Posts Tagged ‘apple’

And while I was away…

September 1, 2016 Leave a comment
My last post, about Blockchain, Bitcoins and Trust Machines, must have pulled a Rip Van Winkle stunt on me because I just blinked and here I am, almost 5 months later and what’s more, the world seems to have gone a little bonkers.
The BREXIT vote happened (yes it did), and The Donald may well be on his way to the Whitehouse (heaven help us all). On the tech front, AI is making a strong play for headlines post “big data” and IoT trends of last year, and Apple got hit by a hefty 13BN tax bill by the EU, while Mark Zuckerberg got downright local in Lagos, Nigeria. However, it was not all bad news because the Rio Olympics seemingly surpassed all expectations (at least for the Brits), and apparently went very well – Zika or no.
In any case, sporadic flashes of hazy memory seem to indicate I may have been extremely busy, especially judging by my last Salesforce blog post (something about turning experts into trusted advisors). If so, that may well account for the memory lapse – I’ll just have to be more careful next time.
That said, it’s nice to post again on this blog and I look forward to sharing more thoughts on key topics of interest, such as my next post which will be about IP and tech startups, so watch this space…

Publishers vs. eBook Price Fix vs. Copyright

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Recent developments in the world of publishing, clearly demonstrate yet again that the primary objective of the content industry is to make a tidy profit. Nothing wrong with that, if you ask me; however, it usually turns into a rather sticky mess when that pursuit is clouded by accusations of skulduggery, conspiracy and outright price fixing.

I refer to a recent lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department against Apple and 5 major book publishers, over allegations of conspiracy, collusion and price fixing. According to this article from the Wall Street Journal, it could change the course of a rapidly expanding eBook publishing industry. But how so, you ask?

Well, it is really down to opposing business models, (i.e. the so called agency versus wholesale approach to eBook pricing), where, on one hand, an agent such as Apple will allow publishers to set their own price, and take a cut (in this case 30%) from sales on its iBook platform. On the other hand, a wholesale pricing model is one where the retailer (e.g. Amazon or Barnes and Noble) sets the price for eBooks and can effectively apply discounts as they wish (even if it means selling eBooks at a loss). Obviously, this latter scenario leaves publishers with less control over prices, and consequently profits, hence the opportunity to take advantage of a more favourable option could not fail to be attractive.

However, the question remains about the value proposition for consumers, who are themselves increasingly embracing eBooks for its convenience, ease of use and, perhaps more to the point, a huge potential for significantly lower prices overall. One might argue that eBooks do not require paper, glue, physical stores / shelf space or any significant distribution / transport costs, therefore they really shouldn’t be priced anything close to their physical versions. Surely, this quest to keep prices high can only be in favour of publishers, and their bottom lines, mustn’t it?

So what are the key arguments / rationale for keeping eBook prices artificially high? Perhaps the main reason has to do with high operating costs incurred by large publishers, as well as the need to maintain a powerful marketing and promotional machinery. Furthermore, it may also be argued that lower cost eBooks are somehow cannibalising the margins to be had from physical books. Whatever the case, it seems publishers stand to lose out if they don’t do something (innovative?) to counter the effects of change.

Hmm, now where have we seen this before, (and how did that industry cope / survive)? Ah, yes, the music industry went through something similar, except they chose to sue those pirates and freeloaders (aka the people formerly known as customers), that supposedly ‘stole their bottom line’. However, they seem to have found other ways to complement dwindling revenue streams, e.g. via ticket sales for live performances. By the way, death may no longer prevent artistes from performing before a live audience, assuming this deceased artist hologram idea catches on.

Luckily the book publishing industry don’t have to take quite so drastic a measure, especially as it has been shown time and again that new media formats and channels do not necessarily mean the complete demise of existing ones. This is arguably the perfect time for publishers to embrace even bolder / more innovative thinking to discover complementary initiatives that will bolster an industry under threat, real or imagined. They must observe and capitalise on consumer trends and emergent user behaviours. For example, the sheer capacity, variety and anonymity (i.e. no tell tale covers) of reading material to be found on your average eBook reader means that users now carry, consume and explore hitherto unthinkable (at least in public) subject matter. The current boom in romantic erotica sub-genre, aka Mommy Porn, is an interesting case in point.

Perhaps even more fundamental, is a need to seriously consider the verboten idea of evolving copyright into something much better aligned with the digital age. Unfortunately, that will be a tough sell to the publishing industry, if this report of a speech given by HarperCollins International Chief Exec, at the London Book Fair, is anything to go by. According to the article, “others in the book trade, including the Publishers Association” have criticised the recent Hargreaves Review of Copyright, which some feel could weaken the current copyright regime. As you may have gathered by now, I don’t subscribe to that point of view, but then I am only an author and may not see things in quite the same light as a successful publisher might.

In many ways, this whole situation could be seen as a remix of circumstances surrounding the birth of copyright. In 1710, the printing industry lobbied for creation of a law to govern the rights to print or reproduce works (now known as the Statute of Anne), in order to protect their interests and the authors / creators of said works. Copyright is essentially an artificial system, which routinely needs a degree of manual intervention whenever new and disruptive content technology or consumer trend emerges. That, in my opinion, is the fundamental flaw with copyright which any revision thereof must try to address. In an age of multi-platform, multi-channel and multi-format publishing, there really is no place (or time) for manual intervention each time a new and disruptive trend, challenge and opportunity presents itself. I for one would be more than happy to attempt to demonstrate just how such a system could work (based on real copyright content), but then I would probably need a hefty six figure advance from some far-sighted multi-publisher to make it happen. Who says there is no future for publishing?

Change is nigh – for Tablets, Swans and the Music Industry.

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Certainly seems like there’s a lot of change in the air, what with the threat of Apple’s latest toy to tablet PC dominance, or the challenge of streaming music services, and even news of Swans getting divorced! I wonder what’s next, and how will it affect the creative industries of music, film and publishing?

First of all, there were lots of opinions and perspectives on the ever changing digital media landscape at the just concluded MIDEM conference in Cannes, including:

  1. Perhaps as a sign of shifting attitudes, at least one major artiste and the keynote speaker did not offer the usual tirade against file-sharing, but actually appeared somewhat in favour of it as a “taste test” by end-users, (which roughly translates into something along the lines of “good quality works will be successful in spite of file-sharing”).
  2. There was also an interesting discourse on media and cultural change in an interview with the “Cult of the Amateur” author, Andrew Keen, who slated the amount of amateur rubbish being put out there in the name of reality shows and user generated garbage, erm content.
  3. Forrester’s Mark Mulligan provided some great insight on the state of the music industry and various emerging trends, challenges and opportunities, speaking of which, one panel session speaker actuallylikened mobile music apps to babies in that “they’re easy to conceive but hard to deliver!”.

But please don’t think this is just about the music industry, because here is an equally damning insight into the book publishing industry by Phil Cooke, a publisher and self proclaimed change catalyst. Interestingly, most of these observations were covered in Lawrence Lessig’s book, Remix, which I recently reviewed here for the BCS. It would seem that music, publishing and other creative industries are just playing catch-up with key messages from this book – which claims, among other things, that the future creative and commercial landscape will have room for sharing, charging and otherwise hybrid business models.

However, one dire trend that looks set to continue is the involvement of lawyers in the tensions between rights-owners and file-sharing fans or pirates, depending on your point of view. Hmmm, I wonder how much the lawyers charged those Swans for their quickie divorce! But, on a serious note, it might be easy to blame lawyers for any number of things, given they stand to make their fees one way or another regardless of outcomes, however the real problem is that, despite ongoing efforts to find a lasting solution, today’s Intellectual Property laws are still hopelessly unable to cater for digital content, Internet distribution and emerging consumer usage patterns. Period.


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

iPhone OS 3.0 Unveiled…

March 18, 2009 Leave a comment

…despite the recession, and along with the usual fanfare of a demo / presentation that set alight the whole infosphere, (i.e. blogosphere / twittersphere / and-all-other-web2.0-spheres). However, the one thing that sticks out the most for me is the fact that I will soon be able to “Cut, Copy and Paste” stuff on my iPhone, (which really should have been a standard feature from the outset), so what’s with all the hoopla?

For one thing, Apple sure knows how to push out the (new) media envelope, by inviting journos, bloggers and twitterazzi of all shapes and sizes to cover the event live on the net (e.g. see Wired’s Liveblog coverage). PS. I also learnt a new word on Twitter as this event topped the list of Trending topics for most of yesterday (Fyi. “Trending” gives an indication of the most twittered topics). As our US colleagues might say, go figure.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, numbers really do say it all. For example: Apple has sold circa 30 million iPhones and iPod Touch devices since launch. Also there are some Fifty Thousand developers signed up to the official iPhone developer program, with over 800,000 downloads of the iPhone SDK so far.

Finally, iPhone OS 3.0 promises to deliver a lot of eagerly anticipated features which include, but are not limited to:

1. Usability Features – e.g. Cut Copy and Paste and landscape editing mode for key apps
2. Extended App Support – with over 1000 new APIs that will truly extend the capabilities of future apps
3. Myriad other features – including Push notification, Search, MMS support, Stereo Bluetooth Access, to name a few.

In conclusion, it promises to be a bumper crop of new features for the iPhone / iPod touch brigade this summer, and the extended API support may also see the beginning of more serious forays into the enterprise market; but perhaps the most important thing is that at I will soon be able to “Cut, Copy and Paste” stuff on my iPhone, (like so). I say, bring on the summer!


Note: Originally posted on Capgemini’s Technology blog.  You can see the original post, including comments, at:

Categories: Capgemini, Mobile Technology Tags: ,

Make Way for the DRM enabled Fashion Police

September 12, 2008 Leave a comment

Or so the headlines could read if / when Apple get their patent for DRM enabled shoes and garments no less. Read on to find out more, and to marvel or shudder at the possibilities of tomorrow.

This interesting development is taken from a New Scientist report, as discussed on this blog. The main point of the patent is aimed at creating an electronic “pairing” between a sensor and an authorised garment, that way an electronic sensor will only work with its associated garment.

The benefits, according to the patent application which was filed in March 2007, would be the ability to prevent relocation of an electronic sensor (e.g. for an iPod enabled trainer) to an unauthorised garment (e.g. a competitor’s trainer).

This effectively binds the electronic sensor to the garment it was intended for, but it also hampers the choice of the users (also as intended) in trying out creative mash-ups of their wardrobe / electronics. This could give another meaning to the idea of wardrobe malfunction!


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

Categories: BCS, DRM, Innovation Tags: , , , ,

The iPhone has landed

November 16, 2007 Leave a comment

…at last, and all Apple faithful / fanatics, gadget freaks and otherwise normal people, of every shape and description, have had a chance to get this sleek super-sexy-cool device which have been on sale since last Friday. So where is the fly in the ointment?

None it would seem – yet. This electronic Swiss army knife may be the ultimate personal electronic device, because it has got everything you could possibly want in this age of convergence. As a phone it is basically ok, but it really excels as a multi-talented media/ communications tool that leaves other competitors in the dust.

It simply goes to confirm Apple’s position as the poster child of market disruptors. The iPhone is positioned to do to the telephony device market what the iPod did to the music industry, and they both work with iTunes in a complete package.

But enough of this unabashed lust for all things Apple. My main interest lies, as ever, in what this means for the digital content stakeholders and the ‘Stakes Pie’ below just shows my opinion on the impact that this device will have on the major stakeholder groups.

The iPhone Stakes Pie

DISCLAIMER: The included ‘Stakes Pie’ chart is intended only to convey an individual opinion.

The winners are:

  • Commercial stakeholders (represented by Apple, O2, Carphone warehouse and content owners)
  • The Consumers (i.e. purchasers of the device and services)
  • Technology stakeholders (i.e. Apple / component manufacturers)

I’ll be interested to know if you think any different, and just in case you were wondering, No, I don’t own an iPhone or any shares in Apple!