Sunday, March 30, 2014

Non-US Residents Should Not be Excited about the New Amazon Streaming Box


Amazon is poised to announce a new television service in the form of a physical box or dongle. The plan is to showcase their Amazon Instant Video service and also secure 3rd party services, such as Netflix and the WWE Network. Sadly, the essence of this service will not work outside the USA or UK. Amazon does not allow international viewers to watch any of their streaming music or videos, so the new box is basically irrelevant.

Next week at an event in New York, Amazon plans on announcing a new television service. No one really knows what it is all about, but they did file a series of FCC applications for a box, controller and other gizmos. Amazon has an extensive track record of being narrowly focused on the USA market when it comes to marketing their Instant Video services. The main reason people who would be excited about this box is the fact they can view Amazon Originals. Another component is being able to watch pilots and vote on the box if you want it to get made into a 13 episode season.

In reality, no one outside the UK and USA should even care about what Amazon is doing. Ultimately, no matter what they release, Canadians won’t be able to view any of the Amazon content. If you want to get a box with Netflix and WWE Network and other things, get a Apple TV or ROKU.

Non-US Residents Should Not be Excited about the New Amazon Streaming Box is a post from: Good e-Reader

eBook Review: Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway

Verdict: 4 Stars

Mystery writers have a whole new audience to write for considering the number of crossover fans who are picking up thriller titles today. McGilloway doesn’t disappoint, considering this title has elements of literary fiction, family relationships, current thematic elements, and even travelogue.

D.S. Lucy Black is investigating a missing girl case for the Northern Ireland Police Department when she accidentally finds an entirely different missing girl, alone and wandering in the cold. The girl cannot tell police what happened, and seems to be unhurt despite being found covered in blood. As important as the case is, though, Lucy’s own personal life keeps disrupting her work, with both of her divorced parents having career histories in law enforcement.

One thing that may be a put off for die-hard thriller fans but may actually appeal to the crossover fans is the pacing. While there are intensity moments, the story doesn’t move too quickly, and actually drags just a little bit in places. The abundance of characters involved in both missing girls’ stories can make it a little hard to follow in places, but having a notebook handy might help.

One way in which this story is somewhat out of the ordinary is the personalities that come through in even the most hardened characters. Mystery fans might appreciate the depth of development that McGilloway attributes to these seemingly ordinary characters.

eBook Review: Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway is a post from: Good e-Reader

Why E-Readers Are Not Innovative Anymore


Three years ago e-readers seemed to embrace new technology and give customers a reason to update their devices. In 2011 and 2012 we saw high resolution displays, color e-paper and the ability to read in the dark with front-lit screens. The constant innovation was directly attributed to the sheer amount of e-readers shipped between 2010 and 2012. Why the lack of innovation? e Ink, the largest company devoted to e-paper screen technology has become complacent.

e-reader orders from companies like Amazon, Kobo, Sony and B&N have fell in the last few years. Total sales in 2013 were 13 million units vs 2012 where 14.9 million were sold. The largest boom period was in 2011 with 23.2 million units were shipped worldwide.

The decline of e-reader sales were partly attributed to the consolidation of the industry. Indie companies such as Cool-ER, Entourage, iRex, Pandigital, Colby and many others went out of business. Bookeen, Ectaco, Icarus, Onyx, Pocketbook Wexler and others still exist, but they manufacture way less products. Major players in the industry such as Sony have scaled back on production and abandoned the North American market altogether. Barnes and Noble has seen almost one billion dollars of loss on their e-reader endeavor and is a non-factor in the industry. Amazon and Kobo are the only big players left in the game.

The other primary factor responsible for the decline of e-readers is the lack of innovation from e Ink. The company has become complacent, only releasing incremental updates and has a bloated portfolio of old technology. They are simply not investing in the future of e-readers and are clinging to old technology. The last major thing they developed was Triton, a color e-paper solution. Only two companies ever bought into this technology and it basically went nowhere.

The current generation of products that e Ink is actively marketing is Carta and Mobius. Basically the technologies main benefits are better contrast, more lightweight and higher resolution. Hardly gamechangers.

80% of e Inks revenue still derives from e-reader screen sales, but most of their focus is on digital signage. They are incorporating the essence of their technology into airport, luggage, clocks, watches and grocery labels. Instead of developing next generation e-reader tech, they are spreading themselves too thin, at the expense of their core market.

The lack of innovation from e Ink is forcing their main partners to look at other avenues. Amazon purchased Liquavista from Samsung last year, and is rumored to be using color e-paper in future Kindles and tablets.

I appreciate what companies like e Ink and Neonode have done for the e-reader industry. Without them, we would not have the long-battery life and easy to read devices we sometimes take for granted. e Ink as a company is one of the easiest to approach and always have time to talk to the media. It just feels like the world is passing them by and they have lost the disruptive spirit that had in 2010 and 2011.

There are a few things I would recommend for e Ink in order to continue to stay relevant and start to innovative again. I would purchase Pixel QI, they have patents and have not been active since 2012, when Mary Lou Jepsen got hired at Google. There tech is a bit outdated by today’s standards, but they have hundreds of deals with government, military, and Chinese smartphone and tablet companies. I would also purchase Plastic Logic, a company that is at a crossroads of identity. They have RND in California and the UK, with a factory in Dresden. They have been doing excelled prototypes with secondary screens for cell phones and paperthin screens that have loads of potential. It is basically about acquiring patents and assimilating new talent. e Ink could do amazing things with executive John Ryan from Pixel QI and the RND team at Plastic Logic. It would inject a burst of creativity and open new markets for them. It might not change the game with e-readers, but it would allow them to survive the coming storm.

Why E-Readers Are Not Innovative Anymore is a post from: Good e-Reader

10 Free Kindle eBooks – March 30th

Below is a list of free Kindle books as of March 30th, 2014. Please note that some of these ebooks are free for a limited-time only and could expire at anytime. Make sure to double-check that they are still free before hitting the buy button. And if you are looking to snag a new Kindle, […]

Interest in Tablets Waning in the US, New Research Reveals


New research by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech has revealed Apple, Amazon, and Samsung are the key players in the US tablet market,  controlling 43, 24,and 11 percent of the user base respectively. However, the market itself seems to be losing steam, with the slowdown being attributed to market saturation. The findings reveal tablet growth reached 37 percent, a 54 percent growth over 2012. A sizeable 53 percent of consumers stated they won't buy a new tablet in 2014, while another 34 percent said they are yet to make up their minds. Nearly 67 percent of those who said they are unsure about buying a tablet claim to know very little about tablet devices. Thankfully for the manufacturers, tablet awareness as a whole is considerably higher in the US, with just 4 percent stating they’ve never heard of the devices.

Of the 53 percent who ruled out buying a tablet in the next 12 months, the majority (72 percent) said they are pleased with their current laptop or PC, while 42 percent said they aren't attracted to tablet devices; another 31 percent said they don't think owning a tablet makes much of a difference.

A common reason for many (47 percent of those who are unsure and 25 percent of those who said they won't buy a tablet ) to not invest in a tablet was the high price, despite the fact that the average cost has dropped to $300.

As for particular brands, the iPad is on top with 32 percent claiming to use it daily. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note devices come in second with 24 percent claiming to use it every day. Kindle Fire makes up the third slot with 10 percent claiming to use it regularly.

Interest in Tablets Waning in the US, New Research Reveals is a post from: Good e-Reader

Good e-reader App Store Unveils Update Notification System


One of the pitfalls of a heavily curated app store, with an emphasis on quality, is that sometimes Android or Blackberry apps are out of date. In the past, we had to rely on people pinging the Admin Team on message boards, or our Youtube Videos. This resulted in some popular apps being hopelessly out of date and people expressed their general disdain. We now have a new system that makes letting us know an app needs an update quickly, easily, and anonymously.

The Good e-Reader app update notification system just went live on our website and will be coming to our fleet of apps soon. The flag resides next to the version number, in the app description. If you have installed an app on your Android or Blackberry device and get a message that it needs an update, you can now let us know. We promise that any requests will be resolved within 12 hours.

Visit the App Store today and check it out. Comment below if you have any problems using the tool.

Good e-reader App Store Unveils Update Notification System is a post from: Good e-Reader

Overdrive Announces Penguin eBooks Available for Schools


Overdrive is the premier digital distribution service that powers your local library. Part of their business strategy is to deliver content to K12 schools. Penguin and Overdrive have announced that 17,000 eBooks are available for schools to order.

Beloved authors including Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, John Green, Holly Goldberg Sloan and many others bring to life characters that engage readers of all ages through their powerful, playful, insightful and educational prose. Must-have titles include James and the Giant Peach, Superfudge, Counting by 7s, Grapes of Wrath, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Matched Trilogy, The Secret Life of Bees, The Kite Runner, Of Mice and Men, and many, many more. Instruction-based titles such as Who was Sacagawea? or Mark Twain and the River are available for incorporating into lesson plans, activities, group discussions or summer reading programs. Suggested lists are available for educators and include juvenile and young adult fiction and non-fiction titles.

I have reached out to Overdrive to comment on whether or not the Penguin books are frontlist or backlist titles, or a mixture of both. This news item will be updated when they confirm. Each book is under the one loan, one use scheme.

Overdrive Announces Penguin eBooks Available for Schools is a post from: Good e-Reader

Microsoft Aims to Ship 25 Million Windows Tablets in 2014


Microsoft is not content to let Android and iOS tablets dominate the landscape. The Redmond company is rather bullish with orders totalling 25 million units in 2014, from Taiwan manufacturers. This no doubt will be a tall order considering just five million of these got shipped in 2013 . Experts too have expressed skepticism at Microsoft being able to achieve the target and have stated 18 – 20 million would have been a more achievable goal. Microsoft has also stated they wish to see shipment of its own Surface range of tablets to rise to six million from three million in 2013.

To help achieve the figure, Microsoft plans to provide incentives to vendors manufacturing Windows tablets. It will be good to see some of it passed down to the customers with a lower price, to help compete against Android.  Among the manufacturers, Asus and Acer have already shown interest in manufacturing a new product line. Asus said they plan to ship 12 million tablets in 2014, with Windows making up one-third of their units.  Acer, meanwhile has set a slightly realistic goal of of ten million tablet shipments in 2014, with Windows making up just two million.

HP, Toshiba and Del have also expressed interest in throwing down with Microsoft. However, companies like Sony and Lenovo seem to be lot less enthusiastic  and will likely just stick with Android.

Microsoft Aims to Ship 25 Million Windows Tablets in 2014 is a post from: Good e-Reader