Apps

Go Read This | How To Create Value With A New Thing

An interesting piece by Baldur yet again. In lots of ways touching on the dangers of innovation and change to incumbents:

Building up in-house digital product development is risky and expensive, especially at the start when you have to build up the necessary expertise and tools to do the job and change your organisations implicit value network.

The problem is that changing an organisation’s value network is next to impossible without firing everybody (yourself included) and replacing them with different people. Adding individuals who have different values from those prevalent in your organisation won’t change the value network. It’ll just make your new hires miserable before they quit or get fired. Which means that building a top notch, in-house digital product development team is going to be difficult for most publishers.

via How To Create Value With A New Thing | Studio Tendra

Go Read This | Tesco’s Blinkbox sees festive sales rise 245% | The Drum

From Tesco's published infographic

From Tesco’s published infographic

So Tesco has sold 400,000 tablets in just three months. The company says it is planning a new edition of its HUDL device and that it could have sold even more tablets before Christmas had they had them in stock. It’s interesting in the context of books and my recent post on Barnes & Noble’s Nook troubles that all of these sales took place without an ebook offering to bolster or encourage buyers (Blinkbox books is to launch in 2014, but is not yet live), cementing the very clear evidence that ebooks are not the biggest motivator for tablets (nor were they ever). Some impressive data on increased sales from Blinkbox itself too:

Tesco’s TV and movie streaming service Blinkbox saw sales spike by a massive 245 per cent year-on-year over the festive period…

New Year’s Day was the biggest day ever for the service with sales up by 266 per cent year-on-year, while mobile sales have increased by 674 per cent and smart TV sales by 465 per cent.

Ahead of Christmas, Tesco launched its own Hudl budget tablet and reported sales of 400,000 in the three months to December. The supermarket brand now plans to launch a second edition of the device later in the year.

via Tesco’s Blinkbox sees record festive sales with rise of 245% while mobile sales rocket by 674% | The Drum.

Go Read This | The publishing industry’s new product categories | Studio Tendra

Another decent piece this from Baldur:

Finally, once you have a set of ideas and aspirational projects, you need to whittle them down, or at least prioritise them. That means you need to look at the cost-revenue balance for each one. And to do that you need to figure out the business model, often from scratch because, unlike print, interactive media doesn’t come with a business model attached.

via The publishing industry’s new product categories | Studio Tendra.

Go Read This | iPod eclipse — Benedict Evans

Lurking in a seemingly not related post about how the iconic Apple product is slowly becoming less important to Apple, is a great few lines about the nature of the music business and, more generally, the content business at a meta level:

One could argue that trying to charge a little extra and make more profit is more trouble than it’s worth for Google or Apple (or even profit-hungry Amazon) – better to offer it at cost or thereabouts to enhance the value of the broader platform, which is where the real money comes from (advertising and devices respectively).

The same thing is happening in books and video – content is a condition of entry to the platform game that you provide at cost. This obviously makes life pretty tough for startups – it’s hard to try to build your own ebook store or download-to-own music store right now when any device your customers might use probably already has an at-cost service built-in. The one place this might be different is in video, since in that business it is actually possible to have unique content – but of course this is very expensive.

via iPod eclipse — Benedict Evans.

These issues are of concern to everyone in the content business, from authors to publishers. That doesn’t mean we’ll be impacted equally!

 

 

 

Go Read This | Apps nudge ahead of websites for smartphone reading | Lean Back 2.0

I’m intrigued by this news. I know how tempting it can be to use an app rather than even the best browser on a smaller screen (and by the way Chrome mobile for Android is my flavour). Even so I find it hard to believe that the app is the end point of this development. I( can’t help but feel that the app is a way-point of a kind, a diversion that will eventually lead back to the browser as that form adapts better to smaller screens.

But when an app is done right, with a clean and uncluttered design, it can make the digital reading experience on a smartphone significantly more comfortable and appealing than browsing the same offering’s internet equivalent.

The latest research from comScore, a digital marketing firm, supports this very premise, with its latest report into US mobile phone industry trends for May 2012 suggesting that 51.1% of its respondents 30,000 mobile subscribers used downloaded apps on their mobiles, compared with 49.8% that used browsers. This shows an increase of 1.6 percentage points over February of this year, while browser usage increased by just 0.6% over the same period.

via Apps nudge ahead of websites for smartphone reading | Lean Back 2.0.
PS, well worth reading the Economist Group’s Lean Back 2.0 blog, full of interesting insights!

Why Storia Is Important

You may have read this piece (or one of the several pieces on the topic) yesterday or this morning:

Storia is in beta now and available for Windows PC through the website; an iPad version is coming later this month. The app itself is free and comes with five free e-books. A store contains over 1,000 other children’s e-books—many available in digital format for the first time—that can be sorted by grade level, reading level, age and character/series.

When the app officially launches in the fall, it will contain over 2,000 titles, reports the AP, “that can be bought directly from the publisher or from retailers.” But the Storia website also says, “Since Storia eBooks come with special features to enhance your child’s reading experience, Storia eBooks can only be read on the Storia eReading app.” I’m clarifying this with Scholastic—if these books are essentially apps that won’t be sold through e-bookstores like Kindle and Nook, that is certainly noteworthy.

via In Major Digitization Effort, Scholastic Launches E-Reading App For Kids | paidContent.

It is  a pretty interesting move and one that I am not surprised by. The shift by Apple some time go makes this kind of move very attractive to publishers of large lists, as I wrote some time ago Apple has created an opportunity in the App space for publishers:

Apple’s more recent decision to enforce tough rules on in-App sales of content has been less popular. It has forced Amazon, Google, B&N and Kobo among others in publishing and other creative industries, to change their Apps to disable links to their ebook or content stores. Further it made it impossible for an ebook retailer to sell an ebook through the Apple in-App purchase system without giving 30% to Apple. Nasty eh?

The opportunity this created and that everyone missed , even me (till this weekend when it dawned on me), is for publishers to go direct to consumers and launch their own apps selling ebooks to readers.

Think about it, ebook retailers cannot make money from selling ebooks via Apple’s in-App sales because their margins simply won’t stretch that far. In the case of Agency titles they would be losing money, even on self-published works they might be losing money. However, a publisher, selling direct through their own app, or even a branded app in partnership with a number of other publishers in a given genre, could easily afford the 30% charge and even an administration charge too so long as it was kept low.

Apple has shifted the economics of the App-economy to disintermediate the distributors and empower the content producer. Sure, in doing so they have gained power and revenue potential for themselves, but they have created an opportunity for a savvy publisher who has a brand that readers identify with.

I would expect to see more of these from larger publishers as well as specialist ones (Witness for instance Amber Books’ Military History app). They make sense and they will hopefully sell books.

The question is whether they lead to the building of relationships with readers, a crucial gap in what iOS offers publishers. That lack of customer data was reportedly one reason why the FT eschews the app store for their own HTML based apps and subscription options.

There are many angles to cover and such apps can only form part of an overall strategy but I think Storia suggests large publishers are looking for opportunities and acting when they seem them!

Eoin

The Opportunity Apple Just Created For Publishers

Apple did book big book publishers a favour some time ago when, by giving the big six leverage over Amazon (with the launch of their new ebook platform iBooks), they enabled those large publishers to enforce Agency pricing for ebooks.

That gave the big six the power to set prices and extract a higher share of the revenue from their sales then had been the case for print books. It was a major moment in the development of the ebook market and one that has received a lot of attention and, at least from within the industry, a lot of praise.

Apple’s more recent decision to enforce tough rules on in-App sales of content has been less popular. It has forced Amazon, Google, B&N and Kobo among others in publishing and other creative industries, to change their Apps to disable links to their ebook or content stores. Further it made it impossible for an ebook retailer to sell an ebook through the Apple in-App purchase system without giving 30% to Apple. Nasty eh?

The opportunity this created and that everyone missed , even me (till this weekend when it dawned on me), is for publishers to go direct to consumers and launch their own apps selling ebooks to readers.

Think about it, ebook retailers cannot make money from selling ebooks via Apple’s in-App sales because their margins simply won’t stretch that far. In the case of Agency titles they would be losing money, even on self-published works they might be losing money. However, a publisher, selling direct through their own app, or even a branded app in partnership with a number of other publishers in a given genre, could easily afford the 30% charge and even an administration charge too so long as it was kept low.

Apple has shifted the economics of the App-economy to disintermediate the distributors and empower the content producer. Sure, in doing so they have gained power and revenue potential for themselves, but they have created an opportunity for a savvy publisher who has a brand that readers identify with.

It’s interesting that no-one has written about this yet. I suspect that might be because some of them are working on just that kind of app …

Fine evening here,
Eoin

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