Amazon stops and starts

Click to get Amazon App for android (or use QR code)

The stop, is contained in Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com Founder and CEO)  rather cryptic comment in their press release  “We’re grateful to the millions of customers who have made Kindle Fire the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon. This has been a big year for digital products on Amazon—all of the top 10 sellers on Amazon.com since Kindle Fire launched just less than a year ago are digital products. Kindle Fire is sold out, but we have an exciting roadmap ahead—we will continue to offer our customers the best hardware, the best prices, the best customer service, the best cross-platform interoperability, and the best content ecosystem.”

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So they’ve stopped selling Kindle Fires in the US? Not really. They are no longer available directly from amazon in the amazon.com store but you can still buy them second hand currently from 9 outlets but the price at $220 is at a premium to the $199 historic price!

The overall consensus  seems to be that this “sold out” is just a marketing ploy and that come September 6 lo and behold new Kindle Fires or even a range of them will be announced.

Now that double two number seems to be amazons favourite this week. It appears  twice in their release:

  1. “….in just nine months, Kindle Fire has captured 22% of tablet sales in the U.S”.
  2. “Kindle Fire offers customers a vast selection of digital content—over 22 million movies, TV shows, apps, games, books, magazines and more”

The first point is interesting, using lots of wild guesses, unequal timeframes, and some hard evidence from Apple (SEC filings) together with certain court documents recently unearthed by CNN money we have come up with some figures!

Tablet unit sales/shipment guesses Q4 2011 – Q2 2012 millions
Global Global market % US US market% US % Global
Apple 44.3 63% 16.0 50% 36%
Kindle 7.0 10% 7.0 22% 100%
Other 18.7 27% 9.0 28% 48%
Total 70.0 100% 32.0 100% 46%
Source: I.co.uk guesses & extrapolations!

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To be honest we think the 9 million Other figure for US unit sales looks high which means that some of our guesses are wrong!

The Start in another release by Amazon concerns the rollout of their Apps Store across Europe  “Amazon.com, Inc. today announced the launch of its Amazon Appstore in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain, giving European customers access to Amazon’s broad selection of quality Android apps with the convenience of shopping on Amazon from their Android phones and tablets”.

It does give European android users another “market” to add to their devices. Whilst their video has a Samsung mobile (which amused us, although in accordance with amazon practice the lack of a European specific video didn’t) we think this is another precursor to their Kindle Fires European launch on September 6. We certainly hope so.

Should we switch off on holiday?

BT  have just done a little research on our holiday habits and found that we’re not very good at being irresponsible or antisocial on vacation!

Their headline findings are:

  •  “41% Brits admit to logging onto social networking sites when holidaying with friends and family”
  • “33% of working Brits plan to check work emails or voicemails while away”

We wonder whether the actual question on social networks started “Do you admit to…..” hmm…. if so we reckon the 41% could be understated!

Of the 33% men lead women by 9% (37% to 28%). Inverting their findings of these 75% didn’t believe that this “annoys family and friends” and 72% don’t “know that they can only get away with urgent business as any unnecessary work chat would spell trouble in paradiseAgain we wonder if paradise was actually included in the question!

Of the 33%, 39% did this “because they feel a responsibility to check in” and 28% because “they worry that they are missing important information”. This all seems perfectly reasonable to us and wonder what the other responses were.

Surprise surprise on the social networking front more 18-34 year olds (total – 66%) checked in on holiday. 20% of the total 41% said they did this “just out of habit” and 10%  “admit …. it is their favourite way to relax”. There’s that word again! We also wonder how the remaining 70% responded.

The “Celebrity psychologist” quoted at some length is Corrine Sweet.

Click for the BT Balance Communications Diet

Finally they  regurgitate resurrect “The BT Balanced Communications Diet (which) was developed in response to an international study, led by the University of Cambridge and sponsored by BT, which found that one in three people have felt overwhelmed by communications technology, including texting, email and social networking, to the point that they felt a need to escape it”.

The link provided for all the diet details was unlinked and the address produced a 404 error message – we think this is where they meant to point us all to last years research infographics downloads etc etc   http://www.btlife.bt.com/technology-and-communication/balanced-communications-diet/

We think some more updated analysis and referencing may be required here!!

They base their current findings on commissioned research from ICM Research  amongst 2,000 people carried out in June this year.

Smartphones – plurality in 2012, majority in 2013

IHSiSuppli in their latest forecast see “The rise of smartphones to a plurality share this year….” and “Driven by increased demand from developed regions for high-end models, along with an unexpectedly strong push from emerging economies for lower-cost products, smartphones are expected to rise to account for the majority of global cellphone shipments in 2013—two years earlier than previously predicted”.

They see smartphone shipments rising from 46% this year to 54% in 2013 and reaching over two thirds by 2016.

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Digitimes  in their latest 2012 forecast see android global shipments rising from over 60% in the first half of the year to more than 70% in the second half, “…. as several major Android handset vendors such as Samsung Electronics, Huawei and ZTE are all starting to pump up their shipments in the third quarter, while second-tier vendors, regional brand vendors, and white-box players are also aggressively launching new entry-level Android-based handsets in the China market”,

Alongside their graph we’ve switched round the growth rates to show them by operating system. Adding a unit perspective using some extrapolation we think the main 2012 numbers they are forecasting could be:

Forecast unit shipments 2012 (millions)
Android* 425
iOS 125
Windows 21
Other* 79
Total* 650
Source: Digitimes Compilation & extrapolations* I.co.uk

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Some believe, as detailed in The Wall Street Journal, that Microsoft could be a net beneficiary of the recent Apple Samsung patent verdict. Their graph clearly shows they have a way to go!

We think (and hope) that commercial settlement of patent wars will prevail but that this could lead to an Apple tax.

We shall see!

Who will spring forward this fall?

As we approach autumn/the fall (September 22) three of the 4 trillionaire club members have already announced (or in one case heavily leaked) dates of media events / product launches.

In alphabetical order we have:

  • amazon  Their Californian Press Conference may in fact not be to announce the widely rumoured kindle fire 2 upgrades.  These may follow at a later date. Some feel  the LA location may give a hint on some entertainment content deal as they usually hold their product launches in New York. We hope that at a minimum the roll out of kindle fires internationally is included (or being parochial at least to the UK). To be honest we think they have to announce significant kindle fire product/content upgrades to compete with the other three.

 

  • Apple are strongly rumoured now to be having two media events to avoid message dilution. iPhone 5 in early September & then a further one for the MiNi iPad in October. We had a quick look at the sites to see if they confirmed any activity but nothing so far on either iPadMini.com or MiniiPad.com we’re afraid. We did like Ciccaresedesign’s  graphic (and their site). The ecosystems expansion continues but it looks as if the Apple TV may be at least delayed into 2013. We shall see.

 

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  • Google have no scheduled or rumoured “events” yet but we will be amazed if they don’t keep up their aggressive marketing of the Nexus7. Pending new events we rather liked their camping video, but we are biased as we continue to enjoy using their product!

 

  • Microsoft have already announced the launch of Windows 8 on October 26 with its new tiled Metro u/i. Lifehacker has a good runover of it which likely a huge proportion of us will be using in the not too distant future.As far as their Surface Tablet is concerned dates are awaited. It could be launched (again) on the same date with a sort of loss leader price tag – if it is we think it might be a limited offer (in both product & time terms).

So that’s the hors d’oeuvres, now for the main course of tablet sales shipments for the remainder of the year.

Amazon you may recall with a product announcement at the end of September and shipments starting on November 11 last year shipped nearly 5 million kindle fires in the final quarter (or 7 weeks). Currently they do seem to be flat lining at about 1 million units a quarter.

Apple sold just under 15 million units in Q4 2011 representing 35% of their years sales. Their year on year growth for the first half of 2012 shows a figure of over 100%. This will likey slow in q3 but with a new Mini iPad available for the holiday season who can tell! Over 25 million is certainly a possibility in our view.

Google’s Nexus 7 is anecdotally doing quite well. We are sure it must bew hurting the kindle fire in the US. Estimates of up to 8 million for the year (announced end June shipping from mid July) are widespread. We think it could exceed this.

Microsoft will in our opinion have to launch and start shipping their Surface very soon at an attractive introductory price to achieve the 3 million shipments being mentioned. We feel this is optimistic.

We live in exciting times!

The Internet of SmartThings

Interesting project, we think, over on Kickstarter for a multi purpose hub with, already numerous monitors and several apps. Its open source as well. It’s called SmartThings (Kickstarter project link ) and they appear to be part of Physical Graph Corporation. They have the domain SmartThings.com which we guess it acquired as it has been around since 2003.

They even have a monitor for your dog/pet (in its collar) which tells you when he leaves the back yard!

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They have generally had some good coverage eg from:

 

 

Here are their plans for international backers and the rewards on offer:

“We are targeting Q1 2013. To achieve that, we are in the process of researching compliance and certification requirements for international markets. We’re also looking into logistics and shipping. We can’t currently commit to a delivery date for international backers, but will be working diligently to fulfill international interest. We will work hard to minimize international shipping costs. If the cost ends up being more than you expected, or we cannot support your specific voltage needs, you will have an opportunity to cancel your pledge. If you want to hold off backing at the SmartThings Pack level, we’d love for you to back us at a Friend level to get priority access to SmartThings Packs when ready for your country and to help us get there as quickly as possible”.

Take a look at the video and you have until the beginning of the fall (September 22) to get involved over at Kickstarter. We are impressed  particularly as they are pursuing a path which we thought (ie a multi purpose/universal hub) was the way forward!

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Update – You can follow the project and several of the founders/team on twitter:

and on Linkedin:

Keep an “I” on our week (Apple Patent case win edition)

The top three articles this week were:

  1. What Colour is Microsoft’s Surface?
  2. Conservatives are Red and Liberals are Blue
  3. Is Medium the Social Message? 

A lot of the “buzz” over the week end surrounds Apple’s patent case against Samsung. Apple seems to have won by more than on points!

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9to5Mac reveal that Tim Cook “Apple CEO has sent a memo response to Apple corporate employees”.

Apple shares (after hours moved up $11.73 to 5 cents short of $675 which if repeated next week would take them to an all time high (again)!

The 20 page verdict is on Scribd

We think the future commercial discussions and arrangements between the two companies will be …. ahem …. interesting.

We also noticed this rather remarkable video of the latest Samsung store opening in Australia!

What colour is Microsoft’s Surface?

Microsoft yesterday unveiled its new/updated logo . It’s apparently the first change in a quarter of a century. They say “The logo has two components: the logotype and the symbol. For the logotype, we are using the Segoe font which is the same font we use in our products as well as our marketing communications. The symbol is important in a world of digital motion (as demonstrated in the video above below.) The symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products”.

So here’s their nice little video.

 

It’s had sort of mixed reviews but we are comparatively impressed …. apart from the fact that their Surface Tablet doesn’t (yet) get a colour credit so we’re wondering if it might turn out to be yellow!

Although according to these Street Art Ads in New York it could be a whole trio of colours! We shall see!

Microsoft also opened their latest store in Boston, which as we noted previously, follows a pattern of close proximity with Apple’s stores.  They are at # 815 Boyalston Street  whereas Microsoft are at # 800. Luckily the zip codes differ MA 02116 v’s MA 02199!

Midst some of the razzmatazz we noticed an interesting observation in the Boston Globe  “So far, Microsoft’s retail experiment has delivered promising results: about $1,500 in annual revenue per square foot, about twice as much as the typical specialty retailer, said Jeff Green, president of Jeff Green Partners, a retail consulting firm in Phoenix. Compare that, though, to the typical Apple store: about $6,000 per square foot a year”.

As the Tablet wars unfold we intend developing a few comparisons of the major US competitors so here’s a little starter – incorporating Microsoft’s new logo of course!.

Amazon have just announced a “Media Event” for September 6 in Santa Monica, California at the Barker Hanger which we think will include updated KindleFire launches and hopefully their rollout to the UK in time for the holiday season.

Is Medium the Social Message?

Two Blogger and Twitter founders Evan Williams  and Biz Stone   are “… rethinking publishing and building a new platform from scratch” by introducing Medium.

It is a product of the Obvious Corporation which whilst, per Biz Stone “  is more of a philosophy than a company or product”. but “From a practical standpoint, Obvious is a small company in downtown San Francisco, CA. Most of the folks working in this office are focused on a product called Medium”.

It has been described elsewhere as “ a website divided by personal interest,” “…. a platform for sharing content under different categories” or rather unkindly “ … “a cross between Pinterest and Redditt”  From our brief travels round the site we would attempt factually to describe it as a multi content platform categorised by theme.

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The examples currently given on the (Beta) site are:

  • When I Was a Kid – Things were different
  • This Happened to Me – Life is made of stories.
  • Been there. Loved that – Places that need to be shared with the world.
  • This Happened to me – Life is made of stories
  • Look what I made – A place to share the results of your hard work
  • The Writer’s Room – Tools And Strategies For A Writing Life
  • The Obvious Collection – We do various things

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“Posting on Medium (not yet open to everyone) is elegant and easy, and you can do so without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience. All posts are organized into “collections,” which are defined by a theme and a template.”

“Our philosophy is that quality begets quality, so we will grow Medium smartly, ensuring that our platform is valuable to everyone in this increasingly mobile, connected, and noisy world.”

We certainly go with the quality point and can commend highly Geoff Stearns introductory photograph on the Been There. Loved That. post!

Most interesting – Obvious commercial angle to the concept as well!

Here’s your limited invite!

“As of today, everyone (with a Twitter account) can read and give feedback on Medium. Posting is limited to a small invited list of friends and family, which we’ll be expanding rapidly—soon, to those who have registered, so if you are interested please do so.”

Conservatives are Red and Liberals are Blue

Click to visit the amazon "Heat Map" site

Well that’s in the US of course!

amazon have come up with we think a rather interesting “Heat Map” fueled by the upcoming presidential elections taking place on November 6.

It of course, as well as contributing to the debate has a, likely objective of promoting & selling more books. Press release

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Updated daily the map by state gives the % Red and Blue books sold as well as listing the top 5 by ……ahem colour. Additionally US wide percentages are given plus the top 100 books by party. The presidential candidates and running mates own book sales percentages also appear. That Mr Ryan seems to be sort of winning on the running mate side but Mr Obama is currently ahead in the main race!

We have done a little research from the “Map” on ebooks v’s the more traditional hard and paperback varieties (with a very occasional audio CD in fact we only saw 1)

 

Kindle Book
Top 100 – USA 32.5% 66.5%
Blue – Top 100 29.0% 71.0%
Red – Top100 36.0% 64.0%
Top 5 – 50 states 44.6% 55.4%
Blue – Top 5 30.4% 69.6%
Red – Top 5 58.8% 41.2%

.With The Amateur by Edward Klein (Kindle version) being not only top of the US Red books but also we reckon also top in about 47 of the states on the Red side this influences the figures somewhat. In many cases it also appears in the top 5 in the hardback version. The price difference is $6.78.

The highest individual Kindle states were New York, New Mexico, Texas and Washington DC with 60% kindles equally split Red and Blue bar New Mexico where reds had 80% (4 of the 6).

A couple of other situations amused us:

  • Pennsylvania was already “too close to call” with the two parties reading habits rated at 50% for both Blue & Red books sold!
  • Blues led Reds by 78% to 22% in Washington DC but Reds led Blues by 72% to 28% in Mississippi

Links to the “real” Blue and Red  political sites.

In the comments please complete a limerick starting:

    Conservatives are Red,

Liberals are Blue,

A Canny move by Nook and Barnsie (the Noble Bear)

Barnes & Noble to Offer Its Award-Winning NOOK® Products and Digital Content in the UK Starting This Autumn”. WELCOME!

Hopefully whilst not yet announced this will also include, during the upcoming holiday season, their range of, possibly expanded, tablets.

Barnes & Noble, per Wikipedia, are the largest book retailer in the US and B & N themselves claim “691 bookstores in 50 states ” and also “647 college bookstores” as well as indicating they are “ The worlds largest bookseller……” Full press release (pdf). They have an interesting history and in the last few years encountered, on both their digital and bookstore sides, quite a few challenges. Rumours of a split/sale of the Digital side of its business were certainly plentiful a while back.  but they subsequently formed a strategic partnership with Microsoft  which was generally well received.

B & Ns UK venture kicks off in mid-October with the offering of some of its range of eReaders and the “opening” of its new online storefront nook.co.uk. Promises of partnerships with leading UK retailers are also made in their press release. We comment below on this with a guess/suggestion as to who might be involved! Further eReaders will be added to their UK range “…. in time for the holiday shopping season”.

Pending the “opening” of their online “……expansive NOOK Store™ featuring more than 2.5 million digital titles – including top-selling UK books, newspapers and magazines – plus comics, exciting NOOK Apps and more. UK NOOK customers will be able to “Read what they love, anywhere they like™” on NOOK devices as well as their favorite mobile and computing devices using free NOOK reading apps. Purchased NOOK content is always safe and available through NOOK Cloud™. UK residents wishing to learn more about NOOK can visit www.nook.co.uk”., you can browse, we must admit, their impressive US version.

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Their UK retailer links will be interesting when announced and, subject to pre-existing, contracts/arrangements we could see a potential fit with HMV (now that Waterstones has gone) and their Digital plans. Their recent Cambridge café might even complement Barnes & Noble’s numerous (650) in-store Starbucks! We shall see.

UPDATE – Barnes & Noble have just announced their Q1 2013 earnings (here’s their pdf of the segment revenues and earnings as it’s almost illegible in the link information). Initially after the opening their shares moved ahead but have dropped back into negative territory 4.15 BST. Nice ticker BKS.

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NB Barnsie (the Noble bear) is the B & N bear who hopefully will also be available from their UK outlets!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t help but notice the prolific use of TM’s and ® in Barnes & Nobles press release so for the avoidance of any doubt we respect them all!