Impulse Buying For The Win

July 30, 2009

I now pronounce you monetized: a YouTube video case study

First, if you haven’t seen the video, watch:

Now … the rest of the story:

Last week the world watched in wonder as Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz’s wedding party transformed a familiar and predictable tradition into something spontaneous and just flat-out fun. The video, set to R&B star Chris Brown’s hypnotic dance jam “Forever,” became an overnight sensation, accumulating more than 10 million views on YouTube in less than one week. But as with all great YouTube videos, there’s more to this story than simple view counts.

At YouTube, we have sophisticated content management tools in place to help rights holders control their content on our site. The rights holders for “Forever” used these tools to claim and monetize the song, as well as to start running Click-to-Buy links over the video, giving viewers the opportunity to purchase the music track on Amazon and iTunes. As a result, the rights holders were able to capitalize on the massive wave of popularity generated by “JK Wedding Entrance Dance” — in the last week, searches for “Chris Brown Forever” on YouTube have skyrocketed, making it one of the most popular queries on the site:

It continues from there.

Basically the bottom line is:

1) Give people a fast, affordable, and easy way to buy something now now now and they’ll do so.

2) Don’t be stupid and run to issue a DMCA Takedown notice!

New Sony Reader Models: PRS-300 And PRS-600

July 30, 2009


PRS-300: 5″ screen, no audio, no card slots.


PRS-600: 6″ touchscreen, audio, two card slots (SD/MS), touchscreen, stylus, no sidelighting.

Two PDF service documents for these models were leaked. Since this is the Internet, I was able to track them down to view even though Sony killed the URLs that had been posted.

The configuration of the 300 is a repudiation of all the careful thought that went into the design of the original 500, with that thinking refined for the 505. Apparently Sony caved in to the inability of people to figure out how to hold the unit by its lower left corner with the thumb over the page control. In this case, utter stupidity has been victorious in the marketplace once again.

The 600 is the 700 downgraded. The sidelighting has been removed. Perhaps this will increase the contrast of the screen, a point many people raised about the original 700. Everything else about the 700 is most likely otherwise retained, including things such as Search and taking Notes.

Both models will be for sale in the United States, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Colors will be the usual Silver, Black, and Red for both models.

Neither model has any kind of wireless capability built-in.

Both models also reject the classic book-like fold-over cover in favor of shipping with protective sleeves. It’s unknown if covers will be available as options. The left-side straight-edge design of both units seems to indicate that possibility — as do embedded magnets in both. I guess not including a lush cover helps to lower the retail price.

Rumors are the 300 will hit the $199.00 price point. The 600 is rumored to be $300 or maybe even $349 (don’t be surprised if it’s $399, however; these are rumors!).

Both models will have Macintosh OS X compatibility. How this is accomplished is unknown. Perhaps through the Sony eLibrary software or firmware that allows simple drag-and-drop using Adobe Digital Editions. Or perhaps both: one for Sony’s BBeB format, one for ePub format. Sony does not have an Apple-like record for uncomplexification.

I’m trying to get excited over these, but I can’t. Static ePub is dead. eInk displays are dead.

If the mythical Apple Tablet does indeed materialize in September, both of these new Readers are dead too.

Another Memo Print Publishing Will Ignore

July 29, 2009

Yahoo committed seppuku today

Nintendo didn’t give up when Microsoft came into the video game space–they innovated. Now the Wii outsells the mighty XBOX 50 million to 30 million. That is how you fight Microsoft: you innovate. Steve Jobs knows this, Nintendo knows this, and Oracle knows this. Yahoo, apparently, did not get the 40-year-old memo.

Aggression and innovation wins. Period.

Emphasis added by me.


The lesson for all startups–and BDC’s (big dumb companies)–is that innovation is all you have. Once you stop innovating you lose your talent and you lose the race. Never. Stop. Innovating. Never. Never. Never.

Emphasis added by me.

ePub is not an innovation.

Editis eBook Hearts Apple!

July 27, 2009

Snowbag, in an excellent Comment, pointed out something I saw but didn’t see in the Editis video:

Oh, did you note the apple postmark on the iCard/ecard?

I saw it … but didn’t see it.

Now that he’s pointed it out — wow!


Closer and bigger;


Apple’s Absolutely Brilliant eBook Strategy

July 27, 2009

Apple joins forces with record labels

Apple is working with the four largest record labels to stimulate digital sales of albums by bundling a new interactive booklet, sleeve notes and other interactive features with music downloads, in a move it hopes will change buying trends on its online iTunes store.

Emphasis added by me.

And some details about that:

Apple wants to make bigger purchases more compelling by creating a new type of interactive album material, including photos, lyric sheets and liner notes that allow users to click through to items that they find most interesting. Consumers would be able to play songs directly from the interactive book without clicking back into Apple’s iTunes software, executives said.

Emphasis added by me.

That’s Apple entering eBooks. Right there.

Some history to lay the groundwork for this.

In my seminal post, Steve Jobs Is Up To Something. Probably Big., I quoted Jobs. The key sentence in his dissing of the Amazon Kindle is this:

The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Emphasis added by me. Those words are the important bit.

You’re Steve Jobs at Apple. You know that doing eBooks is inevitable. It’s part of the ding in the universe that you know you still have to make.

But how to do it?

Saying “book” is like saying “PBS” for “TV” or “NPR” for “radio.” “Book” does not say fun, exciting, engaging — to those who do not buy books. (That’s exactly how the current eBook conception is “flawed at the top.”)

And those people — those who aren’t book buyers — are a huge percentage of the customers at the iTunes Store, who are daily downloading millions and millions of fun, exciting, engaging songs and videos.

To win the eBook battle, he has to get those people to buy them.

The cliche way would be do to limp eBooks about bands and musicians. But what good would that do? They’d be instantly recognized as books.

So to grab those people, to show them what an Apple eBook will be like, Apple will use the Trojan Horse method.

Which is brilliant!

Here is that brilliance:

“It’s all about re-creating the heyday of the album when you would sit around with your friends looking at the artwork, while you listened to the music,” said one executive familiar with the plans.

If you don’t understand the importance of that, let me introduce you to writer Martin Millar, who blogged about this very thing back in February: The Modern World Continues to Disappoint:

No longer having a record deck, I have records I haven’t heard for many years. One of these being Hawkwind’s Space Ritual, their live magnum opus from the 70s. As a young teenager, I spent a lot of time in my bedroom listening to this, nodding my head to the endless repetitive riffs, and marvelling at the mighty record sleeve. This folded out into six sheets, full of entertaining words and images. Well, they were entertaining if you were a teenage boy and sort of imagined it would be fun to fly around the universe in a space ship with Hawkwind. (I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends in those days. OK I had no girlfriends.)

After considering buying this for some years I was finally overwhelmed with nostalgia, so I bought the CD. I knew it wouldn’t be the same but I wanted it anyway.

It wasn’t till this CD arrived that I realised what a tremendous disappointment the packaging would be. Gone is the mighty album sleeve which folded out into such a huge item, replaced by a puny little booklet, which isn’t the same at all. The whole thing is a great disappointment.

Here’s a picture of me holding the original sleeve, and the modern equivalent. You can see why I’m not happy.


Anyone who has ever bought an LP with an extensive sleeve immediately understands this. It’s a huge part of the fun that Compact Discs took away.

But there are people who have never bought an LP. There might even be iTunes Store customers who have never even bought a CD!

So the way to grab them, to introduce them to the dimension of music they’ve been missing — and to introduce them to eBooks The Apple Way — Apple will do this to woo them into the fold.

This has the additional added benefit of making everyone STFU about the question, “What could Apple do with eBooks?”

This “interactive booklet” will be Apple eBook 1.0.

Mark the 1.0 bit. Because I want all of you to consider how much more iPhone OS 3.0 towers over the original 1.0.

Apple will be bringing a 1.0 eBook to market. But unlike crappy ePub and all the crappy eInk devices, Apple will be able to go on to bring an eBook 2.0, an eBook 3.0, and beyond.

Starting today, everyone can ignore these things: Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, all eBook hardware devices, ePub, and all the ways so-called “eBooks” have been done.

The Age of the eBook has not even begun.

It will now that Apple is doing it.

How Steve Jobs Wins, Part Two

July 26, 2009

Originally published at Mike Cane’s No Flickr Blog:


Jobs illustrates just how “complex” a program should be. Apple wins, thinking like that.

See Roughly Drafted: iDVD hung out to dry as Apple pushes movies online

— originally published on Flickr January 30, 2009

I repeat this because people seeing the Editis post are probably scoffing at how “difficult” it would be to create Intelligent eBooks such as those.

Yet look at how Apple managed to bring movie creation and DVD authoring to the masses:

It’s all been made drag-and-drop simple.

But what does this have to do with eBooks? It’s what I’ve mentioned before: Pages.

Hop to 3:22 in this video to see a demo of Pages:

If you’ve watched that, and you’re a writer who has struggled with HTML, XML, ePub or any other eBook format, you must be drooling at the mouth over the utter simplicity and obviousness of that approach.

No coding, no dicking around with screwy CSS, no “Let me try this and then go into Preview Mode to see if that works” nonsense.

As the opening quote stated, people drag and drop their stuff and hit Burn.

Apple could easily extend Pages so after everything has been assembled, the final button to hit is Make eBook.

I don’t know a single writer — including Moriah Jovan — who would choose manual labor for building an eBook over an automated approach.

Plus, Apple lists resources for commercial and community-created Pages templates. When Pages has been extended to handle eBooks, sites such as ePub Zen Garden will be a quaint (though still nightmarish) memory.

That day cannot arrive soon enough.

For writers as well as readers.

Previously here:

What REALLY Delayed The Apple Tablet
Part Of The eBook Vision
What One Big Change Would An Apple iTablet Bring?
Dumb eBooks Must Die, Smart eBooks Must Live
ALL eInk Devices: BAD For eBooks!

What REALLY Delayed The Apple Tablet

July 25, 2009

all the electronic reading gadgets on the market are subpar, if you ask me, making the reading of books, newspapers, magazines, and even cereal boxes painful. The resolution is poor. The fonts are crap. The navigation is chunky. Not since the eight-track player has modern technology produced such a heap of garbage. If you’re looking for the reason e-books constitute just 1 percent or 2 percent of all book sales, stop the search.

Emphasis added by me.

I agree with that quote.

It’s from Does the Book Industry Want To Get Napstered? at Slate.

Not only do I agree with that quote, I’m here to say he is absolutely correct.

Who have been the majority of eBook hardware buyers? Not the young!

the total number of Kindle owners [are] between the ages of 40 and 69[,] an incredible 58.6%. Owners above 70 make up an additional 8.1% — Kindle Demographics

What generally characterizes those age groups? It’s usually this sentiment: I know what I want and that’s all I want.

That is the perfect profile of the oldster buying an eBook device: I know I want to read and that’s all I want to do.

Well, good luck! Because, with crappy eInk, that’s about all you’ll be able to do — and that’s after first undergoing a screen-refresh initiation period. And then undergoing a beating so you’ll know never to expect any sort of fast, randomized access to text.

You are, ultimately, taught to lower your expectations to those below that of print.

And what’s the gain? Sure, fewer boxes to pack. Less clutter. In some cases, lower than print prices.

But in all cases, you’re locked into a dumber-than-paper format that’s also handcuffed with pernicious DRM.

But hey, at your age, does that matter? You’ll be dead soon!

Fortunately for the fate of the world, not everyone in those age groups surrenders their repugnance for lower standards. Some people will not accept anything less than the best.

Such a person is Steve Jobs.

You just know at some point he had to have handled a Sony Reader or a Kindle.

And found them far less than Insanely Great.

He’s discounted reading and eBooks before. And I was the first to call BS on that.

What I think has gone through Steve Jobs’ mind is this: We have a lot of work to do to get the iPhone to its next Insanely Great phase. In Getting It Done, there are many little things we’ve had to leave out. And we’re All Hands On Deck with just the submissions to the App Store. Plus, I don’t think an iPhone-sized screen is the best eBook experience.

But now that the iTablet has been in development, now that the chip fab has done its job, and the device is in the active pipeline for a real introduction, Steve Jobs can begin to turn his attention to eBooks.

Because there will finally be a device that will be superior to the paper reading experience: a wireless iTablet.

October has been touted twice as its date of introduction. Now the latest date is first quarter 2010. Dissatisfaction with the capacity of the AT&T network has to account for part of this delay, but I really think another part of the delay is Apple developing eBook reading software that will be worthy of the Apple logo.

In the past, Cringely has called for Apple to buy Adobe. That would have given Apple the high ground in eBooks.

But what high ground would that have been?

ePub. Which is basically a created-by-committee method for lightly tarting-up text files! Serial, linear, and a godawful PITA for writers to really deal with if they want to do direct publishing (Atlantis notwithstanding).

ePub is a format unworthy of the Apple logo.

Why would Apple want to do what everyone else has been doing?

That would have been akin to the joke iPhone:

Where does any part of ePub bring to mind these words:

Not any part of it.

There are other precedents for Apple dismissing the herd and going its own way, but the standout one has to be QuickTime. Apple was faced with fierce competition from Microsoft (and also Real) for the dominance of Internet video. Apple didn’t knuckle under. Adobe ultimately managed to slip in to dominate Internet video with Flash — but many times when you see a movie trailer on a Flash site, that video has been ripped from Apple’s own site offering MP4 trailers! Today, really, who aside from malicious porn sites uses Windows Media Video? (And does anyone even bother with Real?)

Apple has the courage to say All Other Solutions Are Wrong — no matter how many people have adopted something, no matter how pervasive another method currently is.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, he said Apple was out to:

ePub in no way “reinvents the book.”

But next year, Apple will.

And maybe a little bit of it will resemble this.

But you can expect it to be even better. Expect to “Read Different.”

Part Of The eBook Vision

July 23, 2009

NOTE: In the automated transition from Blogger to WordPress, this post apparently got eaten. Until I restore it, read the original at Blogger.

What One Big Change Would An Apple iTablet Bring?

July 22, 2009

Mockup by Rex Hammock

More than two years since the introduction of the iPhone, it’s difficult to recall what smartphones were like before it.

I recently rewatched the video of the iPhone’s introduction and I didn’t have the same OMFGZ! reaction to it. Because, as is usually the case with Apple nailing a UI, it felt like that’s the way it always should have been done and therefore all other possibilities never existed prior to it.

What changes did the iPhone bring?

1) It created the never-before-seen phenomenon of a phone generating lines for its purchase

2) It created an App Store where users can easily buy and install programs

3) It made The Internet In Your Pocket a reality

4) It brought capabilities no other released device ever had: multitouch and an accelerometer

5) People use it so much, it has just about brought an entire national phone network to its knees

In short, because of the lack of friction in its UI, it has empowered people as no other device ever has.

Will this be the case with an Apple iTablet too?

Yes, and I expect it to have a larger impact than anyone is currently imagining.

First, let’s settle the screen size. I twisted myself into knots with some bad math (my usual math!), trying to resolve the current iPhone screen into the same size as a netbook screen. I did this while staring at the iPhone screen in portrait mode. That was the key mistake.

Once I rotated it 90-dagrees and had a Big Hint from @stroughtonsmith, an experienced developer, it became clear: four iPhone screens in landscape mode = iTablet screen. It works. The diagonal is about nine inches.

You can try this for yourself with some copying and pasting and a printout, using the actual screen dimensions blueprint provided by Apple in this PDF. (PhotoShop wizards, if you do an actual-size iTablet mockup, drop a PDF link in Comments for all to share!)

Holding this printout in my hands is very exciting. (OK, so I excite easily. Shut up.)

First of all, it’s really not much to hold in the hand. It doesn’t scream bulk. It screams cute. It also screams Take Me With You Everywhere. This would have no problem being dropped in my shoulder bag. With a sleek thinnish bezel around it, it really wouldn’t be larger than a hardcover book. Being far thinner than a hardcover book, carrying it around would be trivial.

Second, all that screen real estate would make all current applications even more breathtaking than they are on the iPhone. Google Maps, for instance, would show more information. Websites would require less tap-and-zoom. Photos would pop — and I can see people using it as a photo frame while charging. Video at that size would replace television for even more people than a desktop screen does today.

But all that is obvious. What isn’t obvious?

The increased real estate can lead to some very interesting new software.

For example, while held in landscape mode, an eBook reader could display two pages, side-by-side, just like this current online software at The Internet Archive:

But not just that. Imagine having two eBooks open at the same time. This would be great for those who need to do research and deal with more than one book at a time. (Yes, I know Apple does not allow multitasking, but I think they will update the iPhone OS for the iTablet to allow specific and very limited instances of it. This will be yet another test the inscrutable App Store scrutineers will run before approving an app for sale. Prepare for more delays, developers!)

Of course, comic books would then be possible in ways that are superior to the current wee iPhone screen. Maybe even Warren Ellis would finally be enticed into them. (FreakAngels the downloadable eComic, perhaps?)

Anyone who invested in an eInk eBook reader would soon discover they should have waited out the so-called “eBook Revolution.” As for the Amazon Kindle, there would be no reason to buy one. Just download the software from the App Store.

Although one developer I mentioned it to hated the idea, I still maintain that games with twin screens will become the new thing.

Also imagine a blogging interface divided in two. On the left side the fill-in form. On the right elements that can simply be dragged and dropped into it.

But really, even all this everyone has to admit would be mere decoration.

So what would be the revolutionary change the mythical iTablet would bring?

More website reading.

Wait! Don’t touch that dial yet.

If you’re like me, you absolutely hate sitting at desktop uncomfortably staring at a screen that is just about perpendicular. It’s very, very annoying. This is why I think the Internet tends to make people impatient and want things to move along quickly.

With an iTablet, however, everyone would be able to lounge, at ease, and time would begin to slow down. The pressure of Go!Go!Go! would melt away.

I sit here at my desk daily, overwhelmed with links to sites tweeted to me. I wind up just grabbing text and chucking it onto my LifeDrive (no, I don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch … yet), to read later, away from the desktop. The pressure to click on something else is off. The spinning wheel of time slows to the speed of thoughtful reflection.

And that is the one huge change an iTablet would bring. It would be an invisible revolution too. Because reading the Net that way will seem so natural, everyone will forget the torment they went through before that point.

That’s why the CrunchPad has been in development. But who will want that when they can get an Apple iTablet?