Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘publishing’ Category

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

Into The Amazon Digital Jungle

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Whoa, what ants got into Amazon.com’s pants this quarter??

Amazon announced earnings earlier today, and though profits for the first quarter dropped 35 percent to $130 million from last year’s same quarter, revenue jumped 34 percent to $13.2 billion, beating the Street’s expectations.

Is this a bellwether indicator for e-commerce en generale, or is it isolated to the ‘Zon?

Hard to say, but The Wall Street Journal is reporting that part of Amazon’s spending has gone towards making itself operate more efficiently.  If you remember, Amazon spent a cool $775 million to buy Kiva Systems last month, which is intended to help them automate and lower their warehouse operations costs.

The Journal story’s also highlighting the fact that the e-commerce market in general “has been strong,” with Amazon reporting particularly good sales for digital goods, including e-books and online video (which, read, means little to no distribution costs other than bandwidth!)

In Amazon’s earnings press release, Amazon pointed out that “9 out of 10 top sellers on Amazon.com were digital products — Kindle, Kindle books, movies, music and apps.”

In the quarter, Amazon also introduced a new version of its Kindle for iPad app, which is the #5 free iPad app of all time and the #1 free books app on iPad.

The Amazon left jab strikes Apple on the chin! Pow!

The Kindle, retailing for $199 through Amazon, continues to be the company’s best-selling product, and the most “gifted.”

I may have even contributed to the strong quarter with a few Amazon purchases meself, come to think of it!

For my money (what little I have left of it after shopping with Amazon), this digital trend is a larger barometric indicator — folks are finally getting more comfortable with consuming books and other media in digital formats, and though it certainly has a negative impact on the “traditional” media industries on one side of the balance sheet, that starts to get offset as the digital column increases.

Of course, I haven’t even gotten to some of the social commerce trends which Amazon is also likely benefiting from (mentions via Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and their own leading adoption of customer ratings and reviews.

Click, mortar, AND pixels is the name of the game for smarter commerce, something IBM thought leaders will be discussing at the upcoming IBM Global Smarter Commerce Summit in Madrid May 22-24th.

More on that in a prior post here.

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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