Android Supporters Pin Hopes on Non-iPad Competitors Because the Competitors Suck

Finding tablet-oriented apps for Android is a hunt, a chore, and a grind.…

Things get even worse when you realize Google Play shows different apps on its website and on individual tablets; even though the Google Play website claims some apps run on an Asus Transformer Prime, the apps didn’t show up on Google Play on the Prime.

And just because an app claims to run on tablets doesn’t mean it was designed for tablets. Often, after you download an app you’ll discover that it’s ugly or nearly useless because it was designed for a 4-inch screen.

via The iPad Wins Because Android Tablet Apps Suck: An Illustrated Guide.

And on and on. This is why Android supporters claiming it’ll overtake Apple in tablets are nuts, dreamers, or wading chest deep into a river in Egypt.

The Android crowd is waiting for non-iPad competitors like the Amazon Kindle Fire or Barnes & Noble Nook to sell in enough quantities to claim “Android tablets” outsell iPads. Setting aside that the Kindle Fire is not even a real Android tablet, these color e-readers don’t compete against the iPad except maybe in the most superficial way. An iPad sale “lost” to one of these is something Apple wasn’t getting anyway.

Android fans will fool no one but themselves and the usual Apple bashing crowd. It’s there own private echo chamber they’re talking to.

Apple Preparing For Great eBook Experience, Amazon Preparing For… What, Exactly?

I like Amazon, and though I don’t own a Kindle I use the Kindle iPhone app often. I also love the Stanza eReader. You’d think the Amazon name, the Kindle app, and Amazon’s acquisition of Stanza would allow them to be impressive competitors to Apple in the software eBook arena, but instead I see Amazon about to get steamrolled… Continue reading

Amazon Speaks: iPad Kindle App Will Be Cool, But Late

Amazon promises that the iPad version of the Kindle app it is working on will be cool, but it won’t be ready when the first Apple devices show up April 3. That’s because the e-commerce giant, like most other developers, hasn’t been able to test the app on a real device. And it’s going to wait until it can do so to finish the software.

They’re stupid not to deliver on April 3. With no Kindle App why not try Apple’s iBooks? Which is just what many will do.

It’s hard to believe they’re really waiting for the physical device to test with. Very few developers have the physical device yet there will be thousands of native iPad apps available on opening day. Besides, this is just an eReader, hard to believe the physical device will make that big a difference. Get the app in the store, and if the physical device makes a difference push an update out ASAP.

I think the real reason is that it’s simply not ready. Amazon dragged their feet since the iPad was announced. They’ve focused on agreements and posturing with content providers, an SDK for the Kindle, and pushing out a weak beta of Kindle for the Mac. All those things should have taken a back seat to the iPad.

Only thing left is for their late Kindle iPad app to kick ass. Early looks seem promising. If the buying experience isn’t significantly improved over the iPhone version, they blew it. Big time.

Good: Kindle For The Mac. Bad: Kindle For The Mac

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Amazon very quietly released Kindle for the Mac (beta) yesterday. I think the reason they were so quiet about it is that it’s a pretty poor first effort. 

On the iPhone Kindle app, which has been available for a year, I can utilize fullscreen reading and modify the text color/background from one of three styles. Wouldn’t you think I could do at least that much on the Mac version? Well, you can’t. Seriously, they’ve had a year for this, and this is what we get? It looks like something Amazon slapped together over a weekend.

I love reading Kindle on the iPhone. As for the Mac, I’m glad Amazon took the step, but disappointed in the effort. It’ll be hard to get immersed in a book when the trappings of a computer (menu bar, etc.) are all around you.

Barnes & Noble Is Smart. Hello, Amazon? Anybody Home?

Designed specifically for the iPad,” the company said, “our new B&N eReader will give our customers access to more than one million eBooks, magazines and newspapers in the Barnes & Noble eBookstore

Very smart of B&N to do this; the sooner they get it released after iPad launch, the better.

Meanwhile, I’ve heard nothing from Amazon on their plans for the iPad. Do they have any? They seem to be too busy licking their wounds instead of modifying the Kindle app for the new device.

Hello, Amazon, say something. Do something. You should beef up Stanza while you’re at it. I want as many good eReaders on the iPad as possible and you control two of the most popular. I love the iPhone for book reading; the Pad could be that much better. Don’t blow this.

Amazon, eMusic, iTunes, and Other Digital Download Thoughts.

Much has been made of the “news” that Amazon’s MP3 store is now the #2 online retailer in digital music. You can absorb some various thoughts on this in these articles:

And then of course there are the myriad re-hashes of the USA Today article syndicated in papers everywhere, as well as other articles parroting the story as if iTunes is somehow being threatened.

First, there has always been a #2 in online music sales. Always. I mean, unless there’s only one store doing the selling, then someone is #2. Did we ever care about who it was before? Did it ever matter? No.

In fact, iTunes is so far in the lead that even referring to the next one as a ‘distant second’ is still an understatement. Like being the tallest midget, it’s a dubious distinction.

Second, I tend to agree with eMusic on their being #2. The big labels sure as hell don’t want to discuss Indie labels. They never have. So naturally they don’t bother considering eMusic, but who said the labels get to set the agenda (well, except for USA Today, who wrote the article for the labels’ benefit)?

Bottom line for me is that until some hard numbers on the Amazon store are published, eMusic’s claim, backed up with legitimate sales figures, will hold sway. Though, again, who is truly #2 ultimately doesn’t matter.

Third, I’ve written about this before, but the “collusion” the labels are showing against iTunes is pretty clear. I used to be concerned about it, but now I think it’s self-defeating, and will backfire on them.

Consider this:

  • They don’t want Apple to sell DRM-free music.
  • They don’t like Apple’s low prices.
  • They want bundling, which Apple is against.

And yet, in their deals with Amazon:

  • They’re allowing DRM-free music (at high quality, too).
  • The prices are less.
  • There’s no bundling to speak of.

As I stated at the time, I believed the labels’ plan was for Amazon to get a foothold, and then the labels would slowly start to make changes in pricing, etc.

However, given that six months later the labels have resorted to planting stories to make it appear Amazon is becoming a force in the market, it would seem it hasn’t taken off as fast as they’d hoped (it also shows their lack of patience).

So, in another six months, or a year, or whatever, if Amazon is deemed “big enough”, and the labels try to pull the trigger on pricing and bundling changes, I believe they’ll be unable to do it. The minute the (small) price advantage Amazon has over iTunes goes away, so will their customers.

In short, having offered something “better”, the labels will not be able to pull it away as they had hoped.

Finally, I think Amazon’s inability to truly kick ass is because of a fundamental issue I have with most of the online stores: Price.

How many people paid the $18 list price for a CD? Most used Wal-Mart, Target, used CD stores, etc. and paid $13 or less. Since digital music has no packaging, liner notes, physical media, duplication costs, and are lower quality, the idea that an album should cost $10 is ridiculous. In the digital world, $6 ought to be about right. Heck, if Sony/BMG can sell their physical CDs for $5.99, then there’s no excuse for digital versions to not be the same or less.

Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” offering should have made one thing clear. While many took the album for free, the average price was $6. Seems to me this was the consumers’ way of saying what the true price of a popular digital album should be. Too bad the labels paid no attention.

Apple iPod vs. Amazon Kindle: An Examination of Lock-In.

kindle_amazon.jpg

I have to admit I was intrigued by the idea of the Kindle, and awaited details anxiously. Now that the details are well known, it’s hard for me to look on the device with any enthusiasm.

I wanted something analogous to an “iPod for books.” The idea that I could buy books and store hundreds on one device is great. Going on a trip? Don’t worry about what book to bring; grab the device and go. Waiting at the Dr.’s office? Don’t read that six-month old magazine; you have everything with you. The idea of a portable reader is a good one to me.

Unfortunately, the Kindle is so badly implemented I’m not sure I can say anything good about it. Amazon’s mistakes (along with the obvious stupidity and paranoia of the publishers) is apparent everywhere.

It seems the only “good” news from the Kindle announcement is that it reveals the distinction between a “closed” and “open” system. The Kindle environment is in fact what others have been claiming (wrongly) the iPod/iTunes environment to be. It clearly shows the iPod system is not what ignorant pundits, bloggers, and sour grapes competitors have frequently claimed.

Consider the following:

For the iPod, the primary content is music. There are numerous sources for this:

  • Can be purchased through iTunes. While many of these files are “open” (i.e., DRM-free), the majority (for now, see note below) contain DRM; but it’s easily stripped and the file turned into an “open” MP3 or AAC file.
  • Can be purchased from any “open” online store such as eMusic and AmazonMP3.
  • Can be purchased as physical CDs and ripped to the device as “open” files.
  • Finally, of course, there’s no requirement to purchase anything at all because your existing CDs can be ripped to the device as “open” files.

NOTE: The iTunes store is currently over one-third (>2M out of 6M titles) “open”, and that number is increasing. As the labels allow Apple to do so, more and more iTunes tracks are sold as “open”.

To play the above files, you have numerous options:

  • All Apple DRM files can be played on an unlimited number of iPods, up to five computers, and burned to CDs for play in any CD player.
  • All files bought from an “open” store (or as “open” from iTunes) can be played anywhere and shared.
  • All files ripped from CDs can be played anywhere and shared.

As for other formats, aside from standard MP3 and AAC files the iPod also supports Audible format (audio books), AIFF and WAV.

For the Kindle, the primary content is ebooks. There is only one source for the kind it supports:

  • Purchased through Amazon. They contain DRM that cannot be stripped.

To “play” these books, there is only one option:

  • Can be “played” on your Kindle. They cannot be shared or played elsewhere.

Other ebook formats? Standard IDPF (formerly Open eBook Forum) files are not supported. Oops.

Now let’s take the above and extrapolate from it…

If Apple shut down the iTunes store tomorrow, you’ve lost nothing in terms of purchased music. You may need to strip DRM from some iTunes-purchased files, but that’s easy and a (statistically) small percentage of your music collection. All your music is ultimately playable on any player of note.

If Apple starts selling crappy iPods tomorrow, can you buy a different player and use that? Absolutely, go right ahead since the “open” MP3 and AAC formats are supported by any player worth its salt. Heck, you could even buy a Zune.

If Amazon shuts down the Kindle store, what recourse do you have for books you’ve purchased? At present, none. Once your Kindle dies you’re screwed.

If Amazon stops selling the Kindle, or starts selling crappier ones, can you buy a different reader and use that? Nope, you’re screwed.

So, do you see the difference now? I’m talking to you, Thurrott, Wilcox, and countless others who’ve posted ignorantly about a “lock-in” with the iPod system. Now that there is a bona-fide example in the real-world of an environment that actually has the kind of lock-in you decry, DO YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE?

Sadly, many of them won’t, or can’t admit to it since they’re just posting at Microsoft’s behest, or strictly to Apple-bash. Still, if you know of any rational individual who somehow believes iPod/iTunes represents some kind of lock-in, point them to this post.