Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Qualcomm Announces New Mirasol Screen Tech at Display Week 2014

Posted: 08 Jun 2014 03:32 PM PDT

qualcomm mirasol display week 2014Qualcomm unveiled its next-generation version Mirasol display at SID Display Week 2014 last week. The new screen tech is called SMI (single mirror IMOD), and if/when it hits production it promises to offer richer color than Qualcomm’s existing Mirasol screen tech.

IMOD, or Interferometric modulator display, is a type of reflective display that creates color not by shining light through a pixel but by manipulating a micro-cavity in the display. Changing the shape of the cavity makes different colors appear.

While the existing Mirasol screen (like the one found on the Toq smartwatch) requires 3 different micro-cavities to display a single pixel, the new screen tech only requires a single micro-cavity which can display an entire range of colors.

I didn’t get to see the new screen tech; Nikkei says that there was a demo, but it must have been shown off privately because I did not see a new screen in the Qualcomm booth.

In the demonstration, Qualcomm MEMS Technologies switched among several still images. But the new display can show video, depending on the backplane, the company said.

That is better than what Qualcomm showed off last year, when the high point of the Mirasol display was a nonfunctional 5.1″ screen. I saw that 5.1″ dummy again this year, and I also saw the Toq smart watch, but I didn’t see a new screen tech demo. Perhaps I happened to visit at the wrong time.

On a related note, Qualcomm also showed off the 7″ Pixtronix screen which they had on display at last year’s SID Display Week; it’s still not in production and they could not say when it would be available on consumer devices.

The post Qualcomm Announces New Mirasol Screen Tech at Display Week 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Is the Hiatus Ending? Google Play Books Launches in Norway

Posted: 08 Jun 2014 02:12 PM PDT

Google quietly launched a local ebookstore in Norway last week, ending a 6 month long drought. The new store sells ebooks in krone, and it has been customized for Norwegian (mostly):


This launch ended a 6 month period of me wondering what the bleep was going on with Google Play Books.

Last year Google was launching ebookstores left and right. Every month to 6 weeks Google would quietly add anywhere from five to a dozen local ebookstores to Google Play Books at a single go, but that ended in December 2013 with a push into Latin America.

They were up to 44 countries when their expansion stalled in December, making Norway the 45th country to have a local Google Play Books.  I can’t tell you why Google stopped, but this was an issue which I was watching carefully and I was planning to comment on the stoppage at some point.

In Norway, Google faces local competitors as well as Amazon, Nook, and iBooks. (Amazon has not launched a local Kindle Store in Norway, but they do support the language.)

P.S. Does anyone know the size of the Norwegian ebook market, or who the leading ebook retailers are? I lack the info, and I would like to know.

Android Police

The post Is the Hiatus Ending? Google Play Books Launches in Norway appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Getting Things Straight: eBooks May Indeed be an Influence in the Amazon-Hachette Dispute

Posted: 08 Jun 2014 11:29 AM PDT

2844902161_f66b8f9bdf_b[1]Here’s an interesting complication in the 8 month old Hachette-Amazon contract dispute that seems to have tripped up some in the press.

A few days ago Michael Cader, writing over at Publishers Lunch, set the record straight on some background details concerning Amazon, Hachette, and the latter’s antitrust settlement from 2012. Unfortunately, in trying to set the record straight Cader may have also introduced an error of his own.

To recap, in January 2010 5 US publishers conspired with Apple to bring about retail price maintenance in the ebook market and to force Amazon to submit to the pricing changes. The DOJ and state’s attorneys general started investigating in mid-2010, and in April 2012 the DOJ brought an antitrust lawsuit against the 5 publishers and Apple.

Three of the publishers (S&S, HarperCollins, and Hachette) settled the day the lawsuit was filed. Penguin and Macmillan settled later (late 2012 and early 2013), and Apple fought the lawsuit in court and lost (repeatedly).

It turns out that the day the lawsuit was filed is more important than Cader realized. In particular, this part appears to be a goof on his part:

The second misunderstanding is the idea that Hachette (and possibly others) are no longer governed by their DOJ settlements that limit how the agency model can be deployed (leading to what we dubbed Agency Lite). This is also wrong. ..

To review, the court did not approve the settlements with the first three publishers until September 6, 2012 — so those conditions apply at least until September, 2014. The exact expiration depends on contractual processes under the settlement that have not been confirmed publicly.

While Cader is correct that there is a 2 year window where the settling publishers cannot pursue the agency model again, I think he could be wrong on when that window ended.

Rebecca Allen, writing over at Walk it Out, caught his error:

In the DOJ settlement, the language is unambiguous. “For two years after the _filing_ of the Complaint, Settling Defendants shall not enter into any agreement with any E-book Retailer that restricts, limits, or impedes the E-book Retailer from setting, altering, or reducing the Retail Price of one or more E-books, or from offering price discounts or any other form of promotions to encourage consumers to Purchase one or more E-books.”

The complaint was filed on 11 April 2012, so yes the 2-year window may have expired. We don’t know for sure because the settlement also allowed the publishers to choose when they would renegotiate their contracts, and that resulted in a randomness that makes it impossible to predict when the negotiations will commence.

So does this mean that Amazon and Hachette are fighting over Agency right now?

Maybe, maybe not.

While it is possible that the dispute currently includes ebook pricing, I doubt that ebooks were a concern when Amazon first started pressuring Hachette in November 2013. Remember, there is at least one report from an agent which said that Amazon was short-stocking Hachette titles 8 months ago, and that was far too early for Amazon and Hachette to be fighting over ebooks.

But now that we are into June 2014, it’s possible that the dispute also includes ebook pricing. We don’t know for sure, but there is a chance that the PW report (that this dispute also includes agency pricing for ebooks) may indeed be true.

If you ask me, ebooks probably are a topic for discussion in this dispute. If nothing else Amazon is aware of the time frame and they most certainly do not want to give up control over retail prices.

So yes, I think Amazon and Hachette are fighting over Agency pricing. It’s probably not the main reason Amazon is cutting back on the number of copies of Hachette titles in Amazon’s warehouse, cutting their sale price discounts, or taking the pre-order buttons off of new titles.

Update: On the other hand, maybe not. Cader was kind enough to clarify this point, and depending on how you read the complaint he could have been right all along. According to Cader, the point which Rebecca Allen raises above relates to new contracts with ebook retailers, while the points he raised related to existing contracts with ebook retailers.

So no, agency is probably not at risk today. But given the tone of the Bonnier contract dispute in Germany. I still think ebooks are in the Hachette fight somewhere.

But to be honest, folks, I don’t know enough about the law to be sure one way or another.

image by mararie

The post Getting Things Straight: eBooks May Indeed be an Influence in the Amazon-Hachette Dispute appeared first on The Digital Reader.

E-ink Booth Tour at Computex 2014

Posted: 08 Jun 2014 05:58 AM PDT

27a[1]Due to unfortunate timing, E-ink ended up having to have a booth at two different trade shows last week. I reported on one booth at SID Display Week, and here is Charbax’s report from E-ink’s booth at Computex 2014.

As you can see in the video, E-ink shows off a number of interesting gadgets at Computex (more in fact than they showed at Display Week) including a couple Hello Kitty gadgets, Sony’s 13.3″ writing slate, the PocketBook CoverReader with an integrated E-ink display, and the Fujitsu Navit.

This last device was only announced in Japan a couple weeks ago, and as you can guess from the name it is a navigational tool. It was developed in partnership with Fujitsu and Aichi Medical University Hospital. The Navit has a 5″ E-ink screen, and it is intended to be used as a replacement for the paper and verbal instructions given to patients.

There isn’t much beyond the Navit that is new; everything else has been shown off at previous shows like CES and previous Computex and Display Week trade shows. Charbax missed only other new item at Computex, but Engadget caught sight of a several inch long display intended for a wrap around smartwatch.

And as you might recall, E-ink announced a 32″ color sign product at SID Display Week, which of course they did not have on display at Computex.

The post E-ink Booth Tour at Computex 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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