Chinese Android Apps Are Bypassing Google’s Play Store


This post is by Steven Millward from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Google China

A mobile platform is only as strong as its app line-up, which in turn relies on the co-operation and keenness of app developers.

But looking at the situation in China, amongst Chinese startups and major web companies alike, the picture doesn’t look too good for Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android OS, with its official app store, now called Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Play, generally being subverted and/or ignored.

Instead, every single one of the Chinese apps we surveyed gave the Android app ‘.apk’ file directly to consumers, with very few app developers even linking to the Play Store from their respective homepages.

Many are still using Google Play (formerly dubbed the Android Market), but seemingly only as a minor distribution channel. The Google Play store doesn’t support paid apps in China and many overseas developers choose not to publish their apps to local consumers on it. As so often occurs in China, local services have sprung up to fill in the gaps – done with a mixture of piracy and legitimate alternative app distribution. That’s the scene with the dozens of alternative Android app stores that have sprung up in the past year or so. A case in point is the newly-released Temple Run game, which is not in the Google Play store, but is easily available on other stores, such as by browsing through the Baidu (NSDQ: BIDU) app catalog which lists items from numerous third-party Chinese Android stores.

But let’s just focus on Chinese-made apps in this survey. I looked at 50 local apps, from tiny startups to well-established independent apps – like Jiepang – to those made by major web companies such as Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Tencent (HKG:0700). I then noted three things: which apps were given to people as ‘.apk’ files from the app homepage; which apps were available on the Play Store; and which developers actually guided consumers to the Play Store to get their apps:

As you can see, then tendency is to distribute apps very directly, as occurred with all 50 of the surveyed apps. Only in eight out of 50 cases did the app homepage additionally encourage usage of the Play Store and linked to it as well. Generally, developers were more likely to guide users to local app stores instead (not indicated in the graph).

Smaller startups were less likely to have put their apps on Google Play, even though they had done so for the iOS version of their app with Apple’s iTunes app store. The full table (bottom) shows those very early startups listed along with their Chinese names. All the other apps will be familiar to regular readers – and so are given only with their English names – as we’ve covered and/or reviewed all of them before.

One final point. Yesterday we reported that Tencent’s hit group-messaging app, Weixin, had hit 100 million users. To hit such a major milestone, you’d expect the Weixin app to have been downloaded at least twice as many times as that across all four platforms that it’s on. But, looking at the app’s listing in the Play Store, the vague Google stat says it has been downloaded “1,000,000 – 5,000,000” times. If, say, a quarter of Android users are on Weixin, then that figure ought to be higher. Even the most popular app in the country, QQ instant messenger, has had only the same number of downloads for its outgoing 2011 version on the Play Store. Clearly, Chinese Android users – despite being huge fans of the smartphone OS – are getting their apps elsewhere.

We did contact Google about this; though Asia-based staff showed an interest in the findings, no-one on the Android team in the US could be drawn to comment.

Here are all the 50 Chinese-made apps I surveyed:


»  This article originally appeared on Tech In Asia, and is reproduced here with permission.

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Industry Moves: Hearst; WebCollage; AccentHealth; Magnetic


This post is by Amanda Natividad from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Businesspeople Walking, Leaving or Arriving - Executives walking

Hearst Newspapers: Lincoln Millstein has been promoted to EVP and deputy group head of Hearst Newspapers, from SVP of digital media. His promotion fills the spot created when Mark Aldam was upped to president of Hearst Newspapers in March 2011. Prior to joining the company in 2005, Millstein was EVP of New York Times (NYSE: NYT) Digital, where he helped found Boston.com.

Hearst Magazines UK: Hearst has made another appointment: Richard Swan is now head of advertising operations for Hearst Magazines UK’s digital business. Swan has eight years of experience leading ad ops at various companies including Hachette Filipacchi UK, Abu Dhabi Media Company, Global Radio and Autotrader.

WebCollage: Peter Green has been hired as VP of sales. Most recently, he was SVP of strategic partnerships at dLife. Prior to that, he ran the sales team at Undertone.

AccentHealth: John Curbishley has been appointed EVP for business and product development at AccentHealth, the health education TV network. Previously, he was an SVP for NBCU’s iVillage.

Magnetic: Soo Jin Oh joins the search re-targeting firm as VP of advertising operations. She previously led ad ops at IDG TechNetwork and prior to that, worked at Dogtime Media.


Interview: Rdio Prepares To Take On Spotify, Deezer Et Al In Europe


This post is by Robert Andrews from paidContent


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Scott Bagby

Unlimited-music service Rdio concedes it will have to fight incumbents as it prepares to launch across the whole of Europe.

“There are some major competitors in Europe,” Rdio’s partnerships and internationalisation VP Scott Bagby tells paidContent. “We are a couple of years behind others in terms of expansion there.

“But Europe is an immediate focus. We’ll be expanding in all countries in Europe - within the next few months, you’ll see several pop up.”

No timescale on UK launch

Rdio recently added Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Australia and New Zealand to its U.S. and Canada availability. And it just quietly soft-launched access in Denmark.

Now it has gained a PRS For Music license to play UK artists across Europe, speculation has mounted on the timescale of other continental launches, including in the UK. But Bagby said the “exact date is not set in stone”: “Lining all the stakeholders up and making them happy is extremely difficult.”

It transpired Spotify launched in Germany without being in full possession of expected licenses. But Bagby says Rdio will make sure it has all necessary rights, and a range of local music repertoire, before going in to any new country.

Europe, then Asia

“I did the international expansion for Skype, I’ve known (Rdio founders) Niklas (Zennstrom) and Janus (Friis) for some time now,” he told me. “One of the important things for them, beside product usability, is they love international expansion. So I came in in August 2010 to immediately look at international expansion. It’s always been on our roadmap.

We already have a guy on the ground in Asia and have been talking with stakeholders out there.”

Young guns

But all the other music-access services have the same idea. Spotify, Deezer, We7 and Rhapsody are amongst those expanding to new countries. Rdio will need to fend off the throng.

Still, the segment is still young - at 2011’s end, there were only 13.4 million music subscribers in the whole world, according to the IFPI.

The streaming space is very nascent,” Bagby says. “The general population is not familiar at all with what is going on. There is huge room for growth.”

Too many cooks?

Even so, with multiple music-subscription services entering each developed market, the scene could be set for later bloodbath.

I think there’ll be some consolidation,” Bagby says. “But it’s definitely not a one- or two-person game. When water comes in to a lake, all the boats go up.”

Unsurprisingly, Bagby shakes off suggestion that his Rdio might be involved in that consolidation, as Mog has been to Beats Audio/HTC: “The vision for our company from the beginning was to be a strong brand of its own.”

Partner or not

For its recent Brazil launch, Rdio partnered with telco Oi on a bundled offering. Such a deal is not essential to each new roll-out, Bagby says.

“Each individual market is different. Brazil, as a developing market, has issues with scepticism on credit card payments - people trust their mobile providers a lot more.

“In Scandinavia, that’s not an issue. So is a partner in every market a necessity? I don’t think so. But, even so, if the right partner comes along, we’re very interested.”


CBS To Stream The Masters .. But Not Every Hole


This post is by Jeff Roberts from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




World Golf Tour

CBSSports.com announced it will be streaming portions of the Masters, the first of golf’s four annual marquee events.

But organizers appear to have taken a page from the Superbowl, allowing only drips and drops of it to appear online in order not to undercut the event’s lucrative TV business.

Instead, it appears that the online portions are being positioned as a second screen complement to the overall tourney.

CBSSports.com said that it will stream four “channels” including one that will offer a live stream of the 15th and 16th hole. Another channel will show the 11th to 13th holes and another will follow select pairings from holes 10 to 18.

The Masters is getting extra buzz this year in light of Tiger Woods’ recent return to form. The one time king of golf won a PGA tournament for the first time in 30 months since his life and reputation collapsed amidst a series of marital infidelities.

The week of the Masters will take place from April 2 to April 8.

 


Google Partners With Pandora, AdWeek, NYDN On New Paywall ‘Substitute’


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Google Consumer Surveys

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is rolling out a new product, “Google Consumer Surveys,” that lets publishers monetize content through “microsurveys” created by companies that want to carry out inexpensive market research. Publisher partners at launch include Pandora (NYSE: P), AdWeek, the New York Daily News, the Lima News and the Texas Tribune.

For publishers, the microsurveys are “basically a substitute for a paywall,” said product manager Paul McDonald. When a user clicks on an article that would normally be behind a paywall, he or she can answer a question instead of paying for a digital subscription.

Google already has a paid content product, Google One Pass, that lets publishers sell digital subscriptions, but Google Consumer Surveys is different because it doesn’t require customers to purchase subscriptions or log in.

Google pays publishers $0.05 for each survey response, with publishers seeing average revenues of $15 per thousand page views, McDonald said.

So far Google has around 20 publishing partners and is looking for more. When I first tested the product on the LimaOhio.com website, I couldn’t get the surveys to appear. McDonald asked me if I had my AdBlock app on. I did, and when I turned it off, the surveys popped up. “It’s a loose paywall,” McDonald admitted, and “a very small percentage of users use AdBlock.”

Google can pay publishers because advertisers and small businesses are paying to run the questions. These companies “have market research needs that are not met by existing solutions,” in part because traditional market research is so expensive, McDonald said. “This is market research that is self-serve but has the same qualities of a high-end platform.”

The customers create surveys and select the audience who will see the questions. Questions seen by a broad audience representing the general U.S. population are $0.10 per response (with a minimum total cost of $100). If companies want to drill down by demographic or select a custom audience with a screening question, the cost is $0.50 per response.

Once a survey launches, customers have access to a custom reporting dashboard that lets them see how different demographics answered their question.

The tool can be used by anyone (including a reporter in search of data). Companies like Lucky Brand Jeans, King Arthur Flour and Timbuk2 are using it now.

We'll be addressing some of these themes during our next conference, paidContent 2012, May 23 in New York City. You can find out more about the agenda and register here.

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Facebook’s Big Freemium Funnel Helps Spotify Et Al Find The Pay In Free


This post is by Robert Andrews from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Sean Parker and Daniel Ek

In the land of the freemium, how much free is enough to convince users to pay?

In the latest refinement to its market strategy, Spotify in many countries is now abolishing a five-free-plays-per-track limit it introduced last year.

The limit was implemented along with a 10-hours-per-month free listening cap one year ago, apparently at labels’ behest, as they ratcheted up pressure on Spotify to bring them paying subscribers. Even Spotify staff, reluctantly implementing the measure, called it a “very tough day”.

Now, however, the service is dropping the plays limit in Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and Spain, according to MusicAlly, and in the United States. The 10-hours limit stays in Europe.

What has changed? In short, Facebook has become a key conversion tool.

Spotify isn’t saying it along with this announcement, but all media services which announced controversial integration with Facebook’s frictionless sharing system last fall have seen a big influx in usage.

Facebook is a massive funnel that is bringing operators hot business prospects - potential customers. These incomers are unlikely to pay immediately - to convert them to pay, developing a free relationship is essential.

That is the mantra Spotify has successfully preached to labels. And it is one which rivals Mog and Rdio adopted in September when, on the same day ahead of Facebook’s announcement, they each introduced new free options alongside their paid services.

The abolition of the five-plays-per-track limit indicates Spotify’s label pay-masters are becoming more and more comfortable with allowing some free, unlimited listening if it ultimately brings them more paid custom. But the free part in isolation is a business concept some artists remain uncomfortable with.

When Spotify launched in the US in June 2011, it gave users a six-month, all-free access period. By year’s end, those free users were due to have hit limits.

But, as paidContent first reported in January, Spotify, fresh from the Facebook implementation, had never actually put these roadblocks in front of anyone. Today’s announcement confirms that this approach is indefinite.

This is the latest in what has been a yo-yoing freemium strategy for Spotify since its 2008 launch.

It initially limited new sign-ups whilst it managed growth. After an initial period of unlimited free, Spotify then introduced a 20-hours-per-month limit before halving it to 10 hours.

Finding the balance between free and paid is an interesting challenge, including finding the tolerance of free users toward free monetisation methods. Clear Channel (OTCBB: CCMO) says it will delay adding in-stream ads to its iHeartRadio service after noting complaints about the frequency of ads in Pandora’s free streams.

“There are a lot of negative comments about in-stream ads,” Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman says (via AP). “When you’re in your music collection, you want to escape from the world. It’s a completely different experience’’


ESPN Hands International Digital Media To Rees


This post is by Robert Andrews from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Arne Rees

The ball for ESPN’s international digital media activities is being passed from Tom Gleeson to Arne Rees.

Rees, previously VP for ESPN (NYSE: DIS) Inc in the US, is becoming international digital media VP for ESPN International, overseeing ESPNCricinfo, ESPNScrum, ESPNF1, ESPNSoccernet and other properties.

Gleeson, who had led the cricket site Cricinfo through its acquisition by ESPN, is now consulting for ESPN and working with Rees on the transition.

Amongst ESPN’s most prestigious overseas TV rights is 23 live matches in the UK of England’s Premier League soccer. It also holds mobile highlights rights to all the tournament’s games.

The app through which it exploits those highlights rights, ESPN Goals, was last year switched from paid to ad-supported free by the broadcaster, which also introduced a post-match live web discussion show. ESPN Goals has passed two million downloads.

Rees is a former strategy head of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and will work from New York.


WSJ Pulls Down Paywall For 24-Hour ‘Digital Open House’


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




WSJ iPhone

The Wall Street Journal (NSDQ: NWS) is running a 24-hour “Digital Open House.” For today, all subscriber content on the website, mobile site and iOS apps is free.

Today’s “Open House” is sponsored by Jaguar. “Working with advertisers to offer open houses has proven to be one of the most valuable and efficient ways to expose our premium content to new readers and potential subscribers,” said Alisa Bowen, general manager of the WSJ Digital Network.

The paper has run similar promotions before but this is the first time that content is free across iPhone and iPad apps.


The Cable Sports Bidding War Will Justify The Dodgers’ $2.15B Sale Price


This post is by Daniel Frankel from paidContent


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Magic Johnson

How does a faded Major League Baseball franchise—one that hasn’t won a championship in 24 years and has fallen into disrepair under consecutive floundering ownership regimes—get moved for the largest team sale price in pro-sports history? It all has to do with the licensing power of regional sports cable television.

The $2.15 billion sale price of the Los Angeles Dodgers this week came as a shocker to some people. But a likely bidding war for the team’s soon-to-expire TV licensing rights should turn more heads than an unassisted triple-play. There was widespread speculation Wednesday that the team’s next TV deal would go for around $4 billion.

Yes, subscriber growth has slowed down for cable and satellite operators, and ratings are down for cable programmers. But operators of regional sports channels are bullish enough about the long-term vitality of the multichannel business to sign sports teams to huge deals.

And the Dodgers, whose current TV deal expires in 2013, are poised to become a major beneficiary of that dynamic. Here’s how the bidding war shapes up:

The incumbent Fox (NSDQ: NWS) Cable Networks recently extended the region’s other Major League team, the Los Angeles Angels, to a 20-year, $3 billion agreement to stay on Fox Sports West, the fourth-biggest regional sports cable network in the U.S., with revenue of more than $282 million last year, according to research firm SNL Kagan. But next year, Fox will lose longtime tenant the Los Angeles Lakers, who signed a 20-year, $5 billion deal to help Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) launch two new regional sports channels.

Losing the Dodgers would have a far-reaching impact on Fox, which could no longer justify charging cable, satellite and telco TV operators hefty carriage fees for spin-off channel Fox Sports West 2. In fact, Fox’s parent company, News Corp., actually bought the Dodgers in 1998 to justify the launch of that second regional channel. (News Corp., whose ownership of the Dodgers was never embraced by local media or fans, sold the team to real estate tycoon Frank McCourt for $430 million in 2004—another ill-fated ownership run that ended Tuesday night when a private equity group fronted by Lakers legend Magic Johnson made its purchase.)

Fox has an exclusive negotiating window with the Dodgers through Nov. 30, but don’t be surprised if the team waits to test the open market. Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Cable also wants to be able to charge operators for two channels. And having the Dodgers—whose summer schedule compliments the Lakers’ winter campaign—would justify paying a hefty license fee.

McCourt had a notoriously rocky run as owner of the Dodgers—a term that bottomed out a year ago with the near-fatal assault of a rival fan in the Dodger Stadium parking lot during opening day. His very public, very messy divorce from former wife Jamie, meanwhile, not only hurt his public image, it compromised the financial resources needed to run the team.

But not only is the Dodgers’ brand equity restored overnight by Johnson—who has parlayed local sports heroism into a solid reputation as one of Los Angeles’ bigger business power brokers—the ownership group he fronts seems more than poised to capitalize on the huge TV licensing opportunity.

Not only does Chicago-based investment firm Guggenheim Partners have experience with negotiating media deals, the ownership group also includes former Sony (NYSE: SNE) Pictures chairman and CEO Peter Guber, as well as Stan Kasten, a former baseball executive who has, in the past, carved out TV deals for the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.

So stay tuned to the Dodgers’ upcoming media deals—the team is about to put up some big numbers again.

 

 

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Pottermore, Day 2: Here Come The Complaints


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Reading Harry Potter book

J. K. Rowling’s Pottermore shop, the exclusive source for Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks, launched yesterday, and some muggles aren’t happy.

Negative reactions have a few common themes so far:

Downloading the books is too complicated: You create a Pottermore account, buy a book, download it and then read it on your computer, load it onto your device or link to your Kindle, Nook, Sony (NYSE: SNE) or Google (NSDQ: GOOG) account and wirelessly transfer it. (Here’s the process for various e-readers.) These are “unnecessary additional barriers to access the books,” Techdirt says, and “the number of forms and clicks needed to buy a book [are] likely to put off a lot of customers.”

There are language and regional restrictions: Wired‘s Tim Carmody notes that these restrictions “make certain editions of books available only in particular countries. This means that readers in the U.S. still can’t read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone rather than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, discover the rich U.K. slang and spelling of the unbowdlerized editions, or listen to Stephen Fry’s masterful reading of the audiobook series rather than Jim Dale’s.”

There’s still DRM, kind of: The Pottermore e-books are watermarked (or, as Pottermore calls it, “personalized”) and each can be downloaded for personal use up to eight times, so users can read the books across gadgets (or give each of their kids a copy). However, Nate Hoffelder at the Digital Reader discovered yesterday that when you buy an e-book from Pottermore and wirelessly push it to your account at an etailer (Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS), Sony, Google) the book takes on that etailer’s DRM.

These complaints aren’t that big of a deal: Sorry, that one was mine. I don’t believe any of the above will be particularly problematic for everyday readers. The download/wireless transfer process may catch up a few but I didn’t find it difficult if you follow the instructions (no glitches) and I think a couple extra steps are worth it since you have the ability to download the book eight times and can also just load the EPUB file onto devices manually if you want. Similarly, language and regional restrictions may bother a few die-hard HP (NYSE: HPQ) fans but those are likely the same people who went out and bought all seven e-books yesterday anyway.

Possibly more problematic: Pottermore and Apple’s iBookstore haven’t come to an agreement yet because Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) uses the agency model for everything sold on iTunes.  But Pottermore and Apple could still end up making a deal, and if they don’t, Apple may be a bigger loser than Pottermore. For now, users who want to read the Harry Potter e-books on an Apple device can just drag it onto their device and open it in iBooks. Or they can read it on another retailer’s app.

Overall, the Pottermore shop appears to be handling the presumably massive traffic it got yesterday just fine (though there was a possibly related glitch for under an hour at Amazon) and the site is promoting DRM-free books in a way no big-six publisher has before. For now I’m raising a glass of butterbeer to the Pottermore shop’s launch, but if you’re having issues or problems I didn’t mention here, let me know in the comments.

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Kindle Touch Heads To Europe


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Amazon Kindle Touch

Amazon’s Kindle Touch e-reader will be available in Europe at the end of April, the BBC reports.

The Kindle Touch will go on sale in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy—the countries where Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) has a Kindle Store—on April 27. It’s been available in the U.S. since November and has been shipping to many international countries (but not the five affected by the new rollout) since February.

Prices are £109 for the WiFi version and £169 for WiFi/3G, the BBC reports. An ad-supported “Kindle with Special Offers” won’t be available.

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You Can Buy The Harry Potter E-Books Now—Here’s What You Need To Know


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Harry Potter 2

The Pottermore e-bookstore is open earlier than expected, with all the Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks available (DRM-free) for sale for the first time today. Wait until you see what they worked out with Amazon’s Kindle.

Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter community site and the exclusive source for the Harry Potter digital audiobooks and e-books, was announced last year. While the interactive community portion of the site is still in beta and set to open to a general audience in April, the bookstore is open now. (It was originally supposed to open in October 2011.)

What do the books cost? The first three books in the Harry Potter series are $7.99 (£4.99) as e-books and $29.99 (£17.99) as digital audiobooks. The final four books in the series are $9.99 (£6.99) as e-books and $44.99 (£32.99) as digital audiobooks. Readers can also buy a complete e-book bundle for $57.54 or a complete digital audiobook bundle for $242.94

Which e-readers are compatible with the e-books? It looks as though Pottermore has done a great job making the e-books available across every possible device. And the site has worked out an unusual arrangement with major e-bookstores:

We have partnered with the following services to make it easy to send your Harry Potter eBook to your account. (Subject to reading service availability in your country.)

Sony (NYSE: SNE) Reader online account (US and Canadian based customers only) [Sony is at the top because Sony is a Pottermore partner]
Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle (available in most countries)
Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) NOOK (US and Canadian based customers only)
Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Play (This service is currently available in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States)

The accounts are linked during the download process. In order to set up a linked account, please go to ‘My books’, select one of your Harry Potter eBooks to download and choose your reading service. You can view these linked accounts by going to ‘My shop account’ then ‘Linked accounts’. Please note you can link to one account per reading service.

Check out the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone entry on Amazon this morning and you’ll see this (click to enlarge):

What, you haven’t seen Amazon do that before? No, you sure haven’t.

Amazon also has an FAQ for how to get the Harry Potter e-books onto your Kindle.

Is the process too complicated, with several clicks before you actually have the book on your e-reader? Maybe. We’ll surely see more reactions to it this morning as people start buying the e-books. Note Pottermore is directing users to the individual retailers’ customer support so it may be Amazon (and Barnes & Noble and so on) flooded with customer service requests rather than Pottermore.

UK book trade publication The Bookseller confirms that e-book retailers will eventually receive affiliate fees. Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne said “clearly [retailers] should earn out of it in the same way we should.”

What about Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and iOS? Directions on how to load the book onto iPhones and iPads are here. But The Bookseller reports that Pottermore wasn’t able to come to an iBookstore agreement with Apple by the time the Pottermore shop launched.

Is there DRM? No, the e-books do not have DRM. Instead, they’re watermarked (or, as Pottermore kindly describes it, “personalized”): “The Pottermore Shop personalises eBooks with a combination of watermarking techniques that relate to the book, to the purchaser and the purchase time. This allows us to track and respond to possible copyright misuse.” Go, Pottermore. Watermarking is often floated as a good possible alternative to DRM—one that allows users easy access to the books they bought without wanting to share them—but it hasn’t been used much in trade books before now.

The site notes users can download the e-books they buy for personal use up to eight times:

eBooks purchased from the Pottermore Shop can be downloaded for your personal use up to eight times, at no additional cost. If you want to share your Harry Potter eBook with your own children, that’s absolutely fine with us too, so long as they are under 18. Actually, we’d encourage it! However, once they are over 18, they will need to buy their own copy.

You might want to download a copy to your laptop, your tablet, and your child’s eReader - whatever the combination - you have eight available downloads per book. There’s no time limit to use up your downloads, so if you lose your device or close an account with one of our partners, come back at any time to take another copy.

Eight downloads will normally be plenty, so you won’t need to buy again. However, if you do download a book more than eight times, or want to buy it as a gift, you will need to purchase it again. For more details on downloads and how they can be used, please see our Terms & Conditions.

Are the e-books available internationally? Which languages are available? The e-books and digital audiobooks are only available in U.S. and UK English for now, but “French, German, Spanish and Italian language eBooks will be available soon, and many further languages will follow. Digital audio books in German and Italian will also be available shortly.” The e-books and digital audiobooks are available for sale internationally.

Are the e-books available in libraries now? The e-books and digital audiobooks will be available to libraries through OverDrive, but this morning I’m not seeing them available in the NYPL yet. The Bookseller reports, “Libraries will be able to loan each e-book edition as many times as there is demand, but the license will only last for five years, after which libraries will need to purchase a new edition.”

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Pottermore Effect? Amazon’s Kindle Store Hits The Wall


This post is by Staci D. Kramer from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Amazon Kindle Store Problems

Within hours of the Harry Potter series going on sale as e-books for the first time, the Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle Store hit a wall: titles of all kinds showed up as unavailable on Kindle Fire and iPad Kindle storefronts while the browser version told would-be customers that titles like the top-selling Hunger Games aren’t available in the U.S.

I first noticed it around 3:20 p.m. eastern when all of the titles in a Harry Potter search on the iPad Kindle storefront in Safari showed up as “currently unavailable” as did all the titles on the top 100 paid list. The browser version was still saying titles weren’t available in the U.S. a little before 4 p.m.; it’s back to normal now.

Is it the Pottermore effect? The Harry Potter site and its store appear to be working fine. Maybe it’s the collision of the first movie week for the Hunger Games and the Harry Potter release—or some other error that coincidentally hit at just the wrong time. We’ve asked Amazon for an explanation.

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Update: Hasbro Can’t Stop Sale Of ‘Transformer Prime’ Tablets


This post is by Jeff Roberts from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Transformer / robot

(Updated to include Hasbro response)

In a court ruling that reads at times like a pop culture or consumer gadget review, a federal judge gave tablet maker Asus a green light to sell its “Transformer” tablets.

Hasbro filed a lawsuit against Asus late last year that claimed the Transformer Prime would lead to confusion with its popular toy robots. As the judge explained:

“The Autobots are led by the virtuous Optimus Prime character, while the Decepticons follow the powerful Megatron. According to Hasbro, Optimus Prime is intended to epitomize honor, duty, leadership, and freedom.”

Hasbro tried to persuade the court that consumers would believe the Asus tablets were connected to the toy franchise. The company pointed out that its transformer toy decal had been used on products like USB storage drives, computer mouses, skins for laptops, speaker heads and iPod docks. The court also took note that:

“In the third film, an Autobot character known as “Brains” disguised itself as a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Plus laptop [...] Hasbro developed the “Transformers Prime” animated television series, which began airing in approximately November 2010. The series focuses on the life and story of the Optimus Prime character. “Prime” was added to the “Transformers” mark in the program’s name to emphasize this focus. Thus far, the series has received several Emmy nominations and awards and has been aired in 170 countries.”

But the judge refused to believe that consumers would be confused into believing that Asus’s tablet was a Hasbro product:

“There is nothing gimmicky about the Eee Pad Transformer or the Eee Pad Transformer Prime, nor can it be said that there is any similarity in the use or function between Hasbro and Asus’s
products.”

The court also found that Asus’ case was strengthened because it was using the word “transformer” as an accurate description because it can” “‘transform’ into a laptop computer when attached to its accompanying QWERTY keyboard dock.”

Finally, the judge suggested that Hasbro had waited too long to act and was not entitled to a preliminary injunction even though the toy company says it plans to launch a line of “Transformer Prime” merchandise this month.

Update: Hasbro responded with the following statement:

“Hasbro strongly disagrees with the Court’s decision not to preliminarily enjoin Asus’ use of those marks, however we were pleased with the Court’s views on the strength of Hasbro’s TRANSFORMERS and TRANSFORMERS PRIME marks. While the case proceeds toward trial, Hasbro will continue to actively pursue this matter and will take all steps necessary to protect its globally recognized and established marks.”

The order also reveals that the Transformer Prime is, for now, no iPad: “as of February 24, 2012, it had received over 2,000 pre-orders ... and that retailer fulfillment orders for the next two months total approximately 80,000 tablet computers.”

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Amazon Recommends $17 Book Of Wikipedia Articles To ‘Hunger Games’ Fans


This post is by Laura Hazard Owen from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Popular Book Series Of The 21st Century

If you liked The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Twilight, you’ll love Popular Book Series of the 21st Century: Harry Potter, Twilight, The Millenium Trilogy, The Hunger Games, The Mortal Instruments, The Southern Vampire Mysteries and The Uglies Series. Too bad it’s just a collection of Wikipedia articles repackaged into a $17.66 paperback.

One of my colleagues was browsing for The Hunger Games n Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and got this recommendation:

The book is literally all of the Wikipedia articles about each series. We’ve seen plenty of spammy content on Amazon before, but this one stands out because Hunger Games interest is driving it up in Amazon’s recommendation algorithm and it is a pricey paperback rather than an e-book.

The book is also accompanied by two phony “customer images” showing shelves of hardcover books.

The publisher is listed as “Webster’s Digital Services” and the book’s description notes:

Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. The trend in reading material this century, seems to be series which attract such a devoted following that they become their own subculture. Many of these series earn film or television versions of their stories, furthering their popularity. This book introduces you to the definitive series of the 21st century: discussing the series as a whole and then turning to each book within.

Project Webster represents a new publishing paradigm, allowing disparate content sources to be curated into cohesive, relevant, and informative books. To date, this content has been curated from Wikipedia articles and images under Creative Commons licensing, although as Project Webster continues to increase in scope and dimension, more licensed and public domain content is being added. We believe books such as this represent a new and exciting lexicon in the sharing of human knowledge.

One duped consumer (who either didn’t read the book description or bought the book before the description was added) writes, “Do not buy this product unless you are looking for mere “Cliff Notes” of these book series. The product description is deceiving and is accompanied by photos of books which you think they are selling. Even Amazon’s own C.S. Rep. was fooled because I called before my purchase to confirm that the product was the actual books pictured. What I received was only one thin paperback b&w book (that looks like it was made in a copy store) filled with summaries of these book series. I am disappointed with Amazon for allowing this deception to be on their web site—especially when they are fulfilling the item!”

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Music Wars: Spotify Heading For Ireland And Oz As Rdio Gears Up In Europe


This post is by Robert Andrews from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Spotify co-founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, Rdio backers Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis

Two of the subscription-music space’s main players are set to launch in several new markets, as the segment’s many budding exponents race to go global.

  • paidContent understands Spotify is soon to announce its expansion to Ireland. Australian launch will also be announced next week.
  • Meanwhile, competitor Rdio has moved closer to launching in more European countries after gaining a license to play UK artists to users across the continent.

Spotifireland

paidContent understands Spotify held talks with Irish ISPs about going to market with a bundled deal like that with Telia which has made it popular in Sweden. But, speaking with paidContent, Eircom’s consumer managing director Stephen Beynon said there will be no Eircom-Spotify deal.

The introduction of new legal music services like Spotify in Ireland, whether through ISPs or not, represents a market maturation of the kind labels have sought. They have sued Irish ISPs since 2008, winning an out-of-court settlement from the largest, Eircom, which committed to warn and disconnect persistent illegal downloaders amongst its customers and to launch its own legal music service.

As of November 2011, a whole quarter of Spotify Premium subscribers in Sweden were acquired through Telia, the Swedish broadband, mobile and telco provider with which Spotify signed a bundling deal in October 2009.

Rdio Free Europe

Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and Rhapsody and other music services are right now launching in to new territories around the world, as they each try to capitalise on labels’ newfound enthusiasm for the subscription-access model as a new source of revenue.

Rdio recently launched in Germany, Spain and Portugal and is set to roll out elsewhere in Europe and farther afield soon. On Thursday, UK royalty collector PRS For Music announced it had granted Rdio a license to play the UK songwriters, performers and publishers PRS represents in the European countries where Rdio aims to operate.

This is just one in a complex patchwork of licenses Rdio and its peers need in order to operate. Several major music publishers have, in fact, pulled out of PRS For Music, leaving operators like Rdio needing to broker several more such deals.

Rdio this month rejected reports it was due to launch in the UK this week, but launch there is nevertheless understood to be imminent.

PRS For Music declined to confirm to paidContent whether Rdio would pay its standard, industry-wide online music license rates, citing commercial confidentiality.


Music Wars: Spotify Heading For Ireland And Oz As Rdio Gears Up In Europe


This post is by Robert Andrews from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Spotify co-founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, Rdio backers Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis

Two of the subscription-music space’s main players are set to launch in several new markets, as the segment’s many budding exponents race to go global.

  • paidContent understands Spotify is soon to announce its expansion to Ireland. Australian launch will also be announced next week.
  • Meanwhile, competitor Rdio has moved closer to launching in more European countries after gaining a license to play UK artists to users across the continent.

Spotifireland

paidContent understands Spotify held talks with Irish ISPs about going to market with a bundled deal like that with Telia which has made it popular in Sweden. But, speaking with paidContent, Eircom’s consumer managing director Stephen Beynon said there will be no Eircom-Spotify deal.

The introduction of new legal music services like Spotify in Ireland, whether through ISPs or not, represents a market maturation of the kind labels have sought. They have sued Irish ISPs since 2008, winning an out-of-court settlement from the largest, Eircom, which committed to warn and disconnect persistent illegal downloaders amongst its customers and to launch its own legal music service.

As of November 2011, a whole quarter of Spotify Premium subscribers in Sweden were acquired through Telia, the Swedish broadband, mobile and telco provider with which Spotify signed a bundling deal in October 2009.

Rdio Free Europe

Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and Rhapsody and other music services are right now launching in to new territories around the world, as they each try to capitalise on labels’ newfound enthusiasm for the subscription-access model as a new source of revenue.

Rdio recently launched in Germany, Spain and Portugal and is set to roll out elsewhere in Europe and farther afield soon. On Thursday, UK royalty collector PRS For Music announced it had granted Rdio a license to play the UK songwriters, performers and publishers PRS represents in the European countries where Rdio aims to operate.

This is just one in a complex patchwork of licenses Rdio and its peers need in order to operate. Several major music publishers have, in fact, pulled out of PRS For Music, leaving operators like Rdio needing to broker several more such deals.

Rdio this month rejected reports it was due to launch in the UK this week, but launch there is nevertheless understood to be imminent.

PRS For Music declined to confirm to paidContent whether Rdio would pay its standard, industry-wide online music license rates, citing commercial confidentiality.


How Chicago Is Beating Silicon Valley At The Patent Game


This post is by Jeff Roberts from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Willis Tower and Golden Gate Bridge

Silicon Valley leads the world in technology but it’s losing a debate over how that technology should be used. A new surge in patent lawsuits shows that Chicago, not Silicon Valley, is setting the rules for how patents should encourage innovation.

The University of Chicago, through its Nobel-prize winning economists, is a champion of property rights and free market policies. Now, in the field of technology, Chicago’s ideas are also being used to justify harmful and expensive lawsuits.

Patent lawsuits made headlines yet again this month after Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) used ten questionable patents to claim that it, not Facebook, invented the social network. There have also been a rash of new suits by patent trolls—shell companies that don’t make anything but use patents to sue companies that do.

Trolls (known more politely as “non-practicing entities”) have been around for years but stepped into high gear in 2012. In the last two months, for instance, troll shell companies have unleashed lawsuits that claim monopolies on everything from emoticons to virtual goods in video games.

The problem is becoming worse. Top patent lawyers are leaving their firms to partner with hedge funds on new trolling ventures and super-troll Intellectual Ventures (reported to own more than 60,000 patents) is now suing with a vengeance. Meanwhile, mystery troll Lodsys is still demanding small app developers hand over two percent of revenues or else be taken to court over a common ‘in-app purchase’ feature.

So where does Chicago fit into all this? The answer is that it’s behind the “liquid market” theory of patents that gives a gloss of legitimacy to what many people would call extortion.

Chicago firms like Ocean Tomo, which runs intellectual property auctions, have helped popularize the idea of treating patents like widgets to be bought and sold. Lodsys front man, Mark Small, is also from Chicago. In their view, the patent status quo is working well.

The liquid market theory has a more formidable defender in Richard Epstein, a renowned University of Chicago law professor and Financial Times contributor. In an email exchange, he described trolls as “an overrated issue” and added,  “So long as there is quick closure, a patent is a wasting asset, and marketing beats lurking every time.”

This view—that treats patents as any other form property to be bought and sold—holds up in theory. But in practice, it’s dangerous because the property in question is not a widget but an idea that the owner can control and punish others for using. And since a patent is effectively a monopoly, the royalty demands seem less like a free market exchange than an old fashioned tax.

If Congress imposed a two percent tax “invention tax”, the politicians responsible would be voted out for a generation. But if a company like Lodsys does the same thing, it can claim to be promoting a free market.

The larger problem here is that a market for shaky patents is not a good idea in the first place. Do we think a complicated IRS tax is justified just because it creates a market for accounting services?

And if anyone doubts the patents are shaky, read what a former Yahoo engineer or a leading venture capitalist has to say about Yahoo’s so-called inventions. And these are just a small sample of the thousands of suspect patents fueling lawsuits and license demands.

The patent system is obviously dysfunctional and needs to be fixed but the role of patents in American mythology makes it hard to do so. To most people, the word “patent” still conjures images of Thomas Edison or Abraham Lincoln (US Patent 6469)—even though most of today’s patents are the product of lawyers and MBA’s using obtuse language to pressure a swamped and overworked patent office. The courts, meanwhile, are still in a state of confusion about what can and can’t be patented.

As for Silicon Valley developers, most know intuitively that innovation comes from sharing and collaboration and not from a single genius shrieking Eureka! For them and many academics, patent monopolies (especially those for software and “business methods”) are not a spur to research but a barrier.

These real inventors of Silicon Valley have champions of their own such as Mark Lemley, a Stanford professor and the country’s leading authority on patent law.

In a new paper called “The Myth of the Solo Inventor,” Lemley provides evidence that many famous inventions were produced by different people at the same time, and that patent owners typically sue independent inventors and not copycats. His work raises important questions about why patents are awarded in the first place.

Meanwhile, new economic research
suggests that free licensing is more efficient than patent monopolies to achieve technology breakthroughs and create large markets for new products.

For now, though, this research is going unheeded as Intellectual Ventures and others continue to spin Chicago-style theories to justify their troll taxes.

If Silicon Valley is to escape a circular firing squad of patent litigation, it must push back with its own homegrown patent theories. The recent SOPA victory taught engineers to flex their political muscles. Now, it’s time for them to flex their policy ones and restore sanity to the patent system.

(A final note: debates over innovation are, of course, taking place in many forms across the country. In this article, “Chicago” and “Silicon Valley” are simply used as shorthand for two very different visions of America’s patent system—one based on market theories and one based on how innovation actually works—and to point out that Chicago has gained the upper hand.)

Related


The Difference Between Popularity And Influence Online


This post is by Brian Solis from paidContent


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Hand holding megaphone

Digital influence is one of the hottest trends in social media and it is also one of the least understood. Like some relationships on Facebook, “it’s complicated.”

Klout, PeerIndex, Kred and many others are investing millions of dollars to understand how our social media activity translates into influence. Within the last 90 days alone, Klout took in a Series C of $30 million from Kleiner Perkins at a whopping valuation of $200 million. PeerIndex also recently announced an investment of $3 million. The market for influence is only heating up with more entrants expected to debut and acquisitions or mergers likely on the horizon.

Since 2009, I’ve studied the influence landscape. After a few years and a few dozen articles on the subject, I focused on developing a comprehensive report on all things influence. This week, I published the report, “The Rise of Digital Influence,” as part of the Altimeter Group.

The report aims to help businesses obtain desirable outcomes through social media influence. It specifically examines Klout, PeerIndex, Kred and 11 other influence software vendors, the elements that define influence, and what each service “actually” tracks to help businesses (and consumers) appreciate and leverage their value. It also examines six brands, including Virgin America, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Phone, and Starbucks (NSDQ: SBUX), that have publicly piloted digital influence programs.

Early in my research, I learned that the definition of influence was elusive or in some cases, down right incorrect. But, I can tell you this — influence is not popularity and popularity is not influence. It’s so much more than that.

Vendors claim to track influence, but none of the current vendors actually measure influence. Instead, they track elements of online social capital based on proprietary algorithms of how people engage and connect in various social networks.

After spending a lot of time with brand managers, agency professionals, and connected consumers, it was clear that people focused on individuals’ scores. Brands sought out people with high scores. Users pursued ways to increase their scores. Services built programs that rewarded those with high scores. But very little went into gaining a better understanding of what the number actually meant for brands and consumers alike.

Through very public experimentation, brands are beginning to learn that scores do not matter as much as the context of relationships. Consumers are learning that gaming scores or being part of branded marketing activity without purpose may negatively affect their status online.

Since these scores are imprecise, brands need to take responsibility for translating these numbers into insights. By not clearly defining their social influence goals, businesses have been wasting time, resources, and squandering opportunities to build important relationships.

Businesses need to develop meaningful social influence strategies and define their desired outcomes. What does a score of 74 mean to your business goals and objectives? And, how do you apply it toward effective strategies and supporting metrics? Digital influence is defined as the ability to cause effect, change behavior, and drive measurable outcomes online. But a 74 doesn’t correlate directly to outcomes.

However, each influence software service provides a deeper view of individuals and why they’re scored in a particular way. Even more importantly, these services analyze the elements that contribute to a users contextualized social capital (focus, authority, the nature of relevant relationships, etc.), and how their online activity potentially reaches and affects others. Here, value is in the eye of the beholder — a result of research and how data is interpreted and applied against business objectives. In that sense, tools that measure online activity can provide value if you know what you’re trying to accomplish and how you plan to measure success.

Defining influence, measuring outcomes

Once businesses take the time to learn about digital influence, its benefits, and how to connect with influential consumers, brands can develop meaningful engagement strategies.

When defining a strategy, a good place to start is by going back to basics. Some of the most often asked questions that deserve consideration are:

—What is influence, and what makes someone influential?
—Who is influential in social networks and why?
—How can I recognize influence or the capacity to influence?
—What effect does digital word of mouth have on my business?
—How can I measure successful engagement with influential consumers?

To help you find the answers and more importantly, to get the greatest value out of influence vendors, I included a detailed influence action plan. The plan is designed to walk you through the steps necessary to assess where you are, where you need to be, who can help you get there, why, and what’s in it for them and those who follow them.

Your next steps are then to turn your plan into a working strategy. Here’s what to do next:

—Define the parameters of the program and what success looks like
—Assess vendors based on your goals and identify influencers that will help you achieve desired results
—Design a program that provides value to not only influencers, but also those connected to them
—Measure performance and optimize strategies and experiences from program to program
—Repeat

By studying the people who matter to your business—and the people who matter to your customers—your business strategies will benefit from a new level of customer awareness and sensitivity. Suddenly the score isn’t as important as the elements that earns someone stature within their community. Understanding this will contribute to a more informed, effective and valued engagement program. And at the end of the day, while influence vendors help identify ideal connected consumers, it is up to those who run influence marketing programs to define the “R” in ROI and track the actual outcomes.

For further detail, download the full report.

The Rise of Digital Influence

View more documents from Altimeter Group Network on SlideShare

Brian Solis is the author of the new book “The End of Business as Usual” and a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, a research based advisory firm specializing in enterprise strategy and disruptive technology. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.