MediaFile

Tech wrap: Amazon fights iPad with Fire

Amazon.com Inc introduced its eagerly awaited tablet computer on Wednesday with a price tag that could make it the first strong competitor in a tablet market that has been dominated by Apple Inc’s iPad. The new device, priced at $199, may have the biggest impact on other makers of tablets and e-readers, such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Barnes & Noble Inc, maker of the Nook.

“It’s a Nook killer,” said Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, which helps merchants sell more on websites including Amazon.com. “And it’s a very compelling offering if you’re not in the Apple ecosystem already.”

See how Amazon’s Fire stacks up to Apple’s iPad 2. Also a cool graphic breaking down the top 4 tablets.

Amazon’s debut of the Fire came on the same day that reports escalated that Apple will unveil a new iPhone next week. The new iPhone would be the first major product launch under Tim Cook, who took over full-time as chief executive after co-founder Steve Jobs resigned last month.

And just as Amazon was taking aim at Apple, Groupon launched its online retail arm Groupon Goods for its American subscribers, moving beyond daily group discounts to compete with leaders like Amazon.

Hear the plea of the Kindle orphans

By James Ledbetter
The views expressed are his own.

I bought a Kindle in early 2009, which makes me an “early adopter” of tablet e-readers (translation: I overpaid).  In addition to downloading books, I eagerly signed up for some heavily discounted subscriptions: The New Yorker, $2.99 a month; Fortune, $2.49 a month; New York Times, $13.99 a month (it later went up); etc. I did this knowing that most of the time the content was free online. But the digital subscriptions were often much cheaper than print and the Kindle provided many conveniences, particularly when traveling.

This year, my wife bought me an iPad2, and my Kindle now feels like a cassette tape in a CD world; I think I last spotted it gathering dust on my desk a few months ago. You might think, though, that years of paying for digital content from America’s publishers would translate into goodwill on the shiny new platform. I envisioned publishers leaping at the opportunity to help me make a seamless transition from the Tablet 1.0 era, especially because they know I’m already a paying customer.

After all, iPad owners are treated like magazine royalty. Just open up The New Yorker’s iPad app, for example, and you’ll be immediately whisked into an elite land of witty cartoons and bon mots—assuming, that is, that you are a print subscriber or have paid for the iPad-only version. But if you’re a Kindle subscriber? As far as The New Yorker is concerned, you might as well be the old lady from Dubuque. In general, having a Kindle subscription buys you very little in the iPad world, except an unshakable feeling of second-class citizenship.

Tech wrap: Facebook, Google mull Skype tie-ups

Facebook and Google are separately considering a tie-up with Skype after the Web video conferencing service delayed its initial public offering, two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions told Reuters. A Skype deal could be valued at $3 billion to $4 billion, the first source said.  The discussions are in early stages, and it is not clear which option the companies favor, the first two sources said.

The Internet vigilante group Anonymous denied responsibility for a cyber-attack on Sony’s networks that exposed the personal data of more than 100 million video gamers. “Let’s be clear, we are legion, but it wasn’t us. You are incompetent Sony,” the group Anonymous said on its blog on Thursday.

Sony said the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, the first PlayStation phone, is not affected by the massive data breach of PlayStation user accounts.

Why won’t Amazon say how many Kindles it’s sold?

Something about returning from the Christmas holidays makes people want to show off what they received – a new sweater donned, a new gadget subtly pulled out at meetings, a few extra pounds padding the belly.

Jeff Bezos doesn’t like this tradition. He will hint at the generous present that consumers gave to Amazon in the form of surprisingly strong sales, but he won’t offer details.

Bezos wants you to know that his Kindle – the e-book reader that has done a remarkably good job surviving in the age of the iPad – was Amazon’s “bestselling product of all time.” How many Kindles did Amazon sell? We don’t know because Amazon isn’t saying.

Is the success of e-readers only hype?

On the heels of major booksellers Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com announcing milestones related to their e-readers, The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a survey called “65% of Internet users have paid for online content“.

Reading past the single conclusion of the title, it’s easy to appreciate how varied that content is.

For example, the survey says that 33 percent of U.S. Internet users have paid for digital music online. It’s the same for software.

Hey Woot, its Amazon. You’re rich.

woot big 1.JPG
You gotta figure that every web entrepreneur waits (prays!) for a call or email that goes like this: “Hey dinky but popular outfit with a loyal customer base — super-huge company here. We want to buy you and make you rich. Have a nice day.”

Woot.com got a call like that from Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.com. They announced the deal on Wednesday. It’s speculated that Amazon paid about $110 million for the company that sells only one item per day at discounted prices, until inventory runs out. The next day, it moves on to another item such as you know, a water gun or a home pedicure kit.

woot shortAlready, Woot is playing a part in the e-book reader price war between Amazon and its Kindle, and Barnes & Noble and its Nook, by selling Kindles cheap. (But sorry,  It sold out before many of you woke up.)

What will the iPad mean for publishers? – a few opinions

Interview magazine april_cover_V2a

We have out a piece which looks  at the hopes and ambitions of  traditional publishers of newspapers,  magazines and books  in the run-up to the unveiling of Apple’s  long-awaited iPad tablet device on Saturday. The consensus seems to be that the iPad will be a great boost for the industry.  Pictured above is the April issue of Interview magazine‘s version which will be available for 99 cents on launch day.

Here are a few more thoughts we couldn’t get into the  piece:

What does the iPad mean for Amazon’s Kindle?

Brian Murray, CEO Harper Collins:

“People love their Kindle but I think there’s room in the market for both a dedicated book reader like the Kindle, Sony Reader or (Barnes & Noble’s) Nook. But there’s room for a single device that can accommodate books, magazines, and newspapers and surfing the Internet like the iPad. My view is the price of the Kindle,Nook and Sony Reader is going to drop dramatically I suspect to under $100 so there will be a market for certain.”

John Makinson CEO Penguin Books:

“I don’t think there’s likely to be one dominant provider because the Kindle is a very competitive platform.”

Apple’s iPad in Jobs’ words

In case you weren’t among the members of the fourth-estate lucky enough to get an invitation to Apple’s highly-anticipated unveiling of the iPad on Wednesday, here are some of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ key comments about the new device and its importance to the company:

“Apple is a mobile devices company. That’s what we do.”

“When you feel all this power, and this much fun, and the internet in your hands, you’ll never want to go back.” Reuters

Reuters

“When we set out to develop the iPad, we not only had very ambitious technical goals, and user interface goals, but we had a very aggressive price goal. Because we want to put this in the hands of lots of people.”

CES: Plastic Logic’s CEO shows off Que proReader (video)

Here’s Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta discussing the pricing of the Que proReader, which was introduced today at CES. The device is targeted at business users, but it is already being considered a rival to Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s as-yet-unannounced-yet-widely speculated tablet computer.

The end of the story…

……is the cash cow for Chinese company Shanda Literature Ltd, a
subsidiary of Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

The company’s business model is simple: read the first half
of a book online for free, and if you want to know the rest
(which usually is the case if you have read that far) you need
to pay for it. Revenues are split with the stories’ authors.

In China, this proves to be successful. According to Shanda
Literature CEO Hou Xiaoqing, the company now has cash reserves
of $1.8 billion, with 800,000 authors creating up to 80,000 new
pages of content per day, he said at the Frankfurt Book Fair.