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Ereaders tablets netbooks

Amazon Kindle Fire review for writers and readers, ebooks, Story Software Live version

News from Amazon is the expected iPad competitor, the color Amazon Kindle Fire. Funny name, but eh… Kindle a Fire… geddit? That has to be the naffest name for a corporate product since Chrysler car names – a small sporty car is called the Crossfire as in

“Chrysler’s hot new sports coupe, the Crossfire, has a name that does justice to the car’s edgy, explosive looks”

– in some parallel universe that is.

Amazon Kindle Fire ereader tablet

Amazon Kindle Fire ereader tablet

Anyway back to the Kindle Fire, it looks very good, is cheap, cheerful, and will knock a lot of iPad sales. The iPad is expensive and many people don’t buy in to the Apple DRM (digital rights management) experience. The Kindle Fire uses a custom Amazon browser, the Amazon Silk browser (is that to contrast with Google Chrome?). It uses Amazon’s cloud storage for backups, and Whispernet for delivery. In all these respects it can outperform Apple and also come in a lot cheaper. Will the Silk browser be available on the web as another browser? Don’t know yet.

The Fire will deliver color magazine content with news, sports, films, etc, plus advertising. It is a tablet rather than an ereader… so it will be interesting to see how that works out, given the current user base of the Kindle. One assumes a big take-up.

Amazon Silk

Amazon Silk

Silk browser

The Silk browser uses a lot of cloud computing concepts to prepare content for delivery (ie, caching, reducing file size by compression, and presumably custom content). This is creating another ‘walled garden‘. So does all this indicate the fracturing of the internet and web into many separate competing technologies and ecology?

We already have Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple producing app ecologies. These are all different as this is quite natural commercial activity, which tends towards segregation of core audiences. A lot of standards-based tech, but with a lot of proprietary tech mixed in – just enough to divide and rule.

This means developers have to produce for Apple OS, Android, HTML/CSS/JS etc Web OS (I mean the Web operating system, the ‘web as in HTTP’ rather than the defunct HP system) (for browsers) and Silk format; for desktop, Windows, Apple Universal and (possibly) Linux. This is going back to the old format wars. Software companies now have to develop many different versions of the same app, which is going against basic web internet principles. I suppose the argument is that tablets are not the web, it just uses the internet for delivery. For optimized apps, developers will have to use specific localized proprietary systems.

The use of HTML5 will be used to try and circumvent all this, but has a performance overhead.

Pricing and marketing

The Kindle Fire will retail at an amazing $199. There is also a Kindle Touch, with a touchscreen, so you page turn by tapping, which is easier than the little button it has now, and no keyboard, as with all this tech, the fewer button or keys the cheaper it is to manufacture. A lower price basic Kindle is also due out at 79$, and a sponsored with advertising version, at an even lower price. Eventually (sooner than you think) there will a free tablet ereader with live content, given away at train stations and malls. Compare this to Apple’s chase for the high end consumer and haute design.

We will be getting a Kindle Fire and testing it when they are available here in November.

Story Software

Here at Story Software, we are nearly launching our Story Live online version of the multiple box editor. This is in standard web technologies so we can deliver it anywhere. The Story Live system allows editing online, for saving in Story format (.sto), rtf and text. We are planning some sort of ebook publishing system off Story Turbo, the new upgrade version of the desktop application. All this is due November 2011.

See this Reuters Kindle Fire news item with video >

Apps and the web – trends

Research shows that app use is now greater than web surfing. This is calculated in minutes spent (consumed, wasted, gained!) on each.

There is a graph here:

Apps versus Web use >

Which I show here small size so you get the general idea.

Apps use versus web use

Apps use versus web use

Wired magazine has announced this as the death of the web. But it is really that people now use apps to do things, play games, read ebooks, magazines, look at stocks, musical games like Biophilia by Bjork, and so on forever; rather than randomly search around the web.

Using an app has an extended and potentially unlimited time frame (Angry Birds, reading, music), unlike surfing which is usually doewn for a specific reason – research item Z – or to fill in ten minutes – have a look at the news, or Ebay, etc.

Web use is moving towards the ‘walled garden’ style of the old days – AOL etc – where people stay in comfort zones, rather than browsing the chaotic web, where all sorts of nasty things lurk, the least of which is viruses. Most time is within Facebook, then some apps, then a short bit of web research to Google a product, say.

So it is a kind of maturation of user habits, and the technology is there in smartphones and tablets. Chicken and egg?

Use of apps is moving away from a standards compliant web, as the apps conform to whichever platform and version they have to run on.

People used to make Macromedia Director games, Flash web modules; now it is a range of apps in many languages, this is a big boon for the developer (more work) but not so good for the company that pays up for them, especially as a lot are free.

With branded TLDs – the new dot coms for brands and also categories, such as .apple, .microsoft, .pizza etc, at high prices (175,000 UKP has been quoted), we are heading towards a ‘safe’ zone and an ‘outside’ for the rabble and the geeks… where all the free and interesting things are.

Incidentally, many of the new apps for the ipad, Android etc look like the 1990s multimedia CDROMs – remember all those DK learning multimedia books, even offbeat Arts Council funded things (yes I was on one called The Hub, with a multimedia game from the Nnn Goes Mobile novel)?

So perhaps the technology has caught up with the multimedia ideas at last.

Google ereader Story HD from iriver – Amazon Kindle, Sony Ereader, Nook challenger?

Google iriver Story HD ereader

Google iriver Story HD ereader

Google enters the ereader market with the iriver Story HD. Main new things are:

  • Higher screen specification – 15cm, 6 inches, 768 X 1024 pixel resolution, like a PC, and 16 grayscale color depth.
  • Keyboard
  • Access to Google ebooks – many classics (out of copyright) – from the Google ebookstore

  • Wifi
  • eink (same as Kindle etc)

BUT… with the ipad and other touch screen readers out, it looks like a Kindle device, so is playing catch-up. We have not tried one out yet as it is due to be launched in USA at Target stores and online on 17 July 2011. So does it have that annoying page turn flash like the Kindle? We assume so.

Also, Google is still battling with the publishing industry over book rights, which looks set to worsen as the Google plan is obvious now, get lots of digitised books for free, give away on their own ereader; fight Amazon/Kindle with FREE…

See also:

iriver Google Story HD ereader site >

Google ebookstore site >

And our own Story Software Story Lite How to use page, as it can be used to make ebooks in its unique non linear format >

Ereaders compared review video – Kindle, ipad, Sony Reader, Android

This is a good introduction to the ereader debate – which is basically Amazon Kindle vs. Apple ipad. Also don’t forget Sony Reader, Android tablets etc…

Ereaders video and short article >

We have put a lot on about ereaders as we are making a web app version of Story Lite that will run on any device including the ipad and also the browser in the Kindle.

Ereader formats, PDB, MOBI, LTF, EPUB, PDF, Sony, Amazon Kindle, Apple Ipad, netbook, Samsung, tablet

Ebook formats comparison and Ereader formats

There are so many formats it is called a format war.

Confused? You bet. That is why the most popular format is good old PDF.

We look at the different formats, PDF, RTF, TXT, HTML (the standard ones) and the more specifically ebook/ereader ones, sometimes proprietary, such as PDB, MOBI, LTF, EPUB, and a few others.

Of course the big issue is DRM – digital rights management – which people moan about but how are people supposed to be artists, build a business, provide services, etc? We also discuss that too. What do people say?

Story software (Story Lite, Story Turbo) as an ebook or electronic format

The Story Lite software can be used as an ideas generator, to help you in your writing or blogging, by allowing all notes to be viewable when you are writing.

It can also be used as an art format in its own right.

Multimedia art can be created using the multiple text layout. Some examples are on this site.

Making these available to an ereader depends on the dimensions of the Story layout.

We are having competitions soon for best use – keep an eye out!

ibooks on the iphone and ipad

This looks very nice; can keep the kids occupied I suppose.

ibooks on ipad iphone - Winnie the Pooh

ibooks on ipad iphone - Winnie the Pooh

No one ever mentions climate change these days, it seems to be last year’s thing. Isn’t the constant recharging of batteries on all these mobile devices, er, excuse me, bad for the planet? That sounds so 2010!

Most normal homes now have 2-? mobile devices on practically all the time – smart phones, netbooks, laptops, ipads, tablets… wall flatscreen TVs in many rooms… just sitting there using up a bit of power.

I know some older people who switch off their mobile phone when not using it… this is a bit weird as they cannot be called. Or perhaps that is the idea.

This mania for social media, always connected, being rammed down everyone’s throat now (even in print ads for saucepans etc), I always think you should look at the bottom line, which is device manufacturers profits and service providers profits… marketers and the app developers are along for the ride. Perhaps social media will be ‘so 2011‘…

This Pooh story on ibook for  iphone/ipad is a modern objectification of a nice old book into this advanced multimedia object. It is all a sort of training for future connectedness, and immersion in modernity. Which is not what Pooh was about at all (the new Disney cartoon versions have Tigger as lead character, and a scooter girl being active).

But of course a book is technology. Adapt and survive.

Our tech writer Azeema is blogging here about some of these ereader devices over the next week or two. We were going to have a section on ereaders and ebooks, maybe later.

Story Lite is a publishing format, and we are producing an ipad version soon. So who are we to talk about energy use? 

Here is the link:

ibooks on the iphone and ipad >

Kindle software – new features delivered via wifi

I just got en email about new features on Kindle, which are delivered via wifi. Aimed at adding social media features…

All quite useful if you can be bothered – well we have to ‘smile or die‘. Social media is for bullies? Nah…

Features are:

Real Page Numbers

These only show when switched on, but they are the same location (text wise) as those in print editions which means you can switch between the two formats. This is part of the idea of having real and electronic systems side by side.

Public Notes

This allows you to comment in a kind of social media way, depending on settings. This is a sort of book club idea, and is quite useful for new authors assuming you can get your pals to hype you a bit.

You can follow other people’s comments, join discussions and so on.

You can also use it a bit like bookmarking so you can keep track of what you have been up to, including recommendations etc. Also view notes you have made.

Before You Go…

At the end of a book can go online to rate it, comment, read others on it, buy more, did I say buy more…

New Newspaper and Magazine Layout

Have not seen yet so can’t comment – this is in response to the iPad and tablet dominance in ereading of color magazines format.

More when we actually receive it… via wifi Whispernet – that is quite neat as I am now on an island in the Andaman Sea