Sep 11

Wow. Amazon meets Simple Magazine – two columns!

Sep 10

Wow, Blio launches

Better late than never, Blio, a free ebook software package, has launched with, well, 6 months late. I look forward to reviewing.

(Updated). Well, never mind. Blio is all eye candy and commerce – but this thing can’t even open a txt book on my hard drive. Uninstall, quick…

Mar 10

Waiting for ebooks

Let’s count the ways we have to wait for a better tomorrow on ebooks:
1. First the iPad, of course. But the wait is almost over, they tell us.
2. Then there’s Blio Reader (software), which went into radio silence after CES. They’ve been “coming soon” since then… we’re still waiting.
3. Barnes & Noble, not to be outdone, let us and their investors know that they wouldn’t miss the iPad train and would launch their app. Soon.
4. Finally, Amazon pre-announced their Kindle for Tablet, any tablet as long as you can touch it. Very soon.

B&N, Blio and Amazon have found themselves forced to react to the iPad ebook business model, and demonstrate how their own business model would survive the iPad onslaught. But for the moment, all these announcements feel a lot like vaporware – or is it ebookware?

Feb 10

The other way ebooks prices are changing

Amazon’s troubles with publishers have focused mostly on how the publishers want Amazon to charge more for ebooks. But what about when the $9.99 price is too high?

Take a recent bestseller for instance: The Da Vinci Code. Based on the seeming endless availability of used and new copies, the Kindle price is already adjusted to balance the reader’s wish to get an immediate copy with the abundance of supply.

I foresee Amazon increasingly tweaking prices in this way – in the meantime it’s you can find other $9.99 Kindle versions competing with a cheap used copy, and look for more used book price arbitrage opportunities.

Aug 08

Demonstrating brand decline with Google Insights for Search – Treo Example

Google’s Insight for Search is going to be my favorite research tool. Take, for example, a search for the word “Treo”: http://google.com/insights/search/#cat=&q=treo&geo=US&date=&clp=&cmpt=q

The Treo peaked in 2005, and is currently experiencing a small revival.

You can also demonstrate cycles, such as this search for “christmas Cookies recipe”: http://google.com/insights/search/#cat=&q=Christmas%20cookies%20recipe&geo=US&date=&clp=&cmpt=q

I just found a huge analyst cookie jar…

Aug 08

Gmail predictions 2009

Here’s what Gmail will gain in 2009 – these fall mostly in the duh category:

  • Image search – returning results just like Web Images search (although with the added challenge of limited context for search)
  • Image gallery – show all image in your gmail account as a gallery
  • Image slide show – show image attachments as a Picasa-style slide show

Sep 07

Amazon’s amazing remodel


Sweet, sweet UI from the UI gnomes at Amazon

Jun 07

With new player, Real adopts software model of company it had threatened 7 years earlier (Streambox)

New RealPlayer Instantly Downloads Online Video — www.RealPlayer.com

The new RealPlayer has sparked all kinds of deep copyright discussions, but the irony I note in this launch is the similarity of this new capability with that of the StreamBox Ripper. StreamBox Ripper was a product that allowed for the saving of – among others – RealAudio streams. Real threatened Streambox and Streambox backed down, in an early application of DMCA.

That said, RealPlayer was due for an overhaul.

May 07

Apple iTunes Plus still missing international purchases

Apple Launches iTunes Plus

Apple’s iTunes launch of DRM-free purchases has bee rightly heralded as a happy jingle. However, Apple still misses the mark and a golden opportunity with international purchases.

As the holder of a US-based iTunes account, I can visit, but not purchase from, the iTunes store in France. I understand that, with different prices and agreements across the ocean, Apple wants to prevent cross-country arbitrage, but it’s beyond me why I can’t buy a tune from iTunes France when it’s not offered at all in the US.

Apple, give us an “Export” option! Make money in the process.

Mar 07

Target Stores & The Migros School of Retailing

Link to Target : About Target : Our Focus on Design

I must credit my wife for first mentioning this to me: the new Target Stores, and their focus on customer experience, take direct inspiration from the Swiss chain Migros, particularly in the area of store design and product merchandising.

 The telling clue was the recent announcement that Target is carrying Migros’ house- brand chocolate, Frey (in stores only). Once I picked up a large shipment of Frey chocolate, I felt right at home in the newly remodeled Redmond Target store, and starting humming Migros’ jingle. That’s when the revelation hit: Target is collaborating with Migros, and not just in the chocolate aisle.

The most obvious parallel is the color scheme, and it’s relentless application throughout the store: for Target it’s red/white, and for Migros orange/white. But there’s also a very Swiss sense of order and organization, and a consistency in visual merchandising that US stores rarely adopt on that scale (just visit your local department store). The brand selection is another giveaway: Target is carefully mixing mid-scale brand names with upscale house brands.

Next time I’m in Switzerland, I’ll check whether Migros is learning anything from Target. In the meantime, Migros could use some of Target’s advice on Web design…