Thursday, January 28, 2010

BPN 1419 Eat your heart out, Roger Fidler

The presentation of the Apple iPAD is a milestone for the newspaper publishers, regardless of the actual gadget. For it is years ago – to be exact from 1991 – that the newspaper company Knight Ridder sponsored a new media lab to develop the newspaper of the future. Head of the New Media Lab was Roger Fidler.

One of the outcomes of the lab activities was the Electronic Tablet. The Electronic Tablet never came further than a not working prototype (see illustration) and a very realistic promotion movie. The lab was suspended in 1995 and Roger Fidler started a tour around the world and also landed in Amsterdam, where he showed the promotion movie (still not available on YouTube; I have a digital copy which I transferred from the video tape). If you replace the Electronic Tablet in the movie with the iPAD, you see that Roger Fiddler was on the right track, but that the necessary technology was not available yet. So eat your heart out, Roger.

Digital newspapers developers should really look at the movie. It tells what the iPAD can do for an electronic newspaper. It goes further than the static digital paper e-reader copy, which basically present the newspaper in pdf. E-readers have become the representative of the static black and white books and newspapers by the introduction of the iPAD. Now the dynamic digital newspaper can be shown with the newspaper as is, but also with a movie behind the photograph. Welcome to the new gadget which gives colour to the world and opens up a completely new avenue for publishers: the mobile entertainment centre. It will carry information in multimedia and link in friends of the social network.

But having looked at the strategic implications of the iPAD, the gadget warrants a closer look. For what has Apple iPAD to offer? First impression is a larger screen than that of the iPhone and for the rest much of the same. And some gurus already question the quality and use of the movies, the typing on the iPAD. Reading a book will be tiresome on the LCD-screen. So do we have to be happy with the iPAD? I think that we should as it is a break-through of a mobile entertainment centre, which is going to be of strategic value for newspaper and magazine publishers.

BTW Have a look at the funny take-off on the iPAD.

I finally found the video of Knight Ridder with Roger Fidler.

Blog Posting Number: 1419

Tags: newspaper

Sunday, January 24, 2010

BPN 1418 Holy tweet, wireles communication with heaven

A smile came to my face, when I read the news item that the Roman Catholic pope Benedict XVI had been admonishing priests to start using internet, start writing blogs and start twittering. So far this pope has not really stimulated the nouveautees, but he seems to be serious now. As I studied theology/philosophy at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans (La.) years ago from 1966 till 1970, I have of course an opinion about priests and new media. I think that priests should have been in this business already a long time. After all communication is their core business and especially wireless communication or communication with heaven.

And there have been role models of priests busy with internet, blogs and podcast. In 2006 I attended a presentation of Roderick Vonhögen, a Dutch priest podcasting to a worldwide flock. He started out comparing operating systems to beliefs. In hardware you belief in PCs and Macs an in software in Windows or OS X and in Western religious circles you believe in Catholicism and Protestantism. One of his statements was stunning: the world is my parish. And of course his iPod is the virtual pulpit. With his podcasts he attracts thousands of listeners, which is much more than the parishioners he sees during the week.

Vonhögen runs the podcast Catholic Insider, a podcast on the Roman Catholic Church. It started all with death of Pope John Paul last year April and the election of pope Benedict. While many broadcast companies were sending their reports from Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, Vonhögen was reporting events on the burial and election of the new pope, explaining procedures and interviewing people.

His philosophy is rather simple. The Roman Catholic Church is a global community. Using an IPod he can reach many members of this community, in fact more than his usual parishioners. He shares his personal experience and does not have to worry about time and place. In the meantime he has started a daily breakfast show The Daily Breafast, a light program about Roman Catholicism, culture, books, movies and mythology.

Blog Post Number: 1418

Tags: podcast, twitter

Thursday, January 14, 2010

BPN 1417 Grilling an old hand

This afternoon Ms Neelie Kroes, the EU commissioner designate for the Digital Agenda, will be grilled by the European Parliament, said the headline. This sounded alarming, but does she have to fear anything? First of all it is not het first grilling session. When she was appointed to be the EU Commissioner for Competition, she was grilled for the first time. Critical questions were fired at her on her favouring particular companies in the past. She was able to refute the charges. The grilling sessions have a strict format: every member of the parliamentary committee will be able to ask questions. The representatives have a minute to pose their question and the EU Commissioner to be has two minutes to answer.

Questions for Neelie Kroes will centre on her relationship with Microsoft. During the period as EU Commissioner for Competition she really took on the monopolist. Other questions will be on open software and broadband networks. Will Ms Neelie Kroes stimulate open software and open content, especially in government? Another issue will be copyright. So real critical questions on which she can slip can hardly be posed.

Besides her portfolio is Digital Agenda. This is not a field she does not know anything about. In her first turn as EU Commissioner she had to deal with the economic aspects of computing issues. She wanted Microsoft to unbundle Windows and Internet Explorer. Finally Microsoft bowed, but a browser company like Netscape lost the fight with Microsoft and the open-source browser Mozilla gains only followers, now that the unbundling is official.

But also before her turn as EU Commissioner she was involved with Digital Agenda issues. As the rector of a business school, she invited Bill Gates to Holland in 1996 to bestow an honorary doctorate on him.

(c) NBBI/EMR, 1980

But even before that, she dealt with Digital Agenda issues. In fact she was early involved in online services. From 1977 till 1981 she was Deputy Minister of Traffic in the Netherlands and dealt with new media. In 1980 she opened the Dutch node of the Euronet-Diane network, a datanetwork set up by the European Community (see illustration above). At the accompanying exhibition, the Euronet Diane network was demonstrated by the EC official Franco Mastroddi (see illustration left).

(c) NBBI/EMR, 1980

At that time online networks and services got introduced. In 1978 videotex was shown at a consumer electronics fair Firato. In 1980 Viditel, the first Dutch public online service based on videotext and run by the PTT, the state mail and telephone company, was opened. The launch had been planned in the summer, so that the service could scale up easily. Ms Kroes was at that time on holiday in the Dutch lake district of Friesland. And to give the launch a touch of innovation, she was going to launch the service from a yacht. Officials and journalists were gathered in The Hague for the launch ceremony and looking at a televised transmission. Just before the moment supreme, the television cameras started to snore and the lights to glow. And then everything went dark, when she pushed. It was a real omen for the future of the service.

It will be hard to grill Ms Neelie Kroes on the subject of Digital Agenda; she is an old hand.

Update 15/1/2010: The hearing session of Ms Neelie Kroes by a commission of EU parlementarians had a surprising end: Ms Kroes will be invited for a resit. Not all of her answers had been strong, it was said. However, this seems to be a political excuse used by christian democrats and socialists parliamentarians as some of thier candidates for other European Commission positions are being criticised.  This is unbelievable: many of her interogators were still wearing pampers, when Ms Kroes started to use new media! To be continued next week.

Blog Posting Number: 1417

Tags: content, copyright, open software, open content

Friday, January 08, 2010

BPN 1416 Colour screen and video on ereader

It is coming, the colour screen and video on an ereader. So far ereader have black/white screens and are slow in internet representation. The Eindhoven based company Liquavista, a Philips Research spin-off, is now showing a colour screen and video at CES in Las Vegas thanks to the technology of electrowetting.

Electrowetting looks like the e-Ink technology. They both work without backlightning and have low energy consumption. E-Ink technology is fully implemented now for ereaders in the meantime. Electrowetting will change the reader from reading to entertaining and yield a complete new range of interactive colour devices for consumers. Now ereaders based on the principle of e-Ink technology are used as text iPods in black and white and audio iPods. Devices based on electrowetting will become content devices, offering ebooks and epapers in colour, audio, but also high-fidelity video as well as internet. The greatest advantage will be the low energy consumption.

Electrowetting is now shown as a laboratory development, which will be in operation by the end of the year or the beginning of next year. The production is rather simple as 90 percent of the existing LCD production equipment and processes are being used.

Plastic Logic Unveils QUE E-book Reader. At CES the digital paper manufacturer Plastic Logic on Thursday introduced its QUE e-book reader device, which features a 10.7-inch touch-screen display, is about one-third of an inch thick, and will sell for $649 (4GB + Wi-Fi) and $799 (8GB + Wi-Fi + AT&T 3G). Pre-orders for the device are now available from the QUE Store and will ship in mid-April. Later this year, the QUE will also go on sale at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide, and from the bookseller's website.

Samsung Ebook Readers with Stylus Pen. On Thursday at CES Samsung debuted its first two e-book reader devices, the $399 E6, which features a six-inch screen, and the $699 E10, which sports a ten-inch screen. Both devices feature non-back-lit displays, which come with a built-in electromagnetic resonance stylus pen that can be used to write annotations or create to-do lists directly on the device's screen. The devices, set to ship in early 2010, will also feature Wi-Fi capability and Bluetooth, which allows sharing of certain content with other devices.

Plastic Logic and Samsung are creating a new top of the range. Kindle DX and iRex Digital Reader 1000 series were already leading the pack, but they will now get company of Plastic Logic and Samsung. They will be sitting together uneasily as the prices are same range and a choice of preference will made on facilities and services such as news online and telephone services.

While this ‘traditional’ fight will go on in the market place for the year to come, Electrowetting will get introduced by the beginning of next year with colourful devices and have competition awaiting from Apple, from new LCD manufacturers like Pixel Qi and to a less extent from HP, Asus and others. And these new players will not just be in the market for flogging books and newspapers. They will do text, audio and video on the content container. And a complete new game with ebooks, epapers, emagazines, music and video will start.

Blog Posting Number: 1416

Tags: ebook, ereader

Thursday, January 07, 2010

BPN 1415 Content, community and commerce

It is CES-time. The Consumer Electronics Show has opened in Las Vegas. So it is time for the announcements. Google tried to steal the thunder with its smart phone from Apple, which is rumoured to announce the iSlate, a multimedia tablet, functioning as movie screen, iPOD and as ereader. And the ereaders will be obvious in the stream of press releases.

Amazon came with a press release for the international market. It introduced a new version of its larger-screen Kindle e-book reader, the Kindle DX with Global Wireless, which features wireless Internet connectivity in 100 countries. The company has said that the 9.7-inch display on the Kindle DX, first released last May, is more suited to reading newspapers, magazines and textbooks. The move will also make AT&T the company's global partner for 3G Kindle connectivity, replacing previous partner Sprint in the US. The $489 global Kindle DX is available for pre-order today, and will begin shipping on January 19, 2010. As said before I wonder whether the Kindle DX and the Kindle 6 inches are going to sell in Europe at all, given the Mobipocket format and the unknown AT&T network.

Also Microsoft had a product announcement. It finally showed its tablet. Not the rumoured Courier with two pages to be closed like a book, but the HP tablet, a derivative of the HP tablet PC, with a colour screen of 11 inch, but with touch screen technology. And more tablets of this type are to follow, coming from Asus and Archos. A real disappointment. Nothing special, nothing new. But this was not the only disappointment in the product announcement. Microsoft would associate its tablet with the online shop. A cheap choice as the Blio platform had been expected to be the online shop. All together is the Microsoft announcement already the most disappointing product announcement. The tablet was termed to be a Slate PC by Steve Ballmer. It exactly indicates that he does not understand the world of content and text iPODs.

Surprising was the press release of DMC Worldwide. The company announced a new platform dealing with content, community and commerce: The COPIA platform is a hybrid solution for consumers of all ages to experience a completely new way to discover, enjoy, share and purchase books, newspapers, magazines and a wide variety of digital content. At the same time, it integrates a software application engine for OEM brands looking to deliver content across their digital devices including e-readers, notebooks, netbooks, tablets and smartphones. The press release also includes an announcement about its own series of six ereaders: Ocean and Tidal. Every eReader powered by Copia comes standard with 2GB internal storage enough space for about 1500 eBooks. The top of the line Copia Ocean eReader features a 9-inch ePaper capacitive touchscreen, 768 x 1024 pixels resolution, 4-directional tilt-sensor, 3G connectivity (optional), WiFi (802.11b/g), Linux 2.6.21, 2GB internal memory, stereo speaker and 3.5mm stereo jack. The series of ereaders looks like a collection of OEM ereaders already on the market. Copia will be on trial from this month onwards and start selling by April, 2010. At first glance the DMC company seems to combine content, community and commerce for the first time. The question will be whether content is the same community commodity as music.

Blog Posting Number: 1415

Tags: content, community, commerce, ereader, netbook

Friday, January 01, 2010

We wish you a prosperous and healthy New Year