SiliconFilter

Kindle for iPad Gets Updated Digital Magazine Experience, Support for Print Replica Textbooks

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Amazon today launched a major update to its iOS Kindle apps. While the iPhone and iPod touch apps gets some interesting new features, though, the most important updates are for iPad owners. iPad owners now get access to an updated magazine experience that is also available on Amazon's own Kindle Fire tablet. In total, Amazon offers 400 of these magazines and newspapers, including Martha Stewart Living, Food Network Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health and Popular Science. Most of these magazines also come with a free 14-day trial.

Kindle magazines ipad

Print Replica Textbooks

The iPad app is now also able to display "print replica textbooks." These feature the rich formatting and layout of their print editions and offer support for notes, highlights, zoom and pan, as well as a linked table of contents. For Amazon, this is a significant move, as it tries to get a stronger foothold in the lucrative textbook market – an area where the basic Kindle was supposed to shine but was never able to make a significant impact.

All iOS Devices: Send-to-Kindle

While these features aren't available on the smaller iOS devices, all of the current iOS Kindle apps (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) now offer support for Amazon's Send-to-Kindle service and the ability to open PDFs from Mail or Safari by transferring them from iTunes or by sending them to a Send-to-Kindle email address.

 



4:12 pm


Google Doesn’t Do Content: Brings its Think Quarterly Magazine to U.S.

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Google quietly launched Think Quarterly – a glossy print and digital magazine for its clients and partners in the U.K. – a few months ago. Even though the company didn’t want to bring too much attention to it, the publication actually created a bit of a stir, especially because Google always insisted that it wasn’t in the business of creating content (and hence wasn’t competing with the content producers that depend on Google’s search traffic). For the U.S. launch of Think Quarterly, though, Google took a more proactive approach, with a well-timed New York Times piece over the weekend (that barely mentioned the UK version) and an official announcement on the Google blog today.

With the announcement of the U.S. version, Google once again positions Think Quarterly as a B2B publication for its clients. The reality, of course, is that the content – including interesting pieces on the Internet of Things by Ogilvy & Mather’s Russell Davies and a story about how science fiction movies have fortold the future – appeals to a far wider group than just Google’s direct partners.

As the name implies, Think Quarterly is published four times a year and features in-depth articles about a range of topics Google as a company is interested in. The earlier UK editions were always worth a read, as they tended to go beyond basic Google marketing and featured quite a few interesting articles. Judging from the first consolidated U.S./UK edition, chances are this new version will be very similar. You won’t find anything that is very critical about Google, of course, but the broad range of topics makes for some interesting and though-provoking reading.



3:58 pm


Is Apple Getting Too Greedy? Demands 30% Cut of In-App Subscriptions

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After a lot of confusion earlier this year, Apple today finally clarified its rules for in-app subscriptions for magazines, newspapers, video and music. The rules are very straightforward: Publishers can continue to sell digital subscriptions on their own websites and give free access to existing subscribers. Apple will not take a cut from these transactions. Publishers who offer out-of-app subscriptions, though, also have to offer in-app subscriptions and the price has to be the same or lower than for subscriptions processed outside of the app. Apple will take a 30% cut from these in-app transactions.

This is a rather hefty fee for processing a transaction given that most credit card processors just charge around 2.5% and a small transaction fee (generally around $0.25). It’s also worth noting that it looks as if Apple will take this same cut whenever a subscriber renews a subscription, though this isn’t 100% clear yet. This new subscription plan will become mandatory starting June 30.

Steve Jobs: “Our Philosophy is Simple”

Just in case developers think they can just provide a link to their regular web-based subscription service in their apps and circumvent Apple’s system, the rules explicitly state that “publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a website, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.”

In the words of Apple CEO Steve Jobs: “Our philosophy is simple—when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing.” That does sound fair, but in reality, chances are that the majority of new customers for subscription services will come from apps and given that developers aren’t allowed to route around the system, this 30% cut become a major issue for some publishers.

Can Publishers Afford This Without Raising Prices?

You can currently buy an annual subscription to Wired on Amazon for $10 and getting National Geographic for a year costs $15 per year. Will these magazines have to offer the same prices for the app-based versions of their products? (Or do these “promotional” prices not count?) If Hulu has to give Apple $2.40 of every $7.99 subscription it sells, can it still make a profit? Or will Apple’s move force them to raise their prices across the board?

It is, of course, a good thing that Apple is making it easier for consumers to buy subscriptions and helps publishers acquire new subscribers. Having to pay a 30% fee for these services does seem quite steep, though, especially given that Apple now owns the customer and not the publishers.



11:37 am