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.

On web portals such as and,
customers can chose from a huge variety of stories, and the best
even make it into print.

Xiaoqing said the company has also teamed up with China
to distribute literature via mobile phones, a
business model that he said was “very promising”.

A PC for less than a buck

Ultraportable, Web-centric netbooks PCs have been on the market for a relatively short amount of time, but prices continue to fall, as new models flood the market and wireless carriers move to subsidize the purchase cost.

And now, in what is likely a sign of things to come, a netbook can be had for mere pocket change.

Best Buy is currently offering an HP netbook — the  Compaq Mini 110c-1040DX — for the low-low price of 99 cents with the purchase of a 2-year data plan from Sprint. AT&T and Verizon already offer similar subsidies for netbooks–just not so steep. The same netbook will cost you $200 with 2-year activation with Verizon or AT&T. And without a contract, the device will run you $390.

Netbook name game

Netbook is a remarkably clear and memorable terrm as far as most computer industry jargon goes. Which is why, as with any hot product category, it’s hard for the computer industry to agree on exactly what it means.

Most people who started using the term over the last two years say it refers to a new class of tiny, low-cost, Web-connected computers.  That’s at least what Intel thought when it adopted netbook last year as a generic term.  

For this simple act of clarity, Intel must be punished. The ghost of Psion, the old handheld digital organizer maker, sued Intel for trademark infringement. It turned out Psion trademarked the term as far back as 1996 and sold a line of computers it called netBooks earlier this decade before discontinuing the line.

from Summit Notebook:

Dell’s enterprise chief pooh-poohs netbooks

Netbooks: flavor of the month? Not according to Dell's Steven Schuckenbrock.

The PC giant's head of enterprise sales was quick to point out flaws in the stripped-down, no-frills mini-computers that have garnered rave reiews for their ultra-portability and anywhere-connectivity.

"Netbooks are a secondary device. The user experience of a netbook is just not as good. It's slower than a conventional notebook computer," Schuckenbrock said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in New York.

Perhaps that's why Dell was slow to get into a space dominated early on by aggressive Taiwanese upstarts like Asustek. Dell, the once-preminent U.S. personal computer manufacturer, which has steadily given away market share to rivals from Hewlett Packard to Lenovo, unveiled its first netbook only in September.

from Summit Notebook:

AT&T: Beer keg, please phone home

Next time a bartender draws a long, cool German brew on tap at your favorite U.S. bar, you might be sipping beer that made a mobile phone call along the way.
At the Reuters Technology Summit in New York, AT&T's Ralph de la Vega, who heads its wireless division, described a firm that has fitted its beer with mobile devices.

"We had a customer in Germany that wanted us -- and we have found a way -- to track their beer kegs as they were shipped," said de la Vega. He said the wireless devices track how cold the keg is, whether it was properly pressurized and its location.

"It helps to run their business better," he said of the beer company. AT&T uses the GSM system, which is the same one used in Europe, has roaming agreements with European carriers, and bills its client for the calls. De la Vega said that's only the beginning.

CES: Vivienne Tam netbook off to strong start

The PC emerged as fashion statement in 2008, with a number of companies rolling out models that attempted to appeal to consumers’ sense of style. And few PC offerings generated more buzz than Hewlett-Packard’s Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam edition, designed by the fashionista herself. The slim red netbook, which is meant to evoke a clutch purse, is decorated with peony flowers.

The device, which began shipping this week, is off to a strong start, according to Phil McKinney, chief technology officer of HP’s personal systems group. In an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, McKinney called the Vivienne Tam netbook the “first gender specific PC.”

“It’s still hard to get… I’ve gotten more emails on this product from people outside of HP wanting me to pull strings to get them the product than any other product we’ve ever shipped in the years I’ve been at HP.”

CES: Consumer gadgets still hot, hotter than cars at least

Recession or not, people like gadgets and they’re going to buy them. At least that’s what Consumer Electronics Association economist Shawn DuBravac and industry analyst Steve Koenig suggested in their presentation at CES in Las Vegas.

Of course, overall consumer spending has fallen as thrift becomes thrilling, and the CEA projects it will be down 0.3 percent this year. But people will still shell out for really smart phones, tricked-out digicams and touchy-feely computers.

That’s because people having been spending more and more of their discretionary dollars on gadgets over the years, compared to the percentages they spend on other durable goods like cars and home appliances. Tech is now an integral part of people’s lives, Koenig and DuBravas said.