Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘publishing

Big Commerce In China

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China's Taobao is just one of thousands of Chinese-based e-commerce properties helping propel China into the world's single largest digital marketplace. So far in 2012, Alibaba (Taobao's parent company) has generated over $157 billion U.S. in gross merchandise volume, making it the largest e-commerce property in the world.

China’s Taobao is just one of thousands of Chinese-based e-commerce properties helping propel China into the world’s single largest digital marketplace. So far in 2012, Alibaba (Taobao’s parent company) has generated over $157 billion U.S. in gross merchandise volume, making it the largest e-commerce property in the world.

You read in my last post about last Monday’s “Cyber Monday” tidings according to the IBM Digital Benchmark.

Well, TechCrunch is reporting from comScore data that the holiday shopping juggernaut continues well beyond Cyber Monday.

comScore’s data found that e-commerce spending for the first 30 days of this November-December 2012 holiday season has amounted to a respectable $20.4 billion, a 15 percent increase over the same time period last year.

During the past week alone, comScore reported three individual days surpassing $1 billion in spending, according to the TechCrunch post by Leena Rao, with the peak, of course, coming on Cyber Monday at $1.46 billion.

Of course, all that might seem like chump change when you hold it up against some e-commerce numbers coming out of China, via a post on VentureBeat.

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba alone has sold an estimated $157 billion U.S. in gross merchandise volume this year, which VentureBeat observes surpasses Amazon and eBay combined.

In fact, Alibaba is believed to have garnered a $3 billion single sales day earlier this year.

But the real story here may be Jack Ma’s “Alipay,” Alibaba’s payments processing unit, which now has over 700 million registered users.

According to a recent report from the folks at eMarketer, China’s antiquated banking system and low usage by consumers of credit cards is benefiting the e-commerce industry there.

Alipay, now China’s largest third-party online payment solution, essentially provides escrow payment services that not only facilitate e-commerce transactions in China, but also reduces risk to consumers, because with Alipay, they have the ability to verify whether or not they are satisfied with their purchases before releasing funds to the seller.

And Alipay isn’t just limited to the Chinese marketplace. It now handles transactions in 12 foreign currencies, including in U.S. dollars, Japanese yen, and the euro.

According to the eMarketer report, Alibaba is also upgrading its COD payment infrastructure, investing some $79 million U.S. in a portable device that Alibaba says will consolidate logistics records with credit/debit card payment information in a single terminal.

It’s Alipay’s intent to install thousands such devices across China’s first- and second-tier cities (think Beijing, Shanghai, etc.) by the end of this year, which will help with China’s broader goals of fomenting increased internal consumer consumption.

Of course, if you’re News Corporation, and you’re in the iPad publishing business, no amount of Chinese e-commerce facilitatin’ payment devices are going to help a fledgling business model.

Earlier today, News Corp. finally bifurcated its publishing and entertainment businesses, and seemingly as a minor sidebar, also conceded defeat of its The Daily iPad app effective December 15.

The Daily had been News Corp’s digital pride and joy, a valiant attempt at delivering a daily news publication via the iPad only 100,000 people wanted.

At 99 cents a week, that apparently was not revenue enough even close to maintaining a viable business, so The Daily will now be put to bed.

Ever-reliable media critic website Poynter noted The Daily had two key lessons of failure from which we could all learn.  One, they had no clarity on its intended audience (I thought that was supposed to be iPad users!), and two, one platform, the iPad, just wasn’t enough in a multi-device world.

Perhaps they should have instigated a Chinese edition? Surely they could have drummed up a few more hundred thousand from a population of 1.3 billion!

Written by turbotodd

December 3, 2012 at 11:34 pm

No News Is Bad News

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So how was your weekend?

Roger Federer’s was pretty doggone good, having taken out Scotland’s Andy Murray yesterday in the Wimbledon finals.

South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi also had a pretty good weekend.  She took victory in the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin.

That was, by the way, the very same course where Se Ri Pak won the Open in 1998, a breakthrough that inspired a generation of South Korean women golfers (who, by the way, have won 4 out of the last 5 U.S. Opens).

Many congratulations to Na Yeon Choi on her victory.

My weekend wasn’t too bad, either.  I got to play a new golf course out in the Texas hill country, in Blanco, where I also attended a benefit concert headlined by Edie Brickell and New Bohemians.

You may remember Edie and New Bohemians from their breakout 1988 hit “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars,” but Edie and the “New Bo’s” were musical favorites in and around my hometown of Denton, Texas, long before they jetted off to musical stardom.

If you’ve not followed Edie’s own solo career, you’re missing out on some great tunes (try 2003’s “Volcano”).  Hard to believe it’d been nearly a quarter-century since Edie and the New Bo’s hit the big time — we Dentonites still remember their pre-fame performance at the 1988 Fry Street Fair, with Edie’s hair blowing freely in the breeze and their lyrical music sauntering freely up Oak Street without a care in the world.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

But, Turbo, you say, please tell me something relevant about the information technology industry!  It’s Monday, what’s going on?!

Okay, okay, I’m getting to that.  It is Monday, and it’s summer, and I’m off to a slow start, for Pete’s sake!

First and foremost, news from Gartner this A.M. suggesting that worldwide IT spending is on pace to reach $3.6 trillion in 2012, a 3 percent increase over last year’s $3.5 trillion.

Yes, despite the woes in Europe and minor slowdown in Asia, IT spending is going up, and in fact, Gartner revised its numbers to 3 percent growth from 2.5 percent last quarter.

Gartner describes this IT spending environment as “continued caution,” but highlights some strong spots: Public cloud services, for example, which is expected to hit $109 billion in spending this year, and $207 billion by 2016.

IT services spending grew a little more anemically year-over-year, coming in at 2.3 percent to reach $864 billion this year.

Meanwhile, no major outcries from the impacts of the DNSChanger servers being run by the FBI going offline.  PC World’s story this AM has the F-Secure blog estimating about 47K computers still affected in the U.S., and about 20K in India.

So, no news is good news (See more about this from last week’s blog post.)

Of course, no news may soon become a more common occurrence than we care to realize.  Read this piece from the NY Times’ David Carr on the dismal outlook for daily newspapers.

Just don’t have any sharp objects close by when you do, especially if you’re a news junkie like myself.

Written by turbotodd

July 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm

All About The Content Razorblades

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The Interwebs platform wars continue to escalate.

Not days after I read Ken Auletta’s fine New Yorker piece on the U.S. antitrust suit against Apple and several book publishers for alleged price fixing — a scheme that clearly had Amazon and its Kindle Fire in its gunsights — do we discover that Amazon is working with Foxconn on its own mobile mousetrap, one that, like the Fire, would presumably provide easy access to all kinds of compelling content from Amazon’s vast cloud of digital entertainment.

Books, movies, gaming apps…Amazon’s play suggests that the Internet industry is moving into the razor/razorblade club, with the devices being the razors, and the razorblades being all that vast digital content.

I, personally, mostly don’t care which razor I use. I’ve owned tablets and smartphones both Android and iOS now, and most recently have given a Kindle (not the Fire) a test drive.

The most important element for me in the digital content wars are the depth and sophistication of the content libraries themselves.

That is to say, help me move beyond Amazon and Apples’  57 Channels On Demand and Nothing On!

Amazon’s bookstore, of course, has virtually the world’s book population at your disposal, so no complaints when it comes to reading (although I do agree we need healthy, competitive alternatives to the Amazon reading ecosystem).

But when I go into my Amazon Prime movie library, which lets me watch some movies for free with my Prime subscription, it’s like dragging the bottom of the movie barrel.

To some degree, I see the same problem with Netflix, although Netflix has seemed to have worked more diligently to expand its library.  Amazon Prime, on the other hand,  just added a bunch of new episodes of William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line.”

Woo hoo, where do I renew my subscription??!

The cloud providers may be lining to try and lock in as many denizens as they can via their device and subscription services, but the form factor is less important than the catalog function.

What’s kept me from cutting my own cord on the TV is the fact that the Netflix’s and Amazons of the world don’t have enough diversity of content (never mind live event access to major sporting events, which for my money are msotly worth the high cost of monthly cable subscriptions alone).

So if the Apples and Googles and Amazons really want to move these markets, they need to quickly hire some sophisticated business development executives and hard-driving attorneys who can  make some negotiation headway in the hills of Hollywood’s film libraries  rather than try to draw lines around the device footprints.

It’s never about the razors, always about the razorblades.

Written by turbotodd

July 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Flipping Out Over Flipboard

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If you’ve ever spoken to a computer voice over the phone and had it respond, there’s a good chance you were speaking to an underlying technology developed by former TellMe founder Mike McCue.

McCue sold that company to Microsoft for around $800M a few years back, and stuck around long enough to help integrate his company into Redmond.

But you can’t keep a good serial entrepreneur down, and McCue is back, this time with a very cool social magazine for the iPad (and other platforms to come?) called Flipboard.

If you want to get the full overview, Robert Scoble interviews McCue here.

My interpretation of the elevator pitch and based on my experience having downloaded the app just this very morning: Flipboard is a very elegant iPad social aggregator with stunning, dynamic presentation that seem to be driven by some interesting heuristics and algorithms on the back-end that helps cater and present content to your interests.

Or something along those lines.

But I don’t want to hurt my head thinking too much about the “back end.”  For me, it’s a cool, easy, gorgeous and more interesting way to consume all that disparate firehose of social information that’s coming my way, as well as other, more established media from sources I consume on a regular basis.

Judging from the overnight zeitgeist, there’s already a crazy amount of buzz around Flipboard and talk of the onslaught already having brought down Flipboard’s servers.

Here’s hoping they bring them back up soon.

Written by turbotodd

July 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Gaga for Ebooks

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Didja see the Grammys last night?

I caught the opening act with Lady Gaga and Elton John, which I found quite entertaining.

And then Stephen Colbert took the stage to kick things off as this year’s Grammys emcee.

And before too long, it became clear Apple’s product placement team had been earning their keep, because instead of a staid ol’ envelope containing the names of the nominees for “Song of the Year,” Colbert pulled from his jacket what appeared to be a working Apple iPad.

You could hear Mac fanboys sighing in synchronicity from around the globe.

They were sighing almost as loudly as the digerati were crying about Amazon’s decision to acquiesce to Macmillan publishing’s request to sell their e-books on Amazon for $15.

Why the —storm?  Well, as Henry Blodget points out, the incremental costs for publishing e-books is “pretty much zero,” and Macmillan’s driving Amazon to adopt Macmillan’s pricing regime as opposed to letting Amazon continue to decide at what price to price its books.

Hey, at least they’ve not jumped completely into Chris Anderson-land and announced they’re giving them away for free.

Who’d a thunk that 10 years after I got my first e-book reader (the Rocket e-Book reader), that the publishing and e-retailing industry would still be squabbling over the price of an e-book?

Life’s really too short for this.

All I know about the book publishing industry is this: I went in to my local Borders yesterday to get a copy of the new political tome Game Change, only to find out they were charging $27.00 U.S.!

I came home and surfed through Amazon to find they were offering it for $13.99.

Done, done and done.  I’ll give one guess as to where I bought the book.

And really, that’s all you need to know about the Amazon juggernaut.

I’m hopeful that Amazon’s caving to Macmillan’s pricing request is part of a larger strategy.

Can we all just get along?  Or better yet, move it along?

When’s somebody gonna unleash Steve Jobs on the negotiating case with Macmillan?

That’s a negotiating session I’d like to be a fly on the wall for.

And, one for which I might even pay a premium so I could get a signed autographed copy from the author.

Written by turbotodd

February 1, 2010 at 5:00 pm

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