Friday, 21 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Is Apple Planning to Launch an iTunes App for Android? I Doubt it

Posted: 21 Mar 2014 05:23 PM PDT

There’s a 10803035-itunes-on-android[1]new rumor going around today that Apple is mulling expanding their music store on to Android, and that they are planning a streaming service to compete with Spotify.

Citing declining music sales, Billboard is reporting:

Apple has opened exploratory talks with senior label executives about the possibility of launching an on-demand streaming service that would rival Spotify and Beats Music, according to three people familiar with the talks. Apple is also thinking about adding an iTunes App for Android phones, the Google rival that has been growing faster than the iPhone, these sources said. The surprising discussions are part of a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the double-digit decline in U.S. download sales at Apple's iTunes Music Store, the largest music retailer.

The idea of an iTunes app for Android has been floating around for a few years now, but I don’t think this has a very good chance of happening. Sure, it’s entirely plausible that Apple is toying with the idea, but I don’t think they are really that interested in selling more content. (And the same goes for the Spotify service.)

For one thing, they’ve been ignoring Android and other platforms for years now, while they could have been profiting from it. And as I have pointed out in the past, Apple makes most of their revenue from hardware sales, not content. The apps, music, and other content in iTunes is there to support the hardware sales.

Furthermore, Steve Jobs has gone on the record expressing doubt as to the value:

“We thought about whether we should do a music client for Android. We put iTunes on Windows in order to sell more iPods. But I don't see an advantage of putting our own music app on Android, except to make Android users happy. And I don't want to make Android users happy.”

That is a 3 year old old quote from the late founder of Apple, so it might no longer reflect Apple’s priorities.

On the other hand, do you have any evidence that their priorities have changed?

I don’t.

The post Is Apple Planning to Launch an iTunes App for Android? I Doubt it appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon’s Brazilian Textbook Deal Heralds a Shift in the Market

Posted: 21 Mar 2014 04:31 PM PDT

Earlier 6966883093_5fa64ed49e_m[1]this week Amazon announced a new distribution deal with the Brazilian govt to distribute 200 distribute textbook titles to teachers and students across Brazil.

While this is quite the coup for Amazon, there’s a bigger story here. This deal, along with several other unrelated developments, are all signs that the digital textbook market bubble, in particular the one where textbooks were going to be sold to students, is defunct.

I know it might sound strange to extrapolate from one deal and make general statements about the market, but if you consider the past few major stories about digital textbooks I think you’ll agree with me.

  • In November 2013 Intel acquired the digital textbook startup Kno. This firm had been launched with the idea of selling digital textbooks to students (also a Kno tablet, but that died a long time ago). Kno was sold for $15 million, far short of the $73 million Kno had raised.
  • In March 2014 Ingram bought CourseSmart, a competing digital textbook retailer, with the likely goal of combining CourseSmart with VitalSource, Ingram’s own digital textbook platform. According to my sources CourseSmart had been struggling for the past 2 years, and that it’s major weakness was its focus on selling to students (B2C) rather than selling to schools (B2B) like VitalSource.
  • And this week we have Amazon signing a distribution deal with a government agency. This retailer had initially gotten into ebooks and digital textbooks with the goal of selling and renting them to consumers (including students), but now they’re going after deals with organizations.

Don’t those 3 points make an interesting line?

They would seem to suggest that the consumer digital textbook market is unworkable for some reason, probably because people aren’t buying them.

Assuming that there is a market for digital textbooks, it would seem that the way forward will be for publishers to sell to schools rather than individuals. Of course, that’s already happening, but it hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as the efforts to sell digital textbooks to consumers. The latter market got all the press, but it seems to have fizzled.


If I am right then the digital textbook market is going to be generating a lot less buzz over the next few years. I doubt it’s going to shrink, but it will be less visible. In fact, with more school districts launching 1:1 programs I would expect that the digital textbook market will grow significantly.

Also, this does not bode well for Inkling. This 3 year old startup focused on selling digital textbooks to students, just like Kno and CourseSmart, which means that they need to pivot before they go under. Given their acqui-hire of Open Air Publishing last Fall, I would think Inkling already figured that out.


images by Johan Larsson, mrpetersononline

The post Amazon’s Brazilian Textbook Deal Heralds a Shift in the Market appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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