Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Amazon Fire Phone A Resounding Failure


Amazon’s Fire Phone has only been available since July, but usually the hype and excitement makes the initial launch of a new smartphone the most profitable sales period. Unfortunately for Amazon, that doesn’t appear to be the case for their device. While Amazon doesn’t release sales figures of their own (famously), analysts are able to draw their own conclusions by examining ad activity data from sources like Chitika.

Review of the ad network activity Chikita provided shows that in the 20 days following the Fire’s release, only 0.02% of activity can be attributed to the device. When combined with data from ComScore evaluating smartphone subscriber market share, these results suggest there are as few as 26,400 Amazon Fire phones in use. Using a whole bunch of calculations that would take ages to explain and possibly cause you to fall asleep, correcting for under-indexing and margins or error brings the estimated total up to a meagre 35,000 total Fire phones activated.

Amazon has yet to confirm or deny this guesstimate, but even at numbers exponentially higher, the news is bad. It might be failing because of the high price-point ($200 on contract, similar to other top smartphones), or the device’s exclusivity to AT&T as a carrier… or just as likely, consumers see it as a pet project for Amazon and not lasting or true competition.

It’s doubtful that Amazon can turn these results around in a meaningful way anytime soon, but should they decide to release a second generation of the Fire phone –they had better provide real innovation as an incentive for consumers to buy-in.

Amazon Fire Phone A Resounding Failure is a post from: Good e-Reader

Good e-Reader Android App Store Now Available on Icarus e-Readers


The Good e-Reader Android App Store has been growing since our launch in 2011. Last year we had over 80 million visitors and have quickly become the largest app store in Canada. We are proud to announce that we have partnered with Icarus so new e-reader owners can quickly download their favorite apps on their new line of Android powered e-readers.

Netherlands based Icarus has been selling e-Readers for the past three years and have quickly become a solid company that releases quality products. Their second generation Illumina reader has Android 4.2.2 and allows users to craft their own experience. The Good e-Reader App Store allows Icarus owners to install their favorite e-Reader, comic, manga, newspaper or magazine app directly on their Illumina.

Many e-readers often lock their users into one specific ecosystem and makes it fairly difficult to load in your own content. One of the big benefits of an open Android reader is the ability to do business with any company you want.

Roberto Damen, CEO of ICARUS stated "We are very proud to announce this cooperation with Good e-Reader. By integrating their App Store in our e-readers, we can offer our users easy to use access to all relevant Android apps. And thanks to the curated section of apps that are optimized for our device, the end-user can be sure that the apps they download offer them a great user experience."All new Icarus e-Readers we have the App Store pre-loaded on their device when purchases after September 1st. Existing users can download the Free App today and manually install it.

Good e-Reader Android App Store Now Available on Icarus e-Readers is a post from: Good e-Reader

Video Review of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3


If there was a flagship bearer of Windows 8, it would have to be the Microsoft Surface. The Redmond based company have released three different generations of tablets and the PRO 3 is the most recent edition to their family. Microsoft markets the Surface Pro 3 to different segments of people, depending on their budget.

The model we purchased was the 256GB Windows 8.1 Pro Tablet With Intel Core i7 Processor edition. All of the apps we tested performed moderately well, but this certainly is not a replacement for your laptop.

For one, it heats up super fast and the fan is permanently running at full throttle. Not only is this loud, but you can tell that it will drain your battery in short order.

This tablet also struggles with most games that people tend to play. League of Legends, Star Wars – The Old Republic and DOTA were 3 games we tested and even with minimal settings, the gameplay experience was sub-par. This is the kind of tablet you buy to play the dedicated RT style games from the Windows 8 store or run legacy apps like Microsoft Office, Photoshop or thousands of others. You can think of it as a productivity tablet, not a hardcore entertainment one.

Video Review of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is a post from: Good e-Reader

Sonic Pi: Live & Coding Summer School

Carrie Anne – I have an ongoing long-term love affair with Sonic Pi ever since Dr Sam Aaron from the University of Cambridge introduced me to it in late 2012 to help me teach text-based programming to my students. Since then it has been used to teach music and artistic expression thanks to the Sonic Pi Live & Coding project, which I’ll talk more about in the coming months as it reaches its conclusion. A few weeks ago 60 children took part in a Sonic Pi Live & Coding summer school run by artists Juneau Projects at the Cambridge Junction. Here, in their own words, is their take on the experience:

Sonic Pi Live & Coding summer school

Sonic Pi Live & Coding summer school

The Sonic Pi Live & Coding summer school finished just over three weeks ago, and yet our heads are still full of it! It was a brilliant week where 56 children aged between 10 and 14 years spent the week at the Cambridge Junction, working amazingly hard not only to get to grips with the language of live coding, but also learning how to finesse that language and perform with it using Sonic Pi on Raspberry Pi. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of. Over the course of five days the students went from having never used Sonic Pi before to putting on a concert for an invited audience, incorporating never-before-seen software functions (literally added on the spot by Sam Aaron – the brains behind Sonic Pi – to help realise the students’ ambitions) and incredible showmanship!

Juneau Projects artists Ben &

Juneau Projects artists Ben & Phil

The plan for the week was not only to introduce the students to the technical aspects of Sonic Pi (i.e. how do you make a sound, and then make it sound how you want it to sound etc) but to offer an overview of what live coding sounds like and looks like and what it might become in the students’ hands. To this end we were lucky enough to see performances by Thor Magnusson, Shelly Knotts and Sam Aaron himself (wearing an incredible cyberpunk/wizard get-up – it’s amazing what a party hat and a pair of novelty sunglasses can do). The students were able to quiz the performers, who were all very open about their practice, and to get a sense not only of how these performers do what they do on-stage but also of why they do what they do.

Sam gives a performance to the students

Sam gives a performance to the students

The summer school was delivered by a great team that we were proud to be part of: Ben Smith, Ross Wilson (both professional musicians) and Jane Stott (head of music at Freman College) had all been part of the initial schools project during the summer term (at Freman College and Coleridge Community College) and brought their experience from those projects to help the students at the summer school on their journey into live coding. Michelle Brace, Laura Norman and Mike Smith did an amazing job of keeping everything moving smoothly over the course of the week, and in addition Michelle did a brilliant job of keeping everybody on track with the Bronze Arts Award that the students were working towards as part of the week, as well as project managing the whole thing! Pam Burnard and Franzi Florack were working on the research component of the project, interviewing students, observing the process of the week and feeding back to us – their feedback was invaluable in terms of keeping the week moving forward in a meaningful way. We had visits from Carrie Anne Philbin and Eben Upton from Raspberry Pi who supported the project throughout. Finally Sam Aaron was resident Sonic Pi guru, handling all those questions that no-one else could answer and being a general all-round ball of live coding enthusiasm.


Buttons + Sonic Pi + Raspberry Pi = Fun

The week held many highlights: the first ever Sonic Pi live coding battle (featuring 56 combatants!); live ambient soundtracks produced by thirty students playing together, conducted by Ross Wilson; Sonic Pi X Factor; and great guest performances by Thor and Shelly. From our perspective though there was no topping the final event. The students worked in self-selected groups to produce a final project. For many this was a live coding performance but the projects also included bespoke controllers designed to aid the learning process of getting to grips with Sonic Pi; ambient soundtrack installations; and a robotic performer (called ‘Pitron’).

The performances themselves were really varied in terms of the sounds and techniques used, but were universally entertaining and demonstrated the amount of information and knowledge the students had absorbed during the week. One group used live instruments fed directly into Sonic Pi, using a new function that Sam coded during the summer school – a Sonic Pi exclusive! A personal highlight were the Sonic Pi-oneers, a seven piece live coding group who blew the crowd away with the breadth of their live coding skills. They’re already being tipped as the One Direction of the live coding world. Another great moment was Pitron’s appearance on stage: Pitron’s creator, Ben, delivered an incredible routine, using lots of live coding skills in combination with genius comedy timing.


Live coding of music with Sonic Pi, instruments and installations.

All in all the summer school was a phenomenal thing to be a part of. We have never quite experienced anything like it before – it truly felt like the start of something new!

Comparing the Kobo Aura H2O and Kobo Aura HD

Now that Kobo has officially revealed the Kobo Aura H2O, their first waterproof and dustproof ebook reader, it’s clear that the device is a lot like the Kobo Aura HD, minus the IP67 certification. Kobo has a comparison chart feature on their website where you can directly compare their ereaders side-by-side. The similarities and differences […]

Register now for Digipalooza 2015!

Registration for OverDrive's 5th international user group conference, Digipalooza, is now open! Spaces will fill quickly, so register today.

The program for Digipalooza 2015 is filled with sessions that will help take your library’s digital collection from ordinary to extraordinary. You will hear collection development, marketing, staff training, and data insights from library and industry experts, participate in group workshops and networking activities, and leave being among the first to learn and see what’s next on OverDrive’s roadmap.

New in 2015!

  • Digipalooza 2015 will be hosted at the newly-renovated Cleveland Convention Center with lodging at the brand-new The Westin Cleveland hotel.
  • Conference will be held on weekday dates due to popular demand: Wednesday, August 5 – Friday, August 7, 2015.

We have heard from many past attendees that they love the unique blend of education, networking and fun! We plan to continue the fun in 2015 with an kickoff event at OverDrive's headquarters and a private party at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.


We're excited to offer all this for the low rate of $199. Visit for more information. Questions? Contact us at

We hope to see you there!


Cassie Renner is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.

Kobo Aura H2O Arrives October 1st for $179

Kobo has officially unveiled their latest ebook reader. It’s called the Kobo Aura H2O and is basically an updated version of the Kobo Aura HD. The new ereader will launch on October 1st, with preorders starting September 1st from and select retailers (in Canada Chapters.Indigo is already accepting preorders). The price is $179 in […]