Content and services

Microsoft sides with Apple, supports HTML5 and H.264

Microsoft has announced that for Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), the company has a preference for HTML5 and the H.264 video codec. Flash plug-ins will continue to be supported, but IE9 will only have native support for H.264. This follows on the path blazed by Apple, which decided a while back not support Flash at all on the iPhone and iPod. The controversy has heated up with the release of the iPad, which continues the Apple strategy of no Flash support at all.

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Will the iPad save the publishing industry?

This article from Cory Doctorow is similar to a couple of other contrarian articles that have come out in the past week--they all complain about the perceived "closed" nature of the iPad and/or say that the iPad is not going to save the publishing business.

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Apple forces Amazon to change pricing

Earlier this week, I wrote how Apple is forcing publishers to move away from Adobe's buggy Flash plug-in, which is used for multimedia content display. Today, this article comes out about how Apple's pricing for books in the new iPad bookstore has forced Amazon to change its pricing model. Amazon was telling book publishers what they could charge for ebooks using the Kindle distribution system.

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iPad Content Ready to Roll

MacRumors reports that National Public Radio (NPR) and The Wall Street Journal are already getting ready to roll out Web sites designed specifically for the Apple iPad. Expect many more newpapers and magazines to announce iPad versions of their content over the next several months, with the iPad set to ship to buyers in the next 30 days. One of the interesting side effects--Adobe may have lost the Flash war.

Is pay for content doomed?

This article suggests that pay for play is doomed, because no one (according to the data) wants to pay for content.

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What a surprise: Higher prices dampens sales

In a shocking discovery, music publishers have found that the law of supply and demand works. Apple loosened up pricing rules for music on the iTunes Store last year. Record companies immediately raised prices. Buyers immediately bought less music. The record companies are shocked, shocked that buyers don't want to pay more. What could have gone wrong? Higher prices signal less supply, and in turn, demand tends to drop.

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Agency model = Revenue share

Apple, as the company has in the past, has begun to upset, er, apple carts. With the announcement of the iPad, Apple also announced a book section in the iTunes Store, with a business model that is exactly the same as the hugely successful music model they use. For both books and music, Apple will collect 30% of the sales price of the item, and the publisher/seller collects 70%. The seller of the item sets the actual price. This is called the "agency model."

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Apple's iSlate (or iTablet) is going to transform publishing

Here is a roundup of rumors about the new Apple tablet. Apple has announced a media event late this month, but is not saying what the announcement is about. Until very recently, most pundits were guessing Apple's table computer would not be announced until June of this year, but I think the increasing interest in the Google Android phone may have caused Apple to move up their announcement to suck all the oxygen out of the room and take the media focus off Android.

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Blockbuster stores to close

The recently announced Blockbuster store closings will cut about 20% of the firm's stores. Blockbuster plans to replace them with kiosks and smaller stores in more densely populated urban areas. Blockbuster also has a Netflix-style subscription service, but will only one-fifth the customer base of Netflix.

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Does Google want to run everything?

This Forbes article is illuminating, as it neatly describes the Google vision for taking over and dominating every minute of our lives. Google provides a lot of good and even great tools, but the question is, "At what point does Google get so big and so powerful that it sucks all the oxygen out of cyberspace?"

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Is journalism dead, near dead, or rising from the ashes?

The Huffington Post has a couple of interesting articles on the direction of journalism today. It is a weird time for news, as the old media and the new media continue to collide. There is much finger pointing going around, with many old media journalists and owners trying to make a fiscally sound transition to new media while simultaneously complaining that new media bloggers and news aggregation sites (like the HuffPost).

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Barnes and Noble readies Nook book reader

Barnes and Noble is about to release an ebook reader called Nook. The bookseller and publisher wants to compete with the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader. It is easy to find people who say they love their Kindle, but I remain skeptical. I do think that within a few years, we will reading many more books using some kind of reader device, but I think the long-rumored Apple tablet is likely to crush these dedicated devices.

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Get set for Cyber Monday

USA Today has an article noting some of the "Cyber Monday" shopping deals. But Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit says, "Who cares?" Reynolds makes a good point--that Cyber Monday evolved back when broadband at home was rare and people waited until the Monday after Thanksgiving to shop online--at work, where broadband connections made it much less frustrating. Nonetheless, online retailers expect big sales.

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Bing is challenging Google

Bing hasbroken the 10% market share for online search. I continue to like Bing--it returns fewer and better results than Google.

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You can't turn the ads off

If you ever wondered how the "free" video channels on the Intertubes could make any money, it is becoming apparent that the plan all along was to turn them into TV, complete with ads. And you can't turn the ads off. The stop button on the players does not work while the ads play.

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Bing inks deal with Wolfram Alpha engine

Bing, the Microsoft search engine, can now return results from the Wolfram Alpha computational engine. So you can enter queries into Bing that require computation and the query gets passed to the Alpha engine and then returned via Bing. I continue to think Microsoft has a real winner with Bing, which returns better search results, in my opinion, than Google.

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Apple's plans for TV

MediaMemo reports that Apple has quietly begun to talk to some TV networks about making all their content available on the iTunes Store for $30/month. This might not sound like a good deal for the TV networks, but in fact, it is very bad news for the cable TV and satellite providers.

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Movie studios: We don't want to rent movies

An interesting fight is brewing between the movie studios and the movie rental outfits. And as usual, it is upstarts like Netflix and other Internet movies on demand outfits that are causing the problem.

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Netflix and the Internet is killing Blockbuster

As I predicted many years ago, the video store is on the way out. Blockbuster has just announced it is closing more than 900 stores. Netflix and video on demand over the Internet has taken its toll. Blockbuster has added a Netflix-style ordering system with the supposed advantage of being able to drop movies off at the local store, but that's just a dumb idea that was always dead on arrival.

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The Web: Nothing is too stupid

The latest Web phenomenon is Animals with Lightsabers, proving once again that no idea is too stupid for the Internet. This particular flash in the pan is not likely to last, as you can be amused by a squirrel with a lightsaber only so many times. The object lesson is that the Web and the Internet continue to dismantle traditional publishing.

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