Posted on April 26, 2011
It was the first month when e-books outsold all other categories including paperbacks. According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), domestic e-book sales tripled from the year-earlier month to over $90 million. Unfortunately for the established industry the news is probably worse than reported because AAP only records e-book sales for sixteen traditional publishers. Yet activity at Amazon.com confirms an enthusiastic surge of self-published titles not included in AAP numbers.
Even more significant, self-published authors are discovering that low price is a viable path to popularity. As the chart below illustrates, the statistical distribution of e-book sales at Amazon.com last Wednesday was bimodal. Over half of the top fifty titles sold at two price points. Sixteen sold for $12.99 and were provided by traditional publishers. But twelve sold for only $0.99 and were presumably self-published. Read more…
Posted on April 25, 2011
Last Friday’s (4/22/2011) New York Times features another article disclosing the increasingly bitter clash between TV broadcasters and the cellular telephone industry.
Smartphone and tablet computer users increasingly complain of dropped calls, maps loading too slowly, and frustrating “Cannot Open Page” messages. Not only are smartphones proliferating into the mainstream, but owners are using Internet features much more often. Furthermore, tablet computers such as the iPad are at an earlier stage of a similar growth trajectory. Their bigger screens are certain to intensify Wireless Internet bandwidth demands.
Consequently, the cellular telephone industry is pressuring the FCC make 120 MHz of TV band spectrum available, preferably in the top end where smaller antennas operate efficiently. In response the Commission Chairman advocates an initiative permitting TV stations to voluntarily offer their channel spectrum for sale in government auction. Participating stations would share auction proceeds but could continue over-the-air broadcasts by leasing spectrum from stations withholding bandwidth. The 2009 shift to digital broadcasting technically enables such sharing in a manner undetectable by casual TV viewers. The FCC has also proposed spectrum fees on broadcasters, which historically received their licenses at no charge. Read more…
Posted on April 21, 2011
Collecting contact information has always been a necessary, but laborious, activity. It’s necessary because businesses need customers and customers are normally obtained from prospects. Although smartphone applications like Bump attempt to automate the process, they require both parties exchanging information to use the same app. Even then the apps don’t always work reliably, or fit a user’s preferred contacts software program.
Thus, gathering business cards is likely to remain a popular custom. Smartphone apps like Business Card Reader can automate data entry, but are only truly useful when the contacts programs in portable devices coincide with those in a business’s central computers. Moreover, once card information is entered, recipients have little incentive to keep the card. Read more…
Posted on April 19, 2011
Increasingly owners of smartphones, laptops, and tablet computers want the ability to stay constantly connected to the Internet. The desire particularly applies to device owners using them for work because the units are essential tools for earning a living. Ideally, they want an ever-present electromagnetic-field encircling the globe, tuned to their radios and antennas. Furthermore, they seek to avoid a disparity of log-ins and billing statements, instead preferring that field access be spontaneous and that support be available from a single vendor.
One company attempting to provide such a unifying service is Silicon Valley based iPass whose revenues approximate $160 million annually. It has achieved mixed success partly because it is difficult to assemble enough disparate Wi-Fi hot spots and other networks to adequately cover enough places where mobile workers are likely to roam. Read more…
Posted on April 14, 2011
Earlier this week (April 12th) the House Subcommittee on Communications held hearings about a FCC proposal to permit local TV stations to auction-off part of their spectrum and share the proceeds with the Federal Government. Generally, broadcasters oppose the initiative while nearly everyone else favors it.
An Intel representative went so far as to testify that the auctions should not be voluntary, but mandatory owing to the pressing need for bandwidth in mobile applications. The FCC’s chief of engineering and technology, Julius Knapp, provided supporting data. He predicted 55 million tablet computers will be sold worldwide this year making a $35 billion industry that didn’t even exist two years ago. He similarly noted that online shopping more than doubled to $4 billion in 2010 compared to $1.9 billion in 2009. Knapp predicted a spectrum crunch in which demand will exceed supply by early 2014 if nothing is done. He warned the consequences would be more dropped calls and higher prices for mobile service. Read more…
Posted on April 5, 2011
Last week Amazon.com launched its cloud drive emphasizing music storage. Users can upload 5GB of CD or mp3 music collections to Amazon for free storage, streaming and downloading. Each additional GB of storage costs only a dollar per year.
The concept should prove to be attractive to consumers who increasingly want to play music on a variety of devices. Consider the convenience of having our tune libraries available in (1) our cars, (2) on mp3 players while exercising, (3) on smartphones wherever we go, (4) at out computers while writing casual emails or Facebook updates and (5) in our living room entertainment system during a romantic experience. Given increasing wireless Internet ubiquity, music playback devices and settings will likely become even more diversified in the future.
Cloud drive benefits are so obvious that it’s no surprise the concept was actually introduced about ten years ago by mp3.com and MyPlay. Unfortunately, mp3.com adopted a legally flawed approach and sustained damages that reduced it to irrelevance. MyPlay failed to enter the mainstream because of slower Internet speeds and conscientious compliance with then unrealistically restrictive rules imposed by record labels and music publishers. Read more…
Posted on April 4, 2011
1. Recurring Revenues. A Wireless ISP is a utility with no rate-of-return limitations. Monthly subscriber fees are as regular as clockwork much like those of a CATV operator, telephone company, or tax collector.
2. Infrequent Subscriber Cancellations. Since Internet access is increasingly essential, well-run Wireless ISPs normally experience low subscriber cancellation rates. For example, Towerstream – which is the most prominent publicly traded WISP — reports subscriber churn at about 1.4% monthly.
3. High Profit Margins. Unlike electric power or water utilities, there’s normally little incremental cost after subscribers are added. Towerstream reports average gross profit margins of 75%. Furthermore, it achieves EBITDA margins of 50% – 70% in its most established markets like New York and Boston. Read more…