We’re close to Christmas, which can only mean one thing: Yes, consumer electronics manufacturers are gearing up for big CES event in Las Vegas on January 6. That’s the chance for everyone in the trade to convene, share holiday successes and war stories, reflect on what went well during 2010, and look ahead to new products in development. In this post, I’ll share a range of news about gadgetry and everything electronic. There are many developments to digest in the world of digital media content and channels, including a few new online stores as well as new devices. For serious geeks and those part-time dabblers in emerging technologies (like myself), welcome to a feast of breaking news about arriving, and a few departing, products and services in 2011. Among the players in news posts below are Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and Google.
Is This the End of Delicious?
Is it true? Is Yahoo considering terminating Delicious, the social bookmarking website? In an effort to streamline operations, the Times reports this morning that Yahoo may be about to cut services like Delicious (http://www.delicious.com/) and also, the local, social calendar site, Upcoming (http://upcoming.yahoo.com/). Eric Marcoullier, founder of http://www.mybloglog.com/ and also a former Yahoo employee, first posted the slide yesterday, which was apparently part of an internal presentation by Yahoo. The slide also shows plans to merge, eliminate or reduce investment in other services such as Yahoo Buzz, a news aggregator, and AltaVista, a search tool.
Dana Lengkeek, Yahoo spokeswoman, stated, “Part of our organizational streamlining involves cutting our investment in under-performing or off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation in the next year and beyond. We continuously evaluate and prioritize our portfolio of products and services, and do plan to shut down some products in the coming months such as Yahoo Buzz, our Traffic APIs, and others. We will communicate specific plans when appropriate.”
Yahoo stated last week that it was planning to lay off about 650 employees, or approximately 5% of its workforce. Sites like Delicious have gained a popular following and will no doubt leave a trickle down effect for many content managers of corporate websites and for anyone who has relied on it as a means to promote viral content.
Apple Announces Opening of Mac App Store for Personal Computers
Last week, Apple announced the official opening of its App store on January 6. According to the news release, Apple states that the new store will “be available in 90 countries at launch and will feature paid and free Apps in categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities.”
According to Steve Jobs, “The App Store revolutionized mobile apps,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun. We can’t wait to get started on January 6.”
Just as it did with Apps for the iPhone, Apple said it planned to split the revenue from the store with developers, with 30 percent for Apple and 70 percent for the software creator. The arrangement works poorly for traditional software companies, but for smaller developers, Apple’s pricing model remains a fair price to host, distribute and market the apps. Developers can visit a special link for news and information: http://developer.apple.com/programs/mac/
Microsoft Getting Into the Tablet PC Business
Also last week, articles emerged announcing that Microsoft will introduce a whole new series of tablet computers. Chief executive Steve Ballmer is expected to present these new products at the Consumer Electronics Show January 6-9 in Las Vegas, showcasing devices built by Samsung and Dell, among a number of other manufacturing partners.
Ironically, at Comdex in 2000, Bill Gates made the announcement that introduced the world to the first tablet PC, offering a fully functional computer with the “intuitive aspects of pencil and paper.” That day, Bert Keely, a software architect at Microsoft, demonstrated the prototype of the first ‘Tablet PC” during Gates’ speech.
The Samsung device is described as “similar in size and shape to the iPad, although not as thin. It also includes a unique and slick keyboard that slides out from below for easy typing.” The tablets will apparently run on the new Windows 8 operating system.
A New Landmark Day in Consumer Activity Online
On Christmas morning, besides the millions of adults and children that will rush to sort presents under the tree, book publishers like Random House will be receiving a few gifts as well.
These publishers are realizing that they, too, have something similar to Black Friday when gift recipients awake to unwrap their holiday gifts and jump with excitement over their new e-reader, because what comes next? Going online and buying books to read, of course!
“With so many people receiving an e-reader for the first time on Christmas, one of the things they’re going to want to do is go looking for the books they want to read,” says Anne Messitte of Vintage/Anchor, a division of Random House. “And we think it’s an ideal moment to really begin helping the reader curate the collection of e-books that they want.”
In a shift that underscores the immediacy of the Internet, the new Random House campaign doesn’t start days or weeks before that day. Rather, the campaign, called “The eBook Insider” begins on December 25 as a social media and Google-based initiative. Print ads in The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review will follow the web campaign.
The book campaign will be available free online at knopfdoubleday.com/ebooks; Amazon.com; BN.com; Borders.com; and on other e-book retail websites.
As the brick-and-mortar experience wanes for book publishers, this pioneering initiative provides a new operational model for marketing and selling content. “The future of book marketing is increasingly going to be about curating books for readers for readers,” said Ms. Messitte. “As publishers, we’re letting readers know about the books that are worth reading.”
A New Bookstore With 3 Million Titles
Google did their homework in the process of building their new e-bookstore. Culled from over 15 million books in library archives, the company has created a smart outlet for e-books where many are for free and the remaining are reasonably priced.
Besides offering free Android and iOS reading Apps, Google’s eBookstore supports Apps for the Nook, Sony readers and other tablet devices, as well as offering traditional online access to ebooks. The site has only been open for 14 days, but online reviews and comments have generally been favorable.
It’s a critical move, explains Forrester’s James McQuivey. “Google’s entry into the market is key because it will be reaching potential customers at a unique point in their book-buying journey, at the point of web search, not at the point of searching the bookstore.”
The books on Google’s e-Bookstore are not compatible with the Amazon Kindle, but it appears that Google is carefully watching the early stage research surrounding this new venture and will respond with broader capabilities for various e-readers, if necessary.