On Social Networks
The recent ruling in the United States, where a jury awarded Apple $1.05B USD in damages from Apple’s suit against Samsung, was the largest patent settlement in history for willfully infringing Apple’s patents. The damages related to the look and feel of smart phones and tablets, with such features as the “pinch and zoom” and “bounce back” patents, along with the trade dress and icon designs. This case generated a tremendous amount of discussion on whom the winner really is from this outcome.
On the surface, the size of the damages awarded to Apple suggest it maybe the winner. However, given Samsung’s fourth straight record quarterly profit of $7.4B USD, and its global market share of 31.3% for smartphones, opens a debate about current and long term implications for this ruling. Although the settlement appears to be severe, a case can be made for effectively and efficiently replicating existing technology.
A similar scenario may be occurring in the electronic book market. There is no doubt that over the past few years that there has been a dramatic shift toward people preferring to receive and consume their information in digital form rather than print. The explosion of the tablet market in recent years has strengthened this trend tenfold. After 79 years in print, even Newsweek shifted towards a digital only strategy. The state of California recently signed into law a proposal to allow students to download digital textbooks for free. Newspapers are experiencing shrinking print advertisement revenue as readers prefer getting their news online.
The big question is how will companies adjust to this shift and what is the revenue model going forward? Are consumers willing to pay a flat fee or a subscription rate to have access to books, magazines, and textbooks, or do digital media consumers prefer a subsidized model where they receive their information free in exchange for being exposed to advertisements? Two start-up companies, Flipboard and Pulse, appear to testing this theory in real time. Flipboard is committed to generating revenue through advertising, while Pulse is focused on a subscription based model.
Ultimately the answer to this question is going to be determined by market forces and consumer preferences. We are seeing fierce competition in the United States with patents being filed at rapidly increasing rates. However, it is not just American companies that are leading this battle. A small company in Singapore may have an influence on the global ebook advertising market.
Singapore based E-Book Systems was founded in 1998 and has been issued 22 US patents. The company was a pioneer in the industry, in the sense that its patents might be some of the earliest that cover the range of innovations needed for navigating electronic books and serving advertisements to the end user. For example: simulating a page flip, organizing a display of books and subset of books, and dynamically inserting advertisements.
The E-Book Systems portfolio includes US Patents: #6,496,803, #6,701,301, #7,367,582, #6,725,203, #7,165,039 related to inserting advertisements into electronic books. Both families have a relatively early priority date (October 2000) given the infancy of the market at the time of the filings.
The following is a brief summary of some of the features included in the patent families:
- Dynamically inserting advertisements into specific locations within electronic books.
Targeting advertisements based on received electronic book class codes.
Targeting advertisements based on demographic information such as: gender, age, education level, interests, occupation, geographic location, income level and spending habits.
Gathering demographic information and matching it with a targeted audience.
Defining the advertisement parameters: identification, category, display duration, ad dimensions, position, start time, stop time, repeat rate, ad rate.
Billing an advertiser for an advertisement.
Generating a debit notice to debit an advertiser.
Many of these techniques covered by the patents seem to be appearing in the market through various forms. Overall adoption has not taken place, but the trend toward generating revenue through ads in electronic books continues while eventually we will wait for companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft to create and establish the de facto industry business models.
Ironically many of the techniques and ideas originated in a small company in Southeast Asia and the main investor in E-Book Systems is Mr. Kai Wa Ng, who was one of the founders of a more recognized Singapore based company, Creative Technologies, which brought to the world such innovations as the Sound Card and MP3 player.
Creative is also well known for winning a milestone 100 million dollar lawsuit against Apple, yet it is Apple that went on to become the market leader for personal MP3 players due to clever marketing and focus on consumer-centric design. We see a similar situation take place years later in the Apple vs Samsung case, as explained earlier. The lesson here could be that being the innovator doesn’t always guarantee market capitalization. What matters is who applies the technology best and which company is able to get the correct market timing. Are we about to see history repeat itself in the world of ebooks?
This blog post was contributed by Mark Ashworth, an innovation enthusiast with a keen interest in technology from emerging markets. You can read more about patents from emerging markets at Mark’s IP Blog.
So, your ebook is ready to publish and now you need a cover. Before you get started: are you sure it’s ready? Has it been edited and proofread? Have you read it out loud? Great! Just checking. Because a good cover cannot “cover up” bad writing or grammar.
That said, it sure can influence people to buy it.
BRING IN A PROFESSIONAL
I’ll just come right out with it: unless you’re a graphic artist, please don’t create your own cover.
Say you have an eye for art, you’re an oil painter or sculptor, but you’ve never created digital art. It’s not the same skill set, so it won’t look professional. Or say you’re a computer expert and think, no sweat, you can figure out any graphic design program. Have you ever seen a geeky-looking website created by a person you could just picture in too-short pants and Coke-bottle glasses? You know what I’m talking about, and you don’t want your cover to look anything like that.
I researched book cover creators and found options that ran from choosing the lowest bidder on Elance.com to hiring an a seasoned artist who’s represented by an agent and charges thousands of dollars. After much investigation, I ended up putting a free ad on my local Art Institute website. I found a talented recent graduate who charged me a reasonable price. (Ruth Siddiqi: http://ruthsiddiqi.blogspot.com.) Another resource is the Author Toolkit on the World Literary Café website: http://www.worldliterarycafe.com/content/author-resource-toolbox. Click on the PDF at the bottom of the page.
As you consider which designer to use, study their online portfolio or have them email images. Make sure the designer has experience with book covers.
BE THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
You need to take the reins and provide management for your project. It is highly unlikely that you give the designer carte blanche and love whatever they come up with. So spend time preparing for your first meeting. And, throughout the process, remember the most important thing about an ebook cover: it has to look good small for retail pages or your own website/blog. In other words, it can’t have too much detail.
Go to Amazon or BN.com and study covers in the same genre in which you write. Though there are exceptions, certain types of books tend to have similar covers.
What I found in my category, women’s fiction, is that many covers portrayed people, but not detailed pictures of their faces. No, these were images of a person turned away, or their hands, or a shadowy profile. Also, covers in this category tend to use muted colors. (By the way, women’s fiction is more literary than romance; romance book covers usually sport busty women and bare-chested men.)
Science fiction books often feature bright covers with fairly distinct images of heroes or creatures. Children’s books, since most of them are illustrated, use artwork from the illustrator who created the inside pages. Many non-fiction books use bold type treatments (large, distinctive fonts on a simple background) and, if the author is an authority on the topic, their picture.
You can also use Google Images to search for your genre; for example, look up “detective novel book covers.”
While you’re looking around, take note of fonts and colors that you like and the types of covers, (photography, hand-rendered illustrations, or type treatments, for example) that you prefer.
Ask yourself what kind of mood you want the cover to convey. Will it be cheerful, scary, sentimental, or cerebral?
Finally, prepare your cover text. The title, of course (subtitle if applicable) and the author name or pen name. Notable authors usually have their name sized more prominently than the title. Debut authors should make the title more prominent than the author name. If you have a good review, you might use a quip from that.
GET THE BALL ROLLING
Now it’s time to conduct your first meeting. It’s important and in your best interest to talk to the graphic artist in person—or Skype—to make sure you’re on the same page.
Bring print-outs from your research so that you can communicate what you’re looking for. A designer can take your idea and finesse it. Or they may suggest that it needs some tweaking.
In my case, after spending hours poring over photos of bookstores (part of my novel is set in a boutique bookstore) I found a few good photos to show my designer. She selected the one she thought might work the best. We got permission from the photographer to use the photo and ended up manipulating the colors and using a blurred effect. You may also purchase inexpensive stock images. A site like Dreamstime.com offers high quality royalty-free images or images for as low as twenty cents.
Make sure you agree with the designer up front about how many first draft versions you will choose from—usually two or three. After you receive those drafts, choose one and let them run with it. It may take a series of back and forth until you finally come up with the final product.
After the cover is complete, you’ll need it in different formats (number of pixels and size dimensions) for sales and marketing purposes. Smashwords, Kindle, and Pubit! use different specifications. You may also want a few lower-resolution images to use on your website or for email signatures.
Now congratulate yourself; you’ve just completed the best cover possible that represents all the hard work you put into your book!
The Amazon Kindle Fire was hailed as an alternative to the more expensive iPad from the makers of the first wide-spread e-reader. Unfortunately, many people have expressed concerns about its performance. There are privacy concerns as well about not being able to keep information secure, as anyone who picks one up has full access to the owner’s search history, pictures, and social media accounts.
These privacy concerns are even more worrisome to parents, who have found the Kindle Fire has extremely limited parental controls. Parents are able to prevent in-app purchases, but not the purchase of apps or other media and have no way to block accessing mature material. This means that if a child is on the Kindle Fire and looking for a cartoon movie or book, they can still watch adult themed movies or images, or see the latest searches their parents or siblings have performed.
Even parents that have not searched for or downloaded any questionable material are worried. With a clear wireless signal and a burning desire to see the latest movie or get the latest app, a child can spend large amounts of money. Since the Kindle Fire comes with all the Amazon account information pre-loaded, children may not even realize they are making a purchase because they will not be prompted for a password. Even little children can rack up a huge bill simply by accidentally entering the app store or hitting the wrong part of the screen.
Amazon has announced that there will be a major update for the Kindle Fire available in the near future to address many user complaints, but parental privacy concerns or controls have not been mentioned as part of the update specifically.
The Barnes and Noble Nook of e-readers is one of the most successful ventures by a company introducing an electronic book reader to the market place. The company does suffer from a number of lingering issues that have been failed to be addressed. The company could even be accused of trying to do too much too soon and many users are claiming a myriad of problems.
One of the main problems is the inability for customers outside of the USA to procure and use the device. Barnes and Noble does not ship its e-reader outside of the USA and will not do custom orders outside. This means if you are an international user you are basically out of luck unless you buy it from EBAY or our retail partner SHOPEREADERS.COM. There are many other companies that carry the Barnes and Noble Nook line of e-readers in a retail setting, such as Target, Walmart and Staples. These companies do not ship outside of the USA either, remarkably diminishing availability.
Because the Nook is not sold outside of the USA, you cannot register the device and shop the ebook store unless you do a few things. We recommend registering your device to a fake USA address or an existing one such as an Art Gallery or Post Office. If you have moral qualms about doing this, you can take out a PO BOX or use various proxy companies in the USA that allow you to use their virtual office as an address. Once you do this for your billing and shipping address when you are registering your device you can use your local credit card to pay for purchases. So if you live in Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, or any other country, you can use your real credit card and name. Just make sure to use a real email address, because this is the only way the company sends you purchase confirmations. Barnes and Noble will never ship anything to your registered address, only your email account.
One of the most other common problems we hear about at Good e-Reader is the LENDME functions that allow you to share select ebooks you purchase from the Barnes and Noble eBook store. If you have an email address that is associated with your B&N account of your friend you can lend a book out for a duration of two weeks. One of the most prevelent concerns is that books can only be leant out ONCE. When you lend a book out you cannot ever lend it out again and many users are not aware of this.
Barnes and Noble implemented a update earlier on that allowed you to read full versions of books on your device when you are in a physical book stores. This feature is very buggy for a number of reasons. We have heard reports that when you open up a large percentage of books it immediately kicks you out of it when the book loads on your screen. It then says that your reading time has expired even though you just opened it. One of the reasons why this occurs is if you visit more then one different Barnes and Noble retail setting. If you try and load up a book that you are reading at the store, quit and then go to another location it will often crash when you load that particular book up.
Many people often complain about the screen ghosting or flashing when you are turning pages. The Nook Simple Touch, WIFI and 3G versions all use e-Ink as the display technology which provides the true book experience. This technology often has refresh rate issues which result in sometimes a bit longer load times or ghosting of images/text on a screen. The Nook refreshes the pages every 6 pages so you can eliminate this problem by scrolling forward in a book. Alternatively if you notice the screen sometimes flickering and sometimes not, it is because you hit the six page threshold.
Finally there is a small input screen found normally on the back of the device which is your hard reset button. If your device ever stops refreshing the screen or locks up you can insert a small pin and hit the reset button. This will manually reboot your device and normally fixes all of the problems.
If anyone is experiencing problems not listed here, please let us know and we can help you resolve them.
When I joined my family’s chiropractic office in 2001 I felt overwhelmed learning the procedures of the office, which ranged from the intake forms, patient files, and ideal workflow to properly help each person who entered our office. Over the next few years the paperwork became extremely tiresome and monotonous so I began to explore other options to help our clinic.
This exploration lead to our office being one of the first fully networked chiropractic offices in the state of Washington. We were now free of the majority of extraneous paperwork and any literature or patient data we needed was available in every room. However, in spite of the many benefits a serious unforeseen problem did occur.
With each patient interaction, we found that we were no longer fully and effectively engaged the way we were when we had paper files in our hands. It seemed that with the introduction of the computer system in each room, our backs were facing the patient as we entered information, and this limited our ability to effectively communicate. As a family operated office we also found it down right rude to be discussing a pertinent health issue while being seemingly distracted by a computer. Not only this, but our attempts to take and enter the information from a through history, physical and neurological exam was now taking us longer than it did when we had paper files.
At this point I began to look at options to bring in tablet personal computers into our office. Due to the astronomical cost of each unit, and the limitation of our office management software at the time there was no practical option for us. It was extremely frustrating, and our relationship with each patient suffered because of it. At this point we briefly changed to a Palm operating device with failed miserably.
While we were able to work our many of the kinks of procedures to make them maximally effective, the recent improvements of tablets and e-readers has been a game changers. It seems that our office was just a little ahead of its time, and now that our practice management software includes support for tablet computers, we have been able to complete our transition to a fully networked, paper free office.
Now that I have been in full time practice as a chiropractor in Seattle for over a decade, I realize how amazing the change from paper files, to computer, to a tablet has been.
The way we now interact with a patient while using a tablet PC has given us the ability to:
1. Easily and comfortably take in patient data.
2. Communicate more effectively with each patient.
3. Accessible and immediate messaging with colleagues and staff.
4. Diagnostic imaging data right in the palm of our hands.
5. Create a stronger relationship with each patient by effectively listening in face to face meetings.
What many health care providers may not realize at this point is that they are now under the gun as they are federally mandated to switch their patient data to Electronic Health Records by 2015. If this forced upgrade to certified Electronic Health Record technology does not occur, they may be fined 1%-5% reimbursement of various health programs available to U.S. citizens. This also means that each hospital, medical clinic, and chiropractic office will face the same communication breakdown that we did.
In a time that many have become used to people multitasking with their smart-phones, iPhones, and iPads, the last this people want is their health care provider doing the same. However, if each professional takes the time to invest in an appropriate tablet, Ipad, or e-reader, the transition can occur without noticeable consequence, and give the patient the face time they so desperately want when they are in need.
About the author:
Dr. Graeme Gibson is currently in full time practice at Queen Anne Chiropractic Center in downtown Seattle, WA. In addition to being a Seattle chiropractor, he loves to spend time with friends, family, and playing sports. If you would like to read more from Dr. Gibson please visit his regularly updated chiropractic blog.
As eBooks gain momentum, we should lend an ear towards the humble audiobook, which has been around for decades and was originally designed for those who could not read.
When Apple launched the iPod nearly ten years ago, it opened many ears to a whole new way to listen to music, but the iPod proved to be useful for far more. Audiobooks occupy just as important a place in my iPod universe as music. Every day I spend between one to two hours listening to audiobooks and podcasts.
I have always enjoyed audiobooks and podcasts, mainly in the car (especially on long trips). My son and I used to overdose on Harry Potter and Tom Clancy as we drove all over the province on long fishing trips. In the early days we brought along cassette versions of the books, but as more content became available in digital form, the iPod took over.
While my consumption of audio books was heavy in the summer fishing season, the rest of the year it was on the back burner – until a new puppy came into our family and I inherited a new role, that of dogwalker.
Now I walk between one to two hours a day, and my consumption of everything audio has spiked! I keep up-to-date on technology news through podcasts and keep myself entertained by adding audiobooks to my rotation. My daily walks are a quality way to spend time with my dog, get some fresh air and exercise, and listen to great content.
If you are just beginning to explore the world of audiobooks and podcasts, then you will need to visit a few different sites. Without question, iTunes is the best place to go for podcasts. Audiobooks are an entirely different animal, and while iTunes has a good assortment available, Audible.com is the leader in this space. They have a vast library of titles available as well as some some great subscription options.
The iPod is not the only medium for audiobooks. Most of our smartphones, tablets, and even our in-car GPS units can act as a player. I will discuss these options in detail in future posts.
For now, drop in to iTunes, have a listen to a podcast or two, and maybe take a look at the book offerings. Music is great, but listening to a good book is a joy!
Steve Dotto is the host of Dotto Tech, a weekly radio show and podcast on technology,
Literature lovers collect copies of exclusively autographed bounded books and treasure them as precious jewel. Each book with the signature of their special favorite author who wrote their favorite tome holds a special place of honor on the book shelves. Technology has launched the most fascinating introduction – eBooks!
eBooks have become more viable form of literature in today’s world. eBooks and the devices used for reading this digital medium are being improved and upgraded continually with the aim to serve the readers. eBooks is becoming more convenient and affordable form of literature which can be easily accessed to endless amount of books without moving in the comfort of your home. But these eBooks readers were having the limitations of not able to get their eBooks autographed by the author of the fascinating story in those lilliputian eReader devices. People have a sentimental charm for paper books and value them more especially when they hold the autograph of their favorite author’s signature. When you stand in line of hours to meet an author to have them write a custom message for your books, has a huge allure about it. This made Mr. Waters, a senior consultant for United States Special Operations Command Headquarters to come up with something.
Gone are the days when people used to carry heavy bounded books but now they are holding tones of their favorite books as library in their fascinating iPad, Nooks and Kindles. And this piece of technology is going to break the limitations that the eBook readers were experiencing. The pain of not having to get the personalized signature of the favorite author in his or her own ebook is going to be erased with the amazing invention that is going to be introduced by Mr. Waters at the Book Expo America in New York in the month of May – Autography!
Autography is an amazing tool that allows inserting a photo which is signed by the author, in to the eBook itself. Let us see how this works -
If you are the fan of the author and desperately want to get the autographed eBook, then you need to first take a picture with the author, and the image automatically appears on the iPad that the author holds in his or her hands. The author signs on the photo with a stylus and if they want to personalize it more, then they are allowed to add a little message. Then the author will press on a button that will send an email to the fan’s id with the link to the particular autographed image. The fan can easily download this link to his or her eBook. The personal message is then inserted into the fresh new copy of the fabulous eBook that the fan has purchased and transmitted then to his eReader device. Then the ebook downloaded by the person is replaced with the new copy along with the notification that it has been now signed. All this autography process will take merely around 2.5 minutes. Isn’t that awesome!
The author can have a privilege tour around the globe and start providing his digital signature by just sitting on the couch in his sweet home. This device will create comfort to both the fans and the author incredibly. This application can be used also to sign on anything such as the photo of the comic book, baseball card, concert and much more.
To learn more about Autography check out their website.
The iPad 2 is now available and there is much to salivate over. On the surface they look quite similar but there is a lot going on under the hood.
The processor in the iPad 2 is a 1GHz dual core Apple A5. This is a big jump beyond the 1GHz Apple A4 found in the previous generation. With more processing power expect to see more robust apps being developed to take advantage of this. The new unit is also lighter than all of the previous iPad’s incarnations. The iPad 1 came in two weight categories – 680g and 730g (3G model). The iPad 2 weighs in at 613g (AT&T), 607g (Verizon) and 601g (wifi only).
The iPad 2 features a gyroscope which the iPad 1 did not have. You also get two cameras. One is located on the front and the other on the back. The front camera is a VGA webcam while the camera on the back allows you to record video in 720p. This is a good compliment to the HDMA out for HD video display. Whatever you have on your screen can be streamed in HD. The connector to make this possible will cost you $39. Cellular radio has been added as well. The iPad 1 came with EDGE plus triband HSPA. The iPad 2 gives you EDGE plus triband HSPA OR CDMA / EV-DO Rev. A.
With all of these new features one might expect the iPad 2 to be bigger than the iPad 1 but is not the case. The iPad 2 is 8.8mm thick while the previous iPad was 13.4mm thick. The new cover for the unit uses magnets to automatically turn the device off and on when it is used. Even though the iPad is still black you now have the option of a white bezel.
Not everything on the iPad 2 is completely new. Some of the specs owners of the previous iPad will already have been familiar with. The display and resolution remain the same at 9.7 inches LED backlit IPS LCD with 1024 x 768. The storage options are also the same with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options. The wifi is still 802.11 a/b/g and Bluetooth remains at 2.1 + EDR. The accelerometer is still 3-axis.
The iPad 2 packs a lot of punch is a slightly smaller device. It ships at the same price that the iPad 1 once ran for so new buyers should be really pleased. The dual core processor, enhance IOS 4.3 and gyroscope will give developers more tools to take advantage of in their applications. This equates to a more feature rich experience for the end user.
JP Morgan Securities has made an update to its forecast for tablet PCs showing a big increase in projected sales. This is attributed to a steep adoption rate for tablets as they grow in popularity.
Tablet PCs broke new ground when they began to be incorporated into enterprise and education environments. Now that there are increasingly more avenues for their usage they are becoming a much needed device for operation workflow. In some instances tablets are even more valuable than desktop computers. In restaurants, yachts, and other customer service environments tablets like the iPad are being used an as interface to enhance the customer’s experience. The improved operating systems that are being placed on tablets have made them more robust and versatile in order to accommodate many different industries.
“We expect tablets to have an increasingly negative impact on PC shipments,” said analyst Mark Moskowitz. “More than 35 percent of tablets sold in 2012 will be cannibalistic, particularly as relates to netbooks and notebooks.”
JP Morgan, after reassessment has raised its 2011 tablet PC estimated revenue from $24.9 billion to $26.1 billion. The 2012 forecast has gone from $34.1 billion up to $35.2 billion. That equates to 47.9 million units projected to be shipped this year and 79.6 million for next year.
There is a steady stream of new vendors joining the tablet market which provides the end consumer with more options and features. You also have the big dogs on block like Apple that will be dropping their prices in order to stay competitive. Lower prices could mean that people that were reluctant to pick one up before might now have a change of heart.
The forecast shows us that the tablet PC craze is not just a passing fad but more of a shift in paradigm. Businesses and consumers alike are finding more and more uses for them and have shown to be quite comfortable with utilizing them. As we move closer to truly ubiquitous devices the tablet PC can be considered a stepping stone in the right direction and it’s good to know so many people are on board.
Just shortly after the downfall of Borders in the United States word is out that the Australian book chains have been placed into voluntary administration by its private equity owners. They are not the only ones. Along with them are Angus & Robertson and the Whitcoulls chain in New Zealand. These locations are also where the Kobo e-reader is sold within the region. With what is going on right now roughly 2,500 people could be without jobs shortly.
The Borders chain of the U.S. and the one in Australia are a part of different corporations and as such are not closing because of one corporation’s decision, but they are however greatly affected by the same problems. Sales of books on the internet continue to rise and this has been affected consumer sales from ever since it became popular among book lovers.
REDgroup, the company that has Borders of Australia on its portfolio has been going through troubling times. With constant bank problems they were forced to call in administrators. Borders is in the clear at the moment but its future is uncertain.
Angus & Robertson as well as Whitcoulls are long standing businesses that have been in business since the late 1800s. They are now experiences the same sales concerns as Borders in Australia.
In a statement released by the newly appointed administrators business operations will carry on as normal while an assessment of the business’s financial status was being carried out. The statement went on to say that the first meeting of the creditors would likely take place during the first week of March.
Existing customers with book vouchers should still be able to take advantage of them though it remains to be seen what the new administrators’ final ruling on them will be.
Where Does This Leave the Kobo?
With Borders and Whitcoulls in jeopardy what does that mean for Kobo e-reader sales? The Kobo wireless e-reader was just launched at these locations this past November in order to meet the demands of the holiday season. Along with that REDgroup Retail expanded its ebook line-up which led to several major publishers adding their titles to their library.
Being the largest bookstore group in Australia with more than 2.5 million titles and the main distributor of the Kobo e-reader they had plans to use the Kobo to increase revenue with sales of the device and online titles. If these locations shutdown the Kobo ad its Australian user base could be left out in the cold. While some websites offer books for sale to a wide array of countries there are books that simply cannot be sold in these areas due to copyright laws. Users could experience a decrease in the amount of books they are allowed to purchase in their region since they would have few places to buy from.
As volunteer administrators sort out the pieces all we can do it wait and see what will become of Borders and Whitcoulls. In terms of Kobo sales in the region either consumers will rush to snatch them up while they can or they will hold off since support for the devices in their area could be questionable. That would lead to even fewer in-store sales.
We have a lot to be thankful for in terms on e-ink technology. After all it is what makes e-readers bearable to read from for long periods of time. Some studies suggest that they may even be too easy to read but that’s up for debate. I still comfortably read from my now somewhat dated (really it’s barely a year old) Vizplex screen but e-readers now come in full colour while employing the same base technology that made them successful to begin with – e-ink.
E-ink works through the movement of positive and negatively microcapsules suspended in a clear solution. This is what allows text and images to become visible on your e-reader’s screen. E-ink technology first gained recognition in 2006 when the first commercially available e-reader in the United States using e-ink gained an award. The leading developer for this technology is E Ink Holdings.
Since that time E Ink Holdings has partnered with several manufacturers to produce displays for uses ranging from industrial to consumer electronics. This list includes the likes of Sony, Motorola and Amazon. In that time they have also taken the technology to new heights, namely with the release of two of the latest and greatest technological achievements in the past few years – E ink Pearl and E Ink Triton.
E Ink Pearl
E ink Pearl displays first made their debut on July 31st 2010 marking the second generation of e-ink displays with Vizplex being the first. E Ink Pearl employs imaging film. The instant payoff for the end consumer is the level of contrast that these screens are able to display. The text and images literally jump off of the page which makes for a more enjoyable experience. With previous e-ink devices the contrast ratio was on par with a newspaper. With the addition of 16 grey level depths that quality has now been increased to something on the level of a typical paperback book. This new Pearl technology also allows for reading in under sunlight which has been a big problem for some people with previous e-readers. You can expect resolutions ranging from 800×600 up to 1200×825. DPI resolution ranges from 200 to 150.
Lower Power Consumption
E Ink technology already boasts the lowest power consumption of any e-reader power display. E Ink Pearl takes that a step further with its performance.
In the Market
With easier to read screens and an ever growing market E Ink Holdings used Pearl to broaden its horizon by seeking opportunities for eNewspapers, eMagazines and eTextbooks. These markets are gaining more and more popularity as people seek a more eco-friendly approach to ordinary paper.
E Ink Pearl is now featured in a number of e-readers that are currently available. The first e-reader to feature the technology was Amazon’s updated Kindle DX. The Sony Reader Touch also uses Pearl technology.
E Ink Triton
Like every good developer E Ink sought new heights and broke new ground with the development the E Ink Triton. This third generation e-ink display was first announced on November 9, 2010. Like the Pearl, Triton features 16 shades of grey but what separates the two is that Triton also has full colour! New e-readers featuring 4096 colours began to ship soon after and many people received a shiny new e-reader for the holidays, most notably the Nook Color. The Hanvon colour e-reader however was the first e-reader to feature the Triton technology.
A Splash of Colour
The introduction of colour ePaper paves the way for many products to receive a full electronic overhaul. While grayscale e-ink devices are wonderful in their own right they still only allow for so many applications by various industries. With colour e-ink companies can produce rich content for eMagazines, eNewspapers, comic books, photographs and learning material. Charts and graphs for presentations and medical displays much easier to grasp when colour coding is available to the creator of the material. Besides, who among us is not easily amused by pretty colours?
The Triton has the same 20 percent performance gain over first generation e-ink products as the Pearl. This level of speed combined with the new colour scheme make the E Ink Triton ideal for the advertising market for signage. In consumer products like e-readers page turning, menu selection and animations respond much faster.
Low power consumption is another desirable feature of the Triton. The display is able to offer information on its screen even when powered off.
The E Ink Pearl and E Ink Triton expanded the potential for e-ink products. Lower power consumption and increased speed performance will make e-readers more accessible to new customers. These features along with the power of a colour display from the Triton will gain the interest of more industries.
In the past year the sale of e-readers has skyrocketed making it one of the top consumer gadgets to own at this time. Many of the sales that helped to give these devices international attention came during the holiday season. The Publishers Association has collected some valuable data on the subject and how e-reader and e-reader related purchases compare to other popular consumer electronics like the iPad.
7% of adults in the UK are said to have received e-readers for the Christmas holiday. Of that number 84% have downloaded at least one ebook since then. Some of them would have paid for it but undoubtedly some people would have taken advantage of the free offers provided by vendors to lure in new owners. Compare this to the 54% that received a smart phone, iPad or e-reader for the same time period.
Even though promotional ebooks are offered to customers you don’t always get offered what you really want. New e-reader owners were still more likely to purchase books that they wanted to read. Publishers Association tells us that amounts to 61%, compared to the 37% of people that received other devices.
Roughly 8% of the British population has downloaded paid for material since this past Christmas. This includes apps for mobile phones, the iPad as well as other devices but a large number of those purchases were ebooks.
The people that received dedicated e-readers as opposed to smart phones and tablet PCs bought more ebooks. It makes sense since book lovers are more inclined to buy or ask for a dedicated e-reader over a multifunction device like a tablet PC which is less suitable for long term reading.
The stats show that men were twice as likely to have purchased ebooks over women. 12% of men have purchased ebooks since Christmas compared to 6% of women. It’s not that men read more than women but that more men received e-readers as a Christmas gift than women.
The Kindle from Amazon won the popularity contest among e-reader owners. 24% of those downloading ebooks did so for their Kindle. Of that number 22% preferred it over other devices.
The ebook market, while incredibly popular is still pretty new to a lot of people. 73% of people questioned went on to say that they had never downloaded ebooks onto any device before getting their e-reader.
The Publishers Association shared this information with the public during their digital conference. The keynote was presented Chief Executive Richard Mollet. Mollet commented on the positive affect the holiday season has had on the sale of e-readers and ebooks. Many publishers are grabbing the opportunity to make a strong impression in this growing market. Mollet feels that publishers are in a strong position to put forth their own digital products and new ideas.
CES 2011, this time in Las Vegas. was exciting as usual. There many wonderful new additions being presented as part of the global tablet PC family. Some were from existing competitors and some were from companies just entering the foray for the first time. In spite of all of this there was one question going through everyone’s mind – where is Microsoft’s tablet?
The execs from Microsoft spent some time talking about tablet PCs at CES however nothing conclusive was offered to those in attendance. Microsoft, inquiring minds still want to know.
CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer was present with a few words on company performance and some of their latest toys. There were laptops and PC units along with a new, thinner version of Microsoft Surface (now all I can think about is that one scene in Casino Royale) presented later on by Michael Angiulo, Microsoft corporate vice president for Windows Planning, Hardware and PC Ecosystem.
Last year Ballmer had a HP slate prototype on display which received a lot of attention. However this year this much sought after device was nowhere to be found. HP currently has a slate PC available, the Slate 500 Tablet PC running Windows 7. They now have a desire to put out a slate running webOS which they obtained through their acquisition webOS which they obtained through their acquisition of Palm.
The tablet PC that was presented by Angiulo was a Windows 7 device from Asus. Angiulo explained that the bright touchscreen uses 20 percent less power than tablets of the same size. Using a special stylus the operator can write and draw in colored ink on the screen. The tablet can differentiate between a human hand and the tip of the stylus in order to apply this effect.
Ballmer presented a tablet running Windows 7 during is part of the keynote. The most anticipate tablet PC announcement from the company will be running Microsoft’s next version of the Windows operating system.
Before Ballmer took the stage there was a Microsoft announcement on its plans to integrate its next-gen Windows client based OS on the system-on-a-chip hardware. They would be using architecture developed by Cambridge, UK-based ARM Holdings.
The system-on-a-chip (SoC) deals that Microsoft has in the works will be a part of the company’s next version of Windows, now being dubbed as Windows 8 by some.
Microsoft has teamed up with chip manufacturers NVIDIA Corp., Qualcomm Inc., and Texas Instruments Inc. in order to make this all happen. Microsoft’s announcement included that the company would not be neglecting its x86 partners Intel Corp. and AMD Inc. They would also be taking part in the SoC next-gen lineup.
ARM-based processors are valued for their low power consumption. This feature is especially important in today’s world of tablet PCs, smart phones and e-readers. This noticeable trend could mean the slow and eventual end to traditional desktop computing for a lot of people. Apple iOS and Google Android are both receiving a lot of attention. There are other options entering the arena as well. Microsoft is actually trailing behind in this market of mobile operating systems. It has made a few powerful moves recently such as the release of the Windows Phone 7 Series last year.
Microsoft’s move to an ARM-based solution seems like a wise decision in this evolving market of mobile devices. They were slow to the race but now that they have their head in the game I expect to see some great devices being put forth. However we are still left with the lingering question of “When?”
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