple, and B&N, all of which have a proprietary DRM schema, so they’ll do their best to avoid losing what few customers they can get.
I can’t see an ebookstore putting up a warning message that the ebooks they sell can only be read on newer ereaders and apps, can you?
No, I think it much more likely that we will see almost no adoption of the new DRM. Instead I expect to see a repeat of the launch of the Nook store in 2009, when B&N announced their clever new DRM which no one else adopted.
Just about the only ones who will adopt the DRM will be the hackers who have probably already started working on cracking the DRM. I would put good money that the DRM will be hacked long before any reader encounters it.
Would anyone care to take that bet?
image by m thierry
Posted: 22 Jan 2014 08:17 AM PST
There’s a new press release over on the Intel website today which touts new Android tablet and Windows notebook reference designs that Intel is launching in the education market. There isn’t any info on price or release date, but Intel has released the basic specs and a few details about the optional accessories.
First up is a new Classmate PC. Intel released the first Classmate PC reference design in 2006, and over the years they’ve debuted several updated models with each model featuring improved specs.
The current Classmate PC now features a 10″ screen with an optional touchscreen. It runs either Windows 8.1 or Linux on a dual-core 2GHz Celeron N2806 CPU with a reversible 1MP camera, 4GB RAM, a 320GB hard disk, Wifi, and Bluetooth.
This design has already been picked up by HP as the HP Classmate Notebook PC (it was first announced by HP in December). According to HP this laptop will weigh just under 3 pounds and have a plethora of card slots and ports. I cannot find a price but that second link leads to HP’s spec sheet, and it offers a complete set of specs for this laptop.
When it comes to software and accessories HP hasn’t released any info, but Intel is saying that both the new tablet and laptop will have optional magnifier that snaps on to the camera, and a temperature sensor probe that plugs into the device’s audio jack.
Both devices will likely have access to the educational content store which Intel launched last year but hasn’t promoted very much. I found it via a story from Kenya, which should tell you something about Intel’s international priorities.
While many people watching the ed tech market are focused on the US, Intel has been working to promote their ed-tech division everywhere. For example, last year they formed a partnership with a Philippine ed-tech company. They also sold 750 educational tablets to the Department of Education in Makati City (a city in the Manilla metro area) for around 30 million Philippine pesos (about $750,000).
This one, in fact:
The tablet bought by Makati City is an older model but it did come with the temperature sensor and magnifying lense mentioned above. I’m told it also came bundled with the software, infrastructure, digital content, services, training, and support needed to make effective use of the tablet in the classroom.
The new Intel Education tablet features a dual-core 1.2GHz Atom Z2520 CPU. It runs Android 4.2 (slightly newer version of Android than the Android 4.0 on Intel’s last educational tablet), and according to the spec sheet it has 1GB RAM, 8GB Flash storage, a microSD card slot, 2 cameras (VGA and 5MP), Bluetooth, Wifi, and a variety of ports and sensors.
As you can see in the image above, the new tablet looks much like the previous model with a rubber shell, stylus, and accessories, though it does have at least one feature not found on the older model when it launched. There’s also a mention in the spec sheet of Kno, the digital textbook startup which Intel bought last November. Intel is now using Kno to supply digital textbooks and a new educational environment to students and teachers.
This tablet reportedly has 12 hours of battery life, and weighs 710 grams. I don’t see any details on price or release date, but if you happen to be in London this week you can stop by the BETT trade show. Intel will be showing off their new hardware in their booth.
This tablet is the 4th tablet reference design announced by Intel. The first was released in early 2013 as the Studybook, a $700 mistake wrapped in a rubber shell. And then last Summer Intel introduced 2 new tablets (a 7″ design and a 10″ design) before replacing them with a new tablet today.
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