Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BPN 1414 Offical stats on 2009 Dutch ereader and ebook sales

In The Netherlands the year 2009 will be recorded in the annals as the year that electronic book finally made it in the consumer market. The figures are now official:
- 12.000 ereaders sold;
- 60.000 ebooks sold;
- 5 ebooks per ereader.
Of course those figures can hardly compete with the US figures in general and the Amazon figures in particular. Amazon sells 150.000 units on a normal day. In the US during the Christmas season 1 million ereaders are supposed to have been sold. And the forecast for 2010 is no less than 6 million.

But for a country like The Netherlands these figures are a good start. If you can use the same multipliers like in the States, some 75.000 ereaders would be sold and 360.000 ebooks in 2010. Of course these figures are a bleak shade of the 50 million copies of printed books sold in The Netherlands. But after 15 years since the first introduction of ereaders and ebooks in the Netherlands, it is not a bad start at all. and Sony should be applauded for effort they put into the launch and the site of the NDC/VBK publishers for its perseverance.

Since yesterday the score for ebooks sold is already 60.003, as I bought three ebooks for the BeBook Mini. As I will be travelling soon again, I have now some 12 ebooks in my ereader; enough to survive a trip to the Middle East. Downloading the books took some time as I had to install Adobe Digital Edition and the link between the BeBook Mini is still functioning poorly. The helpdesk of is apparently still on Christmas recess.

During the download session I noticed still a potential problem, which will might hold back buyers: the format battle. Mobipocket was a favourite format with a lot of restrictions such as DRM. But since the launch, EPUB is the favourite and liberal format. Downloading on more platforms is allowed and easy.

All in all it will be an interesting year to see how ereaders and ebooks will be accepted. I think that ereaders and ebooks are going to be accepted by a broad group of book readers. I hear in the circle of my friends, that ereaders have been given as gifts for Christmas. That is usually the sign that a new device is going to be accepted. These people are usually not the technology adopters, but they see the advantages of the device and of electronic book reading. Besides they are not ink addicts.

The incentive for ereaders in The Netherlands has come so far from the book side of the industry and not from the newspaper and magazine business. The magazine business has not undertaken any effort yet to introduce e-glossies. They keep developing printed glossies. In the newspaper sector, only NRC-Handelsblad has made an effort together with iRex Technologies, but other Dutch newspapers do not see any advantage in it. They tale a wait and see attitude. Given the small newspaper market with the largest title having some 500.000 copies distributed nationally, they probably do so rightfully.

So 2010 will be an interesting year. For me personnaly it will be also an interesting year in relation to books. I am due to have publish a book in Dutch on the pre-Internet online industry in The Netherlands; the title in English runs like: When digital media were still new. The books treats the period prior to the introduction of internet, when there was an online and CD-media  industry. In history it will cover the start of electronic publishing in 1967 and end on January 1, 1997. I am now writing the final version. The printed edition should be on the market in May 2010. There is no decision yet on an ebook version. The cover has been designed already by a friend of mine, the Italian artist Chiara Boeri. Dutch speaking readers can look at the announcement of the publisher Media-Update Vakpublicaties. If you want to be warned, when the book is published, please leave a comment or send an e-mail jak (at)

Update January 8, 2010
The Dutch market research bureau Creative Venue today published the figures:
- 14.000 ereaders sold;
- 63.000 ebooks sold;
- 2544 Dutch titles available;
- 121610 English titles available.

Blog Posting Number: 1414

Tags: ereader, ebook

Thursday, December 24, 2009

BPN 1413 The unwrap party of my Bebook Mini

This week it was the last week to order an ereader for the company. I had a perfect working iLiad of the first series, but during one of my presentations on ebooks and ereaders, I handed it around and received it back broken. The screen was gone. I had had such a failure before and had to pay a hefty 250 euro (I had paid 650 euro for it to buy) to get the screen repaired. To pay another 250 euro was too much asked from the company’s budget, so I decided to look around.

Taking the position that I had to spend 250 euro to get my iLiad repaired, I decided to look for an ereader of less than 250 euro in The Netherlands. And I found the BeBook Mini, a 5 inch e-ink screen device. I paid 199 euro, including VAT for it, to Today I saw it advertised with a physical bookshop for 189 euro. The only difference with my order was that the cheaper one did not have an ebook voucher of 30 euro with it. But the 30 euro voucher is not the greatest gift as you have to spend it before the end of this year. Not even five full working days to go!

The Bebook Mini arrived in time for Xmas unwrapping. In fact it arrived on the same day as the black cover, which I also ordered, did. Together the ereader and the cover make a nice delicate ensemble. For me as an ex-theology student, it looked like the missal under the printed books.

But then the frenzy work to get the Mini going started. The first thing was to have the Mini 12 hours on a USB cable linked to a PC. It looked a lot to me, but so said the quickstart guide to the BeBook Mini ereader. But looking closely to the guide and the material delivered I deducted that this was most likely, if you had to put the battery in the ereader yourself (you even got a small screw driver delivered in the package). In my case the battery was installed and the user guide could be even read on the screen (a feat the iLiad could not do with its first edition).

So after the 12 hours of loading, I started to link up the ereader through a USB cable to one of my PCs. And I did not get it to link, even not after following meticulously the user guide. Then I linked the ereader to another PC. No result. After trying several times it dawned on me that the cable might be defective. So I looked in my cable collection for a similar USB cable. I found one and started the whole procedure from the start. First on my Vaio. No result. But when I linked on to my recently acquired Acer netbook, it worked. Both computers take USB 2.0 cable connections. My conclusion: BeBook had delivered a faulty USB cable.

So I sent an email to the help desk. And another day was lost on just a simple installation. When I received the iLiad, the unwrapping party was turned into a search party for the on/off knob. The BeBook Mini does not have a real obvious on/off knob either, but it is on top of the device and on the right side and cannot be confused with any other knob.

Looking at the ereader there are two thoughts hitting my mind. The ereader presents the text straight up. There is no facility in order to read the text landscape, which could be interesting in case of some novels and essays with short sentences of a discussion. This facility brought me to the second point. Apple would have undoubtedly put in such a facility as is shown in the iPhone. But the screen of the Mini is larger than the screen of the iPhone. The iTablet or iSlate of Apple, supposed to be out on the market by March or April next year, is said to have a 10 inch screen.

My conclusion on the state of ereaders is that the unwrapping party is still not a joy.

Blog Posting Number 1413

Tags: ebook, ereader

Friday, December 18, 2009

BPN 1412 Ereaders will drop under 150 euro

The year is almost over and looking back I am impressed by the inroads made by ereaders and electronic books. Of course Kindle had made impressive inroads already, but only in the US. And now the fight for market share has begun. Barnes & Noble launched the Nook. In neighbouring Canada a new entrant Kobo is starting up dotted with 16 million US by amongst others Borders. But in Europe, has not made any impression and still does not do so.

In Europe, it is Sony which started up the wave. In The Netherlands Sony and teamed up successfully and made a dramatic start. The aim was to sell 10.000 units before the end of the year. And they did sell more than 10.000 units. In fact the Sony ereader was and still is the favourite item in the consumer electronic goods, leaving netbooks behind.

But the Sony/ combination triggered also other brands of ereaders such as Bebooks, Hanlin and Cybook to start selling. In fact the action by Sony/ set off an action among Dutch bookshops, where ereaders were met with a lot of expected scepticism. Yet when potential buyers showed up, the tradesman in the bookseller would loose all reservation.

The introduction of ereader in The Netherlands has had five effects on the Dutch ebook market:
a. The price of ereaders has been lowered under 300 euro and the Price will even drop under 200 euro in 2010.
b. The publishing format has been standardised on the EPUB format. It is now the official format and publishers and distributors using other formats offer now also EPUB.
c. EPUB carries DRM limitations, but a liberal regime is offered: a buyer can share the ebook with four friends or copy it onto four platforms.
d. Publishers are getting more eager to publish an electronic counterpart together with a printed edition.
e. In the Netherlands printed books have a fixed Price for cultural reasons. But for ebooks the price has dropped 10 percent on average. The price would have dropped more if the VAT had been lined up with the VAT of printed books, which is only 6 percent instead of 19 percent. (The Spanish government has announced plans to slash value-added tax on electronic books to the same low level as printed books, from 16 percent to 4 percent).

BTW The price of ereaders will drop even under 150 euro, I am convinced. Looking at the Nook of Barnes & Noble it is clear to me that this ereader with two screens of digital paper and LCD could have been cheaper by leaving the useless colour mini-screen out.

So ebook and the ereader will become a consumer item for the book reader next year, while the larger ereaders will start a fight for their share of newspaper market, on which Kindle and Irex DRS are already players with Hearst waiting in the wings.

Blog Posting Number 1412

Tags: ebook, ereader

Thursday, December 17, 2009

BPN 1411 KPN misses the broad picture by focussing on FTTC

Yesterday, The Dutch incumbent telco KPN published its mid term strategy on broadband in The Netherlands. The strategy is neither fish, meat nor good red herring and is most concerned with returns in the mid term. The Australian telecom consultancy Budde Comm criticised the strategy, saying KPN’s focus on FttC misses the broader picture.

The Netherlands remains one of the few countries in Europe to have significant FttH networks. Until 2009, the main characteristic of Dutch fibre rollouts was the dominant role played by housing corporations and municipal governments. This focus changed following KPN’s acquisition of a 41% stake in the fibre provider Reggefiber and the subsequent ramping-up of their efforts and investment through their joint venture Glashart. KPN’s large-scale fibre rollouts were also largely based on access arrangements with local councils and housing associations.

KPN was one of the few incumbents to pursue FttH through recognising that doing so was in its own interests, rather than as a result of regulatory or competitor pressure. Its three-stage strategy was to get ready for rollouts (during 2008), trial the technology in several main towns (during 2009), and then decide on a national rollout plan. It had been hoped that the company would adopt a predominantly FttH strategy, leaving VDSL/FttC for other less populated regions, but the opposite is the case.

Its decision to opt for the hybrid model on its national network, and restrict FttH rollouts to select cities, reveals the company’s paucity of ambition, and the fundamental absence of a more wide-ranging approach to the country’s telecom infrastructure, and so of the welfare of its digital future.

KPN currently has about the same number of households connected to FttH and FttC (460,000 against 450,000). The decision to opt for FttC could be construed as purely commercial: the company calculated that providing fibre to 80% of the population would cost some €8 billion, and if take-up of connected homes reached 50% then the government’s contribution would be about €100 million for ten years. Government funding would increase as a greater proportion of the population in rural areas was covered. Rolling out FttH could cost an average €1,000 per home passed, and to cover the whole of the Netherlands would require some 600,000 homes connected per year, amounting to €600 million per annum.

Yet KPN’s initial model has proved to be optimistic: FttH take-up has settled at around 25% - 30%, principally because the consumer price – at €60 per month – is too high for FttH to compete against existing offers from cablcos (Ziggo and UPC) and high-end DSL alternatives, and thus KPN/Reggefiber struggles to reach the economically viable level of 45% penetration. KPN’s FttH ARPU is only €8 per month higher than DSL ARPU, and much of this is derived from IPTV which the company cannot realistically offer on DSL.

Thus for the Netherlands most FttH activity will remain in select cities (currently including Amsterdam, Deventer, Almere, Eindhoven and areas of Rotterdam) and regions (particularly Noord-Holland, Flevoland, Gelderland and Overijssel).

The decision against a national FttH policy in favour of one which empowers cities to take a leadership role in bringing fibre to their denizens is not very conducive to a broader national approach.

Furthermore the decision shows that the country has not yet embraced the trans-sector concept, which requires a national approach for the delivery of national healthcare, education, e-government services etc. These sectors are closely tied to a national IP infrastructure: in December 2009, the OECD published a report showing that governments could justify the costs of national fibre networks by using them to cut costs in sectors such as healthcare, education, transport (telecommuting etc) and energy (through smart grid infrastructure). On average a cost saving of between 0.5% and 1.5% in each of these four sectors over a ten year period would justify the cost of building a national fibre network.

Unless the Dutch government establishes a national policy on these issues it is hard to see companies such as KPN being able to build business models for a national rollout.

Blog Posting Number: 1411

Tags: glass fibre, DSL

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

BPN 1410 Internet kills off Teletext UK

Today is the last day for Teletext UK. From now on the Brits will have check the arrival and departure times for planes on their computer or IPTV screens. Only special services like subtitling and the results of horse race betting will be available on analogue screens and can not be moved interactively. This will be the real end to teletext on UK television. Teletext had already been given up by the BBC and commercial broadcast companies and had been handed over to Teletext UK, a commercial company, making the service available through advertising.

In 1972, research engineers of the government owned BBC put together a number of new technological developments and found a way of making better use of the ordinary television signal.

They found that the British standard 625 line TV picture has several 'spare' lines, not used to form the screen image. Digital pulses, travelling as part of the regular TV signal, could with the aid of a decoder built into the domestic receiver, be formed into numbered panels of textual information called 'ages.' These pages look rather like pages of typescript, except that they can also include large-size letters and simple drawings; maps, graphs, diagrams, and so on, in any of six colours. Each page can carry as many as 200 words. A hand-held remote control unit could be used to select individual pages by tapping in the number of the page required. They called this system Ceefax.

The BBC was not alone in its discovery. The IBA, controllers of Britain's commercial radio and TV stations, were also developing a teletext system. They called their system Oracle: Optional Reception of Announcements by Coded Line Electronics.

Within six months the BBC had begun test transmissions of Ceefax. In 1974 all the organizations with an interest in the new information systems came together with the object of devising a unified standard. On 23 September of that year a trial experiment began for both systems culminating in the Autumn of 1976, with the government giving the green light to start full transmissions of both Ceefax and Oracle.

From 2001 onwards the service starts loosing the interest of the television companies’ management. Eventually Teletext UK takes over the services, but closes them as there is not enough advertisement revenues coming from the service.

So the country, where teletext started in 1972, will be without the service from today onwards. However on the continent, teletext is still going strong in countries like Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium and, of course , in France, where they have their own system Antiope.In the Netherlands for example the Teletekst service is still a popular service with the public broadcast, but also with the commercial broadcast stations. In fact Teletekst of the public broadcast system will celebrate its 30th launching day on April 1, 2010. The commercial stations, which only started in 1989, have used teletext. The use between the public service and the commercial service is different as commercial teletext contains pink services. So far nonen of the continental services is thinking about giving up the eldest consumer new medium.

Blog Posting Number: 1410

Tags: teletext, teletekst

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BPN 1409 The Future of Futurism

Illustrations: Images of Balla, Doble and Lorenzi

This morning I placed the announcement on the Future of Futurism, a paper presented at the “Generative Art 2009” Conference held at the Polytechnical School of Milano from 15 to 17 December, 2009. This afternoon I received the abstract of the paper, written by Rick Doble, an American photographer, Marcella Giulia Lorenzi,  an Italo-Canadian Artist-Researcher and an Italian Scientist Mauro Francaviglia. Here is the abstract: 
On the 100th anniversary of the Futurist art movement which started in Milano, we want to examine the aims and ideas of Futurist imagery, then proceed to a discussion of how today's digital photography can achieve many of the goals of the Futurist artists. In particular we want to focus on the Futurists' concept of movement and their attempts to capture a sense of movement in painting, sculpture and photography. Next we want to discuss how digital photography can record pictures that are very similar to the Futurists' vision of depicting a world that is always in motion. For example, Bragaglia’s Photodynamism could be examined breaking his art into different phases and aspects such as camera movement, subject
movement and combined movement [1]. His “algebra of movement” very much anticipates Generative Art as generally intended [2]. In this paper we will quote from different Futurist writings. In addition we will quote from contemporary writings about the abilities of digital photography.
Next we will discuss the relation between an imagery of motion and Einstein's concept of space/time and the SpaceTime continuum.
Last we will make the point that drawing on Futurist ideas, digital photography can create a new kind of imagery in which space/time, i.e. the depiction of motion during a time period, can be presented both accurately and with expressive impact.
The installation will include an LCD panel showing images from Futurist artists, as well as from contemporary ones, comparing the results, including titles, explanations and photographs, as supplement to the paper.

[1] Rick Doble, “Experimental Digital Photography ”, Lark Books, NC, 2010
[2] C. Soddu, E. Colabella, Generative Art Wiki,

Blog Posting Number: 1409

Tags: art and science

Non-commercial announcement

An American Photographer (Rick Doble), an Italo-Canadian Artist-Researcher (Marcella Giulia Lorenzi) and an Italian Scientist (Mauro Francaviglia) come together in a project at the crossroad of Art & Science, in the framework of the European “Culture Program” Project SCIENAR. At exactly 100 years after its birth in Milano, 1909, Futurism is revisited in an exhibition and an installation based on the new potentialities of Digital Photography (“Painting with Light”). It is discussed how Futurism aimed at depicting “dynamism”, leading to Bragaglia’s idea of “Photodynamism”, and how it was related with the new scientific ideas of SpaceTime born with Einstein Theory of Relativity; it is then shown why Digital Photography, generating variations of the same basic ideas, can offer a genuine “Future to Futurism”. An explanatory seminar will accompany the event, that will take place within the “Generative Art 2009” Conference held at the Polytechnical School of Milano from 15 to 17 December, 2009.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

BPN 1408 EU27: Internet access and use in 2009

In the EU27, 65 pct. of households1 had access to the internet during the first quarter of 2009, compared with 60 pct. during the first quarter of 2008, and 56 pct. had a broadband internet connection in 2009, compared with 49 pct. in 2008. These data published by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, represent only a small part of the results of a survey on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) usage in households and by individuals in the EU27 Member States, the candidate countries, Norway, Iceland and Serbia. As well as internet use and broadband connections, the survey also covers other indicators such as e-shopping, e-government and advanced communication and content related services.

Household internet access ranges from 30 pct. in Bulgaria to 90 pct. in the Netherlands
In 2009, the proportion of households with internet access was three quarters or more in the Netherlands (90 pct.), Luxembourg (87 pct.), Sweden (86 pct.), Denmark (83 pct.), Germany (79 pct.), Finland (78 pct.) and the United Kingdom (77 pct.). The lowest shares were registered in Bulgaria (30 pct.), Greece and Romania (both 38 pct.).
The proportion of households with a broadband connection in 2009 was highest in Sweden (80 pct.), the Netherlands (77 pct.) and Denmark (76 pct.).

Almost 40 pct. of individuals shop online
Nearly three quarters of those aged 16-24 in the EU27 used the internet on average daily or almost daily in the first quarter of 2009, compared with nearly half of all individuals aged 16-74. The highest shares for those aged 16-24 were found in the Netherlands (90 pct.), Denmark and Estonia (both 88 pct.), Finland and Sweden (both 87 pct.), and the lowest in Romania (41 pct.), Greece (57 pct.) and Ireland (58 pct.).
In 2009, 37 pct. of individuals aged 16-74 in the EU27 had bought or ordered goods or services over the internet in the last 12 months. This share varied considerably between Member States, ranging from 2 pct. in Romania, 5 pct. in Bulgaria and 8 pct. in Lithuania to 66 pct. in the United Kingdom, 64 pct. in Denmark and 63 pct. in the Netherlands and Sweden. In the EU27, 40 pct. of men had ordered goods or services over the internet, compared with 34 pct. of women. The share for men was higher than for women in almost all Member States.

Blog Posting Number: 1408

Tags: stats

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

BPN 1407 Nine years on: WorldOnline and its banks did mislead investors

Last weekend I was in Paris for a meeting. I don't think it is fun to be in Paris. People there get too many tourists to be nice and earn their money with unfriendliness. But during that weekend a long awaited ruling was published by the Dutch High Court on a cause celebre: WorldOnline (WOL).

The Dutch ISP WorldOnline (WOL) and the two banks ABN AMRO and Goldman Sachs have misled the investors, when the company brought its stocks to the market. And the statement of CEO, Nina Brink, saying 'I didn't sell any shares at this time' was confusing to the investors, as she had sold part of her shares to companies and friends for 6,04 US dollar per share three months before the IPO, but had this fact not mentioned in the prospectus. That is the outcome of the ruling from the Dutch High Court in the case of the investors’ association VEB against WorldOnline and her banks.

The investors’ association has represented 10.300 stock buyers since 2000, when WorldOnline brought its shares to the Amsterdam stock market. On Friday March 17, 2000 WOL was noted on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange and listed for 43 euro per share. WorldOnline picked up 1,8 billion euro. On the first day the quote went even above 50 euro, but the next day the quote dropped and kept dropping. When the press reported that Nina Brink had sold shares before the IPO, many private investors felt fooled. It was the beginning of the end for WorldOnline. On April 13, 2000 Nina Brink was dismissed as CEO and WorldOnline was sold for a fraction (5,5 billion euro in shares) of the estimated value (18 billion euro) to the Italian ISP Tiscali.

The VEB is happy with the ruling as it is a principal ruling for the private investor. A prospectus should not be misleading, the ruling said, and the WorldOnline propspectus did. The composer of the prospectus is directly responsible for the correctness of the texts and statements.

So now the dancing for the money starts. VEB and the stock buyers will look on while WorldOnline and the banks make out who will pay the bill. WorldOnline still exist as a registered company, still has money and insurance. The two banks will have to fight over their shares in the repayment.

Whether WorldOnline or the banks will claim money from Nina Brink is unknown. Her lawyer informed the press already, stating that Nina Brink will not have to pay as the founder and former CEO of WorldOnline was not involved in the composition of the prospectus. Yet the High Court did not leave much doubt in its last ruling stating that Nina Brink had been unclear about her shares and that her amount had been represented incorrectly in the prospectus.

It will still take some time for the bell to ring for the last dance and pay-out to the 10.300 private investors, some of whom only invested this one time in their lifetime.

Blog Posting Number: 1407

Tags: ISP

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

BPN 1406 Europrix 09 winners (7)

Category: Digital Video & Animations

Category winner: deconstruct – a stereoscopic experiment
Produced by: Tina Braun
Country: Germany

This digital video animation investigates the throbbing pulse of New York throughout the course of a day. Using stereoscopy as a tool to build the landscape into a 3 Dimensional representation, “Deconstruct” highlights the frantic nature of the city in a novel format, conveying its transience through clever editing and overlay techniques. By editing still imagery into the moving image, the piece provides a ghostly representation of the city, which along with the soundtrack, creates a very haunting piece of work. A kaleidoscope of filters and effects are applied to warp the viewer’s perception, totally immersing them in this unique depiction of the city that never sleeps.

My comment: It has been a long time that I sat with green and red glasses in front of the computer screen. This time I was looking at a movie, which shows depth in dimensions. It had an estranging effect. Oh by the way, don’t forget your red and green glasses.

I am Olesya
Produced by: Olesya Saitov Eugene Romanovsky
Country: Isreal

Identity is no simple thing. Olesya - a small girl - finds herself at a cultural crossroads in this captivating digitally animated video. What is her identity? Is she Jewish, Uzbekistanian or Russian? Combined with real video footage and skillfully composed drama, the detailed animation highlights her confusion, and evokes empathy in the viewer. The story sheds light on relations between cultures and religions in the modern world, where we are all
surrounded by different beliefs and cultures. Will Oleysa succeed on her journey to find her inner-self? With tasteful humour, this beautiful animation concludes with an educational and
happy end.

My comment: A short autobiographic animation of a globally and religiously mixed up girl. However it in its shortness it brings with humour some values home.

The Forest
Produced by: David Scharf Javi Otero
Country: Germany

Antonia is a 12 year old girl. She often has daydreams, in which she wanders off into a magical faraway forest where she hides from the problems of the real world. One day, however, her father takes drastic measures and she has to face a decision. Is your inner peace a utopian state until you have finally escaped the grip of the society and its rules? Or is affirmation a faster way to personal happiness? And what are you supposed to do, if you have to answer this question at the age of 12? In the animated short video “The Forest”, the protagonist has to come to terms with this question and her hostile environment and finds a simple but radical solution. The series of well-edited scenes is underscored by contemporary animation techniques, 3D character animation, and digital compositing; and a fitting soundtrack adds weight to a credible story.

My comment: This is not the first Europrix nomination dealing with forest as a theme. A technically well executed animation.

Blog Posting Number: 1406

Tags: Digital video, digital animation

Sunday, November 29, 2009

BPN 1405 Europrix 09 winners (6)

Category Interactive Installations

akustisch – sound producing multitouch gestures
Produced by: Balz Rittmeyer
Country: Switzerland

‘akustisch’ is a new approach to producing, controlling and manipulating digital sound. Designed to allow digital performers maximum gestural expression, akustisch’s multitouch surface eliminates the need for traditional electronic music ‘controllers’ such as knobs and faders. Complex hand gestures can be made on the multitouch surface, the movement being interpreted as gestural input by an algorithm on the screen. As soon as a recognizable gesture is executed, a specific sound output is generated. As all ten fingers can be used for sound manipulation, the graphical user interface is split vertically into right and left-hand areas to allow for parallel initialization of two gestures at the same time; one for each hand. ‘akustisch’ enables complex compositions which result in captivating performances.

My comment: Complex and specific application for manipulating digital sound, but interesting for using in new compositions.

CRISTAL (Control of Remotely Interfaced Systems using Touch-based Actions in Living spaces)
Produced by: Florian Perteneder Christian Rendl
Country: Austria

The amount of digital appliances and media found in domestic environments has risen drastically over the last decade. Digital TVs, DVD and Blu-ray players, digital picture frames, cleaning robots and other such devices have become part of our daily lives. Controlling these devices often requires a large number of remote controls that often lack intuitive interfaces. CRISTAL has been designed to simplify the control of our digital devices in and around the living room. An interactive tabletop system poses as a coffee table, and provides an intuitive interface by displaying real-time video footage from a ceiling mounted camera. The user can control the room’s devices by using multi-touch gestures directly on their digital projection. Lights can be controlled by making sliding gestures or movies can be watched by simply dragging them onto the TV screen. This way the interface allows a more natural and intuitive interaction experience.

My comment: A central table top to control home electronics appliances. Of course a link will be needed from the iPhone to the table top to start up processes before arriving home.

Category winner: Oz, the intelligent alarm clock
Produced by: Thibault Perret Léna Mazilu Adèle Leyris Romain Prache Jean-Michel Saulnier
Country: France

Oz, the intelligent and user-friendly alarm clock, has been designed to ease that often unpleasant transition between sleep and awakening. Easy to use and interactive, Oz will supply precise guidelines as to when it’s time to go to bed and when it’s time to get up, by calculating the amount of sleep your body needs according to your daily routine. The device consists of two parts: a portable 7-inch touch screen, and a base on which the battery is charged. A built-in miniaturized computer enables the device to be connected to the internet. Wake up to music from personal playlists or to a sunrise simulating light fader, or keep track of your dreams by tapping them into the touch screen. For insomniacs, Oz will suggest relaxation applications, such as soothing games, permitting a gradual descent into sleep. These - and many more - unique features will ensure that you always get up on the right side of the bed.

My comment: Another application of digital life from morning to night. Can't wait to buy it. Again a brilliant application from the Ecole de Gobelins.

Blog Posting Number: 1405

Tags: interactive installations

Friday, November 27, 2009

BPN 1404 Eurorpix 09 winners (5)

Catgorie: Content Tools & Interactive Design

Produced by: Adrian Lienhard Andrea Brühlmann Christoph Wysseier Christian Lauener Felix Hofmann Genc Rashiti Jan Beco Nik Lutz Simon Raess Stefan Reichhart
Country: Switzerland

Taking web authoring to a new level, cmsbox combines the latest web technology with an elegant yet simple interface concept. Unlike existing products, cmsbox enables users to create and edit websites instantly: all content can be arranged and customized directly on the final layout. Just one extra line of controls is all that is required to turn a website into a web authoring environment. Simple to get to grips with, all kinds of content can be edited with ease. Content is integrated with pre-defined style sheets to maintain a consistent corporate design, producing high-quality websites. The application is highly user-friendly, its clever design almost going unnoticed in its simplicity.

My comment: CMS systems are not new, but this one up to date, simple and easy to use. I will look into the possibility of applying it.

Category winner: Flow-er
Produced by: Eran Ayalon Ephrat Beloosesky
Country: Israel

Flow-er is a system designed for hi-tech oriented companies to enhance the office environment of their employees by streamlining daily and administrative work. The interface is a smart, intuition-based timeline showing perspective visions of three time periods: past, present and future. This timeline displays ‘flowers’ – workload bundles configured by the employee or manager, which contain all aspects of information relevant to specific projects. The flowers provide the employee with a clear daily overview of tasks requiring completion, with saved tasks forming the petals. The petals can be dragged to and from the time line – such simple navigation saving valuable time by eliminating the need to search for related information through endless files and applications. In addition to the timeline tool, Flow-er provides an “office” application which overrides traditional office suites, to provide employees with all their office needs. It assures an enhanced office experience.

My comment: Interesting application for organising your work flow into petals and so in understandable bundles. It is not organised in file types such as text processing files, pdfs and image files.
Produced by: Mikko Nurminen Antti Ala-Ilkka
Country: Finland

Moogo offers a new way to produce high-quality web-based services. Faster than conventional methods and using fewer resources, Moogo enables its customers to produce their own web services with ease and without any programming expertise. The service is foolproof: it takes just a few minutes to get up and running, and no previous experience with creating or updating websites is needed. Moogo offers a one-week, no-obligation, free trial period, during which the user may subscribe to the service in order to keep their website
running. This self-service concept and the automated invoicing and background systems create a basis on which to profitably serve large groups of customers at low-cost prices.

My comment: This entry was probably too mature for the Europrix competition. With a company making 2 million euro turn over from the package.

Blog Posting Number: 1403

Tags: content tool, interactive design

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

BPN 1402 Europrix 09 winners (4)

Categorie: Interactive Computer Graphics

Clavilux 2000
Produced by: Jonas Heuer
Country: Germany

The Clavilux 2000 is an audiovisual instrument enabling reactive visualization of piano music in realtime. Via a connected computer vvvv patch, music played on the full 88-key digital piano with midi output is translated into a 2 or 3D permanent visual representation on a vertical projection above the keyboard. The concept is quite simple: for every note played on the keyboard, a new visual element appears in the form of a vertical bar; its dimensions, position and colour depending on the way in which the key is struck. This visual documentation of note length, velocity and harmonic relations can be referred to long after the music itself has faded away, giving an insight into the structure and composition of the music. Which notes were played most often? How harmonic was the piece? Clavilux 2000 has all the answers.

My comment: music generating beautiful vizualisation; a real competitor of vuvox

Category winner: vuvox
Produced by: Eyal Richter Ephrat Beloosesky
Country: Isreal

Express music visually with Vuvox – a performance tool designed to be used with a MIDI keyboard, sustain pedal and a webcam. Vuvox comprises both an audio input mode, which picks up sounds from the surrounding environment, and midem input from a keyboard. The higher the quality of music input, the more consistent, flowing and visually sophisticated the images appearing on the webcam screen become. The use of the Vuvox component therefore not only visually enhances and enriches the music performance for both performers and the audience; it can also serve as a feedback tool for amateurs learning to play an instrument.

My comment: another approach of making music visual, made by a musician.

Blog Posting Number: 1402

Tags: computer graphics

Monday, November 23, 2009

BPN 1401 Europrix 09 winners (3)

Category: Games

Produced by: Daniel Lutz
Country: Switzerland

Created for the iPhone or iPod Touch, Monospace is a puzzle game requiring players to think in 2 and 3D dimensions. Its goal lies in maneuvering a blue box within a cube, in order to eliminate surrounding white boxes. But it’s not as simple as all that: not only are there rules governing how and when the boxes can be shifted, Monospace complicates the matter even further by switching the perspective. Each level begins with a 3D view; double-tap the screen though, and the stage collapses into a 2D image. It’s in this flat view that white cubes can be victimized by the little blue box. By changing the perspective, Monospace transforms simple puzzles into complex, mind-bending special riddles. The mechanics of play remain simple,
yet finding solutions to the more advanced arrangements can be mentally taxing.

My comment: Keeps you busy for a while. Play first the light version, to be downloaded from the app store.

Category and Overall winner
Swords & Soldiers
Produced by: Joost van Dongen Fabian Akker Gijs Hermans Jasper Koning Martijn Thieme Olivier Thijssen Ralph Rademakers
Country: The Netherlands

“Swords & Soldiers” is a 2D side-scrolling real-time strategy game for the Nintendo Wii and a wonderful and fresh mix of Real Time Strategy gameplay, with the graphical presentation of a traditional side-scrolling arcade game. In each level, two armies fight for victory by building up their numbers, upgrading their castles, gathering gold and casting spells. The game can be played either in single-player or split-screen multiplayer mode, and features three different factions: the strong Vikings, the devious Aztecs and the cunning Chinese. Each faction possesses a diversity of qualities, skills and tactics. A series of challenging mini-games can be unlocked as players progress through their chosen campaign. Comical graphical style and strategic depth are inherent to this game, which can be downloaded from the Wii shop.

Comment: To me the looked rather classic and Mario-like with side scrolling and various levels. Appearantly the jury members could not be dragged away.

Underwater Mayhem 2
Produced by: Robert Träffe Martin Barreby Tomas Hertz Orre
Country: Sweden

High speeds, sharp corners, water and weapons! Challenge up to 8 players to a race in this fun underwater PC internet game, customizing your vehicle to suit your playing style. Zoom with great precision through targets, twisting and turning, and collect weapons from special rings, which will also give you an energy boost or refill. In order to win, you must master the hazards and either shoot down all other players, or race to be first past the post. Level design, sound, graphics, controls and gameplay all work consistently together to make “Underwater Mayhem” a professional, exciting and balanced project.

Comment: Too fast for me, this game.

Blog Posting Number: 1401

Tags: games

Sunday, November 22, 2009

BPN 1400 Europrix 09 winners (2)

Category: Mobile Applications

Produced by: Gerald Madlmayr Andreas Jakl
Country: Austria

Life is becoming mobile in more than one way in emerging market countries; not only do more and more citizens own mobile phones – people are now on the move like never before. And this leads to busy roads, where traffic safety is low, and accidents a regular occurrence. Mobile Doctor has been designed to enable injured road-accident victims to instantly seek medical help via an application on their mobile phones. Navigation is simple and picture based, enabling people, including illiterates, to describe their condition and seek the most local relevant expertise. Once participating medicine-men and hospitals set their mobile status to “available”, their location is constantly broadcasted to the web, along with information from a database concerning their areas of specialisation. Accident victims are presented with a list of the most relevant help, and are directed there via GPS. In situations where every second counts, Mobile Doctor could prove to be vital.

My comment: The application looks like a simple solution. Yet the application will need more context and inbedding as well as support from the medical world and doctors’ associations.

Category winner: showtime!
Produced by: Kathrin Probst Christian Grossauer Christoph Engelmayer
Country: Austria

showtime! is a mobile application for interactive control of Microsoft Office PowerPoint slideshows via an iPhone or iPod Touch client. Designed to provide lecturers with optimal flexibility during slideshow-supported presentations, it enables freedom of movement and independence from the restrictions of stationary computers. Its intuitive handling via touch display supports the usage of slideshows as visual aids, and enables users to break away from the strictly sequential nature of traditional PowerPoint presentations. In addition, showtime! offers new features, such as a timer displayed on the mobile device, to help keep track of the overall presentation progress, and the option of viewing personal notes. All this is achieved through intuitive horizontal or vertical swipe gestures over the device screen – ensuring that eye contact is never broken between lecturer and audience.

My comment: showtime! Is a fabulous application for presentors. It will give them the opportunity to stay in contact with their audience without turning their back on them. Can’t wait to pick it up in the app store and use it in my next presentation. Should look really cool.

toBed – interactive bedtime stories for iPhone and iPod touch
Produced by: Marc-André Weibezahn
Country: Germany

”toBed” is a concept for a platform for interactive bedtime stories on the iPhone. It exploits the device’s innovative input methods, such as multi-touch gestures, accelerometer and localization, to create new ways of interactive narration on an intuitive and almost invisible interface. The product offers a simple interactive experience, moving away from the fast-paced nature of PC video games and instead providing a glimpse of poetry on a user friendly device. By purchasing additional stories within the application itself, users can build their own collections of interactive bedtime stories.

My comment: A nice application, if you can’t get to sleep. But it will not be spent on me as I read business literature on an e-reader.

Blog Posting Number: 140

Tags: Mobile

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BPN 1399 Europrix 09 winners (1)

Category: Online/Web projects

The Cordless Show ‘Online Music Show’
Produced by: Dominic Dadson, Matthew Dadson, Aylwin Steele, Joe Newman
Country: United Kingdom

Up-and-coming musicians need no longer struggle to get recognized, thanks to this internet-based video music show. The Cordless Show creates a platform for unsigned British singers, MCs, bands and musicians of all genres to showcase their talent to thousands of music fans from around the globe, thereby helping to propel them to the next stage of their careers. Each month, five new artists are professionally filmed giving live performances and interviews, which are then streamed live on the internet and documented on the artists’ individual pages on the site. Not only are users and fans able to view the videos; they can also comment on the content, and even download the videos and mp3s. All profits are shared with the artists on a 50/50 basis – ensuring that everyone’s a winner. A feast for eyes
and ears, this web-based show will literally create fame.

My comment: Looks very professional. The team had high video and sound standards from the beginning. The team is talking to the BBC and Channel 4 for cooperation.


Category winner: Donkeypedia
Produced by: Joost van Eeden, Cristian Bettini, Pieter Crucq, Thijs van den Akker, Wytze Voerman
Country: The Netherlands

Asino the Donkey has already made a physical pilgrimage around the Netherlands and is about to embark on a walk around Europe, in Donkeypedia’s quest to document the identities of the continent’s youngsters. Laden with a solarpowered laptop and camera, Asino and his owner are digitally directed - by means of a website, GPS and a mobile platform - by local children from village to city, province to province, nation to nation, completing tasks and collecting stories, pictures and objects which represent the people and places they encounter along the way. Asino’s whereabouts can be tracked live on the Donkeypedia website, onto which images from his head-mounted ‘Donkeycam’ are constantly uploaded. These ‘memories’ can be tagged by children on a virtual online map, resulting in an ever-growing Internet kaleidoscope that reveals the European identity step by step.

My comment: Nice cross media project. The format can be applied to various countries and various animals such as: elephantpedia in India, rendeerpedia in Lapland, cowpedia in The Netherlands and kangeroopedia in Australia. Just to name a few options.


mite. Sleek time tracking for teams & freelancers
Produced by: Sebastian Munz, Julia Soergel
Country: Germany

Time tracking is vital for invoicing, accounting, and scheduling. This sleek web-based time tracking tool enables accurate tracking of every single minute of the working day. Using data collected from web-based platforms, iPhones, Macs, or a command-line interface, mite generates detailed visual company reports, to which flexible filters can be applied to squeeze out any information that matters. Time entries can be assigned to customers, projects, and services, and hours can be tracked manually or with the help of the built-in timer. On a daily basis, mite answers crucial questions concerning, for example, current company workload, over-time payment, and project duration, and additionally, points out areas requiring attention. Reports can be shared with customers, or printed or exported to a variety of file formats, and via an open API, developers can hack their workflow into the system.

My comment: Would love to have the program. You can try the program for free for a period of time. Think that the creators should have a business model of selling the software to companies for internal use.


Blog Posting Number: 1399

Tags: web, online

Sunday, November 15, 2009

BPN 1398 Europrix 2009 winners

(c) Sjoerd Wanrooij, 2009

The Utrecht development team of the Nintendo game Swords & Soldiers has been awarded the award in the category games, but also the allover award of the Europrix 2009. Besides this Dutch entry the project Donkeypedia project received the award in the category Online/Web projects. The awards were handed out on the Gala night of the Europrix 2009 in Graz (Austria). More than 350 entries from the European Union and associated countries competed for the prestigious Europrix award. Just 20 projects were nominated for the award, of which 7 projects were crowned in their category and one of the 7 as overall winner.

Category winners

Category Online/Web projects
Winner: Donkeypedia, Netherlands

Category Mobile applications
Winner: showtime!, Austria

Category Games
Winner: Swords & Soldiers, Netherlands

Category Interactive Computer Graphics
Winner: Vuvox, Israel

Category Content Tools & Interface Design
Winner: Flow-er, Israel

Category Interactive installations
Winner: akustisch, Switserland

Category Digital Video & Animations
Winner: desconstruct, a stereoscopic experiment, Germany

Overall winner
Winner: Winner: Swords & Soldiers, Netherlands

Special Award for the project with the best business potential, Ideakone Ltd, FI

Special Jury Mention for a game with a high level of interactive storytelling
The Adventures of Tinger, David Scharf, GER

More on the Europrix Festival in later blogs.

Blog Posting Number: 1398

Tags: multimedia

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

BPN 1397 Dutch government: new approach to copyright on internet

The Dutch government is seeking a new approach to copyright on internet. Two main measures are forthcoming: abolishing a surcharge on physical media and a ban on downloading content from an illegal source. Other measures are a better supervision of collecting societies and an improvement in the position of authors and artists. The measures are a reaction to the recommendations of parliamentary working party on copyright.

The government has concluded that the surcharge on physical media or the so called levy for the home copy has grown out of fashion due to the memory expansion of computers. This coupled to the download capacity of internet, it is more proper to download content than to buy an information carrier. It hardly does matter where and when a movie is viewed, music is listened to and games are played.

So paying for making a copy of a protected work should be organised differently. In fact it is better to organise this through the market parties such as the copyright owners, consumer organisations, entertainment industry and internet providers. They can best develop business models which are closer to the consumers and copyright owners such as monthly subscriptions for listening to music. The government is willing to support this trend in lieu for a ban on illegal activities for enrichment. In this way the government sees an opportunity to establish a market in which consumer buy content in a legal way and copyright holders are insured of revenues. This will imply that not only in the case of illegal uploading of protected content action can be taken, but also in the case of downloading from an evidently illegal source. The government will take out three years in order to work out the legal measures. The Dutch government makes clear that the ban on downloading is not to hassle individual internet users, but to ban activities of commercial parties.

The Dutch government will come with a bill to improve the contractual position of authors and performing artists. The supervision of collecting societies will be strengthened on good governance, financial management, investment policy and renumeration.

The collecting societies have been under fire recently as they have suggested surcharges on many items. The collecting society for physical media had suggested a levy on MP3. The collecting society on music copyrights had suggested unreasonable tariffs for using music on private sites such as blogs. A wave of indignation gathered strength and in hardly two weeks time the collecting society BUMA/STEMRA retracted the proposal for private sites.

Blog Posting Number: 1397

Tags: copyright, collecting societies

Monday, November 02, 2009

BPN 1396 E-readers in the pipeline

In the past weeks e-readers have been at the center of attention. has gone international with the sales of its e-reader, at last. And Barnes & Noble has introduced its e-reader with two screens. But now announcements are coming from different nooks (!): tire manufacturer Bridgestone, hardware/software manufacturer Creative Labs and consumer electronics manufacturer LG. In the meantime, Apple is still quiet about its iBook or iTablet.

Yesterday at the first Grand Prix Formula 1 race in Abu Dabhi the name of Bridgestone as tire preferred manufacturer was all over the dazzling race circuit. But Bridgestone will stop with Formula 1 as it is changing its business direction. Part of this change was announced as Bridgestone is working on an e-reader with colour screen. The e-reader will have a 13,1 inch touch screen with 4096 colours grades and have a refreshing time of 0,8 seconds (as opposed to 15 seconds with E-Ink screens). Not only the screen, but also the substrate will be made of flexible material. There is no date of issue nor a set price or the names of any e-reader developers.

Also hopping on the bandwagon of e-readers is Creative Labs, the hardware/software manufacturer for music and graphics The company has shown a working model of its first e-book reader, tentatively named the MediaBook. The device reportedly has a touch screen, text-to-speech function, and an SD memory card slot. It will run on Creative's Zii System-On-Chip technology and will be Internet-enabled. It will run videos, pictures, text, and services in one device. Creative is talking to 10 international and local publishers to provide content for the MediaBook, with fiction, newspaper, magazines, education materials, and textbooks. No word on pricing and availability.

Another development has been shown by consumer electronics manufacturer LG. They have provided the e-reader with solar cells. Take your e-reader in the sun for four or five hours and you extend the battery life with one day. Again no word on pricing and availability.

And so far no word about the iBook or iTablet of Apple. It is said that Apple has an e-reader in the pipeline, but the crucial element of the e-reader is the colour screen. Given the announcement of Bridgestone the colour screen should not be too far off nor the iBook or the iTablet.

But with the appearance of colour screens and high refreshment rates, it also means that the function of the e-reader will be widened. A colour coffee table book can be published for the e-reader. But with the fast refreshing rate also colour video clips can be shown. And will a book than still be a book or a newspaper a newspaper.? Or will we just have an all in one tablet for games, movies, books and newspaper?

Blog Posting Number: 1396

Tags: e-books, e-readers

Thursday, October 29, 2009

BPN 1395 Another day in the history of internet?

By lack of a proper telecom history, October 29 has been claimed to be a historic milestone day in Internet. On October 29, 1969 the now 75 years old computer scientist Leonard Kleinrock is said to have sent his first e-mail between the UCLA computer and the computer of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) of Stanford University in Menlo Park. The statement in many a press article today – even in a Dutch ministerial communication – is rather presumptuous; it creates more history than internet proper deserves.

What did Leonard Kleinrock do? In 1969, the US Defence department started up ARPANET. It was during the cold war and the Arpanet was intended to continue working as network, even if the network in one part of the country had been bombed out. Thus far computers had been linked up sequentially and if the defence computers in Washington, DC had been hit, the whole network would be out of order. So packet switched networks were developed. In these networks messages were put in packages with a destination address and the packages could take many routes in order to reach its destination. So when Washington had been bombed out, messages from New York could take another route to Los Angeles. Arpanet became the world's first packet switched computer network. In Arpanet the defence department , universities and consultancies worked together in the development. On October 29 communication between the nodes at Kleinrock's lab at UCLA and the lab of Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the mouse, at SRI was established. So from that day onwards Mr Kleinrock could send files, no e-mails, to Douglas Engelbart and vice versa. On December 5, 1969 the network was expanded to the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Utah.

Did Kleinrock send an e-mail? No. He sent a computer file. When more people started to use the network they had to get a mailbox on one of the computers, which required an address consisting of a name and a computer name. Proper switches had to be designed. This resulted in the present e-mail address of a name, the @ sign and the computer name. This solution was designed by Roy Tomlinson in 1971. Asked what his first message was, he did not know, but supposed that it was the Gettysburg address, written in capitals.

Was this the start of internet? No. It was the start of Arpa network and Arpanet was at that time a packet switched network of two computers, which grew into an international network and for which the X25 protocol was developed. Arpanet only became internet-like when in 1982 the TCP/IP protocol was defined and when Vincent Cerf started to use the name internet.

Internet proper only started when in 1989 the later Sir Timothy Berners-Lee proposed the World Wide Web (www), a hypertext system. In this system users could put documents on the net and link them to each other without a central administration. One year later the first web browser was published, the first web server installed and web editor introduced. In the same year Sir Timothy Berners-Lee built a website on a Next computer. That development has grown into internet proper. In 1995 there were 16 million users worldwide; at the end of 2008 there were 1.6 billion users. It is only internet when www is stamped on it.

Blog Posting Number: 1395

Tags: internet, www, web

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

BPN 1394 Kindle launched globally, did you notice?

Beginning of October a press statement was released by Amazon about the international launch of a global Kindle. The global Kindle would be a Kindle 2, it would be 20 US dollar cheaper than the price of the US Kindle at that time and AT&T would be the telecom carrier worldwide instead of Sprint Verizon. The e-books will be only in English/American and will be two US dollars more expensive; the two US dollar paying for the telecom charges. Next year a Kindle DX would be on offer. After that statement it stayed quiet in The Netherlands even on October 19, 2009, the day of the launch.

In the meantime Sony is very active in The Netherlands and even thinks to sell more than 10.000 e-readers before the end of the year. Sony has associated itself with the popular internet bookshop in the starting market in The Netherlands. So fat the buyers of e-readers buy 4 books to each e-reader; in the US each e-reader contains 8 e-books. The market condition in The Netherlands is now ripe for the sales of e-readers. The publishers are finally embracing the e-book; it is even expected that every new title will have an electronic counterpart next year. The price of the hardware has come down to an acceptable level. There is a portfolio of 110.000 e-books, including Dutch language titles. And the popular internet bookshop has become the prime promoter of the e-reader. Also the physical bookshops have started to sell e-readers of various brands and e-books. The bookshop chain Selexyz started last year selling the iLiad of the Dutch manufacturer iRex Technologies. It looks like the iLiad had a preferential treatment for a period, but now Selexyz as well as other bookshops sells other less expensive brands like Sony, Cybook, Cool-ER and Bebook.

Will Kindle make it in The Netherlands? No. The portfolio contains only English/American titles and no Dutch language ones. AT&T is only a business telecom provider. uses the Mobipocket format, while in The Netherlands the publishers have chosen for the EPUB format (the Dutch even can lend an e-book to four friends or devices).

Will The Netherlands embrace e-readers in one or two years. No, not even in before 2015. I believe that by 2030 the e-reader might be a common device or perhaps it might even be overtaken by a new tablet like a multifunctional, colour screen device for cultural matters like music, movies, books, cartoons, newspapers as well as social media. Something like the iPhone but with a larger screen.

Blog Posting Number: 1394

Tags: e-book, e-reader

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BPN 1393 Barnes seeks nook in e-reader market

The bookshop chain Barnes & Noble with 1300 retail stores had already announced its rentree into the e-book; it had also announced that it would launch its own e-reader. Now the announcement is official and the e-reader, named the Nook (meaning a secluded place or space), can be pre-ordered at 259 US dollar to be delivered in November. The device has two outstanding features: a six-inch reading display and a colour touch-screen display with virtual keyboard and the option to pass on an e-book to another device or lend out e-books to one another. Now the battle for the Christmas season sales between the Kindles of and the Nook can start.

The e-reader is 7,7 x 4,9 x 0,5 inches and weighs 317 grams. So its thin and very portable. It has the most advanced E-ink electronic paper display, which can be reads in bright sunlight and inside. It has also a 3.5 inch colour touch screen LCD with one touch control and navigation. It downloads e-books via AT&T, the nation's fastest 3G network and Wi-Fi ( 802.11 b/g). In Barnes & Noble stores e-book previews can be downloaded for free. The Nook has a memory of 2GB or approximately 1500 eBooks. An expandable microSD can be slotted in so that you can buy an extra 16 GB memory card and store up to 17,500 books (more books on one card than in the library of the Paris based university Sorbonne in 1750!). The Nook can also hold 26 hours of MP3 audio. A battery life of ten days reading is predicted, but also a recharging time of 3,5 hours. As to the format of e-books, Nook uses the EPUB format and can use other e-Reader formats. PDFs, MP3s and graphics can be loaded to the Nook from a computer or from and a micro SD card. JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP files can also be used.

Two features are outstanding in the device: the screen and the lending facility:
- the screen looks like a composite of digital paper with a colour LCD screen. As such this composite screen does not look ideal and might generate technical problems, but it heralds the colour electronic display;
- the lending facility is new to the English speaking world. According to the New York Times the lending facility is limited to one transfer for a fortnight, either between the Nook and another reading device like the iPhone or between the owner of a Nook and another person with a reading device. It looks like a great concession, but it is in fact very limitative as in The Netherlands Sony is using the EPUB format and offering lending facilities to four devices or persons.

Barnes & Noble was in the pre-electronic paper era already selling e-books, but gave up the adventure as the e-book sales were slow. But with the improvement of electronic paper Barnes & Noble is stepping into the e-book fray almost five years after the launch of the Sony Librié. But this time the prospects look better than ever. Barnes & Noble is in time with the launch of the Nook for the Christmas sales season. And the Nook makes a good chance to become a hit. The Nook looks to be top of the bill as far as state of art technology. Barnes & Noble has a book portfolio of 700.000 e-books. People can lend an e-book to a friend for a fortnight. And the price of the e-reader is competitive with the Kindles of and in fact with many other e-readers. Also publishers will be more pleased with Barnes & Noble than with Barnes & Noble offers publishers 55 percent of the revenue, while asks 60 percent. The Nook will be sold only in the US (so I do not have to search the nooks of the apartment for my Christmas present). Let the battle begin!

Blog Posting Number: 1393

Tags: e-book, e-reader

Saturday, October 17, 2009

BPN 1392 Frankfurt Book Fair: no e-book excitement

The annual pilgimage for publishers to the Frankfurter Book Fair is over. On this largest book grail publishers walk kilometers, select potential books to be translated and talk about the latest developments in the sector over a beer or a good dinner. And the e-reader definitely was on the menu of the item list. The marketing bureau Forrester forcated a sale of 1 million e-readers in the Christmas season, followed by sales of 6 million e-readers next year. And Google announced that Google Editions will start distributing e-books in the first half year of next year. But how much whipped cream wsa in these announcements?

Concretely there is some action on the e-readers front. Barnes & Noble will re-join the fray. And Amazon will launch a global English-language Kindle with wireless 3G access through AT&T in more than 100 countries. And Google has announced In my home country The Netherlands the Kindle will (finally) be available on October 19, 2009. Amazon will not have Dutch titles available yet; but the portfolio starts with the US offer and the European offer, read UK offer, probably with a small selection of French and German titles. The e-reader will be available at 185 euro, just a fraction cheaper than the cheapest Sony device. Besides subscribers to the Kindle will have to pay 99 eurocents for every megabyte transmitted. The offer looks too little, too late, as Sony has teamed up with the internet bookshop and is well on its way with their introduction.

Not only in The Netherlands, but also in Europe Kindle will have a hard time. Publishing e-books in foreign languages is not yet popular with publishers as there is no real demand for it. In Europe there is still a culture of ink sniffing. No books without ink.

Google will start distributing between the 600.000 and 800.000 e-books. This portfolio will partly exist of public domain book of which the copyrights are no longer valid., and partly of books, to which Google has been licensed. Google will keep 55 percent of the sales price (Amazon keeps 60 percent).

Should we be impressed by the potential sales figures? The sale of 6 million e-readers is impressive, but still small in terms of demography worldwide and even of the US. It is a start. But publishers and certainly foreign language book publishers will remain careful.

Blog Posting Number: 1392

Tags: e-book, e-reader

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

BPN 1391 My selection of WSA Best e-Content 09 (16)

In the past weeks, I have presented my selection of the best WSA 09 entries. Every category has officially 5 entries; I have selected 2 entries per category.

The World Summit Award 09 (WSA 09) was the the fourth edition. Originally the World Summit Award is an Austrian initiative in the context of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). It is an invitation project and puts the focus not on wires and computers, but on contents and applications. The best use of ICT is at the center of a unique, global contest activity in 8 categories and involving more than 160 countries.

Started in 2003 for the Geneva Summit conference, the WSA has been an unprecedented success due to the strong networking of professional associations, the national chapters of the Internet Society, multimedia education and research institutions, electronic chambers of commerce, non-governmental groups and foundations, government offices for IT and Information Society development and many others.

The WSA is the result of the active engagement of all these players in WSIS and of their shared conviction that quality contents are essential for a quality Information Society. Contents inspire, inform and allow the exchange of information and knowledge. Technology offers tools. It is a fundamental fact of the Information Society development that the performance of the tools increases faster than the human capacity to use them. This creates the Content Gap: ICT offers more capacity to produce, store and transmit than humans can use, fill, read or consume.

Participating in the WSA 09 were 157 countries. In total there were 560 entries. Divided over the categories, there were per category the following number of valid entries:
- e-Government & Institutions:79
- e-Health & Environment: 65
- e-Learning & Education: 85
- e-Entertainment & Games: 57
- e-Culture & Heritage: 72
- e-Science & Technology: 53
- e-Business & Commerce: 74
- e-Inclusion & Participation: 75

The entries were judged by an international panel of 35 experts from 33 countries during a week in New Dehli, where the jury was hosted by the government of India..
- CHRISTIAN RUPP, Austria, Federal Executive Secretary for e-Government, Austrian Federal Chancellery
- NARIMAN HAJIYEV, Azerbaijan, Project Director, National e-Governance
Network Initiative
- NAWAF MOHAMMED ABDULRAHMAN, Bahrain, Chief, Information Technology,
General Organisation for Youth & Sport
- ANANYA RAIHAN, Bangladesh, Executive Director, D.Net
- RUDI VANSNICK, Belgium, Chairman, Internet Society Belgium
- ANTHEA FOYER, Canada, Training Programmes Manager, Canadian Film Centre's Habitat New Media Lab
- DAVID BERMAN, Canada. Expert Speaker on Strategy, Ethics and Branding
- ALEX HUNG, China, Vice President, Internet Professional Association (iProA)
- BEATRIZ ELVIRA ALONSON BECERRA, Cuba, CEO, Information Technologies and Advanced Telematic Services (CITMATEL)
- STANISLAV MILER, Czech Republic, Director, Studio Trimedia
- JUAN CARLOS SOLINES MORENO, Ecuador, Partner, Solines & Asociados/Gobierno Digital
- EFFAT EL-SHOOKY, Egypt, Advistor to the Minister for International Relations, Ministry of Communciations and Information Technology, MCIT-EGYPT
- DOROTHY K. GORDON, Ghana, Director-General, Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT
- MARIA MERCEDES ZAGHI, Guatemala, Operations Director, Ergocom
- OSAMA MANZAR, India, Founder and Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation
- ALFREDO RONCHI, Italy, General Secretary, MEDICI Framework
- ANDREW GAKIRIA, Kenya, Coordinator, Kenya eLearning Centre
- MANAR AL-HASHASH, Kuwait, General Manager, Dot Design
- LATIF LADID, Luxembourg, President, IPv6 Forum
- RODOLFO LADDAGA, Mexico, Co-founder, You Tours
- SUBHO RAY, India, President, Internet and Mobile Association of India
- JOSEPHINE CACDAC, Indonesia & Philippines, Programs Director, Multimatics Indonesia
- SHINTA DHANUWARDOYO, Indonesia, CEO, PT Bubu Kreasi Perdana (
- JAN BIERINGA, New Zealand, Director, BWX Productions
- JAK BOUMANS, Netherlands, Principal counsellor Electronic Media Reporting
- GBENGA SESAN, Nigeria, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative, Nigeria
- ZAWAN AL-SABTI, Oman, Projects Specialist, Information Technology Authority (ITA)
- ANYA SVERDLOV, Russian Federation, Managing Director, Actis Wunderman
- LUMKO CAESARIO MTIMDE, South Africa, CEO, Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA)
- CHITRANGANIE MUBARAK, Sri Lanka, Programme Head, ICT Agency of Sri Lanka
- FAOUZI ZAGHBIB, Tunisia, Chairman, Tunisian ICT Federation
- SHASHANK OJHA, World Bank, Senior eGovernment Specialist
- RAJEN VARADA, United Nations, Resource Person, UN Solution Exchange

Blog Posting Number: 1391


Monday, October 05, 2009

BPN 1390 My selection of WSA Best e-Content 09 (15)

Category: e-Inclusion & Participation

Voices of Africa

The Voices of Africa website hosts over 300 examples of mobile reports supported by a programme which gives young Africans with little or no journalistic experience the opportunity to make a living by pursuing careers as mobile reporters. The foundation behind the site provides individuals with the basic technological equipment and financial means to be active in the media sector. Participants are given training and support with specific small scale assignments and are also encouraged to participate in specific media projects initiated by partners of the foundation. Their efforts are displayed on

Both inclusive and participatory, the depth of content and the interactivity are particularly rich on the Voices of Africa. Emerging journalists, mentored by experts in their field, take matters into their own hands and get valuable on the job training that is second to none. This interactivity is incredibly rich as they learn from scratch how to produce their own stories. The program fits for the needs of the audience and enables a large number of people to engage journalistically in a meaningful way eliminating financial barriers that may prevent talented journalists to emerge and grow. Voices of Africa is an outstanding citizen journalism site and was recognized as such through its invitation to be one of a few hand selected bloggers at the G20 Summit in 2009. This project exemplifies both bridging the digital divide and narrowing the content gap.

Voices of Africa Media Foundation
Pim de Wit
Olivier Nyirabugara
Media Format
Product URL

Blog Posting Number: 1390

Tags: ,

Sunday, October 04, 2009

BPN 1389 My selection of WSA Best e-Content 09 (14)

Category: e-Inclusion & Participation

Tradenet (Esoko)

TradeNet is an innovative technology that links mobile phones to web-based management systems and enables agri-business, agri-associations and other agri-projects to systematically build polls, and automatically scouts participants for critical field information. The scout technology can be programmed to send or receive text messages from participants in the field in order to track activities and inventories or evaluate crop behaviour. The project incorporates an SMS-based and Java-based application that connects mobile handsets with a powerful online toolset, enabling large-scale tracking from the field, and significantly reducing the cost of real-time distribution and recovery of responses from thousands of participants. Today, almost
800,000 price records have been entered from 10 countries, making this the largest SMS-based MIS system on the African continent. Over 12,000 registered users are profiled in the system, and almost 500 markets are covered.

TradeNet uses a combination of offline research, mobile content and communications with easily accessible online content to enable farmers and traders throughout Africa to access critical market information as means of improving market transparency and thereby household security and an opportunity to have returns on agricultural investments. Till today, small scale producers have been excluded from accurate daily price information in national markets. By training their
communities and making price alert deliveries to mobile phones automated, TradeNet provides access to more markets and negotiate better prices. It improves the transparency of agricultural markets in developing countries and includes communities in information services that previously they did not have access to.

Michael Ocansey
Puoza Gamaliel
Mark Davies
Xose Ahlijah
Andrea Biardi
Original Title
English, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Media Format
mobile content
Product URL

Blog Posting Number: 1389

Tags: ,