Although sales figures are hard to hammer down, its seems like e-book readers were a smash hit this year. Amazon alone is claiming that the Kindle was the most gifted item in its history. No numbers were mentioned, but when you consider that it is up against everything from game consoles to GPS’s this is no small milestone. Another interesting stat is that on Christmas day, e-books outsold their paper brethren by a pretty healthy margin. No doubt this was all the new Kindle owners firing up their devices in search of content, but it only further fuels speculation that all reading will eventually shift to digital distribution in the future.
The Kindle seems to have been a raging success, but the Barnes and Noble Nook appears to be suffering a bit with early reports showing that its content servers became overloaded preventing users from downloading purchased e-books.This might end up being but a small blip of bad press in the products long life cycle, but its definitely not the kind attention Barnes and Noble was hoping for over the holiday. In this case the success of the Nook can be attributed to its failings, but that’s small consolation for its owners.
Did you get an e-book reader over the holidays? What do you think of it?
In an increasingly overcrowded e-reader market, content will likely decide the ultimate winner. It worked for Apple, and Sony is hoping they are on track as well by signing new deals with News Corp to add content from the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, and the New York Post to its e-ink devices.
According to Reuters, Sony will offer monthly subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal for $14.99, MarketWatch for $10.99, and the New York Post for $9.99. It seems as though Sony believes the e-ink editions formatted for their devices can command a slight premium since the Wall Street Journal online can be viewed from any web browser for less than $8 a month at today’s prices. This represents a pretty significant price delta, but it likely has something to do with the additional formatting that needs to go into reorganizing the content for a smaller screen.
Exact sales numbers for e-ink devices are hard to hammer down, but analysts currently forecast the Kindle alone will bring home about $301.4 million in revenue for Amazon in 2009, and this number is expect to grow as high as $1.8 billion by 2012. Only time will tell if the Kindle will remain the dominant platform, but clearly its still anyone game at this point.
Which e-reader do you think has the potential to become the next iPod? Or will the market fragment the way PC’s did?
Sony announced a few changes to its e-book business, including a new name. Starting December 11th (this Friday), Sony's eBook Store will become the Reader Store, complete with a new URL - http://readerstore.sony.com. While the name will change, Sony says all current features will remain the same.
In addition to the name change, Sony also announced plans to fully embrace the EPUB format.
"As part of our commitment to providing an open format solution to our customers, we will now offer our entire inventory of eBooks in the EPUB format," Sony said. "You will still be able to read, access, and transfer any eBooks you have previously downloaded. However, any new purchases or re-downloads of previously purchased titles will now be available only in EPUB."
Finally, the company announced the Friday availability of its Reader Library software version 3.1 for the PC and Mac. The updated software will usher in support for Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6, as well as support for the soon-to-released Reader Daily Edition, Sony says.
The major music labels hope Vevo will do for music videos what Hulu has done for movies and TV shows. In other words, become wildly popular.
Vevo will be a website for music videos and has the backing of co-owners Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment (Abu Dhabi Media Company also owns a stake). On Monday, Vevo announced it had signed up EMI as a video provider, which leaves Warner Music as the only holdout among the four biggest music labels.
"It will be a higher-quality experience around music and videos than anything else that's currently out there," Rio Caraeff, Vevo's chief executive, said in an interview.
Caraeff went on to say that Vevo would host 30,000 music videos by the end of the year, which will include original programs by artists for their fans.
On the technical side, videos will be hosted and streamed by YouTube. Vevo also plans to syndicate videos to a bunch of other sites, a la Hulu.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday kicked off the holiday shopping season, and according to Sony, it also underscored better-than-expected early holiday demand, particularly for its PlayStation 3 console.
"We saw a very positive sales increase television, computers, and PS3 in particular," Sony Chief Executive Howard Stringer told a group of reporters today. "I don't think there were any negatives, but we need a little more time to find out how big it was."
The company has reason to be excited. After basically introducing the mobile music market some three decades ago with its Walkman, Sony has since faced stiff competition with South Korean rivals and a handful of U.S. IT firms. Apple's iPod now rules the portable music scene, and Samsung leads the way in the global flat screen television market.
Going forward, Sony sees an opportunity to turn things around by focusing on batteries.
"Don't forget we started lithium-ion batteries at Sony... If you produce the right battery, they will come," Stringer added. "It's worth putting our best engineers at it... It's worth a shot, I think."
According to a solicitation notice found on the Internet, the Air Force plans to purchase 2,200 PS3s equipped with 256 MB of memory and 160 GB hard drives. The PS3 is the Air Force’s choice because it provides the best cost-benefit ratio: “With respect to cell processors, a single 1U server configured with two 3.2GHz cell processors can cost up to $8K while two Sony PS3s cost approximately $600. Though a single 3.2 GHz cell processor can deliver over 200 GFLOPS, whereas the Sony PS3 configuration delivers approximately 150 GFLOPS, the approximately tenfold cost difference per GFLOP makes the Sony PS3 the only viable technology for HPC applications.”
These new PS3s will be added to an existing configuration of 336 units, with all connected via each unit’s one gigabit Ethernet port to common 24 port gigabit hubs. The networked PS3s will be driven by Linux using both commercial and in-house developed software.
Ars Technica notes the PS3’s advantage comes from Sony’s subsidy of the price. Sony expects to make up the subsidy on the back-end, from game or TV purchases. While the Air Force probably won’t be in the market for such things, it definitely is happy to take advantage of Sony’s largess in console pricing.
Firefox is a force to be reckoned with in the desktop browser space. But could the Mozilla foundation be looking to port it to the PS3? Playstation Insider claims that Sony and Mozilla are in talks to do just that. "We recently received a tip from a source very close to Sony who says that they have been in talks with Mozilla lately about possibly porting Firefox over to the PS3," said Playstation Insider’s Dustin Rudzinski.
It’s no secret that the Playstation’s current browser is nothing to write home about. So access to a “real” browser would be a real treat for PS3 owners. The tipster didn’t know if any deal had actually been struck, but what a pleasant firmware update that would be. So PS3 owners, if you had Firefox on the console, would you actually use it to browse?
Color us a little confused by this one. Sony has been showing off a surface computer of sorts. The system was constructed with Atracsys and utilizes a camera to track the locations of your fingers, meaning you don’t have to physically touch anything. For some reason, it’s being shown off on a table top… that you touch.
Sony/ Atracsys also showed how the camera system can track facial movements and even calculate mood. The point seems to be that you could interact with a computer without actually touching it. This would be invaluable in an operating room, for example, where sterility must be maintained. Sort of like Natal on the Xbox, apparently. Despite what they’re saying the camera tracking is capable of, Sony is making it look like a glorified Microsoft Surface. Check out the story link above to see the demo video.
Here's a recall you don't see very often. Sony, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, announced a voluntary recall of some AC adapters in use on certain all-in-one Vaio desktops and Vaio docking stations.
According to the safety notice, faulty insulation inside the AC adapter can fail over time, which then poses an electrical shock hazard. So far there have been four reports of the affected adapters short circuiting, none of which occurred in the U.S., but no one has been injured.
The recall affects AC adapter model VGP-AC19V17. These were supplied with certain all-in-one Vaio desktops (VGC-LT series and VGC-JS2 series) and Vaio docking stations (VGP-PRBX1 and VGP-PRFE1) sold through various outlets between September 200 through October 2009.
If you have one of these adapters, Sony advises turning off the PC and unplugging it right away. You can contact Sony for a replacement either by calling 877-361-4481, or by visiting the firm's website at esupport.sony.com/ac19adapter.