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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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Apple Pay ranks in top 5 payment systems

img_4647Apple pay has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since its launch on October 20, 2014. According to new analytics data it now ranks as a fifth most popular payment system within top 10,000 websites. It ranks on fifth position with only 0.25% of adoption rate but this number looks quite solid in comparison to what percent of adoption other payment systems in top 5 have.

According to most recent analytics report Paypal is on a first place with 2.36%. Paypal “subscribe” which provides an easy payment option for recurring subscriptions is adopted by 0.98% of top 10,000 websites. Stripe comes at third place with 0.35%. Braintree payments is just a little below Stripe at 0.32%. So as you can see Apple Pay is not far away from its Stripe and Braintree competitors in third and fourth place.

With the release of the 2016 Macbook Pro featuring Touch ID sensor Apple Pay may see even quicker adoption. Recent reports suggest that new Macbook Pro is going to be a successful product and Apple Pay is an integral part of user experience on it. So every new Macbook Pro user is a potential new customer of Apple Pay. Lots of websites from top 10,000 gather statistics on users’ operating systems and hardware. And if devices with support of Apple Pay will start having a statistical significance in website analytics reports then there is a good chance that website owners will invest resources in adding Apple Pay as a new payment option. This makes Macbook Pro with Touch ID sensor an important step towards getting Apple Pay adopted by more and more websites.

Apple is pushing Apple Pay quite aggressively into more and more markets. It just launched Apple Pay in Russia with Sberbank and MasterCard support. And just hours ago Apple Pay got support of 30 new banks and credit union in Australia and Orange Cash in France. Expanding to different countries is a good strategy which possible can boost Apple Pay above its Stripe and Braintree competitors. The only competitor which it may have some problems with is Paypal. Due to long history, wide adoption and relatively easy integration Paypal will continue to be a significant player for a long time to come.

Can the iPad Mini Give the Kindle Fire a Run for its Money?

In Steve Jobs’ biography, he repeatedly stressed the importance of creating fewer, top of the line products, rather than a slew of mediocre ones.  Apple has always thrived on branding and staying ahead of the game.

It surprised me that the iPad Mini is not only real, but it is named exactly what rumors called it.  Is Apple getting too predictable?  Now we have a big variety of sizes for tablets and smartphones in the Apple lineup.  Most people can reconcile having both an iPad and an iPhone, but can you do that for the iPad Mini and the iPhone?

I don’t see it taking the hold of the 7″ tablet market like the original 10″ iPad currently has on the larger tablet market.  Obviously, price is one factor.  The iPad mini is $329, whereas the Kindle Fire HD, Nook Tablet, and Nexus 7 are all $199.  So, they will attract different types of consumers.

For thee moment, I don’t think the Kindle Fire HD has too much to worry about from that end.  The Nexus 7 is proving to be a solid competitor, but competition is good because it make the devices strive to get better and better with each generation.

It used to be that the major tech giants excelled in different areas.  Google held the monopoly on search engines, Amazon was the pioneer for ebooks, Microsoft reigned over the PC market, and Apple took control over computers, and later music.

Now, they’re all trying to one up each other by creating competing products.  This can be quite overwhelming for the consumer!  Maybe it is best to just let them duul it out, and see what the winners are.

As far as choices go, longevity is a good thing to consider.  The Kindle Fire is in its second generation, and has ironed out some issues that the first generation had. The new Kindle Fire family includes better display, better designed hardware, and a camera.  Amazon also has a good sized marketplace with a free app every day.

For the 10″ inch tablets, the iPad still dominates that market, and has had a couple of years to improve.  Apple of course has a huge appstore, and includes a number of business apps.

Only time will tell what the winners will be in the tablet market.  It is sure to be a wild ride.

Live blog from Todays Apple Event

… Can be followed here – http://win8review.com/2012/10/october-23rd-apple-event-live-blog/

Kindle Owners Win Big With First DOJ Publisher Settlement

The first major change in eBook pricing to come about since the launch of the iPad is at hand.  The U.S. Department of Justice has already negotiated settlements with three of the six major publishing houses implicated in a DOJ price fixing investigation only shortly after the filing of the lawsuit.  Kindle owners can expect to see an almost immediate drop in many eBook prices, once the court has had a chance to approve the settlement terms.  Amazon has already declared this a big win for consumers and announced plans to drop prices on affected titles.

For those who have not been keeping track, the early days of the Kindle brought significantly lower eBook prices than we are now used to.  This was the result of Amazon being able to buy their stock wholesale and price things as low as they wanted from there.  Publishers were rather unhappy with this arrangement since it meant that customers might well become used to seeing affordable prices on their reading material and cause paper copies of books to lose perceived value.

When Steve Jobs approached the Big 6 publishers with the idea of moving to the Agency Model, wherein publishers would set prices and retailers get a fixed percentage for each unit sold, they jumped on it.  As soon as the iBooks store opened, Kindle Edition prices began to rise.  There was some drama when Amazon attempted to hold out in protest and pull titles from their store, but without those publishers it is hard to operate a major bookstore.

Since then, prices have remained high and those involved in the Agency Model arrangement have come under investigation in both the US and EU.  The biggest being raised by the DOJ, aside from alleged secret meetings and clandestine correspondence between heads of supposedly competing publishers in the days leading up to implementing the Agency Model, is the Most Favored Nation Clause.  Apple managed to get this introduced in their agreement with every publisher.

Typically, a MFN is put in place to prevent favoritism from allowing a wholesaler to sell more cheaply to another retailer at a lower price.  In this case, since publishers were setting the price, the DOJ is arguing that it was meant to “protect Apple from having to compete on price at all, while still maintaining Apple’s 30 percent margin.”

The result of all this has been artificially inflated eBook prices meant to turn customers away from things like the Kindle.  That last point is more fact than opinion, as any look at publisher comments regarding the “troublesome” convenience of eBook borrowing at libraries that has gone along with Penguin dropping out of the library system altogether.

So far we know of settlements with HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster.  These will prevent use of the Agency Model for a number of years and create various other consumer protections.  Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin are all still denying wrongdoing at the moment, but it remains to be seen how well they can hold out.  Even if all three remaining defendents get off somehow, Kindle pricing will be completely altered for the indefinite future.  The Agency Model could only be forced on Amazon through solidarity across every major player in the publishing industry.  With that gone thanks to these settlements, things can’t help but improve.

Agency Model Set To Fall! Kindle Book Prices Will Follow Suit

Not much is known at this time about what options are being discussed by the publishers under attack by the Justice Department.  We do have good information that there are settlement options on the table and that the Agency Model pricing model currently to blame for high Kindle Edition eBook prices will be on the chopping block regardless.

Reports from unnamed informants close to the matter have indicated that there is reason to expect a settlement within the next several weeks.  Neither Apple nor the publishers have responded to any requests for comment at this time.  The Justice Dept declined to say anything.

Whether this is a sign of consensus among the defendants or merely that one or two are feeling the pressure and wanting to end what they see as a losing battle should not matter much in terms of the outcome.  In the event of one publisher involved in the price fixing scheme reaching a settlement, the terms would undoubtedly involve release of evidence necessary for ensuring a successful prosecution of the rest.

Basically, assuming the news is true, this means that the end of the Agency Model is at hand and that the Kindle has made it through possibly the most harmful barrier to eReader adoption without so far becoming irrelevant.  A return to the wholesale model, even temporarily, will mean more affordable reading material for Kindle owners.  This in turn should spur sales of the eReading line.  Amazon’s willingness to take a loss on bestsellers to promote their product line is what game them over 90% of the eReading market before the Agency Model was imposed and there is no reason to see this practice changing overly much if the Agency Model is destroyed.

The big question will be what comes next.  Settlement or unfavorable ruling aside, publishers are not going to give up on their position that readers have no right to expect inexpensive books.  It is incredibly unlikely that they will all pull out of Amazon in reaction to this, but they’re going to have to find some new way to prevent Kindle customers from being too happy with digital books.

The case at hand is all about how the defendants collaborated to impose the Agency Model on Amazon.  The means to achieve this goal is in question, not the model itself.  Depending on the terms of the settlement, publishers could be permitted to go back to it in time.  They could also turn to something even more unpleasant for potential customers.  It is hard to tell at the moment.

In the short term, the clear winners will be customers.  Prices on eBooks should drop abruptly, especially in the Kindle Store, following official announcement of the deal being made.  In reality, expectations may need to change with regard to how profitable a new bestseller should be per unit sold.  Big 6 publishers will be forced to come to terms with this.  Beyond the immediate benefits to Kindle customers there is little that can be asserted reliably about the effects of this situation.  It will be interesting to see how the situation evolves.  Any thoughts or predictions?

Will Newly Revealed iPad 3 Kill Kindle Fire? Is Apple Even Trying?

After months of speculation and rumor about Amazon and Apple going head to head in an all-out Kindle Fire vs iPad 3 (or Mini, or HD) confrontation, we finally have all of the information we’ve been waiting for and it turns out that Apple isn’t addressing their “competition” in any significant way.  This should really surprise nobody given the different user bases being served, but it is worth taking a look at what the new iPad can do and how well it does for the price.

The big distinguishing feature of the iPad is that, unlike the Kindle Fire, it is in many ways a computer alternative.  There is little that you can’t do on one, aside from truly hardware intensive tasks, if you are motivated enough to use the touch screen.  The newest iteration of the hardware line is no exception and does a fair amount to improve the overall experience even further.  New features include the move to a Retina Display like that of the iPhone 4, a new A5X Dual Core Processor, one 5 Megapixel camera situated on the rear of the device, Full 1080p HD video recording, 4G LTE connectivity through both AT&T and Verizon, and dictation capabilities.  A fair list that expands on what the iPad 2 already did well.

What does this mean for the Kindle Fire’s future?  Honestly, practically nothing.  This was not, contrary to rumors, a release that intended to kill the Kindle.  As any side by side comparison has long since proved, the iPad already had a larger screen, cameras, a microphone, cellular connectivity, and more processing power.  If no other factors were considered besides simple hardware performance then Apple wins the iPad vs Kindle Fire matchup every time.  The fact that Apple couldn’t help but be aware of this only serves to illustrate that their widening the gap in hardware performance was directed elsewhere; most likely at heading off Microsoft by increasing momentum before the first Windows 8 Tablets start hitting stores later this year.

The biggest factor is still going to be the price for most consumers.  For all its impressive power, the iPad 3 still runs at least $499 for the cheapest model with no 4G connection.  Even the iPad 2, the cheapest version of which has been kept on at least temporarily at a discount to consumers, is twice the price of the Kindle Fire at $399.  None of the major advantages that the Kindle offers in terms of size, weight, or affordability have been addressed.  While you can’t say that any of those is universally acknowledged as the most important factor in tablet purchasing (the iPad is not suffering a bit by most accounts, nor does anything from Amazon seem to indicate that they were expected to be by now), they are the things that people take into account when deciding on a new device purchase.  For the moment, these remain two completely different types of tablet.  The iPad works as a functional PC alternative while the Kindle Fire is all about the consumption.  The next big chance to change the equation won’t be until the details are announced for the upcoming Kindle Fire 2.

Last Minute iPad 3 vs Kindle Fire Thoughts

I am writing this on the eve of the launch of the next generation iPad. So speculations on what new features the iPad 3 will offer  and what it means for tablet competition is definitely on my mind.  As anyone who keeps up with tech news knows, the rumors get pretty wild in the days leading up to big announcements like these.

Aside from the new launch, there are two speculations that might have a more direct implication for the Kindle Fire.  The first is the possibility of a 7.85 inch iPad Mini.  Honestly, I can’t really see this fitting into the scope of Apple’s products.  I could be wrong, but right now, there is a big enough gulf between the iPad 2 and the iPhone that consumers can reconcile having both.  They serve different functions.

An iPad Mini would blur the lines a bit and give consumers less of a reason to have both.  So it would cause internal competition for Apple.  However, it would add some worthy competition to the smaller tablet market.

The other option is a budget version of the iPad 2.  This assumption seems more viable because Apple has done this in the past with the iPhone, and has had good success with it.  This would be an 8GB version as opposed to 16 or 32GB.

It depends on how much cheaper the iPad 2  is, but this is what could really give the Kindle Fire a run for its money.  Right now, Amazon’s bestselling tablet’s biggest asset is that it packs a lot of features for a rock bottom price.  Competitors certainly recognize that.  Just look at the recent price drop on the Nook Tablet.

In the next few years, I would love to see a tablet emerge that has computing power comparable to the PC.  Apple has that ability to to that with the iPad, but isn’t quite there yet.  That leaves room for the smaller tablets to serve consumers who want something more portable, inexpensive and multipurpose without too much processing power.

So, I don’t really think the iPad 3 will have too much effect on the Kindle Fire competition wise.  It serves a different market.  The thing to watch will be the introduction of either a budget iPad or a less probable iPad Mini.  So, all we can do at this point is sit back and see what happens.

 

 

Amazon to Sell E-Books Non Exclusively

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has sold e-books in the Kindle Store using its own formatting style ever since the Kindle was introduced in 2007.

That will change next year when a new program is launched called Amazon Lives.  This program will debut with biographies that will be available in multiple formats as well as places outside of the Kindle Store.

Amazon has been stepping out into a lot of new markets lately.  The online retailer is planning to open a boutique in Seattle to sell the Kindle and other products.  The company that started the online buying revolution will now have a tangible, brick and mortar presence.

We’ve also seen Amazon challenge Netflix with free movie streaming for Prime members, and take a stab at Apple’s iPad consumer market with the Kindle Fire.

Now with Amazon Lives, the line blurs as Kindle e-books lose their exclusive formatting identity.  Amazon Lives is just starting out with biographies, but I doubt it will take too long to branch out into other genres.  Barnes & Noble and Books a Million recently stated that they would not sell Amazon books in their stores, but the launch of this new program might affect that sales strategy.

The technology market in general involves a lot of cat and mouse type competition.  I’ve seen this ramp up a lot with the entrance of e-readers and tablets.  Competition is healthy in most respects because it makes the products better.  Take the Kindle Touch for example.  This version followed suit after other e-readers started adopting touch screen technology.  However, if a company wants to try to take over so many different areas of the market, then they risk losing quality in their products.

So my hope is that Kindle e-books will maintain their good reputation while serving the broadest audience possible as they venture into the new realm of non exclusivity.

iPad 3 Release Date Rumors Flying, What will this mean for the Kindle Fire?

If you are familiar with Apple’s PR strategy, you’ll recognize the hype that goes along with each potential new product release.  Speculations fly while Apple stays tight lipped until the product is launched.

That trend continues with the much anticipated release of the next generation iPad. March 29 seems to be the latest “magic date” for the release of the iPad 3.  This goes along with the usual spring release date of the highly sought after tablet.  So I wouldn’t be surprised if this release date was at least close to the actual one.

So, what will this mean for the Kindle Fire?  In the beginning, I don’t see it being affected too much because it seems to appeal to a different market than the iPad.  A big reason for that is the price.  The iPad is also geared more towards heavy duty computing, and includes a camera and bluetooth compatibility.  The Kindle Fire is great for browsing the internet, videos, reading and games.  It is just a matter of determining what you will use the tablet for and what you want it to do.

Apple has been known for top quality devices without too much cap on price.  Despite the $500 price tag on the iPad, consumers know they are going to get a top notch product.  Amazon designs the cheapest device they can that is still functional so that it can reach out to the biggest number of users possible.  I don’t see the price of the iPad 3 dropping a whole lot, at least not anywhere near the price of the Fire.

The Kindle Fire is the second best selling tablet after the iPad, and has been the only tablet to show a margin of success comparable to the Apple tablet, but the iPad’s sales hit record numbers in recent months.  So that just proves the point that both can exist and do extremely well.

Let’s take a look at a longer term effects. Now that so many consumers own a tablet, they will want to move up in features and quality.  Amazon will need to continue to try to integrate more features at the lowest cost for the Kindle Fire to show strong sales figures.  Another key factor is maintaining a strong Android Marketplace.  So, once Amazon achieves that, then they can release a second generation Kindle Fire.

This is all speculation base on the 10″ iPad.  If the rumored iPad Mini shows up, then Amazon will really need to get into gear to present a Kindle Fire version that can compete with it.

Until I see what the new iPad will look like and the price, it is hard to tell exactly how it will affect the status of the Kindle Fire.  So, more concrete observations to come after March 29, or whenever the official release date is.  Stay tuned.

 

Apple Launches E-Textbook Service

Apple launched a new e-textbook service last week that is claiming to “revolutionize the textbook industry.”  With major partners as McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Houghton-Mifflin on board, the service is poised to offer a robust collection of e-textbooks in the updated iBook store.  In addition to purchasing textbooks educators can create their own textbooks using iBook Author.  The lure of lighter backpacks is a pretty good one.

My initial question is, how are schools going to be able to afford an iPad for every student?  Will this be an expense put on parents?  If Amazon starts a competing service with the Kindle Fire, price would not be as much of an issue.  The Kindle Fire is less than half the price of an iPad 2.

Prior attempts at using the Kindle for textbooks have been somewhat successful with a few schools here and there using it for pilot programs.  There were also attempts at using the Kindle DX to hold college textbooks because it has a bigger screen.  Despite positive reviews on the programs, they never really took off.

Right now, the new e-textbook service seems to be focusing on the K-12 market with high school textbooks going for $14.99 or less.  What about college textbooks?  They’re the ones that students have to fork over the money for themselves.  They can also be expensive.  Professors have a lot more leeway on what they can teach so they will probably benefit more from iBook Author than K-12 teachers will.

I think that e-textbooks are going to play a larger role in the future, but I don’t see it taking off just yet.  Aside from the price still being steep for the iPad, there is still a learning curve and adjustment period for both teachers and students.  Tablets are already being  used as valuable tools in education through apps.  It just takes time figuring out how to utilize them the most effectively.

Will Amazon launch an e-textbook service to compete with Apple, or will it continue to appeal to the “masses” with the vast collection of books available in the Kindle Store?  I would say the latter for now, because Amazon’s strategy is to reach out to everyone, not a niche market like Apple does.  As e-textbooks become more mainstream and in higher demand, it will be more in Amazon’s best interest to provide them for the Kindle platform.