July 30th, 2010
Welcome to this morning’s Daily Research Update. Today’s themes are Amazon, e-books, and apps. If you want more context for this research, take a look at our Education and Technology Trends for 2010. You may also be interested in our Weekly Research Index, or you can follow our live, daily research on our Current News page.
(Click here to see a simple listing of today’s suggested reading)
The day after Amazon announced its new Kindle e-readers for $139, Copia released news of its own plans for low-cost 7″ and 10″ tablets and e-ink devices. Copia’s Wave5 e-reader will run $99 and is a 5″ LCD-based device focused on reading. “Copia has two more LCD-based tablets coming out soon, as well as two E-ink-based readers with Kindle-esque designs.” Copia doesn’t plan to win the e-book wars with its hardware, however, but rather with a “unique social platform, which allows a community of readers to exchange reviews, recommendations, and so on.”
Copia’s announcement prompted immediate media response and speculation about the “race to the bottom” for e-readers. “Just as we suspected, the race to the bottom is on, and Amazon’s along for the ride. Will it doom the e-reader totally, so much that in a couple of years they’ll be extinct? No. It may doom them to being a solely niche-device though, bringing their e-ink displays to situations that most benefit from them, while the tablet PCs mop up the rest of the slate-format e-reader market.”
My personal feeling is that there is a place for dedicated e-reader devices over the next 2-3 years as long as they maintain a reasonable price point ($100-$125). Tablets will hover between $200 and $500 so e-readers should be able to carve out a strong short-term niche. Naturally, Amazon is hedging its bets by creating a great app that plays on other devices like the iPad. And speaking of the Kindle app, Amazon has upgraded it and added a dictionary, Wikipedia access, and Google search.
Despite their clear commitment to the hardware version of the Kindle, Amazon continues to make the Kindle apps that run on the iPad and iPhone better. Today, version 2.2 of the app brings a full dictionary with it. This matches the functionality of Apple’s own iBooks app, but the Kindle implementation is even a little better. Now in the Kindle app when you highlight a word, a definition will automatically appears at the bottom of the screen. And that’s not all — there you’ll also find links to further investigate the word on Google or Wikipedia. Though this dumps you out of the app and into the iPhone/iPad web browser, it’s a pretty nice feature.
It would definitely be a mistake, however, to lose sight of Amazon’s larger strategy with regards to e-readers. As a reminder of the reality they are heavily invested in, Amazon’s CEO said yesterday that he sees e-book sales surpassing paper versions in the next year. Specifically, Jeff Bezos predicted that Kindle e-book sales will “surpass paperback sales sometime in the next 9 to 12 months,” and that “sometime after that, we’ll surpass the combination of paperback and hardcover.”
Here are two additional items on e-books that merit the read:
I also found this article on a free gradebook for school teachers to be of interest. Among other things, the article discusses the estimated price of publisher-provided school technologies and points to LearnBoost as a way to simplify the technology learning curve for teachers.
Also, in case you were worried about Google’s success, please note that the search giant has a veritable monopoly in the mobile market. “How’s this for absolutely dominating an increasingly lucrative and fast-growing segment? Google currently boasts a mobile search market share of 98.29%, with it closest competitor Yahoo taking up just over 0.8% of market share and Microsoft’s Bing barely touching even half that, according to recent data from StatCounter as relayed by Pingdom.”
And finally, don’t think the the incredible popularity of apps is reflected only in iTunes or Google’s Marketplace. The second largest app store is actually GetJar.
Today, GetJar, a San Mateo, Calif.-based company, announced it is delivering over 3 million downloads a day to more than 2,000 different phone models. Adding support for Google Android devices last year has helped boost the daily downloads, as Android is already the second-most-used platform for GetJar customers. The company says it has seen tremendous growth over the past year, with downloads up 300 percent from the prior year. GetJar bills itself as the “second largest app store,” boasting over 73,000 software titles. With roughly 225,000 apps, Apple’s iTunes App Store is the largest. But Apple’s store only supports a single platform in iOS4 devices, so GetJar goes after the remaining market, which is magnitudes larger. GetJar is a centralized software store for Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Mobile and Java devices. With such a wide variety of supported platforms, the company is on pace to deliver 1.1 billion mobile applications over the next year.
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