Thursday, July 31, 2008

BPN 1175 FTTH taking off

Last night a smart helpdesk lady of UPC seduced me into a subscription to a faster connection up to 10Mbps and a digital television subscription (yes I was charmed out of my pants). This morning the speed was already up to 9766 Kbps downloading and 1450 Kbps uploading. A comfortable speed. So far, I always said that I would wait to October 2009, when our apartment in Almere is up for a fibre to the home connection (FTTH). KPN is already selling three bundles of three speeds: 30, 50 and 60 Mbps for downloading at respectively 65, 80 and 110 euro a month, including telephone, internet and television. So I guess by 2010 stats of the Netherlands will be quite different in the ranking of semi-annual continent survey of the FTTH Council. In the latest survey it takes the 12th ranking.

With continued regional growth in fibre to the home (FTTH) market penetration, Asia consolidated its position as the global leader in the march toward next-generation broadband while the United States and Europe also continued to experience robust growth in FTTH, according to an updated global ranking issued today by the FTTH Councils of Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.The ranking, updated twice a year, tracks the level of FTTH market penetration in economies where more than one percent of households are connected directly into high speed fibre networks. In all, 14 economies met this threshold.In Asia, FTTH has overtaken DSL in South Korea and will soon do the same in Japan. The Asia-Pac region is witnessing the end of a hundred years of telecom history as copper loops are quickly being replaced by optical fibre access networks. South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan now occupy the top four positions in the ranking, and the Asian region now accounts for more than 27 million of the world's estimated 32 million FTTH connections. South Korea now has nearly 37 percent of its households connected to fibre, with Hong Kong at 27 percent, Japan at 24 percent and Taiwan at 7.7 percent. And while the People's Republic of China ranked 11th in terms of market penetration, growth in the number of connections to 7.5 million means that China is now second only to Japan in the number of households with FTTH.

In Europe, large FTTH projects are now underway in France and Germany, as well as deployments in other EU countries such as Greece and Portugal. The fact that seven European countries made the global ranking, and that several rank among the top FTTH countries in the world, is a clear indication that Europe is moving forward with the adoption of next-generation broadband. However, this positive picture does not yet represent the entire continent. For this reason the FTTH Council Europe will continue to educate investors and other stakeholders and to promote accelerated deployment of FTTH networks in all European countries. Four Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark) and Slovenia occupied the fifth through ninth positions in the ranking, with market penetration ranging from 7.5 percent to 3.2 percent. The Netherlands and Italy were in the 12th and 13th positions, each with market penetration of 1.4 percent. In all, European countries reported 1.4 million FTTH connections.

North America, and particularly the United States, has crossed the chasm and is now moving decisively toward fibre to the home as the broadband platform of choice. Aggressive FTTH deployment in the U.S. has created a lot of buzz about this exciting technology, and the word of mouth from early FTTH subscribers is driving growth and fuelling further deployments. The United States is third among the world's economies in the total number of FTTH households at 3.3 million, and is in 10th position in the global ranking with 2.9 percent market penetration. The U.S. continues to experience the highest rate of growth of any economy in terms of FTTH subscribers - doubling the number of connections year over year. This is due largely to an aggressive FTTH deployment by market leader Verizon, Inc. and ongoing FTTH build out by more than 600 smaller providers across the country.

Blog Posting Number: 1175

Tags: ,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

BPN 1174 FT: working on the holy grail

Pearson, the UK holding company of the Financial Times Group, published it quarterly figures this week. The press release said on the Financial Times Group, that it made 17 per cent on 2007 sales and 25 per cent of operating profit. “The FT Group is on track to achieve continued profit growth this year. FT Publishing has shown sustained growth in subscription, circulation and advertising revenues (up 2%) in the first half. Future advertising revenues remain difficult to predict, but we continue to expect to increase profit at FT Publishing even without any growth in advertising revenue”.

But there is a more interesting trend to be discovered in the figures: there are more online registered users than readers of the print edition. In figures: the daily circulation of the print edition remains constant on 450.000 copies, while more than half a million users have registered for access to the site. Online registered users are not equal to online subscribers, of which there are 100.00 subscribers.

So where does FT pick up its profit online. The number of subscribers is hardly enough to present a profit. Yet the online registered users are the money makers for FT as they are the collateral for the advertisers. Online subscriptions and online advertisement yield 63 per cent of the turn-over of the FT Group. In 2000 online subscriptions and online advertisement accounted only for 20 per cent.

The rise of the registered online user came after a change in policy by the FT at the end of last year. The visitors of the site are now allowed to read four stories a month for free and have access to the three-year archive. To read six or more stories with a limit of 30 stories per month, visitors will have to register themselves and log in; they have access to the five-year archive. An annual standard online subscription will cost the subscriber 119 euro and a premium one 319 euro. Pearson did not present figures about the non-registered consultation and the number of page views.

Yet it is clear that FT has found a way to make a profit from online. Of course, FT is a global, need-to-know newspaper for the financial world and a global, nice-to-know paper for an even wider group of users. Marketing wise the company has now a nice pond of fish to start upselling subscriptions to various products. In the meantime, the registered online user is a perfect audience for advertisers.

The online strategy can not just be transposed on the local newspaper of Almere or any other place. There is a certain algorithm in the numbers of FT: 500.000 registered users and 100.000 online subscribers. Projecting these figures to both sides, there are most likely 5 million people who occasionally visit the FT site in a year, while there are only 10.000 premium subscribers. FT hopes to increase its profit margin in the online business over the rest of 2008.

Blog Posting Number: 1174

Tags: ,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BPN 1173 ACAP: a friendly negotiation tool

Yesterday I wrote about the fact that many text providers such as journalists, are taking measure against illegal copying and piracy. This I think is a rather negative approach and an approach after the publication. I have often criticised publishers for taking measures afterwards and not taking preventive actions or even starting projects with other publishers. So they often end up in court with a series of court cases, not relevant to jurisprudence, and with a lot of antipathy from the audience.

But things are also changing. ACAP (Automated Content Access Protocol) is officially introduced and is in The Netherlands going to be used by the association of Dutch publishers NUV. The good thing about ACAP is that it is a product which puts content owners in control of their content. It is basically a tool for the publisher to tell search engine operators what they can index and link.

ACAP takes care of the entry to the websites of publishers and especially the discriminate access of crawlers and spiders. It offers four choices: follow, index, present and preserve. The command follow directs the crawlers or spiders to linked pages; with index command they are allowed to make a copy; with the command present the links are taken out of the index, while with the preserve command the crawlers and spiders get to see when an item is not available any more.

ACAP is devised by publishers in collaboration with search engines after an intensive year-long pilot in 2006-2007 and set to control the dissemination, use, and protection of copyright-protected content on the worldwide web. ACAP is destined to become the universal permissions protocol on the internet, an open, non-proprietary standard through which content owners can communicate permissions for access and use to online intermediaries.In the first instance, ACAP provides a framework that will allow any publisher, large or small, to express access and use policies in a language that search engines' robot "spiders" can be taught to understand. ACAP’s scope is now being extended to other business relationships and other media types including music and the audiovisual sectors. Technical work is ongoing to improve and finesse ACAP V.1.

With the ACAP tool in hand, the publisher can decide on his business model and offer access or not. They can make a difference in paid and free services and services for subscribers and occasional visitors.

Blog Posting Number: 1173


Monday, July 28, 2008

BPN 1172 The old, analogue world is back

Last month the news wire organisation Asociated Press (AP) demanded from the owner of the Drudge Retort, that he would correct seven contributions as they contained more than 39 words of a quote from the AP service. The blog community started to comment on this measure. They hated the fact that AP demanded corrections in blogs and the fact that AP thought that a quote of 39 words from an article is enough fair use. The whole discussion blew over, but I guess only for the time being.

There is an analogy with the music business. Many people download music illegally and a ten per cent upload the music illegally. After many fights it looks now that the ten per cent of uploaders will get a letter from their ISP, telling them to stop uploading or face being cut off. So also with the official press and the bloggers. When bloggers copy full articles or a excessive long quote, AP wanted to tell the bloggers what is fair use and what is not. The old, analogue world is coming back!

The Dutch journalists trade union NVJ is now also preparing a mechanism of control. It will start a service for member-journalists. The service intends to chase website owners and bloggers who copy articles from the member-journalists with or without their name and without permission. The service has already been dubbed in many blogs as a plagiarism and a anti-plagiarism service at the same time. The objective of the service appears to cover copying without permission, but mentioning the name of the author; copying the article without permission and without the name of the author.

The software which is going to be used bears the name of Ephorus and is the product of a Utrecht based SME company. It looks like the NVJ is piloting the service in practice. It looks like the college and university software which tells the teachers that the presented material is from internet or particular books. In the case of the journalist, he/she uploads an article and the robot will travel around the Dutch language web to find the website owners and perpetrating web loggers, which copied the article. I wonder whether also parts of the article will be recognised. After that, a train of administration can be expected of sending letters and invoices.

In the Netherlands there are already companies writing web site owners and bloggers about the illegal copying. And they are not very much loved. On the one hand it is naturally that web site owners and web loggers will be annoyed telling them that they are illegally copying. On the other hand it is by the aggressive way of the handling. One of the companies is Cozzmoss; on their site they claim that they act on behalf of authors. (It looks almost like a collecting society, except that they are commercial and acting in a legally grey terrain). A web site owner or a web logger directly receive an invoice; there is no correspondence telling them that they have copied articles illegally. And the invoice is three times the original fee. This legal stupidity still dates from the early days of internet, when the NVJ started a court case, asking the judge to attribute 300 per cent for every re-use claim. Presently the NVJ uses a fee of 20 per cent per copying with a minimum.

So far the claims of Cozzmoss and other companies have not been fought in court. It is about time that a judge let his light shine on the claims which can be made on the ground of illegal copying and about the height of the fee. In the meantime a bureau Stichting Copyright & Nieuwe Media (Foundation for Copyright and New media) has been founded in The Netherlands; it will have a helpdesk for amateur authors/bloggerswho will have legal problems. It will also promote Creative Commons.

Blog Posting Number: 1170

Tags: pircy, copying, anti-plagiarism, plagiarism, , ,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

BPN 1171 2/3 TV time "Made in Europe"

More than 63 per cent of Europe's television broadcasters' programming time is devoted to European works and over 36 per cent to works by independent European producers. These new figures come from the European Commission's eighth report on effectiveness of EU rules on the promotion of European works, which covers the period 2005-2006. This report which is published every two years is based on information provided by the EU Member States and monitors the promotion of European works on European TV screens under the 'Television without Frontiers' Directive. For the first time, broadcasters in the new EU-10 Member States are fully analysed in this report, and the report shows that they show today as much European content as those in the EU-15.

The figures show the impact of Articles 4 and 5 of the "Television without Frontiers" Directive, which aim at promoting the broadcasting of European works, including those created by producers who are independent from the broadcasters. The European Commission proposed these measures in 1989 to bring the benefits of the single market to television viewers (in the form of greater choice) and to broadcasters and producers (a bigger audience for European programmes).

The new report on the implementation of these provisions in the 25 EU Member States, adopted by the Commission, shows that the EU-wide average broadcasting time for European works has increased from 63.52 per cent in 2005 to 65.05 per cent in 2006. The Commission report also shows that in the medium term (2003-2006), the broadcasting of European works has stabilised at above 63per cent. Average transmission times varied between 47.31 per cent in Slovenia and 81.14 per cent in Denmark in 2005 and between 45.44 per cent in Sweden and 81.07 per cent in Poland in 2006. These shares were comparable with those recorded for the previous reporting period 2003-2004 (IP/06/1115).

The average share of independent producers’ works broadcast by all European channels in all Member States rose from 36.44 per cent in 2005 to 37.59 per cent in 2006. This is well above the 10per cent set by the "Television without Frontiers" Directive. This also means that in the medium term (2003-2006), the EU-wide broadcasting of European works by independent producers improved by 6.2 percentage points.

For recent European works by independent producers, that is to say works broadcast within five years of their production, transmission time in 2005-2006 was constantly above 25per cent. This confirms the positive trend in the scheduling of recent works, which increased by 2.59 percentage points over 2003-2006.

Blog Posting Number: 1171


Saturday, July 26, 2008


Recently I received an e-mail from Max Acke with the subject line Radio+Art+Education. The e-mail asks the recipient to visit his Dutch language site on radio, art and education. I do not know the man nor have I ever met him. As I do not like to receive e-mails out of the blue sky, I requested the sender to remove me from the e-mail list, saying that I consider his e-mail as spam.

I received a response to my e-mail from the sender (who claims to have a legal degree in international politics), saying that he did not exploit an e-mail list, but had a robot working for him which grazes sites for e-mail addresses in the Belgian (be) and Dutch (.nl) country domains of people hopefully speaking Flemish or Dutch. Once the robot has a package of 40 e-mail addresses, it sends off the batch with a standard e-mail text, promoting his sites.

The sender does not see the e-mail as spam. He defends his actions, by saying that he even does not know where the e-mails will go to. And if I do not want to receive the emails, I should (mind you) take action by using the possibilities of the e-mail browser. Put the filter on the address and all the problems are over, is his advice.

For the rest the sender thinks that he has a real world hit with his site and informs me that many Dutch and Belgian internet users have sent him thank-you notes. In other words, I should use my filter and keep my mouth shut. In passing he tells that this is the last time he will respond to my e-mails (he must a peevish old man, being disturbed in his hobby).

I could have rested the case, activated the filter, kept my mouth shut and use this blogging space for more sensible subjects. Daily I receive some 400 spams, ranging from Viagra and Cialis advertisments to photographs of Angelina Jolie (whoever she is). So I am used to it. But I think that MAX ACKE SPAMS. He collects 40 addresses at a time and attaches e-mail messages to them. The fact that he is not using an e-mail list, but a robot to collect the addresses is immaterial. He solicits addresses from people from the net, who did not ask for his e-mails. That the subject is cultural and not Viagra is also immaterial and that many people have sent him thank-you notes, does not change the fact that he performs spamming actions.

Blog Posting Number: 1170


Friday, July 25, 2008

BPN 1169 e-Book lands in the UK in September

Well, it is finally happening in the UK: the large-scale introduction of e-readers and e-books. The bookstore chain Waterstone and Sony are taking pre-launch orders for the e-reader of 199 pounds (232 euro) to be launched in September. Will the combination of a bookstore and a consumer electronics giant make an impression on the UK market? Does the combination fulfil the conditions for the iPod syndrome: innovative hardware, a large portfolio, easy access to a fast download service, a reasonable price and does the combination have an innovative image.

Hardware: Sony will sell the 2006 model PRS 505 e-reader, which weighs 260 grams, can hold 160 e–books, has a battery life of 6.800 page turns. It sells in the US for 299 dollars. The model has the dimensions of a printed paperback. The action of Waterstone and Sony is a pre-emptive strike to grab market share. Book distributor Borders has announced to introduce the non-wireless iLiad of 399 pounds (465 euro). And the Kindle of Amazon still hangs above the market; the Kindle costs in the States 359 dollars, which would make it the cheapest e-reader for 155 pounds (210 euro).

Portfolio: Waterstone and Sony have not announced which portfolio they use. The buyers will receive a free CD with 100 classic e-books. Recently trade publishers have been falling over themselves to get in on the e-book act. Penguin, Random House Macmillan, HarperCollins and even Harlequin have all made announcements. I had expected that Penguin would have been in on the deal with its 5.000 e-books. But of course the problem will be the publishing format. Penguin is using the .epub format, a format already adopted by Hachette Group USA. HarperCollins is expected to go the same route. And Sony has announced that it will support the .epub format (Sony writes the format as .ePub); that is quite a change from a closed format Sony has used since the launch of its first e-redaer in 1991. Borders and the iLiad adhere to the Mobipocket format. Amazon and Kindle list more than 40.000 titles.

Download service: Sony has already a download service in operation. Thousands of eBookscan be downloaded at from early September 2008 onwards.

A reasonable price: for the iPod the price per song was important and turned out to be reasonable in the end; in fact downloaders started to realise that they could legally download against a reasonable price. In the e-book sector illegal downloading is less a problem as in music. Yet if there is not a price difference between the printed copy and the e-book, it will not really work.

Innovative image: Apple is the promoter of the innovative products iPod and iPhone. Waterstone and Sony is not the most exciting combination; the combination Waterstone, Sony and Penguin would have made a super combination. The team Borders and iRex Technologies is not a real winner either. Amazon is of course a winner, but the UK publishing industry does not want to hand itself over to the Moloch, which could create a monopoly on e-books.

Blog Posting Number: 1169

Tags: ,

Thursday, July 24, 2008

BPN 1168 Esquire will have a digital paper colour cover

So far we have talked and read about digital paper in the context of an e-reader for e-books, magazines and newspapers. By now we have a whole range of e-readers with digital paper: iLiad, Sony, Kindle, Hanlin, Jet; just to name a few. But so far digital paper has not had another application yet such as digital paper for reading the time on a watch; digital paper in mobiles. But another application brought me back to the beginning of digital paper.

The research into digital paper started years ago in the Xerox Lab in Menlo Park. Although scientists were working on a completely different technology they also produced a plastic paper with electronic letters and numbers (see picture). However it was to difficult to produce font seizes of point 12. So one of the first applications for the large letter digital paper were banners in department stores likes Sachs in New York. The banners were not used for static messages, but were used for promotions and for changing the prices of products. Since the eighties this application has not been seen around.

But now the monthly Esquire of the Hearst conglomerate comes with an application of digital paper in the printed magazine world. They are not going to produce an electronic replica of their next September issue, but they will have a cover of digital paper. They can be seen for three months, until the battery dies. Esquire will distribute only 100.000 copies at the kiosks.

Why would Hearst do this? Mr Granger, a veteran editor to Esquire, told the NYTimes: “Magazines have basically looked the same for 150 years,” Mr. Granger said. “I have been frustrated with the lack of forward movement in the magazine industry.” This sounds like an old man, sad of the days assigning cover designs. And it is not for the subscribers or for the occasional Esquire buyer, but for the gadget freak. It is not for the cover; they might be famous in some circles, but they are not especially designed for digital paper. Remarkable is that the cover will be in colour; so far we only have seen digital paper in black and white n the market. But it is not for the colour digital paper, either. Esquire will celebrate its 75th anniversary in September and as the magazine is a legendary publication best known for its features and covers, it will have colour digital paper with replica of three classic covers as a gadget. How did Esquire pick digital paper as a celebration feature? That is simple. The owner Hearst has been an investor in e-Ink and is now having his investor’s perk.

But the Esquire cover opens up a new avenue not only of magazine covers. What about packaging material for food product can flash messages just as the number of days you can still eat the prouct; if the battery has died and the picture is gone, the product will be out of date. Another avenue is book covers; by the time the battery has died and the picture has gove, you should have finished your book!

Blog Posting Number: 1168

Tags: , ,

Update 24 July 2008: Oldest bible

Pages from the Codex Sinaiticus will be available on the web. The pages are the first batch of the reproduction project. Next year the project will be completed. (more)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

BPN 1167 iPhone and iPod as e-readers

Several times writing about e-Books, I have posed the question why Apple would not get into the fray. With so many iPods around and more recently the iPhones, the Apple products have a perfect point of departure of becoming text iPods. Well it is happening now. Fictionwise and, both e-Book web shops, have announced the availability of its free eReader application for eBooks on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. The users of these Apple devices get immediately access to almost 50.000 eBooks, including bestsellers of Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Michael Crichton, Ann Rice, James Patterson, and Harlequin Romance.

The eReader application is immediately downloadable on the Apple iPhone 3G. The older iPhomes and the iPod Toch need to upgrade to the 2.0 operating system through iTunes 7.7. The eReader application is available as a free download. The Apple devices have three advantages as e-reader. Uploading of e-Books can be done wirelessly. They have large screens compared to most PDAs besides the screens are sharp and clear. And last, but not least they have 6 to 8 solid hours of battery life.

The eReader application is not just limited to the Apple devices. Multiformat versions are also available for more than 300 different handheld devices, ranging from special e-Reader devices to mobile phones and PDAs. The eReader program can read encrypted or unencrypted eBooks from Fictionwise and

The eReader is a first version for the Apple devices. It means that it will not be possible to transfer eReader content downloaded from other websites onto eReader for iPhone and iPod touch. Version 1.1 will have the ability to browse other sites and directly download from them, as well as ways of moving eReader format eBooks from your personal computer to the iPhone and iPod touch. This includes both encrypted and unencrypted eReader files. Version 1.1 will contain features like reverse video, the ability to lock the page orientation, the option to tap rather than swipe to turn pages, options to sort your on-device Bookshelf by author or title or most recently purchased, the ability to browse the web right from the application and download eReader PDB files from any website, and several other improvements.

Looking at the attempts of these web site e-book shops, it is very laudable what they are doing for the distribtion of e-books. But promotion by Apple would help the promotion of e-book. Of course integrating the e-reader software and offering access to the iTunes e-Bookshop would defeat the Kindle in one strike.

Blog Posting Number: 1167

Tags: ,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

BPN 1166 Online censoring is tightening in China, a leading Chinese on-line video site, suddenly suspended operations in mid-June 2008. The usual user-generated, YouTube-like video offerings were replaced with a brief message noting that a server upgrade was to blame. Over three weeks later, the message still existed. Company executives have refused to explain the continuing delay, despite typical server upgrades being completed within hours.

In December 2007, Chinese regulators jolted the industry by issuing rules that threatened to shut down at least some Internet video-streaming sites that are not state owned. Regulators later clarified that some private-sector operators already offering such services, might be issued licenses, provided they complied with government content restrictions. However, the fate of popular sites like and its larger rivals, and remained unclear. Regulators did indeed shut down dozens of smaller sites, and left the top three sites alone, apart from a warning issued to for unspecified infractions.

Online video has been one of the fastest-growing applications of the Web in China, which has over 225 million Internet users. According to one government survey, 77% of Internet users in China watched online video in 2007. Advertising revenue has fallen to just 2% of all online-ad spending in China, but that has not stopped investors from pouring money into online-video companies. It is estimated that the top eight online-video companies have raised at least US$250 million as of May 2008. Investors include Adobe Systems Inc, Softbank China, venture capital giant Sequoia Capital and Steamboat Ventures, a fund backed by Walt Disney Co.

The suspension of service has the potential to damage’s future in the intensely competitive environment, as its traditional users switch to rival sites each day that is down. This could also bode trouble for the content partnerships that give an edge, including the rights to broadcast content such as games clips from the USA National Basketball Association.

Some private companies have been awarded online audiovisual licenses during 2008. However, the three biggest video sharing sites are still waiting. As long as those three continue to filter their content in line with government rules, they should be issued with licenses in due course.

(c) BuddeComm, 2008

Blog posting Number: 1166

Tags: ,

Monday, July 21, 2008

BPN 1165 Nokia mobiles sing, dance and lead the way

It looks like it might become a classic business case: the changing face of Nokia. The recent figures and the product announcements indicate that Nokia is changing it business model. It used to be a company offering network services and mobile telephones. But now it is changing to music, games and software. Will the company be able to survive the change? Why not: once the company produced wellies, rubber boots, and moved to mobile telephone. The new move is from complex hardware devices to software.

Nokia is already changing its business model for some years. Of course network services and mobile telephones have been sales products for years. But with the saturation of the market for mobiles, other products and sources of income have to be sought. Despite the fact that Nokia bought all the shares in the Symbian consortium o 264 million euro, Symbian will not be a real source of income. In fact Nokia will put it at arm’s length and accommodate it in a foundation, offering other companies like Google the benefits of the development.

As the company is in content related devices it has been looking around for some time into content products and services. In 200 the company looked into the tablets for games and electronic books. Due to an economic depression, this development was shelved. But since two years Nokia is working on content products with a vengeance: games, music and maps.

Gaming has been a difficult area to start up in. The NGage device was not a success. But now the general game software comes on stream.

The music service is interesting. Of course the mobile devices are becoming Christmas trees with many bells such as telephone, SMS, camera game device and now also MP3 player and navigation device. But as Nokia is rather late in the music game it will have to compete with the iPod. In fact the company is applying the iPod syndrome: a device, a library, a fair price for songs. Nokia is producing special mobiles for music. It is building up a library through all large record companies, except for EMI (for the time being) and by buying the music store Comes with Music. And the price is more than fair (for the time being): songs are for free.

The latest content addition is navigation.. Of course, here the mobile functions as navigator. But for the device maps are needed. For this purpose Nokia bought the competitor of Teleatlas/Tom-Tom the US company Navteq. Last month the European Commission gave permission for the acquisition. In the meantime the company had already 406.000 dowloads of maps.

Nokia is changed its face from industrial products to telecom hardware in the nineties. Now it is changing again from hardware to content related products and content services. For the time being the company is still dependant on the sale of mobile devices, but gradually it becomes a download company building on revenues from games, music and maps.

Blog Posting Number: 1165

Tags: mobile, game, music, map, , ,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

BPN 1164 A weblog register for the EU: bad idea Ms Mikko

I read this week about the excitement around a proposal of a member of the European Parliament (MEP) to start a webloggers’ register. Ms Marianne Mikko main recommendations in a report on media called on the European Commission and EU member states to apply competition law to the media to ensure media pluralism and in a sideline remark she proposed a weblogger’s register. She wants to know about the reliability of a weblogger. If she proposed a register – and I have my doubts about the context -, the lady must be a stranger in the Wired Wide World.

The postings I have read so far, have it, that Ms Mikko likes to see a register indicating the reliability of a weblog and its producer(s). It does not necessarily mean that the weblogger has to be registered with full name an address with a CV and a profile of the weblog... However the name of the weblog could also suffice with a register mentioning the weblog’s name and voluntary labelling of blogs by their authors (whatever that may be). I guess that she wants some keywords. This is strange as every serious blog uses tags, making it easy for Ms Mikko to search a weblog and ascertain the reliability. In an interview with the EU Observer she said: “We need some credentials, a quality mark, a certain disclosure of who is writing and why. We need this to be able to trust and rely on the source”.

Just the thought about a register, is ridiculous. Internet started as a free internet not bound to any rule or law, just to netiquette. Gradually it I integrated in laws, rules and measures. Just look at the music downloading; illegal downloading was a problem, but now it is becoming a sin, with letters sent straight from the confession box. Weblogging started as a freer form of journalism. Where journalist normally bound t a publication by contract or by association, a weblogger could publish whatever, whenever and wherever he/she wants.

I wonder why the MEP wants to have a register with or without the name of the webloggers. The blogs are there and most of the professional blogs have tags. So searching on a tag will give the reader already an impression on the seriousness or the ill will of the weblogger.

Brussels, i.e. the European Parliament and The European Commission, has many ritual dances and registers. Journalists have to get registered with the press office and the press office decides who is an accredited journalist. Also lobbyists have to register with the European Commission, just as they have to do with many governments. Are the lobbyists now more reliable since they registered and do the MEPS and EC officials now only see registered lobbyist and consultants? Of course not. When non-registered lobbyists want to meet a MEP, the MEP does not invite them on EU premises, but in Belgian or French restaurants and cafés or in O’Reilly, the Irish pub in Brussels.

The question of reliability does not come about with the institution of a register. It lies of course with the MEPS and EC officials, and their use of journalists, lobbyists and consultants. Perhaps Ms Marianne Mikko should look into another direction and start a European counterpart of, an organisation mapping the correlations between money and politicians in the USA.

Blog Posting Number: 1164

Tags: , ,

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Flash High Performance Mulimedia is out!

High Performance Multimedia
A Reader on the Technological, Cultural and Economic Dynamics of Multimedia
Edited by: P.A. Bruck and J. Boumans
July 2008, 192 pp., hardcover ISBN: 978-1-58603-861-8
Price: US$140 / €100 / £70

The focus of High Performance Multimedia is on the ever expanding European e-content industry. Production, aggregation and distribution of that content are the starting points to any future development towards a flourishing industry sector of the third millennium. Nevertheless, in addition to the diffusion of knowledge throughout the industry, digitalisation has completely changed the structure of the content business through the dissociation of content and media channel. This movement creates problems in the process of the business. Highest technological demands in time and money are limiting the size of e-content enterprises today. In contrast, its distribution is still being dominated by broadcasters and telecom providers that skim the biggest part of the profits. However, possibilities do arise when analyzing the industry of e-content. The European e-content market will be able to play a major role in the future by including all relevant players and their abilities. The challenge during the next years will be to stop the concentration on high-end technology and to create new adequate e-content services providing added value to everyone in Europe.

IOS Press
Nieuwe Hemweg 6B,
1013 BG Amsterdam,
The Netherlands
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BPN 1163 A faulty chip remains a faulty chip

On the day that chipmaker Intel celebrates its 40th anniversary, the Dutch semiconductor manufacturer NXP is refused an injunction to prevent indepenndent scientific researchers to publish about a faulty chip. The action by NXP Semiconductors, an offshoot of Royal Philips, looked like an American court action; only the damage suit was not filed yet.

However the judge in The Netherlands was not impressed with the request for an injunction and lets researchers publish their report on how they cracked the public transport chip card. The manufacturer of the chip card, NXP Semiconductors, had asked the judge for an injunction as it feared damage from publication. For the court the freedom of speech succeeds the potential damage.

Six month ago the researcher of the Radboud University in Nijmegen told the press that they had succeeded in cracking the code of the public transport chip card. Presently the public transport companies are in the process of introducing the chip card as form of payment. It is apolitically sensitive project, as the introduction has been postponed already several times. Besides the chip card is also in use at many ministries as entry pass for the civil servants.

The chip manufacturer NXP demanded a publication injunction, arguing that it would damage the trade of the chips and the security of its clients. However the court did not follow NXP and thought it of importance that the scientific research should be published and society should be informed about the defects of the chip card. If NXP would suffer commercial damage, the court said, it was due to production and trade of a defective chip by NXP.

The researchers discovered the secret algorithm of the Mifare Classic, a chip used in billions of access cards. The algorithm produces a secret code safeguarding the cards from copying. However the researchers found that it was easy to manipulate these chip cards and that free rides in public transport could be organised with simple computers and card readers. The researchers informed the ministries, including the one of public transport, and NXP. Later they informed the press that public transport chip cards could be cracked. However they did not publish details to allow the involved parties to take counter measures. However when the researchers wanted to present their findings at a scientific conference in Spain, they found NXP on their path.

In the meantime it became known that a Chinese company is selling a copy of the chip already since 2004. The company had to unravel the algorithm in order to copy the chip. It is unclear whether illegal access cards have been produced.

The ruling sets a precedent. Never before had a company attempted to stop a publication of independent scientific research in The Netherlands. If the court would have granted the injunction to NXP, companies could have prevented unwelcome results to be published.

Blog Posting Number: 1163

Tags: ,

Friday, July 18, 2008

BPN 1162 More competition between collecting societies

The European Commission has adopted an antitrust decision prohibiting 24 European collecting societies from restricting competition by limiting their ability to offer their services to authors and commercial users outside their domestic territory. However, the decision allows collecting societies to maintain their current system of bi-lateral agreements and to keep their right to set levels of royalty payments due within their domestic territory. It basically means that the trust agreements of the collecting societies made in the CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) will have to be changed. It will increase competition in Europe. In statements collecting societies say that the measure is logical and could be foreseen. But the smaller ones are not very happy as they expect to be unable to compete. They point already to super collecting societies in the UK, France and Germany and expect a triangle between Los Angeles, Tokyo and London.

Now international broadcast organisations, mobile telephone companies and online music provider can now start shopping with national collecting societies of their choice and collecting societies can offer pan-European licences. In this way Apple will not have to negotiate with every national collecting society in Europe any longer. And Nokia can negotiate a pan-European licence for its music service. The competition between the collecting societies is now focussed on efficiency and service; two aspects the organisations have not been famous for. It is only in the last three years that the collecting societies saw the pressure of the music providers and musicians. The Belgian collecting society saw the iTunes dilemma of negotiating with 24 EU collecting societies and anticipated with an authoring organisation Solem offering pan-European licences. The Dutch BUMA/STEMRA produced a pan-European licence for music provider eMusic in 2006.

The effect of the measure on the market is doubted by several participants. Musicians have already indicated in hearings that they believe that they will be the losers getting less money as providers will shop for the cheapest licence. Of course the providers will also cry foul. And eventually the bill will be put on the desk of the consumer.

The press release reads:

Brussels, 16th July 2008

Antitrust: Commission prohibits practices which prevent European collecting societies offering choice to music authors and users
The European Commission has adopted an antitrust decision prohibiting 24 European collecting societies from restricting competition by limiting their ability to offer their services to authors and commercial users outside their domestic territory. However, the decision allows collecting societies to maintain their current system of bi-lateral agreements and to keep their right to set levels of royalty payments due within their domestic territory. The prohibited practices consist of clauses in the reciprocal representation agreements concluded by members of CISAC (the "International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers") as well as other concerted practices between those collecting societies. The practices infringe rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81 of the EC Treaty and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement). The Commission decision requires the collecting societies to end these infringements by modifying their agreements and practices, but does not impose fines. The removal of these restrictions will allow authors to choose which collecting society manages their copyright (e.g. on the basis of quality of service, efficiency of collection and level of management fees deducted). It will also make it easier for users to obtain licences for broadcasting music over the internet, by cable and by satellite in several countries from a single collection society of their choice. (more)

Blog Posting Number: 1162


Thursday, July 17, 2008

BPN 1161 A eulogy for a printed railway timetable

Yesterday the German newspaper Frankfurter Algemeine published a eulogy (in German; apologies; just learn German!) on the German railway timetable. Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company has announced to stop publishing the printed timetable in favour of internet and CD-ROM. It is the end of the printed era and the start of a fully digital era. But it is not just a time warp in railway communication, Germany now also looses its symbol of punctuality.

I am a fanatic railway user, always taking the train in The Netherlands for my business appointments. But that has a reason as I do not have a driving licence. But also for foreign trips I take the train, if I can. I will travel to Frankfurt by train in order to avoid the horrible airport with different security instructions than Amsterdam Schiphol Airport or any other airport. I take the Thalys to Paris as it is a fast and comfortable train and saves time.

But I must acknowledge that I did not know when the Dutch railway corporation NS terminated its printed version. But in reaction to the German announcement, the Dutch railway corporation announced its continuation of the printed railway timetable. Annually some 60.000 copies are still being sold, a spokesperson for the company said.

The NS has embraced new media in a very early stage. In my covers collection I have a copy of the CD-ROM disc of the season 90/91 (see illustration), called Travel Planner. In the nineties internet came around and was used as electronic timetable. Presently also SMS is used to search the timetable. But as the NS spokesperson said: “On internet and SMS you have to put a specific question, while in the printed version all data are available at once”.

The vanishing of the German printed timetable is also a signal that a new, digital era has started. When the French started their Minitel project in 1980, they offered an electronic directory for the whole of France; the printed editions had always been local. So access to the national directory was progress. After that the encyclopaedia went digital in 1985 with the Grolier CD-ROM version and later on internet, printed encyclopaedias have been (rightfully) reduced to wall decoration, despite the printed version of the German Wikipedia (is it a bestseller; I guess not). Now the railway timetable is up for extinction. After the Deutsche Bahn many other railway companies will follow suit.

The sector of reference works was the first area to embrace digitisation, now print reference works will start to phase out. In print you had to search yourself with the lovely facility of serendipity; in digital reference works it is hard to gain full oversight.

Blog Posting Number: 1161

Tags: reference, encyclopaedia, timetable, directory, , ,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BPN 1160 More than 3 mln .nl domains

Daily more than 1700 .nl domains are registered by SIDN, the Dutch national domain registry. This month the milestone of 3 million .nl domains was passed; it is now the fourth largest country domain in internet.

Presently there are 250 country domains. The Netherlands was one of the first country domain, when the research institute CWI registered the first .nl domain on May 1, 1986. Ever since registrations have continued to such an extent, that there is one registration for every five inhabitants. In terms of penetration, The Netherlands are the first of the pack. However in terms of numbers The Netherlands rank fourth behind Germany with 12 million .de domains, behind China with almost 12 ml .cn domains and behind the UK with almost 7 million Last year the .nl domains in The Netherlands grew with 23 per cent.

The large number of .nl domains is linked to the use of internet and especially broadband. In 2007 more than 82 per cent of the Dutch households had access to internet. Globally this is third place behind Korea and Denmark and it is 25 per cent above the OECD average. The Netherlands is second in broadband connections with 35 per cent behind Denmark with 36 per cent. Of the Dutch companies 97 per cent uses internet. Of the Dutch consumers 81 per cent is weekly online, even up to 12 hours. Nine out of ten Dutch internet users can not live without internet.

Facts & figures- .nl-domain names are the longest with an average of 16 characters, while other TLDs are 13 characters long.
- The most .nl domain holders live in Amsterdam. But university cities like Groningen, Enschede, Nijmegen and Eindhoven yield many .nl domains.
- 66% of the holders use the .nl domain for a personal e-mail address.
- The most expensive .nl domain is the domain for soccer which was sold for 1 million guilders (500.000 euro).
- The prices for the auctioned .nl domain names rose with 50 per cent from 1000 euro to 1500 euro.
- The market shares in The Netherlands: .nl 70 per cent, .com 14 per cent en .eu 9 per cent
- The share of consumer .nl-holders was 29 per cent op 1 January 2007 en 33 per cent op 1 January 2008.

Source: SIDN, July 2008

Blog Posting Number: 1160

Tags: domain

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

BPN 1159 Dutch telecom watchdog set on opening-up the cable

This morning the Commission of OPTA, the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority of the Netherlands, released a press statement, which frees the telecom incumbent of the obligation to have the tariffs for the consumer market approved; puts obligations for KPN with regard to the business market; forces the cable operators to allow third parties on their networks.

It is a very radical move in telecom country. However OPTA thinks that the balance between the telecom operators and the cable operators is getting uneven. The cable operators are gaining more subscribers, while in specific sectors in telecom, for example business, no competition is at all.

The press release is a first signal of the OPTA that it is serious with the measures. It announces that the full report will be published by August 5, 2008. However the measures will only become effective after hearing the parties and getting the approval of the European Commission.

It is no the first time that OPTA has announced measures for the telecom and cable sectors. But they have also found that the European Commission does not always agree with the authority. So the measures mentioned in today’s press release can not be taken for granted. But the set of measures to balance the telecom sector and the cable operators’ sector are important, certainly as market shares have grown.

KPN has expressed it satisfaction, as it will b free now to set tariffs without approval. The cable operators have given a mixed reaction. UPC is not happy and puts trust in the European Commission. Other cable operators say that they first want to read the 5 August report.

The press release reads like this:
OPTA: Less regulation for telephony market, broadcast market open
Today the Commission of OPTA, the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority of the Netherlands, is presenting its new preliminary draft decisions for the markets for fixed telephony, broadband internet access and leased lines. In them OPTA sets out the measures, which it feels are required to promote innovation, investments and competition in consumers’ interests during the regulatory period ahead. Partly thanks to the remedies which OPTA has imposed on KPN in the telephony market to date and the fact that cable telephone services are gaining ground, it is possible to dispense with KPN’s obligations in the consumer market. From now on KPN is exempt from retail obligations, such as those governing minimum and maximum tariffs, and it is allowed to compete freely. However, OPTA has had to impose stricter obligations on KPN in the wholesale telephone market in order to achieve this relaxation. In addition, OPTA has imposed a duty on cable service providers to resell cable connections, otherwise the regulatory authority foresees insufficient competition in the broadcasting markets. In this way consumers will be able to choose from whom they wish to obtain their analogue television bundle in the same way that they are already able to choose between various telephone service providers using KPN’s network. (more)

Blog Posting Number: 1159

Tags: , ,

Monday, July 14, 2008

BPN 1158 The Guardian buys ContentNext

The Guardian News & Media acquired ContentNext Media, amongst others the online publisher of the newsletter The US company was looking for a second round of investments, but found a buyer in Europe.

Rafat Ali, after a life in newsletters for venture capitalists started the online daily free newsletter paidContent in the USA in 2002. He used the name paidContent as a statement. At that time content was king, but not paid for. The newsletter kept up with deals by traditional publishers, hybrid publishers and movie producers. He soon started the newsletter and started ContentSutra in India. His latest venture was paidContent:UK, which has to serve the UK and Europe. ContentNext's business model of the newsletters is a mix of advertising, selling reports and organising events; especially the calendarized events are more significant.

All the activities were undertaken from the ContentNext Media company, based in Santa Monica. The company made some rounds to pick up money. But the only real investor has been Alan Patricof’s Greycroft Partners, which invested an undisclosed amount in 2006. BoomTown broke the news and reported that the transfer sum was above 30 million US dollar; the Guardian News & Media did not comment on the acquisition sum.

ContentNext Media will be part of Guardian Professional group, which is the B2B media division for GNM, and runs targeted sites such the MediaGuardian, as well as online data businesses and conferences. This starts the 2.0 phase of our company ContentNext Media: we will remain a stand-alone business under GNM. This also marks a major expansion of Guardians U.S. presence; it already runs the Guardian America website, focused on U.S. audiences.

ContentNext Media was planning another round of funding and were not out shopping the company but when Guardian approached us, all the pegs fit into the right holes: a company that will help us scale, add to our existing portfolio of products, and most importantly, help keep our integrity intact. For the team, the biggest consideration was working with a media company known for its journalistic integrity, its long-term view of businesses and its international outlook in editorial coverage as well as business.

I have been in contact with Rafat Ali several times since he started his newsletter and met Rafat him amongst others when he addressed the MindTrek audience in Tampere (Finland) in 2003. I admired him his push and élan setting up the newsletters. I hope he will now have time and money to set up a pan-European content newsletter. Many people never come further than the one slogan: Content is King and never can describe the content discipline. But Rafat knows the whole content field, publishing models and business models. Congratulations Rafat and well done for the ContentNext Media crew.

Blog Posting Number: 1158

Tags: ,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

BPN 1157 New Dutch supercomputer for scientists

A new supercomputer, named Huygens, based on IBM POWER6 has been installed at the SARA Computing and Network Services in Amsterdam. The system has been financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. At the moment of installation the machine is ranked among the first 35th fastest supercomputer in the world, out of the list of 500.

The new supercomputer will be used by some hundred scientists and the computers will function as a super node in the Netherlands and be part of the European supercomputer grid. Thus it will become a node for high performance computing, connectivity, data storage and application and user support for scientific and high tech communities. Scientists researching areas such as climate development, water management and theoretical chemistry will profit from this super computer. It will mean a quadrupling of the calculation capability.-The Huygens supercomputer is an IBM POWER 575 Hydro-Cluster machine, based on unique water cooled system, which supersedes the air cooled systems. The warmth is transported by water-cooled copper plates. Huygens is the first POWER 575 Hydro-Cluster which operates Linux. When the system is completely ready for operations in August 2008 it will be able to process 60 billion calculations per second or teraflops per second. The system encompasses 3328 4.7GHz process cores and has 15.616 Gb in memory and 972 Tb in disc capacity. The supercomputer will be based with SARA, The Dutch national supercomputer and grid service network responsible for High Performance Computing services. SARA is best known for its Network Operations Center of the academic high bandwidth network SURFnet6, the optical exchange point NetherLight, which connects up with many National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) as well as the first European Virtual Reality CAVE.

The Huygens supercomputer will be part of the DEISA-supercomputer grid, a sustainable European High Performance Computer structure, in which the national supercomputing resources of eleven European countries have been united. Through PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) the new Huygens supercomputer will become an important supernode in the European HPC-ecosystem.

Blog Posting Number: 1157

Tags: supercomputer, grid, high performance computing, , ,

Saturday, July 12, 2008

BPN 1156 A crazy project (continued)

When the project of the De Pers, a free newspaper was announced in the Netherlands during the summertime of 2006, I dubbed it crazy project. Now the project is live for more than a year. The title has gained respect as the top quality free newspaper among the two incumbent ones, Spits and Metro as well as the latest newcomer Dag.

But the newspaper is loosing its crazy traits and is returning to the economic laws of publishing. The editor in chief has confessed that he had exceeded the budget with no less than 60 to 70 percent. So now measures will be taken to reduce the editorial staff from 51 to 43 employees by discontinuing year contracts. On the other hand the turn-over will double this year and the daily loss is much less than 60.000 euro forecasted earlier in the year. In the business proposition two items will change. The Saturday edition, the only Saturday edition among the free newspapers, will be suspended due to distribution problems.

The editorial formula will change and financial and economic news will be increases in favour of art and culture. The newspaper will remain a general newspaper with an optimistic undertone. It will not become a head-to-head competitor of the financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad. At the end of April a pilot issue was produced with financial news.

The circulation ranking of the four free newspapers is: (1) Metro with roughly 550.000 copies, (2 and 3, ex equo) Spits with 550.000 copies and De Pers with 440.000 copies with Dag (360.000 copies) in last place. But this might change as the newspaper is changing to the target group of well educated hih professionals between 25 and 49 years. This will have a decrease of copies. In the summer months the circulation will go down to 300.000 copies, but by the end of August it will be up again to 350.000 copies. The management expects the newspaper still to grow. At the start the publisher said that he was aiming at 1 million copies, but this is now seen as ambitious. De Pers distributes 50 to 60 percent in public transport, a quarter in offices and the rest in shops. The pilot with home-to-home distribution is not likely to be continued as the number of readers per copy is too low.

New Dutch financial daily launched
Dutch free tabloids
PCM's DAG launched
Never a dull moment at PCM
Never a dull moment at PCM
Yes/No/Yes: a free newspaper for PCM, at last maybe
Never a dull moment at PCM (1)
A crazy project

Blog Posting Number: 1156

Tags: ,

Friday, July 11, 2008

BPN 1155 French telco SFR in e-readers

While I was in Paris a lot of e-reader news came out in France. I knew that the tenth e-reader round table Rencontres Tebaldo was held on July 8. But being back at my desk, I read that the telecom company SFR (Société Française de Radiotéléphonie) had started a pilot with the wireless e-reader GeR2, adapted for the new Ganaxa publishing platform on July 4. The screen of the e-reader is digital paper and is six inches in diameter like a page of a pocket book. The format is of a pocket book (18,8 cm x 11,8 cm x 0,85 cm) and very light (175 grams). It will stay charged for 10 to 15 days and reloads in three hours. The pilot carried out by SFR is on the new telecom and developing open platform, developed by Ganaxa the GPP (Ganaxa Publishing Platform), for the press, publishers and advertisers, integrating tools for creation, production, diffusion, consultation and display. The e-reader device works won a bluetooth module which connects to the mobile. In turn this mobile link up with the network 3G/3G+ of SFR.

And it looks like SFR has learned basic lessons on introducing e-readers. With the e-reader it offers seven major press titles of press (Les Echos, Le Monde, L’Equipe, Le Parisien, Le Figaro and L’AFP) as well as books from seven major publishers large actors of the world of (Dunod, Flammarion, Hachette, M21 éditions, Plon, Ramsay, Solar).

SFR wants to have 100 test users. They must be clients of SFR. They will have access to the contents of the daily editions of the newspapers and t the ten recent books (romance, biographies, guides,…). The content will be protected by a system of DRM. Each machine has a single serial number; the readers are thus identified and the files containing the works are encrypted so that only the identified readers can download them. It is neither possible to transfer a downloaded work to another e-reader or another platform.

The pilot is to test, in particular, the ergonomics of the product, its use in situations of mobility and the relevance of the content offer. The lessons drawn from the pilot will make it possible for SFR to adapt the device and content offer before the launch in September.

The SFR e-reader is the third e-reader after the iLiad and Kindle with wireless facilities and the first Bluetooth equipped device. SFR is the first company to launch a full-fledged pilot, bringing a group of newspaper and book publishers in from the start. This will educate publishers in one go and yield a lot of publicity for the pilot as well as a lot of user experiences. A really smart move.

Blog Posting Number: 1155

Tags: e-reader, e-book, DRM, ,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

BPN 1154 Get your book fresh from the book shop

The UK book chain Blackwell (photograph of the first Backwell bookshop in Oxford) will offer print-on-demand in its book shops. The book will be printed while customers wait. The book seller will install Espresso Book Machines (EBM). Eventually al 60 book shops of the Blackwell chain will have such a machine. The EBM can currently print about 40 pages per minute, but newer models will double that speed. The US manufacturer has so far 11 sites, where the machines are in use. The machines are leased by the company On Demand. Blackwell has an exclusive franchise in the UK. Beside the machines a catalogue of 400.000 out of print titles, sourced from Lightning Source, are delivered.

Buying book can become like buying a fresh loaf of bread. But there will be problems to be solved. What books are going to be printed on demand, against what price and with permission from the publisher and author? The book chain Blackwell has indicated that it will not empty its shelves in favour of machine output. I will continue to sell current titles from publishers. So printing and distribution remain part of the publisher’s production cycle. However non-current titles or publishers backlists can now be bought by a book aggregator for printing on the EBM.

Blackwell did not want to say anything yet about the price of the print-on-demand books. The book aggregator Lightning Source was founded in 1997 and is a subsidiary of Ingram Industries Inc., and a sister company to leading U.S. book wholesaler Ingram Book Group. According to the Wikipedia, Lightning Source has printed over 41,000,000 books for over 5,000 publishers around the world. The Lightning Source digital library holds over 500,000 books. Lightning Source gives the publishing community options to print books in any quantity, 1-10,000, and provides its customers access to the most comprehensive bookselling channel in the industry in both the United States and the United Kingdom including distribution partners Ingram, Baker & Taylor,, Barnes & Noble, Gardners, Bertrams and others. So they know the prices in the book trade and in the electronic book sector. So I expect that Blackwell eventually will ask the e-book price with a 20 to 30 per cent surcharge for the printing.

But the backlists of publishers might be a problem for the publisher and the author. Presently books of authors, which are at the end of the life cycle, are dumped and often the rights are handed back to the author. But with a second lease on the life of a book, it might be interesting for publishers to ‘buy back’ the rights. But also the book aggregator might start negotiations with the author directly. Of course smart authors license the printing on demand to the aggregator. However some court cases like Rosetta vs Simon & Schuster might occur. But for the time being it will not change the consumer market, as publishers still will stick to their production cycle. But the pulping of unsold books might shorten the life cycle of a title and transfer it to the print-on-demand catalogue. And I do not believe that print-on-demand will allow lower prices for the books and greater royalties for the authors. In fact the book will be more expensive than an e-book

So it will eventually happen. I heard about the print-on-demand machines when I worked in publishing in the late seventies. The CEO of the printing division of Kluwer had visited a conference by Xerox, where a copying and binding production street had been shown. He predicted that this type of machines would eventually end up in book shops. Well it has lasted some thirty years before it is happening.

BTW I will not give permission for my (Dutch language) Online Handboek voor de praktijk of 1986 to be printed on demand, as it is hopelessly outdated and there are no collectors of this type of books.

Blog Posting Number:1154

Tags: ,

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

BPN 1153 Music land: ship passing in the night

Anti-trust measure against the music collecting societies are yielding a lot of emotion. Musicians surprisingly appear to be against the trust mesures, proposed by the European Commission.

The Eurpean Commission has announced that it was looking into the matter of the collecting societies, organisation collecting the roalties on behalf of musicians and muic publishers. The monopoly-like behaviour of these organisations has irked many musicians. So the EC thought that measures should be taken, not only on behalf of the musisicians and publishers, but also for the music distributors. If Apple wants to set up iTunes in Europe, it will have to visit all 27 collecting societies in Europe, which will result in 27 different agreements. The EC is finishing up its survey and gets ready to take measures.

But at one of their hearings they found some musicians oppossing the measures. On bhalf of the European Composers and Songwritwers Alliance (ECSA) Robin Gibb of the BeeGees together with two European composers warned the EC that standrdising the royalties’system in Europe will be detimental to the musicians and only benefit the distributors. More than 220 artists, They will come in and press for lower royalties, given that they serve all 27 countries with their offer. In fact these distributing parties will offer a lower percentage of royalty, while the music will be distributd on a broader scale. The musicians claim, that they will get more money from 27 collecting societies that from one distributor. The EC disagrees and believes that songwrieters, componists, singers and music publishers can expect more money, as one negotiator can bring more force to bear than 27 small collecting societies.
It will be intersteing to see how the EC is going to handle. For the EC found the musicians at once at the other side of the table. It had expected acclaim against the monopolistic measres of the collecting societies and support for a pan-European music license system.

Blog Posting Number: 1153

Tags: music, collecting societies

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

BPN 1152 Moodle on iLiad

Today I am travelling back from Paris to The Netherlands by the hi-speed train Thalys. I mentioned yesterday that there was wifi inside. I tried it out and it In the first class the wifi is free; in the second class it is not available. But the speed is very acceptable. I cn not understand why theDutch railway company is unable to realise wifi in national and local trains.

Yesterday was an x-day: exhausting and exciting. Especially the project groups in the morning were interesting. They two groups were experimenting with Moodle on the iLiad. Moodle is used as a learning tool in the European Master of Interactieve Media (EMIM) project. Moodle is 24 hours online, but a student might not be able to get onlnie all the time, but still might want to work offline. The electronic book iLad might be one of th devices to be used in order to store the learning resources and assignements.

The two groups had divided the work. One group took care of the forms with multiple answer questions, while the other group was securing the online connection between the Moodle server and the iLiad. The first group was working virtually, simulating with pdf files.They were using the virtual keyboard of the iLiad for the forms, but did not like the virtual keyboard. They had encountered problem with Moodle and Linux. The students will be working the project for the rest of July and present there results by August 1, 2008. As they see it, the real challenge is in the upload.

The second group is studying securing the link between the server of Moodle and the iLiad. They will introduce a security client and will need to develop a file translator. They were also looking into Open VPN. They have still some work ahead. During the session, the instructor, Carina Roels, suggested to plan a trial between the two projects.

The project is in fact the result of short presentation I gave on digital paper during the Academic Network Conference in Graz last year. I gave a short talk about the iLiad and digital paper and called upon the college instructors to look into developing software, preferably open software, for the iliad. The ITIN project is interesting as it tackles Moodle and secure lines. I think that there are a lot of schools using Moole, but not having enough computers for the students. So other devices like e-readers could be used. Of course the iLiad is just as expensive as a computer, but cheaper wired e-readers will come around.

The afternoon session was more of a lecture. I had taken along my vintage e-readers. The Sony EB of 1993, the Rocket Book as well as my two years old iLiad. I passed the iLiad around and asked a student to switch it on. He had a hard time doing it. He and his other students pressed the wifi button so many time that it took more than a quarter of an hour to get it to show a book. One student immediately thought up a simple solution to indicate the position of the on/of switch. He would print the top of a thumbon the case with on/off symbol. I think I have suggested that one also two years ago after my spoiled unwrapping party. But so far I have not seen any symbol indicating the on/off sign on the iLiad case. As said before: technology products might sell; usability improved products sell better.

Blog Posting Number: 1152

Tags: e-reader, e-book, Moodle

Monday, July 07, 2008

BPN 1151 E-books and security

I travelled to Cergy, near Paris, yesterday; a comfortable train ride of six hours. I was able to work on my presentations on board. I heard something about being able to use wi-fi on board; however it was not advertised during the trip. I would have loved to experience it. But now I am in a hotel with paid wifi.

I will be the guest of ITIN, an ICT college. ITIN is one of the partners in the EMIM Master’s program on Interactive Media. The ITIN students are doing two projects on e-books. In the morning they will present their projects and we will discuss the difficulties they met so far. I will be talking to them about the history and the future of e-books. It tells the students about the four waves of e-books: the Sony EB of 1991; the internet download e-book; the mobile book or movel. The latest wave is the e-reader decked out with digital paper. I also show the new direction indicated by XO-2 with a two page e-reader.

The second presentation is about content security and DRM. I am not going into real bits and bytes of DRM, which is a field in itself. DRM can be managed with hardware, software, networks and combinations of these, ranging from simple passwords to intricate combinations of software and network facilities. Yet I want to argue that technical solutions are there to be broken. E-book marketing should take a close look at the iPod business model. It needs an industry champion, a broad offer of content products, reasonable pricing, easy access and a device price of maximally 400 euro. But that is not all.

I read a good article today. It was written by Adam C. Engst. It is in fact a reply to an article on illegal copying of e-books in the New York Times. He argues that authors of e-books can also do something to promote their books in order to keep people from copying their books. They can pose some rules to the publisher, but they can also help their own sales. In the article he published 10 rules to be followed. And they sound very interesting.
- Upfront statement on the site saying that no DRM or copy prevention measures are used in the eBook;
- Yet, the server protected from illegal copying;
- Pricing should be reasonable;
- Purchase process simple;
- Prominent display of the price of the e-book;
- Marketing of free samples of other published-books;
- Create a friends and colleagues discount program;
- Treat e-books as printed books with respect, no copying;
- Updating and upgrading content is a weapon;
- Forget about voluntary payments.

I love the updating and upgrading rule for e-books. The reasoning is simple. By updating the old e-book is going out of date and whenever copied an old e-book is copied. Of course this is true for the computer book business of Adam C. Engst. But once you have written a book on history, there is not much chance to update it; although the book can be expanded with other view points and avenues. It is just a matter of creativity.

Combining this marketing method by authors and publishers and using social DRM could go a longer way than any technical DRM solution, for technical riddles are there to be solved.

Blog Posting Number: 1152

DRM, social DRM, piracy.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

BPN 1150 Nine editors-in-chief mull future written press

EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding met nine editors-in-chief of European newspapers such as Le Monde (France) and Lidové Noviny (Czech Republic) in what is becoming a staple high-level dialogue on the health of print media. On the agenda: Is the press maintaining high editorial standards online or is there a rush to be first with the news at all costs? Are print journalists being forced to take on too many roles in the multi-platform world of print, web, podcast and video clip and if so, is quality suffering? Do editors-in-chief from old and new Member States have any common views on media pluralism that could help the Commission in its quest to devise indicators for measuring media pluralism? How could public funding of online activities of broadcasters come into conflict with freedom of the press?

The talks between the editors-in-chief and Commissioner Reding cover several broad subject areas including media pluralism, the consequences for editorial policy of the transition from printing to online press, the impact of new digital business models on journalists' standards as well as new advertising bans considered in some EU Member States. These high-level talks are a debating platform where the press can raise any current concerns that it has, such as the role of public service broadcasting on the web or the impact of new car labelling proposals on advertising (IP/08/835). At the same time they offer the opportunity for the Commission to learn about the latest front-line developments in areas like advertising and new business models, as well as the testing of public policy approaches.

In the meeting, Commissioner Reding repeated and underscored one of the most important principles of EU Media Policy: No new advertising bans at EU level, as these could hit in a disproportionate manner the media and especially the written press. She will continue to oppose all initiatives aimed at introducing new EU advertising bans for alcohol, for car advertising or for sweets.

This is the fourth dialogue between the written press and the Commission. It follows meetings in autumn 2005 (IP/05/1164), autumn 2006 (IP/06/1445) and May 2007 (IP/07/713). These high-level meetings were all organised by the Commission's Media Task Force, responsible for screening all Commission output so as to make sure that Commission initiatives do not unintentionally damage the editorial or commercial freedom of the printed press.

The Commission has always invited editors from all EU Member State for these meetings, but their availability depends of course on often busy schedules and personal interest in EU affairs. The editors who gathered came from the Czech Republic (Lidové Noviny), Estonia (Eesti Ekspress), Hungary (Heti Világgazdaság – HVG), Latvia (Chas) Lithuania (Verslo Žinios) , Greece (Kathimerini) and Sweden (Fokus). For the first time, also editors from France (from Le Monde and Rue 89) attended the meeting, thereby reflecting the start of the French Presidency on 1 July.

Blog Posting Number: 1150

Tags: press, written press

Saturday, July 05, 2008

BPN1149 Digital ex-libris as social DRM

There is some excitement in the e-book world. The publisher O’Reilly will create another sensation. From early July, and I believe that it will be on Thursday July 10, it will release DRM free e-books. And not only that. The publishing house will release them in PDF with two other formats (EPUB and Mobipocket), so that the user can put them on other platforms in the preferred format. So you buy one and get three. According to the announcement, O’Reilly will start with a small selection of seven e-books, followed by a few dozen later on, so that they can measure the effect. They will also sell through Amazon for the Kindle e-reader.

In the e-book world this is a big step, comparable to the music companies switching off DRM protection. In the music world this was only possible after that Apple had introduced iPod and iTunes, offering a huge library of songs, an acceptable price per song and per album as well as a reliable download facility. At once you did not have to download songs illegally any longer. This effect did not come about in the e-book world. Publishers are still scared of their e-books being copied illegally. And there is not an industry champion like Apple in the e-book world. Of course Amazon is fine candidate, but with the Kindle it has not provided a global device for downloading e-books, e-magazines and e-newspapers. More than half a year after the launch of the Kindle, the device has not reached Europe let alone the other continents.

But this announcement of free DRM and the sales through Amazon are not the only announcements. There is also another rumour going around. O’Reilly as publisher and conference organiser is considered to be the organisation that coined the word Web 2.0 and all social things that come with it like social media and social net. So the e-books will be free of technical DRM, but they will get a social DRM.

The technical DRM is linked as a technical facility to the publisher and/or machine. DRM products like music and e-books might be installed on an iPod or e-reader. But when you loose the iPod or e-reader you loose also all the songs and e-books for which you have paid. In most cases you could not make a home copy of them on your desktop computer. It might even get worse, when a provider stops the service, as users of Zune recently noticed when Microsoft announced not to support the format any longer beyond 2011. While you paid for that format, you will have to pay for a new one after 2011.

Social DRM is not a digital rights protection system in the proper sense. It is based on social control. Instead of having a technological protection on board, the first page of the e-book might bear the name and e-mail address of the buyer. Copies can be made, but the name and e-mail address of the first buyer will also be copied. Advantages of this system are that the reader can put the content on any device or machine, store a copy in his own library vault and does not have to worry about limited storage life.

Pragmatic programmers are doing social DRM already with their Pragmatic Bookshelf. You buy an e-book by credit card. A one-time copy is prepared for you with the indelible stamp bearing your name and credit card number. When you receive it you open it only one time with your name and credit card number.

The question remains whether it will work. Of course we know that technical DRM does not work and that copies are faster out of the production system and in the torrent system that legal copies. But with a digital ex-libris as a social DRM, the e-book world gets more civilised.

Blog Posting Number: 1149

Tags: DRM, social DRM