After years of speculation about the Kindle’s arrival in China, a wide-spread rumor that Amazon was going to open Kindle pre-orders on April 16 sounded credible, building on the US firm introduced its Kindle apps and e-bookstore in China just four months prior.
That launch was believed to be a clear signal that the firm planned to launch its Kindle in China, however, the rumor turned out to be just that — a rumor. Amazon remained silent on April 16th and once again the timeline for the Kindle’s arrival in China fell back into uncertainty.
It is not actually surprising that Amazon’s effort to introduce the Kindle to China needs more time. Given the current status of the e-book market in China, the outlook for both the Kindle and its e-bookstore seems full of challenges.
In China, the paid e-book market features a limited reader base and lacks quality electronic book content. Given the ongoing problem of rampant piracy of digital content Chinese consumers have not yet grown accustomed to paying for digital content. Indeed, Xiaodong Hu, Vice President of leading e-reading startup Duokan once remarked that “Chinese readers are so used to getting a ‘free lunch’ that it is challenging to educate them to pay for e-content.”
Though China has more than 500 million Internet users, it is unclear just how many Chinese netizens are willing to pay for e-books, while the price that they are willing to pay remains up for question. To figure this out, Duokan embarked on a test sale of 17 e-books in the Apple store in January 2012, finding that the best-performing of the 17 sold just 8,000 copies in six months.
A survey of Chinese female e-readers conducted by the China Press and Publication Post also reflected the fact that few were willing to pay. Only 12 percent of the respondents said that they would pay for e-books, while 49 percent said they wouldn’t.
It isn’t just about users, since difficulty cultivating a market for paid e-books readers is also down to a lack of good e-book content. This leads to the fundamental challenge impacting the success of Amazon’s Kindle in China, which is how to obtain attractive and abundant Chinese e-book content from local traditional publishers given that they control the copyright of the majority of Chinese mainstream books.
Negotiating with traditional publishers will not be easy for Amazon. Compared to traditional book-selling in China, the e-book business is not so attractive for traditional publishers. This is because the cost of producing high-quality e-books is high while profit from e-books selling are low given the limited buyer base.
More importantly, concern about Internet piracy of e-book content in particular makes traditional publishers in China feel cautious and hesitant to enter the market. Then there are also doubts about the reliability of current encryption technology and the transparency of the sale data on e-commerce platforms.
In addition, fierce competition from local player Dangdang also poses significant challenges for Amazon. As an early pioneer of selling books online, Dangdang took the lead in terms of collaborating with Chinese publishers. According to Wenfei Yi, Dangdang’s Vice President of Digital Content Development, the company’s 12 years of experience cooperating with traditional publishers, along with years of making publishers significant profits, give it the strongest network and strongest value proposition for traditional publishers in China.
As early as 2011, Dangdang had already built partnerships with more than half of China’s publishers.
“We have monopoly rights in many cases because of our exclusive book contracts with a sub-set of China’s publishers,” said Dangdang founder and CEO Guoqing Li.
Even Chinese e-commerce giant JD (originally 360buy) cannot compete with Dangdang on the sourcing books from traditional publishers. To make up for the deficiency and compete, JD adopted a strategy of buying copyright directly from the writers themselves. On March 29th, the company launched its ‘exclusive e-book edition by star writers’ when it signed contracts with three famous writers who have created exclusive e-book content for JD.
Bearing all of this in mind, Amazon still has a lot of challenges to overcome before launching Kindle devices in China. The priority for the company should be to develop partnerships with local Chinese publishers and solve the content issues. Without this, Kindle’s arrival in China will be doomed to failure — without a rich library of content, the Kindle will be just like a pretty flower without any roots.
Headline image via seenful / Flickr
There are many reasons why you’d wish to avoid driving in cities – traffic jams and costly insurance are just two of them.
But parking can also be a major headache for those seeking to traverse conurbations with their own four wheels, which is where Yellow Line for iPhone is seeking to help. But before you read on, it’s worth noting it’s London-only for now.
When you launch the app, you’ll note that it’s informational as well as functional, serving up details around signage and official parking parlance – which will be helpful, particularly for visitors to the city.
But the main power of Yellow Lines isn’t in the illustrational insights. No, it’s in its ability to guide and inform you of local parking situations, surfacing free on-street parking as well as where the metered ‘pay-and-display’ zones may be.
The basic premise behind this app is that it saves you from having to search the streets for paid-for (or free) parking, covering resident parking bays, pay-and-displays and single yellow lines.
It shows zones in green, when it’s free to park, and red when restrictions apply. If free parking isn’t available, the app provides options such as pay-and-display costs with a dedicated button that takes you to a local pay-by-phone telephone number.
Yellow Line allows you to search for addresses across London, and select different times and days if you’re planning a trip in advance. It even lets you access Google Maps’ Street View, so you can have a look at the layout yourself.
There’s a little pull-down banner which offers a shorthand view informing people whether they can park or not, and for how long. While I’m not entirely convinced all the data here is 100% accurate based on a few addresses I checked, for the most part it does seem to be about right.
Another particularly neat feature is the ‘Remember Car Location’ button.
You simply hit the ‘Anchor’ tab at the bottom, and it plots where you parked your car. When it’s time to return to your wheels, you can use the app to find exactly where you parked it.
Moreover, it will actually direct you back to the car, whether you’re walking or driving back to it. Conversely, this feature can also be used to pre-plan a trip – so it can direct you to an appropriate parking area you’ve scouted in advance.
Interestingly, the app also has an in-built alarm to remind you to collect your car, so you don’t get a parking ticket.
Yellow Line is a really fantastic app, and it’s just a shame it’s London-only for now, but seeing the amount of work that’s gone into it, it’s easy to see why it’s focused locally.
Developer Dan Hubert says that given there’s currently no local authority API to tap into for the data, they spent “many hours” creating and stitching together digital polygons of controlled parking zones (CPZ) in each borough.
“Each CPZ polygon has its individual data attached to it,” says Hubert, “so we know when it becomes free for it to turn green. Also, pretty much every zone has a paid meter too. Individual meter locations will be out in the next app to ensure a higher level of detail.”
At launch, the app covers Brent, Camden, City of London, City of Westminster, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth.
Yellow Line for iOS is available to download for free now.
Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock
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One of the hacks at Disrupt NY’s Hackathon this year employed hardware startup Leap Motion’s new 3D gesture controller, which unfortunately just ran into a delay. Leap Motion’s issues aside, this project, the combined effort of Chao Huang, Cedrich Pinson and Jorge Martinez, brings a Facebook Home-style experience to the desktop.
With “Leap in Time,” Leap Motion is used to navigate through a Facebook timeline via hand gestures that are intended to be as natural and intuitive as possible. You swipe left and right to go through photos and posts, and there’s inertia built-in to make it feel even more immersive. Then there’s a motion to pause and focus on a particular piece of content, with a palm outward gesture, and you can simply make a thumbs up to like a post.
Working with the Leap Motion was fairly simple, the team said, but does seem to experience difficulty with some environment issues like changing lighting conditions. It’s also crucial to maker sure that the Leap Motion app you’re building is cued to pay attention to certain things at certain times and to ignore specific motions in different settings. You have to cue the app to not pay attention to sideways hand waving when you want it to be able to recognize the thumbs up, for instance.
The hack was surprisingly smooth given that it was built in fewer than 24 hours, and Huang said there’s plenty more they could do given more time, but they wanted to focus on what they considered the core Facebook experience. The project is also reminiscent of a recent concept design making the rounds of a Facebook Home app for Windows 8.
Leap in Time is a simple enough implementation of Leap Motion, but it does act as a pretty solid example of how gesture control might actually work well for navigating apps and software that we use every day. I know that Leap Motion is eager to get as much software as possible into Airspace, the app store for the controller, but this team said they weren’t sure whether they’d actually pursue this any further.
See original here: Leap Motion Hack Brings A Facebook Home Experience To The Desktop
This removes the final hurdle for the massive deal to proceed.
The transaction has an enterprise value of €17.2 billion or approximately $22.5 billion, the EU Commission confirms in a statement. That number factors in debt – the companies pegged the equity value of takeover deal at $15.8 billion when it was first announced, as Reuters notes.
Although Liberty Global is headquartered in the US, the telecom and television juggernaut is actually one of the largest broadband providers outside of the United States and particularly in Europe.
The EU Commission’s investigation found, however, that the transaction would not raise competition concerns because Virgin Media and Liberty Global operate cable networks in different member states (Liberty doesn’t operate in the UK) and “because of the merged entity’s limited market position in the wholesale of TV channels in the UK and Ireland”.
The EU Commission decided the merged entity would still face “sufficient competitive constraint” from other players on the field, including TV content providers and competing pay-TV retailers.
The Virgin Media deal will help Liberty Global go head-to-head with News Corp.-owned BSkyB, Britain’s top pay-TV provider.
Image credit: Andrew Cowie for AFP / Getty Images
Originally posted here: EU Commission approves Liberty Global’s $22.5 billion acquisition of Virgin Media
Feedly, the RSS feed-reading client that is rapidly becoming the one to beat following the planned Google Reader shutdown, is today launching new versions of its Feedly Mobile client for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android phones and tablets. This update, built-in response to user feedback, is focused on improving search, productivity, discovery and sharing. But the feature, which is likely to appeal to ex-Google Reader users the most is the new “title only” mode, designed to make headline scanning more efficient.
The startup says it has now seen 3 million new users sign up for its service in the wake of Google’s announcement that it’s shuttering Google Reader on July 1, 2013. Prior to this, Feedly had grown its own user base organically to 4 million users since its founding in 2008, to give you some perspective on how rapid this growth has been.
“We are thankful that so many Reader refugees have selected Feedly as their new home, and we will strive to make it the best home we can for them,” says co-founder Cyril Moutran. “Our main priorities over the next 90 days are to keep the service up, listen to new users for suggestions, and keep adding smaller features weekly.”
Feedly has been moving quickly to capitalize on the attention Google’s announcement brought the company, which has benefitted Feedly in terms of app store domination in particular, where its native clients have been topping the charts. The company has also been reassuring users that not only did it expect the Google Reader shutdown, it already had a transition plan in place: all you have to do is sign up for Feedly before Reader is gone, and you’ll be set.
Clearly, many people have followed that advice. But today’s changes are more about keeping those users around for the long haul.
For starters, Feedly has revamped its search and discovery engines, a mostly under-the-hood improvement which improves the speed of searching, and brings over 50 million RSS feeds to the search engine’s index. A “smart topic completion” feature helps you find new feeds faster on mobile’s small-screened interface, as it means less typing is involved. Meanwhile, Feedly is now tapping into its community’s behavior to improve its search algorithms – recommending feeds based on popularity. This feature is designed to improve over time, the company says, noting that the more you use Feedly to search, categorize, follow and favorite feeds, the better the feature becomes.
Another new section called “Must Reads” allows you to track your most-watched feeds without the need for special folders. This now appears in the sidebar navigation next to the “Today” and “Saved for Later” sections. Moutran clarifies that, for now, this section is meant for personal organization purposes only – it’s a way to have quick access to the feeds you “absolutely want to see all updates from,” he says. However, he adds that Feedly might use this data in the future for search engine relevance improvements, but only in aggregate; it won’t show others which posts you’ve indicated are “Must Reads,” that is.
Sharing improvements have also been introduced, with support for Google+, and settings that let you pick which sharing options (including Pocket and Buffer, too) will appear as a shortcut on the main toolbar.
The company says it tested the beta of this new mobile release with more than 500 users over the past 10 weeks, giving a special shout-out to Squarespace founder and CEO Anthony Casalena, who has offered his own feedback, as well.
As noted above, the biggest benefit to Google Reader users, who are just looking to duplicate their same Reader experience elsewhere, is the more compact title-only view. Feedly has already been working to make it easier on those transitioning to its web client, and this is the continuation of those efforts.
Most importantly, perhaps, Feedly is finally talking publicly about its business model. And yes, it will ask some users to pay.
“We’ve been asked the question of Feedly’s viability a lot recently,” Moutran says. “We have heard from a significant proportion of our users that they would be willing to pay for Feedly. They love and depend on our service, and want to make sure Feedly will be there in the future,” he tells us. “We have also heard from our power users that they would like deeper integration with other services they use and pay for, like Evernote and Dropbox. We intend to launch a premium version of Feedly this year on a subscription basis that would include new features for power users.”
Moutran also notes that Feedly has been working with publishers on efforts that would allow its users to discover, purchase and access premium content, such as those behind “paywalls,” or only available on a subscription basis, for example.
The updated Feedly mobile apps are appearing in their respective app stores as of 9 AM PT, or you can download them from here.
Read more from the original source: Now With 3 Million New Users, Google Reader’s Heir Apparent Feedly Relaunches On iOS & Android, Reveals How It Plans To Make Money