According to Goldman Sachs, Apple makes more profit from mobile phone sales than the entire rest of the industry combined. Update: Actually, it doesn’t appear to be the entire industry — just RIM, Motorola, Nokia, HTC, and Sony Ericsson. So the list doesn’t include Samsung and LG. But still: striking.?
According to Goldman Sachs, Apple makes more profit from mobile phone sales than the entire rest of the industry combined.?
Fascinating insight from Paul Graham on ideas and the act of thinking. Very true for me.?
That pink triangle for the iPad is rather amazing — it’s already bigger than the iPod, and the iPod segment includes the iPod Touch.?
When Penguin announced this week it was releasing an enhanced e-book version of Ken Follett’s hugely popular novel “Pillars of the Earth,” it wasn’t too surprising the publishing house chose the iPad as its launch platform. Since the release of Apple’s tablet device, more and more authors see a way to liberate themselves beyond text-based storytelling, allowing them to offer readers (or viewers, or listeners) enhancements to their books and, in some cases, create entirely multimedia new offerings.
Why is the iPad becoming ground-zero for enhanced e-book innovation? I explore this in a a GigaOM Pro article called iPad Pushes Big Authors into Enhanced E-Books (sub req’d), but the answer is pretty simple: Most of the enhanced e-books coming out today are written as apps, and the pairing of Apple’s dominant app platform with the the media-consumption friendliness of the iPad is a natural choice for authors looking to create a multimedia-laden e-book.
But why write e-books as apps and not just, say, an iBook eBook or Kindle eBook? The main reason for this app-centric approach to enhanced e-books today is the early stage of the market. While iBooks and Kindle both recently upgraded their e-book platforms to allow authors and publishers to integrate audio and video, these upgrades have only just happened; any enhanced e-book projects up to this point (and likely for the next six months) are going to gravitate toward those outlets that enable the rich-media experiences they desire.
And even then, a multimedia enhanced iBook and Kindle would not be based on any enhanced e-book standard, but instead simply be different versions of proprietary platforms. Sure, they are potentially dominant platforms, but that doesn’t mean authors and publishers won’t eventually want a standard for an enhanced e-book, since creating media for different proprietary platforms means more work and, with that, more cost. Eliminating platform-specific development costs will become a big focus as more enhanced e-book come to market; unified standards would go along way in helping in this regard.
Standards or not, many e-books in the future will undoubtedly have audio, video or both at the most basic incorporation of “extras” (think DVD extras). Or they’ll go the direction of Ryu Murakami’s latest effort, an entirely new mixed-media offering that targets multiple senses from conception.
As this happens, there is no doubt that the consumer’s own perception of what an e-book is will continue to evolve. The creation of a compelling audio- and video-enhanced e-book could significantly widen the audience for books beyond those who read today, which could also create a whole new digital book industry, much like has been seen in the digital video and music industries. No doubt as this happens, the iPad will continue to be a key platform.
Read the full post here.
Image Source: Apple/iTunes
Remember how the iPad was supposed to herald a new era of media consumption? Well, that day is finally here ? or at least an early glimpse of it, with the new iPad application Flipboard, built by a new company of the same name.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Flipboard, backed with $10.5 million from Kleiner Perkins and Index Ventures, has built a beautiful application that reformats web articles, photos and status messages into a magazine-style layout. You can use it as an alternate way to consume your Twitter followers’ shared links, your Facebook friends’ posts and pictures, or other choice feeds of web content.
The first version of Flipboard just hit the Apple app store tonight, but the next version will be even more interesting, as it will be powered by the relevance engine built by Ellerdale. In recent weeks, Flipboard acquired Ellerdale, which had developed a set of real-time search and discovery tools based on Twitter. Ellerdale co-founder and CTO Arthur van Hoff has joined Flipboard as CTO.
Flipboard is an application for content consumption, not creation. This is not your new full-functioned iPad Twitter client; it’s a way to read the articles your friends think are most interesting in a format that emphasizes photos, typography, and the appeal of well-placed white space.
Flipboard was founded by Mike McCue, former CEO of Tellme and Evan Doll, a former senior iPhone engineer at Apple. Besides Kleiner and Index, it is also backed by Jack Dorsey, Dustin Moskovitz, Peter Chernin, Ron Conway, Alfred Lin, Peter Currie, Quincy Smith and Ashton Kutcher. Ellerdale was in the process of raising its first institutional funding at the time of the acquisition.
Van Hoff said that two-year-old Ellerdale had initially wanted to create a personalized social web product, but had been warned off the challenge by investors, so it set off to build the technology first and eventually find a use for it. Only now that does original idea makes sense, he said, given the form factor of the iPad. “We’ve been building a great analytics engine, but we never had the delivery mechanism for the content sorted out. Our site was the demo, not a product, and here [with Flipboard] we have a great product.”
McCue said that while the initial Flipboard is a free application, in the future the company plans to explore advertising and subscription models as well as revenue sharing with publishers. The company also plans to soon add additional sources of content such as Tumblr, LinkedIn and Yelp.
For more on the cool stuff Ellerdale was doing, and van Hoff’s perspective on real-time as a long-time influential technologist, see our recent video interview with him.
For more on Flipboard, which is the kind of app you could really imagine sitting back, relaxing, and poring through, see this demo video they made:
And here are some screenshots:
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):
Skype has updated its iPhone application, making it compatible with iOS 4.
The free communication app, which was originally released back in March of 2009, can now be run in the background thanks to iOS 4 multitasking capabilities. The 2.0.1 update means that not only can calls be made over 3G, but you can also now receive Skype calls, and instant messages, while running any other application.
However, if that wasn’t handy enough, the application will also still work and deliver calls even when your device is locked. Skype also detailed that when in a call a user can switch out to any other application, and the call will continue. Of course, these multitasking changes will only work on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS.
Skype also went on to reveal that plans to start charging for 3G calling on the iPhone have now been scrapped. The company originally planned to start charging for the functionality in 2011, but due to “some operators starting to move to tiered pricing models” Skype said that these plans are no more.
If you haven’t already, why not download the free 7.8MB application and give someone a call to tell them the good news. It’s good to talk.
A few follow-up points from yesterday’s “Antennagate Bottom Line”:
One theory to explain this would be that the iPhone 4 antenna is simply worse than the 3GS’s antenna, perhaps only even only because of skin coming into contact with the infamous spot.
Jobs’s “pet theory” is that iPhone 3GS owners were far more likely to have a case than 4 owners, which, interestingly, implies that even the iPhone 3GS gets better reception when in a case. (I asked about this during the tour of their antenna labs; the answer I got was “We don’t know.”)
Here’s another one, though, suggested by at least a dozen DF readers so far. Quoting from one such email:
In Antennagate Bottom Line, you mention the comparison of numbers of dropped calls, but I argue that this is not the right metric. What one needs to know is if the iPhone4 drops a call that would not be dropped by a 3GS. If the additional drops are in areas that the 3GS would have never connected in the first place, then the statistic isn’t telling us what everyone claims it is. All that would mean is that there is a large drop rate in regions that were previously regarded as dead zones. That’s an improvement, not a regression.
I’ll go out and acknowledge that this line of thinking is arguing that the iPhone 4’s higher dropped call rate is a good thing, which, on its face, sounds nutty. But is it outlandish? There are widespread reports — none better than Anandtech’s — that the iPhone 4 gets usable reception in areas where previous iPhones got none. Those may well comprise many of the extra dropped calls.
It’s also only fair to point out that I’ve also gotten many emails from DF readers who say they drop more calls with their iPhone 4 than their previous iPhones, from the same locations. I’ve gotten more such emails from readers claiming the iPhone 4 gets better reception, but for some, it’s worse. One thing I’d feel safe betting on: the extra dropped calls from the iPhone 4 are not evenly distributed among all iPhone 4 users. Some are getting a lot, and most are getting very few.
Over the last few weeks I’ve probably gotten at least 200 emails posing the following theory:
We know from the Gizmodo stolen iPhone that the prototypes were disguised in cases when outside Apple’s campus. Maybe that’s why Apple missed this flaw in the antenna: they never noticed it on campus because they have a strong AT&T signal, and never noticed it off campus because the iPhones were always inside cases, and cases mitigate the skin-touching-the-spot problem.
That’s just not possible.
For one thing, the strength of the AT&T coverage on Apple’s campus has no bearing on the testing they perform in their lab. There is no signal from AT&T inside those anechoic chambers. There is no signal from any external wireless source in those chambers. That’s the point of them. The way the chambers work is that they create their own little mini network inside the chamber. They run tests where they create strong signals, weak signals, and everything in between. They also run tests with people holding the phones being tested.
For another, they do test antennas in the field off-campus with no case. They do so using a fleet of about a dozen mobile testing labs. These are vans — more like small buses, maybe — which contain a slew of testing and measurement equipment.
The iPhone Gizmodo obtained was, in Apple’s internal lingo, a Design Verification Test (DVT) unit. These are one step below production units. My understanding is that when DVT units are deemed ready to go, the factories start churning them out as actual production units. Those DVT field tests are the final tests, certainly not the only tests. During the tour of Apple’s labs, Ruben Caballero — Apple’s senior antenna engineer, who led the tour — said the iPhone 4 antenna design had been in testing for two years.
Lastly, here’s what Steve Jobs said during the press conference:
Again you have to build these rooms, because if you don’t shield what you’re testing from all the outside interference, you don’t get accurate tests. And you can’t put your equipment in the room either. The equipment’s all got to be remoted outside the room. Now this is a state of the art antenna test facility. We have 17 anechoic chambers. These things are not cheap. We have invested over $100 million in antenna testing facilities over the past 5 years. We have 18 PhD scientists and engineers on our staff.
And so the iPhone antenna went through all of this. We tested it. We knew that if you gripped it in a certain way, the bars are going to go down a little bit, just like every smartphone. We didn’t think it’d be a big problem, because every smartphone has this issue.
Honestly, I thought the entire point of the lab tour was to reinforce this point: the iPhone 4 antenna is behaving exactly as Apple expected it would.
I posited yesterday that Jobs’s peevishness while announcing the free case giveaway had to do with the profits Apple is going to lose, which I estimated conservatively at $100 million. What I didn’t write about was whether I thought this was a good idea or not. I do.
Here’s the thing. Early last week this antenna story was spinning out of control. Letterman made a Top Ten list about it. Consumer Reports was posting updates every day, each getting a lot of traffic. CNN.com had a front page story stating that iPhone 4 owners could “fix” their phones with strips of duct tape.
It’s possible that if Apple had done nothing, the story would have died by now, perhaps drowned out by Apple’s spectacular quarterly results announced yesterday. I think they decided it wasn’t worth the chance — that if they did nothing, the fire might have gotten worse rather than die out.
And I think they decided, wisely, that if they were going to hit back in response to the story, they should hit back with everything they had. No use dribbling out responses one at a time. So: a live press conference, not just an open letter from Steve Jobs; a new section on Apple’s website specifically explaining Apple’s argument, and revealing their heretofore secret antenna testing facility; and, yes, free cases, for iPhone 4 users who are having signal problems that go away when the phone is encased.
In short: they weren’t going to take any chances. Except they did take a chance, insofar as that Jobs mixed in a second message: media criticism. The message Apple needed to make was about the antenna (yes it has a weak spot, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off and it isn’t resulting in product returns, support calls to AppleCare, or a spectacular number of increased dropped calls) and about their concern for customers (we want them to be happy, so we’re waving the restocking fee on returns and we’re giving a free case to an any iPhone 4 user who wants one).
The extra message Jobs delivered was to the media: that they botched this story, that coverage was “so overblown it’s incredible”. Surely that’s what Jobs actually believes, and I think it’s the truth. I don’t think it was a good idea for Apple to make that case at the event, though. If the Antennagate PR problem was so dangerous that it warranted a significant response from Apple — and I think it did — then it was dangerous enough that it shouldn’t have been mixed with a message that might further antagonize the media — the very media whom Apple was clearly hoping would spread the facts Apple had presented regarding the antenna and its concern for customer satisfaction. It doesn’t matter whether Jobs was right; it distracted from the core message, which was all about dissipating the meme that the iPhone 4 antenna is severely flawed.
When it is not displaying the Fail Whale, Twitter is a pretty useful service for keeping up with family and friends. The first app I install on every mobile device is a Twitter app of one flavor or another. Having a good app can make all the difference to getting the most benefit out of Twitter, and fortunately there are plenty to choose from.
The iPad screen is particularly good at working with Twitter due to its larger size and the ability to rotate it to landscape orientation. I admit I have a weakness for Twitter apps, and I’ve tried so many I have lost count. Here are my current top 5 Twitter apps for the iPad. If you have a favorite share it in the comments.
Twitterific Pro. This is my “go-to” Twitter app on the iPad. I use it in either portrait or landscape as it displays well in either orientation. Working with multiple Twitter accounts is easy (Pro version) and the app handles all standard Twitter functions. It is not as configurable as some of the other apps, but it works very well. Users of the paid version can also install the iPhone version on that phone for free. Free and Pro ($4.99).
Tweetdeck. My favorite Twitter app for the desktop is Tweetdeck, as I find the multiple column display presents a lot of information at a glance. The iPad version is very similar, although it displays very differently in the two display orientations. In portrait display the top third of the screen is wasted until you tap on a tweet. That opens up the details window which lets you do all the normal things to a tweet that you expect. Tilting the display to landscape shows the power of Tweetdeck, as it mimics the desktop version by putting a lot of information at your fingertip. Updates can be slow due to all the information in the multiple columns. Free.
Osfoora HD. Osfoora (strange name) can do virtually everything with Twitter you’d ever want to do, and has a configurable display. The display reminds me somewhat of Tweetdeck, so I’m not sure I like the wasted screen space. It’s a solid performer, and many iPad owners swear by this app, so it makes the cut. $3.99.
Twittelator. This app is one of the most attractive Twitter clients you’ll see. Twittelator looks good but the layout can be confusing at times, because the timeline is rather small while the individual tweet window is huge in comparison. It is a full-featured Twitter client, and lots of people love it so it’s on the list. $4.99.
Echofon Pro. Echofon adds syncing to a good Twitter app to give it a leg up on the competition. Unread tweets are synced among the iPad, iPhone and desktop so no tweet gets missed. More importantly no tweet gets read twice due to device switching. $4.99.
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub req?d): Forget, Syncing, Let?s Put Music in the Cloud!