Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 24 March 2014

Posted: 23 Mar 2014 09:30 PM PDT

I have a short list of stories for you today, including Google harvesting data from student email accounts (link), a debunking of a bogus post on ebook pricing (link), a commentary on Apple’s prudishness in iBooks (link), and more.

The post The Morning Coffee – 24 March 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Dual-OS Tablet From Ramos Raises Doubts that Google, Microsoft are Blocking Dual-OS Devices

Posted: 23 Mar 2014 08:09 PM PDT

Bothramos i10 pro Microsoft and Google are said to have put their foot down and blocked tablets that run both Android and Windows 8, but if that’s true they seem to have missed one.

The Chinese gadget maker Ramos unveiled a trio of new tablets on Thursday, including one which ran Windows and Android.

The Ramos i10 Pro, which was initially announced in January 2014, is going to run Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and Windows 8.1 on a quad-core Intel Bay Trail chip.

The i10 Pro is an updated version of the i10 tablet, and it has a 10″ screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200. It will ship with 2GB RAM, 32GB Flash storage, and a pair of cameras (2MP and 5MP). In terms of connectivity it will have Wifi, GPS, Bluetooth, and it will also come bundled with an SD card which adds support for 3G.

It’s going to be available in China from 25 March with a retail price of 2699 yuan ($434).  The price and release date comes as quite the shock, because if past news reports are true then this tablet should not exist.

If you’ve been following tablet news then you know that a couple weeks ago the WSJ reported that Google and Microsoft were acting to block any new devices that ran both Windows and Android. The claims about Google weren’t backed up by anything more than a rumor, but the story about Microsoft reported came from an internal Asus memo.

According to that memo, Microsoft was forcing Asus to give up not just the new dual-boot PCs which had been unveiled at CES 2014, but also their existing devices, including models which had launched last year.

At least one of the proposed devices was going to be a tablet not too dissimilar from the new Ramos tablet, and that raises an  interesting question. Why is Ramos getting to release a dual-OS tablet when Asus cannot?

I can’t help but wonder if the whole story about Microsoft’s objections is simply hogwash; there’s only the one memo to back it up. Sure, it was a plausible story, but there’s also a chance that the memo was misleading in order to cover for a decision to abandon a less than successful product line.

I can’t prove that point, but I can raise a couple points that will certainly confuse the issue.

There are at least two smartphone makers that are going to release phones that run Windows Phone and Android. Both are in India, and the second one, Lava, only came across my desk today. The first one, Karbonn, announced a few weeks ago.

Now that we have a Chinese tablet maker and a couple Indian smartphone makers producing dual-OS devices, can we really assume that either Microsoft or Google are blocking said devices?

I don’t think so.

UMPC Portal

The post New Dual-OS Tablet From Ramos Raises Doubts that Google, Microsoft are Blocking Dual-OS Devices appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Books-a-Million Reports 2013 Revenues Down 5.6%

Posted: 23 Mar 2014 02:51 PM PDT

The 13147BooksAMillion_logo-mdsecond largest US bookstore chain released their annual report on Thursday and it would seem that they’re not in much better shape that Barnes & Noble.

Books-a-Million reported that fiscal year 2013 (which ended 1 February 2014) revenues decreased 5.6%. Total revenues were $470.3 million, down from revenues of $498.4 million in the previous year. Comparable store sales declined 6.8%, and BAM reported a net loss from continuing operations of $8.7 million compared with net income from continuing operations of $2.6 million in the year-earlier period.

As much as I would like to compare B&N and BAM, the former’s fiscal year doesn’t end until April.  But I do have the latest quarterly report, and when you look at the report just for B&N’s retail revenue it shows that BAM is in almost as bad of a state.

Barnes & Noble reported that in their latest fiscal quarter, which ended on 31 January, their retail division (including the bookstores and had revenues of $1.4 billion for the quarter, decreasing 6.3% over the prior year. B&N College, the 600 odd college bookstores which are operated under contract, had revenues of $486 million, decreasing 6.0% as compared to a year ago.

According to the BAM press release, revenues for the 13-week period which ended 1 February 2014 wee down 3.7% to $157.9 million, compared with revenues of $163.9 million in the 14-week year-earlier period.

Both companies saw a drop in revenue, but BAM reported a less severe loss. This doesn’t tell you much, but when you look at these reports in comparison to other retailers I think we can learn a thing or two.

Walmart, for example, reported revenues up 2.4% for that quarter, and up 1.6% for the fiscal year. Kroger reported revenues up 4.8% for the quarter and 4.3% for the year. And Indigo, the largest Canadian bookseller, reported revenues up 3% for the quarter but down a fraction of a percent for the first 3 quarters of FY2014.

It’s curious, isn’t it, that 2 general retailers reported that they were doing just fine, isn’t it, and that even another bookseller reported that they were struggling but at least able to tread water.

If you looked at this data and reached the conclusion that chain bookstores may be a doomed retail niche, I don’t think you would be wrong.

Sure, Indigo is holding their own, but they have repeatedly said that they aren’t just a bookseller any more; they are trying to become more of a general retailer by adding Apple products and revamping their stores:

Indigo said it plans to revamp many of its large format stores, turning them into a series of smaller shops — including its existing Indigo Kids brand, as well as new labels such as Indigo Tech and Indigo Home.

The book seller has been trying to boost its profitability by stocking more high margin products such as gifts, toys and lifestyle items as consumers shift more towards digital reading.

Given the ongoing trend of decreasing revenue at B&N and BAM, the death of Borders, and the general health of the retail industry, I have to wonder if the big box bookstore is dead.

At the very least it does not seem to be in good health in North America.

The post Books-a-Million Reports 2013 Revenues Down 5.6% appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New World Record for Book Domino Chain Set in Poland

Posted: 23 Mar 2014 10:13 AM PDT

Who 466401113_d28d08eb19_m[1]wants to see a few thousand books be abused in pursuit of a world record?

A new Guinness World Record was set in Cz?stochowa, Poland last week, when a group of students and staff at the Cz?stochowa School of Economics worked together to build a domino chain made of books. A total of 5,000 books were used, in a chain that stretched from the gymnasium, through several classrooms, corridors and stairs.

This is the third world record for book domino chain set in the past year. Volunteers at the Seattle Pubic Library set up a chain of 2,131 books in June, and then in September their record was bested in Antwerp where a 4,845 long chain of books was assembled.


image by CarbonNYC

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P2i’s Waterproofing Tech Could Save your Next Smartphone or Tablet (video)

Posted: 23 Mar 2014 07:31 AM PDT

Waterp2i has long been the bane of gadget owners but thanks to tech developed by companies like P2i that might not be true much longer.

This 10 year old firm was at the Wearable Technology Conference in London a couple weeks ago where they showed off their latest work in repellent nano-coating technology.  This tech is designed to be used as a coating on the internal electronics of mobile devices and will keep it waterproof without impeding the function of the device.

Similar tech is already showing up in aftermarket modifications to existing products, including the waterproof Kindle from Waterfi. It’s still the exception and not the rule, but as the cost goes down I would expect that this type of waterproofing will show up in more and more tablets and smartphones.

The first to use it on a wide scale will probably be Apple, or possibly Samsung. But Apple is the most likely candidate because they have both the profit margin to afford the cost and a large enough production volume that the additional cost would be minimized.

Sure, this tech doesn’t add that much functionality, but I can easily see Apple adopting this just so they can have a useful feature no one else has. I can just see Tim Cook dunking a new iPhone in water just to show off.

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